Category Archives: Church History

Reformation Thursday

This only I would learn of you, whether you are baptized on the sword or on the Cross?–Menno Simons

In discussions about Christian attitudes to war, one of the surest ways to annoy people is to take an “almost pacifist” position—holding that war is legitimate in principle but almost always wrong in practice. Many defenders of Christian involvement in war get far angrier with “almost pacifists” than “real pacifists.” In fact, some authors on just war argue that the just war tradition has been hijacked by people who really want to be pacifists but don’t have the honesty or courage to admit it. I am one of those people. In practice, most of the time, I sound like a pacifist. Yet I’m not quite willing to go all the way.

Etc.  Enjoy.

Reformation as Pauline Interpretation

Jörg Frey: “Has Luther misunderstood Paul?”

Join the public lecture: Donnerstag 23.3.2017 18.15 Uhr, Universität Zürich, KO2, Karl Schmid-Strasse 4, 8006 Zürich.  Link to the original video:

Via facebook.

Fun Facts From Church History: A Little Known Influence on Luther

You may not be familiar with Johann Hilten, but he was a strange little Monk with some fairly bizarre apocalyptic inclinations who was fairly influential on Luther in terms of the latter’s self understanding.

In the Franciscan Convent at Eisenach, in Thuringia, was a monk named John Hilten. He was a careful student of the Prophet Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John; he even wrote a Commentary on these Books, and censured the most crying abuses of monastic life. The enraged monks threw him into prison. His advanced age, and the filthiness of his dungeon, bringing on a dangerous illness, he asked for the friar superintendant, who had no sooner arrived, than, without listening to the prisoner, he began to give vent to his rage, and to rebuke him harshly for his doctrine, which (adds the chronicle) was at variance with the monk’s kitchen.

The Franciscan, forgetting his illness, and fetching a deep sigh, exclaims, “I calmly submit to your injustice for the love of Christ; for I have done nothing to shake the monastic state, and have only censured its most notorious abuses. But,” continued he, (this is the account given by Melancthon in his Apology for the Confession of Augsburg,) “another will come in the year of the Lord one thousand five hundred and sixteen; he will destroy you, and you will not be able to resist him.”

John Hilten, who had announced the end of the world in the year 1651, was not so much mistaken in the year in which the future Reformer was to appear. He was born not long after at a short distance from Hilten’s dungeon, commenced his studies in the same town where the monk was prisoner, and publicly engaged in the Reformation only a year later than the Franciscan had mentioned.*

When Luther learned of Hilten, and discovered his anti-monastic vitriol, and most especially his ‘prophecy’ of a destroyer of the Monastic orders, it was hardly a stretch for Luther to see himself as the prophesied one. Which he did.

Funny, isn’t it, how people we barely know anything about somehow manage to be some of the greatest ‘influencers’ in Church History.
*J. H. Merle D’Aubigné, History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century (trans. Henry Beveridge and H. White; vol. 1; 1862), 70.


Es ist nicht nur kalendarischer Frühlingsanfang; das Datum erinnert uns daran, dass 2017 auch Hoffnung auf einen ökumenischen Frühling besteht: Bruder Klaus und Ulrich Zwingli begegnen sich zum ersten Mal – an Niklaus‘ Geburtstag, denn dieser feiert gleich das ganze Jahr seinen 600.

Etc.  Do read it.


Reminder: A Conference at Emory Celebrating the Reformation

Posted previously, but worth repeating:

A two-day international conference in Cannon Chapel on April 3-4 will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The conference is convened by Candler and Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion, and sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation. Distinguished guest lecturers will include Margot Kässmann, special envoy to the Evangelical Church in Germany; Michael Welker of the University of Heidelberg; and David F. Ford of Cambridge University, among others. Candler faculty members Timothy Albrecht, Patrick Graham, Khalia Williams, and Dean Jan Love will also take part in the conference.

This event is free and open to the public. Complimentary boxed lunches for conference attendees will be served both days. Register here.

Theologians You’ve Never Heard Of

Christopher Koerner was born at Buchen, in Franconia, in the year 1518. In his thirteenth year he began the study of the languages and of theology under his relative, Conrad Wimpina. In the year 1540 he began to teach in the University of Frankfort-on-the-Oder. In the year 1564 he was made ordinary professor in the University, and in 1581 he became General Superintendent of Mark Brandenburg. He died March 18, 1594. Because of his learning he was called “the eye of the University.” He was at the Torgau Convention in 1576, at Bergen in May, 1577, at Tangermünde, March, 1578, at Schmalkald in October, 1578, and at Jüterbogk in January, 1579. He was a true Lutheran, but was by no means so passionate, so controversial, so one-sided, as was his colleague, Musculus. In 1568 he was in essential agreement with George Major and Victorine Strigel, whom he called sound teachers.*

*James W. Richard, The Confessional History of the Lutheran Church (Philadelphia: Lutheran Publication Society, 1909), 451.

Call For Papers: Reformation on the Record

St Patrick’s Autobiography

17 March is St Patrick’s Day, when the people of Ireland and those of Irish descent around the world celebrate the feast day of this famous saint. Patrick is one of the patron saints of Ireland and certainly the most celebrated! As a young man in the 5th century, he was kidnapped from his home in Roman Britain and spent years enslaved as a shepherd in Ireland. He eventually managed to escape back to Britain, and then returned as a missionary to convert the Irish to Christianity. Patrick describes his remarkable story himself in his Confessio, a form of autobiography. The Confessio survives in only 8 manuscripts, one of which is held by the British Library (now Cotton MS Nero E I/1). This fascinating text has been fully translated from Latin into English by the Royal Irish Academy and can be found online here.

