This Pope is No Historian

Nope.  Not even close to being one.  So I agree-

Now Francis, we know, is not the professorial pope that Benedict has been. Neither is he an historian by training or even by avocation; his focus in school as a young man was chemistry, and later as a Jesuit teacher he focused on literature and psychology. He has had a busy administrative, pastoral, and politically freighted clerical career since that time. So, in fairness, we cannot expect him to speak with exceptional precision on historical themes, even where these touch on present-day ecclesial matters.

But it is not with mere imprecision that Pope Francis delves into the past. He seems to advance headlong, perhaps echoing an opinion or idea he has picked up here or there, in order to praise and blame—to glorify some (Luther the reformer, Ricci the inculturator), and to criticize or repudiate others (Roman centralists, those looking at other religions and faiths as “other”) as less mindful of the Holy Spirit than they ought to have been.

This mode of engaging with the Church’s past does not well serve the Church of the present day, mired as she is in a mass culture domineered by soundbites, 140-character tweets, the shoutings of protesters and populist political rallies, “fake news,” and perhaps most insidious of all, glibness in general. The pope, and all of us who look to the Church’s long experience for insight on how to go forward with present-day challenges, can do better.

More Hus

Das aber ist Unkenntnis, das ist Hochmut, das ist der Anfang jeder Sünde, wenn du in deinen Augen größer bist als vor Gott und in Wahrheit. Wer also zuerst diese große Sünde beging – ich spreche vom Teufel –, von dem sagt man, dass er sich nicht an die Wahrheit hielt, sondern von Anfang an ein Lügner war, dass er in seiner eigenen Vorstellung lebte und nicht in der Wahrheit.  — Hus, citing Bernard.

The ISIS Flag has been Added to the Coexist Sticker

It’s about time.

The Islamic State’s official flag has been added to the newest batch of the popular “Coexist” bumper stickers, and will be included in all future iterations of the famous graphic, sources confirmed Monday.

The new logo depicts the flag protruding from the top of the peace sign that constitues the letter “o” in the word as it proudly billows in the breeze.

“We wanted to our message of tolerance to include the guys who are hacking unbelievers’ heads off at an alarming rate,” a representative for the bumper sticker manufacturer told reporters. “Now even Islamic State fighters can coexist peacefully with all other religions because of these bumper stickers.”

At publishing time, ISIS had caught wind of the sticker, and immediately declared it was giving up its fight to establish a reign of terror through a powerful caliphate, sources confirmed.

Luther and Wittenberg, Part the Third

The Christian History Institute has published a 3 part essay on Luther and Wittenberg; the final installment appearing today.

(We have been publishing this essay by Dr. West  over the last few weeks as part of our celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It gives us a closer look at how Wittenberg ecountered and dealt with Luther’s reforms. Read more about Luther—and Wittenberg—in our issue #115, “Luther Leads the Way.”  The first post in this series can be found here and the second one here.)

Enjoy, *my preciouses….*

The Earliest Known Draft of the King James Bible

Cambridge University Library has a gem of a post.

It is rare that archival research makes the national news.  Jeffrey Alan Miller’s identification of a draft of a portion of the King James Bible hit the headlines in October 2015: not only was it the earliest known draft, but was uniquely a draft written by the hand of one of the translators, who was known by name.  The notebook in which Miller found this work – Sidney Sussex College, MS Ward B – had belonged to Samuel Ward (1572-1643), Master of the College from 1610 until his death.  Eighteen months after the discovery, the notebook has been digitised in full and published on the Cambridge Digital Library, in the latest instance of an ongoing collaboration between the University Library and the Cambridge Colleges to make archival and manuscript material available online.


A Swift-ian Take on Climate Change

Change, being a necessary part of life in time, is being lamented in certain quarters because of an irrational fear of difference.  But I would deign to point out that there are good reasons indeed to cherish change and to embrace it fully when it comes to a different climate.

First, there are definitely benefits to climate change.  As the ice caps melt and the climate warms the water levels of the ocean will rise.  This will put an end to those peskier parts of low lying lands like Florida and Texas, California and New York and New Jersey and South Carolina and the Netherlands and other hotbeds of incestuous iniquity.

Second, as the climate warms, growing seasons will lengthen allowing farmers to grow even more food than they presently do.

Third, the North and South poles will become tourist destinations thanks to their balmy climates.

Fourth, Winters will be less harsh meaning less snow.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!

