Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 30, 2012

Battle of the Genres: Traditional Hymns and Christian Contemporary

Apparently there is an ongoing war that we in the Christian world know little about . . . the battle between die-hard traditional hymn enthusiasts and the younger generation who can just “feel” their Christian faith better in Christian contemporary music. There are some who feel that contemporary tunes just are not “orthodox” and are downright unhelpful. It seems that if you like one genre you cannot tolerate the other, and vice versa.

I am one who believes it is the message that matters. If a song has faulty theology, be it a hymn or a contemporary tune, it should be discarded. I do, however, personally enjoy Christian contemporary for a variety of reasons, first because it holds great memories, and second because the “mood” has shifted, and young adults singing to God with tunes, chords, and music styles they are familiar with is easier to “swallow.” These songs make us feel excited and enthusiastic about and proud of our faith, whereas the older generations are more comfortable with the hymns they learned at church at their mother’s knee. Of course, in some cases, it is the opposite, with younger people enjoying the hymns and older people finding some Christian contemporary music to which they can relate.

Basically, any music that praises God, is not obscene, has good theology and a good message, and is “palatable” (i.e. many of us cannot tolerate hard rock / death metal / excessive rap, though of course there are some who enjoy it) should be treated with respect. That aside, I never liked many of the “traditional hymns.” I could not relate to the slow, often mournful tunes and thought of that genre as something I could never “get into.” 

Yet in the last few years, when I have begun to joyously praise my Protestant faith and thus my Protestant heritage, I became interested in the hymns that my faithful ancestors sang and knew so well. The old-time men and women were so much closer to the forebears who fought, bled and died for the beliefs that were the core of their lives.  They understood how to evoke those reverent Gospel truths. One of my current favorites is “He Arose.” The chorus is so joyful! And so I, the self-proclaimed lover of Christian contemporary music, found some roots in the hymns of old as well . . .

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29, 2012

Trial By Fire: Martin Luther and the Exsurge Domine

Martin Luther was not a patient man, nor was he a reconciling one. He followed his own convictions with an iron will and refused to be intimidated, even with death on his tail. That is why, when the pope’s bull (charter) known as Exsurge Domine (Arise O Lord) was sent to Luther in 1520, Luther’s reaction was not exactly as the Catholic world had hoped.

 First, a little background: Three years earlier, the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, had resounded with the hammer and nails of one of Luther’s most controversial works, the 95 Theses. I often imagine that at the time the event was probably ignored. There were no thunder-claps, no gasps of aha! People milled here and there and went about their business as some unknown monk placed a notice on the church door as people had been doing for decades. Same old, same old. Yet those 95 Theses triggered the Protestant Reformation and set off a chain reaction that would change the history of Christianity forever.

The Exsurge Domine was issued as a response of Luther’s 95 Theses and other “troublesome” things he had said and done. Though it was published in June, it did not reach Luther until October for a variety of reasons, first that communication in the 16th century was tenuous at best, and second that messengers Aleander, papal nuncio, and his assistants struggled to stay alive amid the throngs of Luther’s avid supporters. Receiving a condemning bull from the head of the Catholic Church would have daunted most people. Not Luther.

He knew what the objections would be and decided to meet them head-on. Never a man to mince words, he got down to business, proclaiming that he would not be intimidated by the Exsurge Domine or any other such decrees. He was a man on a mission. He wanted to free the Gospel for the whole world, starting in his own Germany, and no one was going to stop him. He laughed that his accusers could not decide exactly how they felt about his writings, saying: “My articles are called ‘respectively some heretical, some erroneous, some scandalous,’ which is as much to say, ‘We don’t know which are which.’”

"Exsurge Domine," 1520
On December 10, 1520, his disregard of the papal bull Exsurge Domine came to a head. In true Martin Luther fashion he refused to take his peril seriously, for though he understood very well what danger he courted, he was too strong and too resilient an academic to cower in fear. On that day he gave back measure for measure . . . his works had been committed to the flames on various occasions throughout Germany --- though many followed his doctrines and refused to allow it --- and now he burned the Exsurge Domine in the same way. This was, in effect, proclaiming that his spirit was captive to the will of God, not earthly institutions. He believed the Christian people needed a reformation. He was not going to listen to anyone, save God Himself, when it came to following the truths he held in his heart.

Recently I read parts of the Exsurge Domine for myself. The pope of the day certainly did not mince words. In the beginning of the bull he calls on Saint Peter to take revenge on behalf of the former popes that Martin Luther brought to task, “. . . he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics ‘whose last defense,’ as Jerome says, ‘is to start spewing out a serpent’s venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished.’ For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong . . .”


