Friday, September 30, 2011

Why Trichotomy is Wrong 3 B, The Errors It Spawns


Part 3B: Christological Heresies

Think of the impact Trichotomy would have, if consistently held, on our Christology. Orthodox Christianity has always affirmed the Hypostatic Union of Christ. This means that Christ is fully God and fully man - two distinct natures, not intermingled - by a mystery of divine wisdom hypostatically united in One Person. Christ is not a human person and a Divine Person sharing a body.

Try to square this with Trichotomy and you rush headlong into blasphemous heresy. You will end up trying to divide Christ in an Apollonarian way. Apollonarius taught that Christ was a human body that had the Second Person of the Trinity, the Logos, in the place of a normal human soul. If you do this, you must postulate two spiritual natures in Christ and you don't want to know where that will lead you. A human nature without a human soul is a non-entity. It is semantic nonsense. If Christ was not fully human, He could not have died for humans. His death is efficacious for the elect precisely because He is one of us. A human without a soul is not a human. Christ had to be human to atone for humans.

The simple fact is, there is no way to square Trichotomy with biblical Christology. Either you end up denying or downplaying Christ’s deity, His humanity or you create a schizophrenic Christ – each option as heretical and blasphemous as the others. Mention is made of Jesus’ soul being troubled in Matthew 26:38. In John 11:33 and 13:21, we read that His spirit was troubled. The same emotion is described in these three texts, again reaffirming what we claimed before about the interchangeable nature of these words. But try dealing with any of those passages from a Trichotomist view point and you head straight down the toilet theologically. There is no way to handle those passages from a Trichotomist view point without ending up in one of the Christological heresies of the first 4 centuries of Church history. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Why Trichotomy is Wrong 3 A, The Errors It Spawns

Part 3: The dangers and heretical dangers of a tripartite understanding of human nature.
           
Part 3A: Modalism

I will not mask my excitement at finally getting to this point. As I said in the first post in this series, it was very tempting to launch into a full-on polemic. But I felt it would be a wiser approach to deal with the subject by starting with what the Scriptures actually say and teach. After all, this is what matters, not opinions or theories.

We have probably all heard someone wax eloquent on the doctrine of the Trinity and use man’s tri-partite nature as an illustration. There are many flaws in this analogy. First of all, it does not come from Scripture. Nowhere does Scripture present man as a three-part being mirroring God’s Triune nature. And there is good reason why Scripture doesn’t use this analogy: it is false. Let’s just pretend for the moment that I am composed of three parts. How does this mirror the Trinity? I am not three persons! This is a horrible analogy. And if more people were familiar with Church history, they would know that that very analogy was proposed by heretics in the first few centuries of the Church and condemned as heretical.

Instead of being an analogy for the Trinity, this convoluted illustration actually denies the Trinity. If I am body, soul and spirit, I am still me. I am not three persons. The Trinity is not one person with three parts. This is a heresy known as Modalism. It asserts that the Father, Son and Spirit are all really just one Person who reveals Himself in three different modes. The “body, soul and spirit” illustration of the Trinity is blatantly heretical. If a person believes this about God, he cannot possibly be a Christian. He is an idolater who has substituted for the Triune God of the Bible a fiction of his own weak imagination.

I have encountered another variation of this modalistic version of the Trinity. It goes like this: I am a father; I am a son; and I am also a husband. Again, this is a horrendously false illustration because I am NOT three persons – just one. Moreover, I am also a cousin, grandson, uncle, nephew, brother and a second cousin twice removed. Does this therefore mean that Benny Hinn’s idiotic 9 person trinity is correct?

A couple of years ago, I was engaged in something of a debate on a Facebook group page on this subject. I noted that Charles Hodge vociferously handled Trichotomy as a heresy. The person with whom I was engaged in this discussion responded that none of the heretical views which Hodge tied to Trichotomy were held by anyone today. The insinuation was that maybe in Hodge’s day Trichotomy led to heresy, but no one today held those particular heretical views. I think this misses the point, not to mention the fact that all of these heretical views are widely espoused today, just under different names and forms. It misses the point however by failing to realize that Hodge’s inferences were valid even if his examples were straw men (which they weren’t).

