Big News in The Field of Reformation Studies

An early Reformation document has been discovered in the Staatsarchiv Gotha.

Die Forschungsbibliothek Gotha der Uni Erfurt hat bei Erschließungsarbeiten zum Nachlass des lutherischen Theologen, Kirchenhistorikers und ehemaligen Bibliotheksdirektors auf Schloss Friedenstein, Ernst Salomon Cyprian (1673–1745), im Thüringischen Staatsarchiv Gotha die sehr frühe Beschreibung einer Geschichte der Reformation entdeckt. Unter dem Titel „Von der Zwispaltung so sich des Glaubens und Religion halben im 1517. Jar in Teutscher Nacion hat angefangen“ schrieb der unbekannte Verfasser bereits 1535 einen umfassenden handschriftlichen Bericht über die Ereignisse seiner Zeit aus katholischer Sicht.

„Dieses Dokument“, sagt Dr. Daniel Gehrt, wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha und Entdecker der Handschrift, „ist historisch betrachtet von großer Bedeutung.“ Es ist um einige Jahre älter als die beiden bisher bekannten Beschreibungen der Reformationsgeschichte, die nach 1541 von den beiden lutherischen Superintendenten Friedrich Myconius (1490–1546) in Gotha bzw. Georg Spalatin (1484–1545) in Altenburg verfasst worden sind. Zugleich sind die Reflexionen des Verfassers im Vergleich mit Flugschriften aus der Reformationszeit, die häufig einen polemischen Gehalt haben, ungewöhnlich sachlich. Die Handschrift gewährt auf diese Weise einen neuen Einblick in die unmittelbare Wahrnehmung der Reformation aus altgläubiger Sicht.

Die historische Beschreibung ist Teil eines Sammelbandes aus dem Besitz von Ernst Salomon Cyprian, der umfangreiche Bestände zur Reformationsgeschichte und ihren Folgewirkungen zusammengetragen hat. Sein umfangreicher Nachlass in der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha und im Thüringischen Staatsarchiv Gotha wird zurzeit im Rahmen eines von der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft geförderten Projektes von Daniel Gehrt erschlossen. Der Band enthält auch weitere, der Forschung zur Reformationsgeschichte bisher unbekannte Dokumente, darunter die hennebergische Visitations- und Konsistorialordnung von 1574 in ihrem letzten Überarbeitungsstadium sowie Briefe und kurze theologiepolitische Schriften des fränkischen Reichsritters Hartmuth von Cronberg (1488–1549), der im Briefwechsel mit Luther stand. Diese Funde lassen vermuten, dass auch die altgläubige Beschreibung der Reformation in dem am Thüringer Wald angrenzenden fränkischen Raum entstand.

Der Fund wird in der Ausstellung „‘Ich habe einen Traum‘ – Myconius, Melanchthon und die Reformation in Thüringen“, die vom 3. April bis zum 5. Juni 2016 als gemeinsame Veranstaltung der Forschungsbibliothek Gotha und der Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha im Spiegelsaal auf Schloss Friedenstein gezeigt wird, erstmals der breiten Öffentlichkeit präsentiert.

The Truth About Bonhoeffer, From a German’s Perspective

Ralph Keen remarked

I’ve been recalling a conversation about Bonhoeffer I had a year ago with my graduate assistant. As a German, she made the useful point that he and his associates were educated bourgeois committed to preserving the order of which they were beneficiaries. They are thus, in her view, less heroic than the martyrs in defense of the persecuted that they’re usually seen to be.

She is correct.  Bonhoeffer was hardly the martyr, or even the rebel, that his 21st century American sycophants have made him out to be.  Instead, he was just one of many from power in power to preserve power.  That, frankly, is why he was involved in the plot to murder Hitler.  Hitler was a threat (and a very real one) to the power of the bourgeois.

More Americans should have a chat with a German.

Oscar Doesn’t Have an Award for the Most Tolerable Christian Film, But It Should

Because none would win.

At the upcoming 89th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night, the Oscar award for “Most Tolerable Christian Movie” will be handed out for the first time, sources confirmed.

Academy members reportedly sat through hours of grueling Christian films in an effort to select the one that was the least offensive in terms of quality, production value, writing, and acting.

“It was a very competitive year. There were several Christian movies that were just barely passable,” a source at the Academy revealed. “But we had to narrow it down to just the top few with plot, dialogue, and pacing that completely shattered the bounds of what is bearable cinema.”

“I can’t reveal the winner just yet, but we think we’ve selected a very deserving film that most of us were just barely able to sit through,” the source added

According to various other anonymous Academy members, God’s Not Dead 2 is an early favorite to become the first honoree in the prestigious category.

The utterly intolerables far outnumber the barely tolerable.

Fun Facts from Church History: Calvin Sent Out Wedding Invitations Before He Had Chosen a Bride

Calvin wrote to Farel (on Feb 26, 1540),

calvin10“Would that it were permitted me to pour out my feelings on your friendly bosom, and again to hear your advice, that we might be better prepared! You have the best opportunity for coming hither, if our hopes respecting the marriage be accomplished, for we expect the maiden immediately after Easter. But if you will really promise me to come, the ceremony shall be put off till your arrival, there being still time enough to let you know the day. First then, I ask it of you, as the greatest kindness, to come; next, that you write word definitively that you will come, for it is necessary, at all events, that some one come to bless the marriage. I would fain however have no one but you. Consider therefore whether I seem worth enough to you to undertake this journey.”

In another letter to Farel, dated June 21, 1540 there is a strange piece of news respecting the approaching marriage. The time was fixed, Farel invited, but still no bride was there. “The bride is not yet found, and I doubt whether I shall continue to seek one. Claudius and my brother formed a contract for me with a young lady; but three days after they returned, something was told me which induced me to send my brother back, in order to loose me from the engagement.”*

A wedding without a bride….  Oh Calvin.  You were different.

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*P. Henry, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer Volume 1 pp. 260-261.

Today With Luther: His view of Large Churches, and Singing in Them

luther_wartburgAfterward there was mention of large churches which are not suited to preaching. “Cologne has a cathedral [Martin Luther said] that is so large that it has four rows of columns, each row consisting of twenty columns. These are extraordinary buildings, but they aren’t suitable for listening to sermons. Good, modest churches with low arches are the best for preachers and for listeners, for the ultimate object of these buildings is not the bellowing and bawling of choristers but the Word of God and its proclamation. The cathedral of St. Peter in Rome and the cathedrals in Cologne and Ulm are very large but inappropriate.”

I love Luther’s “the ultimate object of these buildings is not the bellowing and bawling of choristers but the Word of God and its proclamation

Bellowing and bawling.  No phrase has ever captured the true nature of most of what passes for singing in churches better.