Petrus van Mastricht (1630-1706): Text, Context, and Interpretation

Petrus van Mastricht (1630–1706): Text, Context, and Interpretation »is not just a statement of the state of the art on Mastricht studies. It also points the way forward for further exploration of Mastricht’s thought and the history of Reformed Orthodoxy in general« from the Preface by Carl R. Trueman.

This volume presents collected essays from scholars around the world on various aspects of Petrus van Mastricht (1630-1706) theology, philosophy, and reception in the context of the challenges of orthodoxy in his day. This book, then, locates Mastricht’s ideas in the context of the theological and philosophical currents of his day. The pre-Revolutionary status of theology and philosophy in the wake of the Enlightenment had many of the same problems we see in theology today as relating to the use and appropriation of classical theology in a 21st-century context. Ideas about the necessity of classical primary sources of Christianity in sustaining Reformed theology are once again becoming important, and Mastricht has many insights in this area. The last thirty years have witnessed a remarkable revolution in the study of Reformed Orthodoxy, that broad movement of theological consolidation which took place in the two centuries between the early breakthroughs of the Reformation and the reorganization of intellectual disciplines within the university world heralded by the arrival of the various intellectual and cultural developments known collectively as the Enlightenment. The old models which tended to prioritize one or two figures in the Reformation. In place of this older scholarship, we now have a growing number of studies which seek to place Reformed thinkers of the period in a much wider context. One of the results of this is that serious scholarly attention is now being directed at figures who were previously neglected, such as Petrus van Mastricht, a German-Dutch theologian, who has emerged as significant voices in shaping the Christianity of his day. He was the author of a major system of divinity. This work is in the process of being translated into English (two volumes are available at the time of writing). Mastricht is also the subject of a growing body of literature in English, of which this volume is a fine example. The essays contained in book work represent precisely the range of scholarly interests that the new approach to Reformed Orthodoxy has come to embody. Dealing specifically with the areas of theology, philosophy, and reception, this book points toward three critical areas of study.

The obvious benefit of this volume is that if presents readers a basic overview of the works of a once famous and now all but forgotten theologian.  Van Mastricht isn’t the usual topic of conversation at AAR and certainly not at SBL.  He doesn’t generate the interest of Barth or Calvin or Zwingli or Luther or even Brunner.  He wasn’t ‘flashy’ or ‘stupendous’ and he clearly did not leave such a legacy that children are named after him.

But in his day he was so very important.  And even today he deserves an audience.  And this book may serve a purpose if it causes people to think about the contributions of van Mastricht to Reformed theology.

To kick things off, Trueman offers as good an apologia for van Mastricht research as anyone could.  This is followed by Neele’s Preface which contains a short summary of the volume’s contents.

The body of the volume itself is comprised of a section on Theology, one on Philosophy, and one on Reception.  Important appendices provide readers with a chronology of his life and work, a bibliography of his publications, and a fairly extensive (if the fairly small body of secondary literature on an undeservedly obscure theologian can be called ‘extensive’) list of secondary materials.

The Theology section is the most interesting to me.  It provides essays on van Mastricht’s understanding of the twofold kingdom of Christ, the external and internal call, Christology of the Old Testament, and practical theology.  The Philosophy section and its three essays will appeal to those with a philosophical bent.  And the Reception section will appeal to those whose interests are more centered in historical theology.

The contributors are a relatively diverse group, including several Europeans, several Asians, and many Americans.  One is an entrepreneur, several are Professors, and one is a PhD student.  Their wide range of backgrounds means that this volume engages a range of perspectives.

In terms of the contents of the volume in relationship to scholarship and scholarly insight, it is very good indeed.  One essay was relatively weak but the remainder were really very well executed.

Petrus van Mastricht was a really very interesting person.  He could be a bit dry and a tad boring at times but that’s true of everyone who writes and especially is it true of theological works.  And that’s fine.  I much prefer someone who is a bit dull and yet remains relevant to someone who peppers their works with pop culture references that are outdated within a year or two of publication.  While trying to be witty and contemporary what they actually achieve is planned obsolescence.   Their jokes and puns and asides where reference is made to Spiderman or Captain Kirk may generate buzz, at the end of the day that’s all that’s generated.  They are all form and no substance.

