Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pius X: "Protestantism as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all the heresies, that have been before it, after it, and that could still be born to slaughter the souls"


On a web page entitled, Martin Luther: The greatest heretic in human history comes the following quote from Pope Pius X:  

“Protestantism as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all the heresies, that have been before it, after it, and that could still be born to slaughter the souls” -Pius X
I was curious to see this quote in its original context, especially in light of the current Pope and the trend in ecumenism the Magisterium has engaged in since the twentieth century. For instance, see my post from a few years ago: Pope Francis and Martin Luther. While many of Rome's defenders battle in cyber space to stomp out the "Protestant Revolt," Pope Francis willingly received a statue of Luther at the Vatican and is saying things like, "With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the Church’s life." If you were a faithful Roman Catholic between 1903 and 1914, Pope Pius X seems like he's saying something a bit different about the Reformation than Pope Francis in the twenty-first century. Let's take a look at the quote from Pius X and make sure it says what it's purported to say.    
 
Documentation
The web page in which I found this quote does not provide a reference, nor did any of the others I came across in my cursory search with this exact wording. However, there are other versions of the quote that offered up helpful clues:   
"Protestantism, or Reformed religion, as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all heresies that have been before it, that have been after it, and that still could be born to slaughter souls." St. Pius X, ora pro nobis. (link)
This same catechism (p. 398) states “Protestantism * * * is the sum of all Heresies. The most monstrous congeries of errors, both private and individual, and enfolds all heresies.” (link)
“Protestantism, or the reformed religion, as its founders haughtily call it, is the sum of all heresies that ever existed before it, that have arisen since, or that may arise hereafter for the ruin of souls" (link)

From these texts I was able to determine the primary source: Compendio della dottrina cristiana prescritto da sua Santita Papa Pio X. As one of the texts above states, this was a 1905 Catechism by Pope Pius X.  The quote is found on page 398 of the 1906 edition


Context

128. Fra le altre, vanno tristamente famose le eresie: di Sabellio, che impugnò il dogma della SS. Trinità; di Manete, che negò l'Unità di Dio, ed ammise nell'uomo due anime; di Ario, che non volle riconoscere la Divinità di N. S. Gesù Cristo; di Nestorio, che negò a Maria SSma la sua eccelsa qualità di Madre di Dio, e distinse in Gesù Cristo due persone; di Eutiche, il quale in Gesù Cristo non ammise che una sola natura; di Macedonio, che combattè la divinità dello Spirito Santo; di Pelagio, che intaccò il dogma del peccato originale e della necessità della grazia; degli Iconoclasti, che ripudiarono il culto delle Sacre Imagini e delle Reliquie dei Santi; di Berengario, che disdisse la presenza reale di N. S. Gesù Cristo nel SS. Sacramento; di Giovanni Hus, che negò il primato di S. Pietro e del Romano Pontefice; e finalmente la grande eresia del Protestantesimo (sec. XVI), prodotta e divulgata principalmente da Lutero e da Calvino. Questi novatori, col respingere la Tradizione divina riducendo tutta la rivelazione alla S. Scrittura, e col sottrarre la S. Scrittura medesima al legittimo magistero della Chiesa, per darla insensatamente alla libera interpretazione dello spirito privato di ciascheduno, demolirono tutti i fondamenti della fede, esposero i Libri Santi alla profanazione della presunzione e dell'ignoranza, ed aprirono l'adito a tutti gli errori.
129. Il protestantesimo o religione riformata, come orgogliosamente la chiamarono i suoi fondatori, è la somma di tutte le eresie, che furono prima di esso, che sono state dopo, e che potranno nascere ancora a fare strage delle anime.


Conclusion

Yes, the quote says Protestantism is the sum of all heresies that have been before it, that have been after it and that it's a soul killer. The quote is found in an appendix to the Catechism which discusses church history (Breve Storia Della Religione). In #128 (above), Luther and Calvin are specifically singled out for rejecting "divine Tradition" "reducing all revelation to Scripture," and interpreting Scripture without the Roman Magisterium. The quote then follows in #129.  It's interesting that this Catechism is found in various places online (translated into English), but this section does not appear (see, for instance, EWTN's version and this print version). The 1905 Catechism was revised and rereleased in 1912. "The history of the Christian religion" appendix section does occur in the revision, but it appears the appendices are left off at times.  I don't suspect any nefarious purposeful deletions. Rather, it appears the Catechism section has more pragmatic value. 

The Catechism also has some other interesting tidbits: 

Q. What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants? A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

D. Che dovrebbe fare il cristiano se gli venisse offerta la Bibbia da un protestante o da qualche emissario dei protestanti? R. Se ad un cristiano venisse offerta la Bibbia da un protestante, o da qualche emissario dei protestanti, egli dovrebbe rigettarla con orrore, perché proibita dalla Chiesa; che se l'avesse ricevuta senza badarvi, dovrebbe tosto gettarla alle fiamme, o consegnarla al proprio parroco.[source]

Q. Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles? A. The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.
D. Perché la Chiesa proibisce le Bibbie protestanti? R. La Chiesa proibisce la Bibbie protestanti perché o sono alterate e contengono errori, oppure, mancando della sua approvazione e delle note dichiarative dei sensi oscuri, possono nuocere alla Fede. Per questo la Chiesa proibisce eziandio le traduzioni della Sacra Scrittura già approvate da essa, ma ristampate senza le spiegazioni dalla medesima approvate. [source]
Pope Pius was not tolerant of ecumenism towards Protestants. He lumped all Protestants in with "modernism," that movement of liberalism within theology that infiltrated the ivory towers of academia (philosophy, history, sciences), most particularly Roman Catholic scholarship. Protestantism, according to Pius X, was that movement that ushered in the destruction of religion. Pius also called modernism the "sum" or "synthesis" of all heresies. Despite these attributes, J.N.D. Kelly refers to him as "deeply conservative" and "one of the most constructive reforming popes." Kelly also calls him "A man of transparent goodness and humility" [The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, 314].

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Luther openly acknowledged the rapid decline in morals that his new religion was bringing about?

