Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31, 2012

Don't Hide Your Light

Today’s “Verse of the Day,” sent to my e-mailbox, was Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” I thought of that verse as I looked back over my vacation photos from my Protestant pilgrimage to Florida. I saw beautiful vistas of the Matanzas Inlet near St. Augustine, where those 245 French Protestants were martyred for their faith. And I realized that that is what they did . . . they did not try to hide their light.

When they were on their knees with their hands bound behind their backs, they could have begged and pleaded and cried. They could have agreed to convert to save their own lives. They could have taken the easy way out and showed their enemies a mass of hopeless, faithless individuals. But they did not. They stood together as one body and boldly sang the words of Psalm 132. They remained strong in the face of adversity, and they showed their enemies the true calm confidence of a Christian spirit.

It is unknown, of course, if any of the Spanish conquerors were moved to pity by this display of resignation and praise, but the Lord Himself certainly knew of the Huguenots’ courage. They did not hide their light. They proved their strength, their endurance, and their unshakable faith. They let their light shine before others, and though it could not save their lives, it paved the way for their eternal life to come. 

Just a few verses before Matthew 5:14-16 is Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.’ Somewhere in an isolated inlet fourteen miles from the Nation’s Oldest City lie over two hundred men who understood these verses very well.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012

French Protestants and the 1685 Edict of Fontainebleau: A Look at Life

It could rightfully be thought that there had been few persecutions in history that rivaled the difficulties, hardships, and downright terrors that Protestants faced in France beginning in the year 1685. In the eyes of their country they were civilly dead. They could not work. Could not attend worship services. Could not send children to Huguenot schools. Could not employ ministers. Could not have their own churches (King Louis XIV destroyed them all). Could not marry legally. Could not have a say in anything, nor have a public office or any position of authority.

Perhaps the most difficult thing about living in this era was that it was so exciting. Courtly life, music, art, and dancing were at their peak. France under the rule of the ‘Sun King’ was for all intents and purposes a sophisticated and desirable place to live. Courtiers, tailors, and other men of substance debated in parlors and taverns, chatting about high fashion as their neighbors were arrested, tortured, and killed.

Clothing definitely marked out differences between both classes and religions. While many Huguenots wore somber blacks, browns, and grays as a sign of piety and nonconformity with the world, it may be assumed that there were also many who dressed in the current fashions. The trend was all about accents. Lace was very popular, as were ribbons and velvet. Sleeves were voluminous and trimmed in detail. Hats were large, beribboned, and colorful. Protestants had recently begun to enjoy blending in with their Catholic neighbors, both because they had become accustomed to being seen as equals and because even the strictest Calvinist elder could never accuse a man of impropriety if he was dressed from throat to toe. Women, on the other hand, had to contend with the current style of dress being quite immoral, adding their own touches to make it modest. 

How did other nations view the persecution of French Protestants?  If one was tempted to believe that countries such as England would support the Huguenots in their time of need, the truth was that England’s King James II had previously converted to the Catholic faith and could no longer hide his dislike of Protestants from even his own countrymen. Charles II of Spain never saw fit to condemn Louis’ vision of a Protestant-free France, yet there were hints that he was not completely unsympathetic. He once took it upon himself to condemn the Spanish Inquisition as an office far too cruel. Eventually, however, he caved to pressure and destroyed his own documents that stated such opinions. 

The music that filled France in the 1680s was loud, sweeping, and grand. Theater was highly popular. Classicism was the order of the day, and ancient stories were highly sought after. Vulgar plays were limited in France; not only was it a necessity for stories to be realistic to a certain degree, but highly immoral pieces were forbidden. This is rather surprising considering how many things passed for ‘moral’ in France at this time. Protestants must have wondered why their neighbors would be offended to attend a play with overt violence or even implied immorality, yet those same neighbors would disregard and ignore the suffering of their Huguenot brethren every single day.

Comedy was also popular, and the prolific playwright Molière was a high supplier of such entertainment. In the 1680s he was the king of theater. A great many Huguenots would have seen theater-going as sinful and worldly. Catholics had a different concern; the clergy protested popular plays that contained elements such as sorcery. 

Everything in seventeenth century France --- including theater --- was influenced by Louis the Sun King and his court. Being a great lover of cuisine, he encouraged many fine cooks to ply their wares. Society carefully dictated how one ate. If one was a peasant or lower class, many medieval habits remained, but the upper-crust in France dictated elegant ways in which every utensil must be held and utilized.  

Many argued that medicine had improved quite a bit, yet bloodletting was still the rage. A high fever inevitably signaled an overabundance of blood, hence the leech jars were brought out with great solemnity. In the last few decades, some revolutionary new medical sciences had moved past the experimental phase. Blood transfusions were now the talk of the day. Animal blood was often used for human patients. The populace was amazed when a number of patients survived. 