Modalism is not some bizarre teaching from the early days of the Church. It is alive and kicking in the form of T.D. Jakes' theology and that of his fellow Oneness Pentecostals.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Trichotomy is Wrong 2, Dealing With the Supposed Proof Texts

Part 2: Answering 1 Thess. 5:23 and Heb. 4:12

In our last post, it was stated that once we provided the relevant Scriptural data, we would then handle the supposed biblical support for Trichotomy. There are, in fact, only two Scriptures that Trichotomists can appeal to. They are 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12.

While this post may be short, I do not wish to be seen as treating these passages glibly. But the simple fact is that trying to get Trichotomy out of these passages is like trying to get blood out of a rock. The supposed support just isn’t there.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 states: Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Anthony Hoekema writes, “When Paul prays for the Thessalonians that the spirit, soul, and body of each of them may be preserved or kept, he is obviously not trying to split man into three parts, any more than Jesus intended to split man into four parts when he said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27). This passage therefore also provides no ground for the Trichotomic view of the constitution of man.” Created in God's Image (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1988).

In other words, in the light of the rest of scripture, which overwhelmingly presents man as a dichotomic being, it is irresponsible and cavalier exegesis to make this one verse militate against hundreds of others. And if this passage teaches Trichotomy, then we are equally justified in affirming tetrachotomy based on Luke 10:27 or Mark 12:30. Scripture sometimes calls our body “flesh and blood.” Are we therefore to assume that this teaches that man’s nature has two material parts – that “flesh and blood” are not the same things as “body”? The sort of nonsense and error this sort of hermeneutic creates is easily seen.

The only other passage in the whole of Scripture where the words “soul” and “spirit” occur together with the word “and” in between them (claimed by some to suggest Trichotomy) is Hebrews 4:12, which reads, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

There is really no reason to think that the words soul and spirit necessarily imply that man has two immaterial parts. The text itself gives us reason to doubt this form of exegesis. The passage also refers to joints and marrow and thoughts and intentions. No one in his right mind reasonable infers from this that man has two hearts or two material parts of his total being. Joints and marrow are used synonymously in reference to man’s material part (the body). Heart, soul and spirit are three synonyms for that immaterial part of man. So that if this verse gives support for making a distinction between soul and spirit as two different entities, then it actually goes one further and proposes three immaterial entities. Thought and intentionality are the domain of the mind, which means that this verse uses the word “heart” as a synonym for “mind.”

John Murray asserts that that the verb translated as "piercing" in the ESV is never used elsewhere in Scripture in the sense of distinguishing between two different things. Rather it is always used when distributing and dividing up various aspects of the same thing (John Murray, Trichotomy, Collected Works of John Murray, volume 2). So this passage is not saying that the Word separates two distinct things – soul from spirit. Rather the Word of God judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. The Word does not divide soul from spirit, as if they were two distinct entities. The Word divides soul and spirit in the sense of penetrating into our inner most parts. Soul and spirit do not imply two immaterial elements any more than flesh and blood imply two material ones.

Whenever one passage of Scripture is used to attain a doctrine without consulting with the entirety of the Scriptural data on that subject, only error can ensue. No one Scripture should ever be treated in isolation from the rest of the Bible. Jeremiah 36:23 says that Jehudi used a penknife to cut up the scroll of the Word of God through Jeremiah. Would it be correct then to conclude that penknives were instruments of evil? As stupid as that sounds, that interpretation has been made and others a thousand times worse are made every day by men who hold one verse in isolation from the rest of Scripture.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why Trichotomy is Wrong, The Biblical Evidence For Dichotomy


I plan to deal with the error of Trichotomy in a series of posts. Lord willing, it will look something like this:
1) We will present the Scriptural data relevant to the subject. In other words, we will show that Scripture does not support Trichotomy.
2). We will answer supposed Scriptural evidence for Trichotomy.
3). We will look at several of the inherent flaws and dangers of Trichotomy. 