Here's a snippet from one of Rome's defenders on the failure of the Reformation:
Luther openly acknowledged the rapid decline in morals that his new religion was bringing about: "Luther quite candidly admitted the distressing state of things described above without in the least glossing it over, which indeed he could not well have done; in fact, his own statements give us an even clearer insight into the seamy side of life in his day. He speaks of the growing disorders with pain and vexation; the more so since he could not but see that they were being fomented by his doctrine of justification by faith alone. "This preaching,"; he says, "ought by rights to be accepted and listened to with great joy, and everyone ought to improve himself thereby and become more pious. But, unfortunately, the reverse is now the case and the longer it endures the worse the world becomes; this is [the work of] the devil himself, for now we see the people becoming more infamous, more avaricious, more unmerciful, more unchaste and in every way worse than they were under Popery."
The basic gist is that Luther admitted his teaching ("his doctrine of justification by faith alone") made people worse. This is a typical charge, often argued by Rome's defenders that Luther was vexed and agonized that his teaching made things worse. If Luther's teachings really were from God, wouldn't they make people better? Wouldn't they make the world better? Even though I've covered this quote before, let's take a fresh look and see what Luther was saying about his evangelical teachings and their impact on the world.

Documentation
While no documentation is provided, Rome's defender mentioned the old Roman Catholic biographer Hartmann Grisar a few times. A quick Google search reveals the quote came from Grisar's multi-volume biography of Luther. In volume 4:210, Grisar states, 
Luther quite candidly admitted the distressing state of things described above without in the least glossing it over, which indeed he could not well have done; in fact, his own statements give us an even clearer insight into the seamy side of life in his day. He speaks of the growing disorders with pain and vexation; the more so since he could not but see that they were being fomented by his doctrine of justification by faith alone.

“This preaching,” he says, “ought by rights to be accepted and listened to with great joy, and everyone ought to improve himself thereby and become more pious. But, unfortunately, the reverse is now the case and the longer it endures the worse the world becomes; this is [the work of] the devil himself, for now we see the people becoming more infamous, more avaricious, more unmerciful, more unchaste and in every way worse than they were under Popery.”[3]
[3] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 1², p. 14, “Hauspostille.”
Grisar's original text was in German. He provides a helpful reference: ""Werke,” Erl. ed., 1², p. 14, “Hauspostille.”"  Here is Werke Erl. ed., 1², p. 14. The text reads, 


“Hauspostille” refers to the House Postil. The House Postil sermons were delivered by Luther at his house (the old monastery) to his friends and family between 1531 - 1535.  These sermons were not written by Luther, but were put together by two of Luther's associates  (Veit Dietrich and Georg Roerer). In many cases, two versions of the sermons exist, as is the case with this text. The text Grisar is citing is Veit Dietrich's. His account can be found in English in Dr. Martin Luther's House-Postil, in the First Sunday in Advent sermon (Matthew 21:1-9). Roerer's version can be found in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 5 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000) pp. 25-30. Both accounts are very similar, except that Dietrich's is longer, containing additional material at the end. We'll be primarily utilizing the English translation in which the quote in question can be found here, but also referring to Roerer's version also. 

Context
Luther first explains how the Jews expected a grand powerful king, not a meek man riding on a donkey. They expected a man of might and power like all earthly rulers. A king who could provide earthly riches and power, thrusting the Jews to a powerful place over all the nations. Rather, this man on a donkey had a different power: the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life:
For we are all poor sinners, but in baptism, and afterwards in our whole life, if we turn unto Christ, He comforts us, and says: Give me your sins and take my righteousness and holiness; let your death be taken from you, and put on my life. This is, properly speaking, the Lord Jesus' government. For all His office and work is this, that He daily takes away our sin and death, and clothes us with His righteousness and life. [Dietrich''s version]
Luther explains that a king with such extraordinary gifts should be most coveted, yet it is not:
"This announcement we should indeed hear with great joy, and every one should thereby be bettered and made more holy. But alas, the contrary is true, and the world grows worse as it grows older, becoming the very Satan himself, as we see that the people are now more dissolute, avaricious, unmerciful, impure and wicked than previously under the papacy." [Dietrich''s version]
"We must certainly receive this message eagerly and gratefully, by it becoming more pious and godly. Unfortunately there's the opposite side, that by this teaching the world becomes more and more hostile, wicked, and malicious; yet not through the fault of the teaching but of the people, thanks to the pernicious devil and death. Today people are possessed by seven devils, whereas before it was only one. The devil now bulldozes the people so that even under the bright light of the gospel they become greedier, slyer, more covetous, crueler, lewder, more insolent and ill-tempered than before under the papacy." [Roerer's version]
Notice in Roerer's version, Luther doesn't blame his teaching, but the people and ultimately Satan.
Luther goes on to say:
What causes this? Nothing else than that the people disregard this preaching, do not use it aright for their own conversion and amendment, that is, for the comfort of their conscience, and thankfulness for the grace and benefit of God in Christ; but every one is more concerned for money and goods, or other worldly matters, than for this precious treasure which Christ brings us. For the most of us, when we do not feel our misery, the fear of sin and death, would rather, like the Jews, have such a king in Christ as would give us riches and ease here on earth, than that we should comfort ourselves in Him in the midst of poverty, crosses, wretchedness, fear and death. The world takes no delight in this, and because the gospel and Christ do not give it what it desires, it will have nothing to do with Christ and the gospel.[Dietrich's version]
"Why so? Not through fault of the teaching but because the message is not met with thankful acceptance; people cast it to the wind and pay more attention to money and goods than to the blessed treasure which our Lord Christ brings to us." [Roerer's version]
In harmony with his earlier points, he explains people seek after earthly riches, not heavenly riches. Most people want the same powerful king the Jews expected, not the foolishness of Christ. With a pastoral heart, Luther warns:
Therefore our Lord in turn rebukes this world and says: Do you not rejoice in this, nor thank me, that through the sufferings and death of my only begotten Son, I take away your sins and death? Then I will give you sin and death enough, since you want it so; and where you were possessed of and tormented by only one devil, you shall now be tormented by seven that are worse. We see farmers, citizens and all orders, from the highest to the lowest, guilty of shameful avarice, inordinate life, impurity and other vices. Therefore let every one who would be a Christian be hereby warned as of God himself, joyfully and thankfully to hear and receive this announcement, and also pray to God to give him a strong faith, that he may hold fast this doctrine; then surely the fruit will follow, that he will daily become more humble, obedient, gentle, chaste and pious. For this doctrine is of a character to make godly, chaste, obedient, pious people. [Dietrich''s version]
Luther states those who accept this gospel will have fruit follow and "will daily become more humble, obedient, gentle, chaste and pious. For this doctrine is of a character to make godly, chaste, obedient, pious people." Then there are those who will not accept the gospel:
But those who will not gladly receive it, become seven times worse than they were before they heard it, as we see everywhere. And the hour will surely come when God will punish this unthankfulness. Then it will appear what the world has merited by it. Now, since the Jews would not obey the prophet, it is told to us that our King comes meek and lowly, in order that we may learn wisdom from their sad experience, and not be offended by His poverty, nor look for worldly pomp and riches, like the Jews; but learn that in Christ we have a King who is the Just One and Savior, and willing to help us from sin and eternal death. This announcement, I say, we should receive with joy, and with hearty thanks to God, else we must take the devil, with walling, weeping and gnashing of teeth." [Dietrich''s version]

