Providing Insight into the history of the Christian Church
This is a special announcement for subscribers to the audio podcast > Communio Sanctorum – History of the Christian Church.CS has been rolled over into my new online teaching presence which you can find at > Into His Image.us. The entire Church History series is being re-done in video, on the YouTube channel of the same name > IntoHisImage.I'll keep the CS website & Facebook page up for a while, but will eventually take them down since all the necessary information and much more will be available at the new site.So head on over to the new website at IntoHisImage.us and the FB page at facebook.com/IntoHisImage.usThere's also a Telegram channel. Just search for IntoHisImage (this link)Besides History of the Christian Church, you'll find many other resources for Leadership and Bible study as I'm posting there the regular teaching I do at the church here I serve as pastor.I want to close out this short announcement with a word of the deepest gratitude for the many subscribers to CS over the years. It's been a while since I posted fresh material, so many one-time subscribers disconnected. But others stayed – waiting for more. Your loyalty means a lot. I hope you'll find the new offerings at IntoHisImage.us more than you hoped for.
The title of this episode is – A Needless Tragedy.We backtrack now a bit. We're going back to that period of European history following the Reformation called the Wars of Religion. We do so to take a look at a single day; Aug 24, 1572 in Paris, and the infamous event that happened then and there = the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.We do this because while it's a lot more detailed look at something than we usually get into, it illustrates the impact the Reformation had on Europe and, I think, the Modern World.John Calvin was French but his reforming work was centered in Geneva, Switzerland. It didn't take long for his influence to spread back to his native homeland so that by 1555, Calvinism had firm roots there. French Calvinists were called Huguenots – a word of unknown origin but was meant as a mockery of Protestants. Calvinism spread rapidly and soon there were a couple thousand French Reformed churches with close to half the French switching from Catholic churches to Huguenot fellowships.What made things difficult for the French Monarchy, which remained firmly Catholic, was that many of the nobility were Huguenots. Bear in mind that at that time, religious affiliation and political alignment were regarded by most Europeans as one and the same. A showdown between French Catholics and Protestants seemed inevitable.Enter the scheming Queen Mother of France, Catherine de Medici; a die-hard Roman Catholic. She arranged for her daughter, Margaret of Valois, to be married on August 18th of 1572 to the Protestant King, Henry of Navarre. The hope in Paris was that this marriage would bring peace between warring Catholics and Protestants. Nobles who'd fought each other the previous decade turned out for the celebration. Thousands of Protestants came to Paris for the wedding, and the festivities lasted for days.But while Catherine de Médici planned her daughter's wedding, she was also plotted the assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny [koh-LEE-nee], one of the main leaders of the Huguenots.On Aug. 22nd, the assassination attempt failed. The plot, so soon after the royal wedding, threatened to badly embarrass the royal family. Near midnight the following day, Charles IX, the 22 yr-old French king and brother of the bride, in a fit of rage, screamed at his mother, “If you're going to kill Coligny, why don't you kill all the Huguenots in France, so there'll be none left to hate me.”Catherine wasn't one to put up with the pique of her petulant son and decided to follow up on his suggestion. She ordered the murder of all Huguenot leaders still in Paris, including those who'd attended the wedding. The massacre began on Aug 24, 1572, St. Bartholomew's Day. Admiral Coligny was murdered first as he knelt in prayer.Many of the Huguenot nobles were lodged at the Louvre. They were called into the courtyard and shot one by one as they appeared. During the night, the homes of Paris Huguenots were each marked with white crosses. Before daybreak, messengers were sent throughout the city crying out, “Kill! Kill! The King commands it.” A murdering frenzy fell on the whole city. Entire Huguenot families were taken into the streets and murdered. The dawn of St. Bartholomew's Day revealed many thousands of martyred Huguenots.The craze spread to the provinces in the following days and weeks, the death toll somewhere between 30 and 40 thousand. Admiral Coligny's head was embalmed and sent to Rome as a gift to Pope Gregory XIII. When it reached Rome, the Pope and his cardinals staged a Mass of Thanksgiving.The massacre was not without cost to Charles IX. He began having horrific nightmares. In less than two years, he lay dying at the age of only 24. His last days were plagued with visions of his victims. He cried to his nurse, “What bloodshed, what murders! What evil counsel have I followed? O my God, forgive me!. . . I am lost!”That's the short version of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Now for a little more depth.The massacre marked a turning point in the French Wars of Religion. The Huguenot political movement was crippled by the loss of many of its most prominent leaders, as well as many re-conversions by commoners back to Catholicism while those who remained Protestant were increasingly radicalized.Though by no means unique, the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre was the worst of the century's religious atrocities. Throughout Europe, it impressed on Protestants the firm conviction Catholics were bloody and treacherous. But some of those Protestants ought to have seen how they treated other Protestants of a different flavor, as well as Catholics, with the same kind of brutality when they had the chance.While the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre seems a violent but quickly burnt-out fit of hatred, it was in truth the culmination of a series of events.1st – The Peace of Saint-Germain in 1570 put an end to 3 years of terrible civil war between French Catholics and Protestants. But the peace was precarious since many Catholics refused to accept it. The famous Guise [gice] family led this faction and so fell out of favor at the French court. Meanwhile, the Huguenot political and military leader Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was readmitted to the king's council in September of 1571.Catholics were shocked by the return of Protestants to the court, but the king and queen mother, the afore-mentioned Charles IX and Catherine de Medici were determined not to let war break out again. Being were well aware of the kingdom's financial difficulties, they knew more war would bankrupt them so they were determined to stay friendly with Coligny. The Huguenots were in a strong defensive position as they controlled not a few of the fortified towns across France.To cement the peace between the two groups, Catherine offered to marry her daughter Margaret to the Protestant prince Henry of Navarre, the future King Henry IV. The royal marriage was arranged for 18 August 1572. But it was rejected by staunch Catholics. Both the Pope and King Philip II of Spain strongly condemned Catherine's plan.2nd - The impending marriage led to the gathering of a large number of well-born Protestants in Paris, who'd come to escort their prince. But Paris was a violently anti-Huguenot city, and Parisians, who tended to be extreme Catholics, found their presence unacceptable. Encouraged by Catholic preachers, they were horrified at the marriage of a Catholic princess to a Protestant. The French Parliament snubbed the marriage ceremony altogether.3rd - Compounding this bad feeling was the fact that recent harvests were poor and taxes had risen to pay for civil wars. The rise in food prices, set against the backdrop of the obscene luxury displayed by the nobles on the occasion of the royal wedding increased tension among the people. A particular point of complaint was a cross erected on the site of the house of Philippe de Gastines, a Huguenot martyred a couple yrs before. A mob tore down his house and erected a large wooden cross in its place. Under the terms of the Peace of Saint-Germain, the cross was removed in Dec. 1571. That led to riots that killed fifty and saw massive property damage. In the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, relatives of the Gastines family were among the first to be killed by the mob.4th - The royal court itself was divided. Catherine hadn't obtained the Pope's permission for the royal marriage; so the French clergy hesitated about what to do. It took all Catherine's considerable skill to convince Cardinal de Bourbon to officiate the wedding ceremony. And note who were' talking about here. This is Catherine DE MEDICI, of the eminently famous and powerful Italian banking family.5th - In the years leading up to the massacre, Huguenot political rhetoric had for the first time taken a tone against, not just the policies of the monarchy, but following the trend of Protestant thought, toward monarchy in principle. This trend would grow greatly after the Massacre as the Huguenots laid blame for it at the foot of the throne.6th - Tensions were further raised in May, 1572 when news reached Paris that a French Huguenot army under Louis of Nassau crossed into a Dutch province and captured a couple of Catholic strongholds. This was all so Louis could assist his brother William in his political ambitions. French Catholics were furious that all of France was being dragged into a war with the Netherlands and Spain they had nothing to do with.All these ingredients mixed in the pot to produce a tension just waiting for a spark to ignite.After the wedding on August 18, Coligny and leading Huguenots remained in Paris to discuss some grievances about the Peace of St. Germain with the king.On the 22nd, an attempt was made on Coligny's life as he made his way home from the Louvre. He was shot from the upstairs window of a home owned by the Guises and seriously wounded. The would-be assassin escaped in the confusion that followed.The attempted assassination of Coligny triggered the crisis that led to the massacre. Coligny was the most respected Huguenot leader and enjoyed a close relationship with the king. Aware of the danger of reprisals from the Protestants, the king and his court visited Coligny on his sickbed and promised the culprits would be punished.While Catherine was eating dinner, Protestants burst in to demand justice, some going so far as to threaten her. The fears of Huguenot reprisals grew in the palace. Coligny's brother-in-law led a 4,000-strong army that was at that moment camped just outside the city, and though there's no evidence it was planning to attack, Catholics feared it might take revenge on the Guises or the general populace of the city.So that evening, Catherine held a meeting with her Italian advisers. On the evening of the 23rd, Catherine went to see the king to discuss the crisis. Though no details of the meeting survive, it seems Charles and his mother decided to eliminate the Protestant leaders, meaning between 2 and 3 dozen of the noblemen still in Paris. They thought this would gut the Huguenots of their leadership and leave the Protestants powerless. They hoped it would squelch any real attempts at attacking the royals.Shortly after this decision, municipal authorities of Paris were summoned. They were ordered to shut the city gates and arm the citizenry in order to prevent any attempt at a Protestant uprising. The king's Swiss Guard was given the task of killing a list of leading Protestants. It's difficult to determine the exact chronology of events and know the moment the killing began. It seems a signal was given by ringing bells at a church near the Louvre. The Swiss guards expelled the Protestant nobles from the Louvre castle, then slaughtered them in the streets.A group led by the Duke of Guise dragged Admiral Coligny from his bed, killed him, and threw his body out a window. And all the tension building since the Peace of St. Germain exploded in a wave of popular mob violence. Commoners hunted Protestants throughout the city, including women and children. Chains were used to block streets so Protestants couldn't escape from their houses. The bodies of the dead were collected in carts and thrown into the Seine. The massacre in Paris lasted 3 days despite the king's attempts to stop it.The leading Huguenot prince, Henry of Navarre just 19 and newly married to Catherine's daughter, was spared and pledged to convert to Catholicism. He later renounced his feigned conversion when he escaped the madhouse that was Paris.On Aug 26th, the king fabricated an “official” version of events—saying that he ordered the massacre to thwart a Huguenot plot against the royal family. A celebration and parade were held, while the killings continued in parts of the city.Although King Charles dispatched orders to the provincial governors on Aug. 24th to prevent violence and maintain the terms of the Peace of Saint-Germain, from August to October, massacres of Huguenots took place in a dozen French cities. In most of them, the killings swiftly followed the arrival of the news of the Paris massacre, but in some places there was a delay of a month.In many cities across France, the loss to the Huguenot communities after the massacres was far larger than those actually killed. Because in the following weeks there were mass conversions to Catholicism. For instance, in Rouen [ruin], where a few hundred were killed, the Huguenot community shrank from over 16 thousand to fewer than 3 thousand as a result of conversions and emigration to safer cities and countries.Soon afterward, both sides prepared for a fourth civil war, which began before the end of the year.The St Bartholomew's Day Massacre with the ensuing turmoil that fell out from the Reformation in all Europe went far in shaping the mindset of succeeding generations. You can make a good case for the emergence of the Enlightenment's suspicion of religion because of the horrendous bad behavior of people in the name of God during the Wars of Religion.Of course, as we've said in previous episodes, it was often politicians and power-hungry prelates who hid behind religion and used the name of God in a bald grab for temporal power. They knew the common people could be manipulated by a religious argument more easily than by admitting they just wanted more land or power. Today, politicians seek to dispatch their opponents by saying they're wrong on this or that political issue. In 16th and 17th C Europe, they did so by accusing their opponents of heresy.As we finish this episode, I again want to say thanks to all who've visited the CS FB page and given us a like. If you haven't done that yet, let me encourage you to do so.And if you use iTunes as your portal to CS, giving the podcast a review there goes a long way in getting the word out.CS is sustained by your donation of any amount.Thanks.