Part 1: The Scriptural evidence for a bi-partite division of human nature, not tripartite.

First of all we should give some background, and define our terms.

It’s an interesting phenomenon: Virtually all theologians in all streams of the Christian tradition have believed and taught that man is comprised of two parts – one material part and one immaterial part. The material part, of course, is the body. The immaterial part the Bible variously calls the soul or spirit. This is known as Dichotomy. Somehow though, the reigning notion among the average person in contemporary Christianity is that man is composed of three parts – body, soul and spirit. Let us reiterate, most theologians are dichotomists, but nearly all popular Christian literature and teaching is Trichotomistic.

It is very tempting to launch into a tirade against Trichotomy right here and now. It would, indeed, be east to blast it for all of the theological heresies it is responsible for. I could point to its Gnostic tendencies, its proclivity for mysticism, or its denigration of the mind, but that will be for another post. Right now, I wish to present the biblical evidence for the dichotomist position. Let me insert a word of warning. Many will likely be tempted to think that Scripture is largely silent on the issue (and that perhaps this is the reason for the differing opinions). I assure you, that is not true.

Before proceeding with all the Scriptures I plan to present, let me say something about the words “soul” and “spirit” in the Biblical languages, which if considered would clear a lot of the confusion.

First of all, The Hebrew word for soul is ‏נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh), and it occurs 753 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. 475 times it is rendered “soul.” 117 times it is rendered “life.” It means breathing. When it appears in Genesis 2:7, Scripture applies it to man, noting that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul.

רוּחַ (ruach) is the Hebrew word for “spirit.” It occurs 378 times. Of these occurrences, 232 are rendered “spirit;” 92 are rendered “wind;” and 27 are rendered “breath.” The similarities between breath and wind are obvious enough, especially when we consider the antiquity of Hebrew. But note that both words mean breath and are therefore interchangeable synonyms by definition alone.

The Greek word for soul is ψυχή (psyche) occurs 105 times. 58 times it is rendered “soul.” And 40 times it is rendered “life.” Like its Hebrew counterpart, it means breath as well. Thus it is the immaterial part of human nature.

The Greek word for spirit is πνεῦμα (pneuma). Of its 385 occurrences in the New Testament, it is rendered “spirit” in all but 21 cases. It means breath, or a current of air, or by implication the human soul.

As I said above, if these definitions were simply considered, there would be no confusion on this subject.

We will now view the Scriptural data.

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (This passage presents man as a bi-partite being comprised of body and soul.)

Ecclesiastes 12:7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (This passage switches the terms and presents man as being composed of body and spirit.)

Scripture describes death as the separation of body and soul in these passages: Genesis 35:18; 1 Kings 17:21, Acts 15:26. The following passages refer to the soul as the immaterial part of a man which survives death: Revelation 6:9 and 20:4

But then Scripture describes death as the separation of body and spirit in these passages: Psalm 31:5; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59. The following passages refer to the spirit as the immaterial part of a man which survives death: Hebrews 12:23; 1 Peter 3:19

James 1:21 and Hebrews 6:19 tells us that it is our soul which communes with God. Romans 8:16 and 1 Corinthians 6:20 tell us that it is our spirit which communes with God.

We are told in Ephesians 2:3 that our soul has been affected by sin. 2 Corinthians 7:1 informs us that our spirit has been affected by sin.

The body is said to be dead without the spirit. This is stated and/or implied in James 2:26; Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46; John 19:30; Acts 7:59. But Scripture just as clearly tells us that the soul is the life of the body in Matthew 6:25; 10:39; 16:25-26; 20:28; Luke 14:26; John 10:11-18, Acts 15:26; 20:10; Philippians 2:30; 1 John 3:16. Remember I said that sometimes the Greek and Hebrew words were translated “life.” This is why in some of the above references, you will find the word “life.” Not “soul” or “spirit” in the English text.

