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Summary of The Dialogue Concerning Heresies: Books III and IV

Note: While the summary below can be used alone, it was originally meant to serve as an Appendix to my second chapter (Chapter 5) on A Dialogue Concerning Heresies in my Ph.D. dissertation:

While the summary below is incomplete, the sections that are comvered are summarized in great detail. (The rest are only briefly dealt with.)

I have also appended a figure from the same chapter dealing with the structure of dialogue-within-a-dialogue of "The Examination of the Lutheran Preacher" in Book IV: 10--12 of the A Dialogue Concerning Heresies to the end of the summaries below. A complete summary of Books III and IV is also available.

Any comments or queries can be sent to the author at

Romuald (Ronnie) Ian Lakowski

Table of Contents

5. A Dialogue Concerning Heresies: Books III and IV

Summary of Books I and II

Chapter on A Dialogue Concerning Heresies: Books III and IV

Return to Thesis Table of Contents

A Dialogue Concerning Heresies: Books III and IV

Book III (CW 6, pp. 247--344)

Introduction to Book III (III:1)

1. Chap. 1 (247/1--255/6)
1. Book III begins with Chancellor More addressing the Friend: "About a fortnight later, your friend [i.e. the Messenger] came again in the morning newly come from the university where he was at school before he came to you." Chancellor More continues that the Messenger had been visiting some of his old "school friends" and had repeated to them some of the arguments that he and Chancellor More had previously had. The Messenger reported that they took great pleasure in his account, and wished very much that they had been present during the discussions. But some of them took very hardly the handling of the man [Bilney] that you [the Friend] had written of, and also the burning of the New Testament and the banning of Luther's books. And finally there were some who thought that the clergy were very far from the practise of true charity in the burning of heretics. [All these charges will become the matter of Books III and IV of the Dialogue.] Chancellor More begins by saying that he was very glad that the Messenger happened to be there. Not so much for anything that you showed them regarding our previous discussions concerning the praying to Saints, the worshipping of images and relics, or going on pilgrimages, for these no doubt are not novelties to them, but that among them, being as you say so well-learned, you either heard some answers that satisfied you so that our business therein may be the shorter, or else being more strongly instructed about the other [i.e. Lutheran] part, our discussion will be the fuller, and the matters more plainly touched to the greater satisfaction of both you and your master [i.e. the Friend]. Indeed, replies the Messenger, they did somewhat show their minds therein as you will hear when we come to the relevant matters.

2. Please be plain with me, responds Chancellor More, were they satisfied and contented with those things that were at last with so much work agreed between us? To tell the truth, replies the Messenger, they were all save one, and he in all things save one. What was the thing that he misliked, responds Chancellor More, and why? Surely, replies the Messenger, for all my attempts to persuade him, he would never agree that the faith of the Church outside of Scripture should be as sure and bind us as firmly to believe therein, as the words of Scripture. If you remembered well our previous discussions, responds Chancellor More, you would have had enough to answer him with. I did, replies the Messenger, and I managed to bring him to bay, but he [called hereafter 'the Unnamed Critic'] on the other hand countered by asking me: "When you believe the Church, why do you believe the Church? Do you not believe it because it speaks the truth?" Yes, I replied. "And how do you know that the Church speaks the truth, except by the Scriptures?" asked the Unnamed Critic. "By plain Scripture I know it well," I replied, "for Scripture tells me that God has fully taught and teaches his Church, and bids me believe his Church." The Unnamed Critic responded "You would have me believe that the Church was in all necessary points of our faith to be believed as much as the Scriptures, but now I have driven you to the wall and proved to you that the Church is not to be believed but for the authority of the Scriptures." I was astonished by his answer, continues the Messenger, but he [the Unnamed Critic] laughed and gave me leave to make payment to him again after I had first spoken with you [Chancellor More]. [Chancellor More now addresses the Friend.]

3. When your friend [i.e. the Messenger] had finished his tale, I responded to him that "he [the Unnamed Critic] has dealt with you [the Messenger] like a courteous creditor, but in truth you do not owe him much for his money is false. You granted him too much in the beginning." [Merry tale of Caius, a 'poet' of Cambridge, and a smart-assed sophister who outwitted him.] What did I grant him that I should not have, asks the Messenger? No more than all the things that you first granted him, replies Chancellor More. For when you granted that we believe the Church because it tells us the truth, you did not do well. If a known liar tells a known truth, you believe him because he tells you truth, but if a known true [i.e. honest, trustworthy] man tells you an unknown truth, you do not believe him because you believe the thing to be true, but you believe the thing to be true, because you believe the man to be true. And so it is with the Church. However, the principal thing that you should not have granted him [the Unnamed Critic] was that we believe the Church because Scripture shows what it teaches to be true. For what if no Scripture had ever been written, would there never have been any Church or congregation of faithful and right believing people? I do not know, replies the Messenger. Were there no folk between Adam and Noah that had the true faith, asks Chancellor More? There were some but they were very few, for there were few saved in Noah's ship. The world was then as it is now, responds Chancellor More. It is more than likely that there were many people that believed the truth and had a faith, but followed the flesh and drowned for their sin. Were there no faithful folk from Noah till Moses, and was neither Moses himself faithful until the law was written down? Did Abraham believe nothing but what he was told especially by God? I think there were some faithful people, replies the Messenger. It was not the Scriptures, responds Chancellor More, that taught them to believe that the faith, which they had received from good men before them, had been handed down by God. I pray you, what Scripture taught the Church to know which books are the true Scriptures, and to reject many others that were written down about the same matters? It was the Holy Spirit, which makes the Church all of one mind and accord, that taught the Church this. And although, against those who will believe nothing but Scripture, we prove the authority of the Church from Scripture, yet we should have believed the Church even if no Scripture had ever been written, as those faithful folk did that believed truly before the Scriptures were written. And God without Scripture has taught his Church the knowledge of all true Scripture from counterfeit scripture. It is not the Scriptures that make us believe the word of God written in the Scriptures, but it is the Holy Spirit that guides the members of the Church to believe both God's words taught us by the Church apart from Scripture, and God's holy words written in his Holy Scriptures.

4. When you granted him that did so oppose you [the Unnamed Critic], that we believe the Church on no other authority than the Scriptures, you did not answer him well, for besides the Scriptures we believe the Church, because God himself by the secret inspiration of his Holy Spirit teaches us to believe his Church in just the same way that he also teaches us to believe his Holy Scriptures. If you had answered him [the Unnamed Critic] thus, you would clearly have disarmed him and broken his gay sword in two. So it seems to me now, replies the Messenger, and I trust he will win no honour from it when we meet again.


1. The Trial of Thomas Bilney (III: 2--7) (B.1) [Summary]

2. Chaps. 2--7 (255/7--284/23)
5. These chapters, which deal with the trial of Thomas Bilney, are not summarized in detail here. [From Thesis (p.182): Chancellor More then turns, starting in the next chapter, to discuss the heresy trial of Thomas Bilney... In Chapter 2 Chancellor More deals with the circumstances surrounding Bilney's trial. Chapter 3 is a vindication of the reliability of witnesses in heresy trials, In Chapter 4 Chancellor More answers an objection raised by the Messenger concerning the claims of contrary 'witnesses' who wished to prove Bilney's innocence after the fact. In Chapter 5 Chancellor More defends the integrity of Wolsey and Cuthbert Tunstal, Bilney's ecclesiastical judges. Chapter 6 deals with Bilney's perjury, and in Chapter 7 Chancellor More, in answer to an objection raised by the Messenger, denies that a man on peril of perjury may lawfully forswear himself.]


2. Tyndale's Translation of the New Testament (III: 8--16) (B.2)

3. Chap. 8 (284/24--290/36)
6. The Messenger asks Chancellor More to tell him why the New Testament translated into English by William Tyndale had been burned. Chancellor More replies that it is a great marvel that any good Christian should marvel at the burning of that book, if he knew the matter, for to call it the New Testament would be wrong, it should rather be called Tyndale's Testament or Luther's Testament, since Tyndale after Luther's counsel corrupted and changed it from the good and wholesome doctrine of Christ to their own devilish heresies. Tyndale's translation is as counterfeit as a false copper groat that has been all silvered over. What faults were in it, asks the Messenger? It would take a great deal of time to go through the whole book, and show all the texts that were annotated wrongly and falsely translated, for there were over a thousand of them. I would like to hear some of them, replies the Messenger.

