Full Text for Confessions 1- Volume 57 - How did it happen that secular authorities such as a political alliance of princes and cities (the Smalcald League) take up the theological questions of what to say at a church council? (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY CUE NET CONFESSIONS CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY EDUCATION NETWORK CONFESSION 1 QUESTION 57 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. 3238 Rose Street Franklin Park, IL 60131 800-825-5234 *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >>How did it happen that secular authorities such as a political alliance of princes and cities -- I'm speaking of the Smalcald League -- take up the theological questions of what to say at a church council? >>DR. CHARLES P. ARAND: If you recall, the entire Luther question has also been a political question from the very beginning. We've highlighted this a number of times. Particularly as we talked about the various imperial diets of political assemblies that convened and deliberated over the issues, especially as related to the edict of worms throughout the 1520s. Also the edict of worms being an imperial edict did imply the threatened use of force. So all through the 1520s, there is hanging over the heads you might say of German princes the possibility of war and hence, the possibility of having to resist the emperor by force or not resist him. This became increasingly acute at the second Diet of Spire in 1529 as you recall, that's where the Lutherans issued their *protesttoxial their appeal to the majority decision which basically annulled the recess of the first Adam Spire in 1526. Already then they began to grow increasingly concerned about the emperor's reaction and whether or not he would seek to use force to bring other things back line. So immediately following that diet, they began exploring the possibility of forming a political alliance sort of a defense league like NATO, among the Protestant princes. But because they worked on the same assumption of Charles, that any political alliance presupposed a unity of faith, a unit of con investigation, the commercial of theologians to draw up a series of articles as a possible basis for the alliance. And out of that came from Luther the -- what are known as the *Shawaba Articles. One of the source documents for the Augsburg Confession itself. Well, that served Saxon politics well enough. Phillip of *Hesay -- however, Lange Phillip of *Hesay further to the south was very desirous to somehow bring the Swiss into the alliance if at all possible. Now, the Swiss are led primarily by their former *Ullrich Schweney. And he and Luther had clashed quite harshly over the Lord's Supper in 1528. Luther's great Confession of 1528 is pretty much written against Schweney's doctrine of the Lord's Supper. Well, in an attempt to bring them together he, in fact, managed to convene a meeting held in *Marburg in October 1529 when both Schweney and Luther sat at the same table together. And there they hammered out what were known as the March Berg articles unfortunately Luther and Schweney were unable to come to an agreement on the Lord's Supper. Luther recognized already that there was a different spirit about Schweney that it wasn't simply an issue of this one teaching but it was an entire world view an entire scripture. If I have to put it somewhat crassly, I think Luther sniffed out a latent neoplatonic approach to scriptures whereas Luther tended to approach them with more of um bray I can world view steep as he was in the Old Testament. So as a result the Swiss did not come on board and plans for a broad Protestant alliance had to be suspended, particularly because when the emperor's summons to the diet of Augsburg came in Jan of 1530, it caught everyone off guard and by surprise. Moreover the tone of the summons was incredibly conciliatory with the result that optimism arose that "Well, maybe we can hammer things out. It appears as if the emperor wants to work things out and is wanting to find some kind of a compromise or some kind of a solution." So plans for a Smalcald League were put on hold if you will. Then we have the diet of Augsburg, cardinal cam pens you'll urging the use of armed force, the use of iron and fire to bring the Lutherans to line. We have the very harsh recess of Augsburg threatening military, you know, force against the Lutherans should they not adopt the confrontation by April 15th, 1531. So immediately following the diet, discussions resume about the feasibility and the theological justification for resisting the emperor militarily should it come to that. And the Smalcald League comes into existence as a defense alliance, if you will. And remains intact throughout the 1530s. So when the emperor -- I'm sorry; when the Pope, Pope Paul, issues or announces that he was going to convene a council, it is both a theological issue as well as a political issue. One might say why is it you have a Pope that have a church summoning christians and theologians and pastors to a council. Well, it's not quite as simple as that because while it is a theological issue and it's to be a church council, the princes were responsible for the church's within their territory. There is a union between the government and the churches. I suppose in our language