The mind is considered to be the cognitive function of the soul wherein though and reason occur. Yet, while this is true, Scripture also states, either explicitly or by implication that thought and cognitive understanding occur in one’s spirit. See Matthew 26:41; Mark 2:8; Luke 1:46-47; Acts 17:16; 1 Corinthians 2:11; 1 Peter 3:3-5. Indeed, whenever pneuma is used of man, it refers either to the immaterial part of man’s being or to his mental disposition (e.g. spirit of fear, spirit of meekness, etc.) Hence it is clear that it is equivalent to psyche. The Trichotomists, especially the Charismatic ones, place the spirit over the soul, hence the mind must be neglected for the sake of the spirit. But Scripture frequently uses pneuma to refer to a state of the mind (nuos). 

I could go on, but I hope that by now it is clear that Scripture most definitely uses the words soul and spirit interchangeably (e.g. Genesis 2:7; Job 32:8; 33:4; Ecclesiastes 12:7; Isaiah 10:18). Anyone who is interested in testing my assertion is more than welcome to compare the several hundred other occurrences of these words in Scripture and see that I have taken as examples passages which are representative of all the others.

If Scripture has any authority with us, this should be enough to put the nail in the coffin of Trichotomy. Scripture does not affirm a tri-partite nature of man, nor is it silent on the issue. Scripture presents man as a bi-partite being composed of an immaterial part (the soul or spirit), and a material part (the body).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Pelican

Conrad Pelican was born in Rouffach, in the German province of Alsace in the years 1478. He was schooled at home until he was 13 when his parents sent him to Heidelberg. After a year and four months of study he returned home and entered a monastery. He later, however, returned to Heidelberg and then moved to Tubingen where his studied liberal arts. He also studied Scholastic theology and Hebrew. At Basel he was made Doctor of Divinity. The Pope, impressed with his learning sent a legate to bring him to Rome. On the way there, Pelican became very ill and returned to Basel.

While there, he came across some of Luther’s books, and through consulting with some godly men, Pelican began to be enlightened of popish errors. His distaste for Roman errors grew so strong that he was persecuted as a Lutheran. About this same time the senate of Basel appointed him, with Œcolampadius, lecturer in divinity where he began first reading on Genesis, then on Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

In 1526 Zwingli was able to have Pelican brought to Zurich. In Zurich, Pelican renounced his monkish life. He married and had a son. Because he was currently reading on Samuel, he named his son Samuel. After his wife died, he married a second time, but had no children by his second wife.

After Zwingli died, Bullinger and Bibliander replaced him. Bibliander astonished his hearers for his excellent linguistic skills which he applied to his lectures on Isaiah, and for the fact that he had such skills at the age of 23. Pelican was requested to print all of Bibliander’s lectures with annotations. The lectures were on every book of the Bible except Revelation. In order to make the commentary complete, Pelican included Sebastian Meyer’s commentary on Revelation.

Pelican translated many books out of Hebrew which were printed by Robert Stephens. He held the post of professor of Hebrew at Zurich for 30 years. He was revered for his great learning, his indefatigable labors and his sweet and holy demeanor. He died on Easter Sunday 1556 at the age of 78.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Ursinus

Zachary Ursinus was born in 1534 in Silesia to upstanding parents who were very devoted to his education. After he finished school, he was sent to the University of Wittenberg when he was 16. There he heard Melanchthon and studied under him for two years.

When the plague broke out, he moved with Melanchthon to Torgau. He passed the winter there and when spring came, he moved back to Wittenberg where he spent the next five years in the study of languages and theology. He became a very good friend of Melanchthon and many other of the devout men of that age.

In 1557, he accompanied Melanchthon to the conference in Worms and from there he travelled to many places, including Geneva where he became fast friends with Calvin.