7. To begin with he has mistranslated three words of great weight that occur many times in the book. The first word is priests. The second the Church. The third Charity. For whensoever he speaks of the priests of Christ's Church, he never calls them priests but always seniors, the Church he calls always the congregation, and Charity he calls always love. For the first, though in the Greek tongue priests are called presbyteri, or as we would say 'elder men,' it is clear from the example of Timothy that not all priests were chosen old. In English this word 'senior' means nothing at all, but is a French word for 'lord', which is often used mockingly. Or if you derive it from Latin, the word in the Latin never signified a priest but only an elder man, as in the English word alderman. Next when he calls the Church a congregation, he does wrong, for though the Church is a congregation, not every congregation is the Church. In England the congregation of Christian people has always been called and known by the name of the Church, but the word congregation is common both to a company of Christian men and a company of Turks. Likewise, in the change of this word Charity into love, for though Charity is always love, love is not always Charity. [Two merry tales, one about St. Francis, and another about a friar caught with a man's wife.] If Tyndale had changed the common known word into a better one, I would well allow it. If he changed it into as good, I would suffer it. If he changed it somewhat to the worse but used it seldomly, I would wink at it. But now when he changes the usual well-known names of so great things into so far the worse and repeats it so often throughout the book, no one can doubt but that the man meant mischieviously. Where Charity signifies in English men's ears not every common love, but a good, virtuous, and well-ordered love, he that will studiously flee from that name of good love and always speak of love without the good, I think means falsely.

8. Add to this the fact that when Hychens [Tyndale] made this translation, he was with Luther in Wittenberg, and set certain glosses in the margin for the setting forth of that ungracious sect. Why he changed the names of Charity, the Church, and of priesthood is easy to see. For since Luther and his fellows among their other damnable heresies believe that our salvation comes from faith alone and not from good works, and therefore it seems that in order to diminish the reverent mind that men have towards Charity, he changed that name of holy virtuous affection into the bare name of common love. Because Luther denies that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, but rather claims that the true Church of Christ is an unknown congregation of some folk here two, there three, Tyndale in his New Testament cannot abide the name of the Church, but turns it into the name of congregation. The reason why he changed the name of priest into senior is because Luther and his adherents hold this heresy that all holy orders are nothing, and that a priest is nothing else but a man chosen from among the people to preach, and that a priest's office is nothing but to preach. Tyndale in his translation, whenever the Scriptures speaks of the priests among the Jews, still calls them priests, but wheresoever the Scriptures speak of the priests of Christ's Church, there he puts away the name of priest in his translation, because he would make it seem there were no priests different from laymen among Christian people.

9. The Messenger replies that truly it seems he meant not well. Surely, responds Chancellor More, if you saw all the places where he makes changes, you would judge so yourself. Among the other changes he makes, that are as far out of tune as these be, are that he changes the name grace to favour, confession he translates as acknowledging, penance as repentance, and a contrite heart he changes into a troubled heart. There are many other things which he has translated untruly for the maintenance of heresy, as I will show you when we look in the book.

4. Chaps. 9--10 (291/1--293/11)
10. Chapter 9 deals with a 'railing book' ['Rede me and be nott wrothe'], attacking the mass and the sacraments, that declares that the reason that Tyndale's New Testament was burned was because it destroys the mass. In chapter 10 Chancellor More suggests that Tyndale's translation is too bad to be amended, and that it would be less labour and trouble to translate the whole New Testament anew.

5. Chap. 11 (293/12--298/34)
11. The Messenger replies that even though he agrees with Chancellor More on this point, there is one thing that makes him suspicious; namely, that the clergy condemn all English translations of the Bible, and burn any translations they find, and sometimes the good man who owns them as well. This they do on the basis of a constitution provincial [The Arundel Constitution (1408)] which prohibits any man from owning an English translation on pain of heresy. This law is particular to England, for in all other countries of Christendom [prior to the Reformation] the people have had the Scriptures translated into their own tongue, and the clergy find no fault with that. Our lay people are as good and honest as anywhere else. If anybody gives a contrary example it is the clergy, who lead the people astray with glosses of their own making. By means of their constitution, they pull Christ's Gospel out of the hands of Christian people. Among the Jews both the learned and the lewd read their law, and yet in the Old Testament there are many things more perilous than in the New. Are our laymen worse than the Jews? Scripture is a source of nourishment for good folk, and a means of amendment for the bad. The fault is not in the condemning of Tyndale's translation, but in the law condemning any translation at all.

12. Your words are somewhat sharp, replies Chancellor More. You attack two separate things: one is the constitution provincial by which you think the clergy of the realm have evilly prohibited all translations of Scripture into our tongue, and secondly you attack the vices of the clergy in general. [Chancellor More then deals with the second objection first.] Where you claim that our clergy are worse than those in other countries, I disagree, for I myself have seen and have heard others say that, just as you say, our temporality are as good and honest as anywhere else, so dare I boldly say that the spirituality of England are in learning and honest living well able to match and even overmatch number for number the spirituality of any Christian nation. Though I dont deny that there are many that are lewd and wicked, it would take a miracle if among the multitude of the clergy, that it would be otherwise. If the bishops would admit better laymen and fewer of them into the priesthood, then the matter would be more than half amended. [Aesop's fable about the man carrying a double wallet on his shoulders.] We are very good at criticizing the faults of the clergy. We ignore the ones who are good, and point to the ones who are wicked as if they represented all the clergy. [The Messenger tells a merry tale about a young priest who carried a candle in procession for lying with a wench.] Many of use take delight in their harm. But if the clergy are bad, then we are worse, as I once heard the good dean of St. Paul's, Master Colet, say. For we are one degree lower than them. For they are, as Our Saviour himself says, the salt of the earth, and if the salt is once spoiled, then the whole world will wax unsavery. Though there are many both among them and among us that are wicked, these faults lie neither with the temporality nor the spirituality, but with these lewd persons themselves. However, I think many of them are good. I fear, replies the Messenger, that they are few compared to the multitude. I cannot look into their hearts to see who is good and who is bad, responds Chancellor More, but I trust in God that the better part is the greater.

6. Chap. 12 (299/1--303/6)
13. Though a priest be never so wicked, and do much harm both to himself and others, yet this advantage we take from his priesthood, besides the administration of the sacraments, that the sacred sacrifice and sweet oblation of Christ's holy body [the mass] cannot be impaired by the filth of his sin. The Messenger replies that I marvel that you will have fewer priests, for if their masses are so good for us, then it were better to have even more though worse, so that we might have more masses. That reason will not hold, responds Chancellor More, for though God accepts the sacrifice of the mass for other folk, he is displeased with the priest's presumption, and we should never seek our own good through our neighbour's harm. If we sent a present to a prince through an unworthy messenger, then we were unlikely, though the present be very great, to get much thanks for it. So it is with the mass. We are better off with fewer priests. If all the bishops were of my mind, we would not have the abundance of priests that we now have. There was a time that there were very few in a great city, and in a monastery of five hundred monks, scarcely four would be priests. Then all holy orders were held in high reverence. But nowadays we treat priests with little respect because of the great number of them.

