Marturie – Elena Patrascu – de la o copilarie trista la misionara pentru Hristos

Elena Patrascu, un copil nedorit, data la orfelinat cativa ani unde a fost batuta si femurul rupt, care a cauzat spitalizare timp de 3 ani de zile. Astazi Elena face scoala de misiune si urmeaza sa fie misionara in Turcia. Interviul a fost realizat la Conferinta “Transformata, nu doar atinsa” care a avut loc recent in Mamaia. alfaomegatv

Billy Graham – TED talk from 1998 (subtitrare in Limba Romana)

Synopsis: Speaking at TED in 1998, Rev. Billy Graham marvels at technology’s power to improve lives and change the world, but says the end of evil, suffering and death will come only after the world accepts Christ. A legendary talk from TED’s archives. The Rev. Billy Graham is a religious leader with a worldwide reach. In his long career as an evangelist, he has spoken to millions and been an advisor to US presidents.

Pentru a vedea subtitrarea, clic pe View subtitles, apoi alege limba ‘Romanian’

Februarie 1998, Monterrey, California. (27 minutes). Billy Graham talks about the technology we have today, and how there are many problems associated with it, that have not been solved. Billy Graham lists these problems as:

  1. Human evil. Over and over, in the Psalms, David describes the evil in the human race. Why do we have these wars and revolutions in every generation? We can’t get along with other people, even in our own families.We find ourselves in a paralyzing grip of self destructing habits. The Bible says the problem is within us, within our hearts, within our souls. Our problem is that we are separated from our Creator. The problem is not technology, the problem is the person using it. The Bible teaches that we are more than a body and a mind, we are a soul. And, there is something inside of us that is beyond our understanding. That’s the part of us that yearns for God, and something more than we find in technology. Your soul is that part of you that yearns for meaning and life, and which seeks for something beyond this life. It’s the part of you that yearns, really, for God. 
  2. Human suffering. Writing the oldest human book is Job. And he wrote: Man is born under trouble and the saprks fly upward. Yes, to be sure, science has done much to push back certain types of human suffering. But, even here among us, in the most advanced society in the world we have poverty. We have families that self destruct., friends that betray us, unbearable psychological pressure to bear down on us. I’ve never met a person in the world that didn’t have a problem, or a worry. Why do we suffer? It’s an age old question that we haven’t answered. Yet, David said he would turn to God- the Lord is my shepherd.
  3. Death. Many commentators have said that death is the forbidden subject of our generation. Most people live as if they’re never going to die. Technology projects the myth of control over our mortality. But, death is inevitable. It is often difficult for young people to understand that they’re going to die. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: There’s every activity under heaven. There’s a time to be born, and there’s a time to die. I’ve stood at the death bed of several famous people whom you would know. I’ve talked to them. I’ve seen them in those agonizing moments when they were scared to death. Yet, a few years earlier, death never crossed their minds. A university student recently asked me what is my greatest surprise. I told him it was the brevity of life. It passes so fast.

Brother Yun – from his visit to Saddleback Church in 2006

Brother Yun, author of “A Heavenly Man”,  began his ministry in 1974 in a country following a “living God”, Chairman Mao. Brother Yun led 3,000 people to Christ in his first year as a believer. He faced severe persecution. He was hunted as a national fugitive and arrested at least 30 times. He was without food and water for 74 days. He had his legs smashed by the secret police. In total, he spent over 3,790 days in prison, where he was tortured daily.

But, there were miracles, and God’s story was spread. Here he is at Rick Warren’s church in 2006:

sermonindex

Joni Eareckson Tada interview October 2012

Joni Eareckson TadaEach time I watch a new video of Joni, or sometimes I re-watch an old one, I just have to reassess my whole life over again.  I’ll give you an example: in the beginning of the interview Joni talks about her struggles with trying to put her husband first and cites an example of waking up at 2 am with discomfort and trying to ascertain whether she should wake him up, so that he can reposition her, or if she can try and make it til morning in her discomfort, so that she can allow him a to have a full night’s sleep. Joni and Ken were married in 1982, 15 full years after her swimming accident, in which she broke her neck and became a quadriplegic. Thus, Joni has been teaching us about God’s grace through affliction for 46 years, ever since that fateful day, one month after her high school graduation.

More videos to watch and posts to read about Joni here-

  1. Joni’s full biography and how she paints for the glory of God
  2. About her stage 3 breast cancer journey in 2010

Here is the recent interview with Joni, by Marvin Olaski from October 4 , 2012.

Interview with at Patrick Henry College

Joni Eareckson Tada Songs (subtitrare-cantari)

Protestantii din Romania – Un mini documentar de la TVR1

Europa Centrala se desparte – albastru= catolicii si rosu= protestantii in anul 1618

faceti click pe poza sa mariti poza

Redau aici cateva puncte istorice dintr-un articol de pe Wikipedia ca resursa suplimentara:

Figuri dominante ale protestantismului

Etimologia termenului

Portrait of Ulrich Zwingli after his death 1531

Portrait of Martin Luther and of Ulrich Zwingli after his death 1531 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Denumirea protestantismului își are originea în acțiunea de frondă a unei facțiuni a Adunării Generale din Imperiul Germano-Roman. În anul1529 Dieta de la Speyer a adoptat o serie de măsuri care discriminau adepții reformei lui Luther, în sensul că dispunea ca statele care au adoptat hotărârile de la Worms, să aibă dreptul de a-și menține confesiunea reformată, în timp ce statele ce nu adoptaseră aceste hotărâri până la 1529, să fie obligate să renunțe la orice formă de înnoire a religiei și să păstreze vechea liturghie catolică. Împotriva acestei hotărâri, Principele Elector Saxon, împreună cu alți cinci principi germani și delegațiile a 14 orașe imperiale au protestat solemn, solicitând convocarea unui Sinod Universal sau German care să dezbată cauza lor în fața unui judecător neutru. Actul solemn, adresat Împăratului, purta numele de „Protestatio”.

Evoluția termenului „protestantism”

Odată cu evoluția istorică a curentelor reformatoare, sensul termenului de protestantism a fost extins la toate acele confesiuni care, într-o formă sau alta, împărtășeau principiile formale și materiale ale reformei lui Luther, adică au acceptat, pe de o parte, teza potrivit căreia unicul fundament al oricărei credințe creștine o reprezintă exclusiv interpretarea Sfintei Scripturi, independent de orice dogmă și autoritate, și, pe de altă parte, susțin teza mântuirii numai prin credință, adică ideea că izvorul mântuirii provine direct de la Dumnezeu, în afara oricărui merit, fără mijlocirea preotului și fără vreo condiționare materială. Unele teze ale protestantismului, în special cea referitoare laîmpărtășanie și predestinație au stârnit controverse în rândul adepților confesiunii înnoite, care au dus în cele din urmă la scindarea în două confesiuni, și anume: luterană și reformată (calvinistă). Sciziunea a devenit definitivă în urma hotărârilor sinodului de la Dortrecht, și a condus la formarea a două structuri ecleziastice diferite.

Începând din secolul al XVII-lea, din sânul celor două confesiuni s-au desprins alte grupuri care, în funcție de specificitățile naționale, respectiv de diferitele interpretări ale unor teze, au înființat noi confesiuni. O latură comună a tuturor confesiunilor protestante și neoprotestante constă în negarea și respingerea totală a principiilor teologice și teozofice ale catolicismului. Protestantismul consideră, ca falsă teza infailibilității și caracterul de unic mântuitor al Bisericii Catolice, de asemenea neagă importanța invocării și cultul Fecioarei Maria și al sfinților, infailibilitatea papei și autoritatea supremă a episcopilor, consideră ca fără valoare jurămintele preoților și călugărilor – în acest sens nu recunosc caracterul sacerdotal al organizațiilor monahale. Protestantismul nu recunoaște sistemul celor șapte sacramente ale confesiunilor catolice și ortodoxe, considerând că există numai două sacramente: Botezul și Împărtășania. Neagă învățăturile despre purgatoriu, valoarea sacrificiului, al hramurilor și pomenelilor, al absolvirii generale, al meritului faptelor bune. Cele două mari curente ale Protestantismului au cunoscut un singur moment de reunificare în 1817, când în Germania, cele două confesiuni s-au unificat, formând Biserica Luterană Evanghelică de confesiune Augustină din Germania.

Cele 5 „sola” protestante sunt:

  • Sola gratia (mântuirea doar prin har),
  • Sola fide (mântuirea numai prin credință),
  • Sola scriptura (mântuirea numai prin Scriptură),
  • Solus Christus (numai Cristos),
  • Soli Deo Gloria (glorie numai Lui Dumnezeu).

multumesc lui Paul Ion pentru referinta la video.

un reportaj despre Crestinii Baptisti, Penticostali si Crestini Dupa Evanghelie din Romania
de la TVR1 Romania http://www.tvrplus.ro/editie-universul-credintei

Autorul Eric Metaxas despre viata lui Dietrich Bonhoeffer

photo form payingattentiontothesky.com

clips from the Christian Broadcasting Network (translated by Alfa Omega Tv)

In Limba Romana

Bonhoeffer despre vizita lui cu 80 de ani in urma: In New York se predica despre toate, dar un singur lucru lipseste, care nu l-am auzit in predicile lor- adica, nu se predica Evanghelia lui Isus Hristos, nici crucea, pacatul, iertarea, moartea sau viata.

