MARTIN LUTHER (Black and White) Reformation Day October 31, 1517

Another, older film version of Martin Luther’s life. (Photo wikipedia)

English: Postage stamp depicting Martin Luther...

Martin Luther is a 1953 film biography about the life and times of the greatest figure of the Protestant Reformation – Martin Luther, a 16th century German monk, priest, and theology professor’s efforts to reform the Catholic church, his excommunication, and the developments that started the Protestant Reformation.

Luther’s observations and studies led him to be critical of the materialism of the Roman Catholic church; with its use of indulgences, relics and other wayward teachings and practices that are unsupported by the Bible (scripture) forced him to write and nail his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenberg church that was pivotal in leading a ‘spiritual revolution’ shaking the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire and the entirety of Medieval Europe that changed history forever. VIDEO by emmthreejonny

‪Lamp In The Dark:Untold History of the Bible ~ Full Documentary‬‏

Throughout the Middle Ages, the Papal Inquisition forbade biblical translation, threatening imprisonment and death to those who disobeyed. Learn the stories of valiant warriors of the faith, such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, the ancient Waldenses, Albigenses and others who hazarded their lives for the sake of sharing the Gospel light with a world drowning in darkness.

Once the common people were able to read the Bible, the world was turned upside down through the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers subdued whole kingdoms by preaching the grace of God, and exposing the unbiblical doctrines of Rome. In response, the Vatican would launch a Counter Reformation to destroy the work of the Reformers, including the bibles they produced.

VIDEO by amy2x

 

(7) Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones – British Evangelical Alliance 1966 – Conclusion (Nov 1996)

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian
Read Part 1 here – a history

Read Part 2 here – 1962 Address by Lloyd-Jones

Read Part 3 here – An accounting from those who attended

Read Part 4 here – What the newspapers reported

Read Part 5 here – Lloyd-Jones on schism

Read Part 6 here – Then and now

Foundations a journal of Evangelical theology for the British Evangelical Council (18th October 1966 edition) From Affinity.org.uk

Written in 1996 by Alan Gibson at the marking of the 30 year anniversary of MLJ’s appearance at the 1966 Evangelical Alliance Conference.

The Next Five Years

Futurology is an inexact science. Any uninspired prophecy can leave the unwary with egg on his face. No wonder the Book of Proverbs counsels that, Even a fool is thought wise ifhe keeps silent (17:28). Outside a general treatment of unfulfilled Biblical promises our only possibility of providing some insight into the future is to notice the present trends and to speculate about how they might develop.

In an earlier issue ofFoundations (No 36, pp 43-47) I reviewed the Evangelical Alliance book, Together We Stand, and commented briefly on chapter 10, The Futures of Evangelicalism. The very fact that the two authors, Clive Calver and Rob Warner, felt it necessary to use the plural, Futures, shows how tentative all such speculation must be. I will now note more fully the (alliterated) sub-headings oftheir chapter. Retaining the status quo, is what they regard as an increasingly unlikely prospect Reassimilation is considered a danger if senior evangelicals become increasingly distanced from one another as their energies are poured into their denominational duties. Reform is the hope that evangelicals will act to reform the existing and historic denominations. Refragmentaion is a real but disastrous prospect, should evangelicals choose the easy and yet palpably absurd option of devoting their energies to warring with one another. Remnant is how the writers speculate that the corrosion of evangelical convictions of the majority would leave a remnant of the faithful

and orthodox. Realignment, however, is what they expect to happen to the church scene under the pressures of accelerating compromise with the moral standards of the day. They suggest that there will be four main sectors, a resurgent Catholicism, a disestablished Church o f England o f mainly evangelical Anglicans, a theologically liberal Free Church and a network of believer baptising, charismatic streams. Renewal they see as being at a cross roads, the future depending on the readiness ofolder leaders to provide opportunities for their successors to emerge. Revival is recognised to be beyond our control, although if it comes British evangelicals are seen to have a potentially pivotal contribution to make.