14. The Messenger agrees that priests should be more carefully chosen. Chancellor More suggests that great attention should be paid in the choice of priests not only to their learning, but above all to their virtuous living. The time was when, as I said, few men dared presume to take upon them the high office of a priest, but now every rascal boldly offers himself as a candidate. But were I pope. By my soul, replies the Messenger, and my lady your wife popess too. She could devise for the nuns, responds Chancellor More, but as for me, touching the choice of priests, I could not well devise better provisions than are already provided by the laws of the Church, if they were as well kept as they are well made. It is provided by the laws of the Church that no priest should be admitted into the priesthood, until he have a title of sufficient yearly living, either from his own patrimony or otherwise. Why then, asks the Messenger, do so many of them go begging? They delude the law and themselves too, answers Chancellor More. For they never have the grant of a living, but they secretly discharge it before they gain possession of it, and the bishop is blinded by the sight of the writing, and the priest goes begging for all his grant of a good living, and the law is deluded. We would have few enough priests if the laws were truly observed that none be made but those that have without collusion a living already. Then the prelates, replies the Messenger, should not ordain any priests until livings become vacant to bestow on them. Surely, responds Chancellor More, that would not be much amiss.

7a. Chap. 13 (303/7--308/20)
15. The Messenger suggests that priests be allowed to marry. Chancellor More replies that Luther and Tyndale argue on the basis of 1 Tim. 3:2, "A bishop ought to be irreproachable, the husband of one wife," that all priests must be married. He then proceeds to refute Luther's and Tyndale's argument. Not summarized.

7b. Chap. 13 (308/21--314/4)
16. Chancellor More suggests that Tyndale also has another reason for insisting on clerical marriage. For he says that chastity is an extremely rare gift, and that unchastity is extremely perilous for priests, and therefore Tyndale concludes that priests must have wives. But Tyndale is wrong for though chastity is a great gift, it is not seldom found, for many men have it, though they be few compared to the multitude. Christ himself especially commended chastity. If Luther and Tyndale are right, then Christ did wrong in commending chastity. The Messenger responds that he thinks that Luther and Tyndale go too far when they say that priests must have wives, but that he thinks it wrong to bind them with a law that they shall have none. The Lutherans' priests have wives, as do the Greeks, and so did they also have in the early Church. Chancellor More replies that the ungodly ways of the Lutherans hardly makes that a recommendation. I will not condemn the priests of Greece, for I do not know them, but things cannot be well there since God has suffered all that empire to fall into heathen men's hands. However among the Greeks, though married men can become priests, those who are unmarried, when they become priests, profess perpetual continence and never marry afterwards, as I have learned from those who have come from thence.

17. The Messenger replies that he thinks it a hard thing to bind a man to chastity against his will. The Church binds no man to chastity, responds Chancellor More. That is true, replies the Messenger, except if priests are men. You misunderstand, responds Chancellor More. Many harms could be avoided if priests had wives, replies the Messenger. What good or harm will come of it, responds Chancellor More, the proof will show. But the priests in Saxony, who are wicked, will hardly serve as an example. As for the priests in the early days of the Church, you will find from the writers of that time, that few were married, and of those who were married before, many gave up carnal relations with their wives after they became priests. You might be justified in claiming that the law of chastity were unreasonable if the Church compelled any man to be a priest. But since every man is at liberty not to be a priest, how can anyone say that the Church lays the bond of chastity on any man's neck against his will. The Church does no more than to provide, that as some men will live chastely and others will not, that priests should be chosen from those who will be content to profess chastity. Both the clergy and the temporality have been partners in the making and conservation of this law.

18. It is not only Christians who choose their priests from the purest and most pleasant sort. Among the pagans, their priests did not presume to sacrifice to their idols until they had abstained from relations with their wives for a certain time, and some were bound to perpetual chastity by the loss of their virile members. That was a sure good way, comments the Messenger. Sure indeed but not as good as this, replies Chancellor More, since the merit was lost that good men have in resisting the devil, and refraining from carnal pleasure. In the Mosaic law the priests of the Temple also avoided their own houses and the company of their wives during their time of service. How much more specially is this convenient for the priests of Christ, who was both born of a virgin, and lived and died a virgin himself, and exhorted all his followers to do the same. What is more fitting than to take into Christ's temple to serve about the sacrament, only such as are contented and minded to live after the cleanness of Christ's holy counsel. Therefore, since it is hard to find so many priests so good, I would have fewer made, and better respect taken in the choosing.

8. Chap. 14 (314/5--316/24)
19. But now to return to the matter at hand, responds the Messenger, you said that you would make an answer for the law by which the clergy of this realm forbid the people to have any Scriptures translated into English. That is easily answered, replies Chancellor More, for nobody made such a constitution, neither they nor anybody else. But everyone knows it, responds the Messenger. Many men talk of it but no man knows it, responds Chancellor More, for there is none such indeed. There is, however, a constitution that forbids the reading of Wyclif's translation. For, whereas the whole Bible was translated long before his days by virtuous and well-learned men into the English tongue and was read by good and godly people, that great heretic took it upon himself with a malicious intent to translate it anew. In that translation he maliciously used such words as might seem to serve as proof of such heresies as he went about to sow, which he not only set forth in his translation, but also in the prologues and glosses he added to it. After it was perceived what harm the people took from the translation, prologues and glosses of Wyclif's Bible, there was a council at Oxford, which forbade any man upon great pain to translate the Bible anew into English until the translation had been approved by the diocesan, or if need be by a provincial council. In this law there is nothing unreasonable. It did not forbid the old translations made before Wyclif's days, not did it condemn Wyclif's translation because it was new but because it was wicked, nor does it prohibit new translations to be made, provided that the translator does not have a malicious mind, as did both Wyclif and Tyndale. I would like very much to see that constitution, replies the Messenger. Wherupon Chancellor More brought out the provincial constitutions with Lynwood's commentary thereon and turned to the title de magistris. After reading it, the Messenger said that he marvelled that, in so plain a matter, men have been so seriously abused, and reported it so wrongly.

9. Chap. 15 (316/25--330/29)
20. Deals with the 'Richard Hunne' affair (1514). This is an important example of dialogue-within-a-dialogue. Not summarized.

10a. Chap. 16 (330/30--337/8)
21. The Messenger continues that, for all that, he can see no reason why the clergy should keep the Bible out of laymen's hands who know no more than their native tongue. I had thought, replies Chancellor More, that I had proved to you that they do not do so. Only those translations that are condemned as wicked, such as Wyclif's and Tyndale's, are so withheld, but as for those older translations that were made before Wyclif, these remain lawful. You say well, responds the Messenger, but surely it is not for nothing that the English Bible is in so few men's hands, when so many would have it. That is the very truth, replies Chancellor More, for though the favourers of heretical sects are eager to secretly print and disseminate their forbidden translations, no printer dares publicly print the Bible, when he is not sure that his edition will be approved, and the penalties are so serious if it is not. Why no bishop has approved such an edition I cannot tell, but I know that many of the clergy are reluctant because they see many more of the worse sort calling for it than the better, and so they fear it would do more harm to seditious people than good to honest folk.

22. However, I am not afraid of this, I promise you. I would not for all the harm it brings to those with malicious intentions, take away the profit that others might take from it. For otherwise the abuse of a thing should cause the taking away of that thing from others who would use it well. I am wholy of your mind in this matter, replies the Messenger, that the Bible should be in our English tongue. But clearly the clergy are of the contrary opinion for they will not have it so, and are determined by every rotten reason to keep the Scriptures from us. They say that it is hard to translate the Scriptures out of one tongue into another, especially into ours, which they call a vulgar and a barbarous tongue. And that as Scripture is the food of the soul, so the common people are infants that must be fed only with milk. And if we would have any stronger meat, it must be 'chammed' [chewed] before by the nurse, and so put into the baby's mouth. They would make us all infants, but they shall find many a shrewd brain among us. We are not so evil toothed, but they shall see, if we get the chance, that we can chew it as well as they. Surely, such things as you speak, responds Chancellor More, are the very reasons that put good folk in fear of allowing the Scriptures to be put forth in our English tongue, not for the reading and receiving, but for the busy 'chamming' thereof. Unlearned men show an inordinate appetite for knowledge when they busy themselves in searching into and disputing about the great secret mysteries of Scripture, which, even when they read about in their own language, they are unable to understand.