This is just a sampling of what life was like during the persecution of the Huguenots in the 1680s and beyond. It was “business as usual” for the ruling class and France’s Catholic population but utter torment for Huguenot believers, who were forbidden to enjoy the simplest of pleasures.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29, 2012

Name two English martyrs who died during the reign of Mary I. Did you come up with Hugh Latimer and Thomas Cranmer? Or perhaps Anne Askew? Name a victim of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France? Did the most famous death, that of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, come to mind? Sadly, history tends to mostly remember Protestant martyrs who were the most influential, but I like to call attention to the little-known men and women who made the choice to give up their lives rather than to give up the faith. I also noted that very few Protestant martyrs from Germany --- the land of my ancestry --- had ever been mentioned. So, on the hunt to pick out names that have rarely been heard, my eyes lit upon Adolf Clarenbach.

He was born sometime around 1498 and died in September 1529. He was bitten by the “Reformation bug” sometime in the early 1520s while a teacher. Refusing to hide his light under a bushel, he sought to teach others of the liberating five solas of Martin Luther’s awe-inspiring revolution. (It always amazes me when I ponder the enthusiastic spirit of new thought that permeated Europe during this time; men and women alike, having found a glorious truth in the reformers’ words, were unafraid to say what they felt and to do what needed to be done, and even death could not frighten them).

Clarenbach’s jail cell, where he was unceremoniously deposited in early 1528, confined his body but not his mind. He continued to debate and criticize, showing no fear. He was quite well-informed of early church history and managed to counter each question with a clever answer. He had an extensive knowledge of Scripture at his disposal and was not afraid to use it. But Clarenbach’s knowledge did not save him. 

When he was about thirty-two, a deadly illness clutched Cologne firmly within its grasp. The citizens --- in the vein of Parisians during the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of 1572, who believed that a sudden miraculous blooming meant God was pleased with the goings-on --- were certain that the ravaging disease was sent to punish them for sparing Adolf Clarenbach and his fellow prisoners. Enraged, they took the offensive, and he was burned at the stake near Cologne. His final words showed his mettle: “And when you have killed me, you will still not have your way, but I will have eternal life . . .”

He had fought the fight and would soon finish the race, and though he must have mourned the treasures he would leave behind, he strove earnestly to win keep the faith. (see 2 Timothy 4:7). That night, Adolf Clarenbach was no longer a denizen of earth. He was in the company of the Lord.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28, 2012

In this post I have included quotes from Reformation-era martyrs and reformers: Martin Luther; John Calvin; Anne Askew, martyred in 1546; Menno Simons; and John Bland, martyred in 1555. Try to guess who said what. If you would rather cut to the chase, the answers are below.

      1.       “I believe all those Scriptures to be true which He hath confirmed with His most precious blood. Yea, and, as St. Paul sayeth, those Scriptures are sufficient for our learning and salvation that Christ hath left here with us; so that I believe we need no unwritten verities with which to rule His Church.”

2.       “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

3.       “True evangelical faith cannot lie dormant. It clothes the naked, it feeds the hungry, it comforts the sorrowful, it shelters the destitute, it serves those that harm it, it binds up that which is wounded, it has become all things to all people.”

4.       “However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”

5.       “Accept this burnt offering and sacrifice, O Lord, not for the sacrifice itself, but for thy dear Son’s sake my Savior: for whose testimony I offer this free will offering with all my heart and with all my soul. O heavenly Father, forgive me my sins, as I forgive the whole world. O sweet Savior, spread thy wings over me. O God, grant me thy Holy Ghost, through whose merciful inspiration I am come hither. Conduct me unto everlasting life. Lord into thy hands I commend my spirit: Lord Jesus receive my soul. So be it.”


1.       Anne Askew
2.       Martin Luther
3.       Menno Simons
4.       John Calvin
5.       John Bland

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012

More Fanny Crosby: Words of Salvation

Whenever I search for Christian poetry or songs, Fanny Crosby invariably comes up, and I am struck once again by her amazing attitude and obvious talent. Today I was looking for poetry that might sum up the beautiful notion of “by grace through faith,” the Reformation battle-cry that meant more than life to my ancestors and means so very much to me. On my search, I found this:

Behold the Wondrous Love
Fanny Crosby

Behold, behold the wondrous love,
That ever flows from God above
Through Christ His only Son, who gave
His precious blood our souls to save.

All praise and glory be unto Jesus
For He hath purchased a fall salvation;
Behold how wondrous the proclamation,
“Whosoever will may come!”

Behold a fountain in His side,
To all the world is opened wide;
Where all may come, by sin oppressed,
And find in Him sweet peace and rest.

Behold Him now exalted high
Above the bright and starry sky;
Yet through His Word He calleth still,
“Come unto Me,” whoever will.

Behold in Him the Living Way,
That onward leads to endless day;
Where, saved by grace, the ransomed throng
Lift up the everlasting song.

Oh, shivers!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26, 2012

The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and My Soul Cry

There are certain historical portraits that touch me deep down in my soul. This is one: 

From a distance you cannot really see what is going on, but then, peering closer, various atrocities become evident. This painting was done by Francois Dubois and depicts the horrendous St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, particularly the first bloodshed in Paris in August 1572. The quaint Parisian buildings in the background seem oddly out-of-place. They belong in a civilized world where ordinary, modern things occur . . . 

