Religious Change and Print, 1450-1700

In Religious Change and Print, 1450-1700 (opening September 14), visitors will see the Reformation through the eyes of the people who experienced the transformations it spread across Europe and the Americas: preachers and teachers, travelers and traders, writers and printers. Featuring more than 150 objects from the Newberry’s collection—from Bibles, tracts, and poems to maps, music, and art—Religious Change and Print will show how the intertwining of religion and print led to realignments of power that even revolutionaries had trouble keeping up with.

And lots more, here.

Salvation by Allegiance Alone

We are saved by faith when we trust that Jesus died for our sins. This is the gospel, or so we are taught. But what is faith? And does this accurately summarize the gospel? Because faith is frequently misunderstood and the climax of the gospel misidentified, the gospel’s full power remains untapped. While offering a fresh proposal for what faith means within a biblical theology of salvation, Matthew Bates presses the church toward a new precision: we are saved solely by allegiance to Jesus the king. Instead of faith alone, Christians must speak about salvation by allegiance alone. The book includes discussion questions for students, pastors, and church groups and a foreword by Scot McKnight.

Baker have sent a copy for review.  The table of contents can be viewed at the link, along with a few endorsements.  The foreword by McKnight is important as it sets the tone for the volume and in a sense guides the reader to have certain expectations of the work: to wit, that it will mirror in many, many respects the work of McKnight himself.

It is, indeed, fair to say that McKnight’s influence is evident throughout.  Other chief influencers are Michael Gorman, John Piper, Thomas Schreiner, and of course NT Wright.  Martin Luther, John Calvin, and even Philip Melanchthon are also spirits hovering around the house from time to time.  But clearly, as suggested just above, most dominant is McKnight’s ‘King Jesus’ trope.  Phrases like ‘The gospel centers on Jesus the King’ (p. 44) abound.

As the work unfolds the aim of our author is unveiled- to unseat the predominant notion among many Christians that Jesus died on their behalf because of their sins and to replace it with the notion that Jesus is the King who demands their allegiance. Of course this plants the seed of ‘works righteousness’ in the mind of astute and historically aware readers.  The nagging question that sits at the forefront throughout the experience of reading this book is the question of ‘sola fide’.

Bates is aware of this and addresses it in the fifth chapter in a lively but eventually unconvincing way primarily because he is far too dependent on the misreading of Paul (and the Reformation) of the so called ‘New Pauline Perspective’.

In sum what the author offers us is a distillation of the notions of Wright et al regarding Paul, and McKnight et al regarding Jesus, and as is tragically the case with the work of Wright and McKnight, Bates too suffers the weakness of being unpersuasive.

That isn’t to suggest that the book has no merit.  It certainly does.  It is an intriguing journey from traditional Christian orthodoxy into the realm of transformed terminology leading readers into a land familiar to Postmodernism but thoroughly foreign to both the New Testament itself and the history of Christianity for 2000 years.  This book’s chief merit is that it shows exactly what happens when modern categories are superimposed onto ancient texts.

Some will agree with it.  Especially those enamored with the viewpoints of Wright and McKnight. Those with more familiarity with Scripture and the Reformation will be left feeling both disappointment and sadness as the last page silently meets the back cover because the volume could have accomplished so much, and doesn’t.

The Bee Stings the Silly Universalists

According to sources, local Universalist Paula Wilson is searching for a physician who shares her belief that all treatments will eventually lead to the same cure.

Wilson, who was recently diagnosed with pneumonia, told sources it is very important that her doctor share her values of openness and acceptance that all medical paths will bring her to wellness. She hopes to find a physician who is not so arrogant as to insist there is only one way to cure her illness.

“This audacious doctor told me I ‘need’ some antibiotics,” Wilson told reporters. “These doctors just blindly follow people like Alexander Fleming, who was a great medical teacher, but just because his discovery of penicillin has saved millions of lives doesn’t mean his way is the only way.”

“Who are they to tell me there is a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to solve my problem? How dare they try to force their beliefs on me!” she declared, in between fits of coughing.

Yeah, Universalism really is that silly.