In Limba Engleza

Bonhoeffer: In New York they preach about virtually everything. The only thing that is not addressed, I’ve yet been able to hear it, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin, forgiveness, death, life. 80+ years he wrote those words about mainstream protestantism in New York City, during his visit to the United States.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Documentary (Subtitrare in Limba Romana) Teologul care a luptat contra lui Hitler

Part 2

Part 3

Timeline

Bonhoeffer family - Dietrich Bonhoeffer on left1906

Dietrich and his twin sister Sabine are born on February 4. Six years later the Bonhoeffers move to Berlin where Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer begins teaching neurology and psychiatry. Dietrich enjoys a comfortable, privileged childhood there.

1923

The young Bonhoeffer begins theological studies at Tubingen University. Within four years he successfully defends his brilliant and ground-breaking doctoral thesis, Sanctorum Communio ( Communion of Saints), a significantly new way of looking at the nature of the Christian church.

Union Theological Seminary - New York1930

Bonhoeffer sails to New York and begins a teaching fellowship at Union Theological Seminary. There he meets, among others,  Frank Fisher, a Black fellow seminarian who introduces him to Abyssinian Baptist Church and the African American church experience. Bonhoeffer hears Adam Clayton Powell preach the Gospel of Social Justice there and he forms a life-long love for Black Gospel music.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer during transatlantic crossing - 19311931

Bonhoeffer returns to Germany.

1933

Hitler is installed as Chancellor. Two days later, Bonhoeffer delivers a radio address on leadership attacking Hitler. He is cut off the air. In November, Bonhoeffer is ordained at St. Matthias Church, Berlin.

Hitler's first radio address - February 1, 19331933

By April the Aryan Civil Service legislation bans Jews from public employment. Ludwig Müller is appointed Hitler’s representative for the Protestant churches and installed as Reich Bishop of the first-ever national church of Germany. The Pope, Pius XI, signs the Concordat, an agreement with the Third Reich not to interfere, in exchange for assurances that Catholic church will not be attacked.

1934

The Confessing Church is organized at Barmen, Germany, and the Barmen Declaration is adopted, insisting that Christ, not the Fuhrer, is the head of the church. Bonhoeffer leaves for England to head a church for Germans.

On August 2, German President Paul von Hindenburg dies. Hitler proclaimed as both Chancellor and President.

Finkenwalde train stop1935

Bonhoeffer returns from England to direct the seminary for the Confessing Church in Finkenwalde, Germany. By December, Himmler declares all examinations for the Confessing Church invalid, all training there invalid and all participants liable to arrest.

In September, the Nuremberg Laws are passed, canceling citizenship for German Jews.

1936

In July, the Confessing Church leader and WWI hero Martin Niemöller is arrested. In August, Bonhoeffer’s authorization to teach at Berlin University is withdrawn.

The August Olympic Games in Berlin begin. Hitler is quoted as saying of 4-time gold medal champion Jesse Owens “The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negroes win their medals for them.” He refuses to shake Owen’s hand.

1937

In September the seminary at Finkenwalde is closed by the Gestapo. By November, 27  pastors and former Finkenwalde students are arrested. Also in November, Bonhoeffer publishes The Cost of Discipleship.

Pope Pius XI issues “With Burning Anxiety,” protesting Hitler’s infractions of their earlier agreement, the Concordat of 1933.

1938

In February Bonhoeffer makes his initial contact with members of the German Resistance. In September he writes Life Together. Bonhoeffer’s sister Sabine, her Jewish husband Gerhard Leibholz and two daughters escape to England by way of Switzerland.

Jewish temple burning - 1938On March 12 Austria is annexed by Germany. In April all German pastors are ordered to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler in recognition of his 50th birthday. On November 9 a nation-wide, organized riot called Kristallnacht takes place, bringing the destruction of nearly 300 synagogues across Germany, the looting of 7,500 Jewish-owned shops, and the arrest of 30,000 Jewish men.

Jewish boycott1939

In June Bonhoeffer returns to the United States for second time. He realizes almost immediately that this was a mistake and he returns to Germany on the last scheduled steamer to cross the Atlantic.

On January 1 all Jewish-owned businesses are liquidated by order of Hermann Göring. In March German troops invade Czechoslovakia. On September 1 Germany invades Poland. Great Britain and France declare war on Germany.

1940

Bonhoeffer is forbidden to speak in public and is required to report regularly to the police. He spends September and October working on Ethics.

On April 9 German troops invade Denmark and Norway. In May German troops invade Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. By August the Battle of Britain begins; German Luftwaffe bombs London.

1941

Bonhoeffer is forbidden to print or to publish. He makes two trips to Switzerland on behalf of the Resistance.

Hitler shaking hands with Reich Bishop Ludwig MullerIn April German troops invade Yugoslavia and Greece. In June they invade the Soviet Union. By September a decree requires all German Jews to wear a yellow star stitched to their clothing. In October the first deportations of Jews from Berlin begin and the first gas chambers are installed at Auschwitz, Poland. On December 7 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor and the United States joins the war effort.

Jews rounded up by Nazis1942

In April Bonhoeffer visits Norway and Sweden. In May he meets in Sweden with the British Bishop Bell, a member of Parliament, on behalf of the Resistance.

1943

In January Bonhoeffer proposes and becomes engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer. On April 5 he is arrested and incarcerated at Tegel Prison, Berlin. Beginning in July Bonhoeffer is intensively interrogated in prison. In December Bonhoeffer writes his Christmas essay, “After Ten Years.”

In January the Casablanca talks begin between US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. On May 19 Joseph Goebbels, the German minister of propaganda, declares that Germany is now Judenfrei (free of Jews). From November 28 to December 1 Joseph Stalin of the USSR, Roosevelt and Churchill meet at Teheran.

1944

In October the Gestapo arrests Bonhoeffer’s brother Klaus and Rüdiger Schleicher, Bonhoeffer’s brother-in-law. Bonhoeffer is moved from Tegel prison to the Gestapo prison at Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, Berlin. In December 19 Bonhoeffer writes his last letter to Maria von Wedemeyer.

Assassination attempt trial - 1944In January Allied military forces land at Anzio, Italy. In Hungary 437,000 Jews are shipped to Auschwitz. In June Allied military forces land on Normandy coast, France (D-Day). On July 20 Klaus von Stauffenberg attempts to assassinate Hitler at Rastenburg, East Prussia.

1945

On April 3 Bonhoeffer is moved from Buchenwald to Regensburg. Five days later his is moved to the Flossenbürg concentration camp during the night. The next day, April 9, Bonhoeffer is executed at Flossenbürg together with other key figures of the resistance. On April 23 Klaus Bonhoeffer and Rüdiger Schleicher are killed in Berlin.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - 1938February 4-7. An Allied conference is held at Yalta from February 4th to 7th to discuss post-war settlements. On March 7 American forces cross Rhine River at Remagen. On April 12 President Franklin Roosevelt dies; Harry Truman is sworn in as president. On April 30 Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his Berlin bunker. By May 2 Berlin falls. On May 7 the German forces make an unconditional surrender.

On August 6 through 9 United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. By August 15 hostilities end in the Pacific.  On November 20 major war criminal trials begin in Nuremberg. (VIA) PBS

Hudson Taylor – Missionary to China for 51 years, in the 1800′s and Friend to Spurgeon

1st photo from http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives

  1. Information and photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) are from Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Taylor
  2. You can read works by James Hudson Taylor at Project Gutenberg - http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/t#a25841
  3. You can read Charles Spurgeon’s recounting of his first meeting with Hudson Taylor here - http://www.spurgeon.org/s_and_t/totkc.htm
  4. Hudson Taylor MOVIE in CHINESE here - http://youtu.be/NUuzuP3hAmU
  5. Hudson Taylor MOVIE in SPANISH here - http://youtu.be/WopRAnD0z3o
  6. See a MOVIE on the life of Hudson Taylor at the bottom of this post

Some Hudson Taylor quotes:

  • All God’s giants have been weak men, who did great things for God because they reckoned on His being with them.
  • I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.
  • It is not lost time to wait upon God!
  • A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.
  • “All at once came the thought – If you are simply obeying the LORD, all the responsibility will rest on Him, not on you! What a relief!! Well, I cried to God – You shall be responsible for them, and for me too!”
  • If this is a real work for God it is a real conflict with Satan.
  • At home you can never know what it is to be alone – absolutely alone, amidst thousands, as you can in a Chinese city, without one friend, one companion, everyone looking on you with curiosity, with contempt, with suspicion or with dislike. Thus to learn what it is to be despised and rejected of men – of those you wish to benefit, your motives not understood . . . and then to have the love of Jesus applied to your heart by the Holy Spirit . . . this is worth coming for.
  • Devotion to GOD is still a voluntary thing; hence the differences of attainment among Christians.”
  • Nearness to GOD calls for tenderness of conscience, thoughtfulness in service, and implicit obedience.
  • Satan may build a hedge about us and fence us in and hinder our movements, but he cannot roof us in and prevent our looking up.
  • Some are jealous of being successors of the Apostles. I would rather be a successor of the Samaritan woman, who, while the Apostles went for meat and forgot souls, forgot her water pot in her zeal to spread the good tidings.
  • There are three great truths, 1st, That there is a God; 2nd, That He has spoken to us in the Bible; 3rd, That He means what He says. Oh, the joy of trusting Him!
  • When the heart submits, then Jesus reigns When Jesus reigns, there is rest.