As a Protestant with a long bloodline of likeminded individuals, I find myself wrapping my heart and spirit up in the story of these slaughtered Huguenots. Then I look at the painting and feel an emotion very different from grief: I also feel injustice, betrayal, and outrage. If I could stand at that spot --- which, granted, would look nothing as it did then --- I would be tempted to cry out to the Seine, to the grand old Parisian skyline, to the churches and houses, “What right did you have?” 

That is a good question to ask about the St. Bartholomew’s massacre. “Who gave you the right to treat Protestant men, women, and children as if they had no right to live? What right did you have to treat your neighbors --- your countrymen --- with utter indifference and contempt simply because they did not worship alongside you but rather followed their own consciences in matters of faith? What made you so powerful that you might turn a midnight-quiet city into a charnel house?”

And if the old buildings still remained, what would they say? Would they condemn or condone? Life went on as usual, did it not? In the buildings depicted in this painting, chores were undertaken and church attended. Parisians looked on distantly as Protestants were pulled out of their houses and killed. They were blind to the painful injustice and intolerance. People walked by and did nothing to help. They ignored the cries and the death-throes. They failed to recognize the betrayal that burned in victims’ eyes just before they were so cruelly silenced. 

That is what bothers me the most. The complicity of 16th century man. How could such things happen in such a city? How could such a scene --- a conglomeration of church, gatehouse, and townhouse --- be filled with bloodshed and evil? At least to me, the only recognizable building in Dubois’ painting is the church on the far left. I believe it is the Sainte Chapelle, though I might be wrong --- I am only an armchair traveler. That church, whichever one it is, witnessed such suffering and did nothing.

There are many different theories about St. Bartholomew’s. Some vilify the perpetrators; others almost seem to absolve them. Regardless of what religious and political machinations there might have been --- or if the number was greater or smaller than historians say --- there is no doubt that it happened, it was brutal, and it was senseless. We all understand the “mob mentality,” the quintessential disgruntled townsfolk with torches and pitchforks. That element was out at large during the summer and fall of 1572.

As I have a firm grounding in the martyrdom and sacrifices of my spiritual ancestors, I feel responsible for and identifiable with those Huguenots so brutally slaughtered during the St. Bartholomew’s. I hate to hear justification, such as “it was the way things were at that time,” or “both sides were responsible for atrocities.” I know that. I understand that. Nothing could make it right, however, and nothing could make it any less objectionable. Why are there no monuments or memorials in the megalith that is Paris, or in any of the other cities where the massacre occurred? If we remember and mourn the Holocaust with a variety of memorials (which we should always continue to do) why not the St. Bartholomew’s, which took thousands of lives? What is the different? Was it “too long ago”? Should that matter?

If I could, I would stand in the Parisian square depicted in that portrait by Francois Dubois --- if the place does indeed still exist in any shape or form --- and ponder that if I and my extended family had been living in Paris (or in much of France) at that time, we would have been condemned as well. Even if we had never done a thing to our neighbors, which most of the victims likely did not, we still would have been stripped of our right to life and hunted down simply for our faith. Suddenly the past takes on a personal feel. So I must ask again: What gave them the right?

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 2012

Historical Battles: Where were the Lutherans?

Has it ever seemed as if Lutherans completely dominated the religious scene during the early 16th century and Martin Luther’s ministry, then, after his death, faded into history with only brief cameos? I thought so until I began to tentatively study the Thirty Years’ War. This is a conflict schoolchildren are taught very little, if anything, about, and I had never thought to delve deeper until I began to wonder *where* all the Lutheran greats were? Where were the John Calvins of Lutheranism after Luther’s death? I knew, of course, about Philipp Melanchthon and Martin Bucer and other reformers, but I thought there had to be more.

Then this man popped out at me.

Gustavus Adolphus

His name was Gustavus Adolphus, born in Sweden in 1594. I had heard of him only in passing but I knew he was the King of Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War and that he had a prominent place in war lore. Also, he was Lutheran. So I searched out a quick biography. He was apparently king during the “Swedish Golden Age” (no, I had never heard of that either!) and was a brave and well-trained intellectual giant of a man who seemed indestructible . . . at least until his death, which occurred in 1632.

Known as one of the greatest soldiers of the 17th century, he was called the “Father of Modern Warfare” and could command any branch of the army with seemingly no trouble. Keeping in mind that the 17th century was known for religious warfare even more than the 16th had been --- and that land and politics were also involved in the Thirty Years’ War, which made for an interesting scramble between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Catholics --- he had quite a job to maintain.

So, what happened in the Battle of Lutzen where Gustavus Adolphus was killed? Of the many battles that devastated European soil, it ranked among the worst and was one of the most influential in determining the course of the war. It all began when Catholic leader Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein (a name and a half!) made the mistake of believing that the Protestant factions would undertake no more action for the year, it being mid-November. Then came Gustavus Adolphus and his men. 

It was to be Adolphus’ last charge. He rushed forward like a lion of God, urging on his stead like in the cavalier stories of old. But he could no longer find his men, and he was going on blind. A few well-placed bullets stilled his spirit and catapulted him into the heavenly realm. This Lutheran lion was finally free from the sorrows of unending warfare. I always like to end my biographies with snatches of “the person,” traits as opposed to life events. Gustavus Adolphus was certainly brave, and quite intelligent. He was a staunch Lutheran in a time when declaring one’s religious affiliation was very important. 