And that’s an accusation that can never be made against those theologians whose works stand the test of time.  They are substance first and care nothing for the act of putting makeup on a pig.  They exalt substance over form, unlike the soon irrelevant form over substance crowd.

Petrus van Mastricht is all substance.  Whatever one thinks of his form.  And this little book is an ideal entry into his thought-world.  Give it a read.  You won’t regret it.  And there isn’t a pop-culture reference in the whole thing.  Thanks be to God.

The Death of Erasmus

melanchthon_erasmusOn his way [back to the Netherlands] he stopped in Basel in the house of Jerome Froben, August, 1535, and attended to the publication of Origen. It was his last work. He fell sick, and died in his seventieth year, July 12, 1536, of his old enemies, the stone and the gout, to which was added dysentery.

He retained his consciousness and genial humor to the last. When his three friends, Amerbach, Froben, and Episcopius, visited him on his death-bed, he reminded them of Job’s three comforters, and playfully asked them about the torn garments, and the ashes that should be sprinkled on their heads. He died without a priest or any ceremonial of the Church (in wretched monastic Latin: “sine crux, sine lux, sine Deus”), but invoking the mercy of Christ. His last words, repeated again and again, were, “O Jesus, have mercy; Lord, deliver me; Lord, make an end; Lord, have mercy upon me!”

Today in Church History: The Tetrapolitan Confession

The Tetrapolitan Confession, also called the Strassburg and the Swabian Confession, is the oldest confession of the Reformed Church in Germany, and represented the faith of four imperial cities, Strassburg, Constance, Memmingen, and Lindau, which at that time sympathized with Zwingli and the Swiss, rather than Luther, on the doctrine of the sacraments.

It was prepared in great haste, during the sessions of the Diet of Augsburg, by Bucer, with the aid of Capito and Hedio, in the name of those four cities (hence the name) which were excluded by the Lutherans from their political and theological conferences, and from the Protestant League. They would greatly have preferred to unite with them, and to sign the Augsburg Confession, with the exception of the tenth article on the eucharist, but were forbidden. The Landgrave Philip of Hesse was the only one who, from a broad, statesmanlike view of the critical situation, favored a solid union of the Protestants against the common foe, but in vain.

Hence, after the Lutherans had presented their Confession June 25, and Zwingli his own July 8, the four cities handed theirs, July 11, to the Emperor in German and Latin. It was received very ungraciously, and not allowed to be read before the Diet; but a confutation full of misrepresentations was prepared by Faber, Eck, and Cochlaeus, and read Oct. 24 (or 17). The Strassburg divines were not even favored with a copy of this confutation, but procured one secretly, and answered it by a “Vindication and Defense” in the autumn of 1531.*

_____
*Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church (vol. 7; New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 719–720.

Zwingli’s ‘Petition for Priests to Marry’ and a Little Help from a Friend

xylotectusOn 7 July 1522, while Zwingli was preparing his little booklet on the freedom of priests to marry, his friend in Lucerne, one Johannes Xylotectus, sent him a note with a tiny story to help Zwimgli make his point. Xylotectus writes

Ioannes Xylotectus Huldricho Zuinlio S. D. P.

Sacrificus quidam nostras scorti sui maritum confecit. Scortum sacrificus aliquandiu invito marito aluit. Maritus eum de restituenda preda Lucernae convenit. Hinc cum scorto redeuntem in itinere deprehendit, adgreditur loethiferoque vulnere cadit et tandem moritur. Hoc ideo te scire volui, ut, si commode inserere libello, quem parturis, posses, exemplum haberes recens, quanta noster coelibatus non modo scandala, verumetiam pericula pariat, quibus legittimo coniugio foelicissime mederi possent nostri Helvetii. Noster item Bodenler dominica pręterita multa in sacerdotum coniugia pro contione dixit, cui velim vel per Erasmum nostrum responderetur (ut scilicet vel taceret vel scripturam scriptura refelleret, ne tandem suis coloribus depictus toti orbi fabula redderetur), nugas suas diutius non ferendas, et cetera in hunc modum, ut visum fuerit, litterasque illas cum libello negotii nostri accipiat. Iacobus Naef te ad templi sui consecrationis festum venturum dixit. Fac sciam, an ita sit et quando.

