Fun Facts From Church History… Schoolboys in Calvin’s Geneva…

According to Karin Maag-

Schoolboys were to practice the fundamentals of Reformed worship by reciting in turn Calvin’s prayer to be said before starting lessons, by engaging in an hour of psalm singing a day, and by taking turns saying the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed at the close of each day’s classes.

Those were the good old days for sure!

Crossing Traditions: Essays on the Reformation and Intellectual History in Honour of Irena Backus

Irena Backus’ scholarship has been characterised by profound historical learning and philological acumen, extraordinary mastery of a wide range of languages, and broad-ranging interests. From the history of historiography to the story of Biblical exegesis and the reception of the Church Fathers, her research on the long sixteenth century stands as a point of reference for both historians of ideas and church historians alike. She also explored late medieval theology before turning her attention to the interplay of religion and philosophy in the seventeenth century, the focus of her late research. This volume assembles contributions from 35 international specialists that reflect the breadth of her interests and both illustrate and extend her path-breaking legacy as a scholar, teacher and colleague.

Brill provided a review copy back in December and I’ve worked my way through it, delightedly.  Let me say, then, that Backus really deserves this wonderful Festschrift.  She has done so much for the field of Church History and what she has done has been so sharp that it’s hard to argue with her well deserved recognition.

The volume is comprised of the following:

À la croisée des traditions et des savoirs : notes introductives sur l’historiographie d’Irena Backus– Maria-Cristina Pitassi

Part 1. The Reformed Churches: Institutions, Policies, and Society

  • Conflict and Dissidence within the Early French Reformed Churches- Philip Benedict and Nicolas Fornerod
  • Calvin’s Creative Revision of Liturgical Time- Elsie McKee
  • Jean Calvin au miroir de l’Interim d’Augsbourg. Réactions polémiques, discours consolatoire et genèse d’un nouveau projet de réforme (1548–1550)- Nathalie Szczech
  • Les raisons d’un Bannissement (1562) : Antoine Froment, une Figure de l’implantation de la réforme à Genève, entre intégration et éviction- Geneviève Gross
  • Bèze raconte sa rencontre avec Henri Iv à l’Eluiset- Alain Dufour
  • A Quarrel between St. Rocco, a Chestnut Tree, and a Church Bell: Popularising Calvin for the Italian Reformed in the Grisons- Federico Zuliani
  • Les registres des consistoires réformés. « Lieux de mémoire » et récit collectif- Christian Grosse

Part 2. Looking over the Past: The Reception of the Church Fathers and the History of Biblical Hermeneutics

  • Erasmus (1515) between the Bible and the Fathers: Threshold of a Hermeneutic- Mark Vessey
  • Voix sans vertu. Complément à l’histoire des théologies de la Parole- Philippe Büttgen
  • Calvin’s Commentary on Psalm 1 and Providential Faith: Reformed Influences on the Psalms in English – Barbara Pitkin
  • Ésaïe 11 dans l’Esaiae prophetia d’Augustin Marlorat (1564) : quelques remarques exégétiques- Annie Noblesse-Rocher
  • Pierre Pithou, Théodore de Bèze et la chronologie des traités de Tertullien- Pierre Petitmengin-
  • Les pratiques de la lecture érudite de la Bible avant 1630- Ian Maclean
  • Le triomphe de l’église anglicane ? Johann Ernst Grabe éditeur d’Irénée- Jean-Louis Quantin
  • Notes on the Use of Irenaeus and Justin Martyr in Isaac Newton’s Of the Church- Pablo Toribio Pérez
  • The Contribution of the History of Exegesis to the History of Ideas- Mark W. Elliott

Part 3. The Reformers: Theological Views and Religious Struggles

  • Charles Quint, la peur, le sang …- Denis Crouzet
  • Huldrych Zwingli’s Dream of the Lord’s Supper- Bruce Gordon
  • Les auteurs païens dans les Colloques d’Érasme et de Maturin Cordier- Karine Crousaz
  • Le discours de Pierre Viret sur la pauvreté. Quelques réflexions sur ses influences- Claire Moutengou Barats
  • « Mieulx vault essuyvre la verité en petit nombre … » Choisir le bon côté et définir les adversaires dans l’Epistre très utile de Marie Dentière- Daniela Solfaroli Camillocci
  • Tolerant Humanists? Nikolaus Zurkinden and the Debate between Calvin, Castellio, and Beza – Ueli Zahnd
  • “Flowers Wrought in Carpets”: Looking Afresh at the Homily against Peril of Idolatrie- Antoinina Bevan Zlatar
  • The Critique of Calvin in Jansenius’s Augustinus – Ralph Keen
  • Femme qui prêche : une figure de la polémique confessionnelle au crible de Bayle- Marianne Carbonnier-Burkard
  • Who is Actually Catholic? How Our Traditional Categories Keep Us from Understanding the Evangelical Reformations- Randall C. Zachman