23. St. Gregory of Nazienzen, that great doctor, sorely reproved all such bold busy meddlers in the Scriptures, and showed that just as in Exodus Moses ascended the hill and spoke with God while the people taried beneath, so too should the common people be forbidden to meddle with the high mysteries of Holy Scripture, but should receive from the hill what has been delivered to them by the preachers appointed thereto. St. Jerome greatly complains against and rebukes the lewd homely manner in which the common lay people were so bold in his day in meddling in, disputing about, and expounding on Holy Scripture. For they reckoned they could understand it themselves without a reader. But it is a thing that requires good help, a long time, and the gift of a sound mind to interpret the Scriptures properly. St. Paul says in his epistles that the Holy Spirit so guides the Church that he will have some readers and some hearers, some teachers and some learners, but the right order of Christ's Church is turned upside down, when the one part meddles with the other's office. Plato, that great philosopher, especially forbids that such people be allowed to meddle with and busy themselves about reasoning and disputing upon the temporal laws of the city. Similarly, the Emperor in the civil law code, decreed that the common people should never be so bold as to hold public debates upon the faith or upon Holy Scripture. Our special fear in this matter is this busy "chamming" of the Scriptures. If the best and wisest men after many years of study are often unable to interpret the Scriptures, how much more unable must he needs be who will be bold upon the first reading, because he knows the words, to take upon himself to teach other men the meaning, upon peril of his own soul and other men's too, by bringing men into seditious sects and heresies. If on the other hand we read it well and devoutly, and in what is plain and evident endeavour ourselves to follow it with the help of God's grace, and in matters that are doubtful, acknowledge our own ignorance and rely therein on the faith of the Church, then, by this manner of reading, no man or woman will take harm from Holy Scripture. Now then it is madness for the common people to meddle in those matters that they can never by themselves attain to, but they should leave all these matters to those whose whole study is set thereon, and to the preachers appointed to the task, who may explain such things to them in the proper time and place, and in a language adapted to the audience at hand. Thus I cannot agree with you that it should be meet for unlearned men to be busy with the "chamming" of the Holy Scriptures, but should have it "chammed" to them. This is the preacher's part and those who after long study are admitted to read [i.e. lecture] and expound on it. And this, as far as I can see, is the view of all the holy doctors that have written on this matter.

10b. Chap. 16 (337/9--344/35)
24. But they never meant, I suppose, to forbid the reading of the Bible in any vulgar tongue. Nor have I ever yet heard any reason why it were not convenient to have the Bible translated into the English tongue, that could not be laid against the holy writers that wrote the Scriptures in the Hebrew tongue, and against the blessed Evangelists that wrote them in Greek, or likewise against all those that translated both tongues into Latin. To call our tongue barbarous is but a fantasy. For so, as every learned man knows, is every strange language to others who do not speak it. And if they would say that English is barren of words, it is rich enough to allow us to express our minds on any topic. As for the difficulties which a translator finds in expressing well the meaning of the author, this point was also faced by those who have already translated the Scriptures either out of Greek into Latin, or out of Hebrew into them both. When they touch on the harm that some take when they busy themselves in reading the Bible in English, the harm comes from their own lewdness, not from the translation. The Scriptures were first written in a vulgar tongue, such as the whole people understood. For Hebrew, Greek, and Latin were all once languages spoken by the common people. If it were evil done to translate Scripture into our tongue because it is vulgar and common to every English man, then it had been as evil done to translate it into Greek or Latin, or first write the New Testament in Greek, or the Old Testament in Hebrew, because both tongues were once as vulgar as ours.

25. In truth, it has seldom happened that any sect of heretics has been begun by such unlearned folk as could only read the Scriptures in the vernacular, but always the head was some proud learned man, or at least proud smatterer in learning. So by that argument we would have to keep Scripture away from all learned men as well. Some folk will not fail to be wicked. There is no treatise of Scripture so hard, but that a good virtuous man or woman can find something in it to delight in and to increase their devotion. God and his Holy Spirit have so arranged the Holy Scriptures that every man may take good thereby, and no man harm except he that will lean proudly to the folly of his own wit. I would not withold the profit that one good, devout, unlearned layman might take from the reading of the Scriptures, not for all the harm that a hundred heretics would fall into by their own wilfulness. The provincial constitution, that we have already spoken about, makes this clear. When the bishops allowed the use of English Bibles that were translated before Wyclif's days, they consequently agreed that to have the Bible in English was not harmful. And when they forbade any new translation to be read until it was approved by the bishops, it well appears that their intent was that the bishops should approve it if it were faultless, or amend it if it were faulty; unless the faults were so many and so serious, that it would be easier to make a new translation than to amend it, as happened in the case of Tyndale's translation.

26. I propose that the Bible be with diligence well and truly translated by some good catholic and learned man, or else by several such men dividing the labours between them, and afterwards that the work be approved by the ordinaries, and by their authority put into print, and then all the copies be given into the bishops' hands. At the discretion of the local bishop, he can then give the Bible to such as he perceives to be honest, sober and virtuous, and that after the death of the party, it be brought back again and restored to the ordinary. Who will set the price for the book, asks the Messenger? It will not matter since the bishop will pay for them himself, and give them all away freely. The Messenger responds that some men would rather pay for it at the printers than have it free from the bishop. This manner is born more of wilfulness than wisdom, replies Chancellor More. The Bible should be treated with great reverence, just as the Jews treat it whenever they read it. Since not all parts of the Bible are equally suitable for all to read, the bishop should commit only parts of the Bible to some people. He may, for example, commit to some man the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but yet forbid him the Gospel of John. Another may be permitted to read the Acts of the Apostles, but not the Apocalypse. Many can profit from reading Ephesians, who would find little fruit for their understanding in Romans, which contains such great difficulties that very few learned men can interpret. The Old Testament also should be handled in a similar fashion to the new. The bishop should also be free to take the Scriptures away from those who abuse it to their own harm. As far as translating the Bible into English, I have read lately in the epistle the King's Highness wrote in reply to the letter of Luther to him, that his majesty intends to bring this matter before the prelates of the clergy, among whom I have perceived that some of the best and greatest have inclined their own minds thereto already, and we lay people, unless the fault be found in ourselves, will be well and fully satisfied in this matter before long. The Messenger declares that he is fully content and satisfied in all these matters. Then let us have dinner, replies Chancellor More, and leave the remainder of our discussion until afterwards. And therewith they went to eat.


Book IV (CW 6, pp. 345--435)

Introduction to Book IV (IV:1)

1. Chap. 1 (345/1--348/16)
27. When we had rested for a little while after dinner, your friend [i.e. the Messenger] and I drew ourselves aside into the garden, and there sitting in an arbour, he began again by saying that both in the country and in the university where he had been, there were none that had an evil opinion of Luther, but thought that his books had been forbidden by the clergy out of malice and evil will, because the laymen may read therein the priests' faults, which is the very reason, they say, that Luther's works are condemned. Though some things in Luther's works are bad, there are many things that are well said, and there is no reason why men should lose the profit of the good because of the bad. Chancellor More replies that if it were now doubtful and ambiguous whether the Church of Christ held the right rule of doctrine or not, then it were very necessary to give good audience to anybody who would dispute for it or against it. But now on the other side, since the doctrines of Christ's Church are all true, we should not, as St. Paul says, give audience to anyone, even an angel of Heaven, teaching the contrary. But now we have to deal not with an angel of Heaven but an apostate friar, an open lecher [because of his clerical marriage], and a manifest messenger of Hell. If you think my language is too strong, it is no stronger than the language he uses against those he should treat with the greatest respect. It is necessary to tell how wicked he is. It is not his railing against the clergy that is the cause of his condemnation and the suppression of his books, for the old holy Fathers did not hesitate to denounce the vices of the clergy of their time that were wicked, and their books have endured for a long time, but it is because his heresies are so many and so abhominable that his works are very apt to corrupt and infect the reader. For the proof whereof we need no other example than the 'good' that the reading of his books has done in Saxony, where the people who have read them cast off all prayer and fasting, and all the other good virtues that Holy Scripture commends and the Church commands.


3. On Luther's Heresies (IV: 2--10) (B.3) [Summary]

2a. Chap. 2 (348/17--354/34)
28. Chancellor More promises to show the Messenger some of Luther's heresies written in his own books. The Messenger asks Chancellor More in the meantime to tell him some orally. Chancellor More then goes on to 'itemize' Luther's heresies. Not summarized.

