2017 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture
Wednesday, October 25-Friday, October 27
Brent Gibson, Director of Undergraduate Research of University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
This is an undergraduate panel that I will be sponsoring as Director of Undergraduate Research at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. Students in the panel will write short papers exploring how Protestantism manifests itself in literature, specifically the novel. Aspects that will be explored include attitudes toward art, creation, and God's continuing presence in the world.
Paul Gutacker, Baylor University
David Baines, Samford University
Annette Aubert, Westminster Theological Seminary
Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
In 1888, historian Daniel Dorchester argued that American religious history demonstrated that Protestantism was superior to Roman Catholicism. The growth of Christianity without state support, according to Dorchester, proved once and for all that religion was “a purely personal thing.” Dorchester was not the only nineteenth-century American who believed their nation represented the fulfillment of the Protestant Reformation. Yet the meaning of the Reformation remained up for debate. How was the Reformation remembered and reimagined in nineteenth-century America? In what ways, and for what reasons, was the Reformation reinterpreted? How were theological and historical reinterpretations of the Reformation shaped by the unique American religious, political, and social context? This panel will consider these questions from several vantage points: developments in theological and historical scholarship, denominational identity, theological debates over social issues, and transatlantic academic networks. Professor Mark Noll will chair the discussion.
Paper 1: Philip Schaff and the Place of the Bible in the Organic Development of Protestantism (David Bains)
Arriving in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, in 1844, the twenty-six year-old historian Philip Schaff offered an inaugural address,åÊThe Principle of Protestantism.åÊ Its publication the next year ignited a firestorm of protest. In one of the more memorable attacks,åÊNew York EvangeliståÊeditor George Cheever insisted against Schaff that “the Word of God” was “a sun around which the church lies as an enlarging circle . . . Each successive generation and century is just as near to the Word as the first.” While such a claim seemed common sense to most American Protestants, it was completely ridiculous in Schaff’s eyes.åÊ Nineteenth-century Christians were thoroughly dependent on the generations that came before. Any other claim was in Schaff’s view, “unscientific.” This paper examines Schaff’s view of the relation of the Bible to the church and how it set the foundation for his ecumenical career.
Paper 2: “No man is a legitimate Protestant who lends his sanction to this infamous system”: Nineteenth-Century Slavery Debates and the Protestant Reformation (Paul Gutacker)
Antebellum arguments over slavery were also debates over the meaning of the Reformation. Antislavery writers insisted that the Protestant Reformation planted the seeds for abolition, while proslavery authors countered that abolitionists twisted Protestant principleads from their original meaning. Both sides debated the effect, or lack thereof, of the Reformation on slavery in Christendom. This paper will explore these contested memories of the Protestant Reformation, highlighting the unexpected reinterpretations and surprising historical appeals produced during the slavery debate. In their efforts to discredit or legitimate Christian slaveholding, Baptists found themselves appealing to patristic exegesis, Presbyterians lamented that the Reformation fragmented Christendom, and anti-Catholic abolitionists praised the Pope. This analysis will demonstrate how slavery debates employed, revised and complicated Protestant narratives about the meaning and significance of the Reformation.
Paper 3: Nineteenth-century Reformation Interpretations in America: Geschichtswissenschaft, Textbooks, and Translations (Annette Aubert)
Historiographies of the Reformation written in America in the nineteenth century have been penned by only a small number of scholars, including church historian Philip Schaff and historians based at Union Seminary, Yale, Brown, and Harvard. Some of these scholars studied in Germany with Johann August Neander and engaged with Leopold von Ranke, who wrote scholarly texts on the Reformation and Martin Luther. There is little in the way of modern scholarship on George Park Fisher (1827-1909), whose historical work focused on the early church fathers (cf. Elizabeth Clark). During his tenure at Yale, Fisher also made important contributions to nineteenth-century Reformation studies in the United States and his work received positive scholarly attention in nineteenth-century Germany. While the main purpose of this paper is to explore Fisher’s work on the Reformation, I will focus also on two other areas of nineteenth-century Reformation interpretation in America (and to a lesser extent Germany): first, by considering other American scholars such as Williston Walker, Henry B. Smith, and Frederic Henry Hedge, whose academic contributions to interpretations of the Reformation likewise were influenced by new scientific historical methods and transatlantic academic networks; and second, by comparing images and descriptions of Luther and the Reformation that were created on both sides of the Atlantic.
Elizabeth Marvel, Baylor University
Wesley Barey, Baylor University
Anna Redhair, Baylor University
Scott Prather, Baylor University
What was the condition of English Catholicism: a rotting ship in need of rescue, or a vibrant religion with dedicated practitioners? This is the question that has dominated the historiography of the English Reformation for the past several decades, and one that still shapes research into lay piety and reform in late-medieval England. Each of these papers examine aspects of religion in England in the century prior to the Reformation. In his paper "Saints' Lives and Liturgical Instruction for the Laity in John Mirk's /Festial/," Wesley Garey examines the instruction of the laity through Mirk's adaptations of medieval exempla. Elizabeth Marvel's paper, "Reform before the Reformation: Nuns, Vocation, and Monastic Reform in Late-Medieval England" will examine the vocation of women religious and the church's introduction of these women into problematic communities for the purposes of reform. Anna Redhair, in her paper, "Women on the Move: Biblical Conceptions of Female Pilgrimage on the Eve of the Reformation," considers the ways that biblical texts were used to negatively portray female pilgrimage. Together, these papers will explore the ways in which the Catholic faith was preached and practiced in late-medieval England, furthering our understanding of the context and tensions of the English Reformation.----- Wesley Garey, Ph.D. student, Baylor University
"Saints' Lives and Liturgical Instruction for the Laity in John Mirk's Festial." --
John Mirk's /Festial/, likely written in the 1380s, was one of the most widely-circulated vernacular sermon collections in late-medieval England. While the /Festial/ is widely known as a collection of hagiographic sermons meant for feast days, recent scholarship has also associated it with the late-medieval church's reinscription of orthodoxy. In this essay, I examine the connection between the saints' day sermons in Mirk's /Festial/ and the pastoral project in late-medieval England. I argue that as Mirk adapted various hagiographical narratives and exempla from the Golden Legend, he reshaped his sources into sermons which are clearly meant for an audience of listening parishioners. In addition, Mirk's revisions to his sources instruct the laity about the importance of participation in church feasts and other liturgical occasions. In this way, the /Festial/ functions as an example of an important part of late-medieval reform within the institutional church: explaining the meaning of orthodox liturgical practices and exhorting parishioners to fully participate in these practices.-----
Elizabeth E. Marvel, PhD Student, Baylor University
"Reform before the Reformation: Nuns, vocation, and monastic reform in Late-Medieval England"--
Martin Luther leveled some of his harshest critiques at the monastic life. He and other reformers saw much of the same greed, corruption, and unholy living in the monasteries as in the papacy. Luther's negative attitude, especially toward nuns, was influenced by the experience of his wife, Katarina, who reportedly was placed in a monastery at the age of 5. Because nunsplaced against their will did not choose the monastic life, Luther considered them proneto corruption. They lackedvocation, and hencelackeddedication to the monastic life. However, the experience of Katarina was not the experience of all nuns. Evidence from late-medieval bishops' registers in the diocese of Lincoln suggests not only that women religious pursued their monastic vocation, but that these women actually were used intentionally by the ecclesiastical hierarchy to instigatereform within monastic communities long before the Reformation instigated reform from outside. The church's recognition of these women as tools of reform helps us further understand female monastic vocation as well as the intense resistance of women religious during the dissolution.-----
Anna Redhair, MA Student, Baylor University
"Women on the move: Biblical Conceptions of Female Pilgrimage on the Eve of the Reformation."--
Sermons and popular literary texts quite consistently portrayed women undertaking pilgrimages in a negative light, particularly as compared to male pilgrims. That negative connotation carried over to other types of travel more generally and critiques of female travel, even for religious purposes, came from both the clergy and the laity in many late-medieval English sources. Sermons and religious treatises on the Eve of the Reformation often utilized Biblical characters and stories as support for their discouragement of female travel. The rape of Dinah, for example, received an extended (and negative) treatment by Martin Luther. The ways in which biblical texts were used to discuss female pilgrimage in sermons and didactic religious literature across the Reformation era sheds light on how the church, from late-medieval to early modern, connected the piety of women with their movements outside the home. An analysis of these sources helps to illustrate themes of continuity and change regarding the relationship between women and the Reformation.
Gerald Mast, Bluffton University
Walter Paquin, Bluffton University
Denny Weaver, Bluffton University
This panel explores how Anabaptists have yielded to the Word of God in their practices of singing, reading, discussing, and living the Bible. Early Anabaptist communities were deeply shaped by the Reformation's recovery of biblical knowledge and obedience and by what Robert Kolb calls the "the divine communication" and "re-creative promise" of the enduring Word of God proclaimed by Martin Luther. At the same time Anabaptist reception of the Bible reflects their conviction that while the Word of God is a creative and reliable agent, it does not coerce or impose God's will and way. Because the Word of God invites but does not insist, those who accept its invitation to renewal are able to align with the Word in their deepest motivations, in their bodily habits, and in their intuitive assumptions about reality. Consistent with this experience of the renewing and restoring Word, the Bible is received by Anabaptists as both a source of knowledge about God's will and as a manual for living in God's way. Anabaptists are thus drawn to practices of Bible reception that involve communal and bodily activity: singing it together, discussing it together, and living it together. While Anabaptists have been influenced by the Protestant preference for the sermon as a vehicle for clarifying scripture, they have also insisted that the voice of the congregation is essential for discerning and displaying God's Word. Perhaps most importantly, Anabaptists have preferred to think of the Word of God as the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, more than as ideas or information about Jesus Christ. The Word of God is a person to be known and followed, one who appears to us in the words of scripture, to be sure, but also in the gospel of the creatures that surround us, as Hans Hut explained, and in the law of love written on our hearts, as Hans Denck confirmed.
Presentations and presenters.
"The Word of God in the Ausbund: the Bible as Ground and Gift." Gerald J. Mast, Professor of Communication, Bluffton University.
"The Word of God in the Swiss Brethren Concordance: the Bible as Rule and Resource." J. Walter Paquin, Associate Professor of Social Work, Bluffton University.
"The Word of God in the Apocrypha: the Bible as Wisdom and Wit." Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, Assistant Professor of Religion, Bluffton University.
"The Word of God in Contemporary Anabaptist Theology: the Bible as Story and Signpost." J. Denny Weaver, Professor Emeritus of Religion, Bluffton University.
Heather Peterson, University of Northwestern-Saint Paul
Jonathan Loopstra, University of Northwestern-Saint Paul
Ann Sorenson, University of Northwestern-Saint Paul
Justin Daeley, University of Northwestern-Saint Paul
Unlike our highly specified fields today, the Protestant Reformers were leaders with broad and deep educations, interests, and relationships beyond what we may see as their spheres from a contemporary perspective. Five colleagues across disciplines at an evangelical university present what has been forgotten in the Reformation and what is necessary for the "always reforming" of the future of the Millennials (and upcoming Generation Z) they teach.
Though much emphasis is often placed on the solas of the Reformation, we recognize that the magisterial Reformers saw themselves as working in conversation with the Fathers of the Early Church. With this in mind, our Church historian will explore the possible influence of the recent "Ressourcement" movement on today's college students. Though many Millennials are sincere in wanting to retrieve certain elements of liturgy, worship, and exegesis from the pre-Reformation church, life in our modern, progressive society presents many challenges for the deeper, meaningful appropriation of such elements.
Our linguist touches on the same ‘Ressourcement movement' in a metaphorical analysis of selected texts from The Book of Common Prayer. As Phyllis Tickle pointed out in 2012 in Emergence Christianity, a benefit of the BCP is that most of its versions are without copyright, making it free to use and adapt for Christian communities, who have more recently revised their self-identity as "missional" rather than "emergent." Our linguist juxtaposes Thomas Cranmer's text with the metaphorical language of selected texts of the Midwestern fundamentalist William B. Riley, who founded the evangelical institution of which she is a faculty member. What assumptions about Scripture might evangelicals be turning away from in their history and turning farther towards in the works of Cranmer?
The Book of Common Prayer was in part due to the western development of the printing press. The printing press democratized books, reading, and access. The lens, another development shortly before the Reformation, was used to point to the macro (the heavens) and then the micro (cells) creating a new wave of enlightenment and friction. These technological advances created the conditions that bolstered the Reformation and its momentous wave of impact across Europe. Our art historian explores how are our technological advances advancing a new reformation or a continued one? How are modern science and technology forwarding our doctrine and worship? What are the modern challenges of the evangelical church in an age of the Internet and Globalization? Are we like Luther and others harnessing the power of this new technology?
The University of Northwestern's professor film follows with a focus on the contemporary use of film. Though evangelical films have grown recently in distribution and box office success, they have not succeeded in creating and sustaining a cultural awareness and social dialogue about the Gospel that were seen across the Christian world during the Reformation. She will lead a discussion about what we can learn from the use of technology in the time of the Medieval Reformation and how we could draw inspiration in finding equally powerful ways of employing the media of film in taking the Gospel to the world.
Antecedents of perfect being theology began in ancient Greek philosophy and slowly relocated in the Christian tradition. A number of theologians have asserted that this relocation of perfect being theology has brought ideas into the Christian tradition that are in fact incompatible with the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. Accordingly, perfect being theology is anti-Biblical. In this presentation, however, our philosopher will argue that it is not the case that perfect being theology is anti-Biblical. The argument is founded upon (1) establishing that there are good Biblical reasons to endorse a particular variant of perfect being theology; and (2) demonstrate that a number of Reformation thinkers were proponents of perfect being theology. In light of (1) and (2), our philosopher will conclude with discussion on what perfect being theology ought to look like in contemporary Christian philosophy and theology.
From the draw and the influence of the "Ressourcement movement," to the harnessing of technology during the Reformation and by evangelicals now, to the Reformation thinkers supporting perfect being theology despite its current detractors, five cross-disciplinary faculty members explore how the past is necessary for future reformation.
Lesley-Anne Williams, Baylor University
Katherine Calloway, Baylor University
Will Williams, LeTourneau University
Western Christianity has often articulated the relationship between faith and reason in terms of how to read the book of scripture and the book of nature. To what degree is it possible for non-Christians (hypothetically and really) to know God through the book of nature? In what ways might the book of nature inform a Christian's reading of scripture and vice versa? These issues of authority, reason, and exegesis were shaped both directly and indirectly by Renaissance Humanism, the rise of the New Science, and the Protestant Reformation. Our panel presents a before and after historical perspective upon the ways the Reformers and their inheritors were in continuity with and broke with the medieval tradition.
*John Calvin and Two Streams of Medieval Natural Theology*
The standard account of this change presents the new natural theology of Post-Reformation Europe as fundamentally a product of both Protestantism and the New Science. Summarizing arguments for the existence of God, Alvin Plantinga explains that Aquinas developed a rudimentary version of the teleological argument, but that "it was left to modern and contemporary philosophy to propose fuller and better-developed versions of it." The most famous "better-developed version" is the modern argument from design, which arose in tandem with the so-called "New Science," not coincidentally on the heels of the Reformation. The first two panel papers respond to this thesis from two different perspectives.
Lesley-Anne Williams will place John Calvin's view of natural theology and scripture within its medieval and renaissance context. This paper will compare and contrast two different streams of natural theology available during the Middle Ages, one originating in Augustine and coming to fruition in Peter Abelard and another represented by Thomas Aquinas. John Calvin's natural theology has rightly been understood to be influenced primarily by Plato, Cicero, and Augustine because of his humanist tendencies, but this paper will address how much his approach may be the inheritance of a continuing medieval tradition.
*The Reformation and Natural Theology in England, 1600-1700*
Katherine Calloway will briefly trace historical work on the relationship between the Reformation and natural philosophy in general before considering natural theology in particular.
How much does modern science owe to the Reformation, and how did this influence unfold? The best-known recent explanation of how the Reformation precipitated the rise of modern science has been made by Peter Harrison, who argues that a decline in a vertical, allegorical understanding of the natural world made space for scientific reformers to examine the horizontal, causal relationships among material things.
Natural theology is an important part of this story. Educational reformers promoted the new scientific method by citing its more theologically appropriate grounding and ability to demonstrate God's wisdom and power in creating and maintaining the (intricate an orderly) world. The roots of the design argument can be traced in Francis Bacon, whose Calvinist upbringing is evident in his emphasis on God's unintelligibility and corresponding call for a more empirically responsible "divine philosophy" than was practiced by, for instance, Anselm or Aquinas. I will consider the development of these ideas by various figures writing in England later in the century, as natural theology took on a prominence that would continue into the nineteenth century.
*Kierkegaard's Defense of Nature and Theology Against Natural Theology*
Will Williams will consider one of Lutheranism's most prominent skeptics of natural theology, SÌüren Kierkegaard, who viewed this ascendency as an intrusion of rationalism into the Christian faith. Whatever the intentions of those promoting natural theology, Kierkegaard believed that it weakened Christian faith in practice by magnifying, not quelling, philosophical doubts. For example, Kierkegaard saw traditional Christian doctrines, such as Christ's ascension, being abandoned and ridiculed by those otherwise claiming the faith because they seemed to be contrary to nature and to reason. While other Lutherans, such as G. W. F. Hegel, advocated for philosophy's ascendency over theology, Kierkegaard fought for what he saw as a more faithful reception of Luther's legacy by opposing Lutheranism's colonization by philosophical speculation via natural theology.
Even so, Kierkegaard retained a great love of nature itself and frequently drew on it in his writing career. In particular, Kierkegaard repeatedly reflected on the images of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air (from Matthew 6:25-34) in naturalistic and theological terms. Thus, even while resisting the popularity of natural theology, Kierkegaard explored new ways that nature could be informative and nourishing for the Christian faith. I will investigate Kierkegaard's reimagining of natural theology for Protestant Christendom, focusing especially on the figures of the lilies and the birds in /Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits/ (1847), /Christian Discourses/ (1848), and and /Judge for Yourself!/ (1851).
Taylor Worley, Trinity International University
Randall Zachman, University of Notre Dame
David Taylor, Fuller Seminary
Both detractors and supporters of John Calvin have deemed him an enemy of the physical body, a pessimist toward creation, and a negative influence on the liturgical arts. But, says W. David O. Taylor, that only tells half of the story.
In his book Taylor examines Calvin's Trinitarian theology as it intersects the Frenchman’s doctrine of the physical creation in order to argue for a positive theological account of the liturgical arts. Taylor does so believing that Calvin's theology can serve, perhaps surprisingly, as a rich resource for understanding the theological purposes of the arts in corporate worship.
Drawing on Calvin's Institutes, biblical commentaries, sermons, catechisms, treatises, and worship orders, this book represents one of the most thorough investigations available of John Calvin's theology of the physical creation—and the promising possibilities it opens up for the formative role of the arts in worship.
The following scholars will provide thoughtful engagements with the text and then we will hear from the book’s author. There will also be time for discussion and further exchange between the presenters.
Taylor Worley, Associate Professor of Faith and Culture, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL
Bruce Gordon, Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History, Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT
David Music, Professor of Church Music, Baylor University, Waco, TX
Randall Zachman, Professor for Reformation Studies, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN
W. David O. Taylor, Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Seminary, Houston, TX
Individual and Paper Presentations
The Protestant Bible in Latin America, 1820-1962
Until the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church's emphasis on "new evangelization" in the 1960s and 1970s, personal, vernacular Bible study was largely foreign to indigenous Latin Americans. Protestant missionaries, though quite unwelcome, tried to change this.
My paper analyzes the activity of Protestant missionaries between the Second Great Awakening and Second Vatican Council--a period of time in which Protestant presence markedly increased in Latin America. Specifically, I discuss how Protestant and evangelical missionaries distributed English and vernacular Bibles, New Testaments, catechisms, and creeds. In doing so, I not only engage with how Protestant Christians challenged the institutional Catholic priesthood in Latin America, but also with what the Bible represented to the missionaries bringing them. American and British missionaries, and their societies like the American Bible Society and the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, repeatedly spoke how of the Bible's presence initiated social, religious, and political reformation amongst their indigenous subjects. The transported Bible encouraged new dress, behavior, and diplomacy among foreign audiences. Through analysis of Bible society annual reports and missionary recordings, I attempt to unearth the presence and meaning of the Protestant Bible in Latin America and address a gap in the historiography of Latin American Christianity.
Jennen’s Messiah: How Charles Jennens Chose to Combat Deism with the Bible and the Art of Music
Utilizing a short film that I wrote and directed about Charles Jennens as a jumping off point (https://vimeo.com/191875160) I will elaborate on Charles Jennens and his contribution to the creation of George Frideric Handel’s famous Messiah oratorio. In particular, the presentation will focus on the ways in which Jennens utilized the words of scripture alone (primarily The King James Version) combined with the power of a particular artistic medium to refute the rising trend of Deism, which carried with it an insistence on a detached vision of the divine.
