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The Reformation and the Bible

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Title: The Reformation and the Bible


1
The Reformation and the Bible
  • Week Eight
  • Theology in Context

2
Session Overview
  • Lecture
  • Examine the myth of Protestant Origins
  • Consider some contexts behind the Reformation
  • Outline some aspects of the Reformation
  • Consider the Reformation as Reformations
  • Highlight some main themes in Reformation thought
  • Overview some main Reformers and their
    differences
  • Seminar
  • Examine justification through faith
  • Explore some issues concerning scripture and
    tradition in Protestant and Catholic thought

3
The Myth of Protestant Origins
  • Or, how the Reformation didnt happen
  • In the midst of Catholic Europe
  • A unified monolithic religious Christendom
    centred around unswerving loyalty to the Pope in
    Rome
  • A monk is thinking

4
Hi! My names Martin Luther. And Ive just come
to a unique realization! The teachings of the
Church have departed from the Bible. I must go
and tell everyone!
5
So he marches
6
from his monastery
7
to the castle church
8
in Wittenburg (Germany)
9
and posts his complaints
10
on the door
11
Hi! Its me, Martin Luther, again. And Ive just
started the Protestant Reformation. Launching a
devastating attack on the power and authority of
the Pope and the entire Roman Catholic Church!
12
However, this is not what happened
  • so, if that didnt happen what did?
  • Martin Luther did not walk from monastery to
    castle church
  • He did write the famous 95 Theses but gave them
    by hand to fellow academics

13
However
  • Luther didnt want to attack Romes authority
  • Luther wanted reform not (yet) Reformation
  • Luthers theses intended only to start debate on
    indulgences (see later)
  • It is a mystery to me how my theses were spread
    to so many places. They were meant exclusively
    for our academic circle here. (Luther, M.,
    letter, quoted in Miles, M., The Word Made Flesh,
    p. 244)
  • So what turned a minor provincial debating paper
    into the schism that has split Western
    Christianity till today?

14
Some Contexts of the Reformation
  • Into (early) modernity
  • The state of the church
  • War and plague
  • Calls for reform
  • Renaissance and Humanism
  • Other factors
  • Luther

15
Into modernity
  • Medieval world gt early modern world
  • feudalism gt capitalism
  • Break down of old order and established
    hierarchies
  • loose federation of small states gt powerful
    centralized nations
  • Princes want greater autonomy and freedom
  • new forms of government e.g. Republics, absolute
    monarchy
  • Moves away from ecclesiastical power
  • The political world of medieval Europe is
    passing
  • does a new political sensibility need a new
    religious sensibility?

16
The State of the Medieval Church
  • Heresy
  • Numerous heretical groups/ movements
  • Papal crises
  • C 14th 2 rival popes
  • Council of Pisa 1409
  • Result 3 popes
  • Council of Constance 1417
  • Implications
  • councils more powerful than popes
  • congregation of believers possess greater
    authority
  • Debt
  • taxes
  • sell church positions
  • spiritual benefits, esp. indulgences (to which we
    shall return)
  • Corruption
  • multiple positions (simony)
  • Savonarola
  • minor clergy in poverty
  • The Clergy

17
War and Plague
  • Ravaged Europe C 13th 14th
  • 100 Years War
  • Black Death
  • instability and doubt
  • The afterlife
  • Judgement
  • purgatory
  • apocalyptic expectations
  • Joachim of Fiore
  • The end of the world is nigh

18
Calls for Reform
  • Luther was not the first (or last) reformer
  • Other (important) reformers
  • Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (fifteenth century)
  • trying to reform corruption - popes ambassador
    to Germany
  • John Wycliff (1329-1384)
  • More on him in due course
  • John Hus (1373-1415)
  • Rector of the University of Prague
  • Influenced by Wycliffe
  • Council of Constance
  • safe-conduct from Holy Roman Emperor
  • burnt at the stake heretic
  • Irony
  • never regarded himself as a heretic

19
The Morning Star of the Reformation
  • John Wycliff (1329-1384)
  • Oxford academic
  • Lollards
  • Main critiques
  • Bible infallible
  • above church authority and tradition
  • NT model to judge church
  • holiness of character true test of
    righteousness
  • not church position
  • attacked popes involvement in political disputes
  • Motivation worldly
  • cult of saints debased
  • magical healing or blessings
  • Treasury of Merit
  • A fallacy and blasphemy
  • What is it and why is it so very important see
    later.

