Forgotten Refomer: Oswald Myconius
Okay, so I am not yet done with this series. I have time for (at least) one more. This one is Oswald Myconius. Born in 1488 as Oswald Geisshussler in Lucerne Switzerland. He was a good student and during his studies in Rothwyl he met Berthold Haller. Oswald went to Basle in 1514 to be a teacher. It was probably Erasums who called him Oswald Myconius, which he then took to himself. Many scholars changed their names during this time. Making their name Greek apparently is some sort of status symbol or something. He became a teacher in the city and there he made the acquaintance of Ulrich Zwingli. It is with Zwingli that Myconius becomes life long friends. Myconius married while in Basle as well. During this stay in Basle, Myconius also became friends with Oecolampadius and Wolfgang Capito. Yet, Myconius would not stay in Basle forever. He went to take a teaching position in Zurich in 1516. There is some evidence to show that Myconius was already teaching some Reformational truths during his time in Zurich including claiming that the pope was not to be followed if he contradicted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, Myconius is in Zurich before Zwingli and laying some ground work for the Reformation there. Although it is to be remembered he is only the head teacher at the Cathedral School, and not yet a pastor. But in 1518, it is Myconius who convinces the Cathedral chapter to extend the call to Ulrich Zwingli to be the pastor. Together Zwingli and Myconius begin to spread Reformational truth to the people of Zurich. Yet, the partnership was only to be for a year as Myconius then went back to Lucerne with hopes of spreading the Reformation to Lucerne. He was often attacked and was ultimately unsuccessful in Lucerne. But in 1522, Myconius took a position as pastor of Einsleden, where Zwingli had preached from 1516-1518 and Leo Juda from 1518-1522. Thus, there he stood in a line of Reformational preachers, and did not have to endure the attacks upon the gospel and the false slanders of his character. He did not stay long as by the end of 1523 he is in Zurich teaching the school there again. He returns to the pulpit in 1531 upon the death of John Oecolampadius as the head pastor of Basle. It is there that he aids in the editing and publication of the First Confession of Basle. He stays there laboring until his death in 1552.
Myconius was an early convert to the Reformation and worked for it everywhere he went. He was not able to reform Lucerne, but he was the school teacher there. He did aid in the reformation of Zurich. In fact, he played a large role in getting the people to call Zwingli to the pulpit and then returning again in 1523 as the battle reached its climax. He filled an important slot upon the death of John Oecolampadius as the head pastor of Basle. In doing so he helped keep Switzerland on track in the Reformation despite losing Zwingli and Oecolampadius in one year. His election to the post in Basle shows how highly regarded he was by his contemporaries as Basle usually promoted from within, but they went out of the city to get Myconius. With the publication of the First Confession of Basle, he helped usher in the age of Confessions, and he helped in the formation of the First Helvetic Confession, which united all of Reformed Switzerland in 1536. Myconius along with Grynaeus were responsible for the Latin publication of the confession.
Myconius was Zwinglian in his view of the Supper. A view he defended from all detractors. But he was not a robot merely regurgitating the views of his friend Zwingli. Myconius held that Christ really did descend into hell, a view not commonly held by many reformers, and Myconius was eager to find common ground with the Lutherans. Much more so than the rest of the Swiss Reformers. But Myconius was never able to find that common ground. Nevertheless, he did not stop trying.
Oswald was also apparently a little bit of a hot head. Once he came home in Zurich to find that his house had been ransacked and his wife and child were very shaken by the experience. Oswald tracked the man, who was a Swiss mercenary soldier, and confronted him in the street. This of course ended badly for Oswald, who would recover from his injuries. In Basle he would also yell back at people who occasionally heckled him from the congregation. I guess times were a little different back then.
Myconius is forgotten because of his largely secondary role in the Reformation, never being the one who actually reformed any town (although neither did Calvin). Still, Myconius was a member of that original cabal or Swiss reformers. For that reason alone we ought to remember Oswald Myconius, an original reformer.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Forgotten Refomer: Oswald Myconius
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Yes, I think I will link these things together in this blog.
I have been extremely impressed by the blitzkreg of media opposition to Gov. Sarah Palin’s book. I have not read it, nor do I intend to, but people like David Brooks are attacking her as an anti-intellectual joke? Is she really a popular idiot or is perhaps David Brooks confused on what it actually means to be intellectual just like he is confused as to what it means to be conservative? I cannot answer for sure whether Gov. Palin is intellectual, but I can say for sure that David Brooks gets the definition wrong, but he is not the only one.
