Ashley Null. Thomas Cranmer's Doctrine of Repentance: Renewing the Power to Love. New York: Oxford University Press. 2000. Pp. x, 298. $72.00. ISBN 0-19-827021-6.
By examining underused manuscripts (an appendix provides a description of them) as the key to understanding Cranmer's theology, Ashley Null constructs a trajectory of Cranmer's theological development based on his understanding of repentance that Null contends gives coherence to the archbishop's life and work. As the author sees it, the theme of repentance became Cranmer's cautious yet determined way of bringing Reformation solafidianism out of his inner thoughts and into the public documents of the Church of England. There were many good reasons for Cranmer's focus on repentance besides a strategy for subverting the old religious order, for the issue of penance/repentance was central to Reformation debates, to the personal piety of Cranmer, and to his pastoral concern with healing wounded consciences and anxious souls.
The trajectory of Cranmer's development as drawn by Null begins with chapters on "Cranmer's Medieval Inheritance" and "Augustinian-Influenced Scotist Penance." The first of these chapters describes the teachings with which Cranmer would have been familiar and from which he departed: the necessity of private confession, contrition as...
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