This presentation will argue that the work of Jennens would not have been possible without the Protestant Reformation and its emphasis upon the dissemination of the Bible in the vernacular. However, the presentation will also focus on what I will argue is a characteristic of praxis that was propagated by people who themselves were products of the English Reformation—namely the use of and reliance on beauty (art, poetry, music) in conjunction with scripture as a viable form or apologetics (as well as exegesis and even translation).
The paper will argue that Charles Jennens’s initiative has its roots in an English Spirituality that was formed by both pre-Reformation ideas (i.e. the illuminated manuscripts of Celtic monasticism) as well as post-Reformation realities (Thomas Cranmer’s liturgy in The Book of Common Prayer). The thrust of the presentation will be to insist upon a reclamation of beauty as an integral piece of our engagement with the scriptures, which is a concept that is lacking in much of the Protestant world but which is very much at home in the work of Charles Jennens, as evident in his contribution to one of the greatest oratorios ever composed.
Real Absence: The Reformation, the Sacraments, and the Literary Arts Today (or, Where are all the Catholic poets?)
This paper will explore Catholic and Protestant differences regarding the sacrament of the Lord's Supper/Eucharist and how those theological disagreements have resulted in distinct, and at times antithetical, poetics. Specifically, the focus will be on the striking divide evident during the latter half of the twentieth century and into the present day between devout Catholic and faithful evangelical literary artists, with the former (i.e. Catholic writers) excelling in the writing of prose narrative--both novels and short fiction--while the latter (i.e. Protestant writers) have taken the lead in the composition of lyric. Moreover, even among the preeminent Protestant writers of fiction--Marilynne Robinson and Wendell Berry are two ready examples--prose styles, when at their best, are often described as "lyrical." Borrowing heavily from Louise Cowan's genre theory, but also drawing upon the contemporary critical and creative works of novelists Randy Boyagoda and Glenn Arbery, the paper will argue that the "ontologies" of lyric and prose narrative have found their fullest expressions respectively in the recent works of Protestant and Catholic artists who are giving form, in their works of art, to the theological disagreements introduced 500 years ago concerning this most important of Christian sacraments.
Luther's influence of Music during the Protestant Reformation
Submission of an Abstract of a Paper for Presentation
at the Bible and the Reformation Conference
to be held at Baylor University, Oct. 25-27, 2017
by Dr. Martin Batts
Professor of English and Philosophy, Emeritus
LeTourneau University, Longview, TX
Luther’s Reformation of Music During the Protestant Reformation
Commenting on Martin Luther’s influence on music, one sixteenth-century Jesuit
priest complained, “Luther has damned more souls with his hymns than all his sermons.”
Although Luther’s world-changing contributions to theological reformation during the early sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation are well-known, less well-known are his contributions to the reformation of music during this significant period of time in the history of the church.
On a personal level, Luther himself was an accomplished musician who possessed a fine voice, played the lute with finesse, and even tried his hand at advanced musical composition.
Concerning Luther’s view of the importance of music, Paul J. Grime quotes Luther as declaring, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.” (Christian History, “Changing the Tempo of Music,” Issue 39, 16). Richard Dinwiddie in his essay “When You Sing Next Sunday, Thank Luther,” comments on Luther’s significant impact on music by saying:
Whenever we sing as a congregation in church, we participate in one of Luther’s greatest contributions: he restored the gift of song to the people in their own language as part of their worship. (Christianity Today, 31 October 1983, 18)
Luther himself brought out a hymnbook with twenty-four hymns of which he was the author and supervised the publication of six additional hymnals between 1523 and 1545.
By exalting church music by returning it to the people, by penning numerous hymns (including “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” which Roland Bainton called “the battle hymn of the Reformation”), and by promoting the publication of numerous hymnals, Luther began a reformation in music which continues to have a lasting influence in our present day.
The Reformers as Fathers of the Church: Luther and Calvin in the Thought of Karl Barth
This paper will examine what it might mean to designate the Reformers as Church Fathers, a term usually reserved for significant figures of the Patristic period. To examine this claim, the significance of Martin Luther and John Calvin in the theology of Karl Barth, and his own estimation and explication of their Reformation discovery, will be addressed. In Barth's re-appropriation of the Evangelical tradition, the term "Father of the Church" takes on not only new significance but new meaning, and this is not unrelated to the manner in which the Reformers themselves thought about apostolic succession and ecclesial authority. This paper will conclude with how Luther and Calvin should be viewed in our day, and what contribution the Evangelical (i.e., Protestant) tradition might continue to make to the Christian Church at large.
The Bible, History, and Fr. Raymond Brown
“The Bible, History, and Fr. Raymond Brown”
- Rev. Francis Berna, Ph.D.
- La Salle University, Philadelphia, PA
Some scholars of the Second Vatican Council, with some humor, suggest that the Council constituted the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to catch up with the Reformation after 450 years! Following an essential dynamic of the Council to “return to the sources” the Roman Church reclaimed the Bible for worship, faith formation, and personal devotion. As a consequence of the Council, Catholics “woke up” to Scripture.
The advent of the Council and its workings had a history. Part of that history consisted of the engagement with the rather new historical-critical method of interpretation developed by Protestant biblical scholars. Liturgical and spiritual renewal arose from a renewed study of Patristics, with the work of the Church Fathers set in new translations. In a bit of a contrast at the time, the work of the biblical scholars reflected a more ecumenical endeavor. The encyclical of Pope Pius XII in 1943, “Divino Afflante Spiritu” allowed Catholic biblical scholars to employ critical methods to study the sacred texts and the contexts in which they were written.
Ordained a priest in 1953, Fr. Raymond Brown held a doctorate in Theology from St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, and a doctorate in Semitic languages from Johns Hopkins University. His education prepared him well for his career in seminary teaching, academic leadership, and more popular lectures. The “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” promulgated by the Second Vatican Council affirmed Fr. Brown’s initial academic work as a biblical scholar. He was likewise buoyed by the Council’s “Decree on Ecumenism” as well as the “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.” This latter document promoted a wider use of Scripture in the Church’s worship and for liturgical preaching. The document on Ecumenism affirmed his lived experience in the academy.
As the obituary in The New York Times notes, Fr. Brown began his teaching career at Union Theological Seminary in 1967, became a permanent faculty member in 1971, and continued teaching there until his retirement in 1990 at this historically Protestant institution. He served as president of the Catholic Biblical Association, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the International Society of New Testament Studies. Fr. Brown authored nearly forty books and numerous articles.
In 1996, shortly before his death, this biblical scholar published An Introduction to the New Testament. With this book Fr. Brown wanted to help general readers understand mainline biblical scholarship. He wanted readers to engage with more than what he called the “new and bold theses” made popular in the media. The basic contention, as he saw it, centered on history.
At one end of the spectrum one can identify biblical fundamentalists who hold that the Bible offers a literal history of the people of Israel and the life of Jesus. At the other end, Fr. Brown would identify the “Jesus Seminar” scholars who contend very little, if any history can be gleaned from the pages of Scripture. Fr. Brown’s approach offers a via media. For this he was castigated by Catholic traditionalists, suggesting that he had abandoned biblical inerrancy. And, scholars at the other end of the spectrum argued that he found too much history in the text.
Fr. Brown’s work reflects sound academic scholarship, clear argument, and well-formed opinion. At the same time, his does his scholarship in the context of the Christian faith, and at the service of that faith. His work should be rightly understood as biblical theology, faith informing reason.
For this very reason an examination of the work of Fr. Raymond Brown can assist in the ongoing ecumenical endeavors to understand Sacred Scripture. To that end, this paper will provide a brief sketch of the work for Fr. Brown. Specific attention will be given to his text, The Virginal Conception and the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus with particular regard for his approach to the historicity of these events. The paper will conclude with observations concerning the value of Fr. Brown’s work in the ecumenical value of Scripture in the Christian churches, now 500 years since the Reformation.
The Church and Art History: German Reformation Art Revisited
This paper deals with the question, why and how has the Reformation been for the most part, left out of or maligned in the most widely used college art history survey texts here in the United States? It most directly addresses the conference topic, “How has the actual experience of the original Reformation been remembered in academic and popular culture?” A selection of the most popular secular survey texts were examined and compared along with monographs, articles and notes. Some might think this is a subject best left to church history and biblical works, therefore not a suitable place within general art history texts. Others may imagine that the Reformation did not produce enough notable art to warrant a full chapter in a survey text. Or, another criticism written was that the artwork is dull and unexciting or unqualified as professional art, as Helen Gardner surmised in her 1926 edition of /Art Through the Ages/. Also, there are those who believe that all Reformers were trying to rid the church of any visual imagery, by intimidation, force and destructive measures, thus casting a shadow of doubt on the works. And some are persuaded that the Reformation produced primarily book illustrations, so therefore, could not be in the same category as high or fine art. Explanations and examples are offered in this paper demonstrating otherwise.
During two Fulbright awards to Germany, opportunities arose to examine materials and visit the city of Wittenberg, Martin Luther’s town of residency. Primary resources were available including those at the Wittenberg Church where Luther’s 95 Theses were posted, Cranach the Elder’s studio and home, and the Lutherhaus Museum, once the house of Martin and Katarina von Boren Luther. After substantial research there appears to be no valid reason to eliminate or distort content about this important era of art and church history. For example, the Early Christian era is generally included in survey art history texts, at times with its own chapter.
Overall, this paper incudes a brief background of the German Reformation, Luther’s life, his relationships to name a few, with persons such as Albrecht DÌ_rer, Pope Leo X, Katherina von Bora, Phillip Melanthon, Anabaptist Huldreich Zwingli, Emperor Charles V, German Prince Fredrick and premier Reformation artist, Cranach the Elder. There is a section that embraces Reformation women and how Katherina and Martin Luther came to be married even though he had been a Catholic monk and she a nun. A discussion is also offered about iconoclasm during this time period covering what happened and Luther’s responses and actions. Additionally, opinions from Erasmus and Calvin concerning visual arts are included and may be of value to readers of Reformation history and art.
The art section delves into some significant personalities, namely painters and printmakers Albrecht DÌ_rer and Cranach the Elder along with lesser-known Reformation artists, virtually unrecognized in the United States. There is a good portion dedicated to the art of Albrecht DÌ_rer, an ardent follower of Luther’s writings, including a personal note written by DÌ_rer to Luther asking for his latest writings in exchange for one of his paintings. Luther’s teachings had profound influence DÌ_rer’s artworks plus his successful mix of Renaissance and Reformation styles and themes due to his travels to Italy.
Should ‘Sola Scriptura’ Be Considered Revelation or Tradition?
‘Sola Scriptura’ is a slogan representing the Reformation commitment to subject all human traditions to the Word of God written in the Holy Bible. This methodological commitment licensed new spiritual movements and underwrote criticism of the then-present practices of the Roman Catholic Church and still underwrites much of the doctrine, practice, ecclesiology, and spirituality of the Protestant church today.
However, then and now, the debate over the methodological commitment represented by 'Sola Scriptura' has been accompanied by unfortunate conceptual unclarity. Critics tend to argue for Scripture plus Tradition” while advocates defend “Scripture instead of Tradition.” In this paper, I attempt to tease out two related confusions to the end that both disputants can construct a more effective case, and auditors more easily make up their mind.
To that end, I argue two theses: First I argue that a divine ‘tradition’ is any teaching or practice or book that has been received from God and “passed down” (trado) from person to person. By that definition, Holy Scripture is itself tradition. It may be divine tradition as opposed to merely human tradition, but it is tradition nonetheless.
Secondly, I point out that the methodological commitment to comparing faith and practice to the Bible is itself either part of the divine tradition or merely a human addition. I am content to merely defend the disjunction without eliminating either option. While I do not take a side, I suggest that critics of Sola Scriptura must argue that the methodological commitment is merely human tradition while advocates must argue that the methodological commitment is itself a divine tradition, on the level with Holy Scripture.
On Reformation and Medicine: A Reflection on the Protestant Reformation's Impact on Medicine and Its Relevance Today
The Protestant Reformation is perhaps one of the most influential and paradigm-shifting eras in the history of medicine, and certainly one of the most overlooked. Its influence is on the one hand due to the massive reframing of 16th century worldviews which allowed for new technological and societal approaches to medicine, and on the other due to an emergent Protestant theology of health and the human body which made possible educational tools which were previously unthinkable under the reigning Catholic theologies. Furthermore, the reformation epitomizes an approach to knowledge and convention that can be abstracted and applied to present-day medical education, reaching forward through the centuries to suggest alternating praises and critiques of some of the most well-established thought in medical education.
In this paper I discuss the reformation and its impact on medical science and education in three themes – two historical and one theoretical and practical. I begin with a brief historical overview of Reformation thought and its influence on medical thought, examining the theological, philosophical and ethical underpinnings of the era and the broader entailments of these new ideas for medical theory and practice. Next, I take these ideological reforms and illustrate with specific historical examples how they revolutionized medical science and gave birth to modern medical education in Reformation Europe. Finally, I spend the greater part of this paper developing (1) a sense of how the spirit of Reformation itself allows us to approach reforms in medical education, and (2) a small handful of cases in which we can allow the ideas of the Reformation – its methodologies, theologies, and practical insights – to speak out of history with new (yet, old) ideas for medical education.
Specifically, I will discuss the implications of Reformation thought for anatomical education, work-hour policies for medical trainees, (the lack of) education in regard to end of life discussions and spiritual care, evidence-based medicine, the physician-patient relationship, and the role of charity in medical practice.
Biblical Natural Theology of Romans 1: God’s Self-Disclosure through Nature and Human Sinfulness
Natural theology is the systematic rational inquiry into the existence and character of God as God reveals himself through nature. Thus natural theology is “natural” in two key senses: it proceeds from natural rational faculties of human inquirers, and it takes as its point of departure either particular things in nature or the natural order as a whole. While several passages of scripture articulate the general principle that God can be known through nature (e.g., Psalm 19), none is more important or more frequently cited than Romans 1, in which Paul asserts that “what may be known about God is plain to [humans], because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 NIV). Paul here explicitly affirms the idea that God may be known indirectly through created things, and further asserts that this disclosure is sufficiently clear that those who continue to deny the reality of God are culpable for their atheism.
The “nature” in natural theology carries with it a problem, however, for Paul’s affirmation of the possibility of natural theology occurs in a passage in which he also confirms the effects of human sin on our capacity and willingness to perceive God through nature. Despite God’s revelation of himself through creation, sinfulness makes human thought “futile” and “darkens” foolish human hearts (1:21). Still worse, sinful humans willfully “suppress the truth” of God’s self-disclosure, thus forestalling knowledge of God’s reality and power.
Christians prior to the Reformation tended to acknowledge that human sinfulness could impair the project of natural theology, but to insist that human rationality was not completely effaced by sinfulness (see, e.g., Thomas, Summa II, II, Q167, Art1, Rep Obj 3). Luther rather famously and forcefully criticized this view, arguing that while it is true that even heathens and idolators can know God and are culpable for denying him, the exercise of human reason can itself become of a form of sinful self-assertion against God. At its extreme, the “theology of glory” seeks in the practice of human reason not the discovery of truth about God or anything else, but the inflation of human pride as a kind of rebellion again God.
What is a truly biblical natural theology? What effect does the Reformation, in particular the emphasis on human sinfulness and divine grace, have on the understanding of the capacity of humans to know God by natural means through examination of nature?
In this paper I hope to accomplish two main goals: (1) to contrast the basic understanding of the possibility and effectiveness of natural theology prior to and after the reformation, and (2) to examine the ways these contrasting views shape understanding of what creation is an how accessible it is to human rational inquiry. At a more speculative level, I hope to explore the extent to which these competing accounts of natural theology lead to emphasis of God as the first cause of the entire natural order (the general approach of Thomas’s Five Ways) and the notion of God as the cause of particular instances of order and design in nature (the approach characteristic of 18th- and 19th-century natural theology prior to Darwin).
Marilynne Robinson's Neo-Transcendentalism
My paper focuses on the way that Marilynne Robinson, in her nonfiction, appropriates the legacy of the Reformation in articulating a political vision for contemporary America. More specifically, I examine Robinson's appeal to the Reformed tradition as foundational to American culture and morality. Robinson is an outspoken Christian, a Congregationalist to be exact, and has made it abundantly clear she believes Christianity should have more influence on American democracy, as, she argues, it once did. Robinson has demonstrated that fiction may still engage religion and captivate secular readers, which has made her something of a spokeswoman for contemporary Christianity. She has embraced her role as a public intellectual and steward of culture, proving herself a prolific and polemical essayist. Her views on religion in America today, and on the relation of religion to politics, find a wide audience. Because her religious vision has resonated greatly with Christians and non-Christians alike, it is important to consider how she understands the (Reformed) Christian vision and its relevance to American politics and social ethics.
Taken together, Robinson's essays offer a genealogy of American culture and political practice, tracking the legacy of the Puritan colonists through America's transition into a nation state and its development of a national self-conception and political practice. Such an account is common enough and aspects of it are widely accepted. What distinguishes Robinson's work (and also, I argue, renders it problematic) is her insistence that American culture has become anemic because it has forsaken its Reformed roots. Robinson links the vitality of American society with the spiritual robustness of its people. This linkage is not inherently problematic, but Robinson's presentation of it is, for she ultimately conflates religious identity and national identity, despite her insistence to the contrary.
I will contend that there are two key problems with Robinson's account. The first problem is Robinson's account of the Reformed tradition. I grant that Robinson never sets out to give a systematic, comprehensive account of the Reformed tradition. But, Robinson insists that America must recover some of its Reformed roots to recover its national health, and what she claims we must recover is by no means distinctively Christian as she presents it. The result is a diluted picture of the Reformed tradition and an unconvincing argument. Robinson's Calvinism is virtually indistinguishable from the Transcendentalism of Emerson and Whitman. Robinson contends that democratic life requires religious or supernatural backing, but resources that she claims are offered (exclusively, in some cases) by Calvinism are not found only there. I demonstrate this by turning to the work of atheistic political theorists Jeffrey Stout and George Kateb, who, like Robinson, draw upon Emerson and Whitman.
The second, and more troubling, problem is that Robinson identifies the political with the religious in ways that threaten the integrity of both. Furthermore, by conflating religious faith and nationalism, Robinson actually reinforces an ideology of American exceptionalism she claims to critique. Robinson laments what she sees as the spiritual anemia of American today, and seeks to expose the root of this spiritual malaise. She sees as problematic the religious kind of American ideology: the belief in America as Christian nation that really distills down to faith in America itself, a religion of American exceptionalism. Upon closer examination, however, Robinson apparently worries not so much that American ideology corrodes authentic spirituality and religious expression, but rather that a lack of religious backing is corroding American ideology. She posits that the problem with American political ideology and, in turn, political practice today is that it has forsaken its theological roots.
Robinson insists that America needs to recover some of its foundational Reformed (Puritan) Christian tenets for the sake of its political and cultural vitality, but she places religion in the service of national interests, at the price of religion. Regardless of her intentions, Robinson's essays convey that a fuller spiritual life is required for the sake of a richer America, which is a form of cooptation. Robinson's Calvinism is virtually entirely identified with a vision of democratic individuality which requires no religion but itself assumes the aura of religion. Robinson maintains that America is a religious entity, in a way that, I argue, reveals the pernicious specter of American exceptionalism and contravenes her own well-intended concerns for the vitality of both religion in America and American political practice.
On Jadedness and Reformation: Revisiting Walker Percy’s Theological and Philosophical Contributions
Within the sphere of moral psychology, I am interested in what it is to be jaded—both individually and culturally—and how reformational therapies for jadedness take place in community. As part of this inquiry, the following contribution is a theological and ecclesial revision of a recent chapter submission to the forthcoming edited volume, Walker Percy: Philosopher (LSU Press, 2017). In this revision, I show how Percy—as Catholic essayist, critic of modernity, and theological anthropologist—offers reflections on and cures for jadedness that are directly relevant to ecclesial self-understanding and dynamic theological (and dogmatic) reformation. Overall, I will suggest, with Percy, that a dynamic theological anthropology which provides solutions to the settledness of being jaded, is critical for the prophetic, reformational vocation of the church.
Broadly, I sketch my own individualistic psychological theory of jadedness, and show how Percy’s broader, cultural and existential view of jadedness enriches my theory. Structural features of jadedness emphasized include volitional and epistemic inertia, an unsettled loss of meaning, a faulty assumption of epistemic completion or superiority, and a foreclosure of ontological possibilities. I show how Percy frames individual and broad cultural-existential jadedness and its problematics within a larger theological anthropology, and why our homo viator (wayfaring) status as creatures has such enormous implications for perennial ecclesial reformation: we are irreducibly social beings, marked by radical ontological dependence and privation, made for dynamic, first-personal appreciative encounter with being (in communion with others), for whom humility is a critical participatory and kenotic virtue and a key agent of reformation for jaded selves and communities.