This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 2Last time we took a brief look at the Jesuit missions to the Far East; namely Japan, China, Vietnam and India.We encountered the revolutionary approach to mission work of Alessandro Valignano and his spiritual heirs, Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci. Their accomodationist approach to evangelism, where the Gospel was communicated by seeking to build a cultural bridge with the high civilizations of the Far East, was officially suppressed by Rome, even though it had amazing success in planting a healthy and vibrant church. So healthy was the Church in Japan it came under fire from a fierce resurgence in Japanese nationalism that expelled the Jesuits and persecuted the Church, driving it underground.From the dawn of the 17th C, both Dutch and English trading interests moved into Asia. Their commercial and military navies dominated those of other European nations.The Dutch established bases in Indonesia and created a center at Jakarta. The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602, and carried the Dutch Reformed Church to the East Indies. But don't think this means the Dutch conducted missionary work among indigenous peoples. It merely means they carried their religious institution with them and built chapels so Dutch nationals had a place to worship when doing business there. Any converts from among the native population was by accident, not any kind of planned outreach. Dutch interests in the Far East were exclusively commercial.The English equivalent of the Dutch East India Company was, the creatively named à English East India Company. Though the directors of the Company were suspicious of missionaries, they appointed chaplains to their trading communities. This provided an opening for those with missionary vision in England and India, such as Parliamentarian William Wilberforce and Charles Grant, an employee of the company.Two outstanding East India Company chaplains were Henry Martyn and Claudius Buchanan. Martyn was a leading Cambridge intellect and winner of numerous academic prizes. He and other Cambridge students were influenced by the long ministry of Charles Simeon, whose preaching urged that the Gospel be taken to All Peoples. Martyn was a brilliant linguist and translator. He was appointed a chaplain in 1805, translated the NT into Urdu and Persian and prepared an Arabic version before his early death from tuberculosis at 31. His Indian assistant, Abdul Masih, converted from Islam to become a Christian missionary and advocate of the Faith. He was ordained in 1825 as the first Indian Anglican clergyman. Many others were inspired by Martyn's life of scholarship and devotion.William Carey, often regarded as the father of Protestant English missions, was both a shoemaker and Baptist preacher in Northamptonshire. He arrived in India in 1793. He was soon joined by 2 other Baptist giants, Joshua Marshman and William Ward, making what came to be known as the ‘Serampore Trio.' Serampore being the region where they lived and worked. The trio greatly admired the Moravians and shaped their community on the Moravian model.Carey's passage to India had been denied by the East India Company, the de facto government of English holdings in India, with their own hired army enforcing their will on the regions they operated. That would be like Amazon being the City Council and Law Enforcement for Seattle. Later British colonies and India came under control of the Crown. The East India Company opposed Carey's plan to take the Gospel to the Indians. Chaplains for the British in India was fine, but they didn't want to foment hostility with the faiths of their trading partners. Carey had ONE goal in going to India; to evangelize the lost. His passion to raise support in England for foreign missions led to his being derided by critics like Sydney Smith, a clergyman and author of satire who wrote for the Edinburgh Review.But by steady perseverance, monumental labor at biblical translation, longsuffering through family tragedies and the loss of precious manuscripts by fire, Carey faced down all critics, became Professor of Sanskrit at Fort William College and earned the accolade from Bishop Stephen Neill, himself a missionary in India: “In the whole history of the Church, no nobler man has ever given himself to the service of the Redeemer.”For North Americans, an equivalent figure to Carey as a pioneer was the great missionary to Burma, Adoniram Judson. Judson received his inspiration to become a missionary from reading the sermons of Claudius Buchanan in 1809. After ordination as a Congregationalist minister, he applied to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. On his voyage to India, he and his wife adopted a Baptist statement of Faith. On arrival in India he was baptized, having made his change of mind known to William Carey. He was refused permission to work by the East India Co as a Baptist missionary in India but began work in Rangoon in 1813. His work among the Karen people met with rousing success. The first Karen to be baptized was Ko Tha Byu, who came from a background of violent crime. Byu became a notable evangelist. The Karen became the largest Christian group of the region. In modern Myanmar they number 200,000 Christians in over 1,000 churches. Judson himself became a missionary icon and hero in mid-19th C North America.China closed its doors to foreigners of all kinds after imperial edicts against Christian preaching in 1720. Robert Morrison was the lone Protestant missionary from 1807, often at risk of his life. Although the East India Co was hostile to his mission, in 1809 he was employed by them as an interpreter so he could remain on Chinese soil. With the help of William Milne, he translated the entire Bible into Chinese and created a Chinese dictionary, which became a standard work for language studies. He and Milne founded an Anglo-Chinese school in Malacca.But any missionary incursion into wider China was impossible until the treaties of the mid-19th C opened the country by slow degrees.First, the so-called ‘treaty ports' became accessible in 1842 in the Treaty of Nanking, forced on China by British commercial interests. The Chinese were desperate for opium from India, supplied by the British, a major source of revenue.A bit later, the Treaty of Tientsin opened the interior to missionaries, preparing the way for the China Inland Mission.James Hudson Taylor was born in Yorkshire, England to a devout Methodist family. He trained as a doctor, but, before he qualified, offered himself as a missionary to the China Evangelization Society. Because of the political conditions in China during the pro-Christian Taiping Rebellion, he was sent to Shanghai in 1853.Hudson Taylor was inspired by Karl Gutzlaff, who'd travelled to the Chinese interior between 1833-9 as a freelance missionary.Gutzlaff was a German educated at a Moravian school. Drawn to the Far East by the urge to see China won to Christ, he began with the Netherlands Missionary Society in 1824 by serving in Thailand where he translated the Bible into Thai in just 3 years.In 1828 he broke with Netherlands Missionary Society because they wouldn't send him to China. From his perspective, that's why he was in the Far East. So, he became a freelance missionary, distributing Christian literature along the coast. He became an interpreter for the East India Co in Shanghai and helped negotiate the Treaty of Nanjing. He recruited Chinese nationals as evangelists to the interior and raised funds for their support through his writings in Europe, only to find that many of his recruits had deceived him and taken the money for other purposes. Although discredited in the eyes of some, Gutzlaff's strategy of using nationals as Christian workers was sound. No one doubted his missionary zeal. Hudson Taylor looked on him as the ‘grandfather' of the China Inland Mission and its work in the interior provinces.Hearkening back to the accomodationist policy of Valignano, Taylor experimented with identification in Chinese dress and the ‘queue'; that is, the pigtail hairstyle worn by Chinese men. But Taylor caught grief from other members of the missionary community, by his “going native” as it was called. In 1857, he resigned from the China Evangelization Society he'd been working with. Stirred deeply by the needs of the Chinese of the interior, Taylor founded the China Inland Mission in 1865, aiming to put 2 missionaries in each province, recently open to foreigners after the Treaty of Tientsin. He was now a fully qualified doctor and married to Maria Dyer, daughter of a missionary and a leader in her own right, he set out with a party of 16 from London to Shanghai in 1866, narrowly avoiding total loss by shipwreck.From the beginning the CIM was to be a so-called ‘faith mission', with no public appeals for funds; and its missionaries accepted the absolute, if gently applied, authority of Hudson Taylor, described by some as the ‘Ignatius Loyola of Protestant missions.'The CIM came to number over 800 missionaries, including Methodists, Baptists, Anglicans, Presbyterians and others. It planted churches that had a membership of some 80,000 by 1897. The public profile of the CIM was greatly enhanced in the 1880s by the arrival of the “Cambridge 7”, 2 of whom were well-known sports heroes and popularized as making great sacrifices for the Cause of Christ. CT Studd was 1 of these, later to found of the World Evangelization Crusade and the Heart of Africa Mission, which worked in the Belgian Congo.Hudson Taylor's publication, China's Millions, achieved a circulation of 50,000 and helped put the mission in front of the public. The society suffered heavily in the nationalist Boxer Rebellion of 1898 to 1900. A total of 200 missionaries, many of them Roman Catholic, and 30,000 Chinese Christians lost their lives. CIM lost 58 missionaries and several children. Even with this tragic set-back, the CIM continued to be an influential group under its 2nd director, Dixon Hoste, 1 of the Cambridge 7. In 1949 all missionary personnel were expelled by the Communists.Hudson Taylor is described by the eminent Church Historian Kenneth Scott Latourette as “1 of the 4 or 5 most influential foreigners who came to China in the 19th C for any purpose, religious or secular.”
This episode of CS is titled, Back in the East – Part 1In our last foray into the Church in the East, we stopped our review with the Mongols. You may remember while the Mongols started out generally favorable to Christianity, when later Mongol Khans became Muslims, they embarked on a campaign to eradicate the Gospel from their lands. That rang the death knell to The Church in the East, which for centuries boasted far more members and covered a wider area than the Western Church.And again, let me be clear to define our terms, when I speak of the Church in the East, I'm not referring to the Eastern Orthodox Church HQ'd in Constantinople; not the Greek Orthodox Church or it's close cousin, the Russian Orthodox Church. The Church in the East was also known as the Nestorian Church and looked to the one-time Bishop of Constantinople, Nestorius who was officially labeled a heretic, but who became the patriarch of a wide-ranging church movement that reached all the way to Japan.While today, Nestorianism is officially labelled a heresy in its view of the nature of Christ, it's doubtful Nestorius taught that. Nor did The Church in the East believe it. The Nestorianism that bears the label “Heresy” is more a thing found in books than in the hearts and minds of the people who made up The Church in the East.In any case, the once vibrant Church in the East came to a virtual end with the Mongols. It wasn't till the 16th C that the Faith began a renewed mission to the East, and this time it was by a concerted effort of Europeans. It came because of the expansion of the Portuguese and Spanish empires in the 16th and 17th Cs, then to Dutch, English, French and Danish traders in the 18th and 19th.Even before the Jesuit order was recognized by Rome, Ignatius Loyola was aware of the need for an able overseer of missions to the East. Though loath to lose his assistant, in 1540 Loyola sent his ablest lieutenant and close friend, Francis Xavier to the Portuguese colony of Goa in India. Xavier remains one of the greatest of all Christian missionaries. He possessed an immensely attractive personality and a Paul-like determination to preach the Gospel where Christ had not been named.Xavier moved from Goa to the fishermen of the Coromandel coast of India, where he baptized thousands and engaged in discipleship, though by his own admission his command of the language was marginal. He visited Sri Lanka from 1541–45, and Indonesia for 2 years before entering Japan in 1549. He established a Jesuit mission there and had a couple Christian books translated into the language. Exposure to Japan, with its, at that time, deep respect for all things Chinese, convinced him to do whatever it took to enter China. He was poised to do so when he died in 1552.Allesandro Valignano was born to Italian nobility and obtained a Doctor of Law degree at the University of Padua. But a profound religious experience we'd have to call a dramatic and genuine conversion, hijacked his previous career path and set him on mission. He became a Jesuit in 1566 because they were about the only ones doing missions at the time. He was appointed Visitor to Eastern Missions in 1573 and sailed to Goa from Lisbon in 1574.After a period of study in Macau, he came to the conclusion the Church was going about the task of spreading the faith to new people all wrong. He was determined to take the Gospel into China, but realized that meant he'd need to learn the language and customs. The Chinese were an ancient and proud race. They weren't going to be wowed by relatively uneducated and backward Europeans, regardless of how superior they might think they were. Valignano knew learning Chinese would open a door for the Gospel.He vehemently opposed the conquistador approach to China and Japan both Portugal and Spain used in their conquest of the Philippines. He made 3 trips to Japan from 1578 to 1603. Like Francis Xavier, Valignano was convinced of China's importance as a mission field but failed to make it there.That would be left for 2 other Jesuits who carefully followed his missions philosophy - Michele Ruggieri and Matteo Ricci [Richie].Ricci and Ruggieri entered China in 1583. They and their successors earned the deep respect of the Chinese, not least for their mathematical and astronomical abilities but because of their high regard for Chinese culture.Ruggieri, a lawyer from Italy, worked with Ricci in Portuguese Macau before moving to the mainland. Together, they produced a Portuguese—Chinese dictionary, and Ruggieri later composed the first Chinese-Catholic catechism. He was proficient enough in the language to compose Chinese poetry.Ricci, an outstanding intellectual, mastered the Confucian classics and came to believe that the kind of grounding he'd received in the works of Thomas Aquinas and his use of Aristotle was compatible with the moral ideals set out by Confucius. Ricci's work of 1603, titled The Meaning of the Lord of Heaven, adopted this approach in reaching the Chinese literati, among whom he was deeply admired. Ricci believed participation by Chinese Christians in ancestor rites did not compromise their faith.And yes: We'd probably disagree with him on that one.From 1600, Ricci was allowed to live in Beijing. His successors, like Ferdinand Verbiest and Schall von Bell, were also greatly admired by the Chinese and were given official positions by the first Q'ing emperor in the late 17th C. They carried such influence, they were able to secure positions of honor for other missionaries.It's a tragedy that after the influence of Valignano's policy was followed through with such success by Ruggieri, Ricci and their fellow Jesuits, it was eventually overturned in Rome. The so-called Rites Controversy at the opening of the 18th C, hinged on how far the honoring of ancestors was a civil versus a religious act. Rome ruled against Valignano's position, saying Chinese Christians were engaging in superstitious and unbiblical acts. This led immediately to an alienation of the Jesuits and the loss of all the good-will they'd earned. Christianity became viewed as a religion of foreigners.The issues raised by the Rites dispute weren't laid to rest until 1939, when Catholics were finally allowed to take part in ancestral veneration and the rites were accepted as mere civil demonstrations of honor, which had lost any of their earlier pagan associations.In India, another Jesuit apostle of accommodation, Robert de Nobili immersed himself in the philosophy and culture of Hinduism as a way to first understand, then build a bridge to the people of India to share the Gospel. Like Valignano, the Italian de Nobili was determined to detach himself from European models of Christianity and incarnationally manifest the Gospel in India. He succeeded and was able to see several high-caste Brahmins become Christians. But his methods raised controversy among his superiors and for a time he was forbidden to baptize.In Vietnam of the 17th C, Jesuit pioneer Alexandre de Rhodes followed the same accomodationist policy and advocated ordaining national clergy to carry on the work of evangelism and church-planting. This was unheard of and got him into trouble with his superiors.The idea of the religious superiors was “You can lead people to faith all day long. But you can't make them priests! Priests come from Europe, for goodness sake. Everyone knows that. I mean, just imagine what a nightmare you're making if you start ordaining Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese as priests. I mean come on! Let's not get carried away.”De Rhodes knew it was right to ordain nationals and disregarded the ban placed on him, eventually leading to his expulsion from the Jesuits. Nevertheless, by 1640, there were some 100,000 Vietnamese Christians.After Francis Xavier left Japan, it enjoyed a period of great progress. Valignano was deeply impressed with the quality of Christianity found there. By 1583 there were 200 churches and 150,000 Christians. In one town south of Kyoto, 8,000 were baptized in 1579.But there was a sharp change in attitude by Japanese political authorities later in the 16th C due to a fiercely-resurgent nationalism. In 1614, all Jesuits were expelled. Persecution broke out for the 300,000 Japanese Christians in a population of 20 million. Christians were crucified in Nagasaki and there were more mass executions in 1622. The policy was pursued with great savagery between 1627-34 and resulted in many, what came to be known as ‘hidden Christians', whom 19th C missionaries found retained their knowledge of many of the symbols of the Christian faith, when Japan opened 2 Cs later. Despite the eventual persecution of Christians in Japan in the later 16th and early 17th Cs, Andrew Ross, a Protestant, judged the Jesuit mission in Japan to be the most successful approach to a sophisticated society since the conversion of the Roman Empire.We'll continue our look at the Eastward Expansion of Christianity in the 16th and 17th Cs next time as we consider how the Dutch and English began to reach the East.