There was something in the Protestant Reformation. Something strong. Something unshakable. Something so powerful that, if you look upon their portraits, you can see it in the eyes of many men and women who gave their lives for the faith. They were not afraid to die. The strength and power of truth was such that they remained unshakable and steadfast through every trial. It is gut-wrenchingly ironic that the Reformation was, in fact, confirmed by Luther’s burning of the Exsurge Domine, for in the decades to come it would be the people, countless Protestants of various denominations, who would have their souls cleaved from their bodies amid the flames. 

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28, 2012

French in Florida: English Trespassers

I have often said that if I tried to write a fascinating and compelling religious story concerning the 16th century conquest of the “New World,” it could not be more intriguing that what actually happened. You have the French against the Spanish, the Protestants against the Catholics, brittle fortresses and Indian battles and war at sea and high stakes. You have a battle of wills greater than can be imagined. But there was actually a third religious group and country represented in Florida’s early history, however briefly. In early August 1565, John Hawkins, English privateer, stopped at the French Fort Caroline to take fresh water aboard and to possibly assist the starving first batch of colonists.

Let us take a moment to ponder that culture clash. Though the Huguenots probably trusted the Protestant Englishmen better than the Catholic Spaniards, there was a long history of bad blood between England and France. The French colonists’ desperation to return home must have clashed with their natural aversion to the Englishmen’s religion. The Calvinist Huguenots would have taken issue with the basic Anglican tenets, including (1) the continued use of statuary and grand church decoration, and (2) very different standards concerning purity and personal obligation. The English, in turn, would have felt that the Huguenots’ rule against any graven images and their insistence on austerity was a bit extreme. I imagine there must have been some very colorful conversations.

Where else did they basically differ? Besides the ways mentioned above, the Calvinist Huguenots believed in the doctrines of predestination and election which the Anglicans, with a Catholic heritage and Lutheran nuances in those early years, would have neither understood nor tolerated. Yet despite all these differences, the French, desperate and encumbered, welcomed English supplies with great rejoining. Hawkins saw to it that joint religious services were held. I imagine that must have been quite interesting! Certaintly there was Protestant pride and a sense of solidarity held by each group, but still . . . it was highly irregular. Also, Rene de Laudonniere, who was in charge of Fort Caroline at the time, claimed John Hawkins as a "brother" to those curious Indians who asked his identity.

So there were indeed other Protestants besides the French Huguenots in Florida in 1565, only for a few days while passing through. England was not yet interested in the New World. That enterprise was yet to come. Sadly, only seventeen days after Hawkins and his privateers stumbled upon Fort Caroline and La Floride, many of the French settlers were slaughtered by Spanish conquistadors or, in the case of the women and children, enslaved. Those men who had not yet arrived at La Caroline and thus had not met the English would be killed as well, at a place called Matanzas. One must wonder how John Hawkins felt when he heard the news of the bloody French defeat in Florida. Could he ponder that the same men with whom he had so recently spoken had been so unjustly killed in the blink of an eye? Did that knowledge fuel his hatred of the Spanish that continued throughout his life?

John Hawkins helped keep the French alive until Jean Ribault arrived on the 28th of August. But not even the bold and intrepid explorer could save the French from the fate that was to come.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27, 2012

 No Time Too Long

“Why study the Protestant Reformation? Why remember the martyrs and the massacres and all the things our ancestors suffered? It was all so long ago!” Ever heard anything like this? If you are a student of religion, a historian, or at least aspiring to either of these, you understand that these questions are irrelevant to you. Many of us “feel” the past. When we write, debate, remember, and honor, it is as if we are right there with our spiritual predecessors, smelling the blood and feeling the fear and seeing the horrors of intolerance. It does not matter how “long ago” it was, does it? For instance, if one’s grandparent died fifty years ago, is there a cut-off date to when it is no longer proper to remember? If a person means something to us, if we cannot bear for him or her to be forgotten, there is never such a date.

We remember famous figures in world history every day. We talk about the Twelve Apostles. About William Shakespeare and Thomas Edison and Julius Caesar. Just because they were born hundreds or even thousands of years ago, is that any reason to stop remembering them? For Protestant Christians, it’s personal. Those are our spiritual forerunners and, in many cases, our ancestors. We have a unique heritage and feel increasingly close to them and to their struggles. When we write, we picture the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre and the Wars of Religion. We feel caught up in their story. They died for the Protestant faiths that we can freely practice.