Along the way, I discuss some of Percy’s unique contributions on the problems of jadedness, involving the “Loss of the Creature,” and their relevance to ecclesial reformation: (1) The social problem of the consumer self who ingests pre-packaged, settled systems of meaning, (2) the scientific and dogmatic problem of mistaken epistemic superiority and settled correspondence systems of third-personal meaning, and the related (3) abstraction problem whereby fixed theoretical knowledge eclipses the native human vocation of active appreciative encounter. If we take the social problem seriously (in relation to the other two), Percy illumines the fact that jadedness often involves unconscious adoption of socially crafted roles, meanings, or self-understandings, that have broad power to undermine our humanity and the prophetic, culturally critical stance of the church. In modernity, the passive consumer and abstract theoretical identities are often unconscious practical identities adopted by default, co-constituted by our cultural zeitgeist, potentially undercutting the reformational vocation of the church and mirroring a cultural lack of intellectual humility with respect to scientific, social, or technological progress. With respect to jaded foreclosure of possibilities, for example, the existentially jaded consumer imbibes finished systems of symbolic meanings—actualities to which experience must measure up (the Grand Canyon looks just like the postcard)—in virtue of which first-personal discovery of being and its possibilities, our distinctive creaturely vocation, is eliminated.
After discussing the unique problems of jadedness Percy identifies, I turn to his theological anthropology for unique solutions. Percy’s solution and recovery of our creaturely status, involves a radical critique of our existential and epistemic aspirations of self (or world) closure. Notably, in Christian theological history, humility is the creaturely virtue par excellence (often the root of the tree of Christian virtues), and I argue that Percy’s articulation of our ontologically dependent, unsignifiable creatureliness is a distinctive philosophical and theological contribution to this tradition. The reason why modes of immanent or transcendent objectification of the self—as consumer, organism, or as the theorist who understands—are so deadly and productive of jadedness, in Percy’s view, is that they involve the loss of the self as creaturely homo viator, as a social being in medias res marked by metaphysical privation, possibility-oriented freedom, and participated being in relation to God, whose native vocation is to name and know in community with others, through active contemplative discovery and direct appreciative engagement. I show how Percy’s view intersects with current, cutting edge theological work on humility, for humility as a posture of radical dependence (in community) on God is a dynamic therapy for settled jadedness, asserting (and reasserting) our status as unsettled, perennially unfinished, radically dependent creatures, who sense that there is something wrong when, interpersonally or culturally, we are sated and thereby finished with self, world, or others.
Sir Thomas More's Comfort Amidst Tribulation
While imprisoned in the Tower of London, Sir Thomas More was faced with the necessity of defending, both to his family, and to himself, his reasons for being there. One book he wrote in prison was the fictional /Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation/, set in 1528 Budapest, in which young Vincent seeks comfort from his elderly uncle Anthony concerning the coming Turkish invasion. Scholars like Leland Miles have noted how writing this dialogue allowed More not only to comfort his own family but to prepare himself to face with courage his own immanent execution. This paper will examine how this dialogue illuminates More’s crisis of conscience about refusing to take the oath that would acknowledge Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England. To bring out this point, I compare the /Dialogue/ with certain of More’s letters near the end of his life and with Harpsfield’s and Roper’s biographies. I also consider recent scholarship on the /Dialogue/ and on More’s trial for insight into what More believed his resistance and his death would signify.
Throughout the /Dialogue/, Anthony reminds Vincent of the distinction between the kinds of comfort that should and should not be sought in tribulation. Primarily, he maintains that a Christian should not seek to avoid all earthly pain or to keep all earthly treasure if it means giving up fidelity to God. Such is the stance that More himself maintained in his persistent refusal to take the oath accompanying the Act of Succession. Though he was accused of stubbornness in holding to his conscience when many others had taken the oath, More was adamant that his stance on conscience was neither an overly scrupulous fantasy nor an obstinate assertion of will. Instead, he maintains that for him, taking the oath would place his soul in peril, making it tantamount to apostasy. In the /Dialogue/, More lays forth the arguments upon which a Christian facing tribulation may know when martyrdom is required, and how it is distinguished from suicide. He establishes the criteria upon which Christians should be willing to surrender their lives, and when it would be wise to flee tribulation. He interrogates the charge of foolishness by indicating when it is a just rebuke and when a Christian may without shame bear it in the same manner that Christ bore reproach. The parallels between More’s letters, biographies and his /Dialogue/ show a consistent defense of his particular enduring of pain, imprisonment, and death. More shows when death is not to be feared but embraced. Ultimately, More shows the way to taking comfort in a clear conscience, in a good hope, and in the strength of God. More outlines how a Christian may seek comfort from God not in the absence of earthly pain, but rather in the strength to endure it.
Galileo and the Bible
The Galileo Affair of 1616-1633 remains in popular culture an emblem of the conflictual relationship between faith and reason, religion and science, the institutional Church and the autonomous individual in modernity. Popular culture’s proffered alternative to this conflict is a strict separation of the contending parties, perhaps in the form of the late Stephen J. Gould’s NOMA proposal. Galileo and the Galileo Affair have become, in the words of the distinguished historian of science, William Carroll, an “icon of modernity” and this icon stands behind the alternatives of conflict and complete separation.
One of the significant elements of the Galileo episode had to do with the relationship between scientific truth and Biblical truth. The Bible thus played a central role in this episode, just as it did in the more general conflict between the Protestant Reformers and officials of the Roman Catholic Church. Galileo has been and continues to be seen by many as a critic of the Roman Catholic Church’s approach to the interpretation of the Bible and of the Church’s magisterial authority on the understanding of Scripture. He is viewed by many as a modern standing in opposition to the obscurantism and authoritarianism of the Roman Church. The truth is that this view is simply wrong.
In my paper, I plan to break no new ground on the Galileo Affair in general or on the specific topic of Galileo and the Bible. Rather, I intend to provide a brief summary of what a careful reading of the relevant documents and an informed understanding of the Roman Catholic Church’s hermeneutic tradition makes clear to us. This will require a brief account of the hermeneutic tradition as represented in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas as well as an account of Galileo’s hermeneutical principles as found in key letters from 1613-1615, especially his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina. A familiarity with this material is useful both for critiquing the ongoing role of the Galileo Affair in contemporary secularism and for thinking clearly about current or future tensions between the claims of the natural sciences and the claims of Scripture.
Is Another Reformation Needed?: The State of Evangelical Churches Two Decades After "Scandal of the Evangelical Mind"
We examine what has become of the intellectual state of the evangelical and fundamentalist churches twenty years after Mark Knoll's critical analysis. Since the publication of "Scandal of the Evangelical Mind" have these churches developed a sufficiently mature and consistent theological and scientific world-view to attract a next generation of believers? We study this question and its implications for the future of evangelical churches.
Sola Scriptura and the Liturgies of the Reformation
The impact of the Reformation of the 16th century was felt throughout the whole of Christian life and practice. Nowhere is the influence of the Reformation more clearly seen, however, than in its effect upon the liturgy of the Christian church. In their pursuit of ecclesiastical reform according to the principle of Sola Scriptura, the Reformers sought to produce liturgies that were more Biblical in orientation and in method. It is the purpose of this paper to examine several significant ways in which the Reformers sought to elevate Scripture to a role of greater prominence in the Christian liturgy.
The earliest of the Reformers noted the importance of preaching for the service of worship. Martin Luther argued that the preaching of the Word was to be central in Christian worship. He writes in his Deutsche Messe, “the chief and greatest aim of any Service is to preach and teach God’s Word.” Likewise, for Ulrich Zwingli, the Word occupied the central place in the liturgy. For Zwingli, the drama of worship was not to come from music or even primarily from the Eucharist. Rather, it was to come from the Word itself.
The sermon was not the only place in the liturgy where the Word was to be proclaimed. Rather, it was given a prominent role throughout the liturgy. And for this reason the Reformers noted the importance of the Decalogue, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostle’s Creed in worship. Initially advocated by Luther, this pattern is found in almost all of the early liturgies, including those of Bucer, Calvin, and the English Book of Common Prayer. This provided the people with catechetical training, as they learned of the law of God, how to pray, and what to believe based upon the teaching of Scripture. The Reformers saw these three components as instrumental in communicating Biblical teaching regarding the Christian life to believers.
For the Word to be effectively received, however, it must be received by the people in their own language. The Reformers therefore emphasized the importance of conducting the liturgy in the common tongue, the vernacular. Everywhere the Reformation came, a translation of the liturgy into the language of the people followed. Luther in his Formula Missae expressed hope that the Mass would be conducted in the vernacular, while the preface to the Book of Common Prayer notes that the English replaced the Latin in order to reach the hearts of the people.
While the Reformers made numerous positive changes in advancing Scripture and its teaching in the liturgy, by far their most controversial decisions were their negative changes. The Reformers devoted great energy to the removal of ceremonies and elements of the Mass that they deemed unbiblical. This is seen perhaps most radically in Zwingli’s liturgy. His service of the Word is focused entirely upon the sermon, and his service of the Supper bears little resemblance to the Mass. Even in those liturgies that followed the Mass more closely, such as the Book of Common Prayer, various ceremonies such as the elevation of the host and the invocation of saints were removed as they did not have explicit Biblical warrant.
But one of the most profound ways in which the Reformers emphasized the Scriptures in the liturgy was by expressing the inseparability of Word and Sacrament. The Sacraments were not voiceless vehicles of grace. Rather, they rested upon the promises of God. For Luther and Calvin particularly, the importance of the divine promise “This is my body, broken for you,” lay at the heart of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
The result of liturgical reform was that the Word was given a more significant role within the liturgical means of grace. While the pre-Reformation Masses contained much that was Biblical, they tended to place Scripture in a position in which it contributed to the central act of worship in the Eucharist. The Reformers, however, saw Scripture as transformative and powerful in and of itself. Indeed, in the Reformed liturgies, Scripture took a role that was just as prominent as that of the Eucharist, and in some cases (as with Zwingli) one that was even more prominent. The Reformed liturgies located Scripture in a place wherein it was central to the means of grace: both prayer and the Sacraments were dependent upon it. Thus the impact of the Reformation upon the liturgy was one in which Scripture was brought to an elevated level of prominence in the worship of God’s people.
“It’s hard to suck with Jesus in your band:” Transplanting Biblical Characters in Contemporary Contexts, from Martin Luther to Modern Rock
As scholars are now aware, storytelling and narrative play a central role in social cohesion. Communities tell new stories, but they also re-make and reshape old stories, or, as Charlotte Linde's concept of "narrative induction" suggests, communities "take on an existing set of stories an existing set of stories as their own story" (608). Martin Luther, of course, was no exception. According to Mickey Leland Mattox, Martin Luther saw a close relationship between biblical narratives and his own society, "never hesitating to imagine the biblical characters into his world or himself into theirs" (1).
Like Luther, contemporary American rock remains interested in the connections between biblical narrative and today. For example, in "Adam Raised a Cain," Bruce Springsteen reimagines the Genesis narrative. Rather than focus on Springsteen's rendering of the biblical text, this paper turns to a more recent rock musician, Craig Finn, and his band, The Hold Steady. Finn, an American Catholic, often names characters in his songs after biblical characters, sometimes drawing an explicit link and sometimes leaving the connection ambiguous.
For example, several Hold Steady songs follow Gideon, who, in the biblical narrative, is a military leader and judge, but, in these contemporary songs, Gideon is a member of a gang called the Cityscape Skins. In one song, "Sweet Payne," St. Paul is likely a drug dealer because he "had it all when we called" and was "maxing out on medicine." In "St. Peter Hanging Upside Down," Finn imagines his first-person speaker in a bar, watching the arrest of Simon Peter, and ultimately concluding, "We all gotta sell out somebody sometimes / Gotta take care of ourselves right now." Finally, the newly-converted speaker in "New Friend Jesus" literalizes the presence of Christ in his own life, imagining Jesus in his band or on his baseball team.
Some might be skeptical of Finn's incorporation of biblical characters into contemporary contexts. These critics might see Finn's songs as perversions of the biblical narratives, even rubbing up uncomfortably against blasphemy. In contrast to these possible critiques, however, I argue that Finn's recasting of biblical characters actually rests in a long Christian tradition of biblical adaptation, from medieval mystery plays to Jesus Christ, Superstar. Finn's seemingly blasphemous adaptation of the biblical narratives actually represents an immersion into the biblical text rather than a rejection or subversion of the text.
Finn's reimagining of the biblical characters acting in the contemporary world is a radical re-enactment of the biblical narrative. This is akin to what Walter Brueggemann, in a slightly different context, calls "doing the text" or "to entertain, attend to, participate in, and reenact the drama of the text" (1). This is a dynamic model of reading the Bible, one that sees the Bible not as an ancient, lifeless text but as a living, present text in which Christians can constantly participate. By placing the biblical characters in the contemporary age, Finn demonstrates that the Bible is relevant for our present and future time, as much as the past.
In addition to stressing the Bible as a living text, Finn's songs force us to reconsider the composition of the Christian community. Instead of a military leader, Finn's Gideon is a gang member; Finn's St. Paul is a drug dealer, and Finn's St. Peter is arrested in a bar. By casting Gideon, St. Paul, and St. Peter as potentially nefarious characters, Finn reminds us that "sinners and tax collectors" make up the Church. Finn forces listeners to abandon their idealized images of biblical characters and the Church and instead reflect on who represents these "sinners and tax collectors" in the contemporary age. In this manner, Finn's recasting of the biblical narratives enlivens our reading of the Bible but also calls us to live out the Bible and be more attentive to the needs of those who are despised, neglected, or condemned in our world.
Who Speaks for God in Science?
One frequent worry about the Protestant Reformation and its legacy is the use and abuse of the doctrines /sola scriptura/ and the priesthood of all believers. In a nutshell, the worry is that without some kind of (ecclesial) interpretive authority, individuals are more liable to misinterpret the sacred text. Yet behind this particular concern lies an even larger one: namely, just who speaks for God? This question remains as poignant today as ever, and its importance transcends the Protestant and Catholic traditions. It is a crucial question for anyone with any kind of religious faith at all. Moreover, the question cannot simply be confined to matters of exegesis, hermeneutics, or theology. It vitally matters in other areas as well. Who speaks for God in economics or immigration or politics? One area where the question is vital -- yet often overlooked -- is, of all things, evolutionary biology. Surprising, a careful analysis of dozens of biology textbooks reveals that many of them deploy God-talk in arguments for evolutionary theory. Careful examination reveals the following about these theology-laden arguments: first, theological propositions are indispensable in these arguments. The removal of a given theology-laden premise leaves the argument in question logically invalid. Second, these theology-laden arguments are part of the positive case for evolutionary theory. They are not simply critiques of creationism or intelligent design. Instead, they overwhelmingly appear in chapters that lay out "the evidence for evolution." Third, the theological claims in question are foreign to creationist theology or intelligent design tenets. Fourth, as far as I can tell, these claims are not entailed (or made probable) by any of the big three monotheistic traditions or any other visible and enduring religious tradition. Fifth, textbook authors overwhelmingly fail to give even minimal justification for these partisan theological claims. They do not cite basic religious creeds, codified doctrines, or holy books. Neither do they cite non-religious sources. In the end, while textbook authors may think they are simply testing creationism's own claims about God, they actually seem to be resorting to their own subjective preferences about the deity's nature and ways. In a way, they purport to speak for God. I recommend that biologists avoid these arguments and instead focus on stronger arguments for evolution that do not depend upon God-talk.
Ad Fontes and Sola Scriptura: Strange Bedfellows
/Ad fontes/! was the rallying cry of Renaissance Humanism that prepared the ground for the Reformers' rallying cry of /sola scriptura/. This paper will explore the challenges that ad fontes presented to the Reformers and how they responded to these challenges. First, the historical context and developments that shaped the debate on Scripture will be traced, beginning with Lorenz Valla's /Adnotationes/ (later published by Erasmus), continuing with Erasmus' five editions of the Greek NT (1516-1535) and on through the publication of the various polyglot texts (namely, the Complutensian Polyglot (1514-1517) in Spain in addition to those published in Antwerp (1568-72), Paris (1628-45) and London (1653-57/8)). This exponential increase in available textual knowledge of the scriptures generated watershed debates between Catholics and Reformers as well as among the Reformers themselves. In defending the Vulgate, the Catholics developed a polemic that drew on the increased textual information and claimed that the textual traditions from the time of the Vulgate to the Reformation had been corrupted. They argued, therefore, that the Vulgate is the best available witness to the original text of the scriptures. The Reformers responded by emphasizing a strong doctrine of preservation. This doctrine also served in the debates among the Reformers themselves. The Huguenot Louis Cappel, having argued against the antiquity of the Masoretic vowel points, published his /Critica Sacra/ which sought to demonstrate the textual corruption of the consonantal text of the Hebrew Old Testament. Cappel argued that scripture was not preserved in any one manuscript; rather, the original text was only recoverable through a comparison of all the textual witnesses available. In other words, the God-breathed character of the biblical text was confined to the autographs themselves and it was the job of the text critic to uncover that text using all the available textual traditions. Turretin and Owen responded vigorously, arguing again for a doctrine of preservation for the scriptures. Capel lost this initial battle and it is sufficient to state that the Reformed church believed that inspired scripture was synonymous with the received texts in use in their day, namely, the /Biblia Rabbinica/ of Jacob b Hayyim for the Old Testament, and the 1633 Greek text of the Elzevir brothers for the New. The paper will then move on briefly to the mid 19th and early 20th century, and the writings of A.A. Hodge and B.J. Warfield, arguing that Cappel's view, so derided by Owen and Turretin, became the position of Turretin's spiritual descendants. The paper finishes by discussing the significance (or otherwise) of these Reformational debates for our current understanding of scripture as the Word of God. What are the strengths and weaknesses of a doctrine that limits inspiration to the autographs (Cappel, Warfield and Hodge)? What do we gain, if anything, by extending inspiration (/quoad res/ and /quoad verba/) to the apographs (Turretin and Owen)? Are we caught between relying wholly on the ever-changing conclusions of text critics on one hand and ignoring them and their conclusions on the other? Is there a way of incorporating the textual plurality of the Biblical text into our doctrine of scripture without having to come up with a single text we can point to as being /the/ inspired text or, the best approximation of /the/ inspired text?
Luther’s Political Theory of the Two Kingdoms Reconsidered
In /On Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should be Obeyed/, Luther begins to outline the Biblical basis for understanding the civil government and the sword as having been established by God. Romans 13 and First Peter 2 are key passages in understanding the necessity of obedience to those in authority.
Luther espouses the division of humanity into two classes: the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of the World. The kingdom of Christ consists of true believers who are in and under Christ and which the gospel “teaches, governs, and upholds.” For Luther, those who are in the kingdom of Christ have no real need of temporal authorities or the sword, for the Holy Spirit guides them to love their neighbors and seek justice. Indeed, Luther writes that “Where there is nothing but the unadulterated doing of right and bearing of wrong, there is no need for any suit, litigation, court, judge, penalty, law, or sword.” For this reason, Luther argues that “it is impossible that the temporal sword and law should find any work to do among Christians, since they do of their own accord much more than all laws and teachings can demand.” Luther believes the law was given for the sake of the lawless, that it places men under restraints, preventing them from willfully committing sinful acts, and emphasizes the importance of recognizing grace and its importance.
The kingdom of this world consists of those people who are not Christians and do not act like Christians, and therefore are necessarily under the governance and law of civil authorities. Because of lawlessness, God has instituted the sword, that they may be restrained from committing the evil that they desire. Without the deterrent of temporal authority and the sword, anarchy and selfishness would reign, leading to mass chaos among not only the people of lawlessness, but also those who belong to the kingdom of God. Thus, as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13, the sword exists to correct those who are evil and live outside the kingdom of Christ.
Luther’s construction does not pit a Christian kingdom against a worldly kingdom, nor does it present a vision of a unified Christian kingdom of the world. Instead Luther has divided all people into distinct categories of governance, in order that those who are Christians may be ruled by the word of God in the world, and that those who are not Christian may be ruled by God’s ordained lawgivers. For Luther both kingdoms exist for specific purposes and both must exist for their specific purposes and functions within their spheres of influence; one kingdom cannot be allowed to overrun the other. The church does not constitute the basis of temporal authority, nor does the temporal prince provide a foundation for spiritual authority. Instead the temporal authority of princes and spiritual authority of the church both derive from God and thus purposefully exist to fulfill their respective offices. Luther thus argues for a formulation of the doctrine of the two kingdoms that allows each kingdom to hold authority over their respective citizens, and in such a way that does not encroach upon the jurisdiction of the other kingdom.
While a great deal of interpretation of Luther’s doctrine concerning the relationship of the Christian to the world has allowed for a generally passive approach to temporal authority, it can be argued that such an interpretation neglects the entirety of Luther’s considerations. Using the model of the two kingdoms, Luther described the relationship of the Christian to the world in terms of the kingdom of Christ, that which emphasizes the gospel without using force, and the kingdom of the world, the use of laws and force by those whom God has ordained for temporal authority. Employing an understanding that interprets the doctrine of the two kingdoms as two governments under one kingdom of God and that the two kingdoms are unified by the theme of acting in Christian love allows for a coherent ethical structure. A Christian’s love toward his neighbor, in both the spiritual and temporal arenas, as well as the actions that result from such love, are fundamental for Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms.