This episode of CS is titled, “And to the South . . . ” -- We move aside now from our review of the Reformation in Europe to get caught up with what's happening in Africa.In many, maybe most, popular treatments of Church history, the emphasis is on what's going on in Europe. That's what most church-based Christian history courses and many western colleges and seminaries focus on. We've already devoted several podcasts to the Church in Asia, both the Eastern or Greek Orthodox church, as well as what's called “THE Church IN the East,” AKA the Syrian, sometimes and the Nestorian Church.We'll soon jump the Atlantic to take a look at the Church in the New World. But before we do, we shift our attention south, to Africa.As we've seen, North Africa was one of the formative cradles of Christianity. That's where Tertullian, Cyprian and Augustine, 3 of the great Latin Fathers of the Faith kicked it. The Church at Alexandria was 1 of the 4 main churches in the early centuries. Egypt was highly influential in defining what the Faith looked like throughout much of Christendom because of men like Antony and Pachomius; the “desert fathers.” Their strict asceticism is credited with forming the early picture of what popular, but not necessarily Biblical, holiness looked like and which framed the thinking of Christians for hundreds of years. It led in large part to monasticism.In this episode, we'll track the course of Christianity as it made its way across the African continent.The genesis of Ethiopian Christianity rests in Acts 8 where a deacon in the Jerusalem church named Philip was used by God to lead an Ethiopian eunuch and royal treasurer to Faith in Christ. There's no record of what impact this man had when he returned home, but the fact he made a special trip to Jerusalem in the 1st C reinforces the idea that there was already a Jewish-influenced community in Ethiopia. Like so many of the Jews scattered around the world, meeting in local synagogues, these were prime candidates for the preaching of the Gospel because Jesus was indeed the Jewish Messiah. The Book of Acts shows us it was among God-fearing Gentiles who attended synagogues that the Gospel found it most receptive audience. So it's likely when the Ethiopian eunuch returned home, he shared what he'd learned and a church was birthed. But not nurtured by apostolic leadership in Jerusalem, it went into decline. Before doing so, it may have left some seeds behind waiting for a later watering.The best record we have attaches the planting of the church in Ethiopia to a slave named Frumentius around ad 300. Frumentius was on a trading voyage when he was captured by pirates and sold to the king of Axum. He proved of such service to the king, he was granted his freedom 40 years later. He immediately went to Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, telling him of Ethiopia's need of missionary activity. Athanasius consecrated Frumentius as bishop of Axum. Thus began a long tradition, in which Ethiopian Orthodoxy looked to Alexandria and later, the Egyptian Coptic church to appoint its leaders. This continued all the up to 1959.Frumentius's pioneering work was furthered by what are known as the Nine Saints from Syria who arrived about 150 years after Frumentius. Their work saw Ethiopia become a Christian kingdom. The government remained focused on a Christian monarch in several periods of upheaval thru the centuries, till the reign of Haile Selassie in the 20th C.There are characteristics of Ethiopian Christianity that deserve notice. It was an extremely Jewish form of Christian tradition and for long periods observed a Saturday-Sabbath rather than Sunday as the day of worship. It shared with the Falasha Jews of Ethiopia a great respect for the history of King Solomon and his visitor, the Queen of Sheba. They bore a tenacious legend that, after their meeting, the Ark of the Covenant was removed from Jerusalem and taken to Ethiopia where it was stored in secret. Various reasons were given for this; most notably that as Solomon began his slide into apostasy, a faithful priest recognized the day would come when foreigners would destroy the temple. To preserve the ark, a duplicate was made, switched out with the real ark, which was then packed off for safe-keeping to Ethiopia. This led to the production of multitudes of miniature ‘arks', called ‘tabot', displayed in places of Christian worship. The Ethiopian account of the royal meeting between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is a document called the Kebra Nagast, which dates to the early 6th C. Ethiopian Christians considered themselves Christian-Jews. They retain the practice of circumcision alongside baptism. Monarchs regard their dynasty as from Solomon. One of Haile Selassie's titles was ‘Lion of Judah'.Like the Egyptian church it's derived from, the Ethiopian church has a strong monastic tradition. The Nine Saints founded a number of communities around Axum; places like Dabra Damo, which lasted 1,000 years. Around 1270, the famous monastery Dabra Libanos became a center of renewal. Axum had a large, 5-aisled cathedral destroyed by Muslims in the 16th C. At that point, the whole kingdom would have become permanently Muslim had it not been for Portuguese military assistance in a decisive battle of 1543.Much credit for the survival of the Ethiopian church goes to their ancient translation of the Bible into Ge'ez [Gee-ehz]; a musical worship tradition practiced by the laity. Over the centuries different Christian groups have rallied to their aid to assist them against oppressors. Despite their appreciation, the Ethiopian church has resisted attempts to align themselves with any outside group. Estimates are that the Ethiopian Orthodox church has about 45 million members today and is the majority religious group. The 12th and 13th C rock-cut churches of the Lalibela region still delight tourists with the uniqueness of their architecture and the improbability of their construction.The survival of the church in Ethiopia underlines the tragic fate of the Church next door in ancient Nubia, or what today we know as the Sudan. Nubia possessed a flourishing Christian kingdom from the 8th to 12th C. Centered at the capital of Khartoum, Nubian bishops, like their Ethiopian peers, were consecrated by the patriarch of Alexandria. When a Muslim king ascended the throne, it spelled the end of Nubian Christianity. Best evidence suggests the church in Nubia began as a mission sent out by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora in 543. By 580 the entire population were followers of Jesus. But by 1500, the entire region was Muslim and what had been a flourishing church disappeared. In the 1960s, prior to the flooding of northern Sudan for the Aswan dam, excavations revealed the rich remains of Nubian churches.Remember now back to your world history class in your freshman or sophomore year of High School à What ethnic and national group sailed down the west coast of Africa, looking for a way to get to the rich trading ports of the Indian Ocean?Right. The Portuguese. Their progress down the west coast of Africa resulted in trading centers at Elmina on the Gold Coast, modern day Ghana, in 1482 and expeditions up the River Zaire in 1483-7. An expedition in 1491 saw a local king named Mbanza Congo, baptized and renamed as Joao I [joe-ow], after the reigning Portuguese king Joao II; Joao is Portuguese for John.Following King Congo's conversion, the Christianization of the region continued under his successor, King Mvemba Nzinga, renamed Afonso. He made Christianity the religion of the nobility, taking titles like ‘marquise' from the Portuguese aristocracy. Afonso's son, Henrique, was sent to Lisbon for education and was made a bishop in 1521. Unfortunately, he died not long after his return to Africa in 1530.King Afonso made regular appeals to the Portuguese for assistance in establishing the Christian faith from 1514 onwards. A Portuguese priest of the time left a vivid portrait of Afonso, still regarded in the Congo as the ‘Apostle of the Congo'. He was a skillful preacher who established a tradition of royal preaching. By all reports, this Congolese king was a genuine Billy Graham to his time and people.Now that's a very Western-centric way to put it, isn't it? IT would be just as accurate to say Billy Graham was an American King Afonso, or even better, an American Mvemba Nzinga.After Afonso's death in 1543, the story of the Congo is one of missed opportunities. Though he made frequent appeals for missionaries to come and work in Africa, the contest between Spain and Portugal stalled their efforts. Since the Jesuits were international, they arrived in the capital of Sao Salvador and opened a seminary in 1624. A Congolese ambassador visited Pope Paul V in 1608, an event commemorated in a Vatican fresco.A minor order of the Franciscans called the Capuchins tried to carry on outreach to the Congo, but conditions were brutal and many died. By 1700, Christianity was fading from the region. It wasn't until Baptist missionaries arrived in the 19th C that things picked up once more.By the late 18th C, the slave-trade from West Africa to the New World ran into the thousands. After the successful campaign for abolition led by William Wilberforce, with the help of a remarkable African in England, Olaudah Equiano, a British naval squadron patrolled the coast from 1807 searching for slavers. But the Portuguese still exported thousands across the Atlantic to the slave fields of Brazil, as the English had done to the sugar plantations of the West Indies by the notorious ‘middle passage.'Sierra Leone became a dumping ground for the British Navy's spoils from captured slavers. The Church Missionary Society, founded in 1799, set to work providing relief and evangelism for ex-slaves. By 1860, 60,000 freed slaves were dropped off at Freetown. But uprooted from their tribal structures and unable to return to their homes, they were gradually settled in what in many cases became model Christian villages.Among the arrivals in Sierra Leone was a group of 1200 freed American slaves. These had organized themselves into 15 ships at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and arrived singing hymns as they came ashore with their Baptist, Methodist, and other pastors. In time, Methodist life was greatly strengthened by the arrival from England of Thomas Birch Freeman, the son of an African father and English mother. Being of African descent, Freeman was able to survive the West African climate, fatal for European missionaries, and gave long service in West Africa.Eventually, some of the repatriated Africans of Sierra Leone caught the vision of returning to their tribes with the Gospel. Among them was Samuel Crowther. Crowther had been liberated from a Portuguese slaver in 1821. He was one of the first students at the new missionary college at Fourah Bay. He became a missionary to his branch of the Yoruba tribe in the 1830s, at the same time translating books of the NT. Crowther was part of a growing trend in missions; that of planting indigenous churches that were self-supporting, self-governing ,and self-extending.Johannes van der Kemp helped found the Netherlands Missionary Society. A retired soldier, he became a doctor before arriving in Cape Town, South Africa in 1799. His arrival among the Boers was like a match lit to a powder-keg. The Boers were Dutch farmers of South Africa who tried to maintain their distance from the British and constant conflict with local tribes.Van der Kemp was brilliant and upset the conservative-minded Boers with his marriage to a Malagasy slave girl, to say nothing of his virulent opposition to slavery and the oppression of Africans. He immediately went to work bringing the Gospel to South Africans and showed a special care for those displaced by armed conflict.Arriving in Cape Town from England at this time was Robert Moffatt whose style of mission work was very different from that of the indigenous designs of Crowther and his European friends. Moffat's philosophy of missions was more old-school. He built a mission compound which sought to preserve a little slice of England inside its fence. Africans were then invited to come TO the missionaries for preaching and teaching of a European-brand of Christianity. He gave 50 years to the mission north of the Orange River.This was where the famous Scottish missionary David Livingstone spent his first years after arriving in Africa. Livingstone married Moffat's daughter Mary; and Moffatt guided Livingstone in his early years in the field.Livingstone became a physician in Glasgow in 1840 and arrived in Cape Town in 1841. His and Mary's first child died in 1846. They lost another 4 years later. In 1852, Mary took their other children back to Scotland, but this proved a bad move. She moved in with David's parents. >> In-laws, you know how it goes! Well, things didn't go well and Mary began tipping the bottle in her loneliness. After Livingstone's epic journeys of 1853–56 thru the interior of Africa and his triumphant reception back home, they were reunited. Mary accompanied him on his Zambezi expedition of 1858, but died. Livingstone's eldest son, Robert, also died in 1864 as a soldier in the Union cause of the American Civil War. Though Scottish, Robert Livingstone joined the Union Army to help the cause of abolition; a value he learned from his courageous and monumentally giving father. As you know, David Livingstone was found by the explorer H.M. Stanley in 1871 and died in May 1873. His funeral, paid for by the British government, was held in Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874, with 2 royal carriages for the family, who included Moffatt, 2 of Livingstone's sons, and his daughter, to whom he'd been particularly close in his last years.Livingstone spent his first 11 years at the Moffatt mission-station but felt that style of mission work wasn't effective. He conceived his plan of exploration, which took him west to the Loanda coast of Angola, then east to the mouth of the Zambezi.You've likely heard the story, true it turns out, that the Africans came to love Livingstone so intensely, because they knew he loved them so much, that when he died, they consented to allow his body to return to his native Scotland, but claimed his heart for Africa.While there were scattered attempts to take the Gospel into East Africa throughout the centuries, nothing ever really took hold. It wasn't till Protestant missionaries of the 19th C arrived that a consistent work began. Then the church began to grow in Kenya and Uganda. But Protestants weren't the only ones bringing the Gospel to East Africa. The Roman Catholic archbishop of Algiers, Charles Lavigerie founded the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, known as the White Fathers. A group arrived in Uganda in 1878. This brought a wave of conversions and an outbreak of violence between competing groups of Muslims, Catholics, and Anglicans. Infrequent but brutal atrocities moved the British to send in troops to quell the disturbances and the region became a British protectorate in 1893. The colonial period that followed was a time of mass response to Christianity in the country.