His wife Maria Eleanora of Brandenburg, who died twenty-three years after her husband, gave Gustavus Adolphus a daughter named Christina. Little Christina was only six when her father died. Adolphus and Maria Eleanora had had three other children, all of whom were either stillborn or died in infancy. Adolphus’ son Gustav, born of a mistress, was sixteen when he lost his father.

And what became of Gustavus Adolphus’ earthly form? He was buried near Stockholm, Sweden, in the Riddarholmen Church. After his death the theories began circulating that his involvement in the Thirty Years’ War was only due to politics and land and had nothing to do with religion . . . which, following the case of many countries, that may well have been mostly true. Yet despite his reasons for fighting, and despite personal sins, he was a proud Lutheran and a good Protestant hero.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012

Huguenot History: I Learn Something New Every Day

I have always been particularly fascinated with the French Huguenots, seeing them as the archetypal courageous and steadfast Protestants who chose to die before they would give up their faith. Having said that, there are times that it seems I have studied Huguenot history extensively enough that I can no longer find anything “new” or “interesting.” However, this morning I came across a historical organization of which I had never heard: The Huguenot Relief Committee, based in London.

In the 1680s the Huguenots’ world was crumbling beneath their feet. King Louis XIV had made life for French Protestants worse than death, denying them basic civil rights and imprisoning, killing, or sending to the galleys anyone who held these beliefs. To make matters worse, England’s King James II, sovereign of a country that had always been sympathetic to the Huguenots’ plight, was in actuality a zealous Catholic, and he began making many strides toward “unity” and desiring to restore liberties for his Catholic subjects. In truth, many of these measures would have alienated Protestants. Catholic Spain vigorously approved of every measure against the Huguenots.

Yet in England, there was hope. There was the Huguenot Relief Committee. Much like our modern-day charities that are utilized to assist those in need, this society gave money to French Protestant families who had escaped their homeland and were desperate to settle in America. One of the most important events in which the Huguenot Relief Committee was involved was the granting of over five hundred Huguenots enough money to settle in Virginia. In the 1680s, Virginia had already been under English rule for eighty years. 

So what was the Huguenot Relief Committee about? Online information is scarce. It is obvious that King James II was not very pleased that English Protestants called for decrees designed to help their French coreligionists. Apart from the Committee, a few prominent Englishmen gave their own funds to French refugees and invited them to establish trades such as silk-weaving in certain sections of London. One man, Sir William Coventry, wrote a will that asked for the neediest Huguenots in London to be handsomely paid. Those Englishmen who could afford to help --- and were horrified at King Louis XIV’s treatment of his Protestant subjects --- came forward to offer assistance. 

Unfortunately, not all Huguenot families were granted these life-giving funds. The cash flow was designated only for those who were willing to attend English Protestant services --- Anglican --- and who had done nothing to disturb the peace or disrupt the law. Huguenots wishing to prove such were asked for paperwork. Yet many did benefit. The book “The Huguenot Soldiers of William of Orange and the ‘Glorious Revolution of 1688’” by Matthew Glozier says, “Despite all the limitations associated with Huguenot relief funds, money appeared to the tune of 42,000 pounds – a great sum indeed. Robin Gwynn calls this a popular ‘slap in the royal face’ for the English king.”

James II may not have been pleased with so many foreign Protestants flooding England --- he referred to their faith as a “false religion” --- but, as England was overwhelmingly Protestant and wished to help, there was little he could do without risking ire and possible rebellion.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

Reformation Time Line: A Handy Little Pamphlet

For years I have enjoyed occasional online shopping trips to christianbook.com, which has a huge selection of Christian-themed clothing, books, music, gifts, and more, and recently I bought a little fold-out pamphlet called “Reformation Time Line.” It’s glossy, full color, and chock-full of information, so if you think you know *everything* about the Protestant Reformation and its historical tendrils, you might just be challenged by this little pamphlet.

Today I just let it fall open and allowed myself to be led wherever my eyes were meant to go. The paragraph my eyes fell upon said, “The Anabaptist movement, predecessor to Brethren and Mennonite churches, teaches believers’ baptism only, democratic decision making, and separation of church and state.” Oddly enough, the Mennonite leader Menno Simons was the subject of my post yesterday! So, once again, I feel I was led to write this. This little pamphlet got me to wondering about “believers’ baptism” and how other Protestant groups felt about that statement.

Groups such as the Lutherans (which separated from Catholicism but retained many church traditions, at least in some form) and the Calvinists (who absolutely went in the opposite direction of Catholicism and allowed no ornamentation or anything influenced by Rome) were firmly in the corner of baptizing babies soon after birth. A Huguenot confession of 1559 stated in part: “Nevertheless, although it is a sacrament of faith and penitence, yet as God receives little children into the Church with their fathers, we say, upon the authority of Jesus Christ, that the children of believing parents should be baptized.” The Anabaptists, however, taught that babies could not know what their baptism symbolized or what choosing Christ meant, thus they proclaimed that believers’ baptism made more sense and was more doctrinally sound. 