Groaning Creation and Franciscan Animism: A Half-Century of Ecumenical Reflection on the Environment from Lynn White, Jr. to Laudato Si
This year, we commemorate both the Reformation’s quin-centennial and the semi-centennial of Lynn White Jr.’s paradigmatic article, “The Historic Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Staying with our theme of “The Bible and the Reformation,” this paper analyzes Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox perspectives on environmentalism since his article’s publication. Despite their varied approaches, care for God’s creation remains a fundamental locus for ecumenical dialogue.
This essay is presented in three parts. First, we examine classical soteriology that posits creation as a mere backdrop for salvation history. Perhaps this view gives White license to claim that Western Christianity finds divine warrant for human dominance of nature. Next, a sample of representative theologians demonstrates that White’s argument has no shortage of rebuttals. While most focus on the ethical scope of environmentalism, others attempt to construct a framework that insulates Christianity from such charges. Finally, this broad sweep of theological reflection distills two salient similarities: a renewed sense of covenant and a sacramental appreciation for nature. Taken together, they engender strong confidence in the future of ecumenical dialogue.
To begin, some New Testament texts, interpreted by late-Modern writers, demonstrate how White’s case could enjoy some initial merit. Beginning with an overview from the Middle Ages through the late 18th century, he claims that theology and science were partners far too long. Consequently, Western Christianity found divine warrant for its dominance of nature. Using Francis of Assisi as a revolutionary model of Christian ecology, White argues for a universal transcendence for all nature that he calls a return to “Franciscan animism.” This egalitarian perspective ameliorates the model of dominance that has persisted since the 13th century.
Since then, Christian thinkers have argued strenuously against White’s view. In Roman Catholic papal writings, Paul VI addresses environmental issues as early as 1971. This theme persists through the work of subsequent popes, culminating with Francis’ “Laudato Si” in 2015. These encyclicals have not been monolithic, though. The ethical, common-good arguments now include sacramental, covenantal approaches.
Other theologians already have established this covenantal framework. For example, Anne Clifford begins her work on ecological sustainability with an emerging but distinctly Christian theology of Oikos that engages classic, “other-worldly” modes of Christian soteriology. She resists identifying creation with redemption in the New Testament vision; both indicate that God actively participates in the world. Sustainability becomes a theological possibility when we recognize the place of humankind within a thoroughly ecological ethic.
Similarly, Christian ethicist Allen Verhey argued that the problem rests not in the Christian Scriptures, but our “interpretive arrogance” regarding those texts. The “abuse of the text” leads to abuse of nature and the powerless. With his idea that “every ethos implies a mythos,” Verhey joins William F. May, who starkly outlines the ecological crisis: a polluted environment, depleted resources, destroyed habitats, and threatened neighbors of industrial centers. May analyzes three narratives that counter White’s “pillaging-ownership” model: Franciscan Romanticism, European sacramentalism, and American covenantalism. He suggests that these views can transform the American environmental ethic by adding to our mercantile understanding of property, thereby contributing further to our history and destiny as a people.
Additionally, feminist writers rely upon this communal, narrative focus. Rosemary Radford Ruether intimately aligns the Church’s mission toward the ecology movement. Drawing from Jewish and Christian historical perspectives, Ruether calls for a deep metanoia, by which humans rediscover their shared place in the ecosystem, and return to covenantal-sacramental understandings of creation. By contrast, Sallie McFague employs a metaphor of the world as “God’s body.” Emphasizing an “embodied God” in the world models the God who upholds the goodness of creation. She also claims that it demonstrates God’s willingness to empathize with suffering through Incarnation.
Moving eastward, philosopher Bruce Foltz contrasts the dominance of nature through the West’s technological advances with the Byzantine view of nature, which discloses the invisible and holy. In his analysis of White’s argument, Foltz argues that the West’s representation of Christ has diminished, due to its aim of anamnesis over epiphany.
Although we remain far from addressing the roots of ecological turmoil, we seem to have rediscovered the theological ground for our reflection. We should use this reinvigorated sense of covenant and transcendent view of creation to continue our dialogue. Perhaps, we must wait upon the eschaton to witness the final redemption for which creation groans. Still, we can remain faithful stewards of God’s handiwork. After all, it is very good indeed.
Grace and the Bible versus the Church? Re-reading Augustine on Key Reformation Themes
B. B. Warfield famously remarked that, “The Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church.” While few historians would accept such a bald thesis outright, there is something about this dichotomy that still holds sway over contemporary memories of the Reformation. This antithesis between grace and the church emerges like two rivers flowing, apparently, from a common Augustinian fount, and these have established the shorelines upon which Protestants and Catholics stand—with Protestants standing firmly with Luther /sola gratia/, and Roman Catholics, for their part, standing /extra ecclesia non salus/.
Floating alongside this grace-church divide is a similar concern about the role of the Bible in ecclesial life. Ought the Bible serve to determine and lead the life of the church? Or does the church establish /a prior/ the Bible and so interpret it according to her own teaching authority in the magisterium? Have Protestants put the Bible back in its proper place—subjecting all earthly powers? Or has the freedom of the Bible from the church encouraged the multiplicity of ecclesial fracturing that characterizes so much of modern Christian life?
In this paper I wish to address both of these concerns: first, to reflect on the dichotomy of Augustine’s doctrine of grace and his doctrine of the church, showing that there is in fact much more congruence than at first may appear: Augustine’s ecclesiology is a thoroughly /graced/ ecclesiology, gaining its very being from its creaturely participation in Christ—not by the merits or personal holiness of its bishops.
Second, I suggest that such a congruence has important implications for the role of the Bible in the life of the church: just as the church’s life is a graced participation in Christ, so too the Bible, as a means of grace given to the church for her continued growth in the grace of Christ, acts sacramentally in the economy of salvation to facilitate the graced union between Christ and the church. Thus the Bible is, to be sure, the /church’s/ Bible: the church is its true home, and the rule of faith and the teaching of the church must guide its interpretation. Nonetheless, the Bible also stands above the church, guiding and directing her as nourishment in the spiritual life, leading to an increased depth of participation in the life of God.
The paper will finally address an important Protestant critique of Augustine’s ecclesiology, particularly his notion of the /totus Christus/, which has characterized Catholic ecclesiology—especially since Vatican II—under the rubric of “Communio ecclesiology.” John Webster has perceptively argued that such an ecclesiology rests on a false analogy between the divine-human status of Christ and the divine-human status of the church, thus forfeiting a properly orthodox metaphysic in which the Word remains ontologically distinct from the creaturely reality. The church, in this ecclesiology, ceases to be a “creature of the Word,” which it must be if there is going to be any fundamental agreement for Catholics and Protestants on the role of the Church and the Bible.
This paper will seek to address Webster’s concern by again pointing to Augustine’s graced Christo-ecclesiology as a way beyond this impasse. Augustine’s /totus Christus/ theology functions less as a definition of the church and more as a kind of ecclesial mysticism—a spiritual exercise wherein Christians /become/ the body of Christ, but never in such a way that the creator-creature distinction is blurred. In sum, there is a rich source of ecumenically productive theology to be found in Augustine’s thought—one which helps us see more clearly where and how Catholics and Protestants think alike about the nature of the church and the place of Scripture in the economy of God’s graceful presence in Christ.
The Reformation's Impact on Film
Since the beginning of the Reformation, its effects have been felt most keenly in the areas of theology and history, but its effects have been in other areas of faith and culture as well. Almost immediately art historians noted ways in which the Reformation influenced painting, with the diverging theologies of Catholic and Protestant artists being made manifest in their works. Four centuries later, another visual art form emerged. Would film show the same divergence? Are there differences in the way Catholic and Protestant filmmakers ply their trade? In short, what difference has the Reformation made in the movies?
This study is not an attempt to catalog or discuss the different ways that the Reformation has shown up in the subject matter of films. What I explore is how the theologies of Protestant and Catholic filmmakers show up in their films, regardless of the subject matter of the films. Using the concept of the dialectical versus the analogical imagination expounded by both Andrew Greeley and David Tracy, I will explore how the underlying differences between the ways that Catholics and Protestants tend to view the world show up as tendencies in their films. Various modern era filmmakers, both Catholic and Protestant, will be examined through the lenses of sacred space, sacramentality, the communion of saints, and salvation.
The Gospel According to Kanye West
Arguably the biggest and most polarizing celebrity of the 21st Century, Kanye West continues to shock the country year after year with his megalomaniacal lyrics and his “I can’t believe he just did that” moments. West is consistently written off by most religious circles largely in part due to his unabashedly braggadocious lyrics or, more recently, the haughty decision to name a song “I Am a God” on a recent album with an equally questionable title, “Yeezus”. However, while there are a lot of examples of the aforementioned scenarios, it’s often forgotten that Kanye West is a self-proclaimed Christian.
His first single, “Jesus Walks” is an overtly theistic song that deals with West reminding his listeners that Jesus is a constant through both the good and bad times. In fact, in his mother’s autobiography, she tells the story of a time when Kanye performed that song at a Youth Revival and 300 students came forward to “receive Christ”. On his most recent release, The Life of Pablo, West reverts back to this style on the first track, “Ultralight Beam”. Dubbed both by him and critics across the board as a Gospel album, the album bounces back and forth between explicitly Christian themes and the self-aggrandizing West that we’ve grown to love/hate. How can West think that he is a God, yet at the same time hold dear to the Christian faith and its values?
The constant flipping back and forth calls to mind when Paul says in Romans 7 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me”; West is consistently alternating between these two, which almost makes it the epitome of Paul’s “Double Man” complex. In more modern terms, this idea calls to mind Zygmunt Bauman’s contemporary identity crisis through the lens of his idea of “liquid modernity”.
To fully understand the situation at hand, a strict textual analysis of West’s lyrics will be triangulated with research of Romans 7 and Bauman’s Identity conversations with Bennedetto Vecci. In this way, all three will overlap within the research to prove that West’s dilemmas are deeper than any sort of modern or general celebrity issue. Rather, they carry not only an earthly weight but also a spiritual one too, which will be the specific aim of the essay.
West is sometimes viewed as a nuisance to Christians and Americans alike, but, as the New York Times’ John Caramanica says, “There remains no more adept fuser of the sacred and profane working in pop, and no one else who, time and again, will unflinchingly assess — at his own peril — the costs of audacity” and it’s for that reason that West deserves our attention on the matter.
Reviewing the Bible and Its Relation to Learning
Though perhaps a bit unorthodox, we are proposing a full session of short papers and ensuing discussion around a central theme, namely: “The Bible and Its Relation to…” This theme takes its lead from the belief that the Bible is a “lamp for my feet, a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105). Said another way, the Bible sheds light on life; it shows us the way. This is not to suggest that the Bible isn’t also an authoritative sacred text the chronicles God’s redemptive acts in history and that is rightly and regularly to be used in corporate worship and personal devotion. It is simply to consider ways in which the Bible is a source of direction and understanding and discernment for all things.
More specifically, we will do the following:
First, Nathan Alleman will serve as the moderator of the session. He will introduce it and its participants to the audience and facilitate the conversation after all of the presentations have concluded.
Second, Don Opitz will briefly outline a biblical hermeneutic that underlies our approach. More specifically, he will summarize the redemptive-historic method for understanding the Bible. Further, he will explain ways in which this method informs relating the scriptural narrative of creation-fall-redemption-consummation to all areas of life. He will utilize authors such as Geerhardus Vos, Richard Gaffin, Craig Bartholew, Nancy Pearcey, and Michael Goheen as scaffolding for this important interpretive method, particularly many in the Christian academy may not be familiar with its contours.
Third, Brad Frey will explore “The Bible and Its Relation to Economic Life.” In this effort, he will examine the importance of the Bible in economic life through the work of Dutch economist, Dr. Bob Gouzwaard. Working in the tradition of Abraham Kuyper, Goudzwaard’s seminal work, Capitalism and Progress: A Diagnosis of Western Culture, describes the norming power of the scriptures for economic life. His work has been utilized in various ways. For example, Gouzwaard’s Biblical vision is currently mirrored in the work of the Catalyst think tank of the multi-billion dollar Mars Corporation. In their recently published work, Completing Capitalism, think tank members develop the concept of the “economics of mutuality,” reflecting the Biblical norming done by Goudzwaard decades earlier.
Fourth, the father-son tandem of Dave Guthrie and Sam Guthrie will review Evan Runner’s book, The Bible and Its Relation to Learning. This book was published in 1970 and was based on lectures given by Runner some ten years previous. At the outset of the book, he contends that “the relation of the Word of God to learning…[is] the most important question that a Christian student [can ask]” (emphasis his) (12). Runners’ efforts here represent an attempt to argue against a style of Christian higher education that is “…merely Christian people who work at a science” (emphasis his) (16). Rather, he suggests that the Word of God gives light to all areas of life, including learning, and this book represents his apologia for explaining why and how.
Finally, in “The Bible and Its Relation to Political Life,” Keith Martel will consider classical liberalism, of which he is a beneficiary, as primarily founded upon the social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. While the liberal ideal has often been championed by the Western Church, it is a system largely founded on a rights-based philosophical perspective that is, at root, atomistic and individualistic. Martel will examine critiques of the Social Contract theory as expressed by philosophers Herman Dooyeweerd and Charles Taylor, and propose the possibility of the biblical concept of covenant as a faithful response for political life.
Nathan Alleman, Associate Professor of Higher Education Studies, Baylor University
Brad Frey, Professor of Sociology and Higher Education, Geneva College
David Guthrie, Associate Professor of Higher Education, Penn State University
Sam Guthrie, Graduate Student, Penn State University
Keith Martel, Associate Professor of Humanities, Political Science, and Higher Education, Geneva College
Don Opitz, Campus Pastor, Messiah College
The Word as Ward in the World: Luther's Bible, Civil Disobedience, Huguenot Resistance
Martin Marty's recent book treats Oct. 31, 1517 as 'the day that changed the world'. It is a brilliant book tracing the central thesis of repentance from Luther's 95 Theses to current concerns. While Marty gives insight into the continued relevance of Reforming strategies, still it seems unlikely that one day brought about the many later changes. Though Luther is treated as a rebel with a cause, his later On Temporal Authority, some regard as a way of placating tyrants.
What is overlooked are Luther's revolutionary insights emerging from his translation of and prefaces to his vernacular Bible. The stances there taken promise a justification for civil resistance. No group understood this better than the Huguenots of southern France. Here, a text by a lesser-known Reformer, Theodore Beza, provides a pivotal base for biblical arguments for resistance to a tyrannical government and church. So to invert Marty's point -- no single day changed the world, but a culmination of events brought about a changed point of view, a 'repenting' from old to new ways of thinking about the believer and the state. So after Luther and Beza, we see the Bible as forming a new genre, a revolutionary text at the foundation of a Christian populist humanism, grounded in moral conscience. The Huguenots took upon themselves this new subversive power of defying tyrants by translating, printing, and interpreting the Bible in light of their conscience. Hence, building pulpits for preaching this Word out of native chestnut, but concealed in wine casks, while also constructing beauty in old caves to worship brought in a new aesthetic. 'Resist' became part of Huguenot resistance movements -- not only did they survive, but flourished, and handed on a legacy to Reformed pastors who protected Jews, resisting the Vichy regime during Hitler's reign. The Word became a Ward in the world.
Protestantism, With and Without Reformation: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Contested Legacy of the Reformation
Though no one appreciated their Reformation heritage more than Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he did not hesitate to critique the consequences, many unintended, of the various Protestant movements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He found wanting both cultural Protestantism in Europe, for which the collusion of the German Christian Church Movement with National Socialism was but an extreme expression, and American civil religion, which touted the new ecclesial structures of congregation and denomination as a providential match for the new republic (Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana!). Churches on both sides of the Atlantic, in exchange for their birthright in Christ, had assumed the identities of the various nation-states they occupied. What the movements of the sixteenth century had set into motion in Europe was completely contrary to what the reformers intended, and he reluctantly concluded with SÌüren Kierkegaard that Martin Luther would now say the opposite of what he said originally.
With respect to civil religion in the United States, which he had encountered during his extended time in this country, Bonhoeffer stated that a cursory examination of church bulletins in New York would amply show "the complete collapse of the church into the world." His most sustained critique of the "American Covenant" (Philip Gorski) is found in his 1939 report, "Protestantism Without Reformation." In this unpublished paper Bonhoeffer states that by accepting asylum according to the terms stipulated by the new republic, Christians had renounced the Reformation struggle for the truth of their convictions. Freedom was no longer the gift of God, the fruit of our participation in the life, liturgy, and witness of the body of Christ. In its place a secularized notion of "religious liberty" was installed as the presupposition of faith, creating in the process an ecclesiastical version of cheap grace.
As with every exercise of paternalism, the political asylum offered by the state comes with conditions attached, the most important of which is that faith is free precisely to the extent that it is consistent with the aims of the state. According to this implicit concordat, the church is strictly a "religious" entity and therefore must concern itself solely with private matters of the soul essentially unconnected to the concerns of the public square. What Christianity and the other traditions must accept in exchange, said Bonhoeffer, is that the "yearning to decide for the truth against its distortion" must remain unfulfilled, sacrificed for all practical purposes to the needs of the nation. Acceptance of asylum thus entailed "this strange relativization of the question of truth in the thinking and action of American Christendom." A certain construction of civility thus became the accepted order for the church.
The cost to the church of complicity with the politics of civility has been considerable. Nowhere is the moral failure that accompanies the abandonment of the quest for truth more apparent than in the construction of race in this country. Walker Percy observes that though Americans have perhaps "done righter [sic] than any other great power in history," in "the place which hurts the most and where charity was most needed, they have not done right." White Americans have sinned against African Americans "from the beginning and continue to do so, initially with cruelty and presently with an indifference which may be even more destructive." The Faustian bargain made with the nation-state, abandoning the need to fight for the truth of our convictions in exchange for refuge from persecution and suffering, continues to plague Protestantism.
The Reformation in the Reformatory: Catholic/Protestant Interaction within America’s Largest Maximum-Security Prison
Louisiana State Penitentiary is America’s largest maximum-security prison; it houses over 6,200 inmates across a sprawling prison farm of over 18,000 acres. The prison also hosts one of the first seminary programs for incarcerated students and the only such program that graduates its students into inmate-led churches as ministers. Over two-dozen inmate congregations, led primarily by seminary graduates, operate at Angola, as the prison is commonly called. Many of these congregations long pre-date the seminary as a legacy of African-American worship from the prison’s plantation era, and they now represent a cross-section of Christian denominations as well as several Muslim groups.
The seminary’s presence since 1995 has catalyzed theological dialogue between inmates of diverse faith. Operated by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the program offers a conservative evangelical biblical education inside a public institution within one of the nation’s most heavily Catholic states. Louisiana’s religious polarization sometimes adopts tangible form: just inside the prison gates, a large Protestant chapel with the functional simplicity of a Reformed meetinghouse sits directly facing the Catholic Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, constructed with a Spanish mission faÌ¤ade and adorned with abundant statuary from New Orleans Parish and frescoes painted by inmates. The gates to the respective chapels bear plain crosses on the one hand and crucifixes on the other.
Seminary students and graduates include not only Baptists and Catholics but also Christians from a host of other denominations, Muslims, and those of no religious preference. Within an environment where security is paramount, these students must by necessity learn to navigate theological differences with peace and mutual respect.
Responsible ecumenical dialogue begins within the seminary, where veteran instructors both exhort and model irenic conviction to their students beginning during the admissions process and continuing throughout the degree. Graduate inmate ministers continue this practice, frequently collaborating in ministry with colleagues from other traditions with whom they bonded as fellow students and modeling ecumenism to their congregations. At the root of this cooperation is a shared commitment to the Bible that transcends traditional ecclesial divides. As one Catholic student who pursued a diocesan educational program concurrent with his NOBTS degree reflected, “The Catholics got Baptist answers sometimes, and the Baptists got Catholic answers, but they all got biblical answers.” The final portion of this presentation therefore will address inmate patterns of biblical interpretation, highlighting hermeneutical practices that dispel prevalent caricatures of simplistic “prison religion.”
Theological Interpretation of Scripture in Conflict and Consonance with the Legacy of the Reformation
In recent decades, both evangelical and Catholic scholars have contributed to a more or less concerted effort to move constructively out from under the hegemony of critical approaches to biblical interpretation. A common goal of reclaiming Scripture for the church is consistently cited as an impetus for the pursuit of theological interpretation of Scripture. Although the effort of these scholars to speak ecumenically facilitates charitable interchange of ideas and theologically fruitful dialogue among interpreters from diverse traditions, precisely what "a church" or "the church" looks like is seldom addressed. This nearly habitual lack of ecclesiological specificity in regard to practicing theological interpretation raises at least three questions that this paper will address in turn:
(1) To what extent are theological approaches to Scripture in conflict with the legacy of the Reformation regarding biblical interpretation and ecclesiological definition?