Part 4. Theology and Philosophy in the 16th and 17th Centuries: Arguments, Challenges, and Encounters

  • Palinodiam Canere: Rhetoric, Philosophy, & Theology in Erasmus- Brian Cummings
  • Melanchthon et l’éthique réformée. Le probleme du statut du droit naturel – Christoph Strohm
  • L’assujettissement du fils selon Calvin – Marc Vial
  • Was It Really Viral? Natural Theology in the Early Modern Reformed Tradition- Richard A. Muller
  • Leibniz’s References to St. Paul – Hartmut Rudolph
  • Houtteville et les Modernes – Carlo Borghero
  • Aux origines des Lumières. Les manuscrits philosophiques clandestins et l’histoire des idées – Gianni Paganini
  • Bibliographie d’Irena Backus
  • Index of Names

As wide ranging as the topics are, so too are the insights gained from them.  Regular readers, though, will know that my eyes were immediately drawn to the essay by Bruce Gordon on Zwingli so naturally I read it first (and I confess, I read all the English essays first and only then dove into the French, which took considerably more effort and which also deserve wider discussion than I can offer).  Gordon observes

In the story of Zwingli’s dream we find the confluence of medieval and early modern perceptions of sleep and dreaming with Reformation claims for prophetic authority.

And then

Fear, pedagogy, the cultivation of exemplary conduct, echoes of humanist vitae, and preaching were interwoven in a dream story intended to justify the reform movement and confirm Zwingli’s status.

And a bit further on

The Zwingli account, one of the first Reformation dream stories, resonates strongly with medieval hagiography: every detail of the story was carefully constructed to be interpreted in light of the final resolution, the revelation of true doctrine.

And then

True preaching, by which Zwingli’s own authority was confirmed, immediately resulted in the establishment of certainty: those students who did not understand the nature of the Lord’s Supper or the parable had the mist lifted from their eyes.

And finally

Zwingli was also making a claim against his opponent Luther, who had declared himself a prophet. The Zurich reformer was locked in battle over the interpretation of scripture, and he had to take a stand. None of this is to suggest the dream did not happen, but rather it forces us to consider how the text, which was written to make sense of the event in a way that would form the community, reflected a potent mixture of traditional beliefs and radical new ideas.

Is Gordon’s analysis correct?  Was the dream an effort to legitimize Zwngli’s understanding of the Supper and thus to legitimize his Reformation?  Probably so.  Does that mean that the dream never happened?  That we shall never know, although it has to be said that Zwingli was an honest person and it is highly unlikely that he would have simply made up such a story for manipulative purposes.  He probably had a dream and he probably felt like it accorded with his already developing understanding of the Supper.

Gordon’s analysis is superb, as is the case with the essays enclosed between these covers as a whole.   Elsie McKee and Ralph Keen do a very good job with their topics (as one would expect of such stellar thinkers).  But so do Zuliani, Vessey, Elliott (whose essay is very, very interesting indeed), and Zachmann (who has also constructed an incredibly engaging piece).  Strohm and Muller also give readers lots to consider and several things to reconsider.

Readers should also be sure to visit Backus’s bibliography.  It’s an exercise in humility for anyone who has accomplished less, and to be fair, that’s most of us.  Be sure to read this volume as a part of your own intellectual pilgrimage, and you’ll be inspired to think more deeply and write more intelligently than you ever have before.

The FS opens with a photo of the recipient/ celebrant, and so I end this brief review with the same image.  Congratulations, Professor, and congratulations to the editors and contributors of this volume:  well done, thou good and faithful servants-

irena backus

Back When the @NRA Opposed ‘Promiscuous Gun Toting’

Via Jeff Nichols on the twitter-

Karl T. Frederick, NRA president from 1934-1936, told Congress he opposed the “general promiscuous toting of guns,” which he felt “should be sharply restricted.” Frederick never argued that gun owners “prevent tyranny,” and thereby should be exempted from any regulations.

Back in the day when the NRA was sane and all of us could agree with their principles.

Catholic Theology in the UK Today

A group of Catholic theologians and religious educators met in Luton on Saturday 24th February 2018 to reflect on the current position of Catholic theology in the UK and Ireland and to discuss its future.

The meeting was an initiative of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain, and convened and chaired by its current President, Professor Tom O’Loughlin, Professor of Historical Theology at Nottingham University. The nineteen people present had travelled from all parts of England, and represented a range of Institutions, including Diocesan centres, study houses of religious orders, Universities with a Catholic foundation, and public Universities which have a Theology Dept.  Rev. Dr Michael Shortall (registrar of the Pontifical University, Maynooth) attended to represent the Irish Catholic Theological Association.