This is the 100th episode of CS.Because this is something of a milestone for the podcast, we're taking a break from our usual episodic fare for something different.For those listeners who subscribe only for the historical narrative, you'll want to skip this one altogether because we won't be looking at Church History at all in this episode. This Century mark for CS will be about the podcast itself.I need to make comment at this point. This recording is a revision of an original made some years ago. While the content is essentially the same, the original series used a sound bed under the material I decided after a while I didn't like. There was also a lot of time-sensitive material and news in the original that no longer applied. So I began this revision of the podcast, cutting out all that.I thought about just cutting this episode altogether but remembered how many listeners said they appreciated the original.At one point on the CS Facebook page, I posted a question, asking who'd be interested in an episode that was a personal look at CS & the host. There were enough positive replies that made doing it reasonable.I remember listening to my first podcast years ago now; Mike Duncan's stellar podcast, The History of Rome. About a dozen episodes in, I began to look for Duncan's cryptic personal comments, rare as they were. Then as the series progressed, he'd share a few more details about himself. Though the content on Rome was sterling, it was those personal comments & his dry wit that kept me interested à & in an odd way, seemed to personalize the information so that it wasn't just a dry academic pursuit. I suppose some prefer the personal element of a podcast be left out. But I suspect that's the exception rather than the rule.So, this being a 100th episode of CS, I thought we'd do a kind of history of Communio Sanctorum-History of the Christian Church.As I just said, my introduction to the amazing world of podcasting was listening to The History of Rome by Mike Duncan. I'm a bit of a nut for all things Roman and found his podcast on iTunes without much of a search. I even have a full set of Roman armor in my office. No – I do not dress up and do re-enactments.When I finished listening to The History of Rome, I wanted more, so I subscribed to Lars Brownworth's Twelve Byzantine Emperors; another outstanding podcast. Next I decided to find something similar to Duncan's podcast on Church History. By similar, I mean, short episodes of about 15 to 20 mins in length. That had proven perfect for listening while working out, doing yardwork, going for a run and so on. But my search for something in the Church History genre was unfruitful. What I found were long lectures delivered in college & seminary classrooms. And while the content was, I'm sure, solid, they tended to be rather dry and tedious.So, drawing inspiration from Duncan, who really did sound like a guy with a computer, a mic, and a love for his subject, I decided to give it a shot and do my own church history podcast. What it meant was that I was going to need to do what Duncan had done, and that was - read a lot and seek to cull the material from trusted sources.So, I got started and over the next couple years churned out a hundred episodes. It didn't take long before I realized the early episodes were of poor audio quality. And as the narrative progressed, the timeline got jumbled and confused. That was probably inevitable for a noob like myself since the history of Christianity means following the Faith where ever it went. But I grew increasingly dissatisfied with the number of times the narrative jumped around. So I decided to stop at a hundred episodes and go back to redo the series to that point. As we slowed down a bit, the first version's about 80 episodes became version 2's 100. Not including a dozen episodes in the first version on the difference the Christian faith has made in World History & Modern Civilization. Those episodes became the upcoming “The Change” series.Some subscribers asked how far we'll go in CS. The plan is to track Church History up to the dawn of the 21st C. Then I'd like to go back and do some far more in-depth studies in certain moments, places, trends, and figures in the History of the Faith. These will be spotlight episodes that will drill down into a lot more depth on key chapters in the story.Here's a little about your host for CS.As of this recording in February of 2021, I'm 65, blissfully married to Lynn for 41 years. We have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren.My favorite era of history is the Roman Era, everything from the later Republic through Constantine. I've read a few dozen books on the subject and as I said, have a complete set of Roman armor. I once wore it while presenting the story of the resurrection from the perspective of the Centurion assigned the task of guarding Jesus' tomb.I love backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains of CA, word-working in the garage, vacationing in Maui, working out at the gym, and reading in the backyard under the usually clear Southern CA skies.I'm lead pastor at Calvary Chapel in Oxnard, CA, a church I founded in 1982 along with David Guzik. Some of you may know David. He's one of the finest Bible expositors on the planet. His Enduring Word online commentaries are featured in the Blue Letter Bible. Hundreds of thousands of pastors & Bible teachers all over the world refer to David's commentaries in their sermon and study preparation. Look it up at EnduringWord.com.David and I co-pastored CC for 6 years, then he and his wife planted a CC church in a nearby community. They then moved to Siegen, German where they lead a Bible college for several years, returned to Santa Barbara to lead the CC there for several years. David now leads the Enduring Word ministry full-time.Calvary Chapel Oxnard, where I serve as lead pastor, is part of a voluntary association of like-minded churches that began in the late 60's and the counter-cultural hippie movement in Southern California. Calvary Chapel is technically a non-denominational movement that unites churches around a core set of doctrinal and practical distinctives. If you're interested, you can find us at calvaryoxnard.org.Our fellowship has about 1200 adults and a swarm of children. We have 3 Sunday services and a mid-week Bible study. The hallmark of CC is that we teach expositionally through the entire Bible, verse by verse. We're now on our 5th journey through. The pattern of teaching we follow is that I teach 1 to as many as 5 chs on Wednesday night, then on Sunday, we take a closer look at just a few verses from that same passage in more of a sermon format. We cover 2 OT books, then a NT book, then rotate back to the OT. And go through the entire Bible that way.For those interested in my education, I have a Masters in Ministry & 1 in Biblical Studies. My education in the realm of church history is, as I've shared in previous episodes, not something gleaned from formal education in a classroom. It's born from a lot of reading and personal study. I've loved history since I was in junior high.The people of CCO know my passion for history because I use it a lot in teaching.Now for some more technical details that no one but maybe other podcasters, or those considering podcasting will find interesting. I'll keep this brief so as not to boor the bejeebers out of 99% of you.I record in my office at church using a Blue Snowball USB microphone. The software is Audacity on a PC running Windows 10.I write the script, usually a little more than 4 pgs of 12 point Font means about a 15 min episode. Then I record into Audacity, go back and edit out the gaffs, then run a Compressor and Normalize effect. Once that's done, I slap on the intro & outro. Export it as an MP3, then post it to the site.Some time back Lem Dees, a subscriber who'd become a friend, told me he does professional voice work and offered to assist any way he could. I asked him to record an intro and outro, which he graciously did. Thanks, Lem!The sanctorum.us website is hosted at Win at Web where webmaster Dade Ronan does an absolutely stellar job helping with all the tech stuff that I'm clueless about. Thanks, Dade!If you need a solid WordPress based web-service, check out Win At Web.comCS is a member of the History Podcasters Network. There are some excellent podcasts on the Network & I encourage anyone who loves history to check it out.CS is being translated into Spanish by Roberto Aguayo, pastor of CC Merida Centro. Many thanks to Roberto for the excellent job he's doing.At its peak, when CS was posting regularly, we had about 45k subscribers. Not shabby for such an amateur effort. That's dropped way off now since no new content's been posted for a while.While CS began as a labor of love and was able to run without a request for support, things changed a while back when I had to move to a paid site. So we started a donation feature. All the content is still free to subscribers, but donations do help defray the cost of the service.Okay. Back to our regular fare next time.
This episode is titled “In the Low Countries.”Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxemburg are referred to as “the Low Countries.” The get this name because laying along the coast NW of Germany and NE of France, they are at or slightly below sea level. That and there's not really much in the way of mountains. There are some low hills, but for the most part the region today called Benelux is pretty flat.During the Reformation, as in most of northern Europe, Protestantism in the low countries gained adherents early on. In 1523, in Antwerp, the first two Protestant martyrs were burned. From that point on, there's solid evidence Protestantism made headway across the region. But the political situation there hitched the advance of Protestantism to a long and bitter struggle for independence.Near the mouth of the Rhine River, there was a region known as the Seventeen Provinces, in what today is the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. These territories were part of the holdings of the Hapsburgs. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was born and raised there. So he was well-liked by the people, and under his rule the Seventeen Provinces grew close -er. That is,c loser than they'd been before, but not in fact, close.Their political unity was fragile since each province had a unique identity, traditions, and ruling nobles. Cultural unity was lacking since the French-speaking south and Dutch-speaking north were at ever at odds. Then there was the problem of ecclesiastical complexity with bishops vying with one another other over who's domain was the most prestigious.In 1555, Charles placed the Seventeen Provinces under the rule of his son Philip. He assumed the young man would continue his rule of slow-paced unification. But it was under Philip that what little unity there was cam apart. The low countries honored Charles because of his Flemish roots. Flemish was his mother-tongue. But Philip was raised in Spain. Both his language and outlook were Spanish. In 1556, having received the crown of Spain, he became Philip II, and made it clear his most important possession was the Iberian Peninsula. The Low Countries were put at the service of Spain and her interests. This provoked the resentment of the Seventeen Provinces, who resisted Philip's efforts to complete their unification, and to treat it as part of the hereditary possessions of the Spanish crown.Even before the Reformation broke out in the Low Countries, there'd been a strong movement toward reform. This was the birthplace of the Brethren of the Common Life, and of the greatest of humanist reformers, Erasmus of Rotterdam. One of the major themes of the Brethren was the reading of Scripture in the native language of the people. So the Protestant Reformation found fertile ground in the Low Countries.It wasn't long before Lutheran preachers entered the area, gaining large numbers of converts. Then the Anabaptists made headway. Last, there was an influx of Calvinist preachers from Geneva, France, and southern Germany. Eventually, these Calvinist preachers were most successful, and Calvinism became the main brand of Protestantism.That's not to say the advance of the movement went without opposition. Charles V took strong measures against the spread of Protestantism there. He issued edicts against it, in particular against Anabaptists. The frequency with which these edicts followed one another is proof of their failure to stem the tide of Protestant conversions. Tens of thousands died for their faith. Leaders were burned, their followers beheaded, and many women were buried alive. But, in spite of such punishments, the Reformation continued its advance. Toward the end of Charles's reign there was growing opposition to his religious policies. But Charles was a popular ruler, and many in Central Europe were convinced Protestants were heretics who deserved their punishment.Philip, on the other hand, never popular in the Low Countries, prompted even greater ill will through a combination of folly, stubbornness, and hypocrisy. When he returned to Spain and left the Provinces under the regency of his half-sister Margaret of Parma, he sought to strengthen her authority by quartering Spanish troops in the Low Countries. These troops were sustained financially by the locals. Clashes soon developed between the Spanish soldiers and the natives, who chafed under the presence of foreign troops. Since there was no war requiring their presence, the only possible explanation was that Philip doubted their loyalty. And if they were going to be assumed to be disloyal, why not actually BE disloyal?To this was added the appointment of new bishops given inquisitorial powers. But the locals said, “Wait! What? We've heard about the Spanish Inquisition. We do NOT want that here! NO way, NO How! Our King isn't treating us like citizens; He's treating us like the worst kind of enemy.”Philip and his regent Margaret paid no attention to their most loyal subjects. William, Prince of Orange, a close friend of Philip's father, and the Count of Egmont, who'd given outstanding military service to Charles, were made members of the Council of State. But they were mere figureheads who were never consulted. Philip and Margaret took advice instead from a foreign advisor named Bishop Granvelle, whom the people of the Low Countries blamed for every injustice and humiliation they suffered. After repeated protests, the king recalled Granvelle. But it soon became clear Granvelle had really only carried out Philip's instructions. Philip was to blame.The leaders of the Seventeen Provinces sent the Count of Egmont to Spain to carry their grievances to the King. Philip received him with honors and promised change. Egmont returned home, confident things would turn around. But when he opened the letter from the King to be read to the other leaders, it contradicted everything the king had promised. Philip had already sent Regent Margaret the decrees of the Counter Reformation Council of Trent. Protestantism was to be rejected. All who opposed them were to be executed.These orders caused massive unrest. The magistrates of the Seventeen Provinces had no mind to execute the vast number of their fellow citizens the king decreed should die. In response to Philip's commands, hundreds of the nobility and joined in a petition to Margaret that such policies not be implemented. Margaret received them, and when she evidenced signs of an agitation so great her attendants feared she might have a seizure, one of her courtiers calmed her by calling the nobles “beggars.”That label captured the imagination of local patriots. If their oppressors thought them beggars, they'd bear that name proudly. The leather bag of a beggar became the symbol of rebellion. Under it the movement, until then limited to the nobility and merchant class, took root among the entire populace.Before coming to outright warfare, the movement took on a religious overtone. There were frequent outdoor meetings in which Protestantism and opposition to the authorities were preached under the protection of armed Beggars. In fear of greater disturbances if they didn't allow them, Regent Margaret's troops allowed these meetings. Then roving bands of iconoclasts invaded churches, overturned altars, and destroyed images and symbols of the Roman Church.Finally, the magistrates appealed to William of Orange. Thanks to his pleas, and those of his supporters, the violence dimmed, and the iconoclasts ceased their attacks. The Inquisition was suspended and a limited freedom of worship was permitted.But Philip was not the kind of ruler to be swayed by his subjects' opposition. He loudly declared he had no desire to be a “lord of heretics.” Appealing to the old principle that there was no need to keep faith with the unfaithful he set about to re-assert control of those troublesome low countries. While promising to abide by the agreements reached in the Provinces and pardon the rebels, he raised an army with which to force his will on the Low Countries. William of Orange, aware of the king's duplicity, advised his friends to join in armed resistance. They foolishly put their trust in the king's promises while William followed his own advice and withdrew to Germany.The storm arrived quickly. Early in 1567, the duke of Alba invaded the low countries with an army of Spanish and Italian troops. The king gave him powers similar to Regent Margaret who became a figurehead. Alba was the true ruler. His mission was to obliterate all rebellion and heresy.Protestants were condemned for their heresy, and Catholics for not having been sufficiently firm in resisting heresy. Even to express doubt as to Alba's authority was high treason. The same charge was brought against any who opposed the reorganization of the church, or declared the provinces had rights and privileges the king couldn't overturn. So numerous were those put to death under these ordinances chroniclers of the time speak of the stench in the air, and of hundreds of bodies hanging from trees along the roads. The counts of Egmont and Horn were arrested and brought to trial. Since William of Orange was not available, Alba captured his 15-year-old son and sent him to Spain. William responded by investing all his financial resources in raising an army, mostly German, with which he invaded the Low Countries. But Alba defeated him repeatedly and, in retaliation, ordered the execution of Egmont and Horn.Alba was in full command of the situation when the rebels received support from an unexpected quarter. Orange granted licenses to privateers, in the hope they'd harass Alba's communication and supply lines back to Spain. These pirate Beggars of the Sea achieved a measure of organization Philip's naval forces couldn't contain. Queen Elizabeth of England gave them support by allowing them to sell their booty in English ports. In a brilliant maneuver, the Sea-Beggars captured the city of Brill and, after that, their ongoing success made them a legend that inspired the patriots who resisted on land. Several cities declared themselves in favor of William of Orange, who once again invaded the provinces, this time with French support. But the French also were dealing in treachery, and William was approaching Brussels when he learned of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. That put an end to collaboration between Protestants and the French crown. Lacking funds and military support, William was forced to disband his mercenary troops.Alba's vengeance was terrible. His armies took city after city, and repeatedly broke the terms of surrender. Prisoners were killed for no other reason than revenge, and several cities that had resisted were put to the torch. Women, children, and the elderly were indiscriminately killed along with the rebels. Soon every rebel stronghold was in Alba's hands.It was only on the sea that the rebels remained strong. The Sea Beggars continually defeated the Spanish, at one point capturing their admiral. This made it difficult for Alba to receive supplies and funds. The Spanish troops began showing signs of mutiny. Tired of the long struggle, and bitter because Spain didn't send the resources he required, Alba asked to be appointed elsewhere.The new Spanish general, Luis de Zúñiga y Requesens, had the wisdom to exploit the religious differences among the rebels. He sought a separate peace with the Catholics of the southern provinces, driving a wedge between them and the Protestants, who were more numerous in the north. Up to that point, the religious question was just a minor one among many in what was really a national rebellion against foreign rule. William of Orange, the leader of the uprising, was a liberal Catholic until his exile in Germany. Then in 1573 he declared himself a Calvinist. But Requesens's policies underscored the religious element of the struggle, neutralizing the Catholic provinces of the south.The Protestant cause was desperate as its armies were repeatedly defeated. Its only hope was the Beggars of the Sea. The main crisis came at the Siege of Leiden. The important trade center declared itself for Protestantism. The Spanish surrounded it. An army sent by William of Orange to break the siege was defeated, and 2 of William's brothers were killed. All was lost when William, whose enemies called him William the Sly, suggested that the dikes be opened, flooding the land around Leiden. This meant the destruction of many years of hard work, and the loss of a great deal of farmable land. But the citizens agreed. In spite of a shortage of food, the besieged continued their resistance during the four months it took the sea to reach Leiden. Riding in on the flood, the Sea Beggars also arrived, shouting they'd rather be Turkish than Popish. Lacking naval support, the Spanish were forced to abandon the siege.At that moment, Requesens died. His troops, having neither leader nor pay, mutinied, and set about sacking the cities of the Catholic south, which were easier prey than those of the Protestant north. This served to reunite the inhabitants of the Seventeen Provinces, who, in 1576, agreed to the Pacification of Ghent. This alliance among the provinces made it clear what was at stake was national freedom, not religious differences. The agreement was hailed by William of Orange, who'd repeatedly argued religious dogmatism and sectarian intolerance were an obstacle to the unity and freedom of the low countries.The next governor was Don Juan de Austria, an illegitimate son of Charles V, so half-brother of Philip II. Although he was one of the most admired military heroes in Christendom for his defeat of the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto, he was not allowed to enter Brussels until he'd agreed to the stipulations of the Pacification of Ghent. But Philip II would not give up the struggle. A new army was sent into the region, and once again the southern provinces abandoned the struggle. Then the northern provinces, against the advice of William of Orange, formed a separate league for the defense of their faith and freedom.The struggle dragged on for years. Though they were firmly in control of the south, the Spanish could not conquer the north. In 1580, Philip Il issued a proclamation promising a reward of 25,000 crowns and a title of nobility to anyone who would kill William the Sly. William and his supporters responded with a formal declaration of independence. Three years later, after several unsuccessful attempts, an assassin on a quest for the reward was able to kill William. And once again, Philip proved untrue to his promise, at first refusing to pay the reward, then paying only a portion of it.Philip hoped William's death would put an end to the rebellion. But William's nineteen year old son Maurice, proved to be a better general than his father, and led his troops in several victorious campaigns.In 1607, almost a decade after the death of Philip II, Spain decided her losses in the struggle weren't worth the effort and cost of continuing the war, and a truce was signed. By then, the majority of the people in the northern provinces were Calvinist, and many in the north equated their faith with their nationalist loyalty, while the southern provinces remained Catholic. Eventually, religious, economic, and cultural differences led to the formation of three countries; the Netherlands, which were Protestant, and Belgium and Luxembourg, both Catholic.