Via.  Enjoy.

Travel Can Be Perilous…

Just ask these hapless souls attacked by demons as Satan looks on…

BnF, Français 2810, fol. 215r

Our Forthcoming Volume is on the V&R Website!


From Rome to Zurich

97463From Rome to Zurich, between Ignatius and Vermigli brings notable scholars from the fields of Reformation and Early Modern studies [together] …. Touching Protestant scholasticism, Reformation era life writing, Reformation polemics – both Protestant and Catholic – and with several on theology proper, inter alia, the essays collected here by a group of international scholars break new ground in Reformation history, thought, and theology, providing fresh insights into current scholarship in both Reformation and Catholic Reformation studies. The essays take in the broad scope of the 16th century, from Thomas More to Martin Bucer, and from Thomas Stapleton to Peter Martyr Vermigli.

Contributors include: Emidio Campi, Maryanne Cline Horowitz, A. Lynn Martin, Thomas McCoog, SJ, Joseph McLelland, Richard A. Muller, Eric Parker, Robert Scully, SJ, and Jason Zuidema.

Brill have sent along a review copy.  More anon.

It’s Time To Remember St. Patrick

And no one does it better than the Lutherans (ironically).

A Great Quote from the Selderhuis Luther Lecture at Westminster

Is this one-

Here’s the full quote from which that excellent snippet is extracted:

He has accomplished what he was called to do. He has introduced among us [the knowledge of] languages, and has called us away from the sacrilegious studies. Perhaps he himself will die with Moses in the plains of Moab, for he does not advance to the better studies (those which pertain to piety). I greatly wish he would restrain himself from dealing with Holy Scripture and writing his Paraphrases, for he is not up to this task; he takes the time of [his] readers in vain, and he hinders them in studying Scripture. He has done enough in showing us the evil. He is (in my opinion) unable to show us the good and to lead us into the promised land. But why do I talk so much of Erasmus? Only so that you will not be influenced by his name and authority, but rather be happy when you feel that something displeases him in this matter of Scripture. For he is a man who is unable to have, or does not want to have, a right judgment in these matters, as almost the whole world is beginning to perceive of him.*

*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 49: Letters II (ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann; vol. 49; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 44.   Text in Latin: WA, Br 3, 96–97.  Emphasis mine.

“Nicolaus von Amsdorff”-Band 32 der Reihe “Leucorea Studien”

Der Herausgeber hat bei der Katalogisierung der Eisenacher Ministerialbibliothek einen in der bisherigen Amsdorff-Forschung unbekannten Manuskriptband wiedergefunden. Er enthält insgesamt 23 Schriften und Fragmente Nicolaus von Amsdorffs.  Mehr zu den Bänden der Reihe unter:

Via EKD.

Fun Facts From Church History: Trashy Novels Weren’t Welcome in Calvin’s Geneva

sillySome of the ladies (and odd men) like ‘Romance novels’ but in Calvin’s Geneva such books were unwelcome. As P. Henry remarks

We learn from the state-register of March 13, 1559, that romance-reading was altogether prohibited in Geneva. It is said:—“Inasmuch as many persons are in the habit of reading Amadis de Gaule, which contains much that is licentious and wicked, let them be gravely admonished, and let the said book be abolished and destroyed.” Shortly after Calvin’s time, Henry Stephens was excommunicated and imprisoned, because he had written a dissolute book.*

You have to admire Calvin.  He knew garbage when he saw it.  The world would be a better place if unrealistic titillation didn’t exist (fostering, as it does, unrealistic expectations and inevitably, disappointment).  In the real world, ladies, men wear shirts, and cut their hair.  And don’t work out 12 hours a day.  Just so you know…

*P. Henry, The Life and Times of John Calvin, the Great Reformer Volume 1, p. 174.


Routledge, Taylor & Francis is pleased to announce the publication of the first 2017 issue of Reformation & Renaissance Review, which will also be available to view online.

This issue contains the following articles:

More information


How Reform Began in Zurich

Reform began slowly but surely, first with worship. Lent was abandoned as a man made tradition in 1522 and by 1523 the Mass itself was replaced with ‘The Lord’s Supper’. Silver ‘Mass utensils’, cups, and bowls were replaced with common wood. Tables were set up in the Sanctuary so that the Supper more resembled a supper. Images were removed, worship was reorganized, and the Reform gained speed and strength through a series of public debates which Zwingli and his colleagues in Reform easily won.*

*Jim West, “Christ Our Captain”: An Introduction to Huldrych Zwingli (Quartz Hill, CA: Quartz Hill Publishing House, 2011), 15–16.

That Sausage

swiss_sausagesWhen Zwingli permitted the consumption of sausages by Froschauer and his co-workers it was a revolutionary and shocking act akin to someone today burning a flag.  It was a watershed moment in the history of Christianity, overturning centuries of practice in one defiant act.

In contrast, the boldest thing most modern Christians do is attend mid-week prayer meeting or bible study.

Check This Out On #InternationalWomensDay: Women of the Reformation

Right here.

Why Yes, Yes it Does

This book offers a concise and highly-readable explanation of the dramatic changes that took place during the Reformation and helps readers understand the deeper impact of the Reformation beyond its own time period. Changes in theology and in worship, in the status of lay people and clergy, and in the relations between church and state reshaped Christians’ views of themselves. Early modern Christians had to rethink their relationship with God and with other Christians based on these new realities. As contemporary Christians grasp the Reformation’s dramatic impact in its own time, they will find resources for understanding and responding to challenges and conflicts today.

Video of Karin Maag’s January Series lecture, “500 Years Later: Why the Reformation Still Matters”