(2) To what extent do the efforts to recover theological approaches to biblical interpretation exhibit the legacy of the Reformation? and
(3) How can theological interpretation of Scripture be practiced in ways that advance both the gains of the Reformation and Christian unity?
A Baptist Pilgrimage in Catholic Country
A group from a Baptist Church travels together to Italy. They tour the Vatican, pray at St. Peter's, share communion in the catacombs, and sleep in monasteries. They visit Assisi and follow in the footsteps of Francis, a renowned Catholic Saint. They even call it a "Pilgrimage". Can a bunch of Baptists do that and still be Baptists? And what if anything does it suggest for Baptists in the church universal, particularly in relationship with the Roman Church?
Those questions were on my mind as I led such a pilgrimage in the summer of 2017. The journey was perhaps unusual, but wasn't totally out of context. I led the pilgrimage as pastor of a congregation that describes itself as "a Baptist church in the contemplative tradition" and as "grace-oriented believers centered in the historic Christian faith." We are a Baptist congregation that draws on monastic rhythms, the wisdom of desert fathers and spirituality of medieval mystics. Through pilgrimage we discover deeper riches from Baptist engagement with Catholic spirituality while allowing ample space for Baptists to remain Baptists. From the experience of the pilgrimage and the perspective of the life of a congregation, I will constructively explore dimensions of that which Catholics and Baptists may offer to another. I will consider three dimensions of this intersection:
ecclesiology: and the importance of participation,
spirituality: and the centrality of silence,
eucharist: and the limits of ecumenicism.
I hope to demonstrate that Baptists may draw strength from the Christian tradition transcending our own history while still remaining Baptist, and that Baptists have a particular charism to offer the church universal that should be welcomed as a gift to the universal church.
The Role of Technology in Accelerating the Pace of the Reformation
There was a rapid response to Martin Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door on October 31, 1517. Luther was not the first reformer; there had been others in the preceding 200 years. However, it was his acts that triggered a revolution in Western society. There are many reasons for this, but a crucial component of this was something that had happened about 60 years earlier and only 250 miles away in Mainz.
In the 1450’s Johannes Gutenberg developed the first practical movable type printing press. This development has been proclaimed by many, including Time Magazine, as the invention of the millennium. He combined two things that had already been created, the wine press and a coin punch. The result changed the world. Gutenberg’s press allowed Luther and the other reformers to spread their message much more quickly than could ever have been done before. Pamphlets could be rapidly printed and spread throughout Europe.
The printing press made several changes that were extremely helpful for the reformers:• The Bible could be printed much more cheaply than ever before.• Since most people were still illiterate, small, inexpensive pamphlets could be rapidly written, printed, and distributed. They could be read to the people in market squares all over Europe.• The creation of these pamphlets could be done anywhere someone could get access to a printing press. This ended forever the monopoly the church and the various royal houses had on written communication. It helped bring in an era of individualism which is still with us.
Technology historian Steven Johnson has written “Innovations usually begin life with an attempt to solve a specific problem, but once they get into circulation, they end up triggering other changes that would have been extremely difficult to predict….An innovation, or cluster of innovations, in one field ends up triggering changes that seem to belong to a different domain altogether.” It is not likely that Gutenberg’s goal was to create revolutions in both the religious and political order of Europe. However, that is indeed what his invention helped to ignite. Among the first printing moguls to take advantage of this was a former Augustinian monk named Martin Luther.
How non-Biblical Studies Christian Educators Can Meaningfully Use the Bible in non-Theological Classrooms
When it comes to using the Bible in non-Biblical studies/theological courses in the Christian university, one of my colleagues in APU’s School of Theology reminds faculty that the lectern is not a pulpit. This has been helpful as a metaphor as I seek to guide faculty who are not trained as Biblical scholars in the right ways and wrong ways to use the Christian scripture in their classrooms as a form of academic faith integration.
This is an important issue, in terms of the costs and benefits that are at stake. When the Bible is poorly used (Paauw, 2016), student learning declines and their view of the Bible may diminish, in spite of the faculty member’s good intentions. When the Bible is used well, its long-term impact on the lives of students increases and learning Christianly from the scripture is validated.
Most faculty in faith-based institutions “tend to have fairly stable beliefs about the Bible, though they recognize that their beliefs can change over time...and they overall regard the Scriptures as authoritative” (Mitchell, p. 84). For faith integration to make use of scripture effectively, however, a Christian faculty member may need to undergo certain paradigm shifts about that authority (Wright, 1991; 2005). Depending on their church experience and either their pastor’s/priest’s hermeneutical philosophy or the bias’ of their denomination regarding the scriptures, a Christian educator may need to live with certain tensions (consider, for example, Trible, 1984; Smith, 2011; Byron & Lohr, 2015). Amidst these challenges, Christian faculty need to be equipped to sufficiently (if not profoundly) utilize the scripture in their social work, biology, business, nursing, or sociology classrooms without erring into unfitting biblicism.
This must start with a very basic hermeneutical understanding. As Randall Tate (2008) notes “In present scholarship, there are three different groups of theories regarding the locus and actualization of meaning: author-centered…text-centered…and reader centered” (p. 2). Understanding this, along with the basic concepts and tools for utilizing these interpretive strategies, goes a long way to helping educators approach scripture carefully and confidently. Alternatively, understanding the scriptures as a coherent story which is shaped by 6 Acts (as articulated by Bartholomew and Goheen, 2014) also helps experts in disciplinary and professional fields see the flow of the Bible and to more quickly see how their subject may be informed by scripture.
In my work as the Executive Director of APU’s Office of Faith Integration, I have moved to make this practical through five models. The choice of which one(s) to use calls for pedagogical discernment on the part of the educator. Here are the models, with little elaboration: (1) ILLUSTRATION involves telling the story to draw insight regarding how Biblical characters dealt with similar issues; (2) IMAGINATION invites learners to enter into the Biblical story and to identity in some way with its character and events (Mulholland; 2000); (3) IMPROVISATION calls students to adapt the story/text in the spirit of what Joel Green (2007) calls “creative fidelity”; (4) INVESTIGATION calls for in depth study of a passage to glean its implications and applications on a relevant topic (Fuhr & Kostenberger, 2016); (5) INTERNALIZATION uses more formative, or contemplative, approaches to scripture reading, applied (again) to relevant topics in non-theological courses (Peterson, 2006).
This paper will argue for a qualified, informed, and not overly done use of scripture in Christian university classes where the Bible is not the primary topic of the course. These models will provide examples of the variety of ways scripture can be meaningfully used, thus enhancing the learning, rather than diminishing it.
Bartholomew, C.G. and Goheen, M.W. (2014) The drama of scripture: Finding our place in the Biblical story. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Byron, J. & Lohr, J.N. (Eds.). (2015). I (still) believe: Leading Biblical scholars share their stories of faith and scholarship. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Fuhr, R.A. & Kostenberger, A.J. (2016). Inductive Bible study. Nashville: B&H Academic
Green, J. (2007). Seized by truth: Reading the Bible as scripture. Nashville: Abingdon.
Mitchell, P. (2012). Thick ecumenism: The Possibility of Enlarging Our Circles at Christian Colleges and Universities. In S. Joeckel & T. Chesnes, (Eds.) The Christian college phenomenon: Inside America’s fastest growing institutions of higher learning. Abilene, TX: Abilene University Press.
Mulholland, R. (2000). Shaped by the Word: The power of scripture in spiritual formation. Nashville: Upper Room Books.
Paauw, G.R (2016). Saving the Bible from ourselves: Learning to read and live the Bible well. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.
Peterson, E. (2006). Eat this book: A conversation in the art of spiritual reading. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Smith, C. (2011). The Bible made impossible: Why biblicism is not a truly evangelical reading of scripture. Grand Rapids: Brazos.
Tate, R. (2008). Biblical interpretation: An integrated approach, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Brazos.
Trible, P. (1984). Texts of terror: Literary-feminist readings of Biblical narratives. Philadelphia: Fortress.
Wright, N.T. (1991). How Can the Bible be Authoritative? Vox Evangelica 21.
Wright, N.T. (2005). Scripture and the authority of God: How to read the Bible today. New York: HarperOne.
Bach's Bible and Ours
My presentation centers on Bach’s use of the Bible in his St. Matthew Passion, and suggests ways in which it can be beneficial to Christians today. This work completed in 1727 stands as one of the pinnacles of western civilization, sometimes compared to the finest plays of Shakespeare or the finest paintings of Michelangelo. Because of the intricate order and structure of Bach’s music, scholar Christoph Wolff has written that “what Newton was as a philosopher, Bach was as a musician.”
Bach’s primary purpose in the St. Matthew Passion and all his sacred music, though, was to help Christians meditate on the meaning of Christ’s passion. Between the majestic opening and closing set pieces, Bach includes sections of recitative from chapters 26-27 of Matthew’s gospel, 28 non-biblical reflective arias and choruses, and 15 chorales which began as German hymns.
The result is a deeply interactive experience with the biblical account of the Passiontide—the last supper, Christ’s betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Poetic arias and choruses allow Bach to temporarily pause the scene, and invite the listener (originally a worshipper in church) to become involved in the unfolding drama, to react to it, and be changed by it. The chorales allow worshippers to identify themselves in devotion and reflection with the narrative, somewhat like Christian version of the Greek chorus.
Studying Bach’s St. Matthew Passion presents us sublime beauty today, but it also helps Christians address the long-running question that was prompted by the Reformation--How should we read and use the Bible? Recent biblical scholars and theologians have noted some unsatisfactory ways of using the Bible—the Bible as a theological compilation, the Bible solely as object for close textual criticism, or the Bible as grab-bag full of bits of personal guidance and encouragement. Yet these approaches remain popular in many Christian circles.
My presentation draws on some scholars—including David C. Steinmetz, Richard B. Hays, and John Lee Thompson—who have encouraged contemporary Protestants to avoid these pitfalls, and instead to read the Bible with the church. I suggest that Bach’s St. Matthew Passion has remarkable potential in this project. Bach was influenced by the Pietists of his time who worried that worship had become too intellectual and not enough connected to the cost of discipleship, to personally following Jesus. To Bach, the Bible was much more than a textbook of doctrine; it was an integral part of his identity. Nowhere is this more clearly and more beautifully communicated than in his St. Matthew Passion. We have much to learn from a man who in the words of music scholar Jeremy Begbie “possessed one of the most biblically and theologically acute theological minds in history,” the thoughts of which were expressed in music like the St. Matthew Passion.
“And God Said”: Sola Fide and the Language of Re-Creation in Luther’s The Babylonian Captivity of the Church.
The aim of this paper is to examine the simple question of why, on theological grounds, Luther decided to cut the number of the sacraments from the traditional seven to three, and later to two. The reality, of course, is that the question is not very simple at all, and Luther’s defense of his work is as lively as it is problematic. This paper will argue that Luther’s justification of the three sacraments, resting as it does on the necessity of Christ’s words of institution, relies on the implicit argument that the role of the sacraments is fundamentally one of re-creation: in limiting the number of sacraments to three, Luther underlines, bolds, italicizes, and highlights the notion that the sacraments are not intended to be the work of human hands, but instead the work of the one whose property and power it is, from the beginning of time, to create. This is to say that Luther, in a flurry of literary strokes, was moving to wrest the keys of heaven from the perceived Babylon of his time and to put them back into the hands of the Word of God.
This paper is structured in three parts. First, it will examine the logic at the heart of Luther’s argument for the three-sacrament structure in his seminal work The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. Next, it will situate that logic in the broader scope of Luther’s understanding of Jesus Christ as the Word of God, drawing on a selection of his sermons and commentaries on both Genesis and John, along with his treatise The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ. The aim of this second section is to show how Luther’s understanding of the divine genealogy of Christ buttresses his view of the re-creative and restorative power of the sacraments, and thereby necessitates, in his view, the cutback from seven to three. Finally, the third part will attempt a brief critique of Luther’s position as it stands in the above works, identifying some potential problems and implications arising from the schema that Luther gives us for understanding the now-iconic claim of sola fide.
Reforming Vocation : From Luther and Calvin to James and Dewey (and Back Again?)
One hundred years ago, in his 1917 Vocation lectures, Max Weber articulated his understanding of the modern work of science and politics. In this work, he articulates that “The fate of our times is characterized by… the disenchantment of the world … Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of the mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and human relations .” According to Weber, vocation or calling must now be understood in the context of instrumental rationalization, industrialized capitalistic economy, and changing moral values. This “disenchantment” complicates the practical challenge of bearing the difficulties of work and suffering as individuals and as a society. How did vocation take such a disenchanted turn? Four hundred years prior to Weber’s lecture, the beginning of the Protestant Reformation caused a dramatic shift in the understanding of the term, vocation. Martin Luther expanded the original understanding of monastic or priestly calling in the Catholic Church, embedding the idea of vocation, or what he terms, /beruf/, into the everyday work of common-life Christians. John Calvin’s reinterpretation also led to the additional idea of an “inner-worldly asceticism” wherein vocation is also a personal means of keeping one’s sinful desires in check. Subsequently, William Perkin’s Puritan ideal of vocation grows out of this Calvinist insight, which then undergoes a transformation during the development of the modern American economy and consumer culture. This has resulted in vocation being disconnected from the realm of the Church and its transformation into a work ethic shaped by psychology of William James and John Dewey. As a result, Christian society is easily lured into the realm of the cooperate work culture and the ideals of American self-fulfillment. With the growing number of self-help books and work management strategies in our modern society, the use of the term “calling” has become more associated with the ideals of self-fulfillment and self-satisfaction contrary to more traditional understandings of Christian vocation. As American Christians focus more and more on cultivating a “personality” for the corporate workforce, the question of moral character could be lost to our Reformation and pre-Reformation heritage. How did the Protestant account of vocation as God’s calling of a people to serve each other through love and faith lead us to a society that is juggling between a dehumanizing work ethic and integrated, psychosocial self-help agenda? This paper will give an exposition upon the development of Reformation understandings of vocation from its 16th-century trajectory into its current use as means of asserting a disproportionate importance on work life towards the members of the Body of Christ. I will then discuss the potential for Christian (specifically Protestant) universities to recover and articulate a countercultural approach to vocation that is centered on Christian discipleship through moral formation and friendship. By recovering a more biblical understanding of vocation, the Reformation’s influential legacy on the Christian life can be carried forward as a vital component of the faithful witness that is constitutive of the work of the Church in history.
The Ecumenical Image: Communing at the Cross in the Work of Zinzendorf and Kierkegaard
The Wittenberg Altarpiece (1547) reflects Martin Luther’s “theology of the cross,” as Luther is depicted preaching to a congregation which sees, between themselves and Luther, the crucified Christ, a suspended image created through Luther’s preaching. Luther values the creation of images driven by the Bible, both in physical form and as a creation of the mind in response to its reading. Two theological descendants of Luther, Nicolas Ludwig Count von Zinzendorf and Soren Kierkegaard, like Luther, imagine the Christian as one who looks on Christ for life, working with their own forms of the theology of the cross. First, this paper will briefly describe Luther’s theology of the cross, using the lens of the Wittenberg Altarpiece to introduce the centrality of this image after the Reformation as before. Though some Protestant denominations minimize the use of physical objects and images, the image is not eliminated from worship, but rather becomes a creation of the word in the mind of the hearer.
Next, looking to the works and life of Zinzendorf, a pioneer of ecumenism and powerful influence on Moravianism, the paper will explore his Christocentric theology. In his teaching, Zinzendorf describes the visceral image of Christ as the wounded bridegroom as the source of life. This image becomes beautiful only to the one who knows him as a Savior, Creator, and husband. The appearing of Christ to the one in need of salvation is described in poetic and somewhat shocking terms, as the wounds of Christ become the womb of the Church and the sustenance of the individual Christian. This idea will be examined through the “Litany of the Wounds of the Husband,” used by the Moravians of the eighteenth century. In this litany, Moravian congregations were liturgically oriented toward the crucified Bridegroom, as they oriented daily life toward the Savior-Husband. Zinzendorf’s emphasis on this central image would be the force behind his ecumenical mission, as he would prioritize the experience of the love of the wounded Christ over the doctrinal issues which he believed ought only to be considered subsequent to an experience of Christ as Savior.
Similarly, though much of Soren Kierkegaard’s work is devoted to the ethical imperative of Christianity, in his /Communion Discourses/, Kierkegaard expects the Christian to be brought before the cross as a contemporary of Christ, culpable before him and dependent upon his sacrifice. /Practice in Christianity/ alongside the /Communion Discourses/ will serve as the primary sources for Kierkegaard’s orientation toward the crucified Christ. The /Communion Discourses/ present the Christian’s ultimate dependence on Christ at the communion table, as every individual is called to account for his presence at the ever-contemporary crucifixion. This idea is expounded in /Practice in Christianity/, as Christ’s “contemporaneity” presents him as a reality and a source of possible offense to the individual. It is the incomprehensible Person of Christ who must be present to the individual in both communion and in his consideration of the historical Jesus, if salvation is to be a possibility.
Finally, this paper will conclude with a brief consideration of the Cross as the necessary starting point for ecumenical dialogue. While Zinzendorf and Kierkegaard both speak from a broadly-Lutheran background, they are not alone when they make the image and person of the crucified Christ the defining image of true Christianity and the point of ultimate dependence. While the challenge of ecumenism may not be overcome entirely by this image, at the cross Zinzendorf and Kierkegaard remind Christians of the centrality of the Person and act of Christ as the first ground of interdenominational dialogue and present a critique of dialogue which ignores the central question of salvation in favor of secondary issues, of dialogue that neglects the primacy of the relationship between Christ and every individual.
A Response to Bibliolatry
I write this paper to answer a longstanding curiosity, born of an encounter at divinity school. My Hebrew Bible class was an ecumenical sampler of students along the spectrum of Christian liberalism, with a few self-identifying evangelicals and Roman Catholics sprinkled in. After a source criticism lecture one morning, an evangelical asked a question that exposed an unprogressive interpretation of the text. The professor chastised him for "bibliolatry" – idolatry of the Bible. The accusation was met by cheers, and the comment had its desired effect: My peer was shamed to silence. Personally, I had never heard of such a term.
I write this paper to explore bibliolatry. Namely, what is it? What is the historical root of the term? And is the phenomenon identified by the term genuinely idolatry, or something else? I rely on George Marsden for the historical backdrop, and critical reflection for the rest.
My thesis is as follows: Bibliolatry is neither a species of idolatry, nor a specific enough criticism to be meaningfully applied to one's relationship to Scripture. As such, it should be struck from theological discourse.
This paper has three sections: (1) historical context, (2) genus-species, and (3) a fuller examination of cultural factors that influence shifting postures toward Christian Scripture. In what follows, I briefly outline these sections.
(1) Historical Context: I begin with an excerpt of a letter from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes to Frederick Hedge, a Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist, dated December 18, 1869. Holmes wrote in response to the liberalizing cultural forces confronting Christianity-forces like progressivism, intellectualism, and Darwinism-forces which Holmes gladly embraced. This letter marked one of the first print appearances of the word "bibliolatry," a term later appropriated and popularized by Thomas Huxley. Justice Holmes called for Christians to move past the practice of taking Biblical stories as factive and to deflate their confidence in Scripture as a source of authority.
Charges of bibliolatry appear to be context-based, both in terms of (A) the historical time period in which the reader finds himself and (B) the conventions of the religious community. That is, whatever the acceptable standard is for a "reasonable reverence" of Scripture, a bibliolater is one who exceeds that. Here, I explore cultural currents of modernism and the theory of evolution, and their various impacts on the faith. I also examine the source of the charges of bibliolatry, which I see as forked-coming from both (1) progressive and (2) ecclesial directions. Lastly, I explore the role the Reformation had in laying the foundation for a shifting relationship to Scripture-primarily in terms of the personalization of faith apart from the institution of the Church, and turning away from the quadriga in favor of literalist readings.
(2) Genus-Species: To glean features of idolatry, I examine three case studies-one of idolatry, then two potential cases of bibliolatry. I argue that the latter two do not constitute instances of the first. These cases are as follows: (a) The Golden Calf: This is the biblical exemplar of idolatry. From this, we learn that the object of idolatry is not God, and that it is worshipped as higher than God. We also learn that idolatry is a problem weighed by God alone and is about the heart of the actor, irrespective of cultural context. (b) Benedictine Monks: I explore Medieval Benedictine monks as an example of a group of Christians who clearly held the Bible with great reverence and considered it to be inerrant. But they also read Scripture through the rule of faith, and in a well-established authority structure. I argue that they do not satisfy the features of idolatry. (c) The Literalist Expositor: This is the critical case. I argue that a literalist expositor of Scripture probably does not qualify as an idolator. I make this case on the basis of the features above, as well as additional considerations regarding the fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible as (i) Logos and (ii) transformative.
(3) Cultural backdrop: I conclude this essay with an evaluation of alternative explanations for the "bibliolatry" phenomenon. These include increased literacy and shifts in the landscape of hermeneutical authority. I also examine Christian Smith's work on "biblicism" and ask what this can contribute to the discussion.
