For Monday 12/3:

Today you get to learn about the Jesuits, an order that sought renewal not within the confines of a cloister, but among the urban throng and at the ends of the earth. Looking at Ignatius of Loyola and his order (the Society of Jesus) can be a bit bewildering to an evangelical. Here, side by side, are unquestioning loyalty to the Pope and Catholic tradition, intense pursuit of personal holiness and discipleship, rigorous scholarship and respect for education, and evangelism and mission more urgent and sustained than anything in sixteenth century Protestantism. Can dogmatism, pietism, intellectualism, and proselytism go hand in hand? You bet they can. I have several Jesuit friends, and other friends who teach at Jesuit colleges, and they are amazing.

You may be familiar with the book or film "Black Robe," telling the brutal story of a Jesuit missionary to indigenous Canadians in 1634. It makes "The Mission" look touchy-feely.

Today Jesuits are among the leading advocates of liberation theology in Latin America and elsewhere.

As you do the reading, you know the program: Read Lindberg for context, then make sure you dwell on the Janz primary texts for flavor. Think about how many of the qualities we associate with strong, healthy Protestantism are here, but in very different forms. Is this "evangelical Catholicism?" (If it is, it just might catch on again. An acquaintance who teaches at the University of Dayton says it is becoming hip for his Catholic students to flaunt their specifically Catholic spirituality: Coffee mugs with JP2, visible participation in daily prayers, advocacy of strict Catholic positions on ethical issues, and so on.)


For Wednesday 11/28:

If you have already done any of today's reading, you already know that the politics of the English Reformation are complicated. But because they are the politics of the English-speaking world, you are probably more familiar with them than German or Swiss or French sixteenth century politics, so this may be slightly more familiar ground for you.

In any event: Let's use Lindberg to help get us into the primary sources, as usual. The twists and turns of English royal intrigue are important mainly in their historical eras: Henry VIII's Catholic period; his Protestant (but not particularly Reformed) period; his late return to Catholicism; Edward's reign of rapid reform; Mary's Catholic reversal; Elizabeth's settlement. These are worth knowing as a timeline for plotting Lutheran, then Calvinist, influences in England. They are also worth knowing because under Elizabeth England is making a rapid transition to being a world power. Most directly interesting may be the way religious and political developments in England drive religious and political events in America, which will begin receiving Puritan, moderate Anglican, Catholic, and other settlers in the seventeenth century. England's sixteenth century history is America's prehistory. The atmosphere here had a lot to do with the development of the modern English-speaking intellectual world we take for granted (and which has its weaknesses as well as strengths).

Anyway, use those historical eras to locate the historical documents in Janz that you've been assigned, and then let Lindberg and Janz shed light on each other. Janz's readings capture well the tug-of-war that's going on throughout the century. You will find the two pages in Janz a helpful summary of much of Lindberg.

When you read Lindberg, don't worry so much about the last few pages of events in Scotland. The bottom line there is: Scotland turns Presbyterian (i.e., Reformed).

Since we've already looked at Anglican theology, you might ask as you read how specifically these various political and theological currents feed into both the Elizabethan "middle way," the forms of Christian life that were off-limits, and the considerable diversity within the wide boundaries of that middle way. You might also ask whether the political upheavals and German/Swiss influences produced, or even could produce, a coherent Christian vision.


For Friday 11/9:

Today's topic is predestination. We need to keep it productive. It's easy for discussions of predestination to degenerate into visceral reactions against the doctrine, especially in its more abusive forms. Let's not let that happen, OK?

Instead, use especially Janz #62 as a rare opportunity actually to hear what Calvin himself says about the doctrine. And ask yourself: What is the point of the doctrine? What place does it find in Christian life? What role does it play with respect to other Christian doctrines? How does it make sense against the backdrop of sixteenth century Catholicism (and newly recovered, unvarnished Augustinianism)? Remember, Luther and Zwingli and Calvin all accept it, as a blessing from heaven. Why? Is it because the fathers of Protestantism are moral monsters, or is something else going on?

Show me you know how to approach a doctrine with enough charity to defend it, even if you aren't yet convinced of its truth. Only then do you really understand it. (Remember when, early in the semester, impatience with Catholic practices forced me to become a temporary Catholic? You don't want to see me as a real Calvinist. I can be very good at that. Give me ten minutes, and I'll give you a spiritual crisis like you never saw.)

Cheers!


For Monday 11/5:

No primary source reading today. Instead, you have George on further theological details of Calvin's vision, and Lindberg on the bloody course of Calvinism in France.

By now you know how to read George on Calvin. I expect this is where most of our discussion will center Monday.

Don't let all the political and historical details in Lindberg confuse you. Instead, approach the reading with several broad questions: (1) How do the political visions of French Catholicism and Calvinism feed into these events? (2) Why does the Mass become the flashpoint for the wars of religion? (3) Does Calvinism look different when it is a persecuted minority vision, rather than an established (Genevan) majority vision? And, for a contemporary angle, (4) is Westmont closer to Huguenot France, or Calvinist Geneva?