Conclusion
Was the world getting worse because of Luther's "new religion"? Yes! In context, it's the world which grows worse because of the gospel being preached. Those though who accept the gospel are transformed by the gospel. Luther consistently held that the gospel would find great opposition, and would be attacked from all sides. The gospel would be used by the world as a license to sin and all sorts of evil because of Satan. The gospel would indeed make those of the world worse, while changing the lives of those who accept it. Luther wasn't postmillennial. While he was discouraged that the world seemed to be getting worse, his eschatological expectation can be traced back even to the early days of his Reformation work. For Luther, it was the end of the world. Things were indeed going to get worse. The Gospel was going to be fought against by the Devil with all his might. The true church was a tiny flock in a battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. He hoped the people would improve with the preaching of the Gospel, he often admitted he knew things were going to get worse because of the Gospel.


Addendum
These two links are of vital importance for anyone attempting to understand how Luther's House Postil was put together:

Unravelling Luther’s House Postils, Part 1

Unravelling Luther’s House Postils, Part 2

Of interest is the author's conclusion that "Veit Dietrich was correct; he was the only one who transcribed the sermons Luther preached in his home in the early 1530s, though Rörer may have been in attendance to hear portions of some of them."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bernard of Clairvaux: "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary"

What is the purpose of Holy Scripture? According to this website, via a quote attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary." This statement is part of a pro-Roman Catholic cumulative case of quotes from church history alleging to prove, "devotion to Mary is necessary for salvation." The page is representative of the worst of Roman Catholic propaganda: historical quotes devoid of references are used to bolster a pernicious Mariolatry. 

True, St. Bernard was known at times for excessive Mariology. It's ironic that Bernard's Marian views played a role in the sixteenth century Reformation.  Luther mentioned him a number of times, sometimes fondly, other times critical of his Mariology: that the church of his day put forth a warm and friendly Mary while Christ was portrayed as a harsh judge.  It's in the realm of possibility, therefore, that Bernard penned an excessive Marian comment. We'll see though, there is reason to doubt he wrote it. While some of Rome's defenders may believe "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary," it doesn't help their credibility when they use spurious quotes from church history. Let's take a closer look.   

Documentation
In the link I utilized, no documentation is provided. However, in an 1948 English translation of a seventeenth century Roman Catholic work from Jean Eudes, comes the following:  
1. The all-surpassing love of God for Mary causes Him to become entirely hers: "My beloved to me;' by His thoughts, words and actions. By His thoughts, because she has been from all eternity the first object of His love, after the sacred humanity of His Word, and the first and worthiest subject of His thoughts and designs: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways." (4) By His words, because St. Bernard declares that the whole of Sacred Scripture was written "for Mary, about Mary and on account of Mary."(5) By His works, because everything that God has done in the world of nature, grace and glory, and everything He has accomplished in the God-Man and through Him is more for the sake of this admirable Virgin, than all other creatures together as He loves her alone above all His creatures.
 (4) Proverbs 8,22                                                                                                                                                         (5) De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est. Serm. 1 in Salve.
The only difference in the English wording is the use of the word "sacred" rather than "holy." This text therefore may be the origination used to create this popular English version cyber-quote. This text from Jean Eudes was originally written in French in 1681:


The French version similarly provides Bernard's text in Latin (De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est), and provides the same reference: "Serm. 1 in Salve." "Serm. 1" refers to "sermon one," while "in Salve" refers to "Salve Regina" (Hail, Holy Queen, Marian Hymn). The reference then is to St. Bernard's first sermon on the Salve Regina (there are four sermons in total).  When searching out this Latin text, I discovered Eudes was correct that the quote was from Bernard's Salve Regina sermon, but he was in error as to which one it was. It's from Bernard's third sermon, not the first.


Context 

2. Non solum autem coelum et firmamentum, Domina rerum intelligitur, sed aliis nominibus convenienter appellatur, et rerum vocabulis designatur. Ipsa tabernaculum Dei, ipsa templum, ipsa domus, ipsa atrium, ipsa cubiculum, ipsa thalamus, ipsa sponsa, ipsa filia, ipsa arca diluvii, arca testamenti, urna aurea, ipsa manna, virga Aaron, vellus Gedeonis, porta Ezechielis, civitas Dei, ipsa coelum, ipsa terra, ipsa sol, ipsa luna et stella matutina, aurora ipsa et lucerna, tuba et mons, fons quoque hortorum, et lilium convallium; desertum ipsa, et terra repromissionis lacte et melle manans, stella maris, navis quoque, via in mari, sagena, vinea, ager, arca, horreum, stabulum, praesepe subjugale, apotheca, aula, turris, castra, acies, populus, regnum, sacerdotium. Ovis est, pascua est, paradisus est, palma est, rosa est, fluvius est, potus est, columba est, columna est, vestis est, margarita est, candelabrum est, mensa est, corona est, sceptrum est, panis est, oleum est, vinum est, arbor est, virga est, cedrus est, cypressus est, platanus est, cinnamomum est, balsamum est, myrrha est, thus est, oliva est, nardus est, crocus est, fistula, calamus, et storax est, soror et mater est. Et ut breviter concludam, de hac et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est, et haec gratia Dei plena est, et per hanc homo redemptus est, Verbum Dei caro factum est, Deus humilis, et homo sublimis.