There is already plenty of evidence that evangelicalism today is not a unified movement and we have to speak of a spectrum of evangelical opinion, covering a range of views and having very fuzzy edges. No one, then is talking about the future of an already stable movement. Quite the opposite. A paper to be presented at the National Assembly of Evangelicals in November 1996 expresses concern that contemporary attitudes to Statements of Faith are either to use them as flags of convenience which are not enforced too seriously, or to exploit them by an appeal to hermeneutics which justifies different, yet contrasting interpretations and mental reservations.

Neither will many disagree with the assumption that the next five years will not be the same as the last five. The church does not stand still. Times chahge and people, who comprise the church, also change. Events in society around us inevitably impact upon the church. What we are also unable to forecast are the unexpected novelties of the devils schemes or the extraordinary works of the sovereign Spirit of God.

Let me suggest, however, five of the more significant theological factors which I believe will influence evangelicalism, and particularly evangelical relationships, in the foreseeable future.

I. Confusion over justification
Recent scholarship professing to be Biblical has profoundly affected evangelical perceptions of the doctrine ofjustification. The 1992 Anglican-Lutheran Porvoo Common Statement uses the concepts and the language made familiar in the reports of ARCIC 11 in failing to treat justification as a distinct and forensic act. Instead it is conflated with sanctification and reduced to being only one, and not the most important, model of salvation found in Scripture. Any reader of the epistles to the Romans and the Galatians will recognise that this is not the way the Bible treats justification and it is highly dangerous. It opens the way for a wholesale review of the Protestant Reformation. While many evangelicals had previously been ready to co-operate with the Roman Catholic Church as co-belligerents in social witness they are now being told that formal church separation from it is no longer necessary. From being the objects of evangelism Roman Catholics are being portrayed as our partners in mission. In some quarters this has already become the orthodox evangelical view and those who dissent from it are patronisingly dismissed as being stuck in a sixteenth century time-warp.

This re-appraisal ofrelationships with the Church ofRome is being fed by the vitality of the charismatic movement within that church and the emergence of the Evangelical Catholic Initiative in Dublin. The acceptance of the RC Church into the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland and the enthusiasm for evangelical involvement shown by Anglican and Baptist evangelicals are likely to further soften the former lines of separation. Added to this is the unresolved political dilemma in Northern Ireland, still being blamed on religious fundamentalists who insist on perpetuating what are perceived in the popular mind as out-of-date theological distinctives. Furthermore the British media frequently portray the Anglican establishment as woolly over ethical issues while RC morality is given an unrealistically ideal press for being so uncompromised! All of which suggests that the next five years are likely to see growing social and spiritual influence for the Roman Catholic Church and more problems for those of us who question that trend.

2. The open evangelical

Correspondents in the Church of England Newspaper in the early part of 1995 reflected on the Evangelical Leaders Conference held in January of that year, when the definition of evangelical was raised once again. Those committed to the inerrancy of Scripture were criticised and it was insisted that the true evangelical must leave room for the humanity of the Biblical writers. It was a controversy sadly reminiscent of the separation of the Inter Varsity Fellowship from the Student Christian Movement in the 1920s. The so called open evangelical is apparently ready to accept not only errors in the Bible but contradictions between Jesus and Paul, together with serious ambiguities about moral guidance. 1996 saw the publication of Strangers and Friends, written by a professing evangelical so open that he is able to grant biblical validity for homosexual practice.

Another recent and formative book has given focus to a whole movement. Since Dave Tomlinson wrote The Post-Evangelical in 1995 the concept has gained popularity and a conference was held in July 1996 on Is there life after evangelicalism? It is hard not to see here a baptised version of post-modernism, with its cultural relativism and plural concept of truths instead of truth. Mark Johnston’s review of this book (Foundations, No 36, pp 40-43) shows how the hermeneutical principles it advocates are increasingly common in evangelical institutions. This is not a domestic controversy among Anglicans for it goes to the very heart of our gospel authority. To say the least, co-operation between those wearing the same evangelical label but at loggerheads about their basic source of authority will become increasingly hard to achieve. Some suggest that these strains will prove too strong for some Anglicans, resulting in a reluctant evangelical secession. The more likely outcome, however, will be an evangelical church within the church similar to the two Anglican bodies in South Africa. Moves towards alternative episcopal oversight in the shape of Regional Advisers in the Reform group ofAnglicans certainly point in this direction.