This episode is titled “Cracks.”One of the great concerns of the Roman Church at the outset of the Reformation was just how far it would go, not so much in terms of variance in Doctrines, although that also was a concern. What Rome worried over was just how many different groups the Faith would split into. After all, division wasn't new. There'd already been a major break between East and West a half century before. In the East, the Church was already fragmented into dozens of groups across Central Asia.But up till the Reformation, the Western Church had managed to keep new and reform movements from splitting off. Most had eventually been subsumed back into the larger reach of the Church structure.The Reformation brought an end to that as now there were groups that defined themselves, not by the Roman Church, but by more local and national churches and movements. It didn't take long till even some of the early Reformers began to worry about how far the break from Rome would go. The cracks that formed in the Church kept spreading, like a nick on a car windshield sends out just a tiny crack at first, but keeps spreading.The Reformation ended up spinning out dozens of groups; some big, many small.There were Lutherans, Presbyterians, Huguenots, Swiss Brethren, dozens of Anabaptist groups, Mennonites, Hutterites, etc. etc. etc..In Episode 90, we touched briefly on the tragedy that struck at Munster when the Anabaptist movement strayed from its moorings in God's Word and replaced it with the lunacy of a couple of its leaders who went way off the rails in an apocalyptic frenzy that ended up destroying the town.Munster became a cautionary tale for other Anabaptists and Reformers. The explanation given for the tragedy was Munster's abandonment of the pacifism preached and practiced by other Anabaptists. Anabaptists regarded the Sermon on the Mount as their guiding ethic and said it could only be followed by a Faith that was committed to the practice of a love that resigned consequences to God's hands.A leading figure among the Anabaptists was Menno Simons, a Dutch Catholic priest.Simons was moved to reconsider the rightness of infant baptism when he witnessed the martyrdom of an Anabaptist in 1531. Five years later, the same year the leaders of Munster were executed, Simons left his position as a parish priest and embraced Anabaptism. He joined a Dutch fellowship, where his followers came to be known as Mennonites.Although persecution was fierce, Menno survived and spent his time traveling through Northern German and Holland, preaching and encouraging his followers. He also wrote a large number of essays of which Foundations of the Christian Doctrine in 1539, became the most important.Menno was convinced pacifism was an essential part of true Christianity, and refused to have anything to do with Anabaptists of a revolutionary flavor. He also held that Christians ought not offer any oaths, and shouldn't take occupations requiring them. But he maintained Christians should obey civil authorities, as long as they weren't required to disobey the Lord.Menno preferred to baptize by pouring water over the head of adults who confessed their faith publicly. He said neither baptism nor communion confer grace, but rather are outward signs of what takes place inwardly between God and the believer. Mennonites also practiced foot-washing as a reminder of their call to humility and a life of service.Even though the Mennonites were so manifestly harmless, they were classed as subversive by many governments simply because they wouldn't take oaths and as pacifists refused to join the military. Persecution scattered them throughout Eastern Europe and Western Russia.Many Mennonites eventually left for the New World where they were offered religious tolerance. In both Russia and North America they ran into trouble when the authorities expected them to serve in the military and they declined yet again. Though the US and several other countries eventually granted Mennonites an exemption from military service, before that exemption came, many Mennonites moved to South America where there were still places they could live in isolation. By the 20th C, Mennonites were the main branch of the old Anabaptist movement of the 16th C, and now they are highly-regarded for their determined pacifist stance and on-going acts of social service for the public good.As the Reformation carved up Europe into a seemingly hopeless hodge-podge of political and religious factions, different attempts were made to resolve the tensions, either by war, by treaty, or alliance.I have to say, the history of 16th C Europe is a tangled mess. If we dive into the details, what you'll hear are a lot of names and dates that's the very kind of history reporting we want to avoid here. A part of me feels like we're leaving out important information. Another part gives an anticipatory yawn at all the historical minutiae we'd have to cover. Things like The Peace of Nuremberg, The League and War of Schmalkalden, Philip of Hesse, Duke George of Saxony, Henry of Brunswick, Emperor Charles V staunchest ally in northern Germany.Hey, I can already hear the yawns out there.But there's some interesting tidbits and moments scattered all through this that move me to say maybe we should dive into it.Like the fact that Philip of Hesse, leader of the League of Schmalkalden, got permission from Martin Luther, his protégé Philip Melanchthon, and Martin Bucer, the Reformer of Strasbourg to commit polygamy! Yes, you heard me right.Philip of Hesse's marriage was a mess. He and his wife had not been together for years, but were still married. Philip wanted companionship and asked these three Reformation giants if he could quietly take another wife. They agreed, saying the Bible didn't forbid polygamy, and that Philip could take a second wife without setting the first aside. But, they said, he needed to do it in secret, because while polygamy wasn't a sin in the eyes of God, it was a crime in the eyes of man. So Philip married another woman, but was unable to keep it secret. When it became public, the scandal toppled Philip from his place at the head of the League of Schmalkalden and put the three Reformers in hot water.And that's just one little vignette from this time. è Fun stuff.While the Lutherans and Catholics wrestled over the territories of Germany, further North in neighboring Scandinavia, Lutheranism was making inroads. In Germany, it was the nobility that embraced Protestantism as a lever to use against the predominantly Catholic monarch. In Scandinavia it was the opposite. There, monarchs took up the Reformation cause. Its triumph was theirs.At that time, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were technically a united kingdom. I say technically, because the king ruled only where he resided, in Denmark. His power in Norway was limited, and Sweden was virtually independent due to the powerful house of Sture who acted as regents. But even in Denmark, royal authority was limited by the fact the king was appointed by electors who managed to gain ever more power by cutting deals with the next would-be monarch.When the Reformation began in Germany, the Scandinavian throne was held by Christian II, who was married to Isabella, Emperor Charles V's sister. The Swedes refused King Christian's control of their land, so he appealed to his brother-in-law and to other European princes for support. Time for a royal smack-down of those uppity Swedish Stures!With a sizeable foreign force, Christian II moved into Sweden and had himself crowned at Stockholm. Although he'd vowed to spare the lives of his Swedish opponents, a few days after his coronation he ordered what's known now as The Massacre of Stockholm, in which Sweden's leading nobles and clerics were murdered.This engendered deep resentment in Sweden, Norway; even back home in Denmark. Lesser rulers feared that after destroying the Swedish nobility, Christian would turn on them. He claimed he only sought to free the people of Sweden from oppression by its aristocracy. But the treacherous means by which he'd done it and the now intense religious propaganda against him, quickly lost him any support he might have won.King Christian then tried to use the Reformation as a tool to advance his own political ends. The first Lutheran preachers had already made their way into Denmark, and people gave them a ready ear. People were savvy enough to recognize the King's embrace of Lutheranism as merely a political ploy and reacted strongly against him.Rebellion broke out, and Christian was forced to flee. He returned eight years later with the support of several Catholic rulers from other parts of Europe. He landed in Norway and declared himself the champion of Catholicism. But his uncle and successor, Frederick I, defeated and imprisoned him. He remained in prison for the rest of his 27 years.Frederick I was a Protestant and ruled over a people and nobility which had become largely Protestant. At the time of his election, Frederick promised he'd not attack Catholicism nor use his authority to favor Lutheranism. He knew it was better to be the de-facto king of a small kingdom than the wanna-be ruler of a large one. So he gave up all claim to the Swedish crown, and allowed Norway to elect its own king.The Norwegians promptly turned around and elected him. Frederick consolidated the power of the crown in the two kingdoms in a peaceful manner. He kept his promises regarding religious matters and refused to interfere in Church matters. Protestantism made rapid gains. In 1527, it was officially recognized and granted toleration, and by the time of Frederick's death in 1533 most of his subjects were Protestants.Then came a plot to impose a Catholic king by means of foreign intervention. The pretender was defeated, and the new ruler was Christian III, a committed Lutheran who'd been present at the Diet of Worms and greatly admired Luther both for his doctrines and courage. He took quick measures in support of Protestantism and in limiting the power of bishops. He requested teachers from Luther to help him in the work of reformation. Eventually, the entire Danish church subscribed to the Confession of Augsburg.Events in Sweden followed a similar course. When Christian II imposed his authority, among his prisoners was a young Swede by the name of Gustavus Erikson, better known as Vasa. He escaped and, from an overseas refuge, resisted Christian II's power grab. When he learned of the Massacre of Stockholm, in which several of his relatives were executed, he secretly returned. Working as a common laborer, living among the people, he recognized their hostility toward the Danish occupation and organized a resistance. Deeming the time had come to up the ante, he proclaimed a national rebellion, took up arms with a band of followers, and managed to secure one victory after another. In 1521, the rebels named him the new regent of the kingdom, and, two years later, crowned him king. A few months later, he entered Stockholm in triumph.But Vasa's title carried little authority since the nobility and clergy demanded their ancient rights be recognized. Vasa wisely embarked on a subtle policy of dividing his enemies. He began by placing limits on corrupt bishops no one had sympathy for. Then, he began to carve off the support of the common people for nobles who resisted him. This was easy to do since he'd adopted the life of a commoner for some time,. He was a man of the people and they knew it. Vasa drove an effective wedge between the nobility and the people. Then he called a National Assembly and shocked everyone by inviting not just the usual nobles and clergy, but some of the merchant-class and peasantry. When the clergy and nobility banded together to thwart Vasa's reforms, he resigned, declaring Sweden wasn't ready for a true king. Three days later, threatened by chaos, the Assembly agreed to recall him and give assent to his program.The higher clergy lost its political power and from then on, Lutheranism was on the rise. Gustavus Vasa was not himself a man of deep religious conviction. But by the time he died in 1560, Sweden was a thoroughly Protestant realm.One of the lessons this period of history in Europe makes clear is how influential even the nominal faith of a ruler has on the political and religious environment of a nation.
