Category Archives: Church History

Mit dem Anfang anfangen: Stationen auf Karl Barths theologischem Weg

TVZ has published  Mit dem Anfang anfangen: Stationen auf Karl Barths theologischem Weg

Karl Barths Denken und Handeln folgte der Devise: Es gilt, als Christenmensch immer wieder mit dem Anfang anzufangen. In jeder Zeit ist jeweils neu auszugehen von dem, was Gott uns sagt. So bleiben Theologinnen und Theologen zeitlebens Schülerinnen und Schüler des Wortes Gottes.

Der Barth-Kenner Eberhard Busch zeichnet in diesem Buch anhand ausgewählter Stationen seinen theologischen Weg nach: Von den frühen Predigten (1911) über den aufsehenerregenden «Römerbrief» (1922), die deutlichen Stellungnahmen in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, die grundlegenden Themen der «Kirchlichen Dogmatik» bis hin zum Ende seiner Tätigkeit 1967.

Das Buch regt dazu an, genau hinzuhören, was Barth in seiner Zeit gesagt hat und was er uns heute sagen würde. Denn Theologie hat nach Barths Auffassung die Aufgabe, sich einzumischen und die Probleme der Zeit zu benennen. Dabei hat sie nicht zu wiederholen, was die Mehrheit schon meint, sondern hat, wenn nötig, auf eine vergessene Wahrheit zu pochen.

Nothing Busch writes is unworthy of reading.  A review copy has arrived.

Fun Facts from Church History: The Martyr of Einsiedeln and The Founding of a Monastery

The story of Einsiedeln is worth repeating. The name comes from “einsiedler,” a hermit; hence the Latin name for the place is “Emitarum Cœnobium.” Meinrad was the hermit from whom it derived its origin. He was a native of Rottenburg, twenty-five miles south-west of Stuttgart, but was educated in the famous Benedictine abbey school on the island of Reichenau in the Untersee, three and one half miles north-west of Constance, and after a brief experience as a secular priest became a monk in that monastery.

At some later date he was sent to teach at the abbey’s branch school at Oberbollingen, on the Lake of Zurich, near its eastern end and twenty miles from Zurich. Across the lake were mountains and dense forests, and as he day by day gazed towards them he was seized with the desire to bury himself in those solitudes and so cut himself off from contact with men. Accordingly he crossed the lake in the year 829 and made his way to the pass of the Etzel, a small mountain a couple of miles south of the Lake of Zurich and some twenty miles south-east of Zurich, and lived on the spot for some seven years. He had the same experience which distressed many other hermits—his solitude was invaded—so he removed to another spot in the “Gloomy Forest,” as the forest was called, to the plain where Einsiedeln is built, about four miles south of his first abode.

There beside a spring he put up his hut and a little place for prayer. On Tuesday, January 21, 861, he was visited by two men who, probably under the misapprehension that he had hidden treasure, murdered him. Forty years later there were a number of hermits living where the martyr had fallen. Thirty years more and the huts had been abandoned for a regular conventual building.

In 948 the chapel of Meinrad was enclosed in a church. Conrad, Bishop of Constance, in whose diocese Einsiedeln was till the beginning of this century, came down to dedicate this enclosing church to the Virgin Mary and the holy martyr Mauritius, and at the same time St. Meinrad’s chapel to the Virgin Mary. But at midnight preceding the day set for the dedication, (Thursday, Sept. 14, 948) while the Bishop and some of the monks were praying in the church, they heard angelic voices singing in the chapel the dedicatory service. Consequently he refused the next day to undertake the duty for which he had come, as far as the chapel was concerned, declaring that it had already been consecrated and in a sublime manner.

But, over-persuaded, he proceeded to read the service. Scarcely had he begun, when a voice was heard by all, saying, Stop, brother, God has already dedicated the chapel.” The speaker was the Angel of the Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ, so the dedication is known as the Angelic Dedication; in German “Engelweihe,” meaning by “angel” the Lord Jesus Christ.*

Einsiedeln was the most popular pilgrimage site in Switzerland in the 16th century. And when the Reformation took hold in Zurich, pilgrimages there were stopped.

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*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 99–101.