If You’re White, and a Girl, and Talented… Stab Away… It’s OK

Geesh.  Justice?  Nope, justice is well and truly dead.

A top University of Oxford student who stabbed her boyfriend could be spared jail because of her intelligence and the possibility it would damage her career.   Aspiring heart surgeon Lavinia Woodward, 24, met the man on Tinder but then punched and swiped at him with a bread knife during a drink-and-drug fuelled row.  She then stabbed the Cambridge-educated boyfriend in the leg before hurling a laptop, glass and a jam jar at him at iconic Christ Church college, Oxford.

She’s a treasure.  Oh, here’s the best bit…

Woodward admitted a charge of unlawful wounding at Oxford Crown Court and Judge Ian Pringle said the offence would normally mean a custodial sentence.  But he then delayed sentencing for a period of four months and hinted she will not be jailed – because of her ”extraordinary” talent. The court was told her college will allow her to return to in October because she “is that bright” and has had articles published in medical journals.  Judge Pringle said jailing her could be unfair because it could affect her career.

She’s just too bright for jail…  Geesh.  Stupid injustice.

Everyone in Trump’s Administration is as Morally Bankrupt as He is

What kind of father does something like this?

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s high profile personal attorney, posted a black-and-white photograph of his daughter Samantha Blake Cohen wearing only black stockings and a lacy bra to his 218,000 Twitter followers Sunday evening.  “So proud of my Ivy League daughter … brains and beauty channeling her Edie Sedgwick,” the caption read. The tweet also included a link to his daughter’s Instagram account.

These people… the stench of hell’s sulfur clings to all of them.

Johannes Hus, In German

This new publication will be of interest to people who wish to understand the Pre-Reformation era of European Church History.

On 6 July 1415, in Constance, Jan Hus was burnt at the stake for heresy. 600 years after this event, this edition of his writings, sermons and letters is intended to remind of the Prague Magister. For the German public the works of Jan Hus in Latin and Old Czech are difficult to access. Therefore the present edition presents a selection of important texts by Hus from 1403 to 1415 in a new German translation. Hus’s main work »The Church« is available for the first time in a complete German translation. Introductions and texts will enable the reader to inform himself on the biography, the theological thinking and the trial against Hus before and during the Council of Constance by means of documents written predominantly by Jan Hus himself.

  1. Predigt über 2 Kor 9,6: »Wer kärglich sät, wird auch kärglich ernten« (um 1403)
  2. Predigt über Röm 13,12–13: »Lasst uns die Werke der Finsternis ablegen« (1404)
  3. Hus an eine namentlich nicht bekannte Adelige (um 1405)
  4. Traktat von der Verherrlichung des Blutes Christi (1405)
  5. Synodalpredigt über Mt 22,37: »Du sollst Gott, den Herrn, lieben« (1405)
  6. Quästion von der Bestrafung des Klerus (1408)
  7. Hus an den Prager Erzbischof Zbynek von Hasenburg (1408)
  8. Klageartikel des Prager Erzbischofs gegen Hus (1408)
  9. Antwort des Magisters Hus auf die vom Prager Erzbischof vorgelegten Artikel (1408)
  10. Rektoratsrede »Stärket eure Herzen« (1409)
  11. Exkommunikation des Johannes Hus durch den Prager Erzbischof (1410)
  12. Hus an die Launer Bürger (um 1410)
  13. Hus an Richard Wyche (1410/1411)
  14. Synodalrede »Und der Herr sprach zu dem Knecht: ‚Geh hinaus auf die Landstraßen und an die Zäune und nötige sie hereinzukommen‘« (1411)
  15. Gegen John Stokes (1411)
  16. Gegen einen geheimen Feind (1411)
  17. Hus an Papst Johannes XXIII. (1411)
  18. Hus an die Pilsener (1411)
  19. Verteidigung einiger Artikel John Wyclifs (1412)
  20. Appellation an Christus (1412)
  21. Auslegung des Glaubensbekenntnisses (1412)
  22. Über die sechs Verirrungen (1412)
  23. Hus an seine Prager Anhänger (1412)
  24. Hus an seine Prager Anhänger (1413)
  25. Die Kirche (1413)
  26. Auslegung der Zehn Gebote (1414)
  27. Glaubensbekenntnis für Konstanz (1414)
  28. Hus fordert seine Prager Anhänger zur Standhaftigkeit auf (1414)
  29. Hus an König Wenzel (1414)
  30. Briefe an die Freunde vor und nach der Abreise nach Konstanz (1414)
  31. Geleitsbrief König Sigismunds (1414)
  32. Ausgewählte Briefe aus Konstanz (1414/1415)
  33. Antwort auf die 42 Artikel, die von Stefan Paleč den Kommissaren vorgelegt wurden (1415)
  34. Endgültige Verweigerung des Widerrufs (1415)
  35. Verurteilung des Johannes Hus auf dem Konstanzer Konzil (1415)
  36. Bericht des Peter von Mladoniowitz über die letzten Tage und den Feuertod des Johannes Hus