This episode is titled, “Wars of Religion”In our review of the Reformation, we began with a look at its roots and the long cry for reform heard in the Roman church. We saw its genesis in Germany with Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, its impact on Switzerland with Zwingli and later with the Frenchman John Calvin. John Knox carried it to his native Scotland and Thomas Cranmer led it in England.We've taken a look at the Roman Catholic response in what's called the Counter-Reformation, but probably ought to be labelled the Catholic Reformation. We briefly considered the Council of Trent where the Roman Church affirmed its perspective on many of the issues raised by Protestants and for the first time, a clear line was drawn, marking the differences in doctrine between the two groups. We saw the Jesuits, the learned shock-troops of the Roman Church sent out on both mission and to counter the impact of the Reformation in the regions of Europe being swung toward the Protestant camp.Let's talk a little more about the Catholic Counter-Reformation because Europe is about to plunge into several decades of war due to the differing religious affiliations of its various kingdoms.There were at least four ingredients in the Counter-Reformation.The first concerned the religious orders of the Catholic Church. There was a spiritual renewal within older orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Benedictines. Reform among the Franciscans led to the founding of the Capuchins in 1528. Their energetic work among the Italian peasantry kept them loyal to Rome.Second, new orders sprang up. Groups like the Theatines [Thee a teen] who called both clergy and laity to a godly lifestyle. The Ursulines [Ursa-leens] were an order for women who cared for the sick and poor. And then of course, there were the Jesuits.The Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, were the most important of the new orders. Founded in Paris in 1534 by Ignatius of Loyola, the order required total obedience of its members for the furtherance of the interests of the Roman church. While there were good and godly Jesuits, men who worked tirelessly to expand the Kingdom of God, there were also some whose motives were less noble. Okay, let's be frank; they were diabolical. Utterly unscrupulous in their methods, they believed it was permissible to do evil if good came of it. They resurrected the Inquisition in the 16th C making it an effective tool in stomping out the Reformation in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium.Jesuits infiltrated government offices and used every means fair or foul to advance the cause of the Rome. Lest Catholic listeners take offense to this, understand that their power became so great and their methods so immoral, the Pope suppressed the order from 1773 to 1814.Also, it should be noted when Ignatius launched the Society, a counterattack on the Reformation was not in view. His ambition was missionary with a keen desire to convert Muslims. The three major goals of the Jesuits were to convert pagans, combat heresy, and promote education. It was their solemn oath to obey the Pope that led to their being used as a tool of the Counter-Reformation.A third aspect of the Counter-Reformation was the Council of Trent. The cardinals elected a Dutch theologian as a reform pope in 1522. He admitted that the problems Rome had with the Lutherans came because of the corruption of the Church, from the papal office down. As was saw a couple episodes ago, in 1536, Pope Paul III appointed a special panel of cardinals to prepare a report on the condition of the Church. That report gave Luther much ammunition for his critique of Rome. It conceded that Protestantism resulted from the “ambition, avarice, and cupidity” of Catholic bishops.The Roman Church realized it needed to address the issues raised by the Reformers. The Council of Trent was the answer. It met in three main sessions, under the terms of three different popes, from 1545 to 63. Participants came from Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. The Council decided a wide array of issues.In direct response to Lutheran challenges, the Council abolished indulgence-sellers, defined obligations of the clergy, regulated the use of relics, and ordered the restructuring of bishops.The doctrinal work of Trent is summarized in the Tridentine Profession of Faith, which championed Roman Catholic dogma and provided a theological response to Protestants. Trent rejected justification by faith alone and promoted the necessity of meritorious works as necessary for salvation. It validated the seven sacraments as bestowing merit on believers and their necessity for salvation. It affirmed the value of tradition as a basis of authority alongside the Bible. It approved the canonicity of the apocryphal books of the Old Testament; made official the existence of purgatory; the value of images, relics, indulgences, the invocation of saints; and the importance of confession to a priest. It also defined more specifically the sacrificial aspects of the mass and decided that only the bread should be distributed to the laity.The Tridentine statement made reconciliation with Protestantism impossible.The Council's work constituted a statement of faith by which true Roman Catholics could determine their orthodoxy. No such comprehensive statement existed before. If it had, perhaps the force of the Reformation would have been blunted in some places. What the Council of Trent did, in effect, was to make official dogmas of the Church the various positions Luther had challenged in his break with Rome.A fourth aspect of the Counter-Reformation was a new and vigorous kind of spirituality that bloomed in a remarkable series of writings and movements. Some devotional books from this movement, such as the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a'Kempis and the Spiritual Exercises by Loyola, have received proper attention, but most of have not.This new kind of devout life was characterized by a systemic examination of conscience, prayer, contemplation, and spiritual direction. Its roots lay in the Middle Ages with groups like the Carthusians, who put great emphasis on the contemplative life. It was these works that fueled the calls for reform in the Roman Church before Luther arrived on the scene. They were the reading material of groups like the Brethren of the Common Life and The Oratory of Divine Love which provided many of the best church leaders in the years leading up to the 16th C.The Reformation sparked a series of religious wars across Europe. The last of these was the Thirty Years' War, which last from 1618–48.As we saw in a previous episode, the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 put Lutheranism on a legal basis with Roman Catholicism in Germany. The prince of a region determined the religion in his territory; dissenters could immigrate to another territory if they wanted to.Now, that may seem obvious to highly mobile moderns like many listening to this, but it wasn't for people at that time. Due to feudal rules, people weren't allowed to move without consent of their ruler. The Peace of Augsburg marked a significant change in commoners' mobility. To preserve Catholic domination of southern Germany, the agreement mandated that Catholic rulers who became Lutherans had to surrender rule. The agreement left out Calvinists, Anabaptists, and other Protestants. So for many, Augsburg solved nothing.Beginning in Bohemia, the Thirty Years' War ravaged Central Europe and Germany and involved all the major European powers. The Peace of Westphalia, which ended the war in 1648, resulted from long and complicated negotiations. France and Sweden gained large amounts of territory, and German princes gained greater power and influence at the expense of the Emperor. The treaty finally recognized Calvinism, along with Lutheranism and Catholicism, as legal religions and permitted each ruler to determine the religion of his state.The effects of the War were devastating for Christianity as a whole. Religious issues were increasingly treated with indifference by political leaders. Secular, self-serving matters were now the chief concerns of the growing uber-worldly nation-states. The barbarity and brutality of the war left many questioning the Christian Message. How could a Faith that produced such atrocities be true? Doctrine took a backseat to doubt. Faith was met with skepticism. All this coming at the dawn of, and no doubt hastening, The Age of Reason.In reply to those who criticize Christianity for the wars fought at that time, it ought to be recognized that in every case; political, economic, and social considerations were as important as the religious, if not more. Much of the time, there was no real struggle between Roman Catholics and Protestants. And on some fronts of the war, BOTH Catholics and Protestants fought alongside each other as comrades because their conflict was political rather than religious. We call this period the “Wars of Religion,” but in truth it was rarely religion that sparked or drove the conflict; it was political and economic, hiding behind a mask of religion because that tends to stir the people actually doing the fighting better than some prince wanting more land.Nine times out of ten, if you want to know the real cause of something, follow the money.We turn now to the impact of the Reformation on France and one example of how tragic things can turn – ostensibly, because of religion, but really because of politics.As the 16th C wore on, the Roman church in France fell into a progressively deplorable condition. The Concordat of Bologna in 1516 gave King Francis I the right to appoint the ten archbishops, thirty-eight bishops, and 527 heads of religious houses in France. That meant the Church became part of a vast patronage system, and individuals won positions in the Church not for ability or religious zeal but for service to the crown. Simony & bribery was de-rigor.Conditions became genuinely bad. Literacy among priests dropped to a mere ten-percent. Since the king was head of the French Church, and he depended on its patronage system for income, we see why Francis I and Henry II were so zealous in their persecution of French Protestants. They couldn't afford to permit the system to crumble. They certainly weren't zealous for Catholicism except as a tool to achieve their political ambitions.The French Protestant movement was stoked by what was happening in Geneva in Switzerland under Farel and Calvin. The French Bible, Calvin's Institutes, and numerous other Protestant publications fueled the movement. So naturally, the most literate element of the population was won over. Converts were numerous at the universities and among lawyers and other professionals, the merchant class and artisans, lower clergy, friars, and the lesser nobility. The illiterate peasantry was hardly touched and remained firmly Catholic.Politics and economics played into the mix. The Middle-class and lower nobility of France were tired of King Francis' imperial ambitions, funded on their backs. They were urged into the Protestant cause out of a desire to get rid of the King. It's estimated that two-fifths of all nobles joined the French Protestant cause. Few of them were authentically converted but sought to use the Protestant movement to weaken the trend toward King Francis' oppressive version of royal absolutism.In spite of persecution, Protestants increased rapidly. At the beginning of the reign of Henry II in 1547 they numbered over 400,000. By the end of his reign in 1561 they were known as Huguenots and numbered 2 million; ten-percent of the population. The Presbyterian system of church government gave organization and discipline to the Huguenot movement.In order to understand the course of events the French Reformation took and see why it became embroiled in civil war, it's necessary to look at the political and social conditions of the times.First, that many of the younger nobility joined Protestant ranks is of great significance. Accustomed to carrying swords, they became protectors of Huguenot congregations during troubled times. They often protected church meetings against hostile bands of Catholic ruffians.Second, and this is key; there were four major groups of nobility vying for the rule in France.The ruling house with a tenuous grip on the throne was the Valois.The Bourbons of Western France were next in line should the Valois falter. Their leadership were decided Huguenots.The powerful Guises [Guy-zuhz], were equally committed Roman Catholics with extensive holdings in the East.The Montmorencys controlled the center of France; their leadership divided evenly between Huguenots and Catholics.Third, when Henry II died, he left three sons all dominated by his queen, Catherine de Medici. She was determined to maintain personal control and advance the power of her government. She was opposed by many of the nobility jealous of their rights and wanted to restrict the power of the monarchy.Fourth, as the likelihood of civil war in France percolated, the English and Spanish sent aid to their factions to serve their respective interests.Such animosities provided the tinder to ignite armed conflict. Eight wars were fought between Roman Catholics and Protestants in France. Leading the Protestants early in the conflict was Gaspard de Coligny. But he lost his life along with some 15 to 20,000 Huguenots in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, in August, 1572. After that, Henry of Navarre, of the Bourbon family, led the Protestants. His maneuvers were successful, and eventually, with the death of others in the royal line, he became heir to the French throne. Because he didn't have enough strength to complete his conquest, he converted to Catholicism and won the crown as Henry IV. Judging from his conduct, Henry's religious principles sat his shoulders rather lightly. His switch to the Roman Church was for purely political reasons. Most likely he simply sought to turn off the blood bath drenching France.In 1598, Henry published the Edict of Nantes, a grant of toleration for the Huguenots. It guaranteed them the right to hold public office, freedom of worship in most areas of France, the privilege of educating their children in other than Roman Catholic schools, and free access to universities and hospitals. The edict was the first significant recognition of the rights of a religious minority in an otherwise intolerant age. Though the Huguenots enjoyed a period of great prosperity after that, King Louis XIV revoked the edict in 1685. Thousands were driven into exile, to the benefit of England, Holland, Prussia, and America where they fled for refuge.
This episode of CS is titled is titled “English Candles.”We've spent the last several episodes looking at the Reformation & Counter-Reformation in Europe. In this episode we'll take a look at how the Reformation unfolded, specifically in England.The story of the Church in England is an interesting one. The famous, or infamous, Henry the VIII was king of England when Luther set fire to the kindling of the Reformation. Posturing as a bulwark of Catholic orthodoxy, Henry wrote a refutation of Luther's position in 1521 titled “Defense of the Seven Sacraments” and was rewarded by Pope Leo X with the august title, Defender of the Faith. Ironic then that only about a decade later, Henry would hijack the church, officially ousting the Pope as head of the Church IN England and making himself head of the Church OF England.What makes the story of these years in England so interesting is the marital & political shenanigans Henry VIII played. The intrigues played out for the thrones of Spain, France & England all make for the best drama and most people don't realize that so many of the famous names of history all lived right at this time and knew each other, at least by reputation. If the story was a movie dreamed up in Hollywood, most would consider it too far-fetched.Without getting into the minutiae of the details of Henry's multiple marriages, it was his lust for power & desire to produce a son & heir that motivated him marry, divorce, re-marry and do it all over again. Henry persuaded the Pope to allow him to marry his sister-in-law, that is, his dead brother's wife, Catherine of Aragon, herself the daughter of Queen Isabella & King Ferdinand of Spain, sponsors of Christopher Columbus. Catherine gave Henry a daughter named Mary but no sons. So Henry put her aside and married his mistress, the vivacious & opinionated Anne Boleyn.In order to set Catherine aside so he could wed Anne, Henry had to persuade the Pope, who had taken some persuading to allow him to marry Catherine in the first place, to annul that marriage, saying he ought never have been allowed to marry her in the first place. The archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer was employed by Henry to put pressure on Rome to grant the annulment. But Pope Clement VII wouldn't budge. So in 1531, Henry announced to the clergy they were from then on to look to him as the head of the Church in England. It's at that point we may say that the Church IN England, became the Church OF England.For the next few years, there was effectively little difference between Roman Catholicism and what later came to be called Anglicanism. But under Thomas Cranmer's guidance, the Church of England began a halting process of departure from its Roman past.It seems this departure can be assigned in part to Anne Boleyn. A woman of astute intellect & firm convictions, she found much merit in the Reformed position and had a hand in seeing Thomas Cranmer appointed as Archbishop of Canterbury.Cranmer is an interesting figure. He seems in his early years to vacillate in his opinions and comes off as being anything but the stalwart bulldog of protestant ideals, as a Luther or Calvin. Yet, he went to the stake at the end of his life rather than recant his most dearly held beliefs. And what he did in the Church of England was truly remarkable.Once the break with Rome came, Cranmer quietly set about to install the Reformation ideas of Calvin in England. He didn't really do much while Henry VIII sat the throne but as soon as his reform-minded son Edward became king, he went to work in earnest.Cranmer was born in Nottinghamshire and attended Cambridge, where he was ordained a priest. He threw himself into his studies, becoming an outstanding theologian, a man of immense, though not original, learning. In 1520, he joined other scholars who met regularly to discuss Luther's theological revolt in Europe.Cranmer's theological leanings remained merely academic until he was drawn into the politics of the day. In August 1529, King Henry VIII happened to be in a neighborhood Cranmer was visiting, and he ended up conversing with the king. Henry was trying to figure out how to divorce Catherine so he could wed Anne Boleyn. Impressed with Cranmer's reasoning, Henry commanded Cranmer to write a treatise backing the king's right to divorce and then made Cranmer one of his European ambassadors.It was in this capacity that Cranmer made a trip to Germany, where he met the Lutheran reformer Andreas Osiander, and his niece, Margaret. Both Osiander's theology and niece so appealed to Cranmer, despite his vow to