The life of James Hudson Taylor

James Hudson Taylor (Chinese: 戴德生) (21 May 1832 – 3 June 1905), was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM) (now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces.

Taylor was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He adopted wearing native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. Under his leadership, the CIM was singularly non-denominational in practice and accepted members from all Protestant groups, including individuals from the working class and single women as well as multinational recruits. Primarily because of the CIM’s campaign against the Opium trade, Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to visit China in the 19th Century. Historian Ruth Tucker summarises the theme of his life:

No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematised plan of evangelising a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.

Taylor was able to preach in several varieties of Chinese, including Mandarin, Chaozhou, and the Wu dialects of Shanghai andNingbo. The last of these he knew well enough to help prepare a colloquial edition of the New Testament written in it.

His youth

Taylor was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England, on 21 May 1832 the son of a chemist (pharmacist) and Methodist lay preacher James Taylor and his wife, Amelia (Hudson), but as a young man he moved away from the Christian beliefs of his parents. At seventeen, after reading an evangelistic tract pamphlet entitled “Poor Richard”, he professed faith in Christ, and in December 1849, he committed himself to going to China as a missionary.[citation needed] At this time he came into contact with Dr Edward Cronin of Kensington—one of the members of the first missionary party of thePlymouth Brethren to Baghdad. It is believed that Taylor learned his faith mission principles from his contact with the Brethren.

Taylor was able to borrow a copy of China: Its State and Prospects by Walter Henry Medhurst, which he quickly read. About this time, he began studying the languages of Mandarin, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

In 1851, he moved to a poor neighbourhood in Kingston upon Hull to be a medical assistant with Dr. Robert Hardey, and began preparing himself for a life of faith and service, devoting himself to the poor and exercising faith that God would provide for his needs. He practised distributing gospel tracts and open-air preaching among the poor. He was baptised by Andrew John Jukes of the Plymouth Brethren in the Hull Brethren Assembly in 1852, and convinced his sister Amelia to also take adult baptism.

In 1852 he began studying medicine at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, London, as preparation for working in China. The great interest awakened in England about China through the civil war, which was then erroneously supposed to be a mass movement toward Christianity, together with the glowing but exaggerated reports made by Karl Gützlaff concerning China’s accessibility, led to the founding of the Chinese Evangelisation Society, to the service of which Hudson Taylor offered himself as their first missionary.

His Work in China

Taylor left England on 19 September 1853 before completing his medical studies, arriving in Shanghai, China, on 1 March 1854. The nearly disastrous voyage aboard the clipper Dumfries through an Easterly passage near Buru Island lasted about five months. In China, he was immediately faced with civil war, throwing his first year there into turmoil.

Taylor made 18 preaching tours in the vicinity of Shanghai starting in 1855, and was often poorly received by the people, even though he brought with him medical supplies and skills. He made a decision to adopt the native Chinese clothes and queue (pigtail) with shaven forehead, however, and was then able to gain an audience without creating a disturbance. Previous to this, Taylor realised that wherever he went he was being referred to as a “black devil” because of the overcoat he wore. He distributed thousands of Chinese Gospel tracts and portions of Scripture in and around Shanghai.

Scottish evangelist, William Chalmers Burns, of the English Presbyterian Mission began work in Shantou, and for a period Taylor joined him there. After leaving he later found that all of his medical supplies, being stored in Shanghai, had been destroyed by a fire. Then in October 1856, while travelling across China he was robbed of nearly everything he owned.

Relocated in Ningbo by 1857, Taylor received a letter from a supportive George Müller which led to Taylor and his co-worker John Jones deciding to resign from the problematic mission board which had sent them, and instead work independently in what came to be called the “Ningpo Mission”. Four Chinese men joined them in their work: Ni Yongfa, Feng Ninggui, Wang Laijun, and Qiu Guogui.

In 1858, Taylor married Maria Jane Dyer, the orphaned daughter of the Rev. Samuel Dyer of the London Missionary Society, who had been a pioneer missionary to the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia. Hudson met Maria in Ningbo where she lived and worked at a school for girls which was run by one of the first female missionaries to the Chinese, Mary Ann Aldersey.

Because of health problems, in 1860 Taylor decided to return to England for a furlough with his family. The Taylors sailed back to England aboard the tea clipper Jubilee along with their daughter, Grace and a young man, Wang Laijun, from the Bridge Street church in Ningbo, who would help with the Bible translation work that would continue in England.

He travelled extensively around the British Isles speaking at churches and promoting the needs of China. At home in the East End of London he also ministered at Newgate Prison. During this time he became friends with Charles Haddon Spurgeon, who pastored theMetropolitan Tabernacle and became a lifelong supporter of Taylor.

On 25 June 1865, at Brighton, Taylor definitely dedicated himself to God for the founding of a new society to undertake the evangelisation of the “unreached” inland provinces of China. He founded the China Inland Mission together with William Thomas Berger shortly thereafter. In less than one year, they had accepted 21 missionaries and raised over £2,000 (about £130,000 in 2007 terms).

PHOTO below: On 26 May 1866, after more than five years of working in England, Taylor and family set sail for China with their new missions team “the Lammermuir Party” aboard the tea clipper Lammermuir. A four-month voyage was considered speedy at the time. While in the South China Sea and also the Pacific Ocean the ship was nearly wrecked but survived two typhoons. They arrived safely in Shanghai on 30 September 1866. The Lammermuir Party included 16 missionaries and the Taylors’ four children.

Return to China

The arrival of the largest party of missionaries ever sent to China—as well as their intent to be dressed in native clothing—gave the foreign settlement in Shanghai much to talk about and some criticism began for the young China Inland Mission. The party donned Chinese clothing, notwithstanding—even the women missionaries—which was deemed semi-scandalous at the time. When other missionaries sought to preserve their British ways, Taylor was convinced that the Gospel would only take root on Chinese soil if missionaries were willing to affirm the culture of the people they were seeking to reach. He argued, from the example of the Apostle Paul, “Let us in everything not sinful become like the Chinese, that by all means we may save some.”

In 1869 Hudson was influenced by a passage on personal holiness from a book called “Christ Is All” by Henry Law that was sent to him by a fellow missionary, John McCarthy. “The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun; the Lord Jesus cherished is holiness advancing; the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete.” This new understanding of continually abiding in Christ endured for the rest of his life. At the time, he was quoted by fellow missionary Charles Henry Judd as saying: ”Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man!”. Photo below left – Hudson Taylor 1893

 His wife Maria died of cholera in 1870, weeks after she gave birth to a son who survived for only 2 weeks. Her death shook Taylor deeply, and in 1871, his own health began deteriorating further, leading to his return to England later that year to recuperate. In 1871 Taylor was married to Jane Elizabeth Faulding who had been a fellow missionary since 1866. During the winter of 1874 and 1875 Taylor was practically paralysed from a fall he had taken on a river boat while in China. In this state of crippling physical hindrance, Taylor confidently published an appeal for 18 new workers to join the work. When he did recover his strength, Jennie remained with the children, (including a new son and daughter, Ernest and Amy, as well as the orphaned daughter of fellow missionary George Duncan) and in 1876 Hudson Taylor returned to China and the 18 requested missionaries followed him.

Taylor returned to England in 1883 to recruit more missionaries speaking of China’s needs, and returned to China, working now with a total of 225 missionaries and 59 churches. In 1887 their numbers increased by another 102 with The Hundred missionaries, and in 1888, Taylor brought 14 missionaries from the United States. In the US he travelled and spoke at many places, including the Niagara Bible Conference where he befriended Cyrus Scofield and later Taylor filled the pulpit of Dwight Lyman Moody as a guest in Chicago. Moody and Scofield thereafter actively supported the work of the China Inland Mission of North America.

Due to health issues, Taylor remained in Switzerland, semi-retired with his wife. In 1900, Dixon Edward Hoste was appointed the Acting General Director of the CIM, and in 1902, Taylor formally resigned. His wife, Jennie, died of cancer in 1904 in Les Chevalleyres, Switzerland, and in 1905, Taylor returned to China for the eleventh and final time. There he visited Yangzhou and Zhenjiang and other cities, before dying suddenly while reading at home in Changsha. He was buried next to his first wife, Maria in Zhenjiang near the Yangtze River.