I do know that the Anabaptists were persecuted even by other Protestant groups who could not imagine waiting until childhood or even adulthood to baptize. Of course, this was not the only issue, but it was a large bone of contention. Thinking upon that, I remembered a story I once read. In the 1600s, when Catholicism and Calvinism were up-in-arms in France, news traveled quickly that a baby had been born into a particular family. Often the Catholic priest and the Huguenot minister would dash to the house to see who might christen the infant first; imagine inadvertently making a game out of such a thing! It is possible that the Anabaptists simply shook their heads and rolled their eyes at such a notion . . . and it was probably the subject of many a witty debate around the kitchen table, perhaps in the fashion of Luther’s Table Talk :-)

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22, 2012

Menno Simons: Nuggets of Wisdom

In my study of the Reformation faiths I enjoy picking out prominent reformers and other people of note and getting to the bottom of their personalities. What better way to find out who they really were and how they really felt than to read their quotes and writings? Having already featured quotes from Martin Luther and John Calvin, I decided to include writings with an Anabaptist flavor, thus I picked out a few gems from Menno Simons:

Concerning persecution, something with which 16th century Protestants were far too well acquainted:

“. . . I mean those who know the word of the Lord, but do not live according to it. Oh, no! it is the word of the cross and will, in my opinion, remain so to the last, for it must be sustained with much suffering, and sealed with blood. The Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8; yea, He did not only suffer in His body, but also through the cross and death entered into that glory, which He, for a time, had left for our sakes, Luke 24, John 11:25. If Christ then had to suffer such torture, anguish, misery, and pain, how shall His servants, children and members expect peace and freedom from suffering while in the flesh?”

Concerning faith:

“. . . we teach with Christ and say, ‘Believe the gospel,’ Mark 1:15. That gospel is the glad tidings and promulgation of the favor and grace of God toward us, and the forgiveness of our sins through Christ Jesus. The believer, by faith, receives this gospel through the Holy Ghost, and does not look upon his former righteousness or unrighteousness, but hopes against hope, Romans 4:18, and with the whole heart depends upon the grace, word, and promises of the Lord; since he well knows that God is true, and that His promises are sure . . .”

Of the Catholic and Lutheran faiths, Menno Simons had quite a few interesting things to impart that were not quite so charitable :-) (One must wonder what he had to say about the Calvinists!) Yet this was definitely a man who knew where he stood and what he expected his fellow believers to confess. He was a man after God’s own heart. In an era where standing up for truth could have disastrous consequences, he simply did not care about the danger. For he knew God’s promises were sure.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21, 2012

A Cyber Dash Through Cyber Hymnal: What I Found

Lately I have been filled to the brim with stories of my Reformation ancestors who kept the faith with courage and steadfastness. Thus, I decided to pull up Cyber Hymnal, a popular online site burgeoning with Christian hymns of all descriptions, to see what might catch my eye. I was led to this song --- “March On, O Soul, With Strength --- and was surprised to note that it mentioned the very subject I had covered in yesterday’s post! (The Lord likes to remind us that we are led :-))

“March On, O Soul, With Strength”
George T. Coster 

March on, O soul, with strength!
Like those strong men of old
Who ’gainst enthronèd wrong
Stood confident and bold;
Who, thrust in prison or cast to flame
Still made their glory in Thy name.

The sons of fathers we
By whom our faith is taught
To fear no ill, to fight
The holy fight they fought;
Heroic warriors, ne’er from Christ
By any lure or guile enticed.

March on, O soul, with strength,
As strong the battle rolls!
’Gainst lies and lusts and wrongs,
Let courage rule our souls;
In keenest strife, Lord, may we stand,
Upheld and strengthened by Thy hand.

Not long the conflict: soon
The holy war shall cease,
Faith’s warfare ended, won
The home of endless peace!
Look up! the victor’s crown at length!
March on, O soul, march on, with strength!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012

Why Autos-da-fe --- “Acts of Faith” --- Were Anything But

Many Protestants and students of church history in general will know the term “auto-da-fe,” Portuguese for “act of faith.” If you knew nothing about it, what would you expect an “act of faith” to be? A pilgrimage? A religious procession? A church ceremony? Not quite. Autos-da-fe were perhaps one of the best known institutions of the Spanish Inquisition, which was ironically known at the time as the “Santa Oficio” or “Holy Office.” An auto-da-fe was a public burning of those who had been condemned for Protestant or Jewish beliefs, as well as a time to burn effigies. 

I have often wondered how burnings at the stake got started. There were many ways for Renaissance man to show violence: who came up with such an odd and horrific punishment? Burnings had already been around for over a thousand years. Under the domain of the Inquisition, however, they took on new meaning. The concept that fire “purified” was applied to victims’ souls. It was also a common belief that those who suffered this fate could not enjoy bodily resurrection in the world to come. Officials purposely chose such a “chastisement” as the ultimate means of punishment. 

Spain was not the only nation to use this “preferred” method of execution for those condemned for their faith. France also made much use of the practice (concerning Protestant believers; Joan of Arc, you might remember, died the same way in the 1400s), rampantly throughout the early 16th century and briefly in the late 17th century when Louis XIV revoked the freedom-giving Edict of Nantes that once protected his Protestant subjects. Burning at the stake was greatly feared --- and sadly expected --- in countries with Protestant populations.

