‘Reformation Day’? Nope. ‘Reformations Days’? Yup.

‘Reformation Day’  Nope!’

‘The Reformation’ is a misnomer if ever there were one, for in fact there was no ‘one’ Reformation any more than there was just one Reformer. ‘The Reformation’, when used by students and the general public, usually refers to the Reformation of Martin Luther which commenced at the end of October in the year of our Lord, 1517.

Even then, though, Luther’s intent wasn’t as earth-shattering as later ages took it to be. For Luther, the placement of a series of theses in Latin on the Church Door at Wittenberg Castle was nothing more than an invitation to debate. In other words, Luther didn’t see his act as the commencement of a revolution; he saw it as an academic exercise.

‘The Reformation’ is, then, little more than a label derived from historical hindsight gazing mono-focularly at a series of events over a period of time across a wide geographical landscape. Each Reformer had roots sunk in fertile ground and their work was simply the coming to fruition of generations of shift in the Roman Catholic Church.

Hence, it would be more appropriate to speak of ‘Reformations’ in the same way that we now speak of ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Christianities’. The Reformation was no monolith.

Who, then were the Reformers who gave birth to the Reformations most closely associated with them? They were Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, in just that order.

In 1515 while he was Pastor of the village Church in Glarus, Huldrych Zwingli began to call into question the dependence of the Church on the teachings of the Scholastics. He also questioned the value of the Vulgate for preaching and began earnest study of the Greek New Testament. There, memorizing the letters of Paul (in Greek) he discovered the Gospel which would come to feature so prominently in his Reforming efforts: Salvation is by grace, through faith, and not through works as proclaimed by the Scholastic theologians. By 1519, when he moved to Zurich to become the Pastor of the Great Minster, Zwingli was already well on his way to Reforming the worship of the Church and the administration of the ‘Sacraments’. In short order, within a few years, the Mass was abandoned and replaced by the ‘Lord’s Supper’ and the fixation of the Church on images was denounced and those images removed in due course.

Zwingli’s Reformation was carried out with the cooperation of the City government, which is why Zwingli, along with Luther and Calvin, were to be known to history as ‘Magisterial Reformers’. Not because they were ‘Magisterial’ but because each had the support of their city’s magistrates.

North of Zurich, in Wittenberg, Luther’s Reformatory efforts were coming to full steam around the same time. In 1520 he broke with Rome irrevocably with the publication of his stunning ‘On The Babylonian Captivity of the Church’. From there, there was to be no turning back. And here we must remind ourselves that at this juncture Luther was not dependent on the work of Zwingli, nor was Zwingli dependent on the work of Luther. Both were pursuing reform along parallel tracks, separately.

Further to the West of Switzerland a decade later John Calvin, an exile from France, a lawyer by training and a theologian by training and desire, began his own efforts at Reform. Several years after Zwingli’s death and long after Luther’s demise Calvin plodded away in Geneva attempting manfully to bring that raucous city to heel under the power of the Gospel.

Each of these Reformers were ‘Fathers’ of their own Reformation. Each was, originally, independent of the other and in many ways they tried very hard to retain that independence even when their common foe, the Church of Rome, was the target as their common enemy. Each contributed to ‘The Reformation’ in their own unique way.

If, then, we wish to honor their memory and their efforts, it behooves us to set aside our preconceptions or our beliefs that ‘The Reformation’ began on October 31, 1517. It didn’t. It began in 1515 in Glarus. And it began in 1517 in Wittenberg. And it began in Geneva in 1536.

Happy Reformations Days.

For Fox News, Today is Event Free…

While other news organizations are reporting on the indictments coming down on former top Trump campaign officials, conservative media outlet Fox News chimed in Monday morning to confirm there is absolutely no news going on today.

“We checked with all our top news people, exhausted all of our most trusted sources, and they unanimously confirmed there is nothing going on at all,” the crew of Fox & Friendsreported. “Looks like we’re all just gonna head home early today. We’ll try again tomorrow I guess.”

At publishing time, Rush Limbaugh had cancelled his afternoon news program, confirming there was just nothing to talk about today.

Bingo.

Glarus Loved Zwingli, For the Most Part…

Except, of course, the lovers of war who despised his anti-mercenary service sentiments.  Accordingly, his biographer notes, that even when he took up residence in Einsiedeln in October of 1516, that technically

… he remained pastor of Glarus till he went to Zurich. He so signs himself on October 30, 1517, when writing to the chief magistrate of Winterthur; his name so appears upon the official records, and he drew the parish income and out of it paid his “vicar” or substitute. His people were anxious to retain him and promised to rebuild his house if he would stay. They were proud of his reputation for scholarship, of his large library, of his musical skill, of the friends he had made, and of his devoted pupils, and of his rise from obscurity to prominence among the Swiss. They knew what an excellent preacher he was, how faithful a pastor, how firm a friend, how enthusiastic a patriot, how generous, how jovial, how self-sacrificing, in short, what a fine man he was. But his enemies, though far less numerous than his friends, were equally determined and compelled his departure.

It only takes one or two obnoxious enemies to drive one out no matter how many loving supporters one has.

The Suicide Attempt that Became A Murder

Police say a 12-year-old boy jumped from an overpass above Interstate 66 in northern Virginia and fell onto a car, killing the driver.

The incident took place Saturday afternoon in Fairfax County. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the boy landed on a Ford Escape and the impact incapacitated the vehicle’s driver. Virginia State Police are investigating the incident as a suicide attempt, CBS affiliate WUSA-TV reports.

Geller says the driver of the Ford, 22-year-old Marisa W. Harris of Olney, Maryland, died at the scene. Harris’ family said her boyfriend, who was in the passenger’s seat, took control of the car and steered it off of the interstate, WUSA-TV reports.

The boy was taken to a local hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

People

Luther Never Nailed Anything to any Door…

Here’s an essay on the topic that you need to read as we stand once more on the cusp of Luther-Madness.  It ends like this:

All this matters because the image of Luther at the door has so much shaped our view not only of when the Reformation started but of what the Reformation was. Of course, we need “events”, periods and concepts (including “the Reformation” itself) to organise our knowledge and understanding of the past. But all too easily they become timetabled stops along the fixed tramlines of historical development.

Luther in 1517 was no “Protestant”. He was a reformist Catholic friar. His theses on indulgences are in some ways surprisingly unradical, articulating the unease many thoughtful churchmen felt about the practice. Only later, through a combination of political circumstances and Luther’s own theological radicalisation, did a breach with Rome become irreparable. At no stage can it be considered “inevitable”.

Anniversaries are by definition commemorative and retrospective occasions. But we should use them to ask searching questions and interrogate old verities, not just to remind ourselves of what we think we already know.

The Bible in the Light of Archaeology: A Public Lecture by Michael Langlois

This will be very much worth your time, if you are able to attend.

What do archaeological discoveries teach us about the Bible? Do biblical narratives convey historical reality? What do we know about the world of Abraham, Moses, and David? What are the oldest biblical manuscripts?

This conference is organized by Culture & Heritage Association and will take place in the Museum of Natural History auditorium (Allée René Ménard, 18000 Bourges).

The number of seats is limited, so I advise you to call 0676753954 in order to book your ticket.

It won’t be like a BAR Arch-Fest.  It will actually be educational.