There is much more information on the life of Hudson Taylor, including a very detailed outline of chronological event at Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_Taylor Photo below from http://wheaton.edu of China Inland Mission with Hudson Taylor in the middle (with the long beard)

The film – Hudson Taylor’s life

Hudson Taylor pioneered missions to the interior of mainland China. From his arrival in Shanghai through the death of his beloved wife, you’ll experience an honest look at a growing Christian whose quotes are still heard today, “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” ; Running Time 85 minutes, A Ken Anderson Films Presentation.

alternative - HudsonTaylor English

Dr. David Livingstone – Missionary, Explorer and Discoverer of Uncharted Territory in 1800′s Africa

An inspirational  Christian biography to share with your family:

An introduction to David Livingstone from Ravi Zacharias (9 minutes) from LovingTheTruth1

Sometimes you wonder how God gives us desire for one subject matter, or another, while we attend school, and, how that eventually plays out in the trajectory of our lives, all under His sovereign plan for our lives. Dr. David Livingston loved science, to the chagrin of his father, who thought it could ruin his son’s faith. Yet, Dr. Livingstone’s science background, especially the fact that he was a medical doctor, was extremely valuable to him in his travels throughout Africa where malaria and dysentery was a regular occurrence . But, even more important was his love for geography, which fueled Dr. Livingstone’s desire to find the source of the River Nile; something which he failed to do, but it took him on journeys across a vast expanse of far off lands. How better to proclaim the Christ he believed in, and worshipped, than by traveling through a vast expanse of land in pursuit of a scientific quest. He did have some success as he  eventually charted some previously unknown lakes and river tributaries. (Also, see the second map in this article- it is a hand drawn map by Dr. Livingstone’s own hand, and it has amazing accuracy and precision when checked against later maps). One of the lesser known facts is that the same Mr. Stanley, a journalist who set to find out what happened to Dr. Livingstone in Africa, and who asked Dr. Livingston to please not try and convert him as he proclaimed to be ‘the biggest swaggering atheist on the face of the earth’, four month after meeting Dr. Livingstsone, knelt down on that african soil and gave his life to Jesus.

Dr. Livingstone’s Christian faith is evident in his journal, where one entry reads: “I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity.

Below, you will find some materials which are meant to inspire. They  show us the dedication and perseverance of a father of 6, who answered his calling in the 1800′s to be a missionary to Africa- Dr. David Livingstone of Blantyre, Scotland.

A 13 min documentary from the Scotland National Archives

The following are excerpts from Wikipedia:

David Livingstone (19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873), was a Scottish Congregationalist pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society and an explorer in Africa. His meeting with H. M. Stanley gave rise to the popular quotation “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

David_LivingstoneDavid Livingstone was born on 19 March 1813 in the mill town of Blantyre, in a tenement building for the workers of a cotton factory on the banks of the Clyde River under the bridge crossing into Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was the second of seven children born to Neil Livingstone (1788–1856) and his wife Agnes Hunter (1782–1865). Along with many of the Livingstones, David was at the age of ten employed in the cotton mill of H. Monteith & Co. in the village of Blantyre Works. David and his brother John worked twelve-hour days as “piecers,” tying broken cotton threads on the spinning machines. David Livingstone, the great African missionary and explorer, was a student at the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School. His medical studies extended from 1838 to 1840 and records show that he “paid the fees for the full course of medical practice, midwifery and botany.

Livingstone’s father Neil was very committed to his beliefs, a Sunday School teacher and teetotaller who handed out Christian tracts on his travels as a door to door tea salesman, and who read extensively books on theology, travel and missionary enterprises. This rubbed off on the young David, who became an avid reader, but he also loved scouring the countryside for animal, plant and geological specimens in local limestone quarries. Neil Livingstone had a fear of science books as undermining Christianity and attempted to force him to read nothing but theology, but David’s deep interest in nature and science led him to investigate the relationship between religion and science.[3] When in 1832 he read Philosophy of a Future State by the science teacher, amateur astronomer and church minister Thomas Dick, he found the rationale he needed to reconcile faith and science, and apart from theBible this book was perhaps his greatest philosophical influence.

Livingstone attended Blantyre village school along with the few other mill children with the endurance to do so despite their 12-hour workday (6 am–8 pm), but having a family with a strong, ongoing commitment to study also reinforced his education. After reading Gutzlaff’s appeal for medical missionaries for China in 1834, he began saving money and in 1836 entered Anderson’s College (now University of Strathclyde) in Glasgow, founded to bring science and technology to ordinary folk, and attended Greek and theology lectures at the University of Glasgow. It is now known that to enter Medical School he required some knowledge of Latin. A local Roman Catholic, Daniel Gallagher, helped him learn Latin to the required level.

In addition, he attended divinity lectures by Wardlaw, a leader at this time of vigorous anti-slavery campaigning in the city. Shortly after, he applied to join the London Missionary Society (LMS) and was accepted subject to missionary training. He continued his medical studies in London while training there and was attached to a church in Ongar, Essex, to be a minister under LMS. Despite his impressive personality, he was a plain preacher and would have been rejected by the LMS had not the director given him a second chance to pass the course.

Livingstone hoped to go to China as a missionary, but the First Opium War broke out in September 1839 and the LMS suggested the West Indies instead. In 1840, while continuing his medical studies in London, Livingstone met LMS missionary Robert Moffat, on leave from Kuruman, a missionary outpost in South Africa, north of the Orange River. Excited by Moffat’s vision of expanding missionary work northwards, and influenced by abolitionist T.F. Buxton’s arguments that the African slave trade might be destroyed through the influence of “legitimate trade” and the spread of Christianity, Livingstone focused his ambitions on Southern Africa. He was deeply influenced by Moffat’s judgment that he was the right person to go to the vast plains to the north of Bechuanaland, where he had glimpsed “the smoke of a thousand villages, where no missionary had ever been.”

Livingstone’s exploration-southern and central Africa

After the Kolobeng mission had to be closed because of drought, he explored the African interior to the north, in the period 1852–56, and was the first European to see the Mosi-oa-Tunya (“the smoke that thunders”) waterfall (which he renamed Victoria Falls after his monarch, Queen Victoria), of which he wrote later, “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” (Jeal, p. 149)

Livingstone was one of the first Westerners to make a transcontinental journey across Africa, Luanda on the Atlantic to Quelimane on the Indian Ocean near the mouth of the Zambezi, in 1854–56. Despite repeated European attempts, especially by the Portuguese, central and southern Africa had not been crossed by Europeans at that latitude owing to their susceptibility to malaria, dysentery and sleeping sickness which was prevalent in the interior and which also prevented use of draught animals (oxen and horses), as well as to the opposition of powerful chiefs and tribes. The qualities and approaches which gave Livingstone an advantage as an explorer were that he usually travelled lightly, and he had an ability to reassure chiefs that he was not a threat.

Livingstone was a proponent of trade and Christian missions to be established in central Africa.

His motto, inscribed in the base of the statue to him at Victoria Falls, was “Christianity, Commerce and Civilization.” At this time he believed the key to achieving these goals was the navigation of the Zambezi River as a Christian commercial highway into the interior. He returned to Britain to try to garner support for his ideas, and to publish a book on his travels which brought him fame as one of the leading explorers of the age.

Believing he had a spiritual calling for exploration rather than mission work, and encouraged by the response in Britain to his discoveries and support for future expeditions, in 1857 he resigned from the London Missionary Society after they demanded that he do more evangelizing and less exploring. With the help of the Royal Geographical Society’s president, Livingstone was appointed as Her Majesty’s Consul for the East Coast of Africa.  Below-right: Dr. Livingstone’s hand drawn map of Lake Malawi (from Scotland’s National Archives)

David-Livingstones-MapIn January 1866, Livingstone returned to Africa, this time to Zanzibar, from where he set out to seek the source of the Nile. Richard Francis Burton, John Hanning Speke and Samuel Baker had (although there was still serious debate on the matter) identified either Lake Albert or Lake Victoria as the source (which was partially correct, as the Nile “bubbles from the ground high in the mountains of Burundi halfway between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Victoria”). Livingstone believed the source was further south and assembled a team of freed slaves, Comoros Islanders, twelve Sepoys and two servants, Chuma and Susi, from his previous expedition to find it.

With his health declining he sent a message to Zanzibar requesting supplies be sent to Ujiji and he then headed west. Forced by ill health to travel with slave traders he arrived at Lake Mweru on 8 November 1867 and continued on, travelling south to become the first European to see Lake Bangweulu. Finding the Lualaba River, Livingstone mistakenly concluded it was the high part of the Nile River; in fact it flows into the River Congo at Upper Congo Lake.

The year 1869 began with Livingstone finding himself extremely ill whilst in the jungle. He was saved by Arab traders who gave him medicines and carried him to an Arab outpost. In March 1869 Livingstone, suffering from pneumonia, arrived in Ujiji to find his supplies stolen. Coming down with cholera and tropical ulcers on his feet he was again forced to rely on slave traders to get him as far as Bambara where he was caught by the wet season. With no supplies, Livingstone had to eat his meals in a roped off open enclosure for the entertainment of the locals in return for food.

On 15 July 1871, according to Livingstone’s recently released original handwritten diaries, while he was visiting the town of Nyangwe on the banks of the Lualaba River, he witnessed around 400 Africans being massacred by slavers. The massacre horrified Livingstone, leaving him too shattered to continue his mission to find the source of the Nile. Following the end of the wet season, he travelled 240 miles from Nyangwe – violently ill most of the way – back to Ujiji, an Arab settlement on the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, arriving on 23 October 1871.