Calvin and the Early Reformation

Those who have a passing knowledge of John Calvin’s theology and reforms in Geneva in the sixteenth century may picture the confident and mature theologian and preacher without appreciating the various events, people, and circumstances that shaped the man. Before there was Protestantism’s first and eminent systematic theologian, there was the French youth, the law student and humanist, the Protestant convert and homeless exile, the reluctant reformer and anguished city leader. Snapshots of the young Calvin create a collage that give a bigger picture to the grey-bearded Protestant reformer. Eleven scholars of early-modern history have joined in this volume to depict the people, movements, politics, education, sympathizers, nemeses, and controversies from which Calvin emerged in his young adulthood.

A review copy has arrived.  More soon.

The Last Attempt to Stop the Reformation In Zurich: The Anniversary of its Failure

second_zurich_dispPursuant to the order of the Council, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19 and 20, 1524, Canon Hofmann, chief representative of the Old Party among the priesthood, met the three people’s priests, and six theologians and six councillors, in private sessions, and attempted to defend the old usages. But the commission decided that he had not made out his points from Scripture, and so the Council voted that the canons must give outward assent to the Council’s orders or leave the city.

With this last desperate attempt the Old Party closed their efforts, and there was no further formal opposition in Zurich to the Reformation. One by one, as the people were fully able to stand it, and understand it, those practices of the Old Church which Zwingli considered objectionable were removed. The saints’ days passed unobserved; the procession to Einsiedeln which had taken place annually on Monday after Pentecost (that year May 16th), and which was made much of, was permanently abolished, by order of Council, the preceding Saturday; the reliques were by similar order, June 15th, taken from the churches and reverently buried; the organs were removed and the ringing of the church bells during a tempest, even the tolling for funerals, stopped.

Masses for the dead, processions of clergy, payment for confession, blessing of palms, holy water, candles, and extreme unction, all became things of the past. The removal of the pictures, statues, images, and other ornaments from the churches was accomplished in the city between Saturday, July 2d, and Sunday, July 17th. Similar scenes took place all over the canton. The next step, and one which like the others was carefully weighed, was the abolition of the convents and monasteries in the city and canton of Zurich.*

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*Jackson, S. M., Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (pp. 223–225).

Today With Zwingli: The Complete Triumph of the Reformation in Zurich

Pursuant to the order of the Council, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 19 and 20, 1524, Canon Hofmann, chief representative of the Old Party among the priesthood, met the three people’s priests, and six theologians and six councillors, in private sessions, and attempted to defend the old usages. But the commission decided that he had not made out his points from Scripture, and so the Council voted that the canons must give outward assent to the Council’s orders or leave the city.

With this last desperate attempt the Old Party closed their efforts, and there was no further formal opposition in Zurich to the Reformation. One by one, as the people were fully able to stand it, and understand it, those practices of the Old Church which Zwingli considered objectionable were removed.

  • The saints’ days passed unobserved;
  • the procession to Einsiedeln which had taken place annually on Monday after Pentecost (that year May 16th), and which was made much of, was permanently abolished, by order of Council, the preceding Saturday;
  • the reliques were by similar order, June 15th, taken from the churches and reverently buried;
  • the organs were removed and the ringing of the church bells during a tempest, even the tolling for funerals, stopped.
  • Masses for the dead, processions of clergy, payment for confession, blessing of palms, holy water, candles, and extreme unction, all became things of the past.
  • The removal of the pictures, statues, images, and other ornaments from the churches was accomplished in the city between Saturday, July 2d, and Sunday, July 17th.

Similar scenes took place all over the canton. The next step, and one which like the others was carefully weighed, was the abolition of the convents and monasteries in the city and canton of Zurich. This was determined upon on December 3, 1524. All the monks were gathered into the Franciscan monastery, and the Dominicans and Augustinians were not allowed to return to their old homes. Most of them decided to leave the monastery and make their living as best they might.

The nuns of the Oetenbach and Selnau convents had already been united in the former building. The convent attached to the Frau Münster, through its abbess, on December 5th, surrendered itself to the city, and that attached to the Great Minster on December 20th. The revenue of the latter was appropriated at Zwingli’s suggestion to a classical school of high grade, and generally speaking that which came to the city from such sources to good purposes, as relief of the poor or sick.*

The complete triumph of Reform was achieved in 1524. The city, canton and many of the other cantons would never return to the domination of Rome.

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*Samuel Macauley Jackson, Huldreich Zwingli: The Reformer of German Switzerland (1484–1531) (Heroes of the Reformation; New York; London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons; Knickerbocker Press, 1901), 223–225.

