‘To Hell in a Handcart’

Missal, France ca. 1470-1475 (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, MS 425, fol. 196v), showing the Medieval notion of demons coming to collect a soul from an impious sinner and taking it to hell in a handcart.  At a later period of time, the phrase was recast as ‘to hell in a handbasket’.

Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest

Pál Ács discusses various aspects of the cultural and literary history of Hungary during the hundred years that followed the Battle of Mohács (1526) and the onset of the Reformation. The author focuses on the special Ottoman context of the Hungarian Reformation movements including the Protestant and Catholic Reformation and the spiritual reform of Erasmian intellectuals. The author argues that the Ottoman presence in Hungary could mean the co-existence of Ottoman bureaucrats and soldiers with the indigenous population. He explores the culture of occupied areas, the fascinating ways Christians came to terms with Muslim authorities, and the co-existence of Muslims and Christians. Ács treats not only the culture of the Reformation in an Ottoman context but also vice versa the Ottomans in a Protestant framework. As the studies show, the culture of the early modern Hungarian Reformation is extremely manifold and multi-layered. Historical documents such as theological, political and literary works and pieces of art formed an interpretive, unified whole in the self-representation of the era. Two interlinked and unifying ideas define this diversity: on the one hand the idea of European-ness, i. e. the idea of strong ties to a Christian Europe, and on the other the concept of Reformation itself. Despite its constant ideological fragmentation, the Reformation sought universalism in all its branches. As Pál Ács shows, it was re-formatio in the original sense of the word, i. e. restoration, an attempt to restore a bygone perfection imagined to be ideal.

Being a person fairly unfamiliar with the details of the Reformation in Eastern Europe, I found this work to be incredibly interesting.  From the very first section, which describes the influence of Erasmus and other intellectuals on the foundations of Reformation in Hungary, to the cultural context of Hungary (which is so amazingly interesting!) including its book culture and its theological understandings, to the reception and adaptation of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs among Hungarian dissidents, to the arrival and influence of the Ottomans, and the resurgence of the Roman church, every page is a revelation.

Here, for instance, we read –

The Reformation spread more easily and freely in the area under Ottoman occupation and in the Principality of Transylvania (a vassal state of the Porte) than in the Kingdom of Hungary under Habsburg rule. Radical trends of Protestantism, Antitrinitarianism and Szekler Sabbatarianism soon started to flourish in Ottoman-occupied Hungary and Transylvania.

And this genius bit-

I must admit that I love the period I study, and I may tend to idealize life in the 16th and 17th centuries. Of course, I know that this age is not better or worse than any other. These were harsh and cruel times in which chopped heads hung from the walls of Ottoman and Christian fortresses as war trophies, and religious opponents would often describe each other as devils springing straight out of hell. We can nonetheless affirm that people living in the age of the Ottoman period of Hungary were quite receptive of each other. The often cruel and violent debaters – Catholics and Protestants, Christians and Muslims – had studied each other’s works for years and lived close to each other also in a spiritual sense. There were lively and intricate commercial relations between the Christian world and Ottoman Hungary. This was not friendship, but a sense of connection.

The entire collection (and these are previously published in a variety of places) is an eye-opener on a particular slice of Church history.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think you will as well.

Tolle, lege!

The Exaltation of Humanity – Idolatry

Not only does she proffer a false dichotomy, she implies the exaltation of the human merely for the sake of human-ness and that is in its plainest form, idolatry.  She here turns humanity into an idol to be worshiped rather than recognizing the profound fallen-ness and depravity of humankind.

Furthermore, he willingness to jettison Scripture (which is the Christian’s source for a proper understanding of both God and humanity) belies and betrays a strand of godlessness leading all the way back to Sabellius through Servetus up to Unitarianism.

If her advice is followed, humanity is lost.  Our highest and greatest loyalty lies with God, not people.  It’s a shame that a celebrity Christian with a large following doesn’t say so.

But that isn’t surprising.  One only becomes a celebrity Christian with a large following by being anything but Christian (in its orthodox, historical sense).

‘Who Made You a Gatekeeper?!?!?’

Jesus did.