3. Uncertainty over the lost

Hell is an emotive subject. Its character is real and awesome. Our Lord himself repeatedly spoke of it in the most solemn terms. The eternal punishment of the wicked used to be a common element in evangelical statements of faith. Todays evangelicals, however, are not so sure about hell, as more and more question hell’s unending duration and prefer to speak of some kind of annihilationism. Even highly respected evangelicals like John Stott hesitate to be dogmatic about this. The 1996 General Synod commended a report called, The Mystery ofSalvation which the popular media saw as reducing hell to nothingness, leaving evangelical critics of the report in a minority.

Then there is the question of those who have never heard the gospel. Can those in other religions be saved without having heard the name of Jesus and consciously believed on him? The principals of two leading independent Bible Colleges, Peter Cotterell (now retired from LBC) and Christopher Wright (ANCC), think that they can and have published work to promote these beliefs. The mixed reaction to these views in mission circles is interesting, since both have themselves served honourably as overseas missionaries. Quite apart from the genuine fears about the implications of their arguments for the exegesis of Scripture, many of their mission colleagues foresee that the next generation of candidates must inevitably look outside the eternal consequences of unbelief for their motivation. The growing popularity of these views has yet to be felt in some evangelical missionary organisations. But it will come.

4. Worship styles

Evangelical worship culture has gone through considerable change in the last three decades. Since they reflect the context of contemporary society these changes are unlikely to slow down. What is called post-modernism refuses to adopt one overall style. The implications of this are especially painful for the serious-minded evangelical church committed to the centrality of preaching and refusing to dispense with what has stood the test of time. Even those committed to a liturgical pattern are now permitted so many alternatives that pick and mix services are almost universal. The understandable concern to be contemporary has easily degenerated into the tyranny of novelty. Christians return from major national events with songs, tapes and ideas which they cannot wait to share with their home church. What is nothing less than an almost total breakdown in respect for ministerial leadership has created space for these innovations to take root, with all the subsequent disruptions this can feed. No wonder local church unity is everywhere under strain.

Few features of evangelical life are more likely to cause separation between local churches than forms of worship. The exercise of charismatic gifts and the accompaniment of physical phenomena are almost universal in some sectors of evangelicalism. Many reg

ard them as the new orthodoxy and, given a little time, all but the evangelical Luddites will catch up. But where does that leave those with serious biblical questions about these worship styles? Can two walk together unless they are agreed? If we cannot pray together how can we work together, since prayer is itself the essence of our work? Co- operating in evangelism, in youth work, in leadership training, all these happen in the context ofcorporate worship. Without a sense ofproportion about these very fundamental questions, further separation between gospel churches at different points on this spectrum seems inescapable.

5. Ecumenism and world faiths

Canberra was the setting for the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches in 1991 and the evangelical responses were decidedly cool. What disappointed them was not only an absence of a real theology of the Holy Spirit at an Assembly devoted to that theme but the presence of so much overt syncretism, denying the uniqueness of Christ (Beyond Canberra, Regnum Books, 1993). As ecumenism becomes more free from its Biblical moorings we must not be surprised that the ship is sailing closer to these rocks. Domestically, Methodist discussions with the Church of England are said to be on course for a gradual integrating of ministries but full inter-communion may have to wait until Anglicans admit women bishops, since Methodists already have women in their equivalent of the episcopate. The Anglicans will vote ftrst in 1997 and, if they agree to proceed, the Methodists will consider their options in 1998. The United Reformed Church already has 200 joint congregations with Methodists and has an observer at these talks.

