The Lord’s Prayer, The Reformation, and The Womanizing King

26 Oct The Lord’s Prayer, The Reformation, and The Womanizing King

I once attended a “Catholic” wedding. Prior to arriving I knew it would be a different style of worship and realized I would be introduced to unique customs. While I was prepared to not know the rosary, I was taken aback by the difference in the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t mean “debts” versus “trespasses” and other semantics, but consequential differences. Specifically when all the Catholics stopped at “deliver us from evil”, I kept praying loud and proud. Well at least the first two or three words until I caught on. My “non-practicing” Catholic boyfriend stifled a laugh. Others probably didn’t care. I was horrified. I’ve often wondered why the difference? The Lord’s prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4 and neither version has what is known as “The Doxology” ending, so when and why was it added?

This Sunday we celebrate The Reformation and it is there we find the answer, but maybe not how you think! The person most closely associated with The Reformation is no doubt Martin Luther. A few others such as John Calvin or John Knox may also come to mind. If King Henry VIII didn’t make your short list of reformation leaders, have another look.

I love history. I love reading about history. I especially love watching documentaries, docudramas, plays, musicals, and attending festivals that celebrate it. I’ll try not to get lost in the weeds on this one, and I promise to answer the question, but first let’s have a short review of those tumultuous times.

On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, launching what is today known as The Reformation. Luther’s protestations included the Catholic teaching that the purchase of “indulgences”, and not faith alone, was the means to salvation.

Henry had been brought up a devout Catholic, and rejected The Reformation at the onset, staunchly defending the Pope by penning a pamphlet that led the Pope to award him the title “Defender of the Faith”. Early reformers in England were dubbed heretics and many were put to death. When King Henry VIII requested an annulment from his first wife Queen Catherine of Aragon in 1525, The Reformation was well underway in Europe. But as the King’s efforts for an annulment continued to be stymied by the Pope, he looked for an alternate means to get the Catholic Church out of his affairs, both state and personal. 

With the help of advisors such as Oliver Cromwell, the King pressed forward in creating a new Church of England and forcing parliament to declare him its supreme head so he could grant himself the annulment. Immediately upon accomplishing this in 1533 he married Anne Boleyn, a Protestant, who gave birth to Elizabeth, later to become the Queen for which the Elizabethan era was named. After she miscarried their second child, a male that was reportedly “deformed”, the King became disenchanted with Queen Anne, declared her guilty of witchcraft and had her beheaded, clearing the way for him to take a third wife a few weeks later. You likely know the summary of his wives by the old nursery rhyme: “Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived”, so I’ll skip all of the details and get back to the original question.

King Henry was not a church reformer in the sense of Martin Luther. Henry’s motivations were driven by personal ambition to produce a legitimate male heir. Through all his hubris, drama and desires, Henry believed in the divine right and authority of kings and considered himself to be chosen by God to serve in that role. He believed Kings to be above all earthly power of the church, including Popes, and he rejected the claim of Papal primacy and apostolic succession back to Saint Peter.

As he struggled to wrest power from the Pope and Catholic Church, he worked to unify and standardize the Church of England. As part of this, King Henry VIII added the Doxology to the end of the Lord’s Prayer as he standardized all doctrine and language for the Church he created. It became part of the Book of Common Prayer and was included in the 1611 King James Translation of the Bible. In fact, if you click on this link to the King James version of the text, you will see the Doxology included. Some other translations include it in the footnotes but most modern translations such as the New Revised Standard Version found in pews at Calvary Presbyterian don’t mention it.

Your Sister in Christ,

Shelly Good-Cook

Office Manager

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