Vale.

Ex Lucerna Nonis Iuliis 1522.
Et doctissimo et amicissimo domino Huldricho Zuinlio,
Tigurinorum euangelistae. –
Meister Uolrich Zwingli zuo Zurich lutpriester.

Zwingli’s friends across the Cantons were happy to help him Reform the Church.  And reforming the Church meant reforming the clergy.

Of Xylotectus (who isn’t exactly widely known), the Swiss Historical Lexicon notes

Geboren 1490 (Johannes Ludwig Zimmermann) Luzern, gestorben 19.8.1526 Basel, von Luzern, aus patriz. Geschlecht stammend. um 1524 Margarethe Feer, Tochter des Jost, Bauern. Stud. in Basel, 1508 Bakkalaureus, 1510 Magister Artium. 1499 Chorherrwartner des Stifts Beromünster, 1504 Chorherr zu St. Leodegar im Hof in Luzern, 1513 Priesterweihe.

Ab 1510 wirkte X. als Lateinlehrer in Luzern und knüpfte enge Bande zum Humanistenkreis um Joachim Vadian, Huldrych Zwingli, Glarean und Oswald Myconius. Als seine Stellung in Luzern aufgrund seiner reformator. Gesinnung unhaltbar wurde, siedelte X. Ende 1524 nach Basel um. Dort erlag er der Pest. 1520 wurde X. von Hans Hohlbein (dem Jüngeren) porträtiert.

Calvin: On Ridding the Church of Wicked Pastors

This is becoming more and more important.  Churches should pay attention and act accordingly:

We recognize no other pastors in the Church than faithful pastors of the Word of God, feeding the sheep of Jesus Christ on the one hand with instruction, admonition, consolation, exhortation, deprecation; and on the other resisting all false doctrines and deceptions of the devil, without mixing with the pure doctrine of the Scriptures their dreams or their foolish imaginings.

To these we accord no other power or authority but to conduct, rule, and govern the people of God committed to them by the same Word, in which they have power to command, defend, promise, and warn, and without which they neither can nor ought to attempt anything.

As we receive the true ministers of the Word of God as messengers and ambassadors of God, it is necessary to listen to them as to him himself, and we hold their ministry to be a commission from God necessary in the Church.

On the other hand we hold that all seductive and false prophets, who abandon the purity of the Gospel and deviate to their own inventions, ought not at all to be suffered or maintained, who are not the pastors they pretend, but rather, like ravening wolves, ought to be hunted and ejected from the people of God.*

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*Calvin: Theological Treatises (p. 32).

The Burning of Jan Hus

1415: On July 6, Jan Hus is condemned as a heretic and then burned at the stake.

husAfter John Wycliffe, Jan (John) Hus is considered the first Church reformer, as he lived before Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. Hus was a key predecessor to Protestantism, and his teachings had a strong influence on the states of Western Europe, most immediately in the approval of a reformist Bohemian religious denomination, and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself. On July 6, 1415, John Hus (whose name means “goose” in his native Czech) made his way to the place of execution. Some of his last words were: You are going to burn a goose but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.