For Friday 11/2:

Wednesday you learned that the Calvinist vision has a story. But the power of Calvinism's vision has always been the vision itself. Starting today we examine the "system" of Calvin's theology. (The term "system" has become unfashionable lately because of its modernistic connotations; a "system" sounds abstracted from concrete life, as if floating timelessly above a scholar's bookshelf. That's why I'm calling the Institutes a vision.

Prophets teach people to see their visions. The Institutes, as you have seen, could equally well be called the Catechism. It is a panoramic vision of Christian faith and life, laid out in order to sweep us in. Janz p 226 is like the little card to the right of a painting. Read it in order to know more, but don't pretend it has told you much!

The vastness of the Institutes demands that we study it in detail, as if approaching a masterpiece to appreciate one little part of it close-up. As we tour Calvin's vision, we will move from detail to detail. As we near the end of our tour, you will be able to step back and see it both in its theological entirety, and in its historical context. (This is a departure from our method of studying Luther, because Luther's writings are both more compact and less panoramic. They tend to be directed to a particular moment in Germany's upheaval.)

Today's reading covers three early "topics" or details of the vision: The knowledge of God (Janz #56), the character and place of Scripture (Janz #57), and the nature and effects of sin (Janz #58). Concentrate on each of these. After you appreciate each one, look for the connections among them. George will help you interpret, but please let George lead you to Calvin, rather than the other way around.

Needless to say, Calvin's vision has impressed itself upon you already -- not least in the GE doctrine course you took, which was probably divided into little theological topics: Revelation, God, creation, sin, Christ, and so on. Sound familiar? Even if you weren't learning from a Calvinist, you were learning the Calvinist way of seeing the faith.


For Wednesday 10/31:

As we begin our unit on Calvin and Calvinism, we review the history of Calvin's career. This centers in Geneva, the town in which Calvin exercised his ministry. Lindberg ch 10 is the historical authority here, along with George pp 163-185 and 246-249 (the two overlap substantially but not completely).

You can skim Janz #48-49 (we have a lot of reading in Janz for today). Regarding the condemnation and execution of Michael Servetus, Janz #54-55 recount Servetus' imprisonment and execution. Janz #53 is a plea on his behalf by David Joris, whom you have already encountered as a baptist.You can skim all these readings.

On the other hand, Janz #50, from the Geneva Ordinances, enumerates the religious regulations in force in Calvinist Geneva. Pay closer attention to these -- we will no doubt be discussing them. Concentrate also on Janz #51-52 show Calvin more in pastoral and judicial mode, rather than legislative mode. As you have done before, use the secondary sources (Lindberg and George) to drive your appreciation of these central primary sources.

If this is less colorful reading than what has come before, keep in mind that it is also much closer to the world of Westmont, and also the world of America. Here we are reading of the tradition that lies most directly in our own ancestry. When Ben Patterson and Stan Gaede preach in chapel (and when they lead the Westmont community in their other ways), remember that both are powerfully influenced by Calvin's theological vision.


For Wednesday 10/24:

Today's focus is spiritualism. It is far distinct from the Catholic and Lutheran doctrines of sacraments, and also distinct from baptist "visibilism." Its closest cousin in Zwinglianism. Spiritualism amplifies a feature of the Zwinglian wing of the "Reformations" that distinguishes starkly between external and internal, between letter and spirit. This distinction remains relatively minor in the sixteenth century, but it becomes increasingly important in the succeeding centuries. So it is worth a day's discussion even if the primary and secondary source material is rather brief. There are only a few pages in our required readings that pertain to this movement. Many of them are technically review rather than new reading.

You will find most helpful to our discussion Lindberg pp 225-228. Review especially pp 95-96 to remind yourself of how it relates to what has come before it, and glance at pp 102-110 for the same reason. George pp 277-280 will help you contrast spiritualism from Menno's baptist vision.

There are also two chapters of David Steinmetz's Reformers in the Wings that describe two important figures in spiritualism: Karlstadt, and Casper Schwenckfeld. One copy of Steinmetz is on reserve in the library. Because I didn't warn you in class, I won't penalize you if you don't consult it. Nevertheless, there is some good material there, especially in the chapter on Schwenckfeld.

Steinmetz ch 16, on Karlstadt, has a lot of the biographical details you have already encountered. You can skim these. What is helpful here is the stress on the opposition between outward act and inward intention in Karlstadt's thought. Karlstadt still thinks outward things are important, but mainly as hindrances rather than aids to spirituality. Look for connections between this conviction and Karlstadt's quick pace of liturgical reform, his iconoclasm, his rejection of sacraments, and even his reservations about the positive use of Scripture in the Christian life.

Steinmetz ch 17, on Schwenckfeld, introduces you to a more thoroughly spiritualist figure, and one with wide influence in Protestantism. Note how Schwenckfeld's interpretation of the Lord's Supper takes it in a mystical, nonmaterial direction. This is different both from Zwingli's treatment of communion as mere memorial, and Luther's treatment of communion as mediating Christ's presence materially. Here Christ is present, but not through the elements themselves. This picture depends upon Schwenckfeld's doctrine of the incarnation, which is kind of cosmic; do you best to understand the couple of pages devoted to it.