καὶ δώσω σοὶ τὰς κλεῖδας τῆς βασιλείας τῶν οὐρανῶν, καὶ ὃ ἂν δήσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἔσται δεδεμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, καὶ ὃ ἂν λύσῃς ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ἔσται λελυμένον ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς. (Matt. 16:19)

(I like to cite this verse to all the people who complain about theological gatekeeping.  Not because I necessarily disagree with them, but because I just like to see them made discomfited by Scripture and forced to explain it).

My ‘Life Verse’

‘I have appointed you as tester of my people, to learn and to test how they behave. All of them are total rebels, peddlers of slander, hard as bronze and iron, all agents of corruption.  The bellows blast away to make the fire burn away the lead. In vain the smelter does his work, for the dross is not purged out. “Silver-reject”, men call them, and indeed Yahweh has rejected them!’  — (Jer. 6:27-30)

If you like, I’d be happy to discern your life verse too….

Jan Hus Was Right in 1504 and Nothing Has Really Changed

Seht, liebe brüder, die ignoranz der priester ist schuld daran, dass die kirche trauert und in ihren kindern zugrunde geht, die verlorengehen, da der teufel, der feind, stark geworden ist, gewiss wegen der sünden ihrer propheten und ihrer priester . Die kirche krankt an ihren gliedern, und daher spricht gott, der herr: siehe mir, ich bin geworden wie einer, der im herbst nach der weinlese nur noch beeren erntet, es gibt keine traube mehr zu essen. — Jan Hus

Erasmus Was Disgruntled When Basel Removed the Idols

melanchthon_erasmusOn May 9, 1529 Erasmus wrote a friend:

“The smiths and workmen removed the pictures from the churches, and heaped such insults on the images of the saints and the crucifix itself, that it is quite surprising there was no miracle, seeing how many there always used to occur whenever the saints were even slightly offended. Not a statue was left either in the churches, or the vestibules, or the porches, or the monasteries. The frescoes were obliterated by means of a coating of lime; whatever would burn was thrown into the fire, and the rest pounded into fragments. Nothing was spared for either love or money. Before long the mass was totally abolished, so that it was forbidden either to celebrate it in one’s own house or to attend it in the neighboring villages.”

Hooray!  Erasmus talked a good game about the need for change but he never really wanted it.

The Zwingli Stamp

Die Briefmarke Huldrych Zwingli – 500 Jahre Zürcher und oberdeutsche Reformation ist ein gemein­sames Projekt der Deutschen und der Schweizerischen Post. Die Idee zur Marke stammt von der Evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland.

Gilt in der Deutschschweiz Ulrich Zwingli als der Reformator schlechthin, fristete er in Deutschland bislang ein Dasein im Schatten Martin Luthers. Ausgerechnet die Deutsche Post ehrt ihn nun mit einer Briefmarke. Der philatelistische Sonderdruck Huldrych Zwingli – 500 Jahre Zürcher und oberdeutsche Reformation ist ein gemein­sames Projekt der Deutschen und der Schweizerischen Post.

Er zeigt den Reformator in dem ­bekannten Portrait des Malers und Zwingli-Zeitgenossen Hans ­Asper. Dazu steht in grossen Lettern Zwinglis wohl berühmtester Ausspruch geschrieben: „Tut um Gottes willen etwas Tapferes!“

Etc.  Have you ever seen anything more fantastic?  No, no you haven’t.

Jetzt online: 37 Vorträge der Konferenz zur Zürcher Reformation

Im Februar hat die Konferenz  “Die Zürcher Reformation und ihre Rolle in den europäischen Reformationsbewegungen” beim Institut für Schweizerische Reformationsgeschichte stattgefunden. Die 37 Vorträge sind jetzt online anzuschauen.

Das Institut für Reformationsgeschichte hat einen YouTube-Kanal erstellt und dort 37 Videos hochgeladen.

Unter den Referenten sind viele nahmhafte Wissenschaftler wie Volker Leppin, Ian Hazlett, Christohp Strohm, Peter Opitz, Emidio Campi, Amy Nelson Burnett und Herman Selderhuis.

Hier können Sie sich die Videos anschauen.

For your viewing pleasure.