#ICYMI – Melanchthon und die Reformierte Tradition

From  V&R

9783525550311Andreas J. Beck versammelt die Beiträge der internationalen wissenschaftlichen Tagung »Melanchthon und die Reformierte Tradition«, die vom 10.-12. November 2010 in Emden stattfand. Die Tagung wurde anlässlich Melanchthons 450. Todesjahres von der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek Emden in Kooperation mit der Evangelisch-Theologischen Fakultät Leuven und der Europäischen Melanchthonakademie Bretten organisiert.

Die einzelnen Beiträge stammen von Forschern aus Deutschland, den Niederlanden, Belgien, Frankreich, England und Ungarn und dokumentieren den bisher kaum erforschten, großen Einfluss Philip Melanchthons auf die reformierte Tradition. Einige Beiträge erörtern spezifische theologische Fragen, wie etwa das Verhältnis von Wort und Geist oder Freiheit und Wille bei Melanchthon. Andere Beiträge stellen größere Bezüge her, etwa zwischen Melanchthon und der reformierten Frömmigkeit oder der reformierten Scholastik. Außerdem thematisieren Beiträge Melanchthons Einfluss in Deutschland, der Schweiz, Frankreich, den Niederlanden und Ungarn thematisiert. Einige Beiträge zur Rezeption Melanchthons in der reformierten Tradition des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts und ein Rückblick auf das Melanchthon-Gedenkjahr 2010 runden das Bild ab.

Die beträchtliche Bedeutung Melanchthons für die reformierte Theologie, Frömmigkeit und Bildung zeigt sich nun deutlicher als in der bisherigen Forschung und stellt zugleich die einseitige Assoziation der reformierten Tradition mit Calvin in Frage. Melanchthon wirkte international über sein ausgedehntes Netzwerk mit Gelehrten und kirchlichen Leitern, seine Bildungs- und Universitätsreformen, seinen Schüler und sein überaus vielseitiges Schrifttum; er war der Lehrer Europas (Praeceptor Europae), nicht nur der Lehrer Deutschlands (Praecepter Germaniae).

The volume’s collected essays examine numerous aspects of Melanchthon’s life and world, as the table of contents illustrates quite clearly:

  • Günter Frank, Das Melanchthon-Gedenkjahr 2010
  • Andreas Mühling, Melanchthon und die Zürcher Theologen
  • Machiel A van den Berg, The Apocalyptic Melanchthon
  • Antonie Vos, Philip Melanchthon on Freedom and Will
  • Henk van den Belt, Word and Spirit in Melanchthon’s Loci Communes: Searching for the Relationship between the External and the Internal
  • Kees de Groot, Die Homiletik Melanchthons
  • Martin H. Jung, Melanchthon und die reformierte Frömmigkeit
  • Andreas J. Beck, Melanchthon und die reformierte Scholastik
  • Anthony Milton, A Tale of Two Melanchthons: Melanchthon and English Protestantism 1560–1660
  • András Szabó, Melanchthon und die Schule in Sárospatak im 16. Jahrhundert
  • Nicola Stricker, Melanchthon und die reformierte Tradition in Frankreich
  • Frank van der Pol, A Seventeenth Century Reformed-Pietistic Portrait of Melanchthon from the Netherlands
  • Johannes Hund, Norm oder Geist: Die reformierte Debatte zum Augustana-Jubiläum von 1830
  • Matthias Freudenberg, Melanchthon im Kontext der reformierten Tradition der Neuzeit

Each essay is by an expert Melanchthon-ist and the expertise of each contributor is completely clearly on display in their respective essays.  Several are, obviously, in English and many are in German.  Similarly on display is Melanchthon’s own wide ranging interests and engagements; from his magisterial theology in the Loci to his dabblings in Apocalyptic through his interactions with the Zurich theologians and extending to his impact on the church across Europe.  Melanchthon’s reach surpassed Luther’s and nearly rivaled Bullinger’s himself.  The collection’s editor writes of the volume:

In diesen Beiträgen zeigt sich die beträchtliche Bedeutung Melanchthons für die reformierte Theologie, Frömmigkeit und Bildung nun noch deutlicher als bisher. Dadurch wird zugleich die einseitige Assoziation der reformierten Tradition mit Calvin in Frage gestellt. Auch in der reformierten Tradition wirkte Melanchthon international über sein ausgedehntes Netzwerk mit Gelehrten und kirchlichen Leitern, seine Bildungs- und Universitätsreformen, seine Schüler und sein überaus vielseitiges Schrifttum. Melanchthon war „Praeceptor Europae“, nicht nur „Germaniae“, was auch die während der Tagung vom Brettener Oberbürgermeister Marius Wolff eröffnete Wanderausstellung „Melanchthon – Grenzen überwinden“ in der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek bestätigte.