The practice first came to England in the 1550s after Mary I married Philip II of Spain, and during her reign about three hundred Protestants of varying ages died in this manner. I cannot even imagine the pain that sufferers of this fate must have undergone. That they could know  what would be their end and still uphold their faith! Modern-day Protestant believers, with such a powerful Reformation heritage, must always remember these brave souls.

In the 16th century there were actually some who believed that killing a man for his beliefs, if done in a “more humane” way, was a mercy. For instance, in 1565 after the French Huguenots killed at Matanzas in Florida had been bound and dispatched by the sword, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés’  chronicler said: “. . . he nobly and honorably put them to the sword, when by every right he could have burnt them alive." And this is the sort of world in which our ancestors lived! It never ceases to amaze and upset me when I read that such men said they had the “right” to do such things. And to think death by sword was a mercy!

Having thought about all this, I decided to research how the concept of fire was used in the Bible. That is when the astonishment began. The emphasis is my own.

“He makes winds His messengers, flames of fire His servants.’ (Psalm 104:4)

“. . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’ (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16)

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what appeared to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” (Acts 2:1-3)

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Chronicles 13:3)

“In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire.’” (Hebrews 1:7)

There are other references as well, such as “burnt offerings” and “Refiner’s fire” with which many have made a connection. I find it fascinating that while the Inquisitors and officials attempted to demonize Protestant believers by reserving this most horrific punishment for them, they succeeded only in making the connection between God’s Word and His holy martyrs and those who were being burned. Christians had long associated primitive believers with such fates. Emperor Nero, for example, was responsible for burnings.

Though it is difficult to comprehend at times, everything in history --- even the suffering of our spiritual ancestors, who perished for following their faith and their consciences --- had a deeper connection and a deeper meaning than we could ever hope to understand.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19, 2012

John Knox and the Scottish Reformation: A Brief Look

Two hundred and fifty-eight years ago, a group of Scottish immigrants who would become my ancestors first stepped on American soil. Despite being very interested in that little bit of Celtic heritage, I realized that I knew very little about the Reformation’s spread in Scotland, so I decided to research John Knox. I only remembered hearing of him briefly in school. So who was this man? 

Like Martin Luther and John Calvin, Knox had been a Catholic priest in his younger days. One of Knox’s Protestant acquaintances, English would-be martyr George Wishart, was probably an inspiration for the Scottish “kirk” (church) that Knox would create. The two became close, with Knox even offering to accompany Wishart to prison so they might both keep the faith. Wishart begged him to go home. Knox’s fate changed for the worse in the 1540s when he was taken aboard a French ship and made into a galley slave. Considering that many were martyred for no reason other than their faith, one might consider Knox lucky to have survived, even though great hardship would follow. 

Knox was released of his slavery in early 1549. He fled to England, where he preached and continued to hone his Reformed views. Queen Mary I of England took the throne in 1553, and Knox felt he could no longer remain. His Protestant sentiments were nurtured by a move to Geneva and subsequent friendship with John Calvin, and his theology developed more Calvinist principles. In the 1550s he saw his fatherland once again and was pleased to note that the Reformation had taken swift hold. Soon it was back to Geneva.

John Knox came back to Scotland yet again in 1559 and found that his beloved homeland was on the brink of civil war. In the 1560s he concentrated on firmly establishing Protestant thought in Scotland. Around this time he took on a role as the father of the Scottish Reformation, the Scottish Martin Luther, one might say. He nurtured his new “kirk” and helped write a declaration of faith. He is perhaps most famous for his dialogue with Mary Stuart (Mary Queen of Scots) in which he admonished her for seeking to marry the son of Philip II of Spain. Philip II was one of the most hated men in the Catholic circle, a Spanish zealot who sought the destruction of anything and everything Protestant. Mary was horrified that Knox might meddle in her personal affairs and grew so upset with him that she sent him away.

Yet Knox knew, as did most Protestants, that a Spanish alliance with any country that harbored a significant Protestant population could bring only trouble. The year of this exchange was 1563. To put that into perspective, in France the first War of Religion had just ended. It was only a year since the horrific church-burning at Vassy and the siege of Rouen. Martin Luther had been dead for seventeen years and Germany was still burgeoning under the ebb and flow of the Reformation. Queen Elizabeth I of England had been on the throne for five years.

As England had become known for its Church of England, Scottish Presbyterianism grew equally popular. I have always found it particularly fascinating to note the difference between various European countries and their acceptance of the Reformation (or lack thereof). Why did Spain remain virtually Protestant-free, while France had an equal number of both Protestants and Catholics, Scotland and England become mostly Protestant, and so forth? What made these countries responsive or unresponsive to the “new thought”? Also, why did some countries with Protestant majorities become Calvinist and other tend more toward Lutheranism? Fascinating stuff.