Geographical discoveries

Although Livingstone was wrong about the Nile, he discovered for Western science numerous geographical features, such as Lake Ngami, Lake Malawi, and Lake Bangweulu in addition to Victoria Falls mentioned above. He filled in details of Lake Tanganyika, Lake Mweru and the course of many rivers, especially the upper Zambezi, and his observations enabled large regions to be mapped which previously had been blank. Even so, the furthest north he reached, the north end of Lake Tanganyika, was still south of the Equator and he did not penetrate the rainforest of the River Congo any further downstream than Ntangwe near Misisi.

Livingstone was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society of London and was made a Fellow of the society, with which he had a strong association for the rest of his life.

Stanley meeting

Henry Morton Stanley meets David Livingstone.  Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 10 November 1871, greeting him with the now famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” to which he responded “Yes”, and then “I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.” These famous words may have been a fabrication, as Stanley later tore out the pages of this encounter in his diary. Even Livingstone’s account of this encounter does not mention these words. However, the phrase appears in a New York Herald editorial dated 10 August 1872, and theEncyclopædia Britannica and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography both quote it without questioning its veracity. The words are famous because of their perceived tongue-in-cheek humorous nature: Dr. Livingstone was the only white person for hundreds of miles. Stanley’s book suggests that it was really because of embarrassment, because he did not dare to embrace him.

Despite Stanley’s urgings, Livingstone was determined not to leave Africa until his mission was complete. His illness made him confused and he had judgment difficulties at the end of his life. He explored the Lualaba and, failing to find connections to the Nile, returned to Lake Bangweulu and its swamps to explore possible rivers flowing out northwards.

Death

David Livingstone died in that area in Chief Chitambo’s village at Ilala southeast of Lake Bangweulu in present-day Zambia on 1 May 1873 from malaria and internal bleeding caused by dysentery. He took his final breaths while kneeling in prayer at his bedside. (His journal indicates that the date of his death would have been 1 May, but his attendants noted the date as 4 May, which they carved on a tree and later reported; this is the date on his grave.) Britain wanted the body to give it a proper ceremony, but the tribe would not give his body to them. Finally they relented, but cut the heart out and put a note on the body that said, “You can have his body, but his heart belongs in Africa!”. Livingstone’s heart was buried under a Mvula tree near the spot where he died, now the site of theLivingstone Memorial. His body together with his journal was carried over a thousand miles by his loyal attendants Chuma and Susi to the coast to Bagamoyo, and was returned to Britain for burial. After lying in repose at No.1 Savile Row—then the headquarters of the Royal Geographical Society, now the home of bespoke tailors Gieves & Hawkes— his remains were interred at Westminster Abbey, London.

Legacy

By the late 1860s Livingstone’s reputation in Europe had suffered owing to the failure of the missions he set up, and of the Zambezi Expedition; and his ideas about the source of the Nile were not supported. His expeditions were hardly models of order and organization. His reputation was rehabilitated by Stanley and his newspaper, and by the loyalty of Livingstone’s servants whose long journey with his body inspired wonder. The publication of his last journal revealed stubborn determination in the face of suffering.

He had made geographical discoveries for European knowledge. He inspired abolitionists of the slave trade, explorers and missionaries. He opened up Central Africa to missionaries who initiated the education and health care for Africans, and trade by the African Lakes Company. He was held in some esteem by many African chiefs and local people and his name facilitated relations between them and the British.

Partly as a result, within fifty years of his death, colonial rule was established in Africa and white settlement was encouraged to extend further into the interior.

On the other hand, within a further fifty years after that, two other aspects of his legacy paradoxically helped end the colonial era in Africa without excessive bloodshed. Livingstone was part of an evangelical and nonconformist movement in Britain which during the 19th century changed the national mindset from the notion of a divine right to rule ‘lesser races’, to ethical ideas in foreign policy which, with other factors, contributed to the end of the British Empire. Secondly, Africans educated in mission schools founded by people inspired by Livingstone were at the forefront of national independence movements in central, eastern and southern Africa.

While Livingstone had a great impact on British Imperialism, he did so at a tremendous cost to his family. In his absences, his children grew up missing their father, and his wife Mary (daughter of Mary and Robert Moffat) endured very poor health, and died of malaria trying to follow him in Africa. He had six children: Robert reportedly died in the American Civil War; Agnes (b.1847), Thomas, Elizabeth (who died two months after her birth), William Oswell (nicknamed Zouga because of the river along which he was born, in 1851) and Anna Mary (b.1858). Only Agnes, William Oswell and Anna Mary married and had children.

His one regret in later life was that he did not spend enough time with his children, whom he loved immensely

His Christian faith is evident in his journal, where one entry reads: “I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, it shall be given away or kept, only as by giving or keeping it I shall promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes in time and eternity.

The archives of David Livingstone are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow (GUAS). On November, 11, 2011, Dr. Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary, as well as other original works, was published online for the first time by the “David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project – a unique, eighteen-month, transatlantic collaboration between scholars, scientists and educational and archival institutions

A good book detailing the lives of both

Henry Morgan Stanley & Dr. David Livingstone

I found the talk as fascinating as Dr. Livingston’s story, as the author recounted his own trek to the roads and places that Dr. Livingstone once walked. It helped create a picture of the dangers that Dr. Livingstone and Stanley lived on a daily basis- some dangers that are obviously still encountered in the present, as Mr. Dugard says- Africa is this still vast deserted expanse in many places.

You can watch the 44 minute C span video of a talk at Vroman’s Bookstore, where Mr.Dugard discussed his book Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone, published by Doubleday. The book tells the story of journalist Henry Morton Stanley’s journey into Africa in the hopes of locating explorer and former Christian missionary Dr. David Livingstone. In 1866, in the midst of an exploratory mission into central Africa, Dr. Livingstone vanished without a clue. After years passed without any indication of Livingstone’s fate, an American newspaper publisher sent Stanley on a mission to locate Dr. Livingstone in the hopes that such a captivating story would increase readership. Mr. Dugard tells the stories of both Livingstone and Stanley and chronicles their respective lives in the years after leaving Africa. After his presentation Mr. Dugard answered questions from members of the audience. Click here to watch C span’s video - http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/176539-1

And here’s a 13 minute clip from the Dr. David Livingstone movie (it is available at Amazon for instant download)

AUDIO BOOK

How I found Dr. David Livingstone

by Henry Morton Stanley

17 audio chapters

Martyn Lloyd-Jones – 2 free online books (pdf form)

The new Martyn Lloyd-Jones website has moved to this new link - http://www.mljtrust.org/sermons/

However, the pdf’s provided before are no longer available, and I am in the process of searching the internet for them once again.

Robin Lane, over at the Martyn Lloyd-Jones website in the United Kingdom was kind enough to alert me to the fact that the following books are now available in pdf format here – www.mljtrust.org

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctorwho was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London. Lloyd-Jones was strongly opposed to Liberal Christianity, which had become a part of many Christian denominations; he regarded it as aberrant. He disagreed with the broad church approach and encouraged evangelical Christians (particularly Anglicans) to leave their existing denominations. He believed that true Christian fellowship was possible only amongst those who shared common convictions regarding the nature of the faith. (source)

The Doctor Himself- This book was originally published by the Christian Medical Fellowship. It contains a selection of papers and addresses given over many years to medical practitioners and students.

~Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones PAGE 1

~Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones PAGE 2

The biography of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Martin Luther’s defiance

Martin Luther is born into a world dominated by the Catholic Church. For the keenly spiritual Luther, the Church’s promise of salvation is irresistible.

CLICK on photo for Movie/Documentary from PBS.org

Luther translating Bible

Church History – The Protestant Reformation

DrDaniel Janosik, PhD is Director of the SES Institute of Islamic Studies, and Associate Professor of Apologetics,Columbia International University (A college of intercultural studies for missions). He has written on the uniqueness of Christ in this essay - Click here to download:Uniqueness_of_Christ_Janosik.pdf (62 KB)

Mr. Daniel Janosik  teaches science and technology at Columbia International University, Columbia, SC. Mr. Janosik has done extensive research and teaching in the area of major world religions and cults, as well as in the Creation/Evolution controversy. He will speak on Dinosaurs and the Bible and The Fossil Record of Man. In the evening seminar he will address those “links” that the evolutionist refers to. You can read more form here creationstudygroup.org as well as here missionofgod.posterous.com

The video below is a lecture with visual charts on the History of the Protestant Reformation:

Published on Oct 27, 2012 by  Dr. Daniel Janosik lectures on Martin Luther and the significance of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.

The revolutionary Luther – what he fought for

English: MARTIN LUTHER IN CHURCH OF MARTIN LUT...

For more essays, documentaries and film see also-

Martin Luther The Reluctant Revolutionary

from pbs.org

Remember Reformation Day – Ziua Reformarii

On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy upon heresy. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though to be sure, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and others had already put the life’s work and even their lives on the line for same cause of truth, constructing the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built. Luther’s action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther’s charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Before long, Luther’s 95 Theses of Contention had been copied and published all over Europe.

Martin Luther’s life (film)

Posts in the Romanian language/ postari in Limba Romana:

A series of lectures by Carl Trueman on Martin Luther:

  1. Carl Trueman at SBTS (1) Theological and Biographical Foundations – Reflections upon Luther
  2. Carl Trueman at SBTS (2) The Word in Action – Luther’s theology of the preached word
  3. Carl Trueman Lecture at SBTS (3) Martin Luther – The Tools of the Trade
  4. Carl Trueman at SBTS (4) Panel discussion (from the Luther lectures)

Videos, films, essays on Martin Luther

Luther writes to a struggling believer

via desiringGod.org – read entire article here- Luther on Five Actions for Struggling Believers.