Frank’s opening essay perfectly sets the stage for the conference at which it was delivered and for the volume presently under consideration.  Therein he describes the historical Melanchthon and his impact on theology, ecumenism, and philosophy.  As each essay which follows the opening unfurls they each, in their own way, touch on some significant aspect of Melanchthon’s historical, ecumenical, theological, or philosophical impact.

Particularly enlightening is van den Berg’s essay on Melanchthon’s apocalypticism.  As he notes

The sixteenth century reformer Philipp Melanchthon would never have thought that some day in the future – somewhere in the North of his beloved Germany, of which he is called the Praeceptor – reformation scholars would come together to commemorate his contribution to the reformed tradition, 450 years after he “escaped” from the rabies theologorum to enter the eternal glory he so eagerly had hoped for. Although his expectation of the second coming of Christ was not that imminent, as it seemed to be for his spiritual father and guide Martin Luther, he also believed that time was short for the end of history. In his calculation of the years, according to the prophecy of Daniel, it would be around the year 2000 at the latest; but if it pleased the Lord to shorten the times it could also happen much earlier. However, he was convinced that the history of this world was nearing its end.

Each essayist, again, expands our understanding of Melanchthon’s thought and influence and for each of the contributions scholars and students have ample reason for gratitude.  This is a valuable collection and those with an interest in the subject will enjoy it very much indeed.

Reformations Conversation: A Talk with Eric MacPhail

The latest podcast from the Meeter Center is online.

International Intrigue- in the 16th Century

[There exists] a letter to Zwingli, dated January 18, 1530, wherein two Swiss in the service of the King of France offer their services to bring about a conference between the representative of the King and of the Zurich allies (viii., 397).

The Landgrave of Hesse took great interest in this mission (cf. his letter of February 1, 1530, viii., 404 sqq.). As these negotiations were delicate, the Landgrave and the Duke of Wurtemberg in writing to Zwingli employed arbitrary signs in their letters to designate certain persons, mostly sovereigns, and also the correspondents themselves. Cf. letter to Zwingli of February 14, 1530 (viii., 411)(SM Jackson).

The Reformation wasn’t just of interest to theologians.  It was of interest to politicians as well, for less than theological reasons.

Arguing with Radicals

Huldrich_zwingli 8In the middle of January, 1525, Zwingli and the other Pastors in Zurich were in a pitched battle against the radicals who were then urging their followers to abandon the Reformation and speed ahead with a total severance from society.  1525 would become the year during which Zwingli spent the majority of his time battling these ’causers of unrest’.

Indeed, things had already developed to such a threatening level to the well being of the city that in December the year before Zwingli had written  his scathing Wer Ursache gebe zu Aufruhr. In March of 1525 Zwingli published De vera et falsa religione commentarius, which took a swipe at both the old believers and the radicals.   In April the trial of some rebaptizers was observed by Zwingli; in May his Von der Taufe… appeared.   In June, Von den Predigtamt took to task those asserting pastoral and preaching privileges even though they lacked the appropriate tools.  And in November, the Antwort über Balthasar Hubmaiers Taufbüchlein saw the light of day.

All of these books were ‘conflict’ oriented and 1525 was perhaps the most conflict ridden of Zwingli’s life.   And that doesn’t take into account the opening of a front against an inaccurate understanding of the Lord’s Supper which was then developing and would come to a head at Marburg in 1529.

Notwithstanding all these disputations and difficulties, Zwingli maintained a cheerful disposition.  Depression and despair would stay away until 1531, when early in the summer, he would try to resign.

The historically ignorant to this day constantly insist that the Radicals were chiefly interested in infant baptism and its abolition.  This is not the case.  Nor is it the case that they insisted on baptism by immersion- since they were happy both to sprinkle and to pour.  No, their aim was far more inappropriate: they wanted a Church separated from society.

As Schaff puts it so pointedly:

The first and chief aim of the Radicals was not (as is usually stated) the opposition to infant baptism, still less to sprinkling or pouring, but the establishment of a pure church of converts in opposition to the mixed church of the world. The rejection of infant baptism followed as a necessary consequence. They were not satisfied with separation from popery; they wanted a separation from all the ungodly. They appealed to the example of the disciples in Jerusalem, who left the synagogue and the world, gathered in an upper room, sold their goods, and held all things in common. They hoped at first to carry Zwingli with them, but in vain; and then they charged him with treason to the truth, and hated him worse than the pope.