For Monday 10/22:

Today's guide to the reading will be incomplete, because I just realized I left Lindberg and George on campus (in the DC, in fact), and in about an hour I'm leaving town until tomorrow night. So today I can only introduce you to the readings in Oberman and Janz (which usually need the introduction more anyway).

My first goal for Monday's discussion is to make sure you all understand the distinctions between Luther's and Zwingli's doctrines of how Jesus is and is not present at the Lord's Supper (or Eucharist). Luther's doctrine is different from the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but it still holds that Christ is truly, physically present "in, with, and under" the bread and wine. Zwingli treats the ceremony as a memorial where the bread and wine are merely pointers.

My second goal is to make sure we draw some lessons for the implications of the controversy. It is not trivial! The Zwinglian (and less directly, baptist) doctrine of the Lord's Supper derives from Karlstadt's prior respect for God's overriding transcendence. How can God be in piece of bread or a cup of wine? (Study it in detail in Janz #35.) By contrast, the Lutheran doctrine owes to Luther's respect for the dialectical nature of our hidden-and-revealed God. God appears under contrary forms. This is simply to say that eucharistic differences are manifesting theological differences.

Eucharistic differences are also manifesting cultural differences. Zwingli, and Calvin after him, are "urban reformers" -- humanists who are closer than Luther to both Renaissance looking backward and the Enlightenment looking forward. Compared to them, Luther is much more medieval.

My third goal is to introduce you to a very important event in Reformation history: the Colloquy of Marburg in 1529, when Philip of Hesse tried to unify the Swiss and German reformations so as to strengthen the whole movement. That effort failed -- because of differences over Christ's presence in the Lord's Supper. (Zwingli's account is Janz #36. If I remember correctly, you will find accounts of the events in both Lindberg and George.)

If you think that this Protestant ecumenical failure represents the sheer pigheadedness of theologians, you don't yet understand it. The Eucharist is the focal point of Christian worship. It dramatizes the whole story of heaven and earth that centers in Jesus of Nazareth. It is here that our differences elsewhere are liturgically at their sharpest. Let Marburg show you the depth of both the Zwinglian and Lutheran visions of the Christian life, in all their tragic incompatibility. And ask yourself where you would stand if you were there. (Furthermore, ask yourself whether you would like to debate the issue next Monday.)


For Wednesday 10/17:

Today's focus is the community of those baptized as confessing believers. The "baptist" project seeks to restore the visibility of the Church as a community of disciples. Baptism, then, is not just a mark of personal conversion, and not just a mark of secular difference. It is a rite of inclusion into a community.

George pp 285-287 offers a broad overview of the distinctive shape of this visible fellowship. Then pp 287-297 describe the ways that three Christian "sacraments" (baptists, following Zwingli, used other words) symbolized it: Baptism of believers, Lord's Supper, and discipline ("the ban" or excommunication). We will discuss God's involvement (or non-involvement) at the Lord's Supper next week; for now pay closest attention to the way the rite functions in the life of baptist churches. Remember, it is one thing to argue with other Christian traditions in public or in court; it is another thing to practice the faith in the context of a like-minded local community. Look at how baptist churches practiced their communal faith through these three things. (Their roles are vividly conveyed in the "new member's Q&A" of Hubmaier's Christian Catechism (Janz #42). Look for the themes you see in George to come to life here.)

Regarding excommunication as a baptist rather than magisterial practice, here is a question for you to mull over: When there are various baptist communities out of fellowship with each other, don't their bans necessarily imply that only one of them can be the true Church? Baptists were troubled over their divisions and sought at Schleitheim to confer and come to some agreement. Among the fruits of their labor is the Schleitheim Confession (Janz #43), which puts in consensual language the baptist common ground about the things that most distinguished their communities.

You will find George pp 303-306 a very helpful summary of the baptist vision. You may even want to read it first.

One of the greatest challenges for baptists was living down the reputation they had (unfairly) gained at Muenster from 1532-35 (Lindberg pp 220-225). George has already told us that Menno Simons' ministry is an effort to salvage Anabaptism in Muenster's wake. Menno's work was so successful that Mennonite Christianity became probably the most famous and durable of continental European baptist movements. The runner-up is Jacob Hutter, founder of the Hutterites who are best known in America for their collective (i.e., socialist) farming practices in the U.S. and especially Canada. Hutterites practice the sharing of possessions, in imitation of the Church of Acts 2 and 4. Janz #47 is an account of the Hutterite practice of shared property written by a second-generation Hutterite, Peter Walpot.

These are challenging readings that call Christian disciples everywhere to lives of radical faithfulness to the Christian life as presented in the New Testament. Come with the questions and challenges they stir in your hearts, and maybe you'll be able to shut me up for a change.


For Friday 10/12:

Every school of the Reformation has a distinctive view of baptism. This is a good time to notice, if you have not noticed before, that all the aspects of Christian worship, doctrine, and life are interrelated. Everything informs everything else. So Lutheran baptism quite naturally distinguishes itself from Catholic baptism, Zwinglian baptism from Lutheran and Catholic, the various "Anabaptist" baptisms from the others and from each other.