This “Swan” of this statement has popularly been interpreted to be Martin Luther, not to mention, even by Luther himself:

However, I, Dr. Martinus, have been called to this work and was compelled to become a doctor, without any initiative of my own, but out of pure obedience. Then I had to accept the office of doctor and swear a vow to my most beloved Holy Scriptures that I would preach and teach them faithfully and purely. While engaged in this kind of teaching, the papacy crossed my path and wanted to hinder me in it. How it has fared is obvious to all, and it will fare still worse. It shall not hinder me. In God’s name and call I shall walk on the lion and the adder, and tread on the young lion and dragon with my feet. And this which has been begun during my lifetime will be completed after my death. St. John Huss prophesied of me when he wrote from his prison in Bohemia, “They will roast a goose now (for ‘Huss’ means ‘a goose’), but after a hundred years they will hear a swan sing, and him they will endure.” And that is the way it will be, if God wills. [LW 34:103]

Via our Saxon friends on FB.

John Flavel’s “Warning to an Ungodly Nation”

Worth repeating fully– (with the ht here)

WARNINGS TO AN UNGODLY NATION

From John Flavel (1628 – 1691)

_____________________________

John Flavel

John Flavel

As Paul had many clear premonitions and fore-notices of the sufferings that should befall him at Jerusalem, that he might not be surprised by them when they came, so it is usual with God (though not in such an immediate and extraordinary a manner) to admonish the world, and especially His own people of great trials and sufferings before hand (Amos 3:7). “Surely the Lord will do nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants the prophets.”

Thus, when He was about to bring the flood upon the world, He gave one hundred and twenty years warning of it before it came (Gen. 6:3), and when He was to destroy Sodom, He saith (Gen. 18:17), “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” And the like discovery He made about the same judgment to Lot (Gen. 19:12–14). So when the captivity of the Jews was nigh at hand, the people had many forewarnings of it; God forewarned them by the prophets (Ezek. 3:17), “Hear the word at My mouth, and give them warning from Me.” And when the time drew nigh to execute the judgment determined upon Jerusalem and the temple, how plainly did Christ foretell them of it! (Luke 19:43, 44)! “Thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee.”

And when the storm was just ready to fall, their own historian (Josephus) tells us, a voice was heard in the temple, saying,Migremus hinc (Let us go hence). “Which voice Tacitus also mentions in his annals, affirming it to be more than a human voice, telling them God was departing, and that it was accompanied with a rushing noise, as of persons going out. These were extraordinary warnings.” The like signs have been given to divers other nations, by dreadful eclipses of the heavenly bodies, portentous comets, earthquakes, and other signs of judgment.

Now, though we have no ground to expect such extraordinary warnings, yet we have the most apparent and certain signs of approaching calamities; after which, if they surprise us, the fault must lie in our own inexcusable negligence; for we have a standing rule to govern ourselves in this matter, and that is this:

When the same sins are found in one nation, which have brought down the wrath of God upon another nation, it is an evident sign of judgment at the door; for God is unchangeable, just and holy, and will not favour that in one people which He hath punished in another, nor bless that in one age which He hath cursed in another.

Upon this very ground it was that the apostle warned the Corinthians by the example of the Israelites, whose sins had ruined them in the wilderness (I Cor. 10:6): “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust afer evil things, as they also lusted.” As if he should say, look upon those dead bodies which are, as it were, cast up upon the Scripture-shore for a warning to you. Follow not the same course, lest you meet with the same curse; if you tread the same paths, expect the same punishment. God is as righteous now as He was then: He hates and will punish sin in you as much as He did in them.

Let us therefore consider what those provocations were that hastened the wrath of God upon His own Israel, a people that were nigh and dear unto Him: a people upon whom He spent as much of the riches of His patience as upon any people in the world, that so we may reckon whereabouts we are at this day, and what is like to be the lot of this sinful and provoking generation; and we shall find, by the consent of all the prophets, that these sins were the immediate forerunners and proper causes of their overthrow.