today, we can't imagine a governor asking theologians to draw up a Confession of faith. Maybe a better analogy, however, is to think of the princes of this time as the leading members of the church. Maybe an analogous to the way in which we in our own congregation who are those laymen who often become the president of the congregation or a Chairman of the Board of elders. As a rule I suspect they tend to be leading the members in the community as well as leading members within the church. Those who have leadership abilities, those who tend to be well educated and the like. But in its inner fashion I think that's the role that the princes had here, as well. At any rate, the Pope has announced the plans to convene a council in *Matwa. Now the question arises for the Lutherans, do you go or do you not go. Now, think about this. They have been wanting a council for almost 18 years. Now they got one. And should you go or should you not? Now, here we have a divided opinion. The princess and the politicians were disinclined toward attending the council. And the rulers, including Luther's own pins, elector John Fredrick. Why? Because the princes were pretty astute politically and they saw the paper council as a legal snare that was going to be set in order to capture the Protestants. Now, what kind of a legal snare? Well, probably on a couple of counts. But I'm going to focus on one particularly. Elector John Fredrick, according to Mark Edwards in his book "Luther's Last Battles" feared that by receiving the *papalegiat brings the invitation or the summons to attend a council at least diplomatically by receiving him and receiving that invitation -- I should start that over. Receiving that summons in command to attend the council, that that very action would be a task I can acknowledgement that the Pope is head of the Christian church by divine right. In other words, that you are, in fact, a subject of the Pope obedient to the Pope, and there by obligated to attend. So they saw the invitation of the summons to attend it as an attempt to divide the Protestants as well in terms of the debate about attending or not attending. Moreover and this is another aspect of that legal snare -- once the Protestants agreed to participate in a council, would they not be obligated to support and -- or to support the decisions and the conclusions of that council? Because remember, for 18 years now -- now, they didn't say they would attend the council. They said they would abide by the decisions of the council. Now, the princes being astute politicians were able to count. And they were well aware that any council that was being convened by Pope Paul would be dominated by a Catholic majority. And that they would dominate the council and determine its outcome. Moreover, they suspected that a lady would have no vote something for which the Lutherans had been advocated the princes in particular, but that they would not have a voice much less a vote within a council. So by attending a council then, Lutherans or the Protestants would lose their right to an appeal following a council. So those were the concerns of the princes. On the other hand, the theologians led by Luther disagreed. They didn't expect anything good to come from a paper council for sure. On that point they were agreeing with their princes. Nevertheless, they urged their princes not to refuse the invitation because in large part for the theologians, it was a matter of what shall I say? A matter of appearances. A matter of good faith. In other words, we've been wanting a council. We've been asking for one every year and now that we get one we say no thank you I don't think we'll come. It wouldn't look too good upon the reformation movement. Moreover, spiritually and theologically, they felt that it would be a demonstration that they lacked faith and trust in God's ability to protect them or that it might express an unwittingness to suffer martyrdom should it come to that is to Luther was more than willing insisting that we ought to go to the council and let the chips fall where they may. It's God's church. At least the word of God would have a chance to be heard within the council. Well, in this debate and struggle between the rulers and theologians, who do you think won out? The princes did. And they then gave the task to the theologians of justifying the non-attendance of the Protestants. In other words, the task that fell to the theologians of discrediting the council that was to be convened. And it's a task that Luther then threw himself into with any number of writings, especially in 1537, 1538 culminating with his great treatise on the councils and the church. Now, theologically, one has to admit that Luther in his cause for a council had a very different conception of a council than his opponents did in terms of the composition of a council, in terms of the basis on which the decisions of the council would be convened and so forth. So he would have two very different approaches to a council. Well, Luther is going to adopt several strategies in discrediting the council that was to be convened. One is intended I suppose for the masses, the common man on the street. And that was through the use of sarcasm and wit. The other was through the use of his rhetorical argument. And it's probably in these years that Luther spends