That’s right. Our ancestors died. They gave up their lives for their faith. That will always be worth remembering. And, having made such a sacrifice, they would expect their descendants to do something as simple as remember them. On a separate note, as I often said, I have always felt great sorrow that the story of the French Protestants martyred in 1565 near St. Augustine, Florida is not better known. These facts are often obscured if not downright ignored. I have often heard people say things like “it was so long ago, get over it,” and things of that nature. But these were human beings with names, faces, identities, and lives. Why is there a time in history that we must suddenly “forget”?

They deserve better than that.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012

Martin Luther once said, “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God . . . Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”

This is one of my favorite Luther quotes, both because I have always loved music and because it is so very true. During difficult days the first line of one of Luther’s hymns, “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee,” often flew into my head, even though I never knew the rest of the words and am uncertain if I had ever heard the tune. So I researched, and fell in love with Luther’s lyrics:

“From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee”
Martin Luther (1524)

From depths of woe I cry to Thee,
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee.
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
My prayer let come before Thee.
If Thou rememberest each misdeed,
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

Thy love and grace alone avail
To blot out my transgression;
The best and holiest deeds must fail
To break sin’s dread oppression.
Before Thee none can boasting stand,
But all must fear Thy strict demand
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my hope is in the Lord
And not in mine own merit;
It rests upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just;
This is my comfort and my trust.
His help I wait with patience.

And though it tarry till the night
And till the morning waken,
My heart shall never doubt His might
Nor count itself forsaken.
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
Wait for your God’s appearing.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25, 2012

Ulrich Zwingli: Who Was He?

Many Protestants studying church history have heard of Ulrich Zwingli, but who was he and what did he do? Zwingli is considered one of the major reformers. He was born in 1484 in Switzerland and, like Martin Luther and John Calvin, was a pastor. But his story is distinctly different. John Calvin died in peaceable circumstances and Martin Luther succumbed to a stroke. Ulrich Zwingli, however, died a martyr.

If there was a less-than-favorable result of the Protestant Reformation it was that every reformer had slightly different views on important Christian issues. Instead of building on similarities instead of differences, reformers and their followers often struck out on their own, resulting in the Anabaptist, Lutheran, and Calvinist schools of thought, as well as others. Against the powerful might of the 16th century Catholic Church, they might have done better to band together. This proves that even men with good intentions are indeed still men, humans who nurse prejudices and make uninformed decisions. Yet they desired pure Christianity, and their hearts were in the right place.

So what did Zwingli believe and how might his views be classified? Like other newborn Protestant groups, he took only Scripture as his authority. His major differences occur in his opinion of how baptism and Communion should be celebrated. There were two of most volatile differences between various Protestant churches and the Catholic Church in the 16th century. Like John Calvin, Zwingli declared that nothing “supernatural” took place during Communion and that it was merely a symbol of Christ’s presence at the Last Supper and of His ultimate sacrifice. 

 He disavowed the necessity of special services, believing that man’s one-on-one with God was enough, yet he also advocated strongly for church services that were based only on Scripture. Zwingli attempted to enforce morality, backed by the council of Zurich, and he established the Court of Morals. His personal beliefs and sentiments were outlined in the “67 Articles” of 1523.

So, what shaped Zwingli the man as opposed to Zwingli the reformer? There were a few defining moments in his life that may have served to make him the person he became. He grew up with eight brothers and sisters, a fact which although it may not have shaped his future life and theology, must have been challenging! In 1506 he became a Catholic priest. His ascent to Protestantism was slow and certainly unexpected in the first few years of his life. As a reward for helping to defend Roman principles against France and other dreaded opponents, he received a pension from the pope. His defense of Protestant principles would come far in the future. Seeing the exhortations of reformers such as Martin Luther, he would eventually be driven to do the same.

In 1519, at age thirty-five, Zurich, Zwingli’s current home, was ravaged by the plague. Such diseases were sudden and terrible in the 16th century. The sheer randomness of death for most and recovery for a few was beyond frightening, yet, a firm Christian, Zwingli seemingly showed little fear for his own impending doom. No one but God knows why and how the reformer recovered when his friends were dropping like flies. 