This is also a good time to notice the political and ecclesial assumptions of Constantinianism, which surface in baptism as never before. If baptism is a sign of "secular" citizenship, then what is the significance of deferring baptism to the adult members of concrete communities? How are those communities related to their wider societies? If baptism is a sign of faith (and all agree that in some sense it is), then how does political affiliation express (or not express) faith? Earlier I mentioned a Lutheran triangle of believer, Church, and state. You have recently been exposed to its Zwinglian form. Now believers' baptists offer still another, which every other tradition found so threatening that Catholics, Lutherans, Zwinglians, and (in the future) Calvinists and Anglicans agreed they needed to be suppressed with state coercion. The one thing that everyone else agreed about in the sixteenth century is that believers' baptists needed to be persecuted. As you read, ask yourself, "Why?"

Lindberg chronicles the rise and the characteristic theology of the movement. Janz #40 and #44 are primary sources of two events in this history. Janz #41 is a little harder to nail down: It's from Balthasar Humbaier during a time in his life that he was Zwinglian but not yet a believers' baptist. The two readings from George leap ahead somewhat in time to the era of Menno Simons, father of the Mennonites. Keep the anachronism in mind. The reason for these readings is that they all address the question of the exclusivity of believers' baptist communities in their relationships with wider society. This is the dimension of believers' baptism we will be discussing Friday. Other dimensions -- baptism's claim on the individual, and baptism's claim on the community of the baptized in their internal life of faith -- are topics for next week.


For Wednesday 10/10:

One of the farthest reaching aspects of the Swiss Reformation was its distinctive approach to worship and its reform. Here its father is Karlstadt, Lindberg's "Proto-Puritan." A quick review of Lindberg pp 102-110 will refresh your memory (no need to write it up again!). Karlstadt's form of liturgical reform travels through Zwingli to Calvin, where it arguably becomes the most important feature of his theology (yes, even more than predestination).

Today's other themes are the relationship between Reformed Church and reformed state, which differs from Luther's vision (perhaps in part because Zwingli's relationship with the Zurich city council was different from Luther's relationship with Frederick), and the division over infant baptism that leads into Friday's theme: the "Anabaptist" movement. For today let's concentrate on Zwingli's understanding of baptism (and the larger category of sacrament). Friday will worry about itself.

The centerpiece of today's readings is Janz #34, Zwingli's Sixty-Seven Theses. Here in a nutshell is the Zwinglian vision of Christian life as worship. Let's try to pay the closest attention to these in our discussion, while making room for Zwingli's understanding of baptism (which is alluded to in thesis 67).


For Friday 10/5:

These readings center in the career of Ulrich Zwingli, and one of this most important contributions to the Reformed tradition (in which most of us at Westmont belong). This is "the Scripture principle," the claim that the Bible is the ultimate norm for all faith and practice. To many people this seems indistinguishable from Lutheranism, but in fact it is not. Luther left in place all sorts of structures and practices from the medieval Catholic tradition; he simply normed them according to the Gospel of justification by grace through faith. Zwingli's conviction is different: The Bible calls the shots everywhere: How to structure the Church (e.g., no bishops), worship (no instruments), society, and so on.

Lindberg pp 169-181 fills you in on the politics and major events of Zwingli's early career, giving you a hint of how the Scripture principle works. The politics, as usual, are foreign and not particularly accessible; but it is important to catch Lindberg's point that a symbiotic relationship arises between Zwingli and the authorities of Zurich's representative 'democracy.' This is a different relationship between Luther and his princes. Zwingli is post-medieval, a humanist, and an urbanite; none of these is true of Luther. Watch the differences play out over the next few weeks.

Some of the material in George pp 108ff (historical background), 126ff (Scripture principle), and 158ff (death and epitaph) duplicates Lindberg. Why did I assign both? Because getting two angles on the same material usually increases our comprehension dramatically. You might want to synthesize the two in your summaries. It'll save you time for more concentration on the primary sources in Janz.

Janz #30 and #37 merely document events in Zwingli's life that are mentioned in Lindberg and George. The most important reading is Janz #33. As you read it, ask: How does this differ from Catholicism? From Lutheranism?


For Wednesday 10/3:

Sorry this is late, folks.

Well, congratulate yourselves: We have finished the second, and the longest and most difficult, unit in the course.

Now things get messy. Today's reading in Lindberg, for all its tangled politics and new names, boils down to a review of two streams of the Reformation that were antagonistic to Luther.

The first we might call "spiritualism," and is represented by Andreas von Karlstadt, "the most radical of all the [German] Reformers" (Oxford Dictionary, "Carlstadt"). In terms of Christianity today, it is somewhere between Pentecostalism and the Friends (Quaker) movement. Karlstadt will pass his torch to several movements, probably the most important of which is Ulrich Zwingli, father of the Swiss Reformation and bridge between Luther and Calvin. All this is to say that this stream of the Reformation is an important one. As you read the material, think of the theological distinctions between Karlstadt and Luther.