Contemporary theology in the secular universities reflects the dominant world-view of humanist subjectivism, where every person’s god is as good as the other and every person’s truth is as valid as the other. Ironically, that very threat to Bible absolutes has driven some evangelicals to co-operate with any who stand for an objective Christian theology and has led them into a new rapprochement with Roman Catholics in the United States. The RC Church is, however, far from the monolithic body it once was and some of its academics, like Paul Knitter, are as close to universalism as the Hindus. Herbert Pollitt has amply documented the influence of this New Age thinking on the church (The Inter- Faith Movement, Banner of Truth, 1996). If the spirit of the age remains as strong an influence on the church as it has previously been then we can expect to hear a lot more of Creation Theology, well beyond sandal-wearing seminars at the Greenbelt Festival.

May I close by disclaiming any prophetic gift. I shall feel under no obligation to answer the bell to anyone arriving at my door in November 2001 with a copy of this article in one hand and carrying a large stone in the other.

(This article expands material the author earlier contributed to For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, eds. Steve Brady & Harold Rowdon, Scripture Union, 1996, chapter 24)

‪Battle For The Bible- The English Bible : John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer (Docummentary)‬‏

An illustrated Tyndale New Testament

Battle of the Bible tells the compelling story behind the world’s most famous book. The Biblical texts, translated into obscure Latin, were staunchly guarded, making common interpretation impossible and ensuring the authority of the Church. Through the stories of the brave reformers who paid the ultimate price to bring the … Bible to the people, Battle for the Bible reveals how a seed planted on English ground inspired a progressive way of thinking that crossed an ocean.

William Tyndale died a martyr, burned at the stake alive, with never having heard the Bible he translated into English, read in his native tongue on English soil.

(From KPBS)

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‪Battle For The Bible- The English Bible Wyclif…
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The Bible and Martin Luther

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 (via) Wikipedia and GreatSite

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Film -The Radicals- The first Anabaptists: Michael and Margaretha Sattler (1525)

You can read more about Michael Sattler’s contribution to the Baptist faith here ‘I Wait upon my God’ 16 page pdf written by Ched Spellman for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The year is 1525. Michael and Margaretha Sattler have fled their religious orders. Their quest: restore the church to the purity of its early days when communities of believers practiced peace, compassion and sacrificial love.

The Sattlers join a group called the Anabaptists and together challenge the 1000 year control of the Church by the State. They call for baptism to once again become, not a mark of State citizenship, but an adult and voluntary decision to follow Christ. As their movement grows, so does the determination of their enemies to stop them…by any means necessary.

In 1527, Michael is burned at he stake (after his tongue is cut out) and Margaretha drowned. But their movement survives and today is carried on by the Mennonites, Brethren, Brethren in Christ, the Hutterites, and the Amish.

This being a film about persecution, it does depict some violence that is not suitable for young children. (The last 5 minutes are also missing, due to technical difficulties. I apologize for that)

In 16th Century Europe there arose a group of people who acknowledged no authority but God’s. They were hunted like outlaws by both Protestants and Catholics. They were forced to meet in caves and forest glens. Many were burned at the stake or drowned. Their persecution lasted for over 200 years until they were nearly annihilated.

These people separated from the governments of the world and imitated Christ in everything. They refused the State’s protection saying, “If we accept a prince’s sword, we accept his authority. Christ is our only authority.”

They were a Church standing alone, without prince, sword, or money to protect them. “We have only one Lord, Christ Jesus, and that is all we need,” they said.

This peculiar people first alarmed local officials by baptizing adults and refusing to baptize infants. This gave them the name of Radicals or Anabaptists. At that time, infant baptism was viewed as a mark of citizenship. Baptizing newborns was the system’s way to register and track its citizens. Baptism was the equivalent of a birth certificate today.

Anabaptists committed ultimate treason by being baptized as adults. By being baptized again, they were renouncing their former citizenship. Adult baptism symbolized their breaking away from the old system and their joining with God’s kingdom.

Ever since Constantine, Church and State have been intertwined. Even the early Protestant movements sought the protection of their princes. But the Anabaptists refused such ties with the State and offered the world a new vision of Christ’s Kingdom, separated from the world.

“We must stand apart from the rest of the world. Anyone who joins Christ’s kingdom must separate from the world. It takes only one bad thread to ruin the whole fabric. If we allow the fabric of this world to be woven into Christ’s Church, then the Church is corrupted,” they said.

