In these next few blog posts I will continue to put snippets of what will eventually become a book. The King James Bible is irrevocably tied in with the very liberties of the English-speaking world. It is the Word of God. Where it has prospered, our liberties have prospered. The following blog post will help to explain that.
Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?
Knowing what I know of King Henry VIII, and considering what I know of the God of Israel, there is little doubt in my mind that good old King Henry VIII burns in hell today. Nevertheless, that mighty prince who in his day caused all of England to tremble by the authority of his kingly throne, left three legal heritages that have blessed English speaking people for the last 450 years. Regardless of his motives (rarely good), Henry made three far ranging decrees that have molded English liberty and the bible ever sense.
For one thing Henry stipulated that upon his death his son Edward was to be the next king. That probably would have happened with or without Henry’s sanction. Where Henry stepped out into left field is that Henry further decreed that should Edward die without an heir, Henry’s firstborn daughter Mary Tudor was to be crowned Queen with all the rights of a king. That decree went further in that in made Henry’s daughter Elizabeth to be next in line for the throne just in case both Edward and Mary should die without heirs. Henry did not trust the nation to keep his decrees after his death so he took an added step. He forced the English Parliament to pass a law of succession stipulating Henry’s order of succession. The English Parliament has never surrendered that power given them by Henry. Since that time no monarch, prime minister, or president has ever governed an English-speaking people unless they gained the consent of representative government. Henry would have groaned over such an outcome but nevertheless Henry VIII’s arm twisting of parliament established an unprecedented liberty to the English-speaking people.
Also, Henry declared England to be an empire. The term “empire” was a legal designation within the international structure of Catholicism. Europe had only one emperor recognized by the Vatican. Under Papal law and policy, the King of Spain was recognized to have imperial power. The direct practical application of this from Henry’s perspective was that a church court ruling in the Spanish Kingdom could not be appealed to the pope. The other monarchs of Europe had to suffer ecclesiastical rulings in their kingdoms to be overturned. Henry and all other monarchs chaffed under this check to their power. They envied the king of Spain’s elevated privilege. For strictly selfish reasons, Henry ramrodded a favorable divorce ruling through the English ecclesiastical courts. He then unilaterally declared England to be an empire and himself an emperor to forestall this court ruling from being challenged in Rome.
It was challenged in Rome anyway. Henry stuck to his guns and denied the legitimacy of the papal setback. The pope excommunicated Henry. Henry declared himself to be the head of the church and a permanent rift was established. Henry established England as an empire in direct competition to Spanish power and privilege. Never again would court rulings in an English-speaking country be subject to foreign influence. When Mary Tudor restored England to Roman Catholicism she never relinquished the imperial title of empire. By God’s grace her reign was brief. Though Rome gratefully inhaled the aroma of England’s burning martyrs, and though Rome was relieved to have England under the Catholic umbrella, a real Mexican standoff was created in which Rome was forced to endure Mary calling her kingdom an empire. Mary never surrendered the privilege her father left for her kingdom. England has never surrendered that title or the privilege that comes with it. To this day, the English-speaking world has been a beacon of prosperity and freedom. Where the flags of English speaking nations have been planted, the gospel has been preached freely.
Finally, Henry granted the privilege of printing the word of God to the English universities. The excellence of the King James Bible and its 400-year history of purification owe more to the guardianship of the Universities than to any other secular factor. We shall see in this chapter how the Universities insured that we have the Bible that we have today.
 For those who are intrigued by Henry VIII’s doings and their impact on English civil law I highly recommend reading The Crisis of Parliaments by Conrad Russell. Oxford University Press, 1971 There are few books that I have ever enjoyed more.