We might call the second stream "apocalyptic." Of course, Oberman has taught us that Luther is thoroughly apocalyptic too; he believes that Rome's apostasy is a sign of the impending end of the age. Muentzer's apocalyptic scenario plays out differently, as you can see in Janz #38, one of his incendiary sermons. Here's some user-friendly background (Oxford Dictionary, "Muenzer"):

Under the influence of Joachim of Fiore, J. Hus, and others, he became a Protestant preacher at Zwickau in 1520, demanding radical religious and social reform. He laid claim to immediate inspiration by the holy Ghost and sought to establish a community of similarly inspired followers. After explusion on account of the subversive tendencies of his preaaching, he sought to establish in Bohemia a spiritual 'Church' among the Hussites, but was soon driven out again. In 1522 he seems to have had disputes with Luther at Wittenberg, and in 1523 he went to Allstedt. Here he organized his first services in German, which reflect his learning and abilities as a translator. He proceeded to attack Luther, the Scriptural principle [Scripture as the ultimate theological authority], and infant baptism, and preached revolt and wild threats against all his opponents. Driven from Allstedt at Luther's instigation (1524), he went to Muehlhausen in Thuringia, where he again preached open revolt. Once more expelled, he went to southern Germany, but returned to Muehlhausen after a few months and tried to link up his movement with the Peasants' Revolt, placing himself at the head of the rebels. After the defeat at the battle of Frankenhausen (1525) he was captured and executed.

Isn't it interesting how eschatology, the doctrine of the end-times, informs these movements? Here is a big reason that most Christians (though not evangelicals) have been so suspicious of Millennialism.

The Peasants' Revolt is chronicled in Lindberg ch 6. Janz #39 is the manifesto of the peasant rebels. It may remind you of twentieth century liberation theology. Lindberg will describe Luther's rejection of their case. Luther is no theologian of liberation. It may help to ask yourself about the theological reasons for that. I have re-assigned Oberman pp 64-67 to remind you of them.

To keep things simple (!), we have been reading Luther "in a bubble." Today's reading shows you that outside that nonexistent bubble, the sixteenth century quickly becomes a study in chaos.


For Friday 9/28:

Only twenty-some pages of readings! I must be going soft!

Actually, our days of wading in the ocean who is Martin Luther are drawing to a close. And that means our reading load is about to decrease, for we are nearly through with Oberman. (I planned that, so that the harder work would happen early, and your load would lighten somewhat as other classes intensify.)

We still have time for one more shock: The role of experience in Luther's theology. Oberman will be our main reading today. As usual, he will distance us from the Luther we thought we knew, from the Luther who looked so much like us. Rather than interpreting for you, I'd like you to try to explain the Luther you see in Oberman's pages in terms of the theology you have learned in the past few weeks. Can you?

If this all seems too little for a productive discussion, you may want to skim Janz #14, an autobiographical summary of Luther's early life. This offers accessible material on the role of experience for Luther: after all, he considered autobiography something worth writing. That conviction is itself a powerful theological claim. In Catholic piety, others narrated the lives of the saints. Luther, in the tradition of Augustine, tells his own story, and this inspires generations of evangelical testimonies (notably the testimony of John Wesley). The role of experience for Luther turns out to have a lot to do with our practices of telling each other about our conversions. But how does Luther's story both fit and not fit the evangelical paradigm for conversion narratives?

It is probably best to read Janz #17 next. This is a series of selections from Table Talk, a collection of aphorisms and anecdotes from guests at the dinner table of the Luther home. This is two pages of light and usually fun reading. I hope you see some of the same dynamics, personal and theological, you have found throughout this part of the course.

Finally, George picks up where Oberman has left off: at Luther's death. (Curiously, this is where Oberman starts.) I am not expecting you to find much fodder for discussion here, though George's final interpretation of Luther may be clarifying.


For Wednesday 9/26:

Today we will be navigating a Lutheran triangle of governance, whose three vertices are the believer (in justification by grace through faith), Church (constituted as such by being under the Word), and state (ordained by God to restrain evil). What is the relationship between believer and Church? What is the relationship between Church and state? What is the relationship between believer and state? You will find that Luther's answers differ from those of other Protestant traditions.

George 86-102 will be the most helpful introductory reading. Make sure you understand its concepts. All are important.

Janz #26, The Smalcald Articles (also called the Schmalkaldic Articles), are a doctrinal brief prepared by Martin Luther for use in a general Church council proposed by Pope Paul III for 1537 (but never held). Lutheran rulers and theologians approved them, and they were later included in the Lutheran Book of Concord. The Smalcald Articles will help us especially to understand the role of the Church. Focus on Article II.I (Faith), Article II.IV (Papacy), and Articles III.I-XV (but you can just skim the part of III.III [Repentance] that is headed "The False Repentance of the Papists").

The Catholic brief in preparation for this council we have already read: Janz #79, Contarini's and Carafa's Consilium. Luther got his hands on it and published it too, with his own mocking introduction and marginalia. That helped cool what Catholic enthusiasm there was for internal reform. Today we would express sorrow over Luther's refusal to compromise, misunderstanding that for Luther that request would amount to a compromise between God and the devil.

Read Oberman last. Read ch 9 before the prologue.