In broad strokes, I find bibliolatry to be a misnomer, sourced in a misunderstanding of those groups accused, and I find accusations of bibliolatry to be more harmful than fruitful in helping people to learn and grow in their relationship to Scripture.
Luther and the Jews’ from the Standpoint of the History of Exegesis: The Cain & Abel Narrative as Test Case
Martin Luther’s attitude toward the Jews is one of the most controversial areas in Reformation studies, fraught as it is not only with Luther’s seemingly variegated stances, but also with the tragic use of Luther’s ideas by later anti-Semites. Secondary literature on the topic is voluminous, tempting one to think that every possible angle has been explored. This, however, is not the case.
Traditionally, scholars have investigated Luther’s attitude toward the Jews either by focusing almost exclusively on his late anti-Jewish writings (Judenschriften) or by narrowing in to note only the five or so works devoted specifically to “the Jews.” The problem is that this ignores not only the central role of the Jews as a theological construct throughout the whole of Luther’s life, but also the constitutive role that Hebrew studies, biblical exegesis and encounters with rabbinic scholarship played in his attitudes toward the Jews and Judaism. Indeed, Heiko Oberman has noted that “in the Genesis commentary (1535-1545) we find the main exegetical arsenal for arguments of the aging Luther against the Jews.” Luther’s attitudes toward the Jews were not primarily based upon personal experience, but upon exegesis, and so his biblical commentaries constitute a crucial source for accurately interpreting this aspect of his thought.
This paper aims to analyze Luther’s exegesis of the Cain and Abel narrative in Genesis 4 as a window onto the larger subject of his attitudes toward both Jews and relatedly, toward Jewish and rabbinic scholarship. This includes noting where Luther saw the Jews in the text of the Old Testament, as well as his implicit and explicit interaction with antecedent competing Christian and medieval Jewish interpretations of the passage at hand. The Cain & Abel story provides a particularly useful starting point because of its widespread use in Christian anti-Jewish polemic, where Cain became viewed as a symbol for the Jewish people.
Through this focus on the history of exegesis, new light stands poised to be shed on an old problem. This presentation will demonstrate that Luther surprisingly mitigates traditional anti-Jewish polemic in his exegesis of Genesis 4, all the while interacting subtly but consistently with medieval Jewish scholarship. His negative disparagements of “the Jews,” in turn, end up never being about the Jewish people as a whole, but rather are directed at the rabbinic scholars that he distrusts. Thus we will see that an accurate picture of “Luther and the Jews” must pay attention not only to his Judenschriften but to his concrete exegetical interactions with Jewish scholarship.
/Sola Scriptura/ but not /Una Interpretatio/: The Reformation's Unresolved Tension between History and Theology in Biblical Studies
The well-known narrative of /sola scriptura/ embraced by the ecclesiastical heirs of the Reformation rightly calls attention to the Reformers' insistence upon biblical authority as the ground for all aspects of faith and practice. Another narrative, acknowledged but less appreciated, concerns the Reformers' lack of agreement on the standards for and function of sound biblical interpretation in determining the implications of /sola scriptura/. Having successfully unhinged the Bible from the church's authoritative interpretation of it, the Reformation failed to clarify the relationship between the literal/historical and figural/spiritual senses of scripture, the basic hermeneutic adopted from the earliest Jewish and Christians communities through the classical and medieval eras. When praising the gains of the Reformation, therefore, we must also assess its role in deepening the divide between the historical and theological tasks of faithful biblical interpretation. In spite of this unintended legacy, however, the Reformers also modeled interpretive practices that can assist biblical scholars in faith communities to work creatively with this tension. The goal of these practices is not to elicit the "one interpretation" of scripture upon which everyone can agree but rather to be faithful to its inherently historical and theological dynamics for a more purposeful appreciation of /sola scriptura/. This thesis will be developed in three stages.
First, the paper considers the Reformation historically in order to describe its impact on the history of biblical interpretation. Over against classical and medieval Catholicism, the Reformers' exegetical studies critiqued earlier applications of the senses of scripture while affirming their basic logic. Moreover, there are significant post-Reformation influences upon presuppositions and methods in biblical studies-Rationalism (Kant); Idealism (Hegel); Historicism (Troeltsch); and Postmodernism (Derrida). The biblical studies guild of the early 21st century tends to divide into two sets of scholarly intuitions and practices; and these sets derive their impetus from different time periods. On one side are scholars primarily motivated by historical interests and guided by methods associated with post-Reformation historical-critical exegesis, such as analysis of ancient cultures, texts, and languages. On the other side are scholars motivated by what has come to be called "the theological interpretation of scripture." This pathway accents pre-critical scholarship and focuses on the unity of scripture's message and ecclesial expressions of doctrine and practice. To be sure, while some methods and individuals straddle this divide, there is little doubt that biblical scholars tend to associate with one approach or the other. This bifurcation is ultimately neither completely faithful to scripture nor fully edifying for believers.
Second, the paper considers the Reformation hermeneutically in order to argue that the Reformers failed to articulate and practice a shared approach to biblical interpretation even as they defied the Roman Catholic Church as the sole authoritative interpreter. The focus here is not so much on Reformers' almost immediate disagreements with each other over doctrinal and practical theology but rather the underdetermined relationship of the interpretative methods they adopted from classical and medieval Catholicism. While underdetermined approaches to biblical interpretation can indeed inform Christian theology and practice (Fowl), the Reformers and their heirs embraced the interplay of literal and figural senses without clarifying the tension created by the interpretive methods. They appealed to divine accommodation to account for the humanness of the biblical text and to the work of the Holy Spirit to assert the truthfulness of interpretations in their creeds, confessions, and catechisms. These documents increasingly sidestepped the methodological and exegetical problems, resulting in theological solutions that lack sufficient historical sensitivity.
Third, the paper considers the Reformation paradigmatically to illustrate their appropriation both historical and theological methods. I focus on the commentaries of Luther and Calvin on the so-called Messianic psalms, given their importance for Christian theological interpretation and the fact that historical-critical scholarship all but rejects the prophetic function of specific psalms for understanding Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. I suggest that Luther and Calvin exemplify emphases of both historical-critical research and theological exegesis. Without claiming that the Reformers applied both approaches with complete consistency, 21st century biblical scholars can discover in their writings an integrative method that explored historical matters without utter skepticism or relativism and robustly embraced theological truth without rejecting the role of human reason in identifying and analyzing various kinds of evidence.
The Last Battle: Revelation 20 in Luther and the Lutheran Tradition to 1700
During the Reformation, eschatology was not the only way of making sense of Islam, nor was it prevalent across all branches of developing Protestantism. Christians discussed eschatology with no reference to Islam and have discussed Muslims with no reference to eschatology. However, especially for Martin Luther and his followers, eschatology provided an important means of making sense of Islam by finding space for it within the biblical framework. They claimed that Islam, although arising after the Christian scriptures were written, was still referred to specifically in them. These references were not by name, however, but appeared symbolically in apocalyptic passages. For Martin Luther and others, Islam and the Turks were an important part of a "last days" drama that ended only at the final judgment. This paper examines the historical exegesis of Revelation 20 done by Martin Luther and the Lutheran tradition to 1700. Because of the changing political situation and the ebb and flow in the power dynamic between the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires over this period, this topic does an excellent job of helping us to understand how political context can shape exegesis, and how exegesis can impact politics.
Locke: a Man of the Reformation?
This paper will describe the substantial conceptual influences of the Anglican reformation of 16th-century England upon the contractarian political thought of a 17th-century thinker, John Locke. Early on in its development, the political thinking of the 16th-century Anglican reformation was deeply tied to the patriarchal models of the medieval era. Even as late as Hooker and Filmer, such models continued to exercise dominance over the minds of the English gentlemanly class. While I certainly will not in this paper be suggesting that Locke is patriarchal in his understanding of the social order, nevertheless my contention will be that there were certain medieval and reformation-era motifs that did shape Locke’s thought about such important post-contractual issues as civic education, infrastructure, and the virtues of the citizenry. By contrast, most interpretations of the Locke contract have taken it to be a distinctively early-modern understanding of the social order, that, like Leviathan, Oceana, and the Discourses Concerning Government, does not resort to the organic cooperative assumptions of Aristotle, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin. The consensus has long been that since Locke’s cooperative system is entered voluntarily by free and equal participants, in accordance with the constraints of the natural law and the restrictions of property rights, the roles of the Locke contractors are best described in terms of the categories of rights, consent, duties, and property. I fully agree with this longstanding consensus about the early-modern means and purposes of the Second Treatise. But at the same time the thesis for which I will argue in this paper is that there are passages in Locke’s Essays on the Law of Nature (1676), Letter on Toleration (1689), Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (1691), Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and especially the Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) that suggest a virtue-based understanding of the behaviors of the Second Treatise contractors – influenced by Locke’s Socinian Christian convictions, but virtue-based nonetheless – and thus dependent upon the Aristotelian moral concepts with which English reformers like Cranmer so mightily struggled. To be sure, there are others who have argued before for the fruitfulness of understanding the Locke contract’s infrastructure in terms of its dispositional impact. My distinctive contribution here, however, is that in this paper I describe what, precisely, Locke’s ties were to reformation-era thinkers who still were conceiving of the roles of citizens in terms of personal virtues. And I further suggest a particular set of virtues for the Second Treatise contractors by means of Locke’s descriptions of the dispositions of landed gentlemen in his various non-political writings.
I acknowledge, of course, that Locke curiously never explicitly used the language of, say, Cranmer because he never discussed the virtues of the contractors of the Second Treatise. In spite of his Christian convictions Locke only infrequently appears to have explicitly tied his contract’s materialist ends to the perfectionist ends of ancient, medieval, and early-reformation political models. So although I am here articulating the Locke contract’s dispositional means and purposes in ways that are more straightforward than anyone else has so far done, I nevertheless want to stress that I am not interpreting Locke as a proto-virtue-ethicist in the sense in which Aristotle or Aquinas are today considered to be the ancestors of Philippa Foot and Alasdair MacIntyre. My candidate virtues for Locke’s contractors are wholly compatible with the prioritization, in more traditional treatments of the Second Treatise, of the staple concepts of consent, natural rights, property protection, and natural law. My point is simply that since the ideas of virtue with which Locke was working were not quite the same as the ideas that have come to be revived in the second half of the twentieth century, Locke ought to be seen by his interpreters as being less a man of modernity, and more a man of early Anglican-era England than often is thought.
“And Every Thought of His Heart Was Only Evil Continually:” Luther and Calvin on Pagan Goodness
This paper examines Martin Luther and John Calvin on the topic of pagan goodness, i.e., what good actions humans can do, absent the saving grace of salvation. Although both theologians are typically-and not incorrectly-understood to condemn all efforts to please God made without grace unto justification, they nevertheless have a category for actions that effect something good in human life, despite proceeding from a sinful heart. The two Reformers make this distinction by dividing human nature and action into earthly and heavenly kingdoms; Calvin goes a step further, referring the capability for even earthly, pagan goodness to the Spirit's grace persisting in fallen humanity.
I take a historically contextual approach to these topics, first examining Aquinas' teaching on pagan goodness and salvation, which is far more similar to Calvin's than one might expect. The later Scholastic theologians, Gabriel Biel most notably, modified Aquinas' understanding in favor of doctrines that emphasized free will and human initiative unto salvation. It was this teaching that Luther and Calvin received and objected to, leading to their vehement rejections of any room for human work to effect salvation, and affirmation of righteousness imputed to us from Christ.
With this necessary context in place, I move to explicating the Two Kingdoms formulation that Luther and Calvin use to ground their theology of pagan goodness. Both Reformers teach that human life belongs to two kingdoms, dividing our being such that our action with regard to civil, public life is distinct from our action with regard to salvation. This distinction ensures that pagan goodness has no power to make someone righteous before God, while not denying the manifest fact that there are societies and individuals without the benefit of revelation that still are well ordered and promote goodness. The Two Kingdoms formulation ensures that Luther and Calvin can affirm true goodness in the world, the earthly kingdom, but maintain their fierce defense of salvation by grace through faith alone, in the heavenly kingdom. Luther's way of explaining the earthly kingdom relies heavily on natural law and on marriage and state government as institutions established by God for our good, as gifts to pagan and Christian alike. Calvin distinguishes the kingdoms by saying that human nature's heavenly gifts, which help us attain to salvation, were destroyed in the Fall, but the earthly gifts, which pertain to our ordering earthly matters, were only corrupted. Both Luther's and Calvin's interpretations give a robust theological account of how humans can achieve any goodness without the grace of salvation, while protecting salvation as purely a matter of grace. I emphasize that, for Luther and Calvin, all the gifts and faculties of human nature, whether earthly or heavenly, damaged or intact, come entirely from God's creative and sustaining power and must always be referred back to His glory, never taken as affirming humanity's power in the absence of divine grace. Finally, I offer a few points on how Luther's and Calvin's Two Kingdoms theology helps us relate to our non-Christian neighbors now: we can affirm their goodness in the earthly kingdom, praising God for their actions and talents, while not confusing their goodness and decency for acceptability in the heavenly kingdom-for that, they need grace, just as we have received.
Fra Angelico’s /Last Supper/ and Caravaggio’s /Supper at Emmaus:/ How Different Treatments of the Eucharist Reveal a Changing Reformation Culture
The Eucharist has a long history of visual representation, from early Christian art to this day; this is fitting, as it is perhaps the most central practice of the Catholic Church. During the Medieval Era, the central understanding of the Eucharist stayed relatively constant. However, from the late Medieval and early Renaissance era to the High Renaissance and Reformation era, this began to change. Many long-held assumptions regarding transubstantiation and the administration of the Eucharist were beginning to be questioned. I will show how the assumptions and attitudes regarding the Eucharist seen in Fra Angelico’s /Last Supper,/ which had become contested notions by the time of Caravaggio’s /Supper at Emmaus,/ reveal their different purposes, namely that Fra Angelico’s work is directed at eliciting worship and imitation of Christ, whereas the goal of Caravaggio’s work is primarily to assert Catholic counter-Reformation theology.
Fra Angelico’s painting is directed at the brothers in a monastery, inviting them to deeper communion with each other and Christ. Although traditionally, the Last Supper was depicted as a meal of bread around a table (e.g. Duccio and Giotto), Fra Angelico changes the focus of his /Last Supper/ from the single historical event toward the continual Eucharistic significance. Indeed, he portrays the last supper as if it were a communion in the mass. This can be seen in several aspects of his depiction: the bread is anachronistically communion wafers, rather than literal pieces of bread, the chalice and paten are abnormally large, “as though not to escape notice” (Hood 244), and the table cloth is highly reminiscent of the Eucharistic altar. This shift in focus draws the viewer into contemplation of the sacramental mystery, and stirs up a desire for participation in the sacrifice of the mass. The devotion seen in the faces and postures of the Apostles also invites the brothers to offer up their work as a sacrifice to God.
Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus, originating in the late Italian Renaissance, is painted with a far higher level of verisimilitude and technical virtuosity than Fra Angelico’s Last Supper. Its central purpose is to affirm Counter-Reformation theology for his wealthy Catholic patrons, yet Caravaggio also seeks to shock the viewer, and show off his artistic flourish. This can be seen in the outstretched hands and facial features of “the other disciple,” drawing the viewer into awe at the moment of recognition. Yet his Supper at Emmaus is certainly not lacking in theological depth, which he attains through subtle symbols and gestures of his characters. Unfortunately, most of the time this theological depth does not seem to direct the viewer toward love of God, but rather toward polemical affirmation of Catholic theology. For example, whereas according to the biblical text and iconographic tradition, Jesus was made known to the disciples “in the breaking of the bread,” Caravaggio depicts the moment of recognition as Jesus with hands blessing the bread. Hornik and Parsons contend that this break from tradition asserts the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, by “connect[ing] visually the moment of recognition in the Emmaus story with the blessing of the bread by Christ, the first ‘priest’” (Hornik and Parsons 131). As in the mass, Christ is made present in the priest’s placing his hands over and blessing the bread, so here Christ is made known to the disciples in the blessing of the bread. Most significantly, “That Christ is shown blessing only the bread (and not the wine) also supports the Counter-Reformation insistence on ‘bread only’ for the laity, over against the Calvinist practice of ‘Communion in both kinds’” (129-30).
As becomes evident, much more of Caravaggio’s artistic energy was devoted to forceful assertion of Counter-Reformation theology, thus allowing less opportunity for drawing the viewer into adoration of Christ and contemplation of the sacramental mystery. Fra Angelico’s Last Supper, on the other hand, rather than needing to affirm this theology, assumes it, as it was entrenched in a culture that already believed it. With far less technical prowess, Fra Angelico directs the viewer through this theology to an adoration and imitation of Christ, a call to holiness. The difference in assumptions and purposes of these two paintings thus reveals what unity of belief was lost in the Reformation, and the loss of artistic beauty that came from the loss of this shared understanding.
Luther: Gender and Sexuality in the Protestant Reformation
Most studies of women and the Reformation have focused on a larger context for understanding the role of women, gender and sexuality. However, this paper will focus specifically on Luther's ideas about women, marriage, and family in an effort to investigate and analyze gender roles and sexuality [in 20 minutes].
In recent years the analysis of gender and sexuality has had a huge impact on historical research in general and has added a vitally important dimension to our understanding of the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s view that women as well as men could either support or reject evangelical ideas, read the Bible and respond to the call to proclaim the Gospel shed light on the changing expectations of “proper” gender roles. Certainly women participated in Reformation movements and male church and political leaders tried to "reform" women by closely controlling their behavior. However, some women were determined to stand on their own, independent of the relationships they had with men in their families, such as those who converted to one faith against their husbands' wishes while others attained a certain prominence in reforming movements.
Since there will only be so much time to deliver my paper, I will endeavor to present a very specific review of the literature on Luther’s perspectives on women, gender and sexuality.
Luther asks, what would life “be like without women? The home, cities, economic life, and government would virtually disappear. Men cannot do without women. Even if it were possible for men to beget and bear children, they still could not do without women." Luther’s ideas about women, marriage, and the family were informed by life in a society where women ran household workshops, looked after apprentices and journeymen, and engaged in production processes. Women incurred debts, invested and in some areas did business on their own account.
While Luther never acknowledged it, a case can be made that he believed gender as a natural state may very well be socially constructed.
Luther believed we can never do good because all human acts are sinful, and sexual acts are no different or worse in kind than other kinds of sin. “This gloomy anthropology paradoxically freed Luther to take a relaxed view of sexuality.”
Clergy followed Luther’s example and married. “This had an impact on the status of women: they were no longer evil temptresses but were given respect, security and rights as married women. Moreover, wives of clergy had a new sphere of influence; their homes became an important center for teaching the Gospel and for passing on the Christian faith."
Luther’s views concerning the body, sensuality, desire, and sexuality was tied to his understanding of the Incarnation. From Luther’s reading of Scripture to his pastoral and familial work in the world, he argued that humans are bodily creatures with physical needs, driven to provide for these needs by desire. Luther explains, "As Christ befriended, healed, fed, and washed the bodies of those he met, so too the Christian is called to human relationship with others and the bodily service of the neighbor.” True romantic relationships also had a bodily element for Luther, thus he rejected sexual abstinence as a human virtue.
In fact, the closure of monasteries and convents during the Protestant Reformation were in part due to Luther’s rejection of the ideal of celibacy; "Celibacy” he says “is the foil of Satan. If the Pope had brought about no other calamity than this prohibition of marriage, it would be sufficient to stamp him as the anti-Christ”. During Luther’s time, male authorities defined women primarily as sexual creatures and sought to supervise their sexuality carefully, nevertheless Luther had “remarkably uninhibited views about sexuality and consequently marriage” which were due to his particular brand of “radical Augustinianism.”
Max Weber makes the point that “The equality granted to women in the early stages of a religious community’s formation always diminishes significantly as routinization and regimentation of community relationships set in.” Perhaps Luther’s Reformation removed the stigma under which women had lived for centuries, but do these changes in gender roles and a liberated sexuality change the nature of the experience for women of the Reformation? This question will be the guiding focus of my presentation.
The Puritan Response to Suppression during the English Reformation
The English Reformation had a long fore life and a long after life. John Wycliffe proposed many reformation principles during the time of Chaucer, and the matter of religion in England was not truly settled until the restoration of monarchy in 1660. Some would even place the date as late as 1688 when Parliament overthrew James II for his papist sympathies. Between these two periods, however, the English Reformation began with the sanction, or insistence, of Henry VIII who wanted a divorce. The English Reformation had an uneven journey under the Tudors and Stuarts who seemed to vacillate on their allegiance to Rome from monarch to monarch. Mary returned to Rome and Elizabeth withdrew again.
The Marian Exiles, who had fled to the European centers of the Reformation during Mary’s suppression of Protestantism, returned to England when protestant Elizabeth ascended the throne in 1558. They expected that Elizabeth would complete the Reformation that her father and brother had only begun. They were to be disappointed, for Elizabeth hit upon a /Via Media/, a middle way compromise between Rome and Geneva, which she instituted under the Thirty-Nine Articles. Those protestant clergy who accepted this Elizabethan Settlement became the leaders of the established church. Those who continued to push for greater reform in matters of ceremony, dress, and polity came to be known as the Puritans.