In 1558, the senate of Breslau sent for him to govern a school there. His Reformed views of the sacraments caused him no little trouble, during which he was able to secure permission from the senate to leave. Having gotten what he desired, he went back to Melanchthon’s side at Wittenberg.

Sensing Melanchthon’s death was approaching, and aware that undesirable changes were impending at Wittenberg, he left for Zurich in 1560 at the request of Martyr, Bullinger, Lavater and others. He sat under Martyr’s ministry there and profited much by it.

In 1561, a vacancy opened at the University of Heidelberg for a Doctor Professor. Ursinus was sent with letters of commendation from his friends in Zurich, so that upon his arrival he was made Doctor of Divinity at the age of 28, and was appointed professor. He held this post until 1568, when he was succeeded by Zanchius. Ursinus married in 1572 and this union was blessed with a son.

Persecution arose after the death of Prince Frederick, so Zanchius and Ursinus left the university. Prince John Casimir sent for them to be professors at his newly built university at Neustadt. Ursinus fell sick at this time for over a year. When he recovered, he threw himself back into his work with great diligence and zeal. His sickness returned, and though he tried to work through his ill health, Ursinus was finally confined to his bed. Even on his deathbed, he was busy encouraging friends and dictating things that he conceived would be for the benefit of the church. He died, surrounded by friends in the year 1581 at the age of 51.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Olevian

Caspar Olevian was born in Trêves, in the year 1536. He was schooled at home by his grandfather. At the age of 13, he was sent to Paris to study law. He also studied at the universities of Orleans and Bourges, where he studied under the most famous lawyers of those times. He began to worship with the Protestants.



One day he went out to the river after dinner with some friends, one of whom was Nicholas, the son of Frederick III. The young men found some German students by the river, who wanted Nicholas and his tutor to cross the river in a boat with them. Olevian knew that the prince and his tutor had been drinking, and tried to dissuade them. The young men went anyway and soon the boat capsized. The prince drowned. Olevian jumped into the water to rescue him, but he got stuck in mud so deep that he feared he would die as well. In this danger, he prayed to God vowing that if he were rescued he would preach the Gospel to his fellow-citizens. Just then, one of the prince’s footmen came by. He saw Olevian and thought it was the prince. He grabbed him by the hand and pulled him to safety. When Olevian returned home, he took up the study of theology along with his law studies. He was especially diligent in reading all of Calvin’s commentaries.

When he returned to Trêves, he was retained to plead a case. In a very short time it became apparent to him that there was much deceit involved in his profession, so he gave it up, moved to Zurich and began to study nothing but theology under Martyr and Bullinger.

He went to Lausanne to catch a ship to Geneva and it just so happened that Farel was on board the same ship. During their conversation, Farel asked Olevian is he had ever preached in his own country. He admitted that he had not. Farel persuaded him to do so as soon as possible, and Olevian promised he would.

So in 1559, he returned home to Trêves and by the request of his friends and the senate there, he was appointed to undertake the ministry there. He was given a stipend for this work and also read logic in the school. But when he began to preach the truth and expose the errors of popery, the clergy forbade him to preach and he was kicked out of the school. The senate appointed him to preach in a hospital, but his enemies tried to hinder this as well. Once, a young priest attempted to get into the pulpit before Olevian arrived. When the people saw this, they ordered him to come down and declared that they would not listen to him. In order to maintain the peace, Olevian asked them to listen to the priest and that he would preach after he was done. But the people wouldn’t hear of it and they caused such a ruckus that the priest feared for his life. Olevian stepped in, quieted the crowd down, and led the priest off to a safe spot. He then returned to the pulpit and said to him, “We desire you for God’s sake to preach to us.” The archbishop of Trêves had two consuls and eight senators imprisoned for ten weeks over this incident.