Jerome Weller was a theology student under Martin Luther’s direct influence, living in his home and tutoring his children for nearly a decade. In July 1530, Luther wrote a letter of advice to Weller who was in the midst of a depression.

. . . Excellent Jerome, You ought to rejoice in this temptation of the devil because it is a certain sign that God is propitious and merciful to you. You say that the temptation is heavier than you can bear, and that you fear that it will so break and beat you down as to drive you to despair and blasphemy. I know this wile of the devil. If he cannot break a person with his first attack, he tries by persevering to wear him out and weaken him until the person falls and confesses himself beaten.

Whenever this temptation comes to you, avoid entering upon a disputation with the devil and do not allow yourself to dwell on those deadly thoughts, for to do so is nothing short of yielding to the devil and letting him have his way. Try as hard as you can to despise those thoughts which are induced by the devil. In this sort of temptation and struggle, contempt is the best and easiest method of winning over the devil. Laugh your adversary to scorn and ask who it is with whom you are talking. By all means flee solitude, for the devil watches and lies in wait for you most of all when you are alone. This devil is conquered by mocking and despising him, not by resisting and arguing with him. . .

When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: “I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made a satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.”

Yours,
Martin Luther

Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed., Theodore G. Tappert, 1960, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 85ff

 

For Reformation Day – The Bible and Martin Luther

Here’s an older post that can be revisited every year at this time, when we remember the significance of the reformation that took place almost 500 years ago today.

English Bible History

Martin Luther

Martin Luther had a small head-start on Tyndale, as Luther declared his intolerance for the Roman Church’s corruption on Halloween in 1517, by nailing his 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door. Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 that was designed to martyr him, would translate the New Testament into German for the first time from the 1516 Greek-Latin New Testament of Erasmus, and publish it in September of 1522. Luther also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, and another edition of the German New Testament in 1529. In the 1530’s he would go on to publish the entire Bible in German. Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a Christian theologian and Augustinian monk whose teachings inspired the Protestant Reformation and deeply influenced the doctrines of Protestant and other Christian traditions.

Martin Luther was born to Hans and Margaretha Luder on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany and was baptised the next day on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, after whom he was named. Luther’s call to the Church to return to the teachings of the Bible resulted in the formation of new traditions within Christianity and the Counter-Reformation in the Roman Catholic Church, culminating at the Council of Trent.His translation of the Bible also helped to develop a standard version of the German language and added several principles to the art of translation. Luther’s hymns sparked the development of congregational singing in Christianity. His marriage, on June 13, 1525, to Katharina von Bora, a former nun, began the tradition of clerical marriage within several Christian traditions.

Portraits of Hans and Margarethe Luther by Lucas Cranach  1527

Luther’s early life

Martin Luther’s father owned a copper mine in nearby Mansfeld. Having risen from the peasantry, his father was determined to see his son ascend to civil service and bring further honor to the family. To that end, Hans sent young Martin to schools in Mansfeld, Magdeburg and Eisenach. At the age of seventeen in 1501 he entered the University of Erfurt. The young student received his Bachelor’s degree after just one year in 1502! Three years later, in 1505, he received a Master’s degree. According to his father’s wishes, Martin enrolled in the law school of that university. All that changed during a thunderstorm in the summer of 1505. A lightening bolt struck near to him as he was returning to school. Terrified, he cried out, “Help, St. Anne! I’ll become a monk!” Spared of his life, but regretting his words, Luther kept his bargain, dropped out of law school and entered the monastery there.

Luther’s struggle to find peace with God

Young Brother Martin fully dedicated himself to monastic life, the effort to do good works to please God and to serve others through prayer for their souls. Yet peace with God escaped him. He devoted himself to fasts, flagellations, long hours in prayer and pilgrimages, and constant confession. The more he tried to do for God, it seemed, the more aware he became of his sinfulness.

Johann von Staupitz, Luther’s superior, concluded the young man needed more work to distract him from pondering himself. He ordered the monk to pursue an academic career. In 1507 Luther was ordained to the priesthood. In 1508 he began teaching theology at the University of Wittenberg. Luther earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies on 9 March 1508 and a Bachelor’s degree in the Sentences by Peter Lombard, (the main textbook of theology in the Middle Ages) in 1509. On 19 October 1512, the University of Wittenberg conferred upon Martin Luther the degree of Doctor of Theology.

Martin Luther’s Evangelical Discovery

The demands of study for academic degrees and preparation for delivering lectures drove Martin Luther to study the Scriptures in depth. Luther immersed himself in the teachings of the Scripture and the early church. Slowly, terms like penance and righteousness took on new meaning. The controversy that broke loose with the publication of his 95 Theses placed even more pressure on the reformer to study the Bible. This study convinced him that the Church had lost sight of several central truths. To Luther, the most important of these was the doctrine that brought him peace with God.

With joy, Luther now believed and taught that salvation is a gift of God’s grace, received by faith and trust in God’s promise to forgive sins for the sake of Christ’s death on the cross. This, he believed was God’s work from beginning to end.

Luther’s 95 Theses

On Halloween of 1517, Luther changed the course of human history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg, accusing the Roman Catholic church of heresy upon heresy. Many people cite this act as the primary starting point of the Protestant Reformation… though to be sure, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Thomas Linacre, John Colet, and others had already put the life’s work and even their lives on the line for same cause of truth, constructing the foundation of Reform upon which Luther now built. Luther’s action was in great part a response to the selling of indulgences by Johann Tetzel, a Dominican priest. Luther’s charges also directly challenged the position of the clergy in regard to individual salvation. Before long, Luther’s 95 Theses of Contention had been copied and published all over Europe.

Here I Stand

Luther’s Protestant views were condemned as heretical by Pope Leo X in the bull Exsurge Domine in 1520. Consequently Luther was summoned to either renounce or reaffirm them at the Diet of Worms on 17 April 1521. When he appeared before the assembly, Johann von Eck, by then assistant to the Archbishop of Trier, acted as spokesman for Emperor Charles the Fifth. He presented Luther with a table filled with copies of his writings. Eck asked Luther if he still believed what these works taught. He requested time to think about his answer. Granted an extension, Luther prayed, consulted with friends and mediators and presented himself before the Diet the next day.

Meeting of the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire at Worms, Germany, in 1521, where Martin Luther defended his Protestant principles and was excommunicated

When the counselor put the same question to Luther the next day, the reformer apologized for the harsh tone of many of his writings, but said that he could not reject the majority of them or the teachings in them. Luther respectfully but boldly stated, “Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.“On May 25, the Emperor issued his Edict of Worms, declaring Martin Luther an outlaw.

Luther in Exile at the Wartburg Castle

The room in Wartburg where     Luther translated the New Testament into German. An original first edition of the translation is kept under the case on the desk.

Luther had powerful friends among the princes of Germany, one of whom was his own prince, Frederick the Wise, Elector of Saxony. The prince arranged for Luther to be seized on his way from the Diet by a company of masked horsemen, who carried him to the castle of the Wartburg, where he was kept about a year. He grew a wide flaring beard; took on the garb of a knight and assumed the pseudonym Jörg. During this period of forced sojourn in the world, Luther was still hard at work upon his celebrated translation of the Bible, though he couldn’t rely on the isolation of a monastery. During his translation, Luther would make forays into the nearby towns and markets to listen to people speak, so that he could put his translation of the Bible into the language of the people.

Although his stay at the Wartburg kept Luther hidden from public view, Luther often received letters from his friends and allies, asking for his views and advice. For example, Luther’s closest friend, Philipp Melanchthon, wrote to him and asked how to answer the charge that the reformers neglected pilgrimages, fasts and other traditional forms of piety. Luther’s replied: “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.” [Letter 99.13, To Philipp Melanchthon, 1 August 1521.]

Martin Luther’s German Bible

1529 Luther New Testament: The Oldest Printed German N.T. Scripture

Martin Luther was the first person to translate and publish the Bible in the commonly-spoken dialect of the German people. He used the recent 1516 critical Greek edition of Erasmus, a text which was later called textus receptus. The Luther German New Testament translation was first published in September of 1522. The translation of the Old Testament followed, yielding an entire German language Bible in 1534.

Luther is also know to have befriended William Tyndale, and given him safe haven and assistance in using the same 1516 Erasmus Greek-Latin Parallel New Testament that had been the source text for his German New Testament of 1522, as the trustworthy source text for Tyndale’s English New Testament of 1525-26.

Luther’s Writings

The number of books attributed to Martin Luther is quite impressive. However, some Luther scholars contend that many of the works were at least drafted by some of his good friends like Philipp Melanchthon. Luther’s books explain the settings of the epistles and show the conformity of the books of

1523 Luther Pentateuch:  The Oldest Printed      German Scripture

the Bible to each other. Of special note would be his writings about the Epistle to the Galatians in which he compares himself to the Apostle Paul in his defense of the Gospel. Luther also wrote about church administration and wrote much about the Christian home.