A partial English translation can be found here:

“ O Lordess, Holy Mary, thou art heaven, earth, pasture, paradise, bread, drink, manna, oil, wine, cinnamon, balm, myrrh, frankincense, olive, spikenard, saffron, gum, a temple, a house, a bed-room, a bride, a lamp, a kingdom, a priesthood, a trumpet, a mountain, a wilderness, a field, a vine, a floor, a barr, a stable, a manger, a warehouse, a ball, a tower, a camp, an army, a bird, a palm, a rose, a river, a pigeon, a garment, a pearl, a candlestick, a table, a crown, a sceptre, a tree, a cedar, a cypress, a pipe, a reed, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a sun, a moon, a star, the city of God, the rod of Aaron, the fleece of Gideon, the gate of Ezekiel, the morning-star, the fountain of gardens, the lily of the valley, and the Land of Promise flowing with milk and honey.” 

And here:

His saintship, in the same elegant and edifying style, calls her ladyship, heaven, earth, pasture, paradise, bread, drink, manna, oil, wine, cinnamon, balm, myrrh, frankincense, olive, spikenard, saffron, gum, a temple, a house, a bed-room, a bride, a lamp, a trumpet, a mountain, a wilderness, a field, a vine, a floor, a barn, a stable, a manger, a warehouse, a hall, a tower, a camp, an army, a kingdom, a priesthood, a bird, a palm, a rose, a river, a pigeon, a garment, a pearl, a candlestick, a table, a crown, a sceptre, a tree, a cedar, a cypress, a reed, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a sun, a moon, a star, the city of God, the rod of Aaron, the fleece of Gideon, the gate of Ezekiel, the star of the morning, the fountain of gardens, the lily of the valley, and the land of promise flowing with milk and honey.
And here:
St. Bernard shows that the most orthodox faith finds no exaggeration in the words of the Rabbins, when he cries : 'It is for Mary that all Scripture has been made, for her the universe has been created. Full of grace, it is by her that the human race has been bought, the Word made flesh, God human and man God.'”.

Conclusion
The line that Eudes appears to be citing is "De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est." This translates to, "The Scriptures were intended for her, and the world made for her sake.

There is reason to doubt Bernard is the author of this quote. It's generally accepted that Bernard's four sermons on the Salve Regina are wrongly attributed to him. As far back as the seventeenth century, the Salve Regina sermons have been flagged as dubious. Jean Mabillon released a set of Bernard's collected works and included these sermons in his volume, Opera dubia, notha et supposititia (dubious, spurious, and inauthentic works).  In his 1891 Bibliographica Bernardina cataloging Bernard's writings, Leopold Janauschek lists the four Salve Regina sermons as falsely attributed to St. Bernard:
92. Sermones IV in (antiphonam) "Salve Regina" (qui Bernardum Totelanum auctorem habent).
Others have also noted the sermons are not from St. Bernard:
"And the spurious St. Bernard, “ De hac, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est,” &c. "The Scriptures were intended for her, and the world made for her sake.'" (source)
"But, be this as it may, they cite the sermons on the Salve Regina, and represent St. Bernard as having said—“innocens fusti ab originalibus et ab actualibus peccatis—Thou wast innocent, oh Queen, of all sin, whether actual or original.” But, as to this, the answer is, that the four sermons on the Salve Regina, attributed in some old collectors to St. Bernard, so far from being known to be his, are quite indisputably recognized as the work of another, as may be seen in the preface to the Paris folio edition. This is an important fact.
(d) Although thus marked as spurious by their own highest authorities, (as in the late Benedictine edition, in large octavo, vol. iv. p. 1442,) would it be believed that this passage is quoted, at large, as St. Bernard's, in a book published in Boston (Patrick Donahoe, 1855,) and approved by Bishops Neuman and Fitzpatrick? The work abounds in similar deceptions." (source)
Here's an irony I came across while looking into this quote: not only is the quote used unchecked to promote Mariology, it's also used by Rome's detractors to combat Mariolatry. When I first saw the quote, I immediately placed it in the "this quote sounds too good to be true" category... which provoked me to track it down.  Protestant apologists / lay-apologists are also responsible for the arguments they use against Roman Catholicism. If Protestants also use bogus information to refute Rome, shame on them! 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

John Chrysostom: "sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone"

I recently came across the following quote attributed to the early church father,  John Chrysostom: "sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone."  This Chrysostom snippet was part of a pro-Roman Catholic cumulative case of quotes from church history alleging to prove, "devotion to Mary is necessary for salvation." Without any disposition in looking up any of the quotes, I picked this Chrysostom quote from the list at random and decided to search out the original context. 

I don't claim to have any in-depth knowledge of Chrysostom's Mariology.  However, reading a quote from the actual source it came from as opposed to seeing it isolated surrounded by other out-of-context snippets often determines how much trust a particular web-page should be given.

My expedition to find the primary source determined that the context actually doesn't matter: it strongly appears this Chrysostom quote has a spurious pedigree. If he wrote it, the extant primary sources available today don't verify its authenticity.    

Documentation

This is a popular quote: simply do a basic Google "all" search to see the numerous hits it receives. It's not simply excessively Pro-Marian Roman Catholics utilizing it, a number of Rome's cyber-detractors find it an obvious example of blatant Mariolatry. A Google Books search reveals the obvious source of this quote and how it gained it's notoriety.  The majority of book usages point to one ultimate source,  Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, The Glories of Mary:

On these words St. Bernard encourages sinners, saying, 'Go to this Mother of Mercy, and show her the wounds which thy sins have left on thy soul ; then will she certainly entreat her Son, by the breasts that gave him suck, to pardon thee all. And this Divine Son, who loves her so tenderly, will most certainly grant her petition.'  In this sense it is that the holy Church, in her almost daily prayer calls upon us to beg our Lord to grant us the powerful help of the intercession of Mary to rise from our sins: Grant thy help to our weakness, O most merciful God; and that we, who are mindful of the holy Mother of God, may by the help of her intercession rise from our iniquities. With reason then does St. Lawrence Justinian call her the hope of malefactors;' since she alone is the one who obtains them pardon from God. With reason does St. Bernard call her the sinners' ladder;' since she, the most compassionate Queen, extending her hand to them, draws them from an abyss of sin, and enables them to ascend to God. With reason does an ancient writer call her the only hope of sinners;' for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of our sins. St. John Chrysostom also says 'that sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone (Per hanc et peccatorum veniam consequimur.---S. Joan. Chrysost. ap. Metaph. Brev. Rom. In Off. Nat. B. M. die 5.).
de' Liguori originally wrote this in Italian:



The Reference given in both the Italian and English share basic similarities, though the English has more information. This is because the English translator tried to check all the quotes and references (and also mentions a number of errors due to "the negligence of printers and editors"). 