2b. Chap. 2 (355/1--360/28)
29. Among the heresies that Luther holds is that no man should pray to Saints or set anything by any holy relics or pilgrimages, or do reverence to any images. By my troth, replies the Messenger, when I was in the university discussing that matter with my friends [cf. Book III, Ch.1], one of them objected against me that the worship of images had been condemned by a great council in Greece. There was indeed such a council [Hieriea, 753 AD], replies Chancellor More, which was called together by an emperor who was a heretic, but it was later condemned in the Eighth [Seventh] Synod of the General [i.e. Ecumenical] Council [Nicaea, 787 AD]. This council had no more validity than if those in Saxony and Switzerland, who have abandoned the faith, were to gather together and call their meeting a general council. [The passage that follows (355/28--359/31) contains the second of three major interpolations into the 1531 edition, cf. Book I, ch.2.]

30. There was one person at our meeting, replies the Messenger, who was learned in the law, and we were in his chamber, when he said that, if he wished, he could show a fair law, incorporated into the decrees of the Church, which, if it came to light, would completely daze the eyes of those who defended images. We asked to see it. Whereupon he took down a copy of Gratian's Decretals, and showed us a text in which St. Gregory the Great wrote to a certain bishop that had broken the images in his church, and though St. Gregory blamed him for breaking them, yet for all that he commended him because he would not allow them to be worshipped. Did you read the law yourself? In faith, the Messenger replies, I stood by and looked on while he read it. Did you read the next law after it, or the gloss on it? No, for fear we would find them contrary, and not know which to believe. Yes indeed, responds Chancellor More, for the law following was a law from the Sixth [Seventh] Synod [i.e. Ecumenical Council] which plainly shows the kind of worship to be offered to images by Christian men, and decrees that only that kind of worship called latria, the divine honour and service which is to be done only to God, cannot be offered to any image or creature in the world, either in Heaven or on Earth. But in the law itself, replies the Messenger, we read that St, Gregory plainly says the contrary. The book says no more, responds Chancellor More, than that they should not be worshipped by this Latin word adorare, by which word he understood the divine worship latria. Though the law following also uses the word adorare, it does so of that kind of worship [i.e. hyperdulia] that may be offered to images. The two laws appear to be plainly contradictory, how can you be sure that St. Gregory interpreted the word adorare so. It is very unlikely that St. Gregory and the whole [Ecumenical] Council should be of opposite minds. But I will show you that St. Gregory meant none other.

31. Thereupon Chancellor More took down the register of St. Gregory's Epistles, and turned to the very words that were taken by Gratian out of St. Gregory's second letter to Serenus, bishop of Marseilles, and were incorporated into the decree. By collation of these two texts, Chancellor More showed him that Gratian had taken only a part of that epistle, and that, from the other words of the epistle itself, it became evident that St. Gregory spoke only of the divine worship and observance due to God himself, which as learned men well-know is called latria. If he had meant to forbid that any kind of worship be offered to anyone other than God, how should we by that construction serve father or mother, master, prince, or king. He clearly did not mean to forbid that worship offered to Our Lady or to the Saints, for every man knows well how reverently he himself worshipped both Our Lady and all Saints as well, as we see from many books and epistles of his. The decree itself makes this clear when it stated that images are the books of lay people wherein they read the life of Christ. The Messenger replies that he is well satisfied in this. But to return to the matter, responds Chancellor More, neither the bishop of Marseilles, nor the council of Greece, schismatical as it was, ever went as far as Luther and Tyndale and their company do, who not only condemn images, but also leave no Saint unblasphemed, nor Christ's own Mother either. [End of Interpolation.] Chancellor More returns to itemizing Luther's heresies. When he is finished, the Messenger replies that it is enough to hear these heresies rehearsed to make Luther hated by all good folk.

3. Chaps. 3--9 (360/29--376/16)
32. These chapters, which deal with the spread of Luther's heresies in Germany, are not summarized in detail here. [From Thesis (p.195): Chapter 3 deals with how Luther first fell into heresy, Chapter 4 with Luther's appearence before the Emperor Charles V at Worms in 1521 and Chapter 5 with Luther's intransigence and the inconsistency of his opinions. Chapter 6 on Luther's scorn of the Church Fathers, and rejection of every interpretation of Scripture but his own. In Chapter 7 the horrors are described of the Peasant Revolt in Germany (1525), for which Luther is blamed, and of the Sack of Rome (1527) by mainly Lutheran Landsknecht of the Holy Roman Emperor. In Chapter 8, Chancellor More argues that among the Lutherans the doctrines of their sect itself are the cause of their cruelty and malice. In Chapter 9 Luther teaches monks and nuns to break their vows of chastity made solemnly to God, and to live in spiritual incest by marrying one another, when even the pagans severely punished those who broke vows of chastity made to their false gods.]


3b. The Examination of the Lutheran Preacher (IV: 10--12) (B.3b)

4. Chap. 10 (376/17--377/30)
33. Prologue: Surely the whole world has turned to evil, or else is completely blind, if we cannot perceive from the evil lives of the Lutherans that their sect is wicked. Luther and all his offspring are open enemies of the faith of Christ, for they lay all the weight and blame of our sin to the necessity and constraint of God's ordinance, affirming that we do no sin of ourselves by our own will, but by the compulsion and handiwork of God. This belief gives these wretches great boldness to follow their foul affections, since they think that it is vain for them to resist their own sinful appetites. For Luther says that those who are damned, shall be damned not because their deeds deserve it, but for such evil deeds the God forced them to do and that he has worked in them himself, and that God will damn them finally because it was not his pleasure to choose them as he did his Chosen People.

5a. Chap. 11a (377/31--379/30)
34. Introduction: The Messenger begins by suggesting that perhaps Luther did not intend to do the evils that he is blamed for, and that, even if the Lutherans in Germany are wicked, there are some Lutherans in England, who are honest men, and who are very far from Luther's manner of living. Chancellor More denies this and argues that there are few that fall into that sect who do not soon after fall into contempt of prayer and fasting, and all other good works. For all their appearences to the contrary, they mean no better than Luther himself. Chancellor More continues: I have had good experience of this, and, among other examples, I can give you this one. It happened to me to be present recently at the examination of a Lutheran Preacher, who was at that time under custody for preaching heresy. He was deeply learned in Luther's books, and was in truth not unlearned either in Holy Scripture or in secular literature, as I perceived from the degrees he had taken at university, and also by his words and writings. When this man was examined, at first he tried to hide his heretical views unsuccessfully, but at last, seeing that they could not be concealed, he began to confess and declare the opinions of that [i.e. Lutheran] sect; nonetheless, trying to make it seem that there was nothing strange or contrary to right belief in their opinions.