  1. The great corruption of God’s worship among them kindled His wrath and hastened their ruin (Psa. 106: 39–42). “Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His people, insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.” They that will not bear the golden yoke of Christ shall be galled with the iron yoke of men. Nothing more provokes the anger of God than the adulterating of His worship; a man will bear a thousand infirmities in the wife of his bosom, but unfaithfulness in the marriage-covenant breaks his heart. After the manner of men, so abused and grieved, the Lord expresseth Himself (Ezek. 6:9), “I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from Me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols.” Men cannot invent a surer and speedier way to their own ruin than to bring their own inventions into God’s worship.
  2. Incorrigible obstinacy and impenitency, under gentler strokes and lesser judgments, make way for utter ruin and desolation (Amos 4: 6-12). Scarcity, mildews, pestilence and sword had been tried upon them, but without effect; for the remnant that escaped those judgments (although plucked as so many brands out of the fire, in which their fellow sinners perished) were not reformed by those gentler and moderated judgments.
  3. Stupidity and senselessness of God’s hand, and the tokens of His anger, were provoking causes and forerunners of their national desolation; they neither saw the hand of God when it was lifted up, nor humbled themselves under it when it was laid on. The hand of God is then said to be lifted up when the providences of God prepare and posture themselves for our affliction; when the clouds of judgment gather over our heads, and grow blacker and blacker, as theirs did upon them, and do upon us at this day, but they took no notice of it (Isa. 26:11): “Lord, when Thy hand is lifted up, they will not see”; and (which is the height of stupidity) they all remained senseless and regardless, when the hand of God was laid upon them (Isa. 42:24, 25): “Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, He against whom we have sinned? For they would not walk in His ways, neither were they obedient unto His law. Therefore He hath poured upon him (them) the fury of His anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.”O prodigious sottishness! It was not some small drops of God’s anger, but the fury of His anger; not some lighter skirmish of His judgments with them, but the strength of battle. It was not some particular stroke upon single persons or families, but it set him on fire round about, a general conflagration; yet all this would not awaken them.
  4. The persecution of God’s faithful ministers and people was another sin that procured, and a sign that foretold the destruction of their nation (2 Chron. 36:15,16); “And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling-place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” There were also a number of upright souls among them, who desired to worship God according to His own prescription; but a snare was laid for them in Mizpah, and a net spread for them upon Tabor (Hos. 5:1), and this hastened judgment towards them. Mizpah and Tabor were places lying in the way betwixt Samaria and Jerusalem, where the true worship of God was; and in those places spies were sent by the priests to observe and inform against them; so that it became very hazardous to attend the pure and incorrupt worship of God, which quickly hastened on their ruin.
  5. The removal of godly and useful men by death, in more than ordinary haste, was to them a sign of desolation at hand (Isa. 57:1); “The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.” In this case God acts towards His people as the husbandman in a gathering harvest doth by his corn; he hurries it with a shuffling haste into the barn when he sees a storm coming; or as a careful father with his sons that are abroad at school, who sends his horses to fetch them home speedily, when he hears the plague is begun in the place. Upon this ground the prophet Micah bewails himself (Micah 7:1); “Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer-fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage; there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the first-ripe fruit.” Alas! alas! What miserable days are at hand! What miseries must I expect to see! The pleasant clusters (i.e. the societies of the saints) are gathered away by the hand of death; there are but few that remain, here and there a single saint, like grapes after the vintage is done, two or three upon the utmost branches.
  6. The general decay of the life and power of godliness among them that were left foreboded destruction at the door: this is both a provoking sin, and a forerunning sign of national calamity (Hos. 4:18): “Their drink is sour” – a metaphor lively expressing the deadness and formality of the people in the worship of God. It was like sour or dead drink, which hath lost its spirit and relish, and is become flat. Such were their duties; no spiritual life, affection or savour in them. They heard as if they heard not, and prayed as if they prayed not; the ordinances of God were to them as the ordinances of men, of which the apostle saith, that they perish in the using.
  7. To conclude: Mutual animosities, jars and divisions were to them manifest symptoms of national calamities and desolations: for then Ephraim envied Judah, and Judah vexed Ephraim (Isa. 11:13, Hos. 9:7); “The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.”

When such symptoms of God’s indignation do appear upon any people, the Lord by them, as by so many glaring meteors and blazing comets, forewarns the world that His judgments are near, even at the door. These signs all men ought to observe and behold with trembling.