As these Radicals first began coming out of the corrupt Roman Catholic system, they could not concur on what they believed. Finally, at a secret meeting they agreed on these four articles:

1) Repentant adult sinners are to be voluntarily baptized to take them out of the old system and into the Kingdom of God.
2) No oaths of any kind are to be sworn.
3) The sword is rejected because it is outside the perfection of Christ.
4) There shall be a separation between the good and the evil, the believing and unbelieving, light and darkness, and the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdoms of the world. And none shall have part with the other.

The impact of the printing press on the Reformation, the history of the Bible and the emergence of the Puritans by Gavin Finley

Our journey of discovery to seek the roots of the Puritans begins at a time when the Holy Scriptures were coming to the common man in Europe. After a thousand years of medieval darkness the Word of God was returning. In Germany during the mid 1400’s Johannes Gutenberg had invented a printing press with movable type. This greatly increased the speed of printing books. These were difficult and dark days for Europe. The second Jihad had begun and the Turks were attacking Christendom in the east. High taxes, famine, and peasant uprisings brought their misery. But in this same time frame there was something wonderful happening as well. The Bible was being translated and distributed in large numbers. And with that the lights were going on all over Europe.

With the Bible being translated in the European languages good copies of the Holy Scriptures were soon beginning to come off the presses in Germany. Not only that, they were being printed rapidly in significant numbers and at prices people could afford. This was one of the keys to the dramatic changes seen back in the 1500’s. It has been said that Gutenberg’s printing press made the Reformation possible.

Along with the courageous stand by Martin Luther it was the Bible translators at their wonderful work who lit the candles and brought the Light of God’s Word into the medieval darkness. The translators unlocked the Bible from the Latin, the dead language of ancient Rome. The new printing presses, marvels of German engineering at the time, were sitting there waiting for the Bible translators to bring in their manuscripts. And so out came the Bibles into the hands of the European people. The illumination of the Word of God changed the hearts and minds and the motivations of the people who heard. This was a marvellous turn of events. The impact of the Bible on Western Civilization along with the good and the evil historical responses to its coming cannot be overestimated.

John Wycliffe, the ‘morning star of the Reformation’ had begun this work with a translation of the Bible into English in the 1300’s. In the 1500’s Martin Luther translated the scriptures into the German language. Luther himself was transformed in the process. The scriptures opened his eyes to what was going on around him. He was appalled to see the obvious disparities between what he saw in the Bible and what was being practiced by the Church of Rome. The selling of indulgences by the church, supposedly securing the release of loved ones from Purgatory, was the last straw for Luther. Protesting this outrage, and numerous other grievances he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg Cathedral. This sparked off a religious conflagration with the Roman Church in Germany. With Duke Ferdinand of Saxony and other German princes coming to his aid Luther avoided being taken into custody by the Roman church where he most certainly would have been burned as a heretic. Indeed, during the previous century in 1415 this had happened to a faithful priest in Bohemia, John Hus. Luther’s stand at the German city of Worms was historic. It was a defining moment for the church. And it led western Christendom into the Reformation.

Also in the 1500’s Englishmen Miles Coverdale and William Tyndale were translating the Bible into English. Tyndale was in exile in Europe. He lived a life of constant danger, translating the scriptures and living as a wanted man. His evangelical friends from Cambridge, John Frith and William Tewksbury, were both captured and burned at the stake. For years Tyndale was hunted down by agents of Henry VIII and the Bishop of London. Since Gutenburg’s printing presses were now proliferating in a big way it was Germany that was at that time the place to go for good printing work to be done. The coming of the scriptures to the common man had an enormous impact on European and English history. The Reformation led to the evangelical movement. Unfortunately its politicization led to a great tragedy. The awful 30 Years War wrecked Germany. It was left in such a ruined state that it would not recover for 200 years.

The 1500’s were years of great change. The peasants revolted throughout central Europe during a conflict that would come to known as the Peasant Wars. During this period of internal strife the Turks took advantage of the situation. They attacked European Christendom from the east. The Muslim forces advanced to the point where for a while they were actually closing in on Vienna. It was an awful time to be alive in Europe. It was a time of unprecedented religious, political and social upheaval.