This paper will explore how the Puritans responded to suppression under Elizabeth and the early Stuarts. At times, the terms of conformity to the expectations of the establishment were strictly enforced and breaches were sternly punished. At other times, the bishops allowed a degree of latitude in how strictly they enforced conformity. During times of tolerance of non-conformity, the Puritans tended to focus their attention on the development of a preaching ministry and attention to personal spiritual growth through the method of casuistry developed by William Perkins (1558-1602). In times of strong suppression, however, the Puritans tended toward radicalism in both ecclesiology and politics. This pattern continued through the reigns of Elizabeth, James I, and Charles I. In the end, the Puritans turned against themselves and splintered into Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers, and a variety of smaller, radical sects that did not survive the seventeenth century. The pattern of the Puritans is not merely a matter of historical data, because the denominations spawned by the Puritans have continued in the Puritan tradition that tends toward radicalism under pressure.
Almighty God, Without Respect of Person’: Thomas Cranmer, Gender, and Religious Change during the English Reformation
Thomas Cranmer was a central religious figure in England during the Reformation of the sixteenth century. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Henry VIII and that of Edward VI, Cranmer had considerable influence in England during its transition from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism, including helping write the /Book of Common Prayer/. His life was cut short, however, because of this identification with Protestant reforms during Mary's Catholic reign. Because of his legacy, Cranmer's life and work provides an indispensable subject for historians who study Reformation England. While scholars have examined his theology and overall role in the Reformation, his treatment of women remains neglected. In the epilogue of her book /The Good Women of the Parish/, Katherine L. French notes the work that still needs to be done on the subject of women during the Reformation. An assessment of Cranmer holds great promise for the study of women in Reformation England for several reasons.
Cranmer's role as a minister provides a helpful lens through which to study the Anglican Church's response to women, especially in the ways he addressed marriage, adultery, and the Eucharist. His contributions to the /Bishops' Book/ (1537), /Book of Homilies/ (1547), and /Book of Common Prayer/ (1549) are essential as they address the ministry of clergy to their female communicants. As Christine Peters has shown, his contribution to reforming the marriage liturgy has significant implications for interpreting gender, and this study pays close attention to his gendered language in other writings. His theology and church-state views are also taken into account as they relate to his interpretation of church, society, and women. Cranmer's understanding of marriage among the clergy becomes even more pertinent as he himself had a family. Finally, this study compares Cranmer's interpretation of the Eucharist with the conclusions of historian Caroline Walker Bynum in order to measure in part the level of change that occurred for women who practiced their religion during the Reformation.
Cranmer's numerous relationships to various people caught in the tumult of the English Reformation also have important implications for studying women's history. Cranmer's role in sorting out the marital debacle of Henry VIII speaks to his views of women, marriage, and the state. Similarly, his strained relationship with Mary also reflects not only his understanding of politics, but also female rulers, and a letter to Mary included in /The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/ is assessed through the lens of gender. Cranmer's various relationships with other women provide another useful avenue for analysis. Over the course of his life, Cranmer was married at least twice; his first wife, Joan, died during childbirth, and his second wife, Margarete, later remarried after Cranmer's death. Throughout his career, Cranmer also corresponded with several women and oversaw the trial of Elizabeth Barton, the Maid of Kent.
Cranmer complicates the history of women during the English Reformation. His admission that "Almighty God, without respect of person, accepteth the oblation and sacrifice of priest and lay person, of king and subject, of master and servant, of man and woman" suggests his views on women were complex. Ultimately, his religious texts and life's work provide a unique window through which to study women's history in England during the Reformation. Such a study not only helps address an overlooked topic, but accounts for change and continuity in late medieval and early modern England. In the end, this paper argues that Cranmer's legacy is more continuous with late medieval gender arrangements within the church and does not reflect a cataclysmic shift towards patriarchal ideals, which came later after Cranmer's time.
Subjects, Objects, and the Knowlege of God: Calvin and Barth on Paul's Language of Election
John Calvin’s doctrine of election has been the basis for nearly all Protestant soteriological formulations since the Protestant Reformation. Karl Barth’s formulation of the doctrine of election is thus significant as one of the few genuine alternatives to Calvin’s understanding of the subject. Against Calvin’s (as well as Jacob Arminius’) understanding of election as the separation of humanity into two distinct group, Barth understands election as a Christo-Trinitarian act by which the Father ordains the Son as a representative of humanity in which individual humans may participate. This paper will engage both Calvin and Barth in their readings of pertinent Pauline texts in order to locate their disagreement and reason for departure from one another. Ultimately, Calvin and Barth differ on the means by which humans obtain knowledge of God. For Calvin, the starting point of knowledge about God is the human conscience, where God has placed knowledge of the ontological deficiency of the fallen person. For Barth, the starting point for the knowledge of God is the external person of Jesus Christ, God’s extrinsic self-revelation to humanity. Calvin formulates his soteriology around the human problem of an experience of moral and ontological deficiency, while Barth formulates his as a Christological action distinct from humanity’s response to God. In this, Barth ultimately accuses Calvin of making his soteriology a subject of anthropology. This becomes especially clear when comparing their understandings of Paul’s teachings about the Law in Galatians 3 and 1 Corinthians 3. Ultimately, this study concludes that Calvin and Barth’s main point of divergence in their exegesis of Paul is their differing understandings of the task and methodology of theology, with Calvin’s convictions being anthropological in nature and Barth’s being Christological. Barth provides a compelling critique of Calvin’s understanding of election as well as one of the few true alternative Protestant soteriological systems.
The study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology’ (Dei Verbum, 24). The Ecumenical Path from the Dispute about Luther's Sola Scriptura to a Common Appreciation of the Gospel
One of the crucial points of dispute in the Reformation era was the relation between scripture and tradition. Thus I first want to present a brief sketch of the challenges that Luther's scriptural hermeneutics presented for late-medieval theology. At the same time we need to look at the points of dispute at that time in light of their epistemological background. In addition, by analyzing the development of Catholic teaching I want to draw attention to the learning process that started in the Catholic church at least from the 20th century onwards and that lead to a "rediscovery" of the importance of the gospel and a common, ecumenically inspired, appreciation of the Bible.
Luther the Muslim: Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and the Islamic roots of the Reformation
Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) is connected to Martin Luther by the topic of faith: salvation is by faith alone, not by works or adherence to a particular creed. But could Luther have arrived at this conclusion apart from the flow of ideas carried forward in neighboring Muslim lands? For Sayyid Ahmad Khan the answer is unequivocally "no."
Born to an aristocratic Delhi family, Khan joined the East India Company in 1837 and rose to the highest rank open to Indians, a loyalty attested by his knighthood. Although he is frequently cited as an educationalist, Sir Sayyid is broadly recognised as the father of Islamic modernism. The author of important religious works, including commentaries on the Bible and Qur’an and a series of essays on the life of Muhammad, Khan was also a student of Christian theology. One result of this was his belief that the Qur’an inspired the Protestant Reformation; he even speculated that, had he lived longer, Luther would have become a Muslim.
In this paper I explore Khan’s basic premise: that the Enlightenment would not have occurred had Europeans not read Muslim Neoplatonists like Ibn Rushd and Ibn Sina. It was the encounter with Muslims that had accelerated the Reformation in Germany, he argued, and had Luther conceded to anti-Trinitarian thinkers, such as Borrhaus, Denck, and Haetzer, the Christian religion would indeed have returned to its pristine condition.
Although one hesitates to attribute Khan’s theology directly to Luther, it is impossible to discuss Khan’s trajectory in isolation from his sustained dialogue with Protestant theology seen most clearly in his extensive though fragmentary commentary on the Bible (/Tabyin al-Kalam). Nevertheless, it is important not to overlook the fact that extensive reforms were already under way in India in relation to the boundaries of orthodoxy in Islam. Whereas many called for more reified exclusivity, Khan insisted that Islam is universally inclusive by definition: the hope of eternal bliss is determined by belief in the One God (/sola fide/) – regardless of its expression – and not in the ascription to a particular dogma. Although many aspects of Khan’s exegesis of the Bible are original, his methods proceed in continuity with the mainstream writings of his Naqshbandiyya ancestors like Shaykh Ahmad Sirhind€Ç and Sh€hWal€ÇAll€h, the vanguard of reforms no less dramatic than Luther’s. The latter called for the democratisation of scripture through vernacular translation, opposition to shrine-based eliticism and the rejection of practices that appeared to deify the Prophet. But for Khan, the seed of reform was salvation by faith. This engendered confidence to release established doctrines and boldly explore scripture from new perspectives. Although his journey was unique, Khan arrived at a conclusion in some ways similar to Luther, namely that all who, like Abraham, believe in the One God are certain to receive salvation, whether or not they live according to the shar’ia – of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad. They both agree that one is saved by faith, but for the former grace flows through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and for the latter it flows through the eternal words expressed in the Qur’an.
Higher Ground: The Metaphysics of Grace in Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue
The metaphysics of grace is central in Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. Disagreements about specific issues of justification, faith, works, sacraments, and ecclesiology derive, at least in part, from differing views on how God's grace interacts with us as His creation and as sinners. The /Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification/, for instance, devotes most of its attention to differing understandings of human powerlessness and cooperation with God. This paper is an effort to expand upon the ground laid by the /Joint Declaration/, bringing to bear philosophical tools on the discussion. I begin by outlining a debate in present Protestant theologies of grace, that of the distinction between monergism and synergism, and applying it to Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. I will argue that the debate rests on a prior commitment to the mutual exclusivity of divine and human action, and that we ought to reject such a presupposition. After, I will sketch an account of human cooperation with grace, based on recent metaphysical work in grounding theory. Our power to consent to justifying grace is grounded upon prevenient grace such that humans are truly active in their justification while being wholly dependent upon God's grace for both the origin and exercise of that power. My hope is that this approach will bear fruit in ecumenical dialogue.
According to the debate between monergism and synergism, either God is the only active party operating in justification, or God is not, and humans contribute some part of justification in addition to God. Monergism, though associated with Reformed theology, has a dominant presence in Lutheran dialectical theology, particularly in the school of Gerhard Ebeling. The dichotomy leads to a dilemma. On monergism, we have no free will to consent to God's justifying grace, and on synergism, we add to, and so partially earn, our salvation by freely willing to receive Christ. The former is a steep price, and the latter seems semi-Pelagian. However, we need not impale ourselves on either horn of the dilemma.
The dilemma presupposes a prior question: is divine and human action necessarily mutually exclusive? Created causal relations are mutually exclusive. If Joe and I lift a couch, the more force I exert, the less he must exert. But why suppose this holds between the Creator and His creation? Though I cannot argue against it in full, I see little reason to affirm mutual exclusivity between divine and human action. By denying it, we open the possibility that humans can actively participate in God's grace while being entirely dependent upon that grace. Cooperation does not entail that where we operate, God does not, nor that we rob God of His glory.
In the second half of the paper, I outline a possible way to move forward, based upon the rejection of mutual exclusivity. After outlining nine necessary conditions for cooperation with grace, based on the /Joint Declaration/, I present three concepts I will use for my account. (I) Grounding, generally picked out by the locution "in virtue of," is an ontological dependence relation whereby one object or state of affairs is determined by, and so grounded upon, another. One smiles, for instance, in virtue of having a mouth; having a mouth grounds smiling. (II) Powers are capacities for some entity to cause something to happen. Powers are grounded in that entity's substance. So, humans have rational powers in virtue of being rational animals. (III) Actions are intentional exercises of an agent's powers. Because grounding is a transitive relation, whatever grounds the power also grounds the exercise of that power. I apply these to the metaphysics of grace, defending the claim that the human action of consenting to God's justifying grace is grounded in God's prevenient grace.
I distinguish between three kinds of grace: natural, prevenient, and justificatory. Natural grace is that of creation, whereby all created powers are grounded in God's creating and sustaining them. Prevenient grace is the supernatural initial movement of grace from God to the sinner, whereby the will is healed from the Fall such that it has the capacity to stop resisting God and receive justifying grace, which makes a person right with God. We do not earn our justification, even though we act to consent, since our capacity to consent is itself an effect and gift from God. Neither does God "justify us without us," as Augustine wrote, since we truly and freely will to receive justifying grace. Therefore, we cooperate with God by consenting to receive justifying grace in virtue of supernatural prevenient grace, not by innate natural powers.
Johannes Brahms and Faith Seeking Understanding: A German Requiem Op. 45 and Four Serious Songs Op. 121
Johannes Brahms is widely perceived to have had a complex relationship with Protestant Christianity. Born in Hamburg, at the time still part of a region designated as Lutheran, he was familiar with the Luther Bible and chose scriptural texts to aid him in coping with loss. By juxtaposing deuterocanonical texts with canonical ones, Brahms manages to communicate to his listeners what it means to him to be a person of faith struggling to make consonant a dissonant world view. Luther himself had made frequent mention of deuterocanonical texts in his prefaces to canonical texts but advised his readers to view them with a critical eye, not with the eye of unqualified faith as in reading canonical texts. A commonality between Luther and Brahms is in their having absorbed a questioning attitude towards the primacy of religious tradition, Luther through his training with Meister Eckhart and Brahms in the latter part of his life through his familiarity with such philosophical contemporaries as Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. When Brahms found himself in periods of severe doubt, loneliness and grief, he was not content to reach for texts that had traditionally been used, as for example in the works of fellow Lutheran J.S. Bach, to express his own deep questions about the possibility of consolation by God either in this life or in the life to come. Brahms had unresolved and unexpiated memories of childhood trauma which could only be explored in the composition of the music itself. When tragedies occurred in his adult life, the words he spoke about love, loss and redemption are often an unreliable view into the state of his soul, while his music reveals a deeper truth. The purpose of this presentation is to take a brief but detailed look at the subtle connection between the words and the music, junctions wherein Brahms reveals his lifelong journey towards understanding himself as a lesser and more limited creator within God's great creation.
The Scottish Reformation – a case study
The Scottish Reformation emerged slowly in a country on the outskirts of Europe. Yet, when it did occur in 1559/1560, it was ‘one of the most extraordinary national transformations in European history.’ (Alex Ryrie) It was a momentous event in the history of the nation, and had a profound effect on the political, religious and social life of the country. It soon laid claim to the hearts and lives of the majority of its inhabitants and, as Alex Ryrie has demonstrated, ‘Scottish Catholicism…virtually disappeared from lowland Scotland and from the majority of the Highlands.’
The typical approach to exploring the Reformation in Scotland is to focus on the impact of John Knox. He undoubtedly provided the theological raison d’etre for the movement, but he was only one of several reformers, six of them called John, who wrote documents such as the Scots Confession of Faith in 1560 for approval by the Scottish Parliament.
The role of biblical literature during this period in Scotland was vitally important for the spread of reformation thought and piety. Knox sought to provide for the education of children within the country, establishing a schoolroom, as well as a parish church and preacher in every parish. The increase in reading literacy was crucial for the spread of reformed thought. In addition to the Bible being made available, the place of the psalter in the worship of parish church, following Calvin’s regulative principle concerning worship, encouraged a strong connection of lay piety with the words of scripture.
This paper will also seek to demonstrate the way in which the reformed theology, which Knox had studied in Calvin’s Geneva was applied in a very different context in Scotland, and how this began to affect the corporate life of the established church, as well a lay members of local parishes. The paper will draw from primary sources such as diaries, journals and ‘conversion narratives’ to demonstrate the way in which the reformation impacted every aspect of society, clerical and lay, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Martin Luther and Christian Higher Education Today
Luther, the Protestant Reformer, was also a devoted advocate of Christian education, and his contributions to education are worth noting. First, of course, his translation of the Bible into the vernacular made Bible study a common, accessible undertaking for all literate Christians, making literacy a necessity. Luther created the SMALL CATECHISM, a teaching tool in Lutheran churches today, a series of questions and answers serving to clarify basic beliefs. Luther was also an advocate for state-supported universal education so that Christians could not only read the Bible but be useful citizens. Luther pled for public libraries, advocated the best of humanistic education at the time, and was an enthusiast for music education. Moreover, several of Luther's theological themes have relevance to Christian higher education today.
Luther's contributions to educational thought are worth visiting as Christian colleges and universities, like their secular counterparts, seem to be suffering from an identity crisis. Luther valued history and language education in particular. However, his theology may also enlighten the ways and means of higher education in American today as society has become thoroughly secularized. Following are there key ideas, the first two illustrating Luther's fondness for paradox:
1) The reality of the "old Adam" and the "new" or the truth that Christians are both sinners and saints.
2) The freedom of the Christian alongside his/her bondage to service.
3) The notion of vocation for all Christians.
What these ideas may imply for Christian higher education will be explored.
Luther was not only a religious reformer but an educational reformer, and his insights may prove lively today as 500 years ago during another time of great change. Harran (1997) summarizes:
Luther, who perceived so clearly the value of education to individual, church, and society, compels us to ponder what goals and values education, with all its technological dimensions and possibilities, should serve in our time (p. 16).
Bruce, G. M. (1979, reprint of 1928). Luther as an educator. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.
Harran, M. J., (1997). Martin Luther: Learning for life. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia.
Smith, L. S. (2011). Martin Luther's two ways of viewing life and the educational foundation of a Lutheran ethos. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.
The Homiletical Development and Legacy of Johannes Oecolampadius (1482-1531): A Case Study in the Reformation of Preaching
The consummate linguist of the Reformation, Johannes Oecolampadius (1482-1531), was fresh from delivering his groundbreaking lectures on Isaiah, translating Chrysostom's sermons on Genesis, and teaching the epistles of Paul, when he was invited to preach the nightly series in Advent 1523 at St. Martin's Church, Basel. With the doctrine of justification on everyone's mind, the "house lamp" was asked to address it. Indeed, he had mentioned the doctrine before, as early as 1512, in his first published sermons, Declamations on the Passion and Last Words, in which he declared that the thief on the cross who asked to be remembered was justified by faith and so is anyone who turns to Christ in faith. This time, his text, by request of the Basel congregation: not Romans or Luke, but the First Epistle of John; his style: not the festal oratory of Nazianzus, whose sermons (along with many other patristic sources) he had also translated, but the Antiochene plain style of Chrysostom. Those familiar with these twenty-one sermons rightly see in them a homiletical turning point for this important but unjustly neglected Reformer. While some (e.g., the late Hughes Oliphant Old) characterize the subsequent preaching of Oecolampadius as purely and ever after devoted to continuous exposition, others (Max Engammare, Amy Nelson Burnett) have noted the shift was worked out over a longer period of five years before the Basel Ordinance of 1529 formalized it. Either way, whether portrayed in stark, bold strokes as a sudden shift in his approach, or as a gradual turn that occurred over half a decade (allowing for lectionary use and topical sermons as the occasion required), the sermons on First John are the chief, earliest, and most popular example of the new approach inspired by the humanistic summons, Ad fontes! Indeed, no complete extant series is more pivotal for those with an interest in the 16th c. preaching reforms that set the course of expository preaching for generations to come. Twenty years before the popular sermons of Calvin found their way into print (whose sermons on 1John have not survived), this monumental series marks a shift toward plain, running exposition, the method at which Calvin would come to excel. Moreover, the series both affirms the doctrine of justification by faith and sets before the reader what the Basel Reformer described as "a handbook for the Christian life," as it articulates the proper role of works of love in light of justification. Both accessible in its popular pitch to a wide audience and astute in its scholarship, the series - an overlooked treasure of the Reformation - was well attended when it was delivered and swiftly published in numerous editions and multiple languages in the years that followed. The Reformers in Wittenberg and elsewhere applauded it. Yet, this series, the preacher, and his other sermons remain virtually unknown to English readers. Not that they should be. None other than marytrologist John Foxe is responsible for the only sermon by Oecolampadius published in English translation thus far. When in 1548 Foxe wished to reach a young member of his own family with gospel, he translated A sarmon, of Ihon Oecolampadius, to yong men, and maydens, and let the Basel Reformer make the case for him. Meanwhile, this paper will introduce the reader to the preaching ministry of Johannes Oecolampadius generally and his series on First John in particular, which, along with other planned volumes of primary sources, is forthcoming in English for the first time.
With No Will There is No Way: The Will-Centered Education of John Calvin
Based on Calvin's understanding of the soul, this paper investigates Calvin's unique educational philosophy. Rather than aiming at the intellect, as most educational paradigms, Calvin insists on the formation of the human soul directed at the will. As such, he involves a different pedagogy from contemporary models including repentance, exhortation, and contemplation.
Resacralization of Vocation in the Reformation: The Clarity of Scripture and the Sacred/Secular Divide
As the ongoing discussion of the doctrine of vocation reveals, there is ample basis for an appreciation of the value of regular daily work as a spiritual exercise in the Christian life in the Bible. This is affirmed among some of the church fathers and at other times through the tradition of Western Christianity. By the sixteenth century, however, there was a clear distinction between the perceived spiritual value of the work of clergy and the work of the laity. A significant contributor to this division between laity and clergy was the expectation that only those in the ecclesiastical hierarchy were qualified to interpret Scripture. This created an unhealthy division between the so-called sacred and secular.