If you ask, Why doth God usually give such warnings of His indignation before it comes? The reasons are:

  1. To prevent the execution
  2. To make them more tolerable
  3. To leave the incorrigible inexcusable

First, Warning is given with design to prevent the execution of judgments (Amos 4:12): “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel”; i.e. Prepare thyself to meet Me in the way of My judgments by humiliation and intercession to prevent the execution. And what else was the design of God in sending Jonah to the great city Nineveh but to excite them to repentance for the prevention of their ruin. This Jonah knew to be the Lord’s meaning, how positive soever the words of his commission were; and therefore he declined the message to secure his credit, knowing that if upon warning given they repented, the gracious nature of God would soon melt into compassion over them, and free grace would make him appear as a liar; for so we must expound his words (Jonah 4:2); “Was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee of the evil.” Yea, Lord, I knew beforehand it would come to this. Thou sendest me positively to denounce Thy judgments to Nineveh, meantime desiring nothing more than the execution of them might be prevented by their repentance. And thus Thy mercy hath exposed my reputation, in saving them from destruction.

Secondly, God forewarns His people of judgments to make them more tolerable when they come. Expected evils are nothing so heavy as those that come by surprise; for look, as the expectation of a mercy makes it less sweet, our thoughts having anticipated and sucked out much of the sweetness beforehand, so the expectation of judgments before they befall us make them less bitter and burdensome than else they would be, the soul having inured and accustomed itself to them by frequent thoughts, and prepared and made ready itself to entertain them. To prevent the disciples’ surprise and offence at those days of persecution that were coming upon them, Christ foretold them, and gave the fair warning beforehand.

Thirdly, He forewarns His people of approaching dangers to leave the incorrigible wholly inexcusable, that those who have no sense of sin, nor care to prevent ruin, might have no cloak for their folly when judgments overtake them, “What wilt thou say when He shall punish thee?” (Jer. 13:21). As if He should say, “What plea or apology is left thee, after so many fair warnings and timely premonitions? Thou canst not say I have surprised thee, or that you wast ruined before thou was warned. Thy destruction therefore is of thyself.”

Fun Facts from Church History: Calvin’s System of Sermonizing

calvin_preachTo give you some idea of the scope of the Calvin’s pulpit, he began his series on the book of Acts on August 25, 1549, and ended it in March of 1554. After Acts he went on to the epistles to the Thessalonians (46 sermons), Corinthians (186 sermons), pastorals (86 sermons), Galatians (43 sermons), Ephesians (48 sermons)–till May 1558. Then there is a gap when he is ill. In the spring of 1559 he began the Harmony of the Gospels and was not finished when he died in May, 1564. During the week of that season he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah, 123 on Genesis and so on.

And here’s the most interesting snippet-

One of the clearest illustrations that this was a self-conscious choice on Calvin’s part was the fact that on Easter Day, 1538, after preaching, he left the pulpit of St. Peter’s, banished by the City Council. He returned in September, 1541–over three years later–and picked up the exposition in the next verse.*

That, my friends, is how you do it.
_________________
*From John Piper’s little book on Calvin.

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Today in Church History: The Founding of ‘Theologische Existenz heute!’

Karl Barth und die Anfänge einer kirchlichen Opposition

Die Herausbildung einer kirchlichen Opposition innerhalb der evangelischen Kirche ist durch eine aufsehenerregende Schrift, die am 1. Juli 1933 veröffentlicht wurde, entscheidend forciert worden. Sie stammte aus der Feder des Bonner Theologieprofessors Karl Barth und trug den Titel „Theologische Existenz heute!“.

Der Text hatte den Zuschnitt eines Manifestes und veränderte die kirchliche Lage nachhaltig. Entschieden wendet sich Barth darin gegen die Deutschen Christen und ihr Bestreben, die evangelische Kirche im Sinne des Nationalsozialismus zu politisieren. Barth fordert die radikale Abkehr von dieser Politisierung der Kirche.

Mehr zur Schrift „Theologische Existenz heute!“ finden Sie hier.