more time doing intense historical work on past councils and their actions and their activities than he ever did so before. And in some ways both of these approaches come together in his writings I'm going to give you a couple of examples that Mark Edwards cites in his book. The first one is -- has to do with the council of con stands that had met 100 years earlier. You may remember that this is the council of which the reformer John Huss was burned at the stake. Well, in one writing Luther rebaptized the council of con stands with a different name. He calls it the with standing council or the resisting council. Why? Because as he looked into the deliberations and proceedings, one of the debates that took place was over the Communion in both kinds, that is getting both the bread and the wine, the body and the blood of Christ to laypeople. And he discovered in the council's findings or midst, that they did acknowledge that the Lord had instituted supper in both kinds and that the disciples received if in both kinds. But then it had the phrase nonetheless, this notwithstanding we are going to give Communion in one kind only, that is the bread or the host. So Luther says they have to acknowledge what the script tours themselves say but deliberately consciously reject it with that phrase "Nevertheless this notwithstanding", this being the words of Christ's institution. So Luther goes on into a fairly heated discussion about the council actually rejecting the clear words of scripture. In fact, one of his approaches through all of this was to demonstrate that just like popes, councils can err or make mistakes when not guided by the word of God. Well, I'll conclude this particular answer to the question with what we might regard as a little more lighthearted story that Luther told for popular consumption. But one which he felt had been used by the papacies through the centuries to support its authority not to mention the authority of the council. This has to do with the legend of Saint John Christison. Saint John Christison in the early church was renowned as a preacher. In fact, very often icons of Chris Son proper tray him with a golden wing around his mouth for his golden tongue, for his fierce speech, his rhetoric and his preaching. One, particular legend of Saint John Christison retitles the Legend of Saint John Christison, the *Ligend instead of legend. I'm going to read it as its laid out in Mark Edwards book. It goes as follows. It's pretty spectacular when you think about it. "Before Christison's birth a soul suffering the ago knees of purgatory informs the hope that he will be released only when Christison has sung 16 masses. Once Christison is born, he is raised by the Pope. Originally a very inept student, he acquires not only marvelous learning by Chris Kissing the lips of the portrait of the virgin but also the gold ring about his lips, hence his name Christison, golden mouse. After celebrating his first mass at the age of 16, he fleas into the wild where he lives as a hermit. The emperor's daughter is then conveyed to his hermitage by a great wind after a period of chased cohabitation the couple prompted by the devil make love both are stricken with guilty and Christison to remove temptation from his sight pushes the princess off a cliff. In penance for this heinous crime, he begins to walk around on all fours and turns into a hideous animal. After many years, the emperor has another child. But the baby refuses to be baptized by the Pope insisting that Christison should perform the right. Meanwhile, a hunter has captured Christison and thinking he has captured some rare beast has brought him to the emperor. When the beast is presented to the Court, the baby recognizes him to be Christison and ands the saint has done sufficient penance. Christison regains the form of a young man. The princess is found to have miraculously survived her fall and to have been preserved by God through all of the intervening years and Christison finally performs 15 more masses and releases the soul from purgatory." Well, like I say the sensationalism in the tract was very popular and printed frequently throughout Germany. And while obviously Luther calls it a lie, it does for Luther contain certain key points regarding authority and particularly the role of masses, the *expoprato character of masses and their ability to spring souls from purgatory, in other words, stories of legends such as this, in fact, perpetuated promoted and supported what Luther considered to be devilish errors, spiritual poison, undermining faith in Jesus Christ. So through a series of popular tracts, as well as more academic treatises and books, Luther, as others, wend about calling into question the value of accounts so as composed and convened by the Pope in its present form. As a result, as we all know, though the Smalcald Articles in the treatise and power and the premise of the Pope were prepared Lutherans did not, in fact, attend the council. For that matter the council was not convened in 1547 or 1548. Instead it was put on hold either with issues of where to hold it, issues of location, and the council has now finally convened until it is brought into session in the town of Trent following an the heels of Luther's death in 1546. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***