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“Wherfore Amend Your Lyves Yff Yowe Wyll be Savyd”: The Soteriology of Thomas Bilney

Donnelly, Colin M.

“Wherfore Amend Your Lyves Yff Yowe Wyll be Savyd”: The Soteriology of Thomas Bilney Thumbnail


Colin Donnelly
PGR Student Doctor of Philosophy


Among the few things scholars can agree about Thomas Bilney (1495–1531), the enigmatic figure at the heart of early English evangelicalism, is that he embraced Luther’s teaching of justification by faith. This consensus is based chiefly on two of Bilney’s statements on justification in a 1527 letter to Cuthbert Tunstall, then Bishop of London. By putting these statements in the broader context of Bilney’s extant writings, this essay aims to show that while Bilney used some of the same language and concepts as Luther, the way he developed and understood those concepts was fundamentally distinct. In his views of the law, the reception of grace, and of the nature of justification, Bilney’s soteriology differed markedly from that of the German reformer. In his distinctive development of evangelical soteriology, Bilney illustrates the experimental nature of early evangelicalism and the dangers of seeking prematurely to pigeonhole its proponents with anachronistic confessional labels.


Donnelly, C. M. (2023). “Wherfore Amend Your Lyves Yff Yowe Wyll be Savyd”: The Soteriology of Thomas Bilney. Reformation, 28(1), 63-79.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 3, 2023
Online Publication Date May 9, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date May 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 16, 2023
Journal Reformation
Print ISSN 1357-4175
Electronic ISSN 1752-0738
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 1
Pages 63-79
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Copyright Statement
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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