Ulrich Zwingli’s family life was complicated. In 1522, after a controversy that involved widow Anna Reinhard, he took Anna as his wife. He became the father of four children. The 1520s and 1530s were full of conflict as he fought restrictions and refused to completely agree with any of his Protestant contemporaries. If you compare his doctrine with other doctrines popularized in the 16th century, you might come to the conclusion that Ulrich Zwingli was a cross between Martin Luther and John Calvin . . . like Calvin, as said, he believed that Communion was symbolic, but unlike Calvin, he did not subscribe to theories such as election and predestination. Likewise, he admired Luther but often found himself ill-at-odds with him.

Time went on. Zwingli and the Lutherans refused an alliance. Neither one could tolerate the Anabaptists, while the Catholics saw all three groups as heretics and rebels. Entire Swiss cities and states took up arms against each other. This resulted in the First Kappel War. In October 1531 Ulrich Zwingli was wounded in battle. Injured and unable to speak, he bore the mistreatment of his enemies. One does not desire to picture what hardships must have been placed upon his shoulders. They demanded that he confess and recant. He refused with all the spur-of-the-moment courage to which Protestants of the 16th century had become so accustomed. “Die, then, stiff-necked heretic,” said his executioner, and the words were turned into deeds.

The world still marks his passing.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24, 2012

The Siege of Sommières, French Wars of Religion: 1573

The village has such a pretty name: Sommières. But the French Wars of Religion, part of which took place at this very site, were far from pretty. Sommières gained historical fame between the months of February and April 1573, when the Huguenots gathered within the walls were besieged by Catholic troops of the royal army. 

So why Sommières, and why 1573? French Protestants were still reeling from the horrific St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre that began in August 1572. Their world had crumbled beneath their feet; it seemed there was nowhere to run. They understood that their ability to defend and protect Huguenot-run cities was their only hope of survival. Henri I de Montmorency, the Marshal of Damville, led the attack against the Protestants. It is interesting to note that there were various times he was accused of Protestant leanings or of sympathizing with the beleaguered Huguenots.

The Huguenots had a rather creative way to repel attackers. Reminiscent of the Middle Ages, they employed boiling oil, a medieval trick that was quickly falling out of fashion. The siege ended in early April 1573. The Huguenots were defeated. Their enemies lost over 2,000 men. The village was almost completely obliterated. If you travel to Sommières in the present day, you can see the ruins of Bistoure Tower, which met its end during the siege.

 It is intriguing --- and refreshing --- to note that in April 1573 the Calvinist defenders were allowed to march honorably out of Sommières, if not in victory then in the triumph of retaining their honor and their lives. It must have been bittersweet to raise their banners, hold their weapons high, and sing their own war-songs without overt opposition from their opponents. The Huguenots were accustomed to much degradation but little respect. Did they sing the battle-hymns, I wonder? 

We will never know.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, June 23, 2012

June 23, 2012

The Church of England: A Reformation Faith With a Different Story

I have often wondered if it is entirely true that the Church of England was founded mostly so Henry VIII could divorce his current wife. That may not have been the only reason, but it was certainly a big one. Henry was no longer interested in Catherine of Aragon and had his eye on Anne Boleyn. Long story short, since Pope Clement VII would not cater to Henry by allowing a divorce, Henry took matters in his own hands (as he is famous for doing) and pulled strings until he could do exactly as he pleased. From this whole mess of political engineering came the “Church of England,” setting the foundation for England becoming one of Europe’s most well-known Protestant nations throughout the 1500s and 1600s.

Of course, the Reformation would have most assuredly come to England even if Henry VIII had not stepped forward. Those “newfound” ideas were already spreading rapidly through Europe during Henry’s divorce quandary. Yet it was not until the days of Edward VI (Henry’s son) that the Church of England began to take on a Protestant flavor melded with the Lutheran doctrines flowing across the sea from Germany. During the reign of Elizabeth I, England became known as Europe’s powerful Protestant power in contrast to the power and might of Catholic Spain.

So this got me thinking: If Henry VIII had *not* instituted the Church of England and had allowed the flow of Reformation ideas to permeate England naturally, Calvinism, which the Puritans later adopted, might have become the religion of the state. If this had happened, and Calvinism / Puritanism would have become the official faith, the Puritans would have had no reason to come to America in the early 1600s to seek religious freedom. And, if they had not come to America, and Jamestown was the only successful English colony, perhaps England’s “empire” in America would have been impossible. That would have made moot the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and so forth. Domino effects are fascinating to ponder.