And what of Knox’s family? He was married at first to Marjorie Bowes and second to Margaret Stewart. He supposedly had a few children with each. John Knox died November 24, 1572, just three months after the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in which thousands of French Huguenots were killed. His end was sad: not so much his death in particular, but where he was buried. At St. Giles’ Cathedral near Edinburgh, Scotland, there is a parking lot like any other parking lot, except that one of the spaces has a small plaque that marks John Knox’s burial site. Why this was allowed to happen . . . why his body was not moved, and why a parking lot would have been built over the site of a famous reformer’s gravesite . . . I could not tell. But it is a very sad ending for the earthly form of a giant of a man.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18, 2012

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, France, 1789

There was a significant spiritual triumph in France in August 1789, which seemed odd when one considers that Christianity was being suppressed. France had reached the breaking point where the lower classes absolutely refused to take from the poor and give to the rich. The country had been in the throes of poverty for a good many years, and the social upset begun during the Wars of Religion had never been set to rights. France was a country with an ax to grind and torches to wave, and one got the sense that the whole thing would blow up in their faces and plunge the world into chaos at any given moment. One just never knew when.

So why should Huguenots, of which, despite centuries of persecution, there were still a significant number, be involved? Perhaps because they understood the desire for freedom better than anyone might imagine. Being French Protestants (a term which seemed oxymoronic for much of French history) meant that they knew what it was like to be stripped of the most basic civil rights. 

The Treaty of Versailles in 1787 gave Protestants the right to call themselves French citizens, but there were words left unsaid and liberties left un-granted. Perhaps, as the Revolution dawned, French Protestants determined that they would finally fight heroically for that country which they had always loved but which had always hated them so. So when they learned that the French aristocracy was demeaning the poor, perhaps they aligned themselves with the unfortunates --- the very same needy French Catholics who would have once preferred to see them dead rather than look upon them.

So what exactly had the Edict of Versailles in 1787 accomplished? It was a blessing, but there were loopholes. It stated that French Protestants had a right to claim citizenship while still favoring Catholics. The first draft of a new edict called ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’ would hopefully sweep away the last prejudices. People eagerly gathered to hear the words. Their journey of persecution was soon at an end. One can imagine that the ghosts of countless Huguenot victims, including the thousands lost in the horrendous St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, hovered overhead as they waited for two and a half centuries of bloodshed to finally, finally be over.

People listened with hushed breath to the tenth article of the edict: “No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.” That was impossible to misinterpret. Of course, in subsequent years there were pockets of persecution, and it was not until 1793 that the Declaration would be expounded upon, but no longer was a French Protestant without recourse. If he was assaulted, he could be compensated. If he was discriminated against, the law stated that he had the right to demand equality. Though the ‘Reign of Terror’ that France would soon host was nothing to praise, the declaration of 1789 was a blessing to French Protestants. It would shape the future as well.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17, 2012

French Huguenots in Florida: From Beginning to End

Whenever I think of the ill-fated French Huguenot colony in early Florida, it fills me with sadness I can barely describe. The entire venture was fraught with setbacks from the very beginning. Let’s enumerate.

(1)    The event that finally propelled the colonists to set sail in May 1565 was a sudden storm that threatened to carry the ships out to sea, persuading them they must go aboard and be carried along on the waves or be left behind. What a harbinger!

(2)    Those same storms blew the French ships in the direction of Havre de Grace, France, rather than out to sea, and they were forced to remain off the coast of England near the Isle of Wight until mid-June. They finally headed out to the open sea on June 14th.

(3)    Seven days after arriving in La Floride and Fort Caroline, on September 04, 1565, French ships guarding the entrance to the harbor were accosted by a small Spanish fleet. They fled to sea and were hotly pursued, but they managed to escape.

(4)    French admiral Jean Ribault ordered that his ablest soldiers, those who had just arrived in Florida and had barely had time to acclimate, should go back aboard ship so they might wipe out San Agustín before the Spaniards could do the same to La Caroline. None of these men had any idea that in a few weeks’ time they would be martyred on the beaches of Matanzas. Also, with these soldiers gone, few men capable of defending themselves were left at La Caroline.

(5)    A hurricane sank Ribault’s fleet, including his flagship Trinité. Some men were drowned. Those who survived managed to reach land. They had only a short while left to live.

(6)    The San Mateo hurricane nearly destroyed Fort Caroline’s defenses and served to make the colonists miserable. In a stroke of bad timing, the guardsmen, unable to suffer the rain and wind any longer, went to bed. They believed no one would want so badly to attack them that they would come through a hurricane. This proved to be a false assumption.

(7)    On September 20, 1565, Spanish conquistadors, endowed with a hatred of everything Protestant and disgusted that Frenchman had dared to settle a colony on “Spanish” land, raided Fort Caroline. Most of the men were killed outright. Women and children were taken prisoner. Their fates are unknown. A relatively small number of survivors, including painter Jacques le Moyne de Morgues and former commander René de Goulaine de Laudonnière, found a ship to take them back to France.

(8)    On September 29, Pedro Menéndez caught up with the survivors of Ribault’s shipwrecked fleet. They were told to convert or die for their Protestant faith. Over one hundred men lost their lives in this way. They were given no burials and were left on the shores of Matanzas without the slightest hint of respect. It was not until early 1566 that relatives back in France would hear of their loved ones’ fates.