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Jews and Protestants

This new book will be of interest to many people.

The book sheds light on various chapters in the long history of Protestant-Jewish relations, from the Reformation to the present. Going beyond questions of antisemitism and religious animosity, it aims to disentangle some of the intricate perceptions, interpretations, and emotions that have characterized contacts between Protestantism and Judaism, and between Jews and Protestants.

While some papers in the book address Luther’s antisemitism and the NS-Zeit, most papers broaden the scope of the investigation: Protestant-Jewish theological encounters shaped not only antisemitism but also the Jewish Reform movement and Protestant philosemitic post-Holocaust theology; interactions between Jews and Protestants took place not only in the German lands but also in the wider Protestant universe; theology was crucial for the articulation of attitudes toward Jews, but music and philosophy were additional spheres of creativity that enabled the process of thinking through the relations between Judaism and Protestantism.

By bringing together various contributions on these and other aspects, the book opens up directions for future research on this intricate topic, which bears both historical significance and evident relevance to our own time.

DeGruyter have sent a review copy.  Be sure to visit the publisher’s link above and scroll to the contents.  The essays contained in this work were delivered first at a conference in Jerusalem in 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.  The essayists hale from universities in Europe and Israel, and America and their papers cover a wide range of topics, from the impact of the Reformation on early modern German Jews to the legacy of anti-semitism in Bach’s cantatas, to Jewish and Gentile interpretations of Luther’s anti-Jewish writings.

The aim of the conference, and the volume, is to deepen Jewish-Christian understanding.  In particular, Jewish-Lutheran understanding.

The most important contribution to the collection is that of Kyle Jantzen, “Nazi Racism, American Anti-Semitism, and Christian Duty”.  Not because it is the most profound or the best written (though it is profound and it is well written), but because it is incredibly relevant to the situation in America right now.

The rise of the alt-right and the surge of neo-nazi groups in this country right now has stunning and depressing parallels to the situation in this country in 1938.  And though we should have learned the lessons of 1938, it is obvious that we have not.  Nor does it seem that we are likely too.

Those who refuse to learn the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.  This volume is a helpful reminder of the entire history of Jewish and Christian interaction since the Reformation.  A history that we are repeating.  And not in a better way.

Happy Birthday to the University of Marburg

marburg2.jpgThe University of Marburg was opened July 1, 1527, with a hundred and four students. It became the second nursery of the Protestant ministry, next to Wittenberg, and remains to this day an important institution. Francis Lambert, Adam Kraft, Erhard Schnepf, and Hermann Busch were its first theological professors. – Philip Schaff

Happy birthday to one of the most influential universities in the world.

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The Sad State of Preaching in Geneva in the Pre-Calvin Era

Sermons in Geneva before Calvin were very much like most sermons today- silly stories and ridiculous tales were told by Priests who preferred that sort of nonsense to proclamation of Scripture.

… in consequence of the ridicule which the priests drew on themselves by the legends which they read from the pulpit, [the people] found it necessary to request the Grand Vicar to take order that in all the churches and convents the gospel should be preached according to the truth, without being mixed up with any fables, or other human inventions, that so the inhabitants might live in good accord like their fathers.*

Said edict was issued on 30 June, 1532. The same sort of edict needs to be issued today except neither clergy nor Christians would bother to heed it.
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*The Early Years of John Calvin (p. 126).

The Gloss and the Text: William Perkins on Interpreting Scripture with Scripture

William Perkins is the father of Puritanism, often remembered for his preaching manual, The Art of Prophesying. Much attention has been given to the Puritan movement, especially in its later forms, but comparatively little has been given to Perkins.

In The Gloss and the Text, Andrew Ballitch provides a thorough examination of the hermeneutical principles that governed Perkins’s approach to biblical interpretation. Perkins taught that the Bible was God’s word as well as the interpretation of God’s word. Interpretation is no private matter; it is a public gift of the Spirit of God for the people of God. Ballitch’s study sheds light on Perkins as a preacher, theologian, and student of Scripture.

A review copy arrived today from Lexham Press.  More later.