What the reference actually shows is that it is not to a primary source from John Chrysostom. Rather, "Metaph" refers to the author Symeon Metaphrastes (tenth century). The old Catholic Encyclopedia refers to him as "The principal compiler of the legends of saints in the Menologia of the Byzantine Church." "Brev." refers to "Breviary" which is a book corresponding to chronological dates and readings, so in this case, it would be a chronological sampling utilizing the material of  Symeon Metaphrastes alleges to have collected of Chrysostom. 

The section from Metaphrastes citing Chrysostom appears in a number of sources. Let's utilize this one here. Basically, three small excerpts from Chrysostom from Symeon Metaphrastes are presented (Lectio IV, V, VI). The quote in question is found in Lectio VI.
  

Context


She is the mother of him, who was begotten of the Father before the beginning of all things; whom Angels and men acknowledge to be the Lord of all things. Would you know how much greater is this Virgin than any of the heavenly powers? They stand in his presence with fear and trembling, and veiled faces; she offers human nature to him whom she brought forth. Through her we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. Hail, then, O mother, heaven, maiden, virgin, throne, ornament, glory and foundation of the Church: pray without ceasing for us to Jesus, your Son and our Lord, that through you we may find mercy in the day of judgment, and may be able to obtain those good things which are prepared for those who love God, through the grace and loving-kindness of Jesus Christ our Lord: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, and honour, and dominion, now and forever, world without end. Amen.

Conclusion
In fairness to Rome's defenders, the reference found in de' Liguori's The Glories of Mary is indeed found in "ap. Metaph. Brev. Rom. In Off. Nat. B. M. die 5." It is true that Symeon Metaphrastes did present this quote from John Chrysostom "Per hanc et peccatorum veniam consequimur" (through her is the remission of sins) and de' Liguori translated it more forcefully: "che solo per l'intercessione di Maria i peccatori rivcevono il perdono" ("sinners receive forgiveness only through Mary's intercession"). This forcefulness was retained in the English translation.

The major problem with the quote is that it doesn't appear to be found in the extant writings of John Chrysostom. Note the following: 
"In the Roman Breviary, Festa Setembris die xii., there is the following extract from Metaphrastes. Vainly have we endeavored to find it in the Benedictine edition of Chrysostom's works, and there can be little doubt that it was not written by Chrysostom" (source).
"The passage is found in the Breviary, in Off. Nat. B. M. Die. 5, infra Oct. Lect. vi. The heading to Lect. iv. derives that and the two following Lessons from Sermo Sancti Joannis Chrysostomi apud Metaphrasten. It is sufficient to say that they do not occur in any discourse, published as genuine or spurious, in the great editions of S. Chrysostom. The authority of Symeon Metaphrastes is really worth less than nothing in such a case as this; for a genuine work of S. Chrysostom would have had little attraction for a writer who took upon himself to remodel and embellish the unadorned Lives of the Saints, with which the earlier Church had been contented, that they might be more agreeable to the false taste and corrupted religious sentiment of the tenth century" (source). 

I have vainly endeavored to find this extract in the Benedictine edition of Chrysostom; and have little doubt that it is taken from some spurious work (source).

 Theoretically, Symeon Metaphrastes could have had access to a primary source in the tenth century from Chrysostom that is no longer extant today. The Old Catholic Encyclopedia does their best to defend his reputation. They do though point out, "It is certain, that a number of these legends were written by Symeon from such sources as he found (partly oral tradition)." And also:

At one time his name was a byword for absurd fabrications. Ehrhard, Dobschütz and others have now shown him to be a conscientious compiler who made the best use of his material that he could. The often absurd stories in his lives were already contained in the sources from which he wrote them; he is not responsible for these, since his object was simply to collect and arrange the legends of the saints as they existed in his time.

 

Monday, February 08, 2021

Luther: “Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women..."

On the web page, Twenty Vile Quotes Against Women By Church Leaders from St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, the following Martin Luther quote is mentioned:

Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546), Table Talk 

This quote is one of a number proving "Christianity produced a steady diet of misogyny for over 2000 years," put forth by a "former evangelical," now a "psychologist and writer." Her biography can be found here. She appears to still embrace some form of spirituality, but rallies against conservative Christianity. It's interesting that while her entry spans the entirety of church history, she chose a big picture of Martin Luther to head her blog post (pictured here also).

Let's take a closer look at the quote. It's easy to cherry-pick quotes from church history, especially with an agenda and self-imposed blinders. While Luther was not in any sense a modern-day feminist, he was not the simplicity of a few quotes strung together to make him "vile."  

Documentation

The quote has traveled far, found not only in a number of webpages, but published books as well. The webpage simply says, "Table Talk," while correct, isn't a helpful reference. Which Table Talk? There are multiple versions of the Table Talk, both in their original languages and later English translations. 

The bulk of this Table Talk comment was recorded by Luther's associate Veit Dietrich sometime in 1531. LW 54 states Dietrich "had a gift for getting the substance of Luther's remarks on paper" but was not always interested "in reporting the particular situation to which the Reformer was addressing himself" (LW 54:5). Such is the case with this remark. There is no context, at all. 

The comment can be found in WA, TR 1:19,


The original transcription was in a Latin / German mix (with the word "home" being in Greek, oikouros). "Keep house, and bear and bring up children" was not recorded by Dietrich, but appears to be an addition by John Aurifaber. Aurifaber did record some of Luther's comments, but only in the last year of his life, so he did not personally witness this remark. He relied on the notes of others, becoming, in essence, an editor of the primary sources. "Keep house, and bear and bring up children" appears to be an example of Aurifaber smoothing over the original text. In Dietrich's version, Luther is recorded as ending by saying women should stay home because they have big hips and wide buttocks to sit on. What was perhaps Luther making a crude comment in jest was smoothed over with the addition of "being homemakers and raising children." 

Aurifaber's popular German version  was the means by which the comment made it's way into English.  Aurifaber's German text reads 


This German version was translated into English in the seventeenth-century, but further complicated things by combined two different Table Talk utterances together (80, 81):


Then the English was eventually revised in the eighteenth-century (similarly combining two different Table Talk entries). Eventually, some later English versions of the Table Talk separated the comment back to its isolated form. It appears the version being utilized by the feminist blogger actually wasn't taken from any of these, but rather a secondary source because of the uniqueness of the phrase "more understanding than women," The actual English versions of the Table Talk typically read, "more understanding than the women."