Oberman ch 9 is, as usual, the hardest selection. It rewards only careful reading, but rewards it richly. Oberman is arguing against the common modern picture of Luther as lacking a doctrine of the visible Church, being individualist, and wanting schism. You and I have been brought up in this tradition, so Oberman wants Luther's own history to re-educate us. I find in these pages a Luther my eyes, trained in post-Calvinist America, were not trained to see. He is the champion not of a Gospel that triumphs through Church growth and voter registration, but only by confessing under persecution. He looks more "Anabaptist" than most of today's "Anabaptists."

I have put Oberman's prologue here mainly to expose you to pp 9-12, which describe the relationship between the Lutheran churches and their states. Just skim the rest. Imagine starting his book cold with this prologue! It shows us how much he presupposes in his readers. If we can understand this book, it will be a real achievement.


For Monday 9/24:

The focus of today's readings is the implementation of reforms in Germany. Luther and company believe they have rediscovered the Gospel. They have been cut off by Rome but have received the support of Frederick the Wise and other German princes. Now these Germans, on their own, face the task of remaking not only the Church, but the Church's society. Both have been thoroughly shaped by centuries of a theology they believe fundamentally corrupt. So they have their work cut out for them.

Lindberg ch 4 focuses on the remaking of German faith under Luther's direction. We have already mentioned Melanchthon, "Luther's systematizer." Lindberg also introduces Andreas von Karlstadt, whom we will meet again as an inspiration for the Swiss Reformation, which goes in a different direction from the German. Both of these people are important, but we will hold off on discussing Karstadt's "spiritualism" until the Swiss Reformation. A major dimension of reforming German faith is reforming the German family. Lindberg shows how this involves (1) overturning the spiritual privilege of celibacy and the spiritual stigma of marriage; (2) reforming the liturgy, at whose center was the rite of Eucharist (Lord's Supper); (3) reforming the practice of images (pictures and statues of Jesus and saints). Lindberg closes with an important discussion of which tactics were most compatible with Luther's Gospel. Read this chapter well enough and quickly enough to get you productively into the rest of the material.

On Lindberg ch 5, skim pp 111-128. This chapter respects the social-historical dimension of this reform. It is not enough to change Church and family; in a Christian society, everything must change. Most of the chapter concerns social welfare and poverty relief. The closing few pages (131-133) ask whether the early German Reformation was a failure, and how much the answer to that question matters. Pages 128-131 will be helpful background for Luther's Small Catechism (Janz #25).

Oberman ch 10 has three sections. You only need to read two of them closely. The first (272-283) concerns marriage and family; this is important. The second (283-289) concerns advice he gave Philip of Hesse allowing him to practice bigamy, a decision few Protestants were or are willing to defend. Skim it for its generalities, but read Oberman's last two paragraphs (bottom of 287-top of 289) for an interpretation of Luther's actions. Then I recommend that you set aside chapter 10 for the moment, while you concentrate on the other material concerning women and family life. Skim Janz #3-#4, which present two opposite pre-Lutheran interpretations of women. It is not enough to call the pre-Lutheran tradition chauvinist; the same people who treated women as witches prayed to Mary's intercession. Oberman pp 309-313 takes up Luther the family man; skim it as an introduction to Janz #18, a letter to Luther's wife, which contrasts remarkably with the earlier Catholic tradition. I expect us to spend time discussing the Protestant vision of sex, marriage, and family. Lindberg pp 363-366 draws out long-term implications for Protestant reforms of Christian sexual practices.

Before returning to Oberman ch 10, read Lindberg pp 366-371 on pre- and post-Reformation Christian relations with other non-Christian communities, especially Jews. This is also a dimension of the social implementation of Luther's Gospel. Finally, the third section of Oberman ch 10 (289-297) concerns Luther's treatment and interpretation of Jews. Oberman puts these in the perspective of Luther's eschatology, and the last few pages make the distinction between premodern anti-Judaism, Lutheran anti-Judaism, and modern anti-Semitism I was trying to show in class. We have no primary readings to discuss here, but the issue is profoundly important, and we will be discussing it.


For Wednesday 9/19:

The point of today's readings is to show that Luther's theological and political revolution was also a biblical revolution. The German Reformation gives the evangelical churches of Europe a new and enriched set of biblical practices. As you read through this material, think through how the themes we have examined so far in this course find expression in biblical practices.

Janz #5, Jacobus Faber Stapulensis' Commentary on the Psalms, is a window into late medieval humanist uses of Scripture. As you read the rest of our readings, look for both similarities with Luther's use of Scripture, and differences. Less importantly, look for similarities and differences with modern biblical practices. I find the discussion of what is truly Scripture's literal sense fascinating. At the very least it shows that Catholic humanists were deeply interested both in medieval allegory and in what it considered the literal sense of both Testaments.

Oberman ch 7 begins with a contrast between Luther and Erasmus over their radically different appreciations of the freedom and integrity of humanity. Where Erasmus is a humanist, Luther is radically Augustinian. Both men practiced Scripture within these worlds, making use of some of the same techniques. But their conclusions were dramatically different. As in the other chapters, here too Oberman will portray Luther as a figure far different from the modern construction we have grown up with, especially since our own evangelical traditions have generally departed from him on this point. Read the text carefully to find the nuances of his argument.