5b. Chap. 11b (379/30--383/34)
35. The Beginning of the Examination Proper: When he was reasoned with, he brought forth various scripture passages to prove their opinions true, starting with the opinion that only faith alone is sufficient without good works. To which he said that the Lutherans meant nothing else than that men should put their faith in God's promises and hope to be saved thereby, and not put their trust in their works. Then it was answered him that he could not mean so because if this were their meaning, then they meant no differently than every common preacher had preached before Luther's days. What preacher has not taught them to do well, and that, though God will reward good deeds, they should not put their trust in themselves and their own deeds, but in God's goodness. These things the Church has always taught against putting too much trust in our own deeds. If the Lutherans meant the same thing as the Church means, then they would preach as the Church preaches, and would not blaspheme the Church in their sermons, as if they were the first to proclaim the gospel, and that the Church had hitherto taught falsely. Luther, whose sect you confess to belong to, says plainly that faith alone without any good works justifies us and suffices for our salvation. Then he answered that faith alone is sufficient, if someone who has faith and is baptised, happens to die before he has had time to do any good works. Then it was said to him that he could not mean so, for then why should they blame the church, which teaches not the contrary. To this he said that whenever a sinner repents and believes with a full faith in the promises of god, he is justified before he ever he has a chance to do any good works. Then it was asked of him whether, if his faith is to be effective, a man should have charity and the purpose of doing good works joined with it. He replied Yes he must, if the man has reached the age of discretion. Then it was answered him that in that case faith alone did not justify the man, but charity, together with the intention of doing good works, must by his own admission accompany it, or else the man's faith would not justify him at all. To this he answered that only faith was sufficient and that faith alone justifies because if a man has faith, of necessity he must work good works. For faith can never be idle, just as the fire must always burn and give heat. Faith always has good hope and charity combined with it, and can not but work well, no more than a fire can be without heat. Then it was said to him that where you say that faith always has good hope with it, that is not always true. For he that hopes, as Lutherans do, that by faith alone he shall be saved without doing any good works, has an evil and a damnable hope. If it is true that faith alone is sufficient because it always has charity joined with it, then why do you not preach as well that charity alone is sufficient, which is as near to the truth as the other opinion. Charity is the thing that specially brings forth good works rather than faith. Charity is not always joined with faith. The apostle Paul in many places of his epistles says the exact opposite. For he says (e.g. 1. Cor. 13) that even if a man has such great faith that he can work miracles, and that he would also give his body to the fire for the defence thereof, yet if he lacked charity, then all his faith would not suffice.

5c. Chap. 11c (383/35--386/17)
36. The Interjection of Messenger: The Messenger at this point objects that the Lutheran Preacher should have argued that St. Paul was just using hyperbole, that he meant only to show the great need that men have for charity, and that he did not intend to suggest that it were possible for faith to occur without charity. Chancellor More replies, "Indeed, the man fell short of your argument there, for he did not find that gloss." He goes on to explain that St. Paul's purpose was to teach the Corinthians that they should not trust that any gift of nature, or gift of God above nature, or any manner of virtue, almsdeeds, faith, or anything else were able to stand them in good stead without charity. Chancellor More then paraphrases the famous passage on charity in 1 Corinthians 13 and concludes, "Now may you see that your gloss would not have aided this man." The passage from St. Paul shows that faith may be without charity, and that it may be both so great that it may suffice for doing great wonders, and also so fervent that it may suffer a painful death, and yet for lack of charity, still not be sufficient for salvation, and that this may happen as well with regard to faith as to almsdeeds, which the Apostle Paul puts in the same case. Contrary to the Messenger's argument and the words of the Lutheran Preacher, St. Paul shows that all the works of faith, seem they never so good, are nothing indeed if they are not done with charity. He commends only the faith that works by charity, signifying that all other works of faith are not efficacious. And therefore it was there objected to the Lutheran Preacher, that St. James says that those who consider faith without good works sufficient for salvation are worse than devils, and that without good works faith is dead.

5d. Chap. 11d (386/18--388/34)
37. The 1531 Interpolation: [The passage that follows contains the third of three major interpolations into the 1531 edition, cf. Book I:2 and IV:2.] Nor can the Lutheran Preacher object that, if a man has no good works, he has no faith, because a dead faith is no faith. St. James does not deny that such a "dead faith," which he calls dead because it is unprofitable, is yet a true faith indeed, though it is not "alive" in good works. To this the man answered that some well learned men were of the opinion, that unless a man did good works, it was a good proof that he had no faith at all, for true faith could not but work, and that the devil has no faith but by an equivocation of this word faith. Then it was answered him that those well-learned men were Luther and Tyndale and their companions, but that the apostles St. Paul and St. James taught the contrary. St. James knew much better than Luther and Tyndale what manner of perceiving the devils have in the articles of our faith, and that when Luther and Tyndale claim that the devil has no faith they go about to set St. James to school. For they would have us believe that St. James spoke of "faith" like one who knew not what faith meant, but was deceived by equivocation of the word, calling "faith" the thing that is not faith indeed whereas indeed St. James uses the word in its right signification, and these Lutherans abuse the word out of a malicious mind to deceive unlearned people with equivocation.

38. Faith signifies the belief which is given not only to such things as God promises, but also to every truth that he tells his Church, either by writing or without writing, which he would have us bound to believe. The Lutherans seek to blind us by the equivocation by which they abuse the word "faith" altogether, turning it slyly from belief into trust, confidence, and hope, and would have it seem as though our faith were nothing else but a sure trust and a faithfull hope that we have in God's promises. They would make us believe that our faith were nothing but hope, whereas every man knows that faith and hope are two distinct virtues, and that hope is not faith but follows faith in him that has hope. It is possible to have faith without hope, one may as the devil does, believe in Heaven and know it too, yet be far from all hope thereof. Even hope is not enough, for hope without charity will but beguile them. [The 1531 interpolation ends here.]

5e. Chap. 11e (388/35--394/29)
39. Faith and Works: After this discussion the man answered that when he and the other Lutherans said that only faith is sufficient, they mean not a dead faith that is without charity and good works, but a true faith that is alive and works by charity, and that such faith he thought was sufficient. But then it was answered that he could not mean so, for did not Luther say that it is a great sin and sacrilege to go about to please God by good works, and not only by faith? How could they say that only faith suffices, if they should mean that without charity and good works no faith suffices? For it is a mad thing to say that faith alone suffices without good works, and with that to say also that without good works faith suffices nothing. Luther says that nothing can damn a Christian man except lack of belief. Then he brought forth another gloss and said that though faith is nothing without good works, yet when it is joined with good works, all the merit comes from our faith only, and no part thereof from our works. To this it was answered that Luther and all the other archheretics of his sect say that it is sacrilege to go about to please God by any good works but God may be pleased by faith only. And then why should good works be joined to faith, or why should God exact good works of us? For what purpose should they serve, if they are no way pleasing to God? Then it was further asked him what moved him to think that when faith and good works are joined together, the good works are worth nothing, but that all the merit is to be found in the faith. Whereunto he answered that if our good works should be the cause of our salvation, then as St. Paul says Christ died for nothing. For he did not need to die for us, if our own works could have saved us. Nor we were redeemed freely, if we could redeem ourselves with the payment of our own works. To this was it answered that, though Christ freely redeemed us only through God's utterly unrestrained goodness, and that though Our Saviour said, that he that believes shall be saved, wherein he said nothing about any good works, yet Christ did not mean that he that believes shall be saved without good works, if he lives long enough to be able to do them. For else it would be possible to be saved by keeping the commandments without faith, since Christ said that if you wish to enter into the kingdom of Heaven you must keep the commandments. At which time Christ spoke no words about faith. Christ also says in the holy scriptures: "Give alms, and all will be made clean for you." If men were to as largely construe these words in favour of the preeminence of almsdeeds, as you that are of Luther's sect construe the texts that speak of faith, then they might make a false gloss and say, that without either faith or penance, or any other virtue, that almsdeeds alone suffice for salvation, how wretchedly so ever we lead our lives besides this.

40. To this he answered that none of these texts prove the contrary of his claim that when faith and good works are joined together, all the merit comes only from our faith and nothing comes from our works. Whereunto he was answered that even if no text of scripture proved the contrary, yet since there is none that says so, and the whole Church says and believes the contrary, what reason, he was asked, do you have to say so? However, there are in fact passages in scripture that are openly to the contrary. Did not Christ say of those who do alms, that they shall receive a good measure shaken together, heaped and running over into their bosoms? Did not Our Lord show that on the Day of Judgment he would give the Kingdom of Heaven to those that have given alms, either of food, drink, clothing, or lodging, because of the charity shown in those deeds? Although these good deeds will not be rewarded without faith, Christ promised to reward those works, and not just faith only. Those, on the other hand, who work wonders by faith but without good works or charity, will find that their faith shall fail to gain them Heaven. Then he said yet again that if a man has faith, his faith shall not fail, nor cease to bring forth the fruit of good works. Then it was answered him that he had made this point before but that faith or belief is not contrary to every sin, but only to infidelity and lack of belief, so that it may stand with other sins. Then he said that if men believed surely, he thought they would not sin. For who would sin if he truly believed that sin should bring him to hell? Whereunto it was answered that, though this might stop many from sinning, yet there are many men on the other hand who, were their faith never so strong, it would still not be strong enough to master their evil desires. For all his faith, St. Paul was so afraid, when he was tempted with "the thorn in the flesh" (cf. 2. Cor. 12: 7--9), that he prayed three times for God to take the temptation away. Adam believed the words of God, and yet he broke God's commandment. And King David did not fall from his faith, though he fell first into adultery and afterwards into manslaughter.