(9)     October 12, 1565, brought yet another massacre. Another hundred men or so were advised to surrender. Those who could not in good conscience give up their arms made a harrowing trek to present-day Cape Canaveral. Those who surrendered, hoping for mercy, were martyred as well. Admiral Jean Ribault was one of the victims.

(10) Those Frenchman who had not surrendered at Matanzas were discovered and brought to San Agustín. Many abandoned their faith simply to gain protection (a fact which, considering that their comrades were willing to die for their Protestant beliefs, is quite saddening). King Philip of Spain advised that survivors should be made into galley slaves.

Quick recap: In August 1565, La Caroline was a haven of Protestant religious freedom. There were men, women, and children of varying ages, soldiers, tailors, adventurers, noblemen, and many more such colonists. Though the earlier wave of colonists had been starving, they now had fresh supplies, brought by Jean Ribault and his fresh fleet of settlers. A bevy of beautiful French galleons bobbed just beyond La Caroline’s defenses. Protestant Psalms were sung and Protestant prayers were said without fear of retribution. 

By December 1565, just four months later, nearly all of the men of La Caroline were dead, many having fallen at the forever-haunted Matanzas in a gory final act to the play of atrocities that had dogged the French since the beginning. The fort had been destroyed and converted into a Spanish citadel known as Fort San Mateo. The women and children were languishing in Puerto Rico or other Spanish-run locations, and it is not known how many, if any, ever saw France again. Admiral Jean Ribault would stalk the waters no more. The French flag had been forcibly ripped from La Floride, never to return.

Florida’s French Huguenot colony was a study in lost dreams, destroyed far too quickly and with more brutality than anyone could have imagined. Murphy’s Law was definitely enforced --- from the day that Ribault’s fleet first set sail, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. One can stand at the reconstructed Fort Caroline and actually feel the broken dreams. The spirit of loss, grief, and thwarted freedom is tangible. And, as much as I love vacationing in Spanish St. Augustine, I cannot help but feel a flash of resentment that the French settlement once laid in ruins while the Spanish one thrived. One needed to die for the other to be born. St. Augustine survived and grew great, while La Caroline --- poor, ill-fated La Caroline --- was trampled, bloodied, and forgotten. It is a tragedy impossible to comprehend.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012

For Your 16th Century Viewing Pleasure

I am always on the lookout for *good* movies set in the 16th century. Though it seems impossible to capture the excitement of the Protestant “new thought,” the depth of brutality and religious strife, and the war, disease, and hardship of the era, cinema can painstakingly bring at least some of that “feel” to life. Unfortunately, almost every single movie I have seen concerning this era is so unsuitable for Christians that I could not even finish watching. Also, Huguenots (Calvinists) were shown as indulging in immoral behavior, card-playing, and other things that I am absolutely certain would have been seen as vices. Not to say, of course, that every Protestant was sinless and perfect --- no mortal man is or was, save Christ Himself --- but the fact that the movie-makers went to great pains to paint the devout Huguenots as “average Joes” was disturbing. 

Here are the few 16th century movies that I believe are decent in regards to morality and violence. “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” from 2007, starring Cate Blanchett, was not overly immoral (actually, I did not see much at all that could be considered immoral, but, since I skipped through, I might have missed it. The description did mention it).  There was some violence that was a bit disturbing, but it was mostly central to the storyline and not overly done. This movie was pleasant and rather lighthearted in places. It focused more on Elizabeth I’s later reign and struggles against Philip II of Spain in the age of the Spanish Armada. As such, religious conflict was rarely mentioned, though the backdrop certainly made the struggles obvious.

“Martin Luther,” which starred Joseph Fiennes and came out in 2003, was very good as well. There was some violence, mostly showing the aftershocks of the Peasants’ War, for the most part it was not upsetting. There is also an old “Martin Luther” movie starring Niall MacGinnis that I enjoyed. The PBS documentary “Martin Luther” was very good as well but, with all the guest speakers, rather dry. I was amused that they used one of my favorite quotes of Martin’s: “When I die, I want to be ghost . . . so I can continue to pester the bishops, priests, and godless monks until that they have more trouble with a dead Luther than they could have had before with a thousand living ones.” That gets me every time :-).

I still love the History Channel’s “Conquest of America” series best. My favorite part is “Conquest of the Southeast,” which deals with the French Huguenots in early Florida --- undoubtedly my favorite historical subject. The violence in this particular episode involved the 1565 Spanish raid on Fort Caroline and the subsequent Matanzas massacre. It showed blood but was done rather tastefully, I think (sadly, the actual scenes would have been much more brutal). 

This is admittedly a rather pitiful list of movies set in the 16th century that I have seen. Finding one that does not demonize either side of the religious conflict, is not stained with gratuitous gore (some violence is expected in a war movie; but directors usually seem to enjoy putting in as much gore as they can), and has little or no immorality is nearly impossible. I do not expect anyone to “tone down” the blood and guts of the era, but neither do I want my Christian values to be threatened by having to witness such things. I am still on the lookout for movies. I am hoping to find good films concerning Lady Jane Grey and the English martyr Anne Askew. Wish me luck!

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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