Zwingli could not follow the Anabaptists without bringing the Reformation into discredit with the lovers of order, and rousing the opposition of the government and the great mass of the people. He opposed them, as Augustin opposed the schismatical Donatists. He urged moderation and patience. The Apostles, he said, separated only from the open enemies of the gospel, and from the works of darkness, but bore with the weak brethren. Separation would not cure the evils of the Church. There are many honest people who, though weak and sick, belong to the sheepfold of Christ, and would be offended at a separation. He appealed to the word of Christ, “He that is not against me, is for me,” and to the parable of the tares and the wheat. If all the tares were to be rooted up now, there would be nothing left for the angels to do on the day of final separation.

The Radicals couldn’t and wouldn’t tolerate such sensibility.  So they stirred civil unrest.  That the authorities could not tolerate, and the Radicals reaped the whirlwind.

Luther, Undone

lutherCatholics and Lutherans have made another step toward joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 by issuing common liturgical guidelines for ecumenical services to mark the occasion.  The guidelines, in a booklet called “Common Prayer,” provide a template for an ecumenical service, complete with suggested prayers, appropriate hymns and themes for sermons.  Catholic leaders in Luther’s home country of Germany, where interest in the anniversary is strongest, at first balked at the idea of “celebrating” what Lutherans there had already named the “Reformationsjubiläum” [Reformation Jubilee].  But detailed talks between the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican produced a 93-page report titled “From Conflict to Communion” in 2013 that announced they would mark the anniversary together and presented the Reformation as the start of a shared 500-year journey rather than a single and divisive historical event.

Luther, Undone.  Catholics celebrating the Reformation are like members of the NAACP celebrating the founding of the KKK.  People simply lack historical perspective and don’t comprehend the issues which drove Luther and the others to Reform.  Issues which have not to this day been resolved.

Born Again: The Evangelical Theology of Conversion in John Wesley and George Whitefield

The gospel message is simple but not simplistic. Learning the gospel and its implications is a lifelong process, but modern evangelicals are often too focused on the moment of conversion while ignoring the ongoing work of sanctification. For John Wesley and George Whitefield, justification and sanctification were inseparable.

In Born Again, Sean McGever maps Wesley’s and Whitefield’s theologies of conversion, reclaiming the connection between justification and sanctification. This study helps evangelicals reassess their thin understanding of conversion, leading to a rich and full picture of the ongoing work new Christians face.

A review copy has arrived from Lexham.  More soon.

Another Portrait of Calvin I’ve Never Seen Before

From the newly published volume by Brill.  This is a very interesting portrait in that not many of Calvin as a very young man seem to exist.

Benedict is not Amused

Retired Pope Benedict has issued a passionate defense of priestly celibacy, saying he “cannot remain silent” as his successor Pope Francis considers easing the prohibition on married men serving as priests.

Etc.  Catholic history is always more interesting when there are two popes.

Meeter Center Reformation Day Lecture

The Latest JEMC was Waiting For Me

And it looks fantastic!

Another Reason to Love Jerome

Jerome was the only Church Father to have written commentaries on all the prophets of the Old Testament. — Urs Leu

Today With Calvin

It was 11 January, 1546, that Calvin’s Order for the Visitation of the Ministers and Parishes dependent on Geneva appeared. It

calvin87… shows that at this time the reformer realized the need for drawing up a new draft for organizing a regular inspection of the country churches, in order to ensure the maintenance of good order and the supervision of ministers in the exercise of their functions, as well as of the congregations in the discharge of their religious duties. Calvin presented his draft to the meeting of the Council on January 25, 1546 when it was adopted. The Register of the Venerable Company reports the introduction of these visitations in these terms: “In the month of (? January) 1546, it was resolved by the brethren met in general assembly, that henceforth visitations be made of all the parishes of the Church of Geneva. It was also agreed by those present, and ordained, that two counsellors should also go with the ministers to visit the local lords, so that the minister on his side might make enquiry concerning the doctrine and life of the pastor of the place and the counsellors of the life of the squire.” This rule later found a place in the Ordinances of 1561.*

Can you imagine such a thing taking place today? Every mega-church would be closed down and Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and their ilk would be shown the outbound road of town and ordered never to return. And that’s why we call them ‘the good old days’.