One of the significant fruits of the Reformation has been the renewal of the doctrine of vocation, particular the reaffirmation of work outside of the church. This paper argues that the Reformation understanding of the clarity of Scripture helped to resacralize non-clerical vocations by moving the authority for interpretation of Scripture from the clergy to the community of believers. The distinction between clergy and non-clergy was diminished practically by the increasing availability of the Bible in the vernacular and the Reformation emphasis on sola scriptura. Both the availability and reliance upon Scripture presumed that the Bible was sufficiently clear that laity without special training could rightly interpret it.
The theological writings of Reformers like Luther, Calvin, and Beza all deal with clarity of Scripture. They also deal with the doctrine of vocation in a way that elevates work outside of the church. This paper seeks to show the logical connection between the two doctrines, which contributed to the resacralization of vocation during the Reformation.
The Politics of Translation: The Relationship between the Church and State in Early English Translations of the Bible
Without a doubt, the King James Bible is one of the great triumphs of the English language and the Reformational emphasis on /sola scriptura/. However, the King James translation does not stand outside of the stream of history – either the history of the English translations which preceded it, or of the political realities of its time. In this paper, I will explore the relationship between these realities in the early translations of the Bible into English. I will argue specifically that each of the early translations of the Bible is a product not simply of the translator(s), but is also reflective of the realities of the political powers of the time period in which they were created, published and even marketed. This reality was true of Bibles which were authorized as well as those which were not. Even the agreement on the part of Henry VIII to allow an official translation of the Bible into English is more reflective of political realities than it was his commitment to the Reformation principle of /sola scriptura/. I will also argue that even though this is the case, that English-speaking Christians have found ways to subvert the connection between political power and translations of the Bible. A chief way of doing this was through the production of unauthorized translations and additional supporting materials, which gave not simply a translation, but a particular interpretive framework for understanding the text. Two examples, the Geneva Bible and the Douay-Rheims, will be considered. The political bent of the marginalia notes of the Geneva Bible, even though it gave great scholarly care to its translation and was rendered in a smooth, spoken English, meant that it would also be looked at with suspicion by political and ecclesiastical leaders alike. No matter the quality of its translation, its political theology meant that the Geneva could never attain status as an authorized translation. Likewise, the Douay-Rheims, approved by the Vatican, is the first translation of the Vulgate into English. With its extensive interpretive notations, it gave English Catholics both an ecclesiastical and political argument for remaining Catholic in the decidedly Protestant, and increasingly hostile, Elizabethan and Jacobian England. These unauthorized translations, through their interpretive frameworks, provided challenges to the ecclesial and political powers, which in turn sought to suppress these translations. But they also created the impetus for additional authorized translations which would support rather than subvert the relationship between Church and State, especially in the early years of the English Reformation. This impetus reaches its zenith in the production of the King James Bible in 1611; the translation which was to become the standard English language translation for the next 300 years.
Sola Scriptura, Disagreement, and the Rules of Theology
Not putting too fine a point on it, the Reformation was predicated on theological disagreement. But how ought we to settle theological disagreements, generally speaking? The first step in answering this question is to notice that the resolution of doctrinal differences requires a significant amount of /agreement/ among the disputants, namely, agreed-upon "theological rules," an authority that can potentially adjudicate between competing positions. Just as we can defer to a dictionary when playing a game of Scrabble, theology too needs something like a final court of appeal. This is, of course, not unique to theology. In the sensible resolution of /any/ disagreement there must be an agreed-upon criterion for determining which view is correct. That is, there must be a shared criterion of truth. And depending on the context, this criterion or court of appeal could be, for example, a dictionary (as we saw), institutional rules, Scripture, sense perception, reason, or simply Mom and Dad.
But what if the criterion of truth is itself in question? For example, in an argument over whether reason or sense perception is the ultimate epistemic authority, what epistemic authority could either side appeal to without begging the question? This is the ancient problem of the criterion and is, as philosopher Roderick Chisholm famously said, one of philosophy's most important yet most difficult problems. It is also, ironically, one of the least addressed. In any case, during the Reformation, the problem of the criterion became particularly salient as the Reformers claimed that the Church wasn't applying the proper criterion of truth-the proper set of theological rules-and that Scripture alone was the final court of appeal in theological disagreements.
So then, a fundamental question is this: which theological rules are the correct ones, and who decides, and by what criteria? What is the criterion of truth in theology? In this paper I attempt to navigate these issues, proposing how contemporary Christians might properly deal with the fact that many theological disagreements are second-order, or "meta" disagreements: disagreements about the fundamental rules of theology. More specifically, I offer an analysis of how exactly the problem of the criterion applies to the Bible's role in theology. I argue that the coherence of /sola scriptura/ depends in part on its ability to adequately deal with the problem of the criterion. I also argue that if /sola scriptura/ is conceived of as a doctrine about the /ultimate/ or global epistemic authority-the ultimate criterion of truth-it falls prey to the problem of the criterion. I then argue that /sola scriptura/ is not about global or ultimate epistemic authority but, rather, about a more specific, but related problem, namely, the problem of where to locate God's word or authority.
I begin the paper with a formulation of the problem of the criterion and give specific examples of Reformation and Counter-Reformation writers' attempts to avoid it, including their attempts to navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis of skepticism and fideism. I then turn to contemporary examples of the same thing, focusing on recent, more precise formulations (or perhaps reiterations) of the doctrine of /sola scriptura/. I then argue that none of these formulations adequately deals with the problem of the criterion. I conclude by proposing an understanding of /sola scriptura/ that maintains its historic intent while avoiding the problem of the criterion.
As on the Day of Pentecost: Pentecostals' Use of Scripture in the Continuing Reform of the Church
Early Pentecostals identified themselves as participating in the gospel to which the biblical narrative speaks. "The gospel was preached before the Gospels were written; Christian experience preceded the Christian Scriptures," advocated the early Pentecostal writer Myer Pearlman. "[T]he Jesus with whom they had walked on the roads of Galilee, was the same Jesus whom they had seen after His resurrection, and who was now dwelling in their hearts and lives by the Spirit." The upshot is that the gospel of the biblical narratives continues in the life of the contemporary church. The Full Gospel, as Pentecostals were to identify their message, extended from the gospel narrative into the present.
This was a restorationist movement, consistent with various restorationist movements within the Protestant tradition, "the restoration of the faith once delivered unto the saints ... displac[ing] dead forms and creeds and wild fanaticism with living, practical Christianity," wrote a leader of the Azusa Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. Pentecostals looked to the work of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as their focus and model. Women and men, young and old, wealthy and poor, spoke the languages of the diversity of humanity through the empowering of the Spirit.
Philip Jenkins and Douglas Jacobsen are representative of those scholars who identify Pentecostals, and those influenced by Pentecostalism, as providing a unique expression of Christianity and as providing a foundational change to the face of Christianity. That change is particularly significant in the shift of the center of Christianity from Europe and North America to what Jenkins identifies as the Global South. "[T]he center of gravity in the Christian world," observes Jenkins, "has shifted inexorably southward, to Africa, Asia, and Latin America." Pentecostals have played a foundational role in this shift. Jacobsen effectively extends Jenkins' argument. The advancement of Pentecostalism, with its geographical, theological, cultural shifts, states Jacobsen, has resulted in the emergence of a fourth stream of Christianity-[Eastern] Orthodox, [Roman] Catholic, Protestant, and Pentecostal/Charismatic-in which Pentecostals/Charismatics, in the early twenty-first century reflect approximately 17.5% of Christians.
The current proposed paper, engaging this shift, will focus upon early Pentecostals' use of Scripture as a narrative of the gospel, providing a framework for an egalitarian community, with that community providing a continuing reform of the church. Some historians have identified Pentecostals' use of Scripture as emerging from an American fundamentalist perspective, reflecting "fundamentalism with a difference," that difference being the Pentecostals' unique incorporation of the charismata. Jenkins indicates that this notion also reflects how North Americas tend to see Pentecostals' reading of Scripture in the Global South, that their reading is fundamentalist in nature. I will argue contrary to a fundamentalist priority. Pentecostals historically have not drawn their reading of Scripture from fundamentalism. Rather, they have drawn from Pietist streams of Christianity and from narrative approaches to the text that are consistent with communities with oral traditions. This argument incorporates Walter Hollenweger's contention that Pentecostalism's liturgy is oral and its theology and witness are narrative. Also, Pentecostals drew from Pietist sources. Here, I draw on the work of William Faupel, who when building off the work of Lutheran scholar George Fry, contends that theological liberalism and Pentecostalism emerged from the same womb. The roots of Pentecostalism, emphasizes Faupel, are in Pietism as mediated through Wesleyanism.
An emerging fundamentalism did influence some early Pentecostals. Further, over time, many Pentecostals, particularly in North America, gravitated toward fundamentalism. Yet, the thrust of early Pentecostals' use of Scripture, as Donald Dayton contends, did not engage a fundamentalist didactic approach to Scripture. Rather, Pentecostals' use of Scripture has emphasized the narrative of the gospel as providing a model for continued participation in the gospel to which Scripture speaks.
Building on these frames, the proposed paper will identify how Pentecostals, particularly in their origins and in their global expressions, have appropriated Scripture as a radical challenge to society. Through engaging Pietist and oral influences, Pentecostals appropriated a narrative approach to Scripture that valued Scripture as a record of gospel and saw themselves participating in the continuation of the gospel for which Scripture provides a model. Through Pentecostals' reading and rehearsal of Scripture, the gospel that preceded Scripture continues to develop community for Pentecostals and provides a means for their engaged critique to society at large.
The Formative Influence of Jan Hus on Martin Luther's Scriptural, Philosophical, and Theological Paradigms
Jan Hus – Baylor
Jan (John) Hus was a major influence through his writings on the life and work of Martin Luther. Outside of the Czech Republic, Jan Hus is essentially unknown and forgotten as a precursor of the Reformation, a footnote, or a paragraph in a church history textbook. It is the writer goal to show the relevance of Jan Hus in helping to provide a scriptural foundation for the coming Reformation under Martin Luther.
The Unity of the Brethren was traditionally founded by Petr Chelcicky, a Czech priest and disciple of Hus between 1520 and 1557. As a pastor in The Unity of the Brethren the writer’s seeks to show Hus’s relevance extending beyond the Reformation creating a foundation for life in 2017. Today the Unity of the Brethren practices; the Bible as the revelation of God, the sourcebook of Christian truth, and the standard of Christian conduct. The Apostles Creed, infant baptism, open communion to all Christians, the free will of the believer, "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love."
Jan Hus was a university rector, theologian, and pastor/preacher of the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague. As a priest, Jan Hus was one of the first Reformation figures to stand firm again the sale of Indulgences. He was one of the first priests to allow the common people to receive both the bread and the wine, when taking part in the Holy Eucharist. “Oh! What madness to condemn as erroneous the Gospel of Christ and the Epistle of St. Paul, who professes to have received the truth, not from men, but from God; and to receive the truth, not from men, but from God; and to reject the example of Jesus Christ himself, of his apostles, and of the other saints, in condemning the communion of the Cup of our Lord, instituted for all adult believers. Do they not say, the permission given to devout laymen to participate with the lips in the Cup of Christ is an error! And if a priest presents them this cup to drink of, he is reputed in fault, and, should he persist, is condemned as a heretic!” Letter XVIII.
Hus recognized the need to translate the Holy Bible from the Latin into the local language, Czech. He was excommunicated 1409 in part for preaching in his native tongue. Hus further alienated the Pope by writing and speaking against Pope as the functional head of the church. Hus believed that only Christ could be the head of the church. Thus Hus believed that God through his scripture was the final authority in matters of doctrine and ecclesiology. “It is the law of God, and not the arbitrary will of the Pope and cardinals, that ought to regulate ecclesiastical judgment.” P – 204 Letters.
In October of 2014, Sigismund, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, guaranteed Hus safe conduct to the Council of Constance to defend his theological and philosophical beliefs. Within weeks of his arrival, Hus was seized and placed on trial for heresy. Hus was imprisoned in chains in a Franciscan monastery’s dungeon. Poorly fed and clothed in winter, he became increasingly weak and ill. Throughout his trial, Hus steadfastly asked that his writings and teachings be tested against Scripture. On the fifth of July, 1415, Hus was found guilty of heresy. He was asked to renounce, recant, and deny his errors. Hus refused to do so. On the sixth of July, Hus was led out to be burned at the stake. Given one last chance to recant, Hus refused. His bones were broken up and his ashes placed in the river Rhine.
In Letter XXXVII to his disciple, Master Martin; “Be not afraid of dying, if thou wouldest wish to live with Christ, for he has said himself, Fear not those who destroy the body, but cannot kill the soul.”
Martin Luther is said to have found a copy of Jan Hus’ sermons and in reading them stated: “I was overwhelmed with astonishment.” Luther later wrote, “I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.”
It was Martin Luther who translated (from the Latin) many of the letters and works of Jan Hus for the general public, using Hus’s arguments as a foundation for his own seminal work.
Protestant Influence on the Hollywood Production Code
The Hollywood Production Code, which was in place from 1930-1968, was a strict set of guidelines for what was and what was not appropriate to show on screen. Listed among forbidden depictions is “ridicule of the clergy.” In fact, the Production Code can hardly be named without reference to the Catholic League of Decency or the head of the Administration, Joseph I. Breen, who was, himself, a strict Irish Catholic. But in the Protestant-majority United States, where Catholicism was frequently marginalized, it seems strange that Protestantism would be absent from the evangelical effort to maintain a system of morality in Hollywood cinema.
The Production Code Office was colloquially referred to as the “Hays Office,” after Will Hays who was responsible for creating the Code. As a young man, Hays was ordained as a Presbyterian Deacon, and his famous list of “Don’ts and Be Carefuls” reflects the “thou shalt not” culture of seventeenth century Protestantism from which contemporary American Protestantism descended. So though the production code was run by the Catholic Breen and was strongly connected to the Catholic League of Decency, there are strong veins of Protestant influence. This essay explores the extent to which Protestantism played a role in the ideology and execution of the Production Code as well as the relationship between the Catholic and Protestant branches of Christianity within Hollywood practice during the Production Code Era.
Wesley vs. Calvin- Hermenutical Strategies within the Reformed and Wesleyan Traditions
Is is possible to discern a clear difference in the interpretive traditions of the followers of John Wesley and John Calvin? Are we left to assume when Arminian and Reformed scholars approach a passage of Scripture, such as Romans 9, and arrive at widely different interpretations, their respective interpretations are merely the result of presuppositions they bring to their exegesis?
In this study I consider John Wesley's principles of biblical interpretation including his use of what has become known as "The Wesleyan Quadrilateral", and compare these to John Calvin's principles. I then reflect on Moises Silva's chapter, "The Case for Calvinistic Hermeneutics," and again ask are there clear distinctions between Reformed and Wesleyan Arminian hermeneutics?
Balthasar Hubmaier and the Bible, 1518-1528: Expelling Jews, Founding a Pilgrimage Site for Mary, and Writing an Anabaptist Catechism
King Ferdinand of Austria burned Balthasar Hubmaier at the stake in Vienna in 1528. Hubmaier was a known Anabaptist who had established vibrant churches in Waldshut and Nikolsburg. He was not a typical Anabaptist for three reasons: (1) he had a stronger academic background than other early Anabaptists as he was a Doctor of Theology and former theology professor and vice-rector at the University of Ingolstadt (where he had studied with John Eck), (2) he was a /Schwertler/ (of-the-sword) Anabaptist who supported the use of the sword and loyalty to the local government, and (3) he wrote a Christian Catechism "which every person should know before he is baptized in water." The Anabaptist Doctor of Theology published his catechism four years before Martin Luther published his first catechism. The publication of Hubmaier's catechism spread Anabaptist beliefs to Catholic and Lutheran theologians across Europe. It offers a window into a reading of the Bible that Martin Luther had not anticipated and one that he would not tolerate.
Hubmaier left his position as vice-rector of the University of Ingolstadt in 1516 to become the cathedral preacher in the Free Imperial City of Regensburg. I examine his role in the expulsion of Jewish residents and the creation of the "Beautiful Mary" pilgrimage chapel. After leaving Regensburg in 1521, Hubmaier settled in Waldshut where he became familiar with Zwingli and his circle of theologians. Hubmaier was rebaptized in 1525 by Wilhelm Reublin. He led a quickly growing Anabaptist congregation in Waldshut until Austrian troops forced him to flee. He settled in Nikolsburg and continued to spread Anabaptism. In 1526, while in Nikolsburg, Hubmaier wrote his Anabaptist Catechism. I place the catechism into the context of his earlier activities in Regensburg. I also explore how he used the Bible in the Jewish expulsion, the Beautiful Mary pilgrimage, and the catechism. I also look at Martin Luther's reaction to Hubmaier's use of scripture.
Hubmaier wrote several other books and tracts before he was burned at the stake. His works and his public execution turned him into a model of Anabaptism for literate Europeans who frequently had little direct experience with Anabaptism.
George Herbert as Our Supreme Ecumenical Poet of the Doctrine of Justification by Grace
The greatest devotional poet in the Anglophone world, George Herbert (1593-1633), sets forth, in powerful images and rhymes and rhythms, the conviction that “the freedom [that people] possess in relation to persons and things of this is world is no freedom in relation to salvation, for as sinners they stand under God’s judgment and are incapable of turning themselves to God to seek deliverance, of meriting their justification before God, or of attaining salvation by their own abilities. Justification takes place solely by God’s grace.” This fine description of Herbert’s central theological focus comes not from any 16th or 17th century Protestant document, but from the 1999 “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.” Herbert anticipates this breakthrough ecumenical accord by nearly four centuries. He does so by demonstrating (again quoting the Joint Declaration) that our “personal consent to God’s grace is itself an effect of grace.” I will make this case by examining three short but crucial poems by Herbert: “The Altar,” “Redemption,” and “The Holdfast.”
"Where is Your Religion Before the Reformation?": Appeals to Waldensianism in Antebellum Anti-Catholic Writings
Since the publication of Ray Billington’s /The Protestant Crusade: 1800-1864/ (1934), scholars of American history and religion have debated the relationship between American anti-Catholicism and the larger political, cultural, and economic developments of the antebellum period. Much of the conflict between American Protestants and Catholics revolved around foundational questions of Christian history, but few scholars have addressed the significance of historiographical commitments in these debates. Billington maintained that American Protestants during this era viewed themselves as the inheritors of the Reformation tradition, taking up the mantle of Luther and Calvin in North America by boldly opposing the heresies and immoralities of Rome. More recently, Jenny Franchot has argued that American Protestants contrasted themselves with their Catholic neighbors by emphasizing and appealing to a historiography of emancipation and progress (/Roads to Rome: The Antebellum Protestant Encounter with Catholicism/, 1994). However, neither of these studies adequately addressed the historical events, figures, and developments as well as the ecclesiastical historians to whom anti-Catholic writers consistently appealed in the decades leading up to the Civil War.
This paper addresses the issue of anti-Catholic historiography by focusing on the references to Waldensianism and other proto-Reformation movements in polemical literature against Roman Catholicism. Specifically, I will be examining a variety of New England anti-Catholic periodicals, books, sermons, and pamphlets from 1830 to 1860. I will discuss the significance of Waldensianism to American Protestantism for these authors, as well as the historical writings they cited to substantiate their claims on the nature of pre-Reformation Christianity. I argue that Waldensianism became a significant rhetorical tool for antebellum anti-Catholic writers for three reasons. First, the Waldenses served as a counter to Papal claims of apostolic succession. American Protestants saw in Waldensianism an unbroken line from the apostolic era to their own day, perpetuating the idea that Protestant theology, ecclesiology, and piety had always been the true nature of Christianity. If American Protestantism was the closest appropriation of apostolic Christianity, then every peculiarity of Catholicism—the Papacy especially—was a corruption of true Christianity. Next, the history of the Waldenses reinforced the notion that Catholicism posed a violent threat to America. Waldenses had been subject to violent mistreatment throughout their history, and news of their continued oppression by 19th-century Italian Catholics only served to reiterate the political and cultural threat that American Catholicism posed to faithful Protestants. Lastly, the publishing and proliferation of ecclesiastical histories in America, especially Murdock’s translation of Mosheim’s /Ecclesiastical Institutes/ (1832), served to reinforce the historical narrative of apostolic purity and Catholic corruption. These works gave anti-Catholic writers intellectual authorities to which they could appeal in their arguments with Catholics and fellow Protestants with papist leanings.
To conclude, by analyzing the prevalence of Waldensianism in antebellum anti-Catholic writings, this paper sheds new light on the historiographical commitments of anti-Catholic authors. Unlike the historiography of emancipation and progress outlined by Jenny Franchot, constant references to Waldensianism supported a static and realist understanding of Christian history, one in which Protestant doctrine and piety are read into the apostolic era, only to be abandoned by Rome and reclaimed by the Reformers.