celibacy, he married Margaret in 1532. Because of the complex political situation in England, he kept this a secret.In August 1532, the aged archbishop of Canterbury died, and by March of the next year, Cranmer was consecrated as the new archbishop. Cranmer immediately declared the king's marriage to Catherine void & the king's previously secret union w/Anne Boleyn valid.Cranmer advocated the policy of royal absolutism, or what is popularly known as The Divine Right of Kings. Cranmer said his primary duty was to obey the king, God's chosen, to lead his nation and Church. Time and again in Henry's rocky reign, Cranmer was ordered to support religious policies of which he personally disapproved, and he always obeyed the king. And for this, Cranmer has been labeled a vacillator, a waffler – a leader of uncertain loyalty and fidelity to the Lord. Let's hold off judging that judgment till we see his end.In 1536, he became convinced, he said, by questionable evidence, that Anne had committed adultery, and he invalidated the marriage. In 1540, he ruled Henry's proposed marriage to Anne of Cleves was lawful—and when Henry sought a divorce from her just 6 months later, Cranmer approved it on the grounds the original marriage was unlawful!We'd be wise to be careful of assigning the archbishop the title of lackey. Yes, his flip-flopping on Henry's marital life is distressing, but given what we know about the King, what would have happened if he'd opposed his wishes? He'd have quickly been shorted by about 9 inches and Henry would have appointed a replacement bishop who gave him what he wanted. Cranmer had important work to do in reforming the Church of England and understood he was uniquely positioned to do it. Yeah, Henry VIII was a piece of work. But Cranmer was installing reforms in the Church that would make sure future kings couldn't get away with what Henry was getting away with. Though he bent to the king's will regarding his marital state, time and again, Cranmer alone of all Henry's advisers pleaded for the lives of people who fell out of royal favor, like Sir Thomas More, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cromwell. He even publicly argued against Henry's Six Articles, which were aimed at moving England back into the Roman Church. Then, in an apparent sign of weakness, when the Six Articles were approved by Parliament, he went along with the king's policies. But again. What else could he do?Some would say he ought to have stood strong, like Luther at the Diet of Worms. But if he had, it's debatable if the Church of England would have become the Anglican Church. And lest we assume that Henry was just an tyrannical spoiled brat who happened to be king, he intervened on Cranmer behalf when court politics threatened the archbishop's position and life. It was Cranmer Henry asked for on his deathbed.With Henry's death & his sons Edward VI ascension to the throne in 1547, Cranmer's time arrived. The young king's guardian, Edward Seymour, began to make the Church of England determinedly Protestant. Cranmer took the chief role in directing doctrinal matters. He published his Homilies In 1547, which required all clergy to preach sermons emphasizing Reformed doctrine. He composed the first Book of Common Prayer which was only moderately Protestant, in 1549, then followed it up in 1552 by a 2nd edition that was more clearly Protestant. Cranmer also produced the Forty-Two Articles a year later. This was a set of doctrinal statements that moved the Church of England even further in a Reformed, and I mean Calvinist direction.These documents became critical to the formation of Anglicanism, and the Book of Common Prayer (BCP), though revised over the years, still retains Cranmer's distinctive stamp and is used by millions of Anglicans worldwide.When Edward VI died in 1553, Cranmer supported his cousin, the Lady Jane Grey as the new sovereign. She was even more reform minded than Edward had been. While monarch, Edward had changed the rules of succession to ensure she'd receive the crown, and his older half-sister Mary Tudor, as the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, a staunch Roman Catholic, from gaining the throne. But Lady Jane Grey was deposed in only 9 days, and Mary triumphantly entered London.Parliament immediately repealed Henry VIII and Edward VI acts and reintroduced the pro-Catholic heresy laws. Mary's government began a relentless campaign against Protestants. Cranmer was charged with treason and imprisoned in November 1553. After spending nearly 2 years in prison, Cranmer was subjected to a long, tedious trial. The foregone verdict was reached in February 1556, and in a ceremony carefully designed to humiliate him, Cranmer was degraded from his church offices and handed over to be burned at the stake. He was just one of thousands of Protestants to know Queen Mary's fury, earning her the title Bloody Mary.Cranmer's long imprisonment and harsh treatment combined to weaken his resolve. Hoping to avoid the stake, he became convinced he should submit to a Catholic ruler and repudiate his reforms. He signed a document that said, “I confess and believe in one, holy, catholic visible church; I recognize as its supreme head upon earth the bishop of Rome, pope and vicar of Christ, to whom all the faithful are bound subject.”Even with this confession in hand, the Royal Court & Parliament believed Cranmer had to be punished for the havoc he'd wreaked on the Church. The plan was still to burn him at the stake—but he'd be allowed to make one more profession of his Catholic faith and so redeem his soul though his body would perish in the flames.On the night before his execution, Thomas Cranmer was seated in an Oxford cell before a plain wooden desk, weary from months of trial, interrogation, and imprisonment, trying to make sense of his life. Before him lay the speech he was to give the next morning, a speech that repudiated his writings that had denied Catholic teaching. Also before him was another speech, in which he declared the pope “Christ's enemy and antichrist.”Which would he give on the morrow?The next morning he was led into a church, and when it was his turn to speak, he drew out a piece of paper and began to read. He thanked the people for their prayers, then said, “I come to the great thing that troubles my conscience more than any other thing that I ever said or did in my life.” Referring to the recantations he had signed, he blurted out, “All such bills which I have written or signed with my own hand are untrue.”Loud murmurs sped through the congregation, but Cranmer continued, “And as for the pope, I refuse him as Christ's enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine. And as for the sacrament—” But no more words were heard by the crowd because Cranmer was dragged from the stage out to the stake. The fire was kindled and quickly the flame leapt up. Cranmer stretched out his right hand, the one who'd written the previous recantation, into the flame and held it there as he said, “This hand has offended.” He died with the words of many of the martyrs, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”Within just 2 years, Elizabeth I ascended the English throne and moved the church back in a Protestant direction, revising Cranmer's 42 Articles to 39, and adopting his Book of Common Prayer as the guide to worship. Today Anglicanism & its New World counterpart in Episcopalianism, is the expression of faith for 50 million worldwide.As we end this episode, I want to mention 2 more who lost their lives in Bloody Mary's purge; Nicolas Ridley & Hugh Latimer.Ridley was Thomas Cranmer's chaplain when Cranmer was Archbishop of Canterbury. He eventually became the bishop of London. He helped Cranmer write the Book of Common Prayer. Ridley was instrumental in altering the interior of the churches of England. He replaced the stone altars with simple wooden tables for the serving of Communion. He shifted the work of priests from sacramental & sacerdotal work inside the church to pastoral work outside it.Hugh Latimer started out as a passionate preacher of Catholicism. When he received a degree in theology in 1524, he delivered a lecture assailing the German Lutheran heir to Luther's legacy, Philip Melanchthon, for his high view of Scripture.Among Latimer's listeners was Thomas Bilney, leader of the Protestants at Cambridge. After the lecture, Bilney asked Latimer to hear his confession. Believing his lecture had converted the evangelical, Latimer readily agreed. The “confession,” however, was a stealthily worded sermon on the comfort and confidence the Scriptures can bring. Latimer was moved to tears, and to Protestantism.Latimer's sermons then targeted Catholicism and social injustice. He preached boldly, daring in 1530 to give a sermon before King Henry VIII that denounced violence as a means of protecting God's Word. For this he won the king's respect.He became one of Henry's chief advisers after the king's break with Rome. Appointed bishop of Worcester, he supported Henry's dissolution of the monasteries. However, when he opposed the Henry's retreat from Protestantism in the Six Articles, he was put under house arrest for 6 years.Freed during the reign of Edward VI, he flourished as one of the Church of England's leading preachers. But with the ascension of Mary, he was again imprisoned, tried, and along with Ridley & Cranmer, condemned to death.According to Foxe's Book of Martyrs, Ridley arrived at the field of execution first. When Latimer arrived, the 2 embraced and Ridley said, “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either assuage the fury of the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it.” They both knelt and prayed before listening to an exhortation from a preacher, as was the custom before an execution for heresy.A blacksmith wrapped an iron chain around the waists of Ridley and Latimer. When the wood was lit, Latimer said, “Be of good comfort, Mr. Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust never shall be put out.”As the fire rose Latimer cried out, “O Father of heaven, receive my soul!” and he died almost immediately. Ridley however, hung on, with most of his lower body having burned before he passed from this earth into Heaven's waiti ng arms. Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). 131 Christians everyone should know (372–374). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. ibid
This episode is titled Point – Counter Point and details The Catholic Reformation.We've spent the last several episodes considering the Protestant Reformation of the 16th C. The tendency is to assume the Roman Church just dug in its heels in obdurate opposition to the Protestants. While the 17th C will indeed see much blood shed between the religious factions of Europe, it would be wrong to assume the Roman Church of the early decades of the Reformation was immediately adversarial. Don't forget that all the early Reformers were members of and usually priests in the Roman Church. And reform was something many had called for a long time prior to Luther's break. The Conciliar Movement we talked about some episodes back was an attempt at reform, at least of the hierarchy of the church, if not some of its doctrine. Spain was a center of the call for Reform within the church. But Luther's rift with Rome, and the floodgate it opened put the Roman Church on the defensive and caused it to respond aggressively. That response was what's called the Catholic Counter-Reformation. But that title can be misleading if one assumes the Catholic Church became only more hide-bound in reaction to the Protestants. Several important reforms were made in the way the Church was run. And Protestant theology urged Catholic theologians to tighten up some of theirs.I like the way one historian describes the 16th C in Europe. If the 16th C was likened to a football game, with every 25 years representing a quarter, by the end of the 1st quarter, the Protestants were winning 7 to 0.By halftime, it was Protestants 35, Roman Catholics 7By the end of the 3rd quarter its 42-35 in favor of the Protestants.But by the end of the game, it's 42 to 45 in favor of the Catholics.I apologize to our European listeners who find American Football a mystery. Don't worry, many Americans do as well.The point is—Protestants had some quick gains, but by the end of the 16th C, largely because of the Jesuits, the Roman Church had recouped many of its losses and had gone on to a revitalized church and faith.When Rome realized the seriousness of the Protestant challenge, it mobilized its spiritual warriors = The Society of Jesus, better knowns as the Jesuits. They convened a new and militant council and reformed the machinery of Church Hierarchy. Faced with the rebellion of half of Europe, Catholicism rolled back the tide of Protestantism until by the end of the 16th C it was limited to the northern third of Europe.Well before Luther posted his theses on Wittenberg's castle-church door, an aristocratic group at Rome had formed a pious brotherhood called the Oratory of Divine Love. They had a vision for reformation of both Church and Society but one that began within the individual soul.The Oratory was never larger than fifty members, yet had huge influence. It provoked reform in the old monastic orders and contributed leaders to the Church of Rome as it laid plans for a general council to deal with internal reform and the emerging Protestant movement. Among the members of the Oratory who later emerged as significant figures were Sadoleto, who debated with Calvin; Reginald Pole, who tried under Bloody Mary to turn England back to Rome; and Pietro Caraffa, who became Pope Paul IV.But throughout the 1520s and 30s, when the Protestants were making their most rapid advancements, the Catholic Church took no real steps toward reform. The reason was political. The changes that needed to be made had to be settled in a Council and Emperor Charles V and popes fought a running battle over the calling of that Council. The feud lasted twenty years. They couldn't agree on where it was to be held, who would be invited, nor what the agenda would be. All these had far-reaching consequence. So the Council was never called; and the reforms it might have adopted were delayed.There were all kinds of other intrigues between the Emperor and Popes as Charles waged war with what were supposed to be Catholic kings and rulers beholden to the Pope. At one point, Charles ordered his troops to march on Rome. In May 1527, when their commanders were killed, Spanish and German mercenaries stormed Rome and pillaged, plundered, and murdered for weeks. The pope took refuge in the Castle of St. Angelo, but finally had to surrender and endure half a year of imprisonment. Many saw this sack of Rome as evidence of how out of hand things had gotten. They took it as a manifestation of divine judgment, enhancing the need and call for reform.Reform came with the arrival of Pope Paul III in 1534. He was a most unlikely candidate for spiritual leadership. He had four children. But the sack of Rome sobered him. He realized time had come for reform to begin in the House of God. He started where he felt a change of heart was most urgently needed, in the College of Cardinals. He appointed a number of advocates for reform. Among them, leaders of the Oratory of Divine Love. Pope Paul then appointed nine of the new cardinals to a commission on reform. The head of the commission promoted an agenda that included reconciliation with the Protestants and a return to the faith of the Apostles; radical ideas indeed!In 1537, after a wide-ranging study of conditions in the Church of Rome, the commission issued its official report. Titled, Advice … Concerning the Reform of the Church, it said disorder in the Church could be traced directly to the need for reform. The papal office was far too worldly. Both popes and cardinals needed to give more attention to spiritual matters and stop dabbling in secular pursuits. Bribery in high places, abuses of indulgences, evasion of church law, prostitution in Rome, these and other offenses must cease.Pope Paul took action on several of the recommendations in the report, but his most significant response was a call for a General Council of the Church. After intense negotiations he agreed with Emperor Charles V on a location for the assembly, a town in northern Italy under imperial control called Trent.Even then, however, no Council assembled for years, because King Francis I of France did everything he could to prevent it. In his lust for control of Europe, Francis feared a council would strengthen Charles's hand. He even incited the Turks against the Emperor. Two wars between Francis and Charles delayed the opening of a Council until 1545, almost three decades after Luther's hammer sounded on Wittenberg's door.By 1545, reform at Rome was on the rise. Pope Paul's new rigor was apparent in the institution of the Roman Inquisition and an official Index of Prohibited Books—works that any Catholic risked eternal damnation by reading. All the books of the Reformers were listed, as well as Protestant Bibles. For many years in Spain, merely possessing one of the banned books was punishable by death. The Index was kept up to date until 1959 and was finally abolished by Pope Paul VI.In Catholic Spain, reform preceded the arrival of Martin Luther in Germany. The euphoria at evicting the Muslims in the Reconquista, coupled with devotion to medieval piety and mysticism fueled reform. When Queen Isabella began her rule in 1474, she brought a heart to reform Spanish Catholicism and quickly gained papal approval for her plan. Cardinal Francisco Jimenez, archbishop of Toledo, was Isabella's main supporter in reorganizingthe Church. Jimenez and Isabella embarked on a campaign to cleanse corruption and immorality from the monasteries and convents of Spain. They required renewal of monastic vows, enforced poverty among clergy, and emphasized the necessity of an educated priesthood.Believing the key to effective leadership was high standards for scholarship, they founded the University of Alcala, outside Madrid, which became a center of Spanish religious and literary life. The University was instrumental in publishing a new multilingual edition of the Bible, which included Hebrew, Greek, and the Latin Vulgate—in parallel columns.The Spanish Reformation, like the Protestants who formed break away groups all over Europe during the 16th C, knew little of the idea we enjoy today of religious toleration. We'll talk more about his in an upcoming episode as we look at the European Wars of Religion. The Pope gave Isabella and her husband, King Ferdinand, authority to use the Inquisition to enforce compliance with church doctrine and practices. The Jews were special victims of Spanish intolerance. In 1492, the Spanish crown decreed all Jews must either accept Christian baptism or leave Spanish territories. Over 200,000 Jews fled Spain as a result, losing land, possessions, and in some cases, lives. The crown passed similar laws aimed at Muslim Moors. Jimenez, now the Grand Inquisitor, ruthlessly pursued their forced conversion.In 1521, the year Luther stood before the Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, a Spanish nobleman was fighting in the Emperor's army