Out of all this turmoil came the Anabaptists. These were the ultimate Christian radicals. The war in central Europe had gone on for a whole generation. Successive Catholic and Protestant armies had pillaged the countryside taking the lives of young and old. Germany and the Swiss valleys were left in in a shambles. Many were now migrating out of central Europe to take refuge in Holland which was to take a dominant role in European history in the following century. During the 1600’s Dutch sea power and peaceful trade had made this a place of refuge for many evangelicals. During the Reformation wars in central Europe many had seen enough of Christian savagery and barbarism to last several lifetimes. For many separatist evangelical Christians it got to the point where they didn’t care which army won. From the scriptures they had come to believe that Christianity was a matter of personal faith, not national or church sponsored citizenship. Nor was it about which church or cathedral you belonged to. It was all about a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ and a personal faith walked out with Him daily. Accordingly, while they paid their taxes to the governing powers the Anabaptists resolved to take no oaths of allegiance with the political or ecclesiastical princes, whoever they might be. Nor would they take up arms with or against any army coming into their valleys, whether they were Protestant or Catholic. These are the main articles of the „Schleitheim Confession”. This document was penned by one of the leading lights of the Anabaptist movement, Michael Sattler at the gathering at Schleitheim, in the mountains of Switzerland in February of 1527.

For their stand in the peace of Jesus Christ they were bitterly persecuted from both sides. Millions of Anabaptists died at the hands of Catholic and Protestant powers alike. They continued to die for over 200 years. This story has not been told. It has been cut out of the history books. From these determined Christian separatists came the peace loving Amish and Mennonites along with the Brethren and some primitive Baptists of the free church tradition. They remember this history. We don’t.

Let us make no mistake about this. These saints who had rejected the sword were still full of Christian zeal. But they had given up on a church that had corrupted itself by going to bed with the state. They would prefer to go to their secret Christian meetings, even if they were under the constant threat of being arrested. If an Anabaptist met another on the pathway they would challenge him with the scripture,
„You cannot serve two masters”.
If the other man was an Anabaptist he would smile and reply,
„You cannot serve God and mammon”.

The pathway they were now going on was a ‘highway of holiness’. ~ Isa.35:8-10. The Anabaptists resolved to keep their little church pure in devotion to Christ. They were weary of seeing the hideous mixture of the cross and the sword played out before their eyes year after weary year. The sword had been stained with Christian blood. To their mind it had become a despised and shameful thing. It no longer had the sacred power of chivalry it once held over them. They had seen its dark side. It had come to the point where they were going to turn their back on politics and make the peaceful preaching of the Gospel their prime concern come what may. At this time the first missionary outreaches were organized. The Mennonites, the Baptists, the Brethren and many other Christian groups began to send out missionaries beyond European shores. A new era in Christian missions had begun.

THE EMERGENCE OF THE ENGLISH PURITANS IN THE 1500’s.

This is where we pick up our story of the Puritans. The coming of the English Bible was giving rise to desires for full Reformation of the Church of England. There was even talk of ‘purifying’ the Church of England. It was during the latter part of the 1500’s that men like Thomas Cartwright began to argue for a purified English Christianity. They wanted to see a Church of England free of the medieval trappings and vestments of the Roman Church from which it had come. These reformist evangelicals came to be called ‘Puritans’.

These were dangerous times to express such views. During the reign of „Bloody Mary”, and throughout the 1500’s many separatist evangelicals were burned at the stake. But these persecutions, as usual, only spread the fires of devotion both inside the Church of England and outside the national church in the secret house meetings of the persecuted ‘Non-Comformists’.

In 1603 Protestant King James I came to the throne. By this time the Puritans were poised to move their agenda forward. These were turbulent times. Political extremists were abroad along with religious separatists. To the King and his bishops these people were all the same. As they saw it all these unregulated people were equally dangerous. Whether they be political dissidents or religious dissidents they all disturbed the peace with their tiresome petitions for reform. They interrupted the quiet life of the people which the leaders had worked so hard to maintain. In 1605, a Catholic zealot named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament. He and his anarchist friends wanted to kill the king and as many Puritan parliamentarians as possible. The plot was discovered and Guy Fawkes was executed.