The Reformation did indeed have an unusual progression. In Germany it came about due to exploitation and corruption that Martin Luther saw as detrimental to the Catholic Church. His protests eventually formed the Lutheran denomination and paved the way for Reformers like John Calvin who also broke from Rome on moral grounds. The Anabaptist church began with those who did not believe the Reformation had reformed and purified enough. And, as mentioned, the Church of England began in part so Henry VIII could marry Anne Boleyn. The good Lord understood that Europe had a need for these Reformation doctrines, but one must think that He certainly had a sense of humor!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Friday, June 22, 2012

June 22, 2012

The Power of Scripture

Pondering the tremendous importance of the Bible throughout the course of the Protestant Reformation and throughout the lives of its descendants, I really enjoyed the following poem I discovered while reading up on Fanny Crosby. I particularly love it because, as a Protestant Christian who truly believes in ‘Christ alone’ and ‘Scripture alone,’ I feel it sums up the defining principle of the Reformation very well:

“Blessed Bible”
Fanny Crosby

Blessed Bible, Book of Gold,
Precious truths thy pages hold,
Truths to lead me day by day
All along my pilgrim way.


Blessed Bible, pure and true,
Guide me all my journey through;
Heav’nly light within me shine,
Help me make thy precepts mine!

Lamp of faith, my feet to lead,
Bread of Heav’n, my soul to feed;
Living waters pure and free,
Book of books thou art to me.

Word of God, thy love impart,
Fire my zeal, and cleanse my heart;
Keep me earnest, keep me true,
Ev’ry day my strength renew.

I'm off to read my "Book of Gold"! God bless.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, June 21, 2012

June 21, 2012

Victims of the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre: Charles de Teligny

He was a fairly young man when he died, only thirty-seven. Charles de Teligny had lived an adventurous life that ended in the most horrendous way. He was born in 1535 and had the good fortune of befriending L’Amiral Gaspard de Coligny, that great lion of the Huguenots, and being under his patronage. Teligny was a man of multiple talents. He was a writer and a fighter, the latter occupation placing him under Coligny during the Wars of Religion. 

Such connections extended into marriage. In 1571 --- just one year before his death --- he married Louise, the admiral’s daughter. It was a difficult and dangerous time to be alive, yet when he moved to La Rochelle, already known as a Huguenot haven, he must have believed that many of the dangers had slipped away. The massacre still loomed like a dark cloud in his future.

The newly-married Teligny had very little time to enjoy wedded bliss. He was soon summoned to Paris on a political matter, seeking to end hostilities between France’s blood-soaked Catholics and Protestants. It was said that King Charles IX considered him a personal friend. But none of that saved him. When the bell rang at Saint Germain l’Auxerrois at midnight on August 24th, 1572, Teligny was staying at the Louvre, which was then a royal palace. He was asked if he would convert to Catholicism and deny the Protestant faith that had sustained him in a life full of hardship.

He said no.

Even after death --- even after he became one of many men, women, and children lying lifeless and silent in bedrooms and hallways and streets and porticoes throughout Paris and beyond --- the abuses did not end. In 1625, after his relatives had secured his body and buried it properly at the Teligny ancestral home, the Bishop of Castres, Jean VI de Fossé, had his remains dug up and unceremoniously deposited in the nearest river. It was not enough that Teligny had died so horrendously. ‘Insult to injury’ was the order of the day.

Charles de Teligny

So now we have Charles de Teligny’s story, part one of bestowing an identity to a victim his executioners wished to remain nameless . . . what about a face? A contemporary portrait shows him achingly young, with a long, slender face, handsome French features, and thin brown hair pulled back underneath a smart black feathered beret. He glances at the painter almost shyly, while his neatly-trimmed mustache and beard fail to hide the mouth turned up just the slightest bit in a smile. He is dressed in the Protestant austerity of the day, in a high-necked black doublet with a modest lace ruff. 

It always gives me a thrill to put faces and identities to the victims of the St. Bartholomew’s massacre. Charles de Teligny was not a nameless casualty. He was a man, with a face, an identity, and a life all his own. Seeing such portraits is like thwarting those who took his life. One by one the faces emerge. I wish I could see pictures of them all.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012

Luther's Table Talk: The "Real" Reformer

Want to know the real Martin Luther? Check out his “Table Talk.” Now, picture this. Martin and his wife Katharina von Bora (known by her illustrious husband as “My Lord Katie”) continually entertained interesting people at their dinner table, including relatives, friends, students, and like-minded theologians. Unadulterated glimpses of the German reformer are enshrined within the sometimes- serious, sometimes-lighthearted pages.  If you want to know the sort of man Luther most often was, the sort of man he would be if you could just run across him in the street, read his Table Talk. There were few subjects he did not cover.

