It was the 1530’s AD. King Henry VIII wanted a divorce from Lady Catherine. The pope in Rome would not grant it, so he married Anne Boleyn anyway, causing the pope to promptly excommunicate him. The King responded by denouncing the Roman church authority and papal supremacy. It was now no longer the church IN England, but the Church OF England. The Anglican Ecclesia (Anglican Church) remained Catholic in form and doctrine. The break was about control and Henry and the state now governed the church by assumed divine right as “Defender of the Faith”. The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer served the purpose of priesthood, governing clerical appointments and conferring on doctrinal issues.
King Henry wrote a treatise, “In Defense of the Seven Sacraments,” and called Martin Luther who only recognized two, a “poison serpent” and a “wolf of hell”. He ordered English language bibles into the churches. His impious marriage to Anne Boleyn ended with the lopping off of her head because of suspicion of adultery and he married Jane Seymour who bore his successor to the throne, King Edward. This 10 year old King Edward VI was surrounded by Protestant (Luther, Calvin, era) advisors and the Church of England shifted away from Catholicism. Priests were allowed to marry and Latin liturgy was replaced by Archbishop Cranmer’s “Common Book of Prayer.”
Came the1550’s. Devout catholic, Mary of Tudor, the daughter of Henry VIII’s first wife, the spurned Lady Catherine, claimed the throne. “Bloody” Mary, the granddaughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, began a systematic persecution and execution of Protestants, (most through burning, including Archbishop Cranmer) driving many onto the European continent.
1559 gave way to Queen Elizabeth I. The daughter of the beheaded and supposed adulteress Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth allowed for “via media”, a middle way, and was tolerant of Protestants as many returned to England. The Anglican Church was now neither Roman nor Reformed. The Bible was recognized as a final spiritual authority and sacraments were reduced to the two Luther had advanced - baptism and Eucharist.
1603 saw James I, the son of Mary the Queen of Scotland, on the throne of England. He did not bring Reformed Presbyterianism from Scotland along, welcoming the chance to deal with Anglican bishops rather than Calvinistic elders. He of course accepted the divine right of kings and “Defender of the Faith” title and was shortly persuaded to authorize yet another English translation of the bible, (the sixth in half a century) the King James Bible. It remained unchallenged as the text of choice until well into the 20th century. The break with Rome was complete. There were now three distinct Church Factions in the world, the Orthodox at Constantinople, the Catholic in Rome, and the Anglican in England, with numerous sects.
20 centuries after 3000 souls were saved following Peter’s Pentecost sermon, the Church of Jesus Christ has necessarily through growth become an institution with many names. When it befouls itself or corrupts, as it inevitably does, movements of renewal arise to correct its course. So has it been so will it continue to be. There was and is a persistent thread of true believers and followers of Jesus Christ who come to Him with the heart of a child and learn from Him to put away childish things. Remembering foundations from which they come, they move on toward perfection, never counting themselves as having arrived but pressing forward toward the mark of the high calling in Jesus. Christians of every color are working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that it is God who is at work in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure. (Matt. 18:2-3, 1 Corinth. 13:11, Hebrews 6:1, Philippians 2:12-13.)