Luther’s work contains a number of statements that modern readers would consider rather crude. For example, Luther was know to advise people that they should literally “Tell the Devil he may kiss my ass.” It should be remembered that Luther received many communications from throughout Europe from people who could write anonymously, that is, without the specter of mass media making their communications known. No public figure today could write in the manner of the correspondences Luther received or in the way Luther responded to them. Luther was certainly a theologian of the middle-ages. He was an earthy man who enjoyed his beer, and was bold and often totally without tact in the blunt truth he vehemently preached. While this offended many, it endeared him all the more to others.

He was open with his frustrations and emotions, as well. Once, when asked if he truly loved God, Luther replied “Love God? Sometimes I hate Him!” Luther was also frustrated by the works-emphasis of the book of James, calling it “the Epistle of Straw, and questioning its canonicity. Also irritated with the complex symbolism of the Book of Revelation, he once said that it too, was not canon, and that it should be thrown into the river! He later retracted these statements, of course. Luther was a man who was easily misquoted or taken out of context. While a brilliant theologian, and a bold reformer, he would not have made a good politician. But then, he never aspired to any career in politics.

Luther’s 1534 Bible.

Martin Luther and Judaism

Luther initially preached tolerance towards the Jewish people, convinced that the reason they had never converted to Christianity was that they were discriminated against, or had never heard the Gospel of Christ. However, after his overtures to Jews failed to convince Jewish people to adopt Christianity, he began preaching that the Jews were set in evil, anti-Christian ways, and needed to be expelled from German politics. In his On the Jews and Their Lies, he repeatedly quotes the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:34, where Jesus called them “a brood of vipers and children of the devil”

Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife (1523), by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1526

Luther was zealous toward the Gospel, and he wanted to protect the people of his homeland from the Jews who he believed would be harmful influences since they did not recognize Jesus as their Saviour. In Luther’s time, parents had a right and a duty to direct their children’s marriage choices in respect to matters of faith. Likewise, Luther felt a duty to direct his German people to cling to the Jesus the Jews did not accept. It should be noted that church law was superior to civil law in Luther’s day and that law said the penalty of blasphemy was death. When Luther called for the deaths of certain Jews, he was merely asking that the laws that were applied to all other Germans also be applied to the Jews. The Jews were exempt from the church laws that Christians were bound by, most notably the law against charging interest.

Martin Luther’s Death

Martin Luther escaped martyrdom, and died of natural causes. His last written words were, “Know that no one can have indulged in the Holy Writers sufficiently, unless he has governed churches for a hundred years with the prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the apostles… We are beggars: this is true.

pictures and information (via) Wikipedia and GreatSite

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Carl Trueman at SBTS (4) Panel discussion (from the Luther lectures)


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Southern Seminary SBTS Panel with Carl Trueman, Dan Dumas, and Michael Haykin. Unlike the three lectures which were all on the subject of Luther, this discussion turns to seminaries and their role in the spiritual formation of the students.

A few of the points discussed:

  • What about Spiritual formation as something within the curriculum (that pervades the curriculum) instead of as a separate discipline in the seminaries?

Michael Haykin: Biblical spirituality is the teaching and the communication of biblical truth about the way in which we draw near to God, then He is drawn near to us. It is therefore rooted deeply in the cross and the meritorious work and life of Jesus Christ and is conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit. And so, it’s reflecting about theology, which has to be there as a foundation, that is why the recent interest in spirituality in evangelical circles ( a la Dallas Willard and Richard Foster) which doesn’t lay religious doctrinal foundations is problematic. So it’s definitely got biblical foundations, building on that, showing and teaching how we appropriate the riches that are in Christ via prayer, bible meditation,  and the other things we describe as spiritual disciplines that are a means of grace.

(16 min) There has been a significant collapse of patterns of piety established at the reformation, honed through the puritan period, still in place there, among evangelicals in the 18th and early 19th century, but then have collapsed completely in the 20th century.

Carl Trueman: The sheer size of seminaries today imposes limitations on how we can form individual students as christians. And that’s where I can see again, the church coming into play. Certainly, when I stand up in front of the class I can model a certain kind of christianity to my students. But, I think the primary place where spirituality is formed has to be the church. It also goes back yo my fear that the parachurch (seminaries included) supplants the church

  • Concerns about the overall trends in the evangelical circles, primarily about what the church should be doing being passed down to parachurch ministries (such as seminaries).
  • Sometimes spiritual formation gets very narrowly defined by seminaries in a way that can be somewhat self serving. We should not make the attendance of chapel compulsory. We have a different profile of student than we had even, say 30 years ago. Lots of our students are working their way through seminary and I’m not sure the person who had to go to chapel at 10:30 in the morning is doing something more meritorious and forming than coming off night shift, straight to my 8:30 class, then going home to see his wife.

Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman Lecture at SBTS (3) Martin Luther – The Tools of the Trade

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Dr. Carl Trueman: In the first lecture I wanted to make the argument that theology and the practice of ministry are intimately connected. Luther is a great example of this. You see that Luther’s theology really drives his understanding of the shape of pastoral ministry. And I wanted to challenge you to move beyond the merely historical point I’m making there, to reflect longer on how you perceive ministry and how your perception actually reflects something about your theological convictions and to urge you to allow your theological convictions to drive how you think about ministry.

The second lecture I talked about Luther’s understanding of the word of God, how God is fundamentally to us, a God who speaks. And God’s speech essential constitutes reality. And I applied that to the nature of preaching. I think one of Luther’s great insights is the connection he makes between the speech of God and the speech of the preacher. And I hope that those of you who are preachers, or are going to be preachers will be excited by that idea that when the preacher speaks God’s word is powerful.

The final lecture- The Tools of the Trade- I wanna make the point that ordinary people mattered to the shape of Luther’s reformation. These are the people that are not typically featured in the textbooks other than as statistics, because, by and large they were too busy working to put bread on the table than to write books about how they’re feeling. But, yet, Luther’s connection with these people profoundly shaped how he executed his task as pastor.

So, in the third lecture I want to examine the practicality of Luther’s own pastoral ministry. As with all pastors, Luther is of course a flawed human being. And the details of his actual practice do not entirely square with his theology. One obvious example would be his increasingly bitter preoccupation with the Jews, which one finds from the 1530′s onwards. Frustrated by their failure to convert to Christianity, Luther adopted, and, indeed sharpened many of the standard —- of the anti Jewish polemic, which was so common in late medieval Europe. Indeed, his very last sermon, preached in 1546 ended with a bitter harangue against the jews. Thus, I accept at the outset that if you dig deep into Luther’s life, you will find inconsistencies and hypocrisies, here and there. My point here is not to argue for the total consistency of Luther, but rather a general conformity of his practice to his theological commitments.

The reform of worship

The first point to make as we now approach Luther’s pastoral practice, is that the way in which he reformed worship was intimately connected to his care and concern for ordinary people. Many of us are familiar with his treatise on prayer, which was originally a letter to his hairdresser Peter, who had told him while cutting his hair that he struggled with his prayer life. Reflect on that for awhile. Luther had time to write a handbook on prayer for the man who cut his hair.

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ lag in Todes Banden, and who, with Johann Walter, also wrote the melody (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even the briefest glance at Luther’s volume of letters reveal a man who was equally comfortable writing to powerful princes and to much lesser individuals with words of encouragement, counsel and occasional letters of rebuke. Yet, Luther’s care for people has significance, not simply for his personal relations, but also for the pace and shape of the Lutheran reformation. Basic to the reformation was the education of the people in the patterns of thought and behavior reformers required by their new theology. This issue raised all manner of pedagogical questions, which in turn raised questions about what we might call now broadly – aesthetics. What was church meant to look like? What was church meant to sound like? What was family piety and individual devotions meant to look like and sound like?

In the early years of the reformation, leadership at Wittenberg was shared by Martin Luther and his academic colleague, one time friend and later nemesis, a man called Andreas Bodenstein, (named Karlstadt after his birthplace). In the years after 1517, these 2 men came to represent 2 different visions of reform and Wittenberg would ultimately prove that it was only big enough to allow only one man to succeed.

Things came to a head in 1522. After the Diet of Worms, Luther was kidnapped by his prince, Frederick the Wise’s men and kept for his own safety in the Wartburg castle, high on the hills of Eisenach where he began his work of producing a German reformation Bible, by translating the New Testament.

As Luther is in the Wartburg castle, the leadership passes to Karlstadt. Luther’s young assistant Philip Melanchthon and  his colleague Conrad Zwilling pushed very hard for radical reformation, which has all of the hallmarks of social revolution. Iconoclasm, violent rhetoric at rapid pace. Luther, later in 1521 travels to Wittenberg incognito to see the chaos first hand. And then in 1522 he’s brought back by Frederick the Wise because the riots are getting out of hand and if the reformation descends into total chaos, Frederick will have to act to crush it because the emperor Charles V will move against Saxony. Luther comes back and I think this is the point in his career where he is actually in most danger because if he can’t quell the riots in Wittenberg, and all he can use to do that is his own force of personality, he will be replaced by Frederick the Wise.

