Mysteries of the Kingdom

            in awe of scripture, viewing it through the lens of the kingship of Jesus





GENTLEMAN'S WAR
    For over two months, I have neglected blogging, social engagements, and personal hygiene to produce a new book. Yes, a new book - hooray! The full manuscript has received a thorough initial edit. Half of that manuscript has been critiqued by a few friends who were generous with their time and patience (they don't call it a "rough" draft for nothing). Editing prints of the manuscript are now coming in the mail to receive more criticism and refinement. I look forward to querying the book for literary representation some time in March, Lord willing.
    For more information on the upcoming book, check the "news" link at the top of this page. In the meantime, a few thoughts on the "Gentleman's War"...

    While researching the book of Romans two years ago, I learned of Dr. Thomas Scheck. I would never have guessed what happened to Scheck could happen to anyone. After growing up Catholic, he converted to evangelical protestantism, served as an evangelical missionary and evangelical pastor for years, then reverted back to Catholicism. Dumbfounded, I then read his conversion to Catholicism had been wrought in great part by the writings of Erasmus, a name with which I had no familiarity. "Who," I wondered, "could influence an evangelical pastor to convert to Roman Catholicism?"
    Intrigued, I began researching Erasmus and fell in love with his eloquence, wit, sarcasm, and unflagging pursuit of unity among believers. Born in the 1400's, Erasmus protested religious corruption so strongly, he would later be accused of "laying the egg which Luther hatched." Though they would later break company, Martin Luther described Erasumus in 1519 in the introduction to his commentary on Galatians as "a man preeminent in theology and impervious to envy", "that most eminent theologian Erasmus", and "Erasmus, as always, explains beautifully."
    Erasmus first won scholarly fame by the publication in 1500 of his collection of classical Latin "Adages." His "Handbook of a Christian Knight" in 1503 gave his scholarly credence to ideas of religious reform and the eschewing of empty ritual. His 1511 satire "Praise of Folly" carefully ridiculed the religious system without alienating him from the authorities he lampooned. In 1516, Erasmus dared to challenge even the scripture translation used by Rome for a thousand years, the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus published a correction of Roman scriptures in Greek and Latin, dedicating it to the Pope. His careful pen earned the Pope's appreciation despite the bold implications of his work.
    Erasmus' most lasting influence can be found in his preface to the second edition of his Greek New testament. There he envisioned common Christians (not just scholars) reading the scriptures in their own language. He spoke in that preface his desire for translations of scripture in every tongue. The Erasmian vision directly conflicted with Roman dogma, yet was fulfilled. Erasmus' New Testaments were used by Martin Luther to create the first German translation and by William Tyndale to create the first English New Testament translated from Greek and the first ever print-published. Many other translations followed.
    One can only speculate what reformations might have come if the protesters had maintained the decorum of Erasmus. Within months of his 95 theses, Luther republished Sylvester Mazzolini's "Dialogos," adding his own heated remarks:
"Truly it seems to me that if the madness of the Romanists continues thus, no remedy will be left except that the Emperor, Kings, and Princes, girded with strength of arms, should attack these plagues of the entire earth, and decide the matter not with words, but with the sword. For what do these lost men - who lack even common sense - babble, except that which it was foretold the Antichrist would do? If we punish thieves with the fork, robbers with the sword, heretics with fire, why do we not all the more, with all available weapons, fall upon these teachers of perdition, these Cardinals, these Popes, and all that conflux of the Roman Sodom, which continually corrupts the Church of God? Why do we not wash our hands in their blood?"
    Whatever may or may not have come of an Erasmian protestantism without Luther, protests and reforms were underway before Martin Luther went on his charm offensive. One wishes what began as a "Gentlemen's War," fought on Erasmian terms had not devolved to crass insults and bloodshed.

                                                    
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"Gentlemen's War" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on February 8th, 2014. All rights are reserved.