20
Renaissance and Humanism
  • Revival of study of Greece and Rome
  • Renewed study of classical languages
  • Read New Testament in Greek
  • Read Old Testament in Hebrew
  • Challenge adequacy of Latin vulgate
  • Renewed study of ancient philosophy and increased
    rationalism in study
  • Challenge scholastic methods and assumptions

21
Other Trends
  • Printing
  • widespread dissemination of Luthers ideas
  • vernacular translations of Bible
  • Preaching
  • demand for more educated form of piety
  • cities
  • Personalised spirituality
  • Mystical manuals (e.g. Cloud of Unknowing,
    Theologica Germanica)

22
Luthers Context Or some of them he has a lot
too
  • 95 theses provoke debate
  • One issue indulgences
  • Not attack on whole church
  • However, this provoked Rome
  • Met virulent opposition
  • excommunication 1521
  • break with Rome
  • Therefore the Reformation begins in 1521/2 not
    1517!

23
So what was the indulgence issue?
  • 5 Key factors
  • The practice of indulgences
  • Treasury of Merit
  • Purgatory and the cult of the dead
  • Tetzel
  • Luthers arguments

24
The Practice of Indulgences
  • Originally
  • Indulgences a form of penance
  • For remittance of sins the church would impose a
    penance (i.e. fasting, pilgrimage, etc.)
  • The indulgence was a certificate to say this had
    been done
  • By Luthers time
  • Indulgences were (essentially) sold
  • While the notion of penance existed, most people
    associated getting the piece of paper with
    getting the reward
  • Moreover, they could be bought for other people,
    including the dead
  • They had also become associated with the idea of
    the Treasury of Merit

25
The Treasury of Merit
  • What was it?
  • A great celestial bank account of holiness and
    good merit
  • Where did it come from?
  • The saints, due to their vast holiness and
    prayers, had built up more good merit than they
    needed for salvation, i.e. the Treasury of Merit
    is their surplus
  • Why was it useful?
  • Because it could be made available to ordinary
    believers to make up for their shortfall via the
    pope
  • It could also rescue those in purgatory
  • The critique?
  • Wycliff
  • idea pure fantasy
  • pope could control blasphemy

26
Purgatory and the Cult of the Dead
  • From c. C 11th become standard teaching
  • At death mini judgement
  • Exceptionally good heaven
  • Exceptionally bad hell
  • Mediocrity purgatory
  • A place of torture/ purgation rid soul of sins
    and make ready for heaven
  • C 14th Black death and war
  • Great concern with dead
  • Whole families, even villages died were they
    ready?
  • Late medieval faith, was a religion practised by
    the living on behalf of the deceased

27
Tetzel
  • Johannes Tetzel
  • Indulgence seller for Archbishop of Mainz
  • 3 Sees and St Peters, Rome
  • As soon as a penny in the pot both ring, a soul
    from purgatory will spring
  • Utterly incensed Luther
  • Posted 95 theses

28
Luthers arguments
  • The nature of repentance
  • Remission of sins from true repentance through
    Christ alone
  • (Theses 16-17)
  • The Popes authority
  • Pope cannot forgive sin, only declare its
    forgiveness by God
  • (Theses 6)
  • At most, pope can only forgive church punishments
    in this life
  • (Theses 20,21,24,25)
  • Popes authority cannot extend to purgatory
  • (Theses 13-19, 22, 25)
  • Faulty theology
  • No Treasury of Merit
  • (Thesis 62)
  • No use
  • Better to give money to the poor than buy
    indulgences
  • (Theses 41-45)
  • Rhetoric
  • Why does not the Pope empty purgatory for the
    sake of most holy love and the supreme need of
    souls?
  • (Theses 82)

29
From debating points to Reformation
  • Why did the Reformation happen now?
  • The context?

30
The significance of the contexts
  • Into (early) modernity
  • Princes want freedom from Rome and control of
    church lands
  • The state of the church
  • Dissatisfaction
  • War and plague
  • Possibility for indulgences to be abused
  • Creates dissatisfaction
  • Challenge to traditional beliefs/ way of life
  • Calls for reform
  • It wasnt new
  • A ready and primed audience
  • Renaissance and Humanism
  • Critique of church tradition
  • New intellectual currents
  • New emphasis upon religion of Jesus and Biblical
    views
  • Other factors
  • Luthers pamphlets spread by local printer
  • A desire for a new forms of piety
  • Luther

31
Other factors in favour
  • Loss of prestige of church
  • Women vs. male hierarchy
  • Peasants want new social order
  • City burghers want new respect
  • Other influential reformers also appear