Luther comes back, quells the social revolution in Wittenberg and introduces  a much more conservative vision of reformation. There will be no iconoclasm. If you go to a Lutheran church today, you will find crucifixes. The conservative however of Luther’s intervention in 1522 was not simply a piece of political pragmatism. I think it was also connected to his pastoral sensitivity. Luther knew that lasting change could only be brought about by gentle persuasion. Most people then, as ever since did not like change. And so, Luther demonstrated in 1522 and throughout his subsequent career an aesthetic conservatism, which was designed as much to prevent the disturbance of tender consciences as it was to appease the desire of his political masters.

We tend to romanticize the reformation and we think that everybody is desperate for the reformation to come to town. We see evidence of this in Luther’s liturgical innovations. From as early as 1520, it is clear that Lutheran theology demands vernacular liturgy. How could the mass, for example, be any use if the words of promise are not clearly articulated in a language which the people could understand? Yet, for a man who stands out in history as a volcanic revolutionary, Luther’s move towards liturgical reform are gradual and hesitant. This is how he describes his approach in a pamphlet in 1523(6 yrs. after the crisis of 1517): Until now, I have only used books and sermons to wean the charts of the people from their Godless regard for the ceremonial. For I believed it would be a christian and helpful thing, if I could prompt a peaceful removal of the abomination that Satan sets up in the holy place, through the man of sin. Therefore I’ve used neither authority or pressure, nor did I make any innovations for I have been hesitant and fearful, partly because of the weak in faith who cannot suddenly exchange an accustomed order of worship for a new and unusual one and also because of the fickle  and fastidious spirits who rush in like unclean swine without faith or reason and who delight only in novelty and tires of it as quickly when it is worn off. Such people are a nuisance, even in other affairs. But, in spiritual matters they are absolutely unbearable. Nonetheless, at the risk of bursting with anger, I must bear with them, unless I want to let the Gospel itself be denied to the people.

Here, Luther made it clear that he was concerned to handle the delicate consciences with care and also to give no ground to those who seek novelty or innovation for its own sake. The liturgy he then described in 1523 was itself very conservative. Essentially, a cleaned up version of the traditional mass. Still in Latin, except for the sermon and a few hymns. And later, Luther can hardly be described as being in the vanguard of the application of his own theological principles to liturgical reform.

Indeed, even in 1524, as he wrote against the radicals, Luther rejoiced that the mass was now said in German, but also argued that such a practice should not be made compulsory lest it become a new legalism. And also because he was not yet satisfied that the German liturgy captured the full beauty of what was going on. It was not until October 1525 that a full German mass was celebrated in Wittenberg.  That’s as early as Luther feels able to push forward with the full application of theology that he’s fully articulating in 1517-1518. It’s remarkable sensitivity. (17 min mark)

The Tools of the Trade from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

Carl Trueman at SBTS (2) The Word in Action – Luther’s theology of the preached word

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Dr. Carl Trueman:

In lecture 2 I want to talk about the power in the Word. In the first lecture (click on link above for first lecture)  I sketched out the basics of Luther’s theology, with particular reference to his understanding of God’s revelation of Himself in the incarnate and crucified flesh of Jesus Christ. There, and only there did Luther believe one can find God revealed as being gracious towards sinners. To approach God in any way, outside the flesh of Christ was to approach the God of righteous judgment. A consuming fire, the terrifying God who rides on the wing of  a storm and who is accountable to no one. And before whom no sinful creature can stand and expect to live.

In the second lecture I want to move from the theological foundations we’ve established to Luther’s theology of the preached word. And by the third lecture we’ll finally get to Luther’s practice of pastoral ministry. But, it’s in the preached word that the church encounters the crucified Christ and thus the preached word which must be central to the church’s life and actions. In addition, we must also remember the basic arguments of these lectures as a whole, that Luther’s theology is determinative of his understanding of the nature and the toils of the pastoral ministry.

That he would have found modern evangelical claims to ‘agree on the Gospel’, but, ‘to allow freedom in method and practice’ to be strange. Not that the Lutheran reformation looked exactly the same, everywhere in Germany. Liturgy varied in detail between places, but the basic shape of pastoral ministry and of church life enjoyed a high degree of consensus. As is the historian’s way, however, I cannot begin the story of Luther’s understanding of the word of god with Luther himself.

The late medieval background

Martin Luther, author of the text of Christ la...

…..  In many ways Luther remained a man of medieval ages. His politically conservative futurism and his acute sense of the physical presence of the devil, and also of demons and imps are just two examples of what separates him from the other reformers. who were trained as renaissance humanists and were men of the modern age. On the theological front, it was the late medieval critical philosophy of the language, connected to the radical application of what was called the dialectic of God’s two powers which gripped Luther’s theological imagination and remained with him from the monastic cloister to the day of his death.

…..Competency in human reason had been declining from the 12th century onwards in Europe. And this dialectic between the 2 powers of God was used in a dialectic and critical way to articulate the increasing epistemological modesty that people had with regard to God. Human reason came to be regarded less and less competent to predict what God would be like. And first, theologians focused increasingly on revelation as the source of the knowledge of God. We shouldn’t get too excited, as that revelation was not identified with Scripture, by these late medieval theologians so much as the teaching of the church’s magisterium. The distinction also fed and strengthened a perennial linguistic debate about the nature and function of words. And this will become significant for Luther’s understanding of preaching. Taken to its extreme this became an anti-essentialist view of being which effectively made words themselves the determiners of reality. This is what is known as late medieval nominalism and it was the linguistic school in which Luther was trained and whose basic assumptions remained with him throughout his entire career, to the day of his death.

Those critics of post modernism, such as Terry Eagleton have pointed out there are pointed similarities between medieval nominalism and certain schools of post modern linguistic theory. We might summarize these similarities by saying that both envisage the world as a linguistic construct. Words, not essences become determinative and constitutive of reality. I suspect that Luther would have little time for the excesses of postmodern anti-essentialism with the kind of kaleidoscopic anarchy it has created with the regard to gender, sexuality and even the notion of human nature. Nevertheless, we should note that Luther would not object to postmodernism by reasserting a kind of essentialism. Rather, I suspect, Luther’s rejection of postmodern anarchy would be based on his belief that God is the supreme reality, that He is ultimately the one who speaks, and whose speech is therefore the ground of existence and of difference. Reality is not determined by the linguistic proclivities of any human individual, or any human community, but by the word of God.

The theological implications of this should become obvious. For example, to refer back to the theology of the cross- the empiricist, the essentialist looks at the cross and sees weakness, agony, suffering and defeat, and no more. That is the outward aesthetics of the cross would seem to indicate. And it is what the social and philosophical conventions of Jews and Greeks of 1st Corinthians would also lead them to believe. But, neither the empirical aesthetics, nor their interpretation through the grid of their constructed social conventions are actually any guide to the reality  of what is taking place. God has extrinsically declared the cross to be powerful, a victory, a moment of triumph. And God’s word trumps everything in determining the reality that is there. Thus, only those christians who reject the evidence of their senses, and reject the established logic and expectations of their culture and trust instead in their counter intuitive truth of God’s words can truly understand the reality.

The same, of course applies to justification. Older medieval approaches to justification required the individual actually to be somewhat righteous before God could declare the person to be justified. Late medieval theologian Gabriel Biel had broken with this tradition, arguing instead that God could set His own criteria for the declaration of justification. For Biel, God had entered into a pact with human beings and had agreed that according to His ordained power He was going to accept an individual’s best efforts as righteousness, as meeting the condition for God to declare that person to be in a state of grace. Once in such a state of grace, the individual could then benefit form sacramental grace  and do works of real righteousness and intrinsic merit.

Luther came to reject the theology of Biel as a form of semi pelagianism. The very idea that one could do one’s best and meet any condition became anathema to him. If human beings are morally dead, then the only things they can do is acknowledge that in all humility despair in themselves and look to God for unmerited mercy. Yet in breaking with Biel, Luther remained indebted to one of Biel’s most important conceptual moves. For Biel, as later for Luther, the justified person was not necessarily, actually, intrinsically righteous. They were simply declared extrinsically to be righteous by God.

By making entry into a state of grace, something that was not based on intrinsic merit, but rather on merit determined on extrinsic pactum. Biel first shattered the link between essential reality and divinely determined reality. For those of you interested in the history of the ‘History of Dogma’ will know that this is something for which conservative catholic historians of dogma have never forgiven him and which indeed shapes how our contemporary historians like Brad S. Gregory of Notre Dame views the reformation. The reformation is seen as the ultimate evil fruit of late medieval anti-essentialism.

The practical significance of this linguistic philosophy for Luther as pastor is that words become absolutely foundational to everything the pastor does. If words determine reality, then of all things the pastor does, the words he speaks are the most important: Reading the bible in public, preaching the word form the pulpit, applying the word individually in the confessional. Each of these things determine the reality of the church. This linguistic emphasis also helps explain to those of us with less sacramental proclivities than Luther why he holds such high views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That on the latter point at least, he’s willing to divide protestantism over the issue.  Incidentally, Luther’s objection to transubstantiation is not in 1520 that the body and blood of Christ are there, it’s that the bread and the wine have disappeared.

It would be remiss of me simply to reduce Luther’s reformation theology to a particularly radical application of late medieval linguistic theory as a means of solving his own personal issues

The Word in Action from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

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