This particular Table Talk statement was included in Luther's Works (LW 54:8), combining Dietrich with Aurifaber's ending denoted by brackets. Notice also LW's smoothing over "latum podicem" with the obscure English rendering, "fundament."

Context
No. 55: The Difference Between Men and Women Summer or Fall, 1531
“Men have broad shoulders and narrow hips, and accordingly they possess intelligence. Women have narrow shoulders and broad hips. Women ought to stay at home; the way they were created indicates this, for they have broad hips and a wide fundament to sit upon [keep house and bear and raise children].”

Conclusion
Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. The "former evangelical" using the quote would've given herself more credibility had she first documented the quote correctly, then, secondly, not used it at all, but rather utilized a quote with a context and a better pedigree (something actually written by Luther). From our current western pro-feminist zeitgeist, she would've certainly found some actual Luther quotes. 

The basic problem with the feminist using this quote is that it's selective in leaving out all the other positive things Luther said about women that don't fall in the category of "vile." Factor in also the comments Luther made about his wife (which would double the size of this entry). Did the "former evangelical" consider any of this evidence? I have my doubts. It's simply human nature, be it male or female, to vilify that which we're against, to treat people unfairly, especially if they've been dead for many centuries, lived in a different time period and in a different culture... that's the way discrimination works.  

From my contemporary perspective, I suspect the original source reveals Luther was probably making a crude joke. This though is only speculation. Regardless, it's not the sort of comment I approve of, even in jest.  Was it a "vile" quote against women? That depends. If one has a modernist sensitivity to anything that speaks negatively of women, even in jest, then, yes. If Luther was simply making a joke, humorists have made fun of the social and physical differences between men and women for centuries, relying on broad stereotypes.  

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Martin Luther Was Evil and I Need to Tell Everyone

This blog had an open unmoderated comment policy for quite a while, then spammers and some nefarious people became a nuisance, so moderation was turned on. 

I've gotten a number of comments recently all basically saying the same thing: Luther was an awful person, with some comments going further, by extension inferring, James Swan is also an awful person. 

Frankly, I don't have time to interact with comments like that. If you don't like Martin Luther or John Calvin, or the Reformation period of history,  that's fine. You are entitled to your opinion. There are things about Luther, Calvin, and the Reformation that I don't like either.

So, here's what I propose: I'm not going to allow the "Luther was an awful person" stuff on my previous entries. Generally, I've noticed those types of comments don't actually engage the material I'm putting forth. 

However: this entry will be moderated but left open for the "Luther was an awful person" comments. Feel free to post away and express yourself about how terrible you think Luther was.  I'll publish them all, unless they are crude or trouble my tender heart in some way.  

Monday, December 28, 2020

Luther: No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise

On the web page, Twenty Vile Quotes Against Women By Church Leaders from St. Augustine to Pat Robertson, the following Martin Luther quote is mentioned:
No gown worse becomes a woman than the desire to be wise. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546), Table Talk

This quote is one of a number proving "Christianity produced a steady diet of misogyny for over 2000 years," put forth by a "former evangelical," now a "psychologist and writer." Her biography can be found here. She appears to still embrace some form of spirituality, but rallies against conservative Christianity. It's interesting that while her entry spans the entirety of church history, she chose a big picture of Martin Luther to head her blog post (pictured here also). 

Let's take a closer look at the quote. It's easy to cherry-pick quotes from church history, especially with an agenda and self-imposed blinders. While Luther was not in any sense a modern-day feminist, he was not the simplicity of a few quotes strung together to make him "vile."  

Documentation

The quote has traveled far, found not only in a number of webpages, but published books as well. The webpage simply says, "Table Talk," which in essence, isn't a helpful reference, but the majority of uses I found either don't provide a reference or similarly mention the Table Talk

The quote does come from the Table Talk.  It's from the recollection of Luther's associate, John Schlaginhaufen, who recorded Luther's' remarks from 1531-32. The comment probably dates from May 1532. The comment can be found in WA TR 2:130 (#1555):


The comment made it into English via the German version of the Table Talk put together by John Aurifaber (FB. 1, 208 above). The text reads


This German version was translated into English in the seventeenth-century:


Then the English was eventually revised in the eighteenth-century:

What ill becomes the Women.
There is no gown nor garment that becomes a woman worse (said Luther), than when she will be wise.
There are also subtle English variations: 
"There is no gown or garment becomes a woman worse" (said Luther), "than when she will be wise." (1832)
There is no gown or garment that worse becomes a woman than when she will be wise.  (1848)
 Examples of the English version that began this entry can be found in the early twentieth-century.  

An interesting contemporary English rendering comes from Susan C. Karant-Nunn and Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Luther on Women: A Sourcebook: "There is no dress that suits a woman or maiden so badly as wanting to be clever." In their rendering, "wanting to be clever" has a different spin than wanting "to be wise."


Context

As with many Table Talk comments, there is not a context provided.  The Table Talk is a collection of second hand comments written down by Luther's friends and students, published after his death.



Conclusion

Luther didn't write the Table Talk. Since the statements contained therein are purported to have been made by Luther, they should serve more as corroborating second-hand testimony to something Luther is certain to have written. The "former evangelical" using the quote would've given herself more credibility had she first documented the quote correctly, then, secondly, not used it at all, but rather utilized a quote with a context and a better pedigree (something actually written by Luther).  From our current western pro-feminist zeitgeist, she would've certainly found some Luther quotes. 

Here's an opportunity to point out to Rome's defenders how wonderful "tradition" is (yes, that's sarcasm). Luther inherited his views on women from that which preceded him (as do we also). The basic overview from Luther on Women: A Sourcebook is helpful: "Luther's view of women's nature is continuous with that of earlier thinkers and compatible with the opinions of many other sixteenth-century theologians." They go on to mention an interesting historical tidbit: 


Luther was not an abject misogynist, nor a consistent misogynist. Another blogger examining the quote made an interesting observation.  If one were to follow the method of citing the Table Talk for Luther's positions, the entry that comes before the quote in question says, 
I have oftentimes noted, when women receive the doctrine of the gospel, they are far more fervent in faith, they hold to it more stiff and fast, than men do; as we see in the loving Magdalen, who was more hearty and bold than Peter.
Factor in also the comments Luther made about his wife (which would double the size of this entry). Did the "former evangelical" consider any of this evidence? I have my doubts. It's simply human nature, be it male or female, to vilify that which we're against, to treat people unfairly, especially if they've been dead for many centuries, lived in a different time period and in a different culture... that's the way discrimination works.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Calvin to Melanchthon: "It is indeed important that posterity should not know of our differences" and Melanchthon's Tears