against the French. A cannon-ball shattered one of his legs. During a long and painful recovery, bored to tears, he picked up a couple inspirational books popular at the time. One was on the lives of the saints and the other a life of Christ. The long process toward his conversion had begun.Weary of the army, he entered the Benedictine abbey of Montserrat, where he exchanged his nobleman's clothes for a simple pilgrim's smock and turned in his sword and dagger. For nearly a year, in the little town of Manresa, thirty miles north of Barcelona, he gave himself to an austere life of begging door to door, wearing a barbed girdle, and fasting for days at a time. A dark depression settled over his soul. He considered suicide. Then he had what many a mystic has known—a spiritual breakthrough so intense it felt like an incandescent illumination. A wave of ecstasy engulfed him and Ignatius Loyola, became, in his own words, “another man.”In an attempt to hang on to what he'd gained, Loyola produced a plan for spiritual discipline, a kind of spiritual military manual for Christian storm-troopers dedicated to the Pope. The result was the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, the greatest force in Catholicism's campaign to recapture the territory, both literal and spiritual, lost to the Protestants.It was the reforming Pope Paul III, who approved Loyola's new Society of Jesus. The daring soldiers of Christ promised the Pope they'd go wherever he sent them; whether that was to the Turks, the New World, or the Lutherans.While a youth, Ignatius left his home in the castle of Loyola near the Pyrenees and entered the court of a noble family friend. There he grew into something of a “playboy” who spent his days playing military games, reading popular romances, and his nights pursuing the local girls. Then he went off to war, and everything changed.After his recovery and time at Manresa, Ignatius came to a very different conclusion about man's spiritual condition to that arrived at by Martin Luther. Luther was convinced the human will is enslaved; man cannot save himself. Only God can deliver him. Loyola came to the belief man has the power to choose between God and satan. By the disciplined use of his imagination man can strengthen his will to choose God and his ways. That strengthening comes through the spiritual disciplines Loyola devised.One of his spiritual exercises aimed to make the horrors of hell real. Loyola wrote - “Hear in your imagination the shrieks and groans and blasphemous shouts against Christ our Lord and all the saints. Smell the fumes of sulfur and the stench of filth and corruption. Taste all the bitterness of tears and melancholy and growing conscience. Feel the heat of the flames that play on and burn the souls.” The same technique, of course, could be used to represent the beauties of the Nativity or the glories of heaven. By proper discipline, Ignatius said, the imagination could strengthen the will and teach it to cooperate with God's grace.Ignatius concluded that fully surrendering to God meant more education. He entered a school in Barcelona to sit with students half his age to study Latin, then threw himself into a year of courses at the University of Alcala. Out of it came his conviction learning must be organized to be useful. The idea eventually grew into the Jesuits' famed plan of studies, which measured out heavy but manageable doses of the classics, humanities, and sciences.Ignatius became such a fervent advocate for his views, the Inquisition examined him more than once about his theology. Disturbed they'd question his devotion, he left for Paris, where he spent seven years at the university, and became “Master Ignatius.” He gathered around him the first of his companions: including the young Spanish nobleman, Francis Xavier; not the leader of the X-Men. This guy was a lot older and not a mutant.Ignatius shared with these men his program for sainthood, called the Spiritual Exercises. A review of his religious experiences following his conversion, the Exercises prescribe several periods or phases of intense meditation on various aspects of Faith and Practice.Ignatius charted a path to spiritual perfection that included,Rigorous examination of the consciencePenance, andA rejection of guilt once God's forgiveness was given. The Exercises became the basis of every Jesuit's spirituality. Later popes prescribed them for candidates for ordination, and Catholic retreats applied them to lay groups.In 1540, Pope Paul III approved the, at-that-time, small Society of Jesus as a new religious order. Following Ignatius' metaphor, they were chivalrous spiritual soldiers of Jesus. Adopting the military theme, they were mobile, versatile, ready to go anywhere and perform any task the Pope assigned. As a recognized order, they added to their earlier vows of poverty and chastity the traditional vow of obedience to their superiors and a fourth vow of special loyalty to the pope. They were governed by a Superior General elected for life. Their choice for the first General was of course, Ignatius.The aim of the order was simple: To restore the Roman Catholic Church to the position of spiritual power and influence it had held three centuries before under Innocent III. Everything was subordinated to the Church of Rome because Ignatius believed firmly that the living Christ resided in the institutional church exclusively.One of the most fascinating feature of the Jesuits was their attempt to live in the world without being of it. Loyola wanted them to be all things to all men. They almost succeeded.That first generation under Loyola's leadership rode at a full gallop into their new assignments which were to convert the heathen and re-convert Protestants. Francis Xavier went to India, then Southeast Asia, and all the way to Japan. More than any others, the Society of Jesus stemmed, and at times reversed, the tide of Protestantism in Europe. When Ignatius died in 1556, his order was a thousand strong and had dispatched its apostles to four continents. By anyone's reckoning, that's an amazing feat.No mission of that first generation of Jesuits proved more decisive than the part they played in the Council of Trent from 1545 to 63. Only thirty-one council fathers led by three papal legates were present for the opening ceremonies of the council. None of them could have guessed their modest beginning would lead to the most important Council between Nicea in 325 and Vatican II in 1962. Under the influence of two Jesuits, Trent developed into a powerful weapon of the Counter-Reformation.The council fathers met in three main sessions.The 1st was from 1545–47,The 2nd from 1551–52, andThe last from 1562–63. During the second series of sessions several Protestants were present, but nothing came of it. From start to finish the Council reflected the new militant stance of Rome.While there are points of agreement between Catholic and Protestant theology on many issues, the distinctive doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, things like sola scriptura and sola fide were vigorously rejected at Trent.While the Reformers stressed salvation by grace alone; the Council of Trent emphasized grace AND human cooperation with God to avoid, in Loyola's terms, “the poison that destroys freedom.” Ignatius advised, “Pray as though everything depended on God alone but act as though it depended on you alone whether you will be saved.”Protestants taught the religious authority of Scripture alone. Trent insisted on the supreme teaching office of the Roman popes and bishops, as essential-interpreters of the Bible and sole-arbiters on what constitute Biblical Orthodoxy.Trent guaranteed Roman Catholicism would be governed by a collaboration between God and man. The Pope remained, seven sacraments were retained, and the doctrine of transubstantiation was affirmed. Saints, confessions, and indulgences all stayed.After four centuries, we look back to the Reformation Era and see the unity of Western Christendom was permanently shattered. Men and women in Loyola's lifetime did not see that truth. The fact dawned on Europe slowly. It would paint the Continent red in the following Century.
This episode is titled, The Ultimate Fighter; Reformation Edition.The pioneer of Protestantism in western Switzerland was William Farel. Some pronounce it FAIR-el, but we'll go with the more traditional Fuh–REL.He began as an itinerate evangelist; always in motion, tireless, full of faith and fire. He was bold as Luther but more radical. He also lacked Luther's genius.He's called the Elijah of the French Reformation and “the scourge of priests.”Once a devoted Roman Catholic who studied under pro-reform professors at the University of Paris, Farel became a loyal Protestant, able only to see only what was wrong with the Catholicism of his past. He loathed the pope, branding him antichrist, as did many Protestants of the time. Of course, the popes returned the favor and labeled Reformation leaders with the same title. Farel declared that all the statues, pictures and relics found in Roman churches were heathen idols which ought be destroyed.While Farel was never officially ordained, he thought himself divinely called, like a prophet of old, to break down idolatry and clear the way for the worship of God according to God's Word. He was a born fighter and echoing Jesus, said he came, not to bring peace, but a sword. He contended with priests who carried firearms and clubs under their frocks, and fought them with the spiritual sword of the Scriptures. Once he was fired at, but the gun blew up. Turning to the man who'd shot at him, he said, “I'm not afraid of your shots.” He never used violence himself, except in the verbal salvos he was fond of firing at critics.Farel was never discouraged or dissuaded by opposition. On the contrary, persecution stimulated him to even greater labor. His outward appearance gave no hint to his indomitable will: he was of short stature and looked frail. His pale complexion was oft sunburnt. His red beard was left to grow wild.What his appearance lacked, his voice made up for. When he spoke, he used both gestures and language that commanded attention and produced conviction. His contemporaries referred to the thunder of his eloquence and of his earnest and moving prayers.His sermons were extemporaneous but sadly weren't preserved. Their power lay in their delivery. Farel was the George Whitefield of the 16th C.His strength ended up a weakness. His lack of moderation and discretion unburdened him from second guessing himself, so he would speak his mind without the need to put a fine point on everything for fear of breaking a few eggs, so to speak. But his outspokenness got him into trouble again and again, not only with Roman Catholics but with his Protestant peers.He was an iconoclast. His verbal violence provoked unnecessary opposition, and often did more harm than good. One Reformation leader of the time wrote Farel saying, “Your mission is to evangelize, not curse. Prove yourself to be an evangelist, not a tyrannical legislator. Men want to be led, not driven.” Shortly before his death, Zwingli exhorted Farel not to be so rash.That may be a good way to see Farel's contribution to the Reformation. His work was destructive rather than constructive. He could pull down, but not build up. He was a conqueror, not an organizer of his conquests; a man of action, not a man of letters; a preacher, not a theologian. In a large construction company, the first team that comes in is the demolition crew. They're job is to clear away the old and prepare for the new.Farel was a one-man demo squad; a religious wrecking-crew.The thing is, he knew it, and handed his work over to the genius of his younger friend John Calvin. You'll remember it was William Farel who persuaded Calvin to help out in Geneva. In the spirit of genuine humility and self-denial, he was willing to decrease that Calvin might increase. This is the finest trait in his character.William Farel, the oldest of seven children of a noble but poor family, was born in 1489 at Gap. No, he wasn't born in the changing room of a clothing store in the mall. Gap was a small town in the Alps of SE France, where the Waldensians once lived. He inherited the Roman Catholic faith of his parents. While still young, he made a pilgrimage with them to a supposed piece of miracle-working wood believed to be taken from the original cross. He shared in the superstitious veneration of pictures and relics, and bowed before the authority of monks and priests. He was, as he later said of that period of his life, more popish than the Pope.At the same time he had a great thirst for knowledge, and was sent to Paris to further his education. There he studied ancient languages, philosophy, and theology. His main teacher, was Jacques LeFèvre, pioneer of the French Reformation and translator of the Scriptures who introduced Farel to Paul's Epistles and the doctrine of justification by faith. LeFèvre told Farel in in 1512: “My son, God will renew the world, and you will witness it.” Farel acquired a Master of Arts in 1517 and was appointed teacher at the college of Cardinal Le Moine.The influence of LeFèvre and the study of the Bible brought Farel to the conviction salvation can be found only in Christ, that the Word of God is the only rule of faith. He was amazed he could find in the NT no trace of the pope, a church hierarchy, indulgences, purgatory, the mass, seven rather than two sacraments, a sacerdotal celibacy, or the worship of Mary and saints.When LeFèvre, was charged with heresy in 1521, he retired but remained an advocate for reformation within the Catholic Church, without separation from Rome. We'll talk about the Catholic Counter-Reformation in a later episode.In retirement, LeFèvre translated the NT into French, and published it in 1523. This was virtually simultaneous with Luther's German NT. Farel and several others of LeFèvre's students followed him and began preaching a Reformation message under his influence. But Farel proved too radical and was forbidden to preach.He returned to his hometown and made some converts, including four of his brothers; but the people found his doctrine strange and drove him away. France became dangerous as the persecution of Protestants had begun there as in already had in other places.Farel fled to Basel, Switzerland. Since Reformation ideas were tolerated there, he held a public disputation in Latin on thirteen issues, in which he affirmed the inspiration of the Scriptures, Christian liberty, the duty of pastors to preach the Gospel, the doctrine of justification by faith, and denounced images and celibacy. This speech led to the conversion of a Franciscan monk named Pellican, a distinguished Greek and Hebrew scholar, who became a professor at Zurich. Farel delivered more public lectures and sermons. But as his popularity grew, so did his bombast, and Erasmus persuaded the town council to brand him a disturber of the peace and expel him.After bouncing around for a few years as an itinerate preacher, he arrived in Neuchâtel in December, 1529 where he was instrumental in bringing the Reformation to the city.Farel stopped at Geneva in early Oct. 1532. The day after he arrived he was visited by a number of distinguished citizens of the Protestant French Huguenots. Farel explained to them from an open Bible the Protestant doctrines that would complete and consolidate the political freedom they'd recently achieved. But rather than receive this with joy, they were troubled and demanded Farel and his friends leave! Farel refused. He said he wasn't trying to create trouble; he was simply a preacher of truth, for which he was ready to die. He showed them letters of reference from several Reformation leaders which made quite an impression.When the Roman clergy in Geneva began to harass Farel, this only further ingratiated him with the Protestants there. But the Catholics became so angry at Farel's refusal to budge, the entire city was set on edge. The Council demanded he leave immediately.He barely escaped as the priests pursued him with clubs. He left covered with spit and bruises. Some of the Huguenots came to his defense, and accompanied him across Lake Geneva.Since the Reformation in Geneva was gaining ground and the city was seen as key, the Catholics called Guy Furbity, a Dominican doctor of Theology, to come refute the Protestants. He stirred the Catholics of Geneva into a violent mob. All preaching in the City had to be approved by him. You can imagine how Farel felt about that. He returned with a guarantee of protection from the city of Bern, and held another public disputation with Furbity at the end of January of 1534, in the presence of both the Great and Small Councils of Geneva and delegates from Bern. He was unable to answer all Furbity's objections, but he denied the right of the Church to impose ordinances which were not authorized by Scripture, and defended the position that Christ was the only head of the Church. He used the occasion to explain Protestant doctrines, and to attack Roman church hierarchy. Christ and the Holy Spirit, he said, are not with the pope, but with those whom he persecutes. The disputation lasted several days, and ended in a partial victory for Farel. Unable to argue from the Scriptures, Furbity confessed: “What I preach I cannot prove from the Bible; I have learned it from the Summa of St. Thomas,” meaning of course, Thomas Aquinas.Farel continued to preach in private homes aa tension grew between Protestants and Catholics. He was the eye of the storm. As more and more Genevans embraced Reformation ideas, priests, monks, and nuns left, and the bishop transferred his See to another city.In Aug. 27 1535, the Genevan Council issued an edict of the Reformation. That was followed several months later with an even more thorough embrace of Reformation ideals. The mass was abolished, images and relics removed from churches. Citizens pledged themselves by an oath to live according to the precepts of the Gospel. A school was established for the education of the young. Out of it grew the academy of John Calvin. All shops were closed on Sunday. A strict discipline, which extended even to the head-dress of brides was introduced.This was the first act in the history of the Reformation at Geneva. It was the work of Farel, but only preparatory to the more important work of Calvin. The people were anxious to get rid of the Catholic rule of the Duke of Savoy and the bishop, but had no conception of evangelical religion, and would not submit to discipline. They mistook freedom for license. They were in danger of falling into the opposite extreme of disorder and confusion.This was the state of things when Calvin arrived at Geneva in the summer of 1536, and was urged by Farel to assume the great task of building a new Church on the ruins of the old. Though 20 years his senior, Farel willingly took a subordinate position to Calvin. He labored for a while as Calvin's colleague, but was banished from Geneva with him when their reforms were deemed by the City Council as too ambitious and narrow. Calvin then went to Strasburg while Farel accepted a call as pastor at Neuchâtel where he'd worked before.The remaining twenty-seven years of his life, Farel remained the lead pastor there.