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Terrell, DG - Short Notes on the Reformation II

Terrell, DG - Short Notes on the Reformation II

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Published by David G Terrell
Short pieces written during a graduate-level Reformation history class.
Short pieces written during a graduate-level Reformation history class.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: David G Terrell on Dec 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs


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1 Terrell, DG - Short Notes on the Reformation II
Short Notes on the Reformation II
David G Terrell June 2010
Conflict among English Protestants during the reign of Elizabeth I
I appreciated Zophy‟s
observation about Elizabeth‟s desire to find a “centrist Protestant” middle
way that was, at the same time, free of Roman control and politically non-threatening to
England‟s traditional
--and very Roman Catholic--enemies: France and Spain. Her trimming of
the most extreme numbers of Cranmer‟s Articles, dropping the forty
-two to thirty-nine, was an evident effort to reduce the scope of Reform that had to be sworn to by its adherents. But as in all attempts to satisfy a range of human beliefs, those at the tail-ends of the distributions were alienated (Zophy 2009, 244-245).
So, I believe that the most … fanatic … of the various flavors of English Protestantism felt
disappointment at what they saw as a secularization of their attempts to return to a pure, correct worship of the Christian Trinity. Those of a moderate frame of mind were in the unfortunate  position of not being inclined to support extreme theological positions that clearly existed in their scriptures. They could not but acknowledge that the extremist views were scriptural, though unpalatable. This prevented moderate Christians from suppressing the more extreme--allowing the conflict to continue. As I consider the above, I am brought to mind of the situation
of “moderate Muslims,” who are
faced with scriptural directives to engage in religiously-inspired violence. They seem to face a similar situation
and are equally unable to theologically support their moderate views. Interesting.
Religious Totalitarianism
It is a fascination for me... to see how humanity longs for leaders attuned either to the "will of God" or to the "will of the people" who are willing to compel individuals' through physical coercion, regulation and social pressure to conform to the acknowledged paradigm in thought, word and deed.
2 Terrell, DG - Short Notes on the Reformation II It constantly amazes me that that the players in these totalitarian Christian regimes--and I label them as totalitarian because of their insistence on politicizing their objectives and, when  possible, using the full force of the state in support of their goals (Goldberg 2007, 23)--view all rival identities as a great evil, to be rooted out and destroyed by fire and sword.
Protestant Internecine Rivalry - Lutheran and Zwinglian hostility towards the Anabaptists and Spiritualists The Anabaptists.
 From my reading, I realize that Luther and Zwingli, in their hearts, considered themselves true Catholic Christians. They believed that the Pope and his clergy were the deviants and heretics who had cause to recant. They opposed indulgences and clerical prerogatives  because there were reasonably clear opposing views in the Scriptures. Humanist-inspired rationality was satisfied. However, there were theological aspects not clearly resolved one way or the other in the Scriptures. There were little of no Scriptural precedents to guide logical reasoning and the day of direct revelation was deemed passed. The most prominent concerned the salvation of persons who die without having received the n
ecessary ordinance of baptism. The “we are not heretics”
mindset I described above tended to bring Luther and Zwingli down on the side of the Catholic tradition where there was no clear cut solution to a seeming theological dilemma. Such was the position of infants who die unbaptized. The Anabaptists interpreted the scriptures differently. Where John the Baptist preached the
“baptism of repentance” (Luke 3); St. Mark asserted that “He that believeth and in baptized shall  be saved” (Mark 16); and, St. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, directed all to “Repent, and be Baptized” (Acts 2) the Anabaptists inferred that a person must have the mental capacity to repent
 before submitting to baptism. So, while all acknowledged baptism was necessary, what happened to children who died before receiving the ordinance? Reading Bainton, Luther sided with the Roman tradition. Children must be baptized to prevent the chance of their going to Hell (Bainton 1950, 108-110). Luther, Zwingli and the Roman Church clung to an idea of implicit proxy responsibility. They believed that, as Christ died for
man, a parent could stand proxy for another‟s initiation into the Christian Covenant. There was a
slender thread of precedent in the Scriptures. St. Paul, in a discussion of salvation, speaks of the  practice of proxy baptism in behalf of the dead as if it were an accepted practice (1 Corinthians
3 Terrell, DG - Short Notes on the Reformation II 15). If one could be baptized for the dead, though the practice had fallen out of use, what  prevented one from being baptized for the newly living? By focusing on baptism after repentance, and not having an accommodation for handling unbaptized minors, the Anabaptists, in the minds of Luther, Zwingli and the Church were condemning an entire class of innocents to eternal damnation
this was the root cause of the antipathy. For me, discussion about the Spiritualists should center around two points. First is the mainstream consideration, shared by Luther and Zwingli, that the New Testament was a single divinely-inspired document, instead of an anthology. Second, I would point out the prohibition in
Revelation 22 against adding to, or redacting from, “this book.” But which book? When one
considers that the books of the New Testament were not assembled in chronological sequence; and seeing that there was a similar injunction levied in Deuteronomy 4 and 12, it is ironic that they considered the cannon closed.
Calvinism as a source of Social Stability.
I am intrigued by Marty's
assertion that “Calvinist doctrine pr 
esented to those who were tired of  political instability or who had been disenchanted by impious clericalism a new option, separate
from the still papal leanings of Lutheranism.”
I am pondering if some of the city governments “infected” with Calvinism cons
ciously used its willingness to compel performance and behaviors in pursuit of domestic tranquility. One gets that impression in MacCulloch (MacCulloch 2004, 238-242). I also wonder at the influence that Calvin had upon the city government of Geneva. Perhaps his willingness to equip the laity with the skills to reason out their own theology energized their participation (MacCulloch, 246-247). But, heaven help the person
who thought outside Calvin‟s theological box.
MacCulloch also speaks about Calvin‟s “Reformed Catholicism”
(248) which causes me to wonder if he cast himself (quietly, in his heart) in the role of Vicar of Christ. He certainly acted the part.
Calvinism as a decentralized force for stability

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