From a discussion entitled, The ruinous Protestant Deformation of Catholic Christendom in Europe, comes the following alleged interaction between Protestant Reformers John Calvin and Philip Melanchthon:
"It is important" said the heretic Calvin in a letter to Melanchton [sic], "that posterity should not know of our differences. For it is indescribably ridiculous that we, who are in opposition to the whole world, should be, at the very beginning of the Reformation, at variance among ourselves." And Melanchton [sic] replied "All the waters of the Elbe would not yield me tears sufficient to weep for the miseries caused by the Reformation". The most regrettable Protestant Deformation of Catholic Christendom was a manifest tragedy from the very beginning.
This Calvin / Melanchthon pericope has been around for many years in various forms (typically perpetuated by Rome's defenders). The basic thrust is that Calvin and Melanchthon's lack of unification proves "the most regrettable Protestant Deformation of Catholic Christendom was a manifest tragedy from the very beginning."  In the quote above, Calvin appears as attempting to cover up his differences with Melanchthon for "posterity" (deliberate deception?), while Melanchthon is portrayed as responding distraught over the disunity and the overall results of the Reformation (severe regret).  In essence, Calvin appears to want a cover up which provokes Melanchthon to seek out an endless box of tissues to wipe his tears due to the "miseries caused by the Reformation." Let's take a closer look at this interaction:  it's basic Roman Catholic propaganda seeking to present the Reformers in the worst possible way.  

Documentation: Calvin's Letter to Melanchthon 
This particular bit of rhetoric has been around over one hundred years. I suspect it gained its cyber- popularity for English speaking audiences through Father Patrick O'Hare's The Facts About Luther.  The book was originally published in 1916, then again by the Roman Catholic publisher Tan Books in 1987.  O'Hare states,
The other reformers were not a whit better than Luther in regard to toleration. The injury done their cause by their bickerings, disunions and hostilities did not escape their own notice. Calvin, for instance, fully aware of the disastrous results accruing from the specious principles of universal liberty by which the reformers had allured multitudes to their standard, wrote to Melanchthon: “It is indeed important that posterity should not know of our differences; for it is indescribably ridiculous that we, who are in opposition to the whole world, should be, at the very beginning of the Reformation, at issue among ourselves.” Melanchthon wrote in answer that "the Elbe with all its waters could not furnish tears enough to weep over the miseries of the distracted Reformation.” [source]
The 1987 reprint includes an ironic typo in this section: "It is indeed important that posterity should now know of our differences" (p. 293). That's quite a difference in meaning! One of Rome's more popular defenders appears to have noticed the error / difference when citing it and used brackets: "[not]". O'Hare's English rendering was probably not his own: the exact same English translation appears in this 1881 text.  O'Hare was a master at nineteenth-century cut-and-paste... the majority of citations in his book were taken from secondary sources.  

Contrary to most modern on-line occurrences of this pericope, O'Hare's main thrust was that Calvin made his comment because he was "fully aware of the disastrous results accruing from the specious principles of universal liberty by which the reformers had allured multitudes to their standard." That "universal liberty" which "allured multitudes" was, as he goes on to say, "the lawless anarchy into which Protestantism in its various forms had sunk...". For O'Hare, Calvin wanted a major cover-up because of moral failure perpetuated by those adhering to Protestantism. How ironic, given that Calvin is often chastised for being the disciplinarian tyrant of Geneva, beating people down when they violated the Genevan moral code!

O'Hare had many sources to choose from: Calvin's part of this pericope circulated heavily in English texts in the nineteenth century (typically without Melanchthon's reply), for example: "It is of great importance that the divisions which subsist among us should not be known to future ages: for nothing can be more ridiculous than that we, who have broken off from the whole world, should have agreed so ill among ourselves from the very beginning of the Reformation." That O'Hare utilized it is typical of Roman Catholic anti-reformation propaganda of that time period.    

This Calvin quote is genuine. It does indeed come from a letter written to Melanchthon (November 28, 1552). It can be found in the Corpus Reformatorum 14:415 (this scan is poor, this PDF download link here is better). The text reads, 


This Latin text has been translated into English in Dr. Jules Bonnet's Letters of John Calvin Volume 2, p. 375-381, with the quote occurring on pages 376-377


Context: Calvin's response to Melanchthon
Jules Bonnet points out that Melanchthon's correspondence to Calvin had gone through a period of "long silence" probably due to wars in Germany. The letter Calvin was responding to was written October 1, 1552. It's a short two-paragraph Latin letter (C.R. 7:1085).  Philip Schaff translates the relevant first paragraph:
“How often," wrote Melanchthon, Oct. 1, 1552, "would I have written to you, reverend sir and dearest brother, if I could find more trustworthy letter carriers. For I would like to converse with you about many most important matters, because I esteem your judgment very highly and know the candor and purity of your soul. I am now living as in a wasp's nest; but perhaps I shall soon be called from this mortal life to a brighter companionship in heaven. If I live longer, I have to expect new exiles; if so, I am determined to turn to you. The studies are now broken up by pestilence and war. How often do I mourn and sigh over the causes of this fury among princes." 
 Calvin's reply is much longer, the opening includes the quote:
Nothing could have come to me more seasonably at this time than your letter, which I received two months after its dispatch. For, in addition to the very great troubles with which I am so sorely consumed, there is almost no day on which some new pain or anxiety does not occur. I should, therefore, be in a short time entirely overcome by the load of evils under which I am oppressed, did not the Lord by his own means alleviate their severity; among which it was no slight consolation to me to know that you are enjoying tolerable health, such at least as your years admit of and the delicate state of your body, and to be informed, by your own letter, that your affection for me had undergone no change. It was reported to me that you had been so displeased by a rather free admonition of mine which, however, ought to have affected you far otherwise—that you tore the letter to pieces in the presence of certain witnesses. But even if the messenger was not sufficiently trustworthy, still, after a long lapse of time, his fidelity was established by various proofs, and I was compelled at length to suspect something. Wherefore I have learned the more gladly that up to this time our friendship remains safe, which assuredly, as it grew out of a heartfelt love of piety, ought to remain for ever sacred and inviolable. But it greatly concerns us to cherish faithfully and constantly to the end the friendship which God has sanctified by the authority of his own name, seeing that herein is involved either great advantage or great loss even to the whole Church. For you see how the eyes of many are turned upon us, so that the wicked take occasion from our dissensions to speak evil, and the weak are only perplexed by our unintelligible disputations. Nor, in truth, is it of little importance to prevent the suspicion of any difference having arisen between us from being handed down in any way to posterity; for it is worse than absurd that parties should be found disagreeing on the very principles, after we have been compelled to make our departure from the world. I know and confess, moreover, that we occupy widely different positions; still, because I am not ignorant of the place in this theatre to which God has elevated me, there is no reason for my concealing that our friendship could not be interrupted without great injury to the Church. And that we may act independent of the conduct of others, reflect, from your own feeling of the thing, how painful it would be for me to be estranged from that man whom I both love and esteem above all others, and whom God has not only nobly adorned with remarkable gifts in order to make him distinguished in the eyes of the whole Church, but has also employed as his chief minister for conducting matters of the highest importance. And surely it is indicative of a marvelous and monstrous insensibility, that we so readily set at nought that sacred unanimity, by which we ought to be bringing back into the world the angels of heaven.