Take a look at Dr. James Jordan, famed Federal Vision pastor, in his article Closing of the Calvinistic Mind. In this article he tries to explain to us that there used to be Reformed Intellectuals, but no more. His list includes people like R.J. Rushdoony, father of Theonomy, and Herman Dooeyweerd, Christian Philosopher also involved in the movement. These are a sampling of the Christian Intellectuals Jordan refers to in his article. Evan Runner, Cornelius Van Til, also draw mention, and are also in some way associated with Theonomy or the Amsterdam School of Philosophy. Klaas Schilder garners a mention, Schilder has much in common with modern day Federal Vision. He seems to honor Bishop N.T Wright as an intellectual thinker in today’s world in other articles. The same question can be posed to Dr. Jordan as David Brooks, what makes an intellectual anyway?
It seems clear to me that the definition of both Brooks and Jordan of an intellectual is someone who broaches new ground and is an original thinker. Such a definition is probably largely accepted, but is it right? Should the church constantly be broaching new ground? Should we be rethinking justification by faith alone? How is this definition of an intellectual compatible with foundational established truths? And the answer comes back, it is not. Intellectualism then is anti-thetical to established truth. Do we really need Bishop Wright to re-think the incarnation and justification, or is that act of intellecutalism an act of denying truth? Do we need someone to re-think conservatism in politics or is re-thinking conservatism an inherently un-conservative act?
There is no doubt that David Brooks believes intellectualism involves coming up with new ideas and new solutions rather than spouting the same old cut tax formula. This is why Brooks believes the era of Reagan is dead and supports candidates like John McCain and supported Barak Obama. For Brooks supporting a major liberal like Barak Obama does not negate his self proclaimed “conservatism”. It is intellectual to support these other intellectuals and conservatism is redefined into Barak Obama’s liberalism. The same is true for the Federal Vision and N.T. Wright. They follow the intellectualism and end up redefining Justification and Election until it is really something closer to Romanism that Protestantism. That is what a good intellectual does in their system. Re-think, which means re-define.
I wish to suggest a different definition of an intellectual. A true intellectual is someone who can take difficult concepts and present them to the masses so that they are easily understood. Such an ability is indeed rare, but it shows great intellectual ability. To be able to explain things so that all can understand takes total grasp of the subject and a knowledge of language and others that ought to be what defines an intellectual. Ronald Reagan is a great example. He could communicate the truths of economics and politics in a manner that was memorable and easily understood. Let me give another example by citing someone who is oddly left off of Dr. Jordan’s list. Francis Schaeffer was at the height of his popularity in the 1970’s, the same time frame spoken of by Jordan, and he was also a conservative Presbyterian. Yet, Jordan leaves him off of the list of intellectuals? Why? Schaeffer had a larger following than Dooeyweerd and Rushdoony combined. But what Schaeffer did not do was break new ground. He did not promote the new idea of Theonomy, but rather communicated the basic truths of a Christian worldview so that many could understand.
Jordan calls people that fit my definition of intellectual "popularizers". They simply make a message popular, but they do not rethink the message or come up with a new message. And I surely agree that "popularizers" exist. But, should we be rethinking the gospel of Jesus Christ, should we be changing it? I think not.
Next installment: Anti-intellectual or intellectual: Does truth matter any more?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The 500th Anniversary of Calvin’s birth is almost over, but since it is not yet, I will continue on with the Forgotten Reformer path. But today I would just like to do something a little different. Calvin and Geneva are exalted, and they should be remembered fondly. However, other cities had just as much influence if not more. So today I would like to discuss the forgotten city of Basel.
Basel in my opinion ought to be remembered as a major center and birthplace of the Reformation. Let me just go through some of the things that happened in Basel and their influence over the Reformed Reformation.
Basel before the Reformation had such Romanist teachers as Wessel, Wittenbach, and Erasmus who helped foster a spirit of reform at the University of Basel. Wittenbach even taught the truth about salvation of Jesus Christ. Look at a list of the people that came to Basel. Ulrich Zwingli was there in 1496 for a year, but he returned again in 1502 until 1506. Also there during that time frame, were Leo Juda, future Reformer in Zurich, and Wolfgang Capito, future Reformer of Strassborg. The trio met and became good friends, and would continue to communicate for the rest of their lives. Casper Hedio was there as well receiving a doctorate in 1520. Oswald Myconius was educated at Basel, and was teaching there in 1514. Myconius left for Zurich before being recalled to replace Oecolampadius after his death in 1531.