32
The Reformation(s)
  • IMPORTANT
  • Various uses The Protestant Reformation The
    Catholic (Counter-)Reformation The Lutheran
    Reformation The Reformation
  • The (Protestant) Reformation was the (natural)
    expression of long standing dissatisfaction with
    the church and its teachings
  • The Reformation was not a unified event other
    currents/ thinkers either independently or
    inspired by Luther took it in different ways
  • Nevertheless, certain common features exist
    against the Reformations/ Reformers

33
The Main Issues in Reformation Thought
  • Indulgences
  • Priesthood
  • Tradition and scripture
  • Justification by faith alone
  • Sacraments
  • Central focus
  • Back to basics
  • establish truths from the Biblical text

34
The Two Reformations
  • Magisterial Reformation
  • So-called because they accept civil magistrates
  • Want reform of corrupt practices in church
  • Traditional beliefs and practices accepted and
    adapted
  • Mainstream reformers Luther, Calvin, Zwingli
  • Radical Reformation
  • Rejects all secular and conventional authority
  • Want total reform of the church
  • All beliefs and practices open to question
  • Anabaptist movement (and offshoots)

35
Martin Luther (1483-1546)
  • Biographical
  • Entered order of Augustinian Friars 1505
  • Professor of Biblical Theology at University of
    Wittenberg 1512
  • Public attention 1917
  • Confrontation with Rome Leipzig Disputation
    1519 Diet of Augsburg 1518 Frederick the Wise,
    German soil, fled Excommunication 3rd Jan 1521
    Diet of Worms 1521 banished by Charles V
    prison Wartburg free 1522
  • Theological
  • Personal concerns for salvation not justified
    by being a good monk
  • Rethinking of previous theology
  • The theology of the cross
  • Free Grace justification
  • Both ideas from Johann von Staupitz spiritual
    father
  • Was the Reformation a continuation of late
    medieval trends not a new movement?
  • Politics
  • Protection of Frederick the Wise
  • Indulgences and relics
  • German princes tired of Roman control
  • The Peasant's War

36
John Calvin (1509-1564)
  • Significance
  • Second generation of reformers
  • Saw himself as faithful follower of Luther
  • greatest theological systematizer
  • theocratic state Geneva
  • Model for others
  • Theology
  • Gods absolute sovereignty
  • Humans utterly sinful - entirely dependent on
    Gods grace
  • unable to do anything for own salvation
  • Augustine Luther
  • Predestination
  • God pre-decided the elect
  • gives grace
  • No salvation apart from this
  • Geneva
  • Arrives 1536 invited to set up reform leaves
    1538 invited to return 1541
  • Sets up reforming system and school - spreads

37
Huldrych Zwingli (1484-1531) aka Ulrich, Huldreich
  • The Third Man of the Reformation
  • Life
  • Early role as pastor to mercenaries in papal
    employ
  • Vicar of Zurich 1519
  • Sets up reform programme (before Lutheran?)
  • Died in battle
  • Main difference with others
  • Sacramental theology
  • Catholic Church accepts 7 sacraments
  • (Most) Reformers accept 2 (baptism and Eucharist)
  • Eucharistic theology
  • Catholic transubstantiation
  • Luther Christs real presence
  • Zwingli just a memorial

38
Radical Reformation
  • Often termed Anabaptist but not unified group
  • Early Anabaptist movement around Zurich
  • Swiss Brethren 1525
  • Dispute with Zwingli
  • Anaptist re-baptist
  • Only accept adult baptism
  • Difference reject all church tradition
  • Only adult baptism in NT
  • Reject anything not in NT
  • Therefore (some) dispute Trinity, Divinity of
    Christ
  • Most killed Munster
  • Continuation Quakers, Amish

39
Seminar
  • Justification by faith
  • Bible and Tradition

40
Read Luther The autobiographical
introduction or Preface to his Works of 1545
  • Discuss the following four questions
  • What change occurs in Luthers understanding of
    the term the righteousness of God
  • Luther sees faith as essential to salvation.
    Discuss what it means to him in relation to these
    three terms/ ideas knowledge trust unity.
  • Find the term passive righteousness. What do
    you understand Luther to mean by this? How does
    it relate to faith?
  • What difference is there between Luthers
    theology of justification outlined here and what
    you know of previous medieval/ Catholic beliefs
    and practices.