For a sampling, he spoke of the nature of worship in this way: “Upright Christians pray without ceasing; though they pray not always with their mouths, yet their hearts pray continually, sleeping and waking; for the sigh of a true Christian is a prayer. As the Psalm saith: ‘Because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord,’ etc. In like manner a true Christian always carried the cross, though he feel it not always.” He also says, “The Lord’s prayer binds the people together, and knits them one to another, so that one prays for another, and together one with another; and it is so strong and powerful that it even drives away the fear of death.”

Martin Luther never minced words when it came to his enemies. While some might find his descriptions offensive, many admire his courage to “say it like he meant it” concerning those who had incurred his displeasure. Of Erasmus he said, “Erasmus of Rotterdam is the vilest miscreant that ever disgraced the earth. He made several attempts to draw me into his snares, and I should have been in danger, but that God lent me special aid. In 1525, he sent one of his doctors, with 200 Hungarian ducats, as a present to my wife; but I refused to accept them, and enjoined my wife to meddle not in these matters. He is a very Caiaphas.”

Luther was a modest man who hated simpering flattery. He objected to those who followed his doctrine in such a way that he thought elevated him to some sort of idol status. This was the last thing he wanted. Martin Luther had harsh words for those who attempted to raise his importance: “That impious knave, Martin Cellarius, thought to flatter me by saying, ‘Thy calling is superior to that of the apostles;’ but I at once checked him, replying sharply, ‘By no means; I am in no degree comparable to the apostles.’ He sent me four treatises he had written about Moses’ temple and the allegories it involved; but I returned them at once, for they were full of the most arrogant self-glorification.”

There are short glimpses as well. In Table Talk, Luther expounded on the constantly-changing borders of European nations and the misfortune that frequently fell upon various countries. “Our Lord God deals with countries and cities, as I do with an old hedge-stick, when it displeases me; I pluck it up and burn it, and stick another in its stead.”

I highly recommend Table Talk to anyone who thinks they know the “real” Luther and anyone who wishes to. It is an entertaining read.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012

My Matanzas Scripture Verses: A Commentary

Since Reformation greats like Luther and Calvin wrote commentaries on various parts of the Bible, I wanted to try my hand at writing a commentary for the two verses I read aloud as part of my Protestant pilgrimage to Matanzas Inlet in March of this year. Hopefully I can also explain why they were selected. 

I knew I was “chosen” to go to Matanzas, to remember the dead, to pay my respects, and to be a witness to the men’s courage and suffering. Choosing the right Scripture verses was a difficult task. But there was one that jumped out at me immediately: Revelation 12:11. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” This is a powerful verse that explains how we are to love Christ and His truth more than anything, even our very lives, which humans are intrinsically programmed to guard ferociously. 

“Him” is considered to mean Satan and his minions and the many traps that he has laid and continues to lay for humankind. “By the blood of the Lamb” alludes to the bloodshed Jesus underwent to sanctify His people and atone for their transgressions. “By the word of their testimony” is a powerful allusion to the countless martyrs of Christendom and thus to those who fell at Matanzas as well. The term “Lamb,” referring to Christ, is used many times in Revelation and is symbolic of the lambs that were once used in Jewish ceremony to atone for sin. Christ, the “new lamb,” atoned for our sins and took away the need for sacrificial animals, becoming the “ultimate sacrifice.” (For a song that gives me shivers every time and reminds me of the martyrs of Matanzas, check out “Martyr Song” by Rick Pino). 

The second verse I chose was 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” When I first came upon this verse while searching for Scripture to recite on my pilgrimage, I felt chills. This was one of the most perfect matches I had ever made. The words “be on your guard” seem to have two different meanings in this context, first that sinful humans are easily distracted by sin and must guard against pitfalls, and second that in times of persecution it is especially important to be aware of one’s surroundings and to know one’s priorities.

“Stand firm in the faith” is a clear, no-nonsense phrase. No matter what, we are not to abandon Christ and His message. It is expected that we will seek the strength and courage necessary for our trials--- of course, that strength and courage is available only with God’s assistance. “Be courageous” and “be strong” are along the same lines . . . never deny and never fear, for the Lord is with you. This verse, spoken at Matanzas Inlet where so many Protestant believers died for their faith, touched my heart. The Matanzas martyrs remembered John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus was the greatest friend of all.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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