5f. Chap. 11f (394/30--398/18)
41. "All our works are wicked": Then the Lutheran fell to another point, and said that if our good works and faith are joined together, it might yet well appear by the Scriptures that all the merit was in our faith, and nothing in man's works. For all the works of man are "stark nought", being things all spotted with sin. To this it was answered him that he had clearly changed his previous opinion. Before, he had said that faith alone was enough, because it brought of necessity good works with it, but now he was saying that there are no good works at all but all our works are "stark nought". Though all such justice of ours, as is only ours, is all spotted and in effect all one foul spot, for any beauty it has in the glorious eye of God, this does not mean, as Luther and his followers would have it seem, that the grace of God working among all his people is so feeble and has so little effect, that no man may with the help thereof be able to do one good, virtuous deed. Luther plainly teaches that no one, even with the help of God's grace, can obey the commandments of God. Even the Pelagians who said that we can sometimes do good without God's grace, were not nearly as bad as you Lutherans, who deny that we can ever do good with the help of God's grace. God's grace by your tale is completely void. Was then all the labour and pain that the Apostles took in preaching all sinful and "nought"? Were all the torments that the martyrs suffered in their passion altogether sinful? And all the deeds of charity, that Christ shall, as he himself says, reward with everlasting life at the general judgment, are they all sinful? St. Paul thought otherwise, for he said: "I have fought the good fight," etc. (2 Tim. 4:7--8). Therunto he answered that St. Paul would not say that our deeds are sufficient of themselves, but that all our sufficiency comes from God. Whereunto it was answered that this was little to the matter, for neither is our faith sufficient of itself, but the sufficiency thereof also comes from God, in that God gives us the grace to believe in the first place. Nothing that we can do in this world is worthy of the glory that is to come. Of all the foolish words that Luther spoke, he never spoke more foolishly than when he claimed that God has need of our faith, even though he has no need of our good works. The truth is that he needs neither our faith nor our works. But since he has determined that he will not save us without both, if we have reached the age of discretion to have both, therfore have we need of both. And yet neither one nor the other nor both of them together are of their own nature worthy of the reward of Heaven. Unto this he said that God accepts none of the works of infidels because without faith it is impossible to please God; but that God accepts all the deeds of those of his faithful chosen people that believe and trust in him.

5g. Chap. 11g (398/18--399/31)
42. Chancellor More's Comments: At this point Chancellor More comments to the Messenger, that in rehearsing this man's conversation, it may well be that my memory may partly have mistaken the order, partly added to or omitted some part of the matter, yet in this point I assure you faithfully, that there is no manner of change or variance from his opinion, but that after many shifts he brought it plainly to this point at last, that he and his fellows that were of Luther's sect, were firmly of this opinion, that they believed that only God works both all good works and bad in every man. Chancellor More now returns to his narration of the case: It was asked him then whether Peter's denial of Christ or David's adultery and manslaughter were well approved by God. Whereunto he said that because they were chosen and predestined, therefore those sins were not imputed unto them, and neither were the sins of any other such predestined men, and that all the works of a person predestined by God to glory, turn to good for him, no matter how evil they are. At this point Chancellor More again comments to the Messenger, that these Lutherans conceal their heresies, and are content in the meantime to act like wily foxes or false shepherd dogs who lie in wait for poor simple lambs that straggle from the flock, but that they await a time when they can play ravenous wolves, and devour the whole flock. These preachers always show two faces. In preaching to the people they claim that they have been sent to teach them a new and better way than the Church teaches or has taught for many centuries. But in examination before the Church they pretend to teach nothing other than the Church teaches. However, in conclusion when they are well examined and with much effort the cloak of collusion is pulled off, then appears all the malicious treachery and poison that they put forth under the cloak of honey.

5h. Chap. 11h (399/31--402/5)
43. Conclusion: So it was with this man that I tell you of. For all his pretences it was shown that the final conclusion of the Lutheran's argument was that all things hang only upon destiny, and that the liberty of man's will should serve for "right nought", nor did men's deeds either good or bad make any difference before God, but that in his chosen people nothing displeases him be it never so bad, and in the other sort nothing pleases him be it never so good. For as it was said to him that where he alleged of St. Paul, that there is no damnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, this saying was meant of good faithful folk that live virtuously; and therefore where he says that there is no damnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, it follows forthwith in the text, to those that walk not after the flesh. If God accepts all the works of the predestined then their sin is not sin, but only those who are not predestined actually sin: which is as much to say that no man may lawfully be "nought", no man may lawfully commit theft or adultery, nor lawfully be a killer of men, nor lawfully forswear himself, except God's good sons and his special chosen children. God does not remit the sin of his chosen people, nor does he forbear to impute the blame for sin to them: for he does not accept folk for their persons but for their merits. God sometimes punishes more severely those who were formerly good in order that by punishment they should be called again to grace. God called on David by the prophet Nathan, and yet punished his offence. Christ looked on Peter after he had forsaken and forsworn him, and Peter therewith took repentance. God looked on Judas and kissed him also, but he turned to no amendment. Now God from the beginning before the world was created, foreseeing in his divine prescience or rather in the eternity of his godhead presently beholding, that Peter would repent and Judas would despair, and that the one would take hold of his grace, and that the other would reject it, accepted and chose the one and not the other, as he would have made the contrary choice, if he had foreseen in them the contrary chance.

6. Chap. 12 (402/6--405/31)
44. Epilogue: The false opinion of the English Lutheran Preacher that all who shall be saved are only saved because God predestined them, and that all their deeds are good, or if evil yet God imputes no blame to them, and that God has predestined all other people to be damned, and does not accept their good deeds because he has not chosen them, is, as the King's Highness [Henry VIII] writes in his letter to Luther, the most abominable heresy that ever was. This execrable heresy makes God the cause of all evil, and makes him seem worse than the cruelest tyrant or tormentor. Whereas our Saviour Christ took upon himself all our sins and out of pity bore the pain himself for our sake, this damnable heresy makes God lay on us the blame for the evil deeds that they say are done in us by God himself. Those who believe with Luther that no man does any evil himself, but that it is God himself who does it all, will not care what they do, except for fear of the temporal laws of this world. But if their false faith is strong, they will set all human laws at nought also. For they hold that no man is bound to obey any laws, but should be at liberty to do what he wishes. What purpose shall reason serve if a man has no power to direct his own works, but that all his works are brought forth without his willing it? What purpose should having laws serve, and what would become of all good order among men if every misguided wretch could claim that his mischievious deeds were the workings of destiny?

45. If free will serves for nothing and every man's deeds are his destiny, why do they complain about those who punish heretics, since it is their destiny to do so? Where they allege that it is wrong to punish heretics, they may well be answered with their own words, as, for example, in a good town in Germany when one of the members of their sect was brought before the judges for robbing a man, and defended himself by saying that it was his destiny to steal. Whereupon his judges answered him after his own doctrine, that, if it were his destiny to steal, it was also their destiny to hang him. These wretches have little care for either Heaven or Hell, but would live in this world in lewd liberty and have all run to riot. They seek to turn the world upside down, and defend their foly and heresy by force. And this they call the liberty of the Gospel---to be discharged of all order and all laws, and do whatever they like, whether good or bad, and attribute it all to the works of God wrought in them. But if their heresies were once accepted, then they would find themselves sorely deceived. For if all law and order among men, together with the fear of punishment, were once taken away, then what man could live a life of pleasure for long, before a stronger man should take it away from him. And how much suffering would befall before the World were set once again in order and peace?