John Oecolampadius was there in 1515 preaching in the Cathedral, and helping Erasmus with his Greek NT. He did briefly leave to join a monastery, but was back by 1522 to stay. Konrad Pelikan was there as a member and priest of the Fransiscan Order in Basel from at least 1519 to 1526.
Basel was a large printing center that was printing the works of Luther by 1518. It was Basel that published the Greek NT of Erasmus in 1516. They would of course be publishing works from the Swiss Reformers as well. These were able to be distributed in both Switzerland and Germany thanks to Basel’s unique local and history (it had only been a part of Switzerland for a few decades prior to the Reformation). Of course it would be in Basel that Calvin printed his first edition of the Institutes of Christian Religion. Not only was the printing business pushing the reformation, but so too was the famous painter, Hans Hlbein the Younger, who worked in Basel until 1526. It was in Basel he became Reformed. His brother Ambosius also lived in Basel.
Basel also gave respite to the fleeing Calvin in 1536 and before that the young Guillermo Farel after he was chased out of France. Some English Protestants would end up in Basel during the reign of Bloody Mary as well. Basel was a safe haven for Reformers.
Basel also helped kick off the Confessional movement in the Reformed Churches when in 1534 they put out the First Confession of Basel, which Oecolampadius had written before his death. This led to the First Helvetic Confession in 1536 that united all of Reformed Switzerland. The leaders of Basel at the time, Myconius and Simon Grynaeus, were contributers, and the confession was drawn up and printed in Basel.
Basel also stayed true to the Reformation (despite a brief period of Lutheranizing), and sent two delegates to Dort: Sebastian Beck and Wolfgang Meyer.
Thus, if we look at Basel we see a place where the Reformers all got their first taste of the Reformation. Where they were able to interconnect and "network" if you will. Zwingli, Oecolampadius, Capito, Hedio, Juda, Myconius, all got to know one another at Basel. Then they spread out and Reformed Switzerland and South Germany. It was a leading city of the Reformation in many ways, and it is so often forgotten today. If we had but a few Basel’s in America today, the Reformation would again turn into a fire that could consume an entire continent. Let us not forget the great work of the Reformation in Basel.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I just finished reading A History of the Iconoclastic Controversy, and it is a very good book. It is not all straight history as he stops to examine the arguments from each side at each period in the conflict, of which he believes there are three. The author, Dr. Edward Martin, clearly favors the Iconophils (lovers of images), but overall is a fairly balanced view and is willing to admit when arguments are good or bad or unanswered. Obviously as someone who is against icons I have some quibbles with some of his review of the argumentation, but still the book is good. I learned a lot of history that I did not before, and Martin makes some excellent points about the increasing dependence of the iconophils on tradition as their authority. Martin even seems to argue that this reliance on tradition is what helps end theological thought in the Eastern Orthodox Church. And by comparing the arguments in the first round with the arguments of the last round, he makes a pretty good case.
The major failure of the book in my opinion is Martin’s removal of what was going on in the western church to the last two chapters of the book as if they were completely divorced, which is what he argues. I think he fails in his understanding of the Carolingian Church and its disregard of icons. He dismisses most of the rejection of the Second Council of Nicaea by the Franks as politically motivated, and I think that is fairly narrow. He also is too dismissive of Claudius of Turin, who he admits is basically a Protestant Reformer a few hundred years out of place. The fairly low rate reaction to Claudius needed to be explored more, and if he had put the goings on in the Western Church side by side with the Eastern Church, then it would have made a different picture. In fact, it probably would have made a picture of the church in the 8th and 9th century that had a majority of its members rejecting icons. Something that is not really taught in church history courses.
Still, that complaint aside, I think the book is good. It is well researched and a pretty easy read. I enjoyed the book and might look for more works by the Dr. Martin.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Election results of 2009 are in, and it is hard to read them as good for anyone. So some Republicans won governor's races. That is good for them, but NY23 does show that the Republican Party as a whole does not yet understand that conservatism is the way to go.
The real result to pay attention to is the election in Maine. A pro-marriage law passed by the legislature was overturned. That is good news, but only about 53% voted to overturn the law. The Homosexual agenda has gained a lot of ground. They are still having to force their "marriages" on people via courts, but this is not the sound rejection it used to be. This is a real message for the church. Without Christianity as a basis, marriage will fall.
We need to see what is going on. I commented a few posts ago about the homosexual show on Grey's Anatomy, but they also had shows on Heroes as well as Flash Forward at least. These shows probably put this in the shows probably to help influence the vote in Maine. There is no doubt that the homosexual agenda will win if Christianity does not step up.
Of course it may actually be a hate crime to vote against it now. This post may be a hate crime. But one has to obey God rather than men.