The poo pooers and the nay-sayers and the alarmists and the pessimists will tell you that climate change is bad.  But clearly there are numerous reasons not only to appreciate it, but to embrace it!

Sad News: Carsten Nicolaisen Has Died

Die Verlagsgruppe Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht | Böhlau trauert um Prof. h.c. Dr. Carsten Nicolaisen, der am 12. April 2017 im Alter von 83 Jahren verstorben ist. Der Verlag verliert einen prägenden Wissenschaftler der Kirchlichen Zeitgeschichtsforschung.

Nach der Promotion wechselte Carsten Nicolaisen 1967 an die neugegründete Münchener Evangelische-Theologische Fakultät, wo er zunächst als Wissenschaftlicher Assistent fungierte, dann als Akademischer Rat und von 1993 bis zu seiner Pensionierung 1999 als Akademischer Direktor tätig war. Zum Ende seines aktiven Hochschuldienstes verlieh ihm seine Münchener Fakultät als Anerkennung seiner wissenschaftlichen Leistung den Titel eines Honorarprofessors.

And more, here.

Fun Facts From Church History: The Anniversary of the Edict of Worms

It was the 8th of May, 1521, that the imperial denunciation of Luther was promulgated.

lutherThe Edict of Worms was a decree issued by The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V banning the writings of Martin Luther and labeling him a heretic and enemy of the state (see The 95 Theses of Martin Luther). The Edict, issued on May 25, 1521, in the city of Worms in southwest Germany, was the culmination of an ongoing struggle between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church over reform, especially in the sale of indulgences. However, there were other deeper issues that revolved around both political and theological concerns. On a political level, Luther had challenged the absolute authority of the pope over the Church by maintaining that the sale of indulgences, authorized and promoted by the pope, was wrong. On a theological level, Luther maintained that salvation was by faith alone (sola fide) not through the legal mechanisms of the church or by what people did to earn it. He had also challenged the authority of the Church by maintaining that all doctrines and dogmas of the church should be accountable to the teachings of Scripture (sola scriptura).

To protect the authority of the pope and the Church, as well as to maintain the profitable sale of indulgences, church officials convinced Charles V that Luther was a threat and persuaded him to authorize his condemnation by the Empire. Luther escaped arrest and remained in seclusion at Wartburg castle for several years where he continued to write and translate the Bible into German.

While the Edict was harsh, Charles was so preoccupied with political and military concerns elsewhere that it was never enforced. Eventually Luther was allowed to return to public life and became instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Protestant Reformation. -Dennis Bratcher

Thanks to that miscreant and tool of the devil named Constantine, such political intrusions into the life of the Church were a sad and demonic reality.

May 8, 1521- The Cursing of Luther

Schaff writes

After Luther’s departure [from the Diet at Worms](April 26), his enemies had full possession of the ground. Frederick of Saxony wrote, May 4: “Martin’s cause is in a bad state: he will be persecuted; not only Annas and Caiaphas, but also Pilate and Herod, are against him.” Aleander reported to Rome, May 5, that Luther had by his bad habits, his obstinacy, and his “beastly” speeches against Councils, alienated the people, but that still many adhered to him from love of disobedience to the Pope, and desire to seize the church property.

The Emperor commissioned Aleander to draw up a Latin edict against Luther. It was completed and dated May 8 (but not signed till May 26). On the same day the Emperor concluded an alliance with the Pope against France. They pledged themselves “to have the same friends and the same enemies,” and to aid each other in attack and defense. The edict was kept back till the Elector Frederick and the Elector of the Palatinate with a large number of other members of the Diet had gone home.

It was not regularly submitted to, nor discussed and voted on, by the Diet, nor signed by the Chancellor, but secured by a sort of surprise. On Trinity Sunday, May 26, Aleander went with the Latin and German copy to church, and induced the Emperor to sign both after high mass, “with his pious hand.” The Emperor said in French, “Now you will be satisfied.”—“Yes,” replied the legate in the same language, “but much more satisfied will be the Holy See and all Christendom, and will thank God for such a good, holy, and religious Emperor.”

There’s more than a little truth in the notion that the Princes were on Luther’s side only because they saw his reforming efforts as a chance to enrich themselves with Church lands.  Indeed, it’s not at all hard to imagine that had Luther lived in an era without the greed of Princes, he would have been handed over and executed and no one would have ever heard of him.  Luther’s reformation, more than any other, depended on worldliness.