Oberman pp 304-309 discusses Luther the Bible translator, bringing the Scriptures into the "pure, sweet German" of his people. It is a nice lead-in to an article I have posted on-line, On Translating, which is an absolute gem. It is profound, wickedly sarcastic, teases mercilessly, and hammers justification by grace through faith. (One of the reasons for the teasing is that the Catholics Luther is castigating have criticized Luther for his Protestant interpretations, even while borrowing from Luther's own translation for their edition of the German Bible, while rearranging especially Protestant phrases in more characteristically Catholic forms!) Besides its entertainment value, it is a wonderful insight into the challenges and rewards of translating inspired Scripture between two different languages.

The Internet translation is not the best, but it is the most convenient: http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/luther-translate.txt

The two last brief readings in Janz, #23-24, are Luther's prefaces to the New and Old Testaments (respectively). These are introductions and brief hermeneutical guides. Both set forth Luther's understanding of law and gospel in plain language.


For Monday 9/17:

The readings in George are again meant to make you better readings of the primary sources on which I'd like our discussion to concentrate. Use George as your tour guide and interpreter of the selections in Janz. One of his foremost points is Luther's rediscovery of the sheer power of God -- a recovery that helps him appreciate the sheer power of sin. By taking human action off center-stage as the mediator between righteousness and sin, Luther returns divine action to its fundamental place in cosmic and human history as the only conqueror of the power of human (and satanic) evil. (If we discuss predestination -- and how could we not? -- let us discuss it as framed by this issue, not by how offensive you find a God who picks only those whom he pleases.)

The Freedom of a Christian (Janz #22) is a beautiful example of Luther's dialectical style, and an irenic presentation of his doctrine of justification, in terms of all the "sola's" we've already talked about. I hope you savor this excerpt from one of Luther's most famous and influential writings.

You will need to read part of Lindberg ch 9 (which I cancelled for Friday) as context for the next two readings. Read pp 236-240, not for every detail, but for the help they lend to your understanding of Janz #27-28.

Philipp Melanchthon, Luther's "systematizer," is responsible for settling Luther's insights into a stable synthesis that was less occasional, less from-the-hip, and not always entirely true to Luther. He is responsible for the Augsburg Confession (Janz #27) and its Apology (Janz #28). Both readings center on the doctrine of justification as it comes to be developed in early "Lutheran orthodoxy." Here, in some of the first Protestant systematic theology, you will notice a different style than Luther's: More influenced by humanism, more conciliatory, and more "big-picture." It is through Melanchthon that much Lutheran theology passes through to the Reformed and Anglican traditions, which have been more directly influential for Westmont's evangelical traditions.

"The definitive statement of Lutheran orthodoxy" ("Formula of Concord," Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 327) is the 1580 Formula of Concord, Janz #29. Ironically, some of Melanchthon's interpretations of the faith were rejected here; and some Lutheran churches (especially outside Germany) rejected this common statement of Lutheran faith. (In this respect it is something like the Formula of Chalcedon, a clarification of the Nicene Creed whose wording some churches could not accept.) You can see here a return to academic style, heralding the coming of a Protestant scholasticism whose cognitive weight and confident precision led to the counterreaction of Pietism. Nevertheless, statements like this one are clearly reasoned representations of Lutheran thought on justification, the relationship between faith and works, and the relationship between law and gospel.


For Friday 9/14:

For today we have lots of great, but difficult, reading. We need much of the background reading, but please get to the primary sources, especially Janz #21. Choose only one reading for your summary.

Oberman ch 6: Concentrate on 175-179; 185-bottom of 203, and especially 192-195.

175-179: Luther recasts uncertainty (physical, existential, intellectual, even ecclesiastical) as an indirect proof of God's sole certainty (178). The world's hopelessness, our hopelessness, pushes us towards the hope of God alone. This is a recovery of Augustinian monergism (and a comfort to a newly uncertain America, too).

185-192: The 95 Theses' arguments against indulgences are not merely criticisms, as Erasmus' Praise of Folly was. They cast an alternative vision of the Church, of the Christian life. This is the vision we recognize as "Christian."

192-: By defending the system of indulgences as legitimate by appealing to the sheer authority of the Church, the Dominican Prierias' initial response turns a debate over justification into a debate over Church authority (these are realists, remember? 193). The Luther controversy thus runs on two related tracks (192): (a) the papal system of penance and indulgences is unbiblical and unreasonable (Luther, in 1520, like a good nominalist, distinguishes between the two), and (b) thus the powers that establish and defend it are both humanly fallible and demonically corrupt (these too need to be distinguished).

Luther's and Prierias' exchange, then Luther's and Cajetan's, Luther's To the Christian Nobility (Janz #21, making Luther's case to German authorities), and of course the bulls of excommunication, will serve as source material for next Friday's debate. We will frame it according to Luther's 95 theses, Prierias' four theses in reply, Luther's three theses in reply, etc. (Oberman 192-195). Volunteers for the Catholic side? Luther's?