Documentation: Melanchthon's Response to Calvin
Father O'Hare does not document Melanchthon's response to Calvin that "the Elbe with all its waters could not furnish tears enough to weep over the miseries of the distracted Reformation." This book which preceded his by a year or so uses a different wording for the Calvin quote followed by the exact Melanchthon quote (also noting it was a response to Calvin). 

The two quotes appear to have originally been placed together for polemical reasons but not as a written correspondence between the two Reformers. This 1874 Roman Catholic source uses both quotes but does not indicate Melanchthon was responding to Calvin. This book from 1895 uses both quotes, but similarly does not indicate the words are a response to Calvin (and also places a quote from Beza in-between). Note the following example of Roman Catholic propaganda from Our Sunday Visitor, March 19,1916:



Nineteenth century English texts have a number of instances of Melanchthon's tears and the ElbeThis text from 1849 reads, "Could I but shed as many tears as our Elbe pours of waves when in full stream, my grief would not be drawn dry." This nineteenth century book attributes the quote from Melanchthon to Luther: "The Elbe with all its waters, wrote Melanchthon, to his dear master Luther, would not supply me with tears enough to lament all the evils of the Reformation." This text has "the Elbe with all its streams..." weeping over "the divided reformation." In an 1828 text, the quote is put forth as "The Elbe (wrote he in confidence to a friend) 'the Elbe with all its waves could not furnish tears enough to weep over the miseries of the distracted reformation.'" Was Calvin 'the friend"? That a defender of Rome would pass up Calvin's name seems unlikely! This 1828 text was originally in French (1824), put forth as "l'Elbe avec tous ses flots ne sauroit me fournir assez de larmes pour pleurer les malheurs de la réforme divisée." The translation of this French text may be the the English source of this quote that ultimately wound up in O'Hare's book. 

It's difficult to locate an exact reference for Melanchthon's quote as presented by Father O'Hare. Often nineteenth century texts document versions of  the quote as "Epist. lib. ii, EP 202" (I've yet to find this).  The reason the reference and original source are so elusive is that Melanchthon used the "Elbe + tears" imagery a number of times. Johannes Janssen says that in a September 1545 letter Melanchthon said, "Had I as many tears as the waters of the Elbe... still they would not cease to flow." Janssen's source appears to be this 1545 letter to Dr. Theodore Vitus, "Si tantum lacrymarum fundere possem, quantum undarum noster Albis pleno vehit alveo, non posset exhauriri meus dolor ortus ex hac dissensione."  In 1548 Melanchthon wrote to  Archbishop Cranmer
I do not, however, desire in this letter to do any thing more than express my grief, which is so great, that it could not be exhausted, though I were to shed a flood of tears as large as our Elbe or your Thames.
In in a letter from September 1, 1554, Melanchthon writes: 


This source cites this letter, saying that Melanchthon "wrote to Joannes Timannus (c.1500-c. 1577) in Amsterdam that he wished that he had as many tears as there was water in the Elbe to cry grief about the dispute regarding the Lord's supper." In a letter dated September 5, 1555, Melanchthon says, 


In a letter dated April 18, 1556, Melanchthon writes:


Note that Melanchthon's Elbe tears are linked to "propter dissensionem in Ecclesia."

Conclusion
I came across this bit of propaganda back in 2006, then questioning where the letter from Melanchthon back to Calvin could be found. Now, with so many sources available, it has been much easier to solidify my suspicion that no such letter exists. In its popular form, the pericope is not a back and forth dialog between Calvin and Melanchthon, but appears rather to be the result of English anti-Reformation rhetoric from the nineteenth and early twentieth century that placed the two comments together. 

While Calvin and Melanchthon did have written correspondence,  Melanchthon did not respond back with this comment. While Calvin and Melanchthon did have disagreements, they did have mutual respect for each other. Calvin was not advocating or perpetuating a cover-up, and whatever regret Melanchthon did have over aspects of the Reformation, it was not regret that it ever happened.  

Sunday, September 27, 2020

John Calvin, Tyrant of Geneva?

Was John Calvin the tyrant of Geneva, a cruel dictator, persecuting all those who stood in his way? A few years ago I did fact-checking research for an author agreeing with this historical conclusion. I was provided with a number of "facts" about Calvin's Geneva and requested to either verify or dispel them before a book was sent to the publisher.  Below is a sampling of some of the material I went through, along with a few other related entries.

Lest there be any confusion of my view of the man, John Calvin was a fallible person, a man of his times. He had moral shortcomings and sins, but he did not kick cats and steal candy from children while he walked the streets of Geneva, nor was a "dictator."

The goal of going through particular facts is not to defend John Calvin as a Protestant saint. I see the study of any person in church history as an exercise in the love of God and neighbor. How do we love our neighbors in the study of church history? We do so with our words: If we bear false witness against our neighbors, even if they've been dead for hundreds of years, we are not loving them. I say let the people in church history be exactly who they were, warts and all.


Calvin was the Cruel and Unopposed Dictator of Geneva?

John Calvin Had 58 People Executed in Geneva?

Calvin Beheaded a Child in Geneva?

Calvin's Geneva: A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an “immoral height"

John Calvin: “It is better to burn a few (Anabaptists) at the stake, than for thousands to burn in hell”