“Theology, viewed as a discipline and concretely, is a divinely given discipline, bestowed upon man by the Holy Spirit through the Word, whereby he is not only instructed in the knowledge of divine mysteries, by the illumination of the mind, so that what he understands produces a salutary effect upon his heart and the actions of his life, but so that he is also rendered ready and expert in informing others concerning these divine mysteries and the way of salvation, and in vindicating heavenly truth from the aspersions of its foes; so that men, resplendent with true faith and good works, are introduced into the kingdom of heaven.” – Johann Gerhard
Is God. So why do so many modern theologians spend all of their time talking about their feelings?
In the news a Lutheran Bishop says hell probably doesn’t exist. No wonder she’s not a very good theologian, she was a music major in college… Anyway, when asked for a response, Martin Luther said
“[Christ’s descent into hell] must be believed. We can’t understand it. That’s the way it is. There will be debate about how the Trinity is in the unity (when there’s no relation between the infinite and the finite), how nature can produce such a strange marvel as a God-man, etc. [While occupied thus with disputation] men will let the article concerning justification go. If only we would study in the meantime how to believe and pray and become godly!
We’re not content with that which we can understand and insist on disputing about something higher, which we can’t possibly understand and which our Lord God doesn’t want us to understand. That’s the way human nature is. It wishes to do what is forbidden; the rest it ignores and then starts asking, Why? Why? Why?
This is what happens when philosophy is introduced into theology. When the devil went to Eve with the question Why? the game was up. One should be on one’s guard against this.
Maybe the good Bishop missed her true calling… band director.
There is no greater folly than to teach a pupil what he knows already. — Jerome
Our human nature is prone to conclude that if it were not God’s judgment that all men be saved, it would be an outrage, tyranny, and injustice.
And indeed, this is not one of the slightest offenses with which the devil assails us and with which he tries to move our faith to look askance at God. The devil knows that one of the noblest and most precious virtues of faith is to close one’s eyes to this, ingenuously to desist from exploring the why and the wherefore, and cheerfully to leave everything to God. Faith does not insist on knowing the reason for God’s actions, but it still regards God as the greatest goodness and mercy.
Faith holds to that against and beyond all reason, sense, and experience, when everything appears to be wrath and injustice. This is why faith is called Argumentum non aparentium, the sign of things not seen [Heb. 11:1], indeed, the opposite of what is seen.
Yeah, pretty much.
Julius Wellhausen writes
No attack [by the Romans] had as yet been directed against this quarter [i.e., the upper city]; but famine was working terrible ravages among the crowded population. Those in command, however, refused to capitulate unless freedom to withdraw along with their wives and children were granted. These terms being withheld, a storm, after the usual preparations on the part of the Romans, took place. The resistance was feeble; the strong towers were hardly defended at all; Simon bar Giora and John of Giscala now thought only of their personal safety. In the unprotected city the Roman soldiers spread fire and slaughter unchecked (September 7, 70).
And that was the end of Jerusalem.
It is the height of folly for you when you are accused by one man to attack another, and when you are covered with wounds yourself to seek comfort by wounding one who is still quiescent and unaggressive. — Jerome
[This volume] was known also by the title The Devils Plaguing Country Pastors. The book is divided into chapters labeled “First Devil” through “Ninth Devil,” and most of the extant copies, beginning with the first edition (though not the 1540 Wittenberg edition), include a woodcut illustration showing nine persons surrounding a pious priest. The nine figures depicted in the illustration and the text are:
- the patron [collator], with the right of appointment to the parish, who regards the church as his personal property;
- the sacristan [custos ecclesiae], who, resentful of his subordinate position, seeks every opportunity to make false accusations against the pastor;
- the cook [coca], in whom the priest “has as many provocations to temptation as he has hairs on his head”;
- the churchwarden [vitricius ecclesiae], who manages the parish property;
- the peasant [rusticus], who complains of the priest’s preaching and long Masses;
- the diocesan official [officialis], who imposes innumerable and unbearable regulations on the priests and then fines him for breaking them;
- the bishop [episcopus], who is a “rapacious wolf above all wolves,” demanding endless subsidies from the parish income;
- the chaplain [capellanus], who chafes at his junior status and refuses to assist with the liturgy unless he is recompensed for it;
- and the preacher [praedicator] (usually a friar from one of the preaching orders), who turns the people against their pastor with his sermons.
The editor of Luther’s Works in English observes
An English translation of the Letter by John M. Lenhart appeared in 1967 but is unfortunately not widely available: John M. Lenhart, ed.,Epistola de miseria curatorum seu plebanorum, A humorous story on the devils plaguing country pastors: a best seller on the eve of the Reformation (Pittsburgh: privately printed, 1967).
If you want to take a look at the Latin edition, it’s available here. The English rendition is impossible to find.
Of this book Luther said that it made him laugh harder than any other. That’s commendation if ever commendation were given.
TM Steiner is commencing a new project: to comment on the Old Testament reading from the Catholic Lectionary for each Sunday on Thursday of each week. You’ll want to drop in and check it out.
Our version is the more intelligible, for it has not turned sour by being poured three times over into different vessels, but has been drawn straight from the press, and stored in a clean jar, and has thus preserved its own flavour. — Jerome
On 7 September, Calvin wrote Bullinger, in part
The Council will send you, ere long, the opinions of Servetus in order to have your advice. It is in spite of us that you have this trouble forced on you; but the folks here have come to such a pass of folly and fury that they are suspicious of all we say. Did I declare that there was daylight at noon, I believe they would question it. Brother Walter [Bullinger’s son-in-law] will tell you more [of the state of affairs here].
I know how you feel, John. I feel ya, brother…