Everyday Prayer With the Reformers

When God’s children pray, we talk to a God familiar with the requests, praise, and longings of generations of his people. We have much to learn from those who went before us. In this devotional, Donald McKim takes us back to the wisdom of over twenty Protestant Reformers—including John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon. As McKim draws from the insightful writings and prayers of the Reformers of yesteryear, he provides brief, meditative readings, along with reflection questions and prayer points, to nourish our prayer lives today.

A review copy has arrived.  More anon.

Jackson’s Description of Zwingli’s First Days in Zurich, and of the Man Himself

On Saturday, January 1, 1519, he presented himself to the assembled canons [of Zurich], and was formally inducted into his office as people’s priest. … Zwingli thanked them for electing him, requested their prayers and the prayers of the congregation, and then announced that he would begin the next day the continuous exposition of the Gospel of Matthew, not according to the Fathers, but according to the Scriptures themselves. This announcement made a decided sensation, as it was a marked deviation from the practice of following the pericopes and interpreting them patristically, and awakened some adverse criticism.

Of stalwart frame, above middle height, of a ruddy countenance and pleasing expression, he made a good impression upon spectators, and when he spoke he soon showed that he was an orator who could enchain the attention. All Zurich, and indeed all Switzerland, rang with his praise. And not only town people but the country folk also listened to him with delight. For the benefit of the latter he preached every Friday, which was market-day, in the market-place, and took the Psalms for continuous exposition. On Sundays in the cathedral he expounded during his first four years, and in this order, Matthew, Acts, I. Timothy, Galatians, II. Timothy, I. and II. Peter, and Hebrews. — S.M. Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531).

Kappel. June 25. 1529.

The First Kappel War ended on this day in 1529.

After several negotiations, a treaty of Peace was concluded June 25, 1529, between Zuerich, Bern, Basel, St. Gall, and the cities of Muehlhausen and Biel on the one hand, and the five Catholic Cantons on the other. The deputies of Glarus, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, Appenzell, Graubuenden, Sargans, Strassburg, and Constanz acted as mediators.

The treaty was not all that Zwingli desired, especially as regards the abolition of the pensions and the punishment of the dispensers of pensions (wherein he was not supported by Bern), but upon the whole it was favorable to the cause of the Reformation.

The first and most important of the Eighteen Articles of the treaty recognizes, for the first time in Europe, the principle of parity or legal equality of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches,—a principle which twenty-six years afterwards was recognized also in Germany (by the Augsburger Religionsfriede of 1555), but which was not finally settled there till after the bloody baptism of the Thirty Years’ War, in the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), against which the Pope of Rome still protests in vain. (Schaff)

Regrettably the peace would not hold, and just over 2 years later the disastrous Second Kappel War would see the end of Zwingli’s life.  But not the end of his influence nor the end of his Reform.

Johannes Bugenhagen: Friend of Luther

bugenhagenJune 24, 1485: Close friend of Martin and Katie Luther’s, Johannes Bugenhagen was born in Wollin, Pomerania, now a part of Poland.

Bugenhagen became a supporter of Luther in the early 1520s and soon moved to Wittenberg. On October 25, 1523, he was named the pastor of St. Mary’s church in Wittenberg, making him Luther’s pastor. He also became a lecturer and professor at the University of Wittenberg. Luther often affectionately referred to him as Dr. Pommer in reference to the location of his birth.

Luther and Bugenhagen soon became close friends. It was Bugenhagen who performed the marriage ceremony for Martin and Katie. They also gave him the honor of being named one of the god-fathers of their first born Hans.

Bugenhagen proved himself useful to the spread of Lutheranism as well. He was often sent out by Luther to advise various territories in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. He also revised the church orders in these areas, removing the papistic abuses and including more congregational singing.

In this painting from the altarpiece from the City Church (St. Mary’s) in Wittenberg, Bugenhagen is depicted administering the office of the Keys – forgiving the sins of the penitent and retaining the sins of the impenitent. The painting is by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux

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