The chief value of this volume is the fact that it makes available, in modern German, both the chief theological works of Hus along with the report of his execution and various of the trial proceedings.  This is extremely important, as it allows us to come to grips with the fact that long before Luther, Reform was in the wind; and with the fact that so many of Luther’s ideas were old news.  Indeed, what each work shows is that Hus foreshadowed Luther in nearly every important way.  In fact, Luther’s modern followers should be called Hussites, not Lutherans.  That is how deeply Luther’s views are rooted in Hus’s thought.

The problem, of course, is that too few dig deeply enough into the roots of their own religious traditions.  This wonderful, large, and potentially very influential collection remedies that error.  It should be read not only by Luther’s adherents but by Calvin’s and Zwingli’s as well, because many of their views were obviously drawn from the well of Hus.

I urge you to take this book in hand and absorb it.  It will be a very good use of your time.

The Battle Of Frankenhausen Raged…

On May 16, 1525 (having commenced the day before): it was the low water mark of the wretched Peasants Revolt.  As Schaff describes things:

The peasants, badly armed, poorly led, and divided among themselves, were utterly defeated by the troops of the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, Duke Henry of Brunswick, the Elector John, and the Dukes George and John of Saxony. In the decisive battle at Frankenhausen, May 25, 1525, five thousand slain lay on the field and in the streets; three hundred were beheaded before the court-house. Muenzer fled, but was taken prisoner, tortured, and executed [on May 27th].

The peasants in South Germany, in the Alsace and Lorraine, met with the same defeat by the imperial troops and the forces of the electors of the Palatinate and Treves, and by treachery. In the castle of Zabern, in the Alsace (May 17), eighteen thousand peasants fell. In the Tyrol and Salzburg, the rebellion lasted longest, and was put down in part by arbitration.

The number of victims of war far exceeded a hundred thousand. The surviving rebels were beheaded or mutilated. Their widows and orphans were left destitute. Over a thousand castles and convents lay in ashes, hundreds of villages were burnt to the ground, the cattle killed, agricultural implements destroyed, and whole districts turned into a wilderness. “Never,” said Luther, after the end of the war, “has the aspect of Germany been more deplorable than now.”

The Peasants’ War was a complete failure, and the victory of the princes an inglorious revenge. The reaction made their condition worse than ever. Very few masters had sufficient humanity and self-denial to loosen the reins. Most of them followed the maxim of Rehoboam: “My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 Kings 12:14). The real grievances remained, and the prospect of a remedy was put off to an indefinite future.

The cause of the Reformation suffered irreparable injury, and was made responsible by the Romanists, and even by Erasmus, for all the horrors of the rebellion.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice, to rebel.  How foolish were the followers of the radicals, to believe that God would give them victory.  They paid for their folly.

Theologians: An Observation

I’m getting the impression more and more each day that many theologians no longer bother to read the bible at all.  It’s as though they are so unfamiliar with the foundation-text of their work that they can’t find their way around in it any more than a worm can find its way to the moon.

Update:  I am teaching an MA class in liturgy. I brought Bibles from the library to use in class, and one of the students said that it was the first time he held a Bible in his hand during the entire five years of his degree program.  R.G.

I rest my case.