4. On Heresy Trials and the War Against the Turks (IV: 13--18a) (B.4) [Summary]

7. Chaps. 13--18a (405/32--430/28)
46. These chapters, which deal with heresy trials and the war against the Turks, are not summarized in detail here. [From Thesis (p.208): Chapter 13 is a defence of heresy trials. In Chapter 14 Chancellor More argues that it is lawful for Christian princes to fight against the Turks and other infidels. In Chapter 15 that Christian princes are bound to punish heretics. In Chapter 16 Chancellor More describes how simple unlearned people are often deceived by the learning of heretics, who prey on them like wolves in sheep's clothing, disguising the true intent of their teachings. In Chapter 17 Chancellor More argues that though the Lutherans often seem to lead holy lives, they are the worst heretics that ever sprang out of Christ's Church. In Chapter 18a (428/20--430/28) Chancellor More states that in punishing heretics the Church does no more than the old holy doctors did before.]


Conclusion to Dialogue Concerning Heresies (IV: 18b)

8. Chap. 18b (430/29--435/31)
47. The Conclusion of the Dialogue: After Chancellor More had finished his defence of heresy trials, he suggested to the Messenger that they postpone any further discussion until the next day. And to help him perceive the matters which they had discussed more clearly, Chancellor More gave the Messenger some books to read with the appropriate places marked with rushes between the leaves, and notes marked in the margins where the matters they had discussed were touched upon. Chancellor More caused certain works of St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and other holy doctors, together with a work or two of Luther's and as many of Tyndale's, to be borne to the Messenger's chamber, and then they went to supper.

48. On the next day they met again just before dinner, and the Messenger showed Chancellor More that in the decrees where the rushes lay, he had seen that the clergy do no more at the present for the punishment of heretics, than the old holy fathers did in time past. And further he said that he had seen in Luther's own words worse than he had ever heard rehearsed, and in Tyndale many things, worse even than in Luther himself, where he condemns miracles and praying to Saints. Chancellor More offers to discuss the points that Tyndale makes, but the Messenger dismisses Tyndale's arguments contemptuously claiming that he himself has made a stronger case against miracles, and has offered more proof than Tyndale has done. And that Tyndale's word is of little weight without better proof. Chancellor More replies that Tyndale's word alone ascribing all miracles to the working of the devil ought not to weigh much among Christian men against the writings of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory, and many other holy doctors writing in defence of miracles and pilgrimages. All these holy Saints ascribe miracles to the working of God, and to the honour of those holy Saints that were worshipped on pilgrimages. When Tyndale ascribes these miracles to the devil, he is no different from those Jews who ascribed Christ's miracles to the power of Beelzebul. What Tyndale says against praying to Saints is very bare, replies the Messenger. It must needs be bare unless he avoids miracles, of which he will have neither God willing nor the devil able to show any as proof for their part. All the substance of your argument, continues the Messenger, in favour of praying to Saints, Tyndale leaves completely untouched, and the arguments that he brings forth of his own making are so faint that they are plainly confuted by all the old holy doctors. In truth, when I consider well and read the words of Luther and Tyndale in some of the places where you laid the rushes, I cannot but wonder how any German could like the one, or any Englishman the other.

49. I do not much marvel that many like them well, since there is no country that lacks plenty of such as are wicked, who follow their own foolish affections no matter what is reasonably spoken to them. And these people pretend to believe that no one is able to confute Luther or Tyndale, no matter how madly they argue. And truly it is madness to follow them when one sees on the one hand the faith of Christ continued in the Catholic Church over the centuries producing so many glorious Saints, martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins, and on the other hand one sees their sect destroying the sacraments, engaging in acts of sacrilege, blaspheming the Saints, and destroying all devotion among Christians. And also when one sees on the one hand the continuance of the faith testified by so many thousands of miracles, and by the teaching of all the holy fathers, and on the other hand a fond friar [Luther] and his fellows teaching us vice as fast as the others ever taught us virtue, and all of them breaking their priestly vows of celibacy, and urging others to do the same. No matter how many heretics go out of the Church, it will always be well known by the profession of that faith, and those sacraments, which has continued from the beginning and which the holy doctors of the Church always had in honour and reverence, and which was testified to by God himself through the incessant miracles, that no sect of heretics could ever allege in support of any teacher of theirs. These heretics are the forewalkers of the head of all heretics, namely Anti-Christ, who when he comes will confuse many through false miracles. And yet these heretics can show no miracles in proof of their doctrine. Indeed, all their doctrine and living is all set upon sin and beastly concupiscence, and is completely contrary to the doctrines of all the old holy doctors. However, when Christ at the last shall return, he will restrain the work of Anti-Christ, and of the devil himself, and will repair and restore his Church, and will gather all the flock together under himself the shepherd, and will deliver a glorious kingdom to his Father of all the saved people from the time of Adam to the last day to reign henceforth in joy and bliss incogitable in Heaven together with the Father, Himself, and the Holy Ghost. And may God grant the grace for these seditious sects to cease, and for the favourers of those factions to amend, so that, stopping our ears from the false enchantments of all these heretics, we may walk with charity in the faith of Christ's Catholic Church, and may be partners of heavenly bliss, which the blood of God's own Son has bought for us. With this prayer serving us for grace, we sat down to dinner, and when dinner was over, he [the Messenger] departed home towards you [the Friend], and I departed to the court.


List of Figures from Chapter 5

[Not in Thesis]

The Examination of the Lutheran Preacher (IV: 10--12)
1. Chap. 10 (376/17--377/30) Prologue: Chancellor More introduces themes of Justification and Predestination
2. Chap. 11a (377/31--379/30) Introduction: The Messenger suggests that the English Lutherans are honest men and that Luther cannot be blamed for the excesses of the German Lutherans
3. Chap. 11b (379/30--383/34) The Beginning of the Examination Proper: Chancellor More denies this, introducing the example of an English Lutheran preacher [Dr. Forman?] who was examined for heresy. The Lutheran Preacher's claim that "faith alone is sufficient" is countered with the central importance of charity or love in 1 Cor.13 and elsewhere.
4. Chap. 11c (383/35--386/17) The Interjection of Messenger: The Messenger objects that St. Paul was using hyperbole in claiming that "without charity I am nothing", and that he did not mean to imply that faith could occur without charity. Chancellor More denies this claiming that faith can be without charity, but that St. Paul shows that all the works of faith, no matter how good they are, are nothing without charity.
5. Chap. 11d (386/18--388/34) The 1531 Interpolation dealing with the argument of the Epistle of St. James that faith without good works is dead. The Lutheran Preacher claims that true faith is alive with good works. His judges reply that the Lutherans twist the meaning of the word faith to include trust, confidence and hope as well as belief.
6. Chap. 11e (388/35--394/29) Faith and Works: The Lutheran Preacher then claims that though faith without good works is nothing, that when faith and good works are joined together all the merit comes from our faith. His judges reply that many passages of Scripture contradict this, such as when Christ promised on the Day of Judgment to give the Kingdom of Heaven to those who give alms, because of their charity (cf. Matt. 25: 31--46).
7. Chap. 11f (394/30--398/18) "All our works are wicked:" The Lutheran Preacher then claims that all our works are completely "naught", being spotted with sin. His judges reply that Luther denies that we can do good even with God's grace, but the Apostle thought far otherwise when he said "I have fought the good fight," etc. (2 Tim. 4:7--8).
8. Chap. 11g (398/18--399/31) Chancellor More's Comments: After many twists and turns in the end the Lutheran Preacher claimed before his ecclesiastical judges that only God works both all good and bad works in every man, and that all the works of a predestined man turn to good, no matter how evil they are
9. Chap. 11h (399/31--402/5) Conclusion: The final conclusion of the English Lutheran's defence was that all things depend only on destiny and that men's good or evil deeds count for nothing
10. Chap. 12 (402/6--405/31) Epilogue: Chancellor More concludes that the English Lutheran's false opinion that those who are saved are only saved because God predestines them, makes God the cause of all our evils, and makes him seem worse than the cruelest tyrant

Figure 5.1. The Examination of the Lutheran Preacher (IV: 10--12)


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