1611 was a banner year for evangelicals in England. The King James Bible went out to the people. With the more ready access to the scriptures the Puritans continued to gain in numbers. King James was forced to put more restrictions on these movers and shakers. This in turn caused them to to push even harder for reform in the Church of England.

Evangelicals in England during those times had two choices. They could separate from the Church of England and became Non-Conformists or Pilgrim style Separatists. Or they could join the Puritans and stay in the system hoping to reform it from within. Both streams of evangelical Christianity were persecuted but the separatists had it far worse. King James had commissioned the printing of the Holy Scriptures which sets men free. But under his reign religious freedom was still not realized. Englishmen were still forbidden to worship outside the Church of England. Many Bible believing Christians, under persecution by the king’s bishops, were forced to flee the country. A Puritan community from the town of Scrooby left for Holland in 1608.

During this time the expanding Dutch sea trade to India had made Holland extremely wealthy. The infusion of new and vital people from the Reformation Wars in central Europe had enriched Holland in many ways. It was the place to be for people like godless rationalists and Godly evangelicals, both groups considering themselves enlightened. In the 1600’s Holland was the trade center of Europe. It was also the place where new ideas, the Renaissance arts, (which had originated in Italy), and ideas could be expressed in peace without church or governmental interference. This was good for evangelical Christians. It was also good for humanists, rationalists and freethinkers like Erasmus. Dutch trade and sea power had made the Netherlands the dominant power in Europe during that time. Here people of faith could gather and worship without fear of persecution. Here too they could educate their children into a biblical world view with their own Christian schools. But for the Pilgrims and Puritans from Scrooby, (and others), Holland was a temporary haven. But it was not their destiny. The Puritan fellowship from Scrooby would only stay there in Holland 12 years. Then they would set forth towards the next stop on their epic journey. The Pilgrims and Puritans were bound for the New World. During the fall of 1620 they set sail aboard the Mayflower.

Meanwhile, back in England, the Puritans fumed and fretted and chafed under the constraints under which their new biblical faith was forced to operate. The difficult Pilgrim path of living as „non conformists” and walking a separated life to Christ was open to them of course. But the Puritans were committed to the continuation of a church-state union. So they remained within the Church of England trying to move the huge medieval colossus with all its „Romish” trappings forward inch by inch into biblical Christianity. Being people who believed in ‘the system’ the Puritans were determined to change the national church from within. But they were having a very very frustrating time. Since they were forbidden to worship outside the Church of England they were stuck. The church that they believed in just didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

The Church of England did provide wonderful opportunity for English Christians since it cut them off from Roman Catholicism. But its birth was not a spiritual birth so much as a political one. Henry VIII had broken the English church free of its moorings with the Church of Rome. Now the scriptures were shining a lamp onto the pathway ahead. Many Englishmen were coming into a personal faith in Christ. The Puritans were keen to move on out of the medieval darkness. Yet the bishops, under the kings thumb, were holding back the very church reforms that these new Bible reading Christians considered necessary.

All this was making things very difficult for the emerging Puritans. They did not want to take the road of ‘separation of church and state’ as the Pilgrim separatists were doing. They were not going to worship secretly. Nor did they want to gather in little fellowships. They were Englishmen! And they would worship God as Englishmen. If the system was not with them then their future course was clear. They would change the system! If the king wanted them in a single national church that was fine. But by God’s help they were bound and determined to move the Church of England forward into an enlightened Biblical Christianity.

The proliferation of Bibles in the 1500’s made these times of great religious discovery. The Puritan corporate conscience began to burn within them. They prayed and they agonized a s they sought to bring political and social substance to their dreams of a ‘nation under God’. They knew what could and should be done. And by God’s help they were going to make it happen!

In the early 1600’s this Puritan zeal was building up enormous political pressure within English society. The history that followed was quite predictable.

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