God’s Instrument but for a Time: Hugh Latimer’s Self-Perception as a Reformist Clergyman in Tudor England


God’s Instrument but for a Time: Hugh Latimer’s Self-Perception as a Reformist Clergyman in Tudor England

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Timothy D.A. Stanton

God’s Instrument but for a Time considers the development of Hugh Latimer’s evangelical convictions as a central figure in the English reformations during the sixteenth century. Recent scholarship has increasingly recognized the Protestant bias and questioned the factual accuracy of John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1563), which is more commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Timothy Stanton’s method-tracing the growth of Latimer’s evangelical convictions from his extant sermons and letters-avoids the pitfalls of an over-reliance on Foxe by allowing Latimer to speak on his own terms. In this work, Stanton approaches Latimer’s life and thought topically rather than chronologically and so offers a fresh perspective. He aims to tell Latimer’s story in his own words rather than merely retelling the triumphalistic stories that English-speaking Protestants like to tell and are most familiar with-stories that fixate on a martyr’s courage and victorious death but frequently neglects the life, thought, and piety of the person behind them. The portrait that emerges from Stanton’s research is of Latimer in his humanity as one who is sometimes brash and stubborn, often meek and even self-deprecating, always in trouble, and ever increasingly convicted that English evangelicals must live and, if necessary, “suffer for God’s word’s sake.”

“Scholars and students of the English Reformation have many reasons to rejoice with the publication of Stanton’s wonderful study. Well written, carefully researched, and nuanced in its judgements, Stanton’s essays address a significant lacuna. By focusing on the character and development of Latimer’s internalization of the reformist vision, we receive a rich sense of just how deeply he inhabited the evangelical cause. Highly recommended!”

Christopher Holmes
Professor of Systematic Theology,
The University of Otago, New Zealand


“We owe a debt of thanks to Timothy Stanton for this fine study of Hugh Latimer, 16th century Protestant preacher, reformer, and pastor in England.  What Stanton does that is unique is to allow Latimer to step out of the shadows and to take his deserved place as a leading actor in the reform of the English Church and realm.  Drawing heavily from Latimer’s words in sermon and letter form, this book seeks to provide a personal portrait which will enable readers to discern the integral relationship between Latimer’s education, experience, and deeply held religious motivations and convictions.”

Michael Pasquarello III
Methodist Chair of Divinity,
Beeson Divinity School, Samford University;
Author, God’s Ploughman: Hugh Latimer, A Preaching Life


“Timothy Stanton writes an informative and engaging book on Bishop Hugh Latimer. Readers will discover the liberating simplicity of the gospel through Latimer’s resolute commitment to faithful preaching and the reading of the Bible. Stanton takes us on Latimer’s journey through his 16th century ministry and elucidates for us the great wrestle of standing fast in the faith, no matter what the cost. This is a timely book for the 21st century Christian.”

Bishop Julian Dobbs
Anglican Diocese of the Living Word


“The English reformations—rightly labeled as such by Timothy D.A. Stanton—continue to be a wealth of unexplored and under-utilized resources for the historian and theologian alike. Despite his obvious import in the midst of politically-charged religious environments, Hugh Latimer stands as a prime example of the wealth that remains in the foreign country that is England in the sixteenth century. Throughout this refreshing reappraisal of Latimer’s self conceptions, Stanton deftly weaves his way through both the theological and historical evidence. In so doing, he paints a compelling portrait of Latimer as a deep thinker who ably synthesized politico-theological information from an impressive variety of sources and, thus, became a leading reformer of his day. Ultimately, Stanton’s work leaves me wanting more—more information about and by Latimer and more writing from Stanton. I can think of no greater compliment to pay an academic—either in the sixteenth century or in the twenty-first.”

Jonathan W. Arnold
Associate Professor of Theological Studies
Cedarville University

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