I don't know much about Sir Thomas More, or his "Utopia", and I don't know much about King Henry VIII outside of his procreational problems. I don't care to know more. "A Man for All Seasons" has resonance with me primarily for one reason; More's final words.
The film serves as a reminder of both the loftiness and cost of sticking to one's own conscience. Its aim appears to be to leverage Thomas More as the most exquisite example of ceaseless loyalty. The film's title assures us that this is no man of mediocrity. No, he is the quintessential example of conviction without end. He is made to be not a prophet, but a prototype. In the best of all worlds we would all be little Toms running about serving our lords second and our true King first.
Christianity as a worldview, as a conviction, is one that bears a fantastic story, whose message is that, no matter what I do, I can't win. I've lost already. In no way will I ever have the power needed to save myself. I am ruined, and I need a Superhero to come to my rescue.
I struggle daily with doubt. My mind haunts the realms of uncertainty with such zeal that I find myself repeatedly slapped to-and-fro by whatever intellectual contagion comes my way. I am a Christian, and believe I will be such on my deathbed. Yet, the daggers that attack me infiltrate much of my life, both in thought and deed. For this reason, I have been prone to feel the words of the apostle James as a crushing blow.
James 1:5-9: But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Will God accept me, a man who most days can make claim to only the slightest pinch of faith? This is a deep worry, that if I were to measure my faith in the Lord Jesus, it would be found that what I want to count as faith, is, in actuality, just a deep-set desire to want to believe. I fear that I would be found lacking.
I think these thoughts. I convict myself. I find myself lacking. And then, suddenly, I am reminded of Sir Thomas More's last words. He walks up to the executioner. He forgives his killer for the deed he must commit. He offers a statement of loyalty to his king and his Lord. And he prepares his body to die. A cardinal, so readily casting judgment, inquires how he can be so certain that God will accept him into Heaven. More responds,
"He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to Him."
Amidst trials of great confusion and distress, I hold these words close to my heart. I yearn madly and deeply to meet my Maker. As I believe, the "Good News" is that God will not obstruct His grace from one so eager to run to Him as me.
For this reminder, I owe the film a great debt.