Soon Olevian was sent to Heidelberg to be rector of a college. About this time he married and was made Professor of Divinity in that university. He was also called to a pastoral charge in Heidelberg, which he dutifully and faithfully performed until the death of Frederick III. He was then called by Count Witgenstein to Berleburg where he preached and tutored some nobleman’s sons.

In 1584, we was called to Herborn where he preached and taught for three years. In 1584 he became deathly ill. During his sickness, he was visited by the famed John Piscator. Olevian told him that the day before he had been so filled with ineffable joy, that his wife thought he was making a rapid improvement. He said, “I felt like I was in a most pleasant meadow; in which as I walked up and down, methought I was besprinkled with a heavenly dew, and that not sparingly, but plentifully poured down, whereby both my body and soul were filled with ineffable joy. Piscator replied, “That good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, led thee into fresh pastures.” Olevian replied, “Yea, to the springs of living waters.” After encouraging each other from Psalm 62, Isaiah 9 and Matthew 11, Olevian said, “O would not have my journey to God long deferred. I desire to be dissolved and to be with my Christ.”

He shook hands with all his friends who were present. When he was in the agony of death, his friend Altstedius asked him whether he was sure of his salvation in Christ; to which Olevian answered, “Most sure,” and died. He went to be with his Lord in 1587 at the age of 51.

Caspar Olevian, together with Zachary Ursinus, authored the Heidelberg Catechism. If for nothing else, the Church is deeply indebted to him for that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Dering

Edward Dering was born about 1540. He was from a respectable and religious family in Kent. After school he went to Cambridge and was admitted into Christ’s College where he became a famous preacher. He was content with his Fellowship in the college and never sought after titles or preferments. He finished only a Bachelor of Divinity course.

He was made preacher at St. Paul’s Church in London. He worked at this post with great zeal and literally wore himself with his labors there and fell deathly ill. This was in 1576. When friends came to visit him, he said, “The good Lord pardon my great negligence, that, whilst I had time, I used not His precious gifts to the advancement of His glory as I might have done. Yet I bless God withal that I have not abused these gifts to ambition and vain studies. When I am once dead, my enemies shall be reconciled to me, except they be such as either knew me not, or have no sense of goodness in them; for I have faithfully and with a good conscience served the Lord my God.”

A minister standing nearby said to him, “It is a great happiness to you, that you die in peace, and are thereby free from those troubles which many of your brethren are like to meet with.” To which Dering replied, “If God hath decreed that I shall sup together with the saints in heaven, why do I not go to them? But if there be any doubt or hesitation resting upon my spirit, the Lord will reveal the truth to me.” After lying quietly for a while, one of the guests who had come to visit him said something to the effect that he hoped Dering was engaged in holy meditation while he lay there quietly. To whom Dering replied, “Poor wretch, and miserable man that I am, the least of all saints, and the greatest of sinners! Yet by the eye of faith I believe in and look upon Christ my Saviour. Yet a little while, and we shall see our hope. The end of the world is come upon us, and we shall quickly receive the end of our hope which we have so much looked for. Afflictions, diseases, sickness, grief, are nothing but part of that portion which God hath allotted to us in this world. It’s not enough to begin for a little while, except we persevere in the fear of the Lord all the days of our lives; for in a moment we shall be taken away. Take heed therefore that you do not make a pastime of not disesteem the word of God. Blessed are they that, whilst they have tongues, use them to God’s glory.”

As he neared death, some of his friends asked him to say something to their edification and comfort. Upon being propped up in bed, he said, “There is but one sun in the world, nor but one righteousness, one communion of saints. If I were the most excellent of all creatures in the world; if I were equal in righteousness to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; yet I had reason to confess myself to be a sinner, and that I could expect no salvation but in the righteousness of Jesus Christ: for we all stand in need of the grave of God. As for my death, I bless God I feel, and find so much inward joy and comfort to my soul, that if I were put to my choice whether to die or live, I would a thousand times rather chose death than life, if it will stand with the holy will of God.” Having thus spoken, he died.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Marlorat

Augustin Marlorat was born in 1506 in the dukedom of Lorraine. His parents died when he was very young and he was placed in an Augustinian monastery when he was eight years old. In these circumstances, he was able to study theology and was later sent to the University of Lausanne. He was soon chosen to be pastor at Vevay, then later he was sent to Rouen.