Only after reading Lindberg and Oberman should you browse Janz #19, the Ninety-Five Theses of 1517. Look for the themes you've now been taught to find.

Oberman 298-304 is just here to point out that Luther's personality has something to do with the dynamics of this controversy. Just glance at it. Janz #75, Exsurge Domini, conditionally excommunicating Luther, is a list of Lutheran errors. What is being stated in these numbered lists is being condemned as heretical. Browse them, knowing that they'll return when we debate.

[One point for when you read Oberman 204-206: I haven't asked you to concentrate on it, but it's important. Luther's stand before the authorities is not that of a sovereign individual, anticipating Descartes and the Enlightenment. It is the stand of one captive, to the Word of God, unable to "repent" before his Orwellian "authorities." Orwell will capture the spirit in the twentieth century by having Big Brother's representatives tell Winston Smith to affirm that two plus two equals five. Winston's (temporary) refusal is not a declaration of individual will over the interests of the state, but captivity to the truth against the lies of Satan.]

Skip Lindberg ch 9. Much rejoicing!

Oberman ch 1: Concentrate on 13-24 and 35-40 and 46-49; skim the rest. Let's use it mainly as an intro to Janz #21, where Luther addresses the German nobility to recruit them for the cause.

This reading is full of politics I don't expect you to know. Key themes: Luther's argument against Catholic abuses happens in a context of (1) developing German national identity; (2) the conviction of Luther's (and Wittenberg's) prince Frederick of Saxony that he, not merely the Roman Church, was responsible for the spiritual health of his people and the academic freedom of the university (13-20, esp. 16). Without Frederick's actions Luther would have been handed over to Rome, condemned as a heretic, and silenced (20-24). He and the German people saw the bulls of excommunication in 1520 and 1521 as unjust and invalid, the diet of Augsburg, its subsequent interrogation, and the diet of Worms all show trials (21, 39). (3) The power struggles among Church, Holy Roman Empire [greater Germany], and other rising nation-states both influenced the Reformation (driving many nations to become Protestant to get out of Rome's orbit), and were influenced by the Reformation (as it undermined the Church's temporal jurisdiction over all Europe). (4) But Luther is no mere nationalist, building up a Germany that is righteous simply because it is Germany; he is an apocalyptic prophet of repentance who makes the Reformation "a German event" precisely by insisting that it is not such (49). Those who have been exposed to Augustine's City of God will recognize it here.

Janz #21, To the Christian Nobility, lets us finally hear Luther's case in Luther's voice, addressed to people besides scholastics and opponents. Here you will hear him argue both tracks of the Reformation with clarity and passion. Enjoy it.


For Wednesday 9/12:

"Shadow of Augustine": Meant to show you how (1) Augustinian theology was "scholasticized" by being reconciled, even normed, by Aristotle under the Schoolmen. This is pronounced in Gabriel Biel (Janz #8), who uses the Aristotelian categories that since Thomas Aquinas had passed into Christian theology: Infused (grace) v. acquired (merit) virtue (47), actions proper to the natures (46-47), (exclusively?) sacramental mediation of divine action (47), categorizations of grace (making acceptable/justifying/working, 48), a (heretical) semi-Pelagian identification of initial grace with innate ability to choose the good (48).

Other Augustinians suspected that scholasticism was distorting Augustine and turning his predestinarianism into its opposite, Pelagianism. That this backlash is happening 160 years before Luther is shown in Thomas Bradwardine, Janz #7. This reading shows us that Augustinianism is still high on the theological agenda, but by no means a settled issue in the late Middle Ages. Oberman 158-161 will chronicle Luther's rediscovery of the unvarnished, unspun Augustine, and his resulting contempt with those who would domesticate him (and especially domesticate the Scriptures) with the rules of philosophy.

Read George before Lindberg. George emphasizes several features of Luther's vision: The power of the Word (carnal and verbal), disillusionment with scholasticism's subordination of Scripture to "reason," the existential presence of God to those who would know him (coram deo), the personal nature of God's work (pro me), and the dialectics that characterize his theology, including the dialectic (not cycle) of assurance and despair. Luther collapses the distance philosophy [Oberman: through the work of Satan] had interposed between God and his people.

These bring us to a preview of Luther's doctrine of justification, which incorporates a dialectic of conditional law and unconditional gospel (Lindberg 72).

Skim Oberman. That reading seems to hard for this class. Oberman (1) takes us through a biography that shows these features in the fabric of Luther's life (151-154); (2) sets straight the modernist misperception that Luther's authority is the conscience, and muddies up some stereotypes of Luther's conversion as an instant conversion from anxiety to assurance (154-158); clarifies realism and nominalism in Luther's own words (169-170); (4) emphasizes the relevance of the Devil in Luther's theology; etc.

Janz #14: Is an autobiography of Luther's conversion. There will be characters you don't know, but you will have been somewhat prepared by the preceding reading.

Janz #20: Is Luther preaching the psalms. Notice that they become a sort of existential regimen: Like Rom. 1-8, they are a guide for a particular experience coram deo. In a pattern familiar to evangelicals, Luther normativizes a certain experience of terror before the Law and reassurance before the Gospel.