41
Luther
  • Answers
  • What change occurs in Luthers understanding of
    the term the righteousness of God
  • From a wrathful God righteousness punishment
    of unrighteousness
  • To loving God righteousness forgiveness of
    sinners
  • Luther sees faith as essential to salvation.
    Discuss what it means to him in relation to these
    three terms/ ideas knowledge trust unity.
  • Faith is personal not just knowledge of
    historical events
  • Faith requires a leap to trust that God will
    remit sins
  • Faith unites the believer to Christ
  • Find the term passive righteousness. What do
    you understand Luther to mean by this? How does
    it relate to faith?
  • This means that salvation is Gods work, we do
    nothing it is given
  • Therefore, we do justify ourselves by having
    faith, rather, because we have faith God will
    graciously save us, but even this faith is a gift
    from God
  • What difference is there between Luthers
    theology of justification outlined here and what
    you know of previous medieval/ Catholic beliefs
    and practices.
  • It is a change from salvation through works the
    believer does good and purifies himself to become
    acceptable before God to belief that mans
    inherent sinfulness means he/she can never be
    acceptable before God and so salvation is pure
    graciousness

42
The Bible and Tradition
  • Problem 1 The translation of the text
  • Problem 2 The OT the content of scripture
  • Problem 3 The authority of tradition and
    scripture

43
Problem 1 Translation
  • The Latin Vulgate
  • Accepted translation/ version of Bible
  • Jerome 382 and 405 CE
  • Honoured by centuries of tradition
  • However
  • Renaissance scholarship found flaws
  • Comparison with Greek and Hebrew
  • Raises many questions
  • Why do some versions assume authoritative
    status, e.g. AV?
  • Why does Christianity accept translations as the
    Bible (vs. Islam and Judaism and Hinduism)?
  • Is it necessary to read Greek, Aramaic, and
    Syriac (several forms of each) to understand the
    NT?

44
Problem 2 The Old Testament
  • 3 versions
  • Comparison of Vulgate against Hebrew Bible
  • Extra books rejected by reformers
  • Addition to Jewish canon
  • Form appendix apocrypha
  • another agenda some Catholic practises, praying
    for the dead, found in apocrypha (2 Macc. 12
    40-6)
  • Question what scripture consists of.
  • Issues arising
  • Who decides what is in or out?
  • Christian vs. Jewish tradition?
  • New lists of scriptural works now OT in debate

45
Problem 3 Grounding authority (i)
  • Sola Scriptura by scripture alone
  • This motto of the Reformation meant that anything
    not grounded in scripture was
  • Not essential to salvation
  • Was not countenanced for Christian belief
  • Question what is the role of tradition for the
    reformers?

46
Problem 3 Grounding authority (ii)
  • Read Calvin, selected from The Institutes of the
    Christian Religion, VIII, 8, 9, 10, 11 IX, 2, 8
  • Compare with The Council of Trent on scripture
    and tradition
  • How would you define the difference between the
    Protestant and Roman Catholic positions on the
    relationship and role of tradition and scripture
    as expressed here?

47
Problem 3 Grounding authority (iii)
  • 3 theories of scripture and tradition (McGrath)
  • T0 scripture as interpreted in the Spirit
  • Sebastian Franck (16th) The Bible is a book
    sealed with seven seals which none can open
    unless he has the key of David, which is the
    illumination of the Spirit
  • T1 scripture as traditionally understood
  • Calvin The difference between us and the
    papists is that they believe that the church
    cannot be the pillar of the truth unless she
    presides over the Word of God. We, on the other
    hand, assert that it is because she reverently
    subjects herself to the Word of God that the
    truth is preserved by her, and passed on to
    others by her hands.
  • T2 scripture supplemented by tradition
  • Council of Trent (1546) All saving truths and
    rules of conduct are contained in the written
    books and in the unwritten traditions, received
    from the mouth of Christ himself or from the
    apostles themselves.

48
Concluding Discussion
  • By deciding what constituted scripture were the
    Reformers not actually asserting the tradition of
    the church (to be able to make and change the
    Christian canon) as more important than
    scripture?
  • Some people have suggested that the Reformation
    rather than strengthening the prestige of the
    Bible, by providing a fundamental challenge to
    all authority including that of the text
    provided a vital step in the development of
    Biblical criticism. To what extent do you think
    this might be true?
  • Many reform movements, such as the Reformation,
    have envisaged a return to the original
    revelation and the pure teachings of the text.
    Is it ever possible to return to an original
    text? What constitutes a barrier to this?
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