He was present at the 1561 conference of Poissy between Beza and the cardinal of Lorraine. In 1562, civil wars broke out in France and the city of Rouen was besieged and finally captured. Marlorat, along with four prominent citizens of the city were taken captive. Francis, duke of Guise ordered the prisoners hanged. Marlorat was hanged on October 31, 1562 at the age of 56. 

He was a prolific writer. His works include: A Catholic and Ecclesiastical Exposition of the New Testament; An Exposition Upon Genesis; An Exposition on the Psalms of David; An Exposition Upon the Prophecy of Isaiah; And The Thesaurus of the Whole Canonical Scriptures.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Erpenius

Thomas Erpenius was born in Gorcum, in Holland in 1584. He went to school in Leyden and was admitted to the university was he was 18. He took his M.A., when he was 25. He took up the study of theology and languages under Joseph Scalinger. From there he travelled to England, France, Italy and Germany.

When he returned to Paris, he became acquainted with Casaubon. Together they travelled to Saumur and Thomas studied Arabic. He then went to Venice and with the help of some learned Jews and Turks, he learned Turkish, Persian and Ethiopian. His skill was such that he was offered a great deal of money to stay in Venice and translate some Arabic books into Latin. He continued travelling for four more years, travelling through Paris and purchasing Arabic books wherever he went. He finally returned to Leyden in 1612. There were plans to bring him to England and pay him a large salary to teach, but in 1613 he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages at the university in Leyden.

Erpenius married in 1616 and had three children. In 1616 he was made Professor of Hebrew also. It was reported of him that whatever task he worked at, he worked with such fervency that you would have thought that he had nothing else to attend to.

In 1620 the prince of Orange sent him to France to procure the services of Peter Moulin and Andrew Rivet to be professors of Divinity at Leyden. Initially, he was unsuccessful, but the next year he was able to bring Rivet with him back to Leyden.

Erpenius was so famous that the king of Spain offered him great rewards if he would come to Spain and translate some ancient writings that no one had ever been able to do before. The king of Morocco was so impressed with the quality of Erpenius’ Arabic that he showed off letters from Erpenius to Arabic scholars and noblemen as if they were some sort of miracle. The prince of Orange frequently sought his services to translate Arabic letters from royalty in Africa and Asia.

Erpenius fell sick due to the plague in 1624 and died at the age of 40.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Tremellius

Immanuel Tremellius was born in Ferrara. His father was a Jew and educated him very skillfully in the Hebrew language. He came under the ministry of Peter Martyr and was soon converted. He went with Martyr to Lucca, where he taught Hebrew.

He went with Martyr to Strasberg and then to England during the reign of Edward VI. Upon Edward’s death, he returned to Germany and in the school of Hornbach, he taught Hebrew.

He was later sent to Heidelberg to be the professor of Hebrew. He translated the Syriac New Testament into Latin. He also set about to translate the Old Testament from the Hebrew and was thus associated with the work of Francis Junius.

Late in life, he was called upon by the duke of Bouillon to be the professor of Hebrew at the newly built university in Sedan. Tremellius remained faithful at this post until his death at the age of 70, in the year 1580.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Ramus

Peter Ramus was born in France in the year 1515. His grandfather had been a nobleman. But his estate was plundered by Charles, duke of Burgundy, general under Emperor Charles V. Ramus’ grandfather was forced to leave his country and become a farmer. Ramus’ father made a living by making charcoal. Peter was compelled to be a servant in one of his uncle’s homes. But since he was always so busy, with no time to study, he decided it would be better if he could work in the home of some learned man.