Here are the five major purposes of the ‘inspection’:

calvin2First, in order to maintain proper uniformity of doctrine in the whole body of the Church of Geneva, that is to say in the city and also in the parishes dependent on the Seigneury, the Magistracy is to elect two of their Lordships of the Council and similarly the Ministers two of their Congregation, who will be charged with going once a year to visit each parish, to enquire whether the Ministry of the place have accepted any doctrine in any sense new and repugnant to the purity of the gospel.

Second, this Visitation is to enquire whether the Minister preaches edifyingly, or whether there be anything at all scandalous, or unfitting to the instruction of the people because it is obscure, or treats of superfluous questions, or exercises too great rigour, or some similar fault.

Third, to exhort the people to attendance at Service, to have a liking for it, and to find profit in it for Christian living; and to expound what is the office of the Ministry, in order that they understand how they ought to discharge it.

calvin3Fourth, to know whether the Minister is diligent not only in preaching but also in visiting the sick, and particularly in admonishing those that need it, and to prevent anything that might be for the dishonour of God.

Fifth, to discover whether he lead an honest life, and show a good example, or if he commit any dissoluteness or frivolity which renders him contemptible, or if he get on well with his people and likewise with all his family.

Yessir- the mega-churchers would be finished, and so would a lot of so called churches where everything but the Gospel is preached and ministers of all sorts of depraved cravings fleece the flock.

Oh for the really, really good old days…

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*J.K.S. Reid, Calvin: Theological Treatises, p. 73.

Today With Zwingli

Zwingli was in Bern for the doings there and wrote his lovely wife to check in on things.

thumb_zwingli-and-wife-2Gnad und frid von gott.

Liebste husfrow, ich sag gott danck, das er dir ein fröliche gburt verlihen hatt. Der welle üns die nach sinem willen ze erziehen verlyhen. Schick miner bäsy j oder ij tuechly sölcher maass und wys, als du sy treyst. Sy kumpt zimmlich, doch nit bagynlich, ist ein frow von 40 iaren,  in alle wys und maass, wie sy meister Iörgen frow beschriben hatt.  Tuot mir und üns allen über die maass guetlich. Bis hiemit gott  bevolhen. Gruetz mir gfatter schaffnerin, Uolmann(!) Trinckler,  schultheiss Effingerin, und wer dir lieb sye.  Bitt gott für mich und uns alle.

Geben ze Bernn xj. tags Ienners.

Gruetz mir alle dine kind; besunder Margreten tröst in minem namen.

Huldrych Zuingli, din huswirt.  Schick mir, so bald du kanst, den tol’ggenrock.

Der frommen Anna Reinhartin ze Zürich, siner lieben husfrowen.

Why Do We Have a New Testament?

According to James Barr, R.H. Lightfoot once claimed that the origin of the New Testament should be sought in the moment the early Chris­tians, under the impression of the first Roman persecutions, lost faith in the survival of their religion. As a result of their fear, they decided to write down their traditions and recollections, in order that these might not be lost or deliberately perverted.  (Cited by NP Lemche in his essay ‘The Old Testament: A Hellenistic Book).

Lightfoot is probably right.  And if so, it’s a good thing that they were driven by the fear of extinction.  History has shown their fear to be misplaced but the result of that fear is itself a historical monument without which the world would be an utterly different place.

Fun Facts From Church History: The ‘You Shouldn’t Imagine Yourself a Preacher, Melchior Hoffmann’ Edition

luther33Melchior Hoffmann, a furrier from Swabia … believed he had a call to preach the gospel. He had been deeply influenced by the writings of Luther, but like so many others he also toyed with chiliastic-mystical phantasmagorias. Expelled from Wolmar, he came to Dorpat late in 1524, and on January 10, 1525, his adherents stormed churches and monasteries, destroying pictures and statues. When the city council grew suspicious of the new arrival and insisted that Hoffmann should bring proper recommendations, he went to Wittenberg in person and persuaded both Luther and Bugenhagen to direct letters to the Livonians, to which he also added one of his own. But in the ensuing years he leaned more and more toward the enthusiasts, and within a few years Luther was prompted to call him a dreamer and false prophet who should return to his furrier’s trade.*

There are a whole lot of people who are better suited to killing animals than preaching. Unfortunately most don’t have the sense to know it.
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*Luther’s Works, vol. 53: Liturgy and Hymns, p. 43.