Etc.  A very interesting read.

Why? Because It Pleased Him to Do It

You may quibble with Calvin’s conclusions but you can’t accuse him of inconsistency or lack of logic when he writes, in connection with the damnation of the reprobate:

calvin29Foolish men raise many grounds of quarrel with God, as if they held him subject to their accusations. First, they ask why God is offended with his creatures who have not provoked him by any previous offense; for to devote to destruction whomsoever he pleases, more resembles the caprice of a tyrant than the legal sentence of a judge; and, therefore, there is reason to expostulate with God, if at his mere pleasure men are, without any desert of their own, predestinated to eternal death. If at any time thoughts of this kind come into the minds of the pious, they will be sufficiently armed to repress them, by considering how sinful it is to insist on knowing the causes of the divine will, since it is itself, and justly ought to be, the cause of all that exists. For if his will has any cause, there must be something antecedent to it, and to which it is annexed; this it were impious to imagine. The will of God is the supreme rule of righteousness, so that everything which he wills must be held to be righteous by the mere fact of his willing it. Therefore, when it is asked why the Lord did so, we must answer, Because he pleased.  –  Inst III,23,2.

Calvin may have had many faults and he may not have even been right- but he wasn’t a coward and he wasn’t half-hearted and he wasn’t given to equivocation.  May his tribe increase.

Where in the World is Chris Tilling Now?

Out on an ATV he stole…. nekkid….  Oh Chris, you really need to stop…

It was sunny with a high around 54 in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday. Not warm enough to open the sunroof, let alone take an open-air spin in the nude. Yet this is what one man did, for reasons that are still unknown.

Video shot by an eyewitness shows police pursing the man “naked as a jaybird” atop a speeding yellow ATV heading south in the northbound lane of the interstate.

KCTV5 reports the bizarre chase started shortly before 2.30 p.m., after police were alerted to a naked man seen driving an ATV through a residential area. When officers attempted to apprehend the man, he bolted for the interstate.

Get help….

The Schmalkald League

From our Saxon friends-

1531: The Schmalkaldic League was officially established on 27 February, by Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, and John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony, the two most powerful Protestant rulers at the time.

During the Reformation, the Schmalkaldic League was a defensive alliance formed by Protestant territories of the Holy Roman Empire to defend themselves collectively against any attempt to enforce the recess of the Diet of Augsburg in 1530, which gave the Protestant territories a deadline by which to return to Catholic practices. Established at Schmalkalden, Germany, the league was led by Landgrave Philip the Magnanimous of Hesse and John Frederick I of Saxony. Among its other original members were Brunswick, Anhalt, and the cities of Mansfeld, Magdeburg, Bremen, Strassburg, and Ulm. The league had a timeline of six years but was regularly extended.

Fearing that the league would ally itself with his enemy, Francis I of France, the emperor Charles V was forced to grant it de facto recognition until 1544, when he made peace with Francis. He then began military operations against the league in 1546—the War of Schmalkald—and effectively defeated it in 1547.

‪#‎Luther‬ ‪#‎OnThisDay‬

Foto: Die Mitglieder des Schmalkaldischen Bundes verlängern den Vertrag zur Abwehr aller Angriffe in Glaubenssachen, 1536 (ThHStAW, EGA Urkunde Nr. 1722)

Augustine Infected Even Luther With His Ridiculous Views of Sex

lutherstampIn one of his sermons Luther remarked

The flesh hangs around my neck together with the old Adam, who fell in Paradise ‹and is inborn in us›, whom we lug about in this life and cannot be rid of until we are buried. While the flesh, which we bear around our necks, lives and eats and drinks here, evil desire does not cease. It stirs itself and is eager to commit sin, [such as] lewdness [and] evil desire. Carnal desire is resisted with matrimony, virginity, [and] widowhood, so that it does not become fornication. And yet ‹even marriage› is not completely pure. ‹For› husband [and] wife cannot sleep with each other without shameful, evil desire.

The notion that even marital sexual relations are wicked comes straight from Augustine- who lived his early life as such a reprobate that when he converted to Christianity the pendulum swung completely to the other extreme.  From doing everything sexually, Augustine came to believe that every sexual act- even between married folk! – was evil.

Poor Luther.  And poor Augustinians.  To be robbed of a good gift of God by poor theology based on personal experience rather than informed by Scripture concerning the goodness and godliness of marital relations in all their fullness.

The oddest thing in all this is Luther’s blindness to Scripture on the issue.  Augustine’s view has nil support.  Consequently, neither does Luther’s.