What happened on 9 February 2016 at Hampton Court Royal Chapel ought to be of great interest and deep concern to every Bible-believing Christian.
Unlike the results of a Guardian poll — where 60 per cent of respondents said yes to what had taken place, 19 per cent said no, and 21 per cent said they couldn’t care less — the true Christian should say a loud no to what happened.
What was the occasion? It was the holding of the first ever service by the Roman Catholic Church at the Royal Chapel, some 450 years since the Protestant Reformation.
The service of vespers was led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Joining in the occasion was the Bishop of London, Rt Rev. Richard Chartres.
Bishop Chartres said, ‘I would like to think of this evening as a celebration of how far we’ve come and a celebration of a common agenda’. Two years ago, the two men met in the Tower of London to pray in the cell of Thomas More, today considered a martyr by the Roman Catholic Church.
Is the way forward for the Church of England, with its 39 Articles and professed adherence to the Bible, to put aside differences with Rome? Is it — as put to this writer by BBC religious correspondent Carolyn Wyatt — given all the persecution of Christians in the world, to unite together?
As was explained to the BBC correspondent, it is a matter of fundamental truths and of eternal destiny. Catholics teach faith plus good works for salvation, while the Bible teaches faith alone. Indeed, Article XIX of the Anglican’s own confession states: ‘The Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith’.
The Bible is clear in its plan of salvation and in its call to separate from error and expose the unfruitful works of darkness (Galatians 2:16; 2 Corinthians 6:17). Indeed, as to keeping people in darkness, much of the recent service was held in Latin!
Hampton Court carries great historical importance. It was here the decision was made for the new translation of the Bible that came to be the Authorised King James Bible.
It was here Henry VIII worshipped with Catherine of Aragon and later Anne Boleyn; and also, from here, that he is believed to have sent his first letter threatening the break with the Roman Catholic Church.
While there was no objection or protest shown on the day by any Anglicans, there was a small protest organised by the Protestant Truth Society, which included three evangelical Protestant ministers: Independent Methodist Rev. Peter Simpson; Congregational Rev. Dominic Stockford, and Reformed Baptist Rev. Stephen Holland. They were ably supported by a church member.
The protesters held suitable banners for all to see. With several media organisations present, the objections did not go unheeded.