He moved to Paris and was admitted into the College of Navarre. He worked hard all day for his masters and devoted the larger part of the night to his studies. In a sort time he received his M.A. He was much admired at school by both student and professors.

He began at this time to take private students until he was fit for more public work. He was shortly appointed to read logic and at the age of 21 he published a book entitled “Logic, with some Animadversion upon Aristotle.” For this work he was equally admired and hated. Many admired him for his learning and piety at such a young age, but others, jealous of his status complained of such a young man daring to correct Aristotle. By their political clout, the Sorbonne professors were able to have Ramus banned from teaching or writing any more on philosophy.

The governor of another college, wishing to restore his school which had been emptied by the plague, sent for Ramus to assist him in this task. His reputation alone restored the college and filled it with more students than it had before the plague. The Sorbonne doctors, angered by this turn of events tried to sow discord between Ramus and the college governor, but to no avail. Upon the governor’s death, Ramus succeeded him and was appointed by the bishop of Lorraine as the Regius Professor of Rhetoric and Philosophy at the ripe old age of 36!

Princes all over Europe tried to lure him to universities in their kingdoms by offering him large salaries. But no one was able to entice him to leave his beloved France. Before long he was made dean of the entire university. This gave him the liberty to pursue a quieter life. Religious turmoil made it unsafe to stay in Paris so he moved to Fountainbleu where the king’s library was. But even there it was not safe. Ramus therefore resolved to move to Germany until peace obtained again in his homeland. He travelled to Strasburg, Basel, Lausanne, Heidelberg, Nuremberg and Augsburg and was kindly accepted at all the universities of these cities. He returned to France once the war ended.

He stayed at the University in Paris until the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. The college gates were closed and Ramus locked himself in his house. The violent Papists broke through the gates, forced their way into his house and ran him through with a spear. Not being satisfied with this, they threw him out the window and then cut his head off and dragged his body through the streets of Paris. They finally threw his disfigured and dismembered corpse into the Seine River. This was in the year 1572. Ramus was 75. Adding insult to injury, the rioting Papists seized all of his books and writings, containing many valuable commentaries and destroyed them to the great loss of learned men.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Obscure Heroes of the Reformation - Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer was born on July 2, 1489. He was from an ancient family in Lincolnshire. Very little is known of his infancy and childhood.

He was admitted into Jesus College in Cambridge where he attained a Master of Arts. While there he married a relative of the innkeeper’s wife. This was generally considered to be a hinderance to his future preferment. He suffered much malicious rumors against him due to his marriage. Cranmers’s wife died very early, after which he returned to his studies. He returned to his studies with such fervor that he was soon made a Fellow of the college, despite the fact that widowers were generally denied this honor.

Cranmer remained at the college until the plague broke out, which forced the students to leave the university. At this time he became a private tutor to some gentleman’s sons.

During this time, Rome was agitated by the divorce of King Henry and Katherine. Rome and Henry were engaged in a power struggle. Henry was convinced that Rome wanted to first divorce England of all its wealth before she granted the marital divorce.

It so happened that one of Henry’s courtiers came into Cranmer’s company during this time. During their conversations, the subject of divorce came up. Cranmer informed the courtier that the easiest way for Henry to get what he wanted was to stop playing the Pope’s games and appeal directly to Scripture. Since the king’s marriage was unlawful to begin with, it could be annulled. When word of this reached Henry, he sent for Cranmer. After diligently teaching in the most principal universities in Europe, Cranmer was appointed archbishop of Canterbury.

Cranmer flourished at Canterbury, endearing the people to himself by his grave and pious demeanor. He was held in high regard during all of Henry VIII and Edward VI’s reign. When Mary came to the throne, however, things changed. Mary had Cranmer accused of heresy and sent him to Oxford, where he was to engage in some disputations, which were merely ruses to trump up charges against him on theological grounds. Cranmer was charged with heresy, found guilty by the papist judges and sentenced to death at the stake on March 21, 1556.

His legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.

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