Thursday, January 30, 2014

Arminius and Good Works

Carl Bangs writes that in 1593, the enemies of Arminius accused him before the Consistory of Amsterdam  (something like our session) of three errors.  One of the alleged errors concerned Arminius' view of “works.”  He was accused of teaching that
too much could not be ascribed to good works, nor could they be sufficiently commended, provided no merit were attributed to them. 
At a hearing on the accusations, Arminius simply stood by that teaching.  The consistory cleared him of all three charges.  Bangs, Arminius - a Study in the Dutch Reformation, p. 143.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Johannes Cuchlinus: a Tough Man, during Tough Times, with a Tough Faith

Carl Bangs writes that Arminius
was ordained on Saturday evening August 27, 1588, in the Old Church, which was the center of church life in Amsterdam.  .  .  .  The long process of preparation was now at an end, and he was about to enter into the full exercise of his pastoral ministry in Amsterdam, a ministry that would run for fifteen years.
Arminius joined a staff of five other ministers, and Bangs gives us a profile of each of them.  One of them was Johannes Cuchlinus. 
He was the first pastor from the time of the Alteration [of Amsterdam, the Alterie, when in 1578 Reformed Services first began in that city], and he was the only German minister.  Three of his wives had died, and in 1587, he married an Amsterdam widow.  In another nine years he would marry his fifth and last wife, the sister of Arminius’ father, thus becoming Arminius uncle by marriage.  He was a Calvinist, but not of the new sort that would make so much trouble in later decades.  The Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism defined his faith, and he was not one to speculate on the order of decrees.  He was only forty-two years old, but in that time forty-two was a ripe old age, and Cuchlinus functioned as the senior minister of Amsterdam.

Monday, January 20, 2014

"Judaizers:" Where did that term come from?

The problem was that "the Galatian converts," Stott writes, "who had received [from the Apostle Paul] this gospel of grace , were now turning away to another gospel, a gospel of works.  The false teachers were evidently 'Judaizers', whose 'gospel' is summarized in Acts 15:1: 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' "  Stott, The Message of Galatians (IVP 1968) at p. 22.

I wanted to track down the verb "Judaize" and focus on it as part of the lesson.  So I looked in my Strong's to see where Judaize appears in the KJV.  Nowhere.  So then, to my NIV concordance.  Not there either.  Then on to where I did a search for that word through the various English translations available at that helpful site.  I could not turn up a scripture reference where the word is used.  The word is not new to me.  I have known and understood that word for over 50 years, it is commonly used to describe the source of the problem that the reader encounters in Galatians and elsewhere in the NT, but  the word itself did not seem to be in the Bible.  Where did it come from.

I have The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1971).  The editors approach to a given word is to identify the earliest written English source of its use, to provide a context-giving sentence fragment from that source that includes the word, then to follow with the next oldest source and fragment, and to the next, and so on.  (For a great read on the development of the OED see Winchester's  The Professor and the Madman.) 

Here is the OED's definition of Judaize and the earliest source and fragment for that definition:

To play the Jew; to follow Jewish customs or religious rites; to follow Jewish practice.  1582 N.T. (Rhem.) Gal. ii: 14. How doest thou compel the Gentiles to Iudaize?

A Judaizer, then, is someone who would force a Gentile to follow Jewish practice.  In the context of Galatians, the Judaizers were Jewish Christians who would compel Gentile Christians to follow Jewish customs.  Well, I knew that.  But what of that source, "Rhem."?

I recognized that word Rhem.  It refers to the Rheims-Douay Bible (1582-1610).  We Protestants are all about our English language Bibles, and fail to acknowledge that making the Bible accessible in English was part of the Counter-Reformation as well.  Bruce Metzger, in his The Bible in Translation: Ancient and English Versions, writes that English Catholics, fleeing persecution by Queen Elizabeth, found refuge in Flanders.  In 1568, they established a seminary in Douay, where scholars "undertook, for the first time in the history of the Roman Church, to replace the available Anglican and Genevan Bibles - unacceptable from their point of view - with an English version of their own.  This project . . . was completed at Rheims in France to which city the college had transferred itself in 1578  .  .  .  "  (Metzger at pp. 67-68) Rhem., then, refers to the Rheims-Douay NT of 1592.

Metzger writes that the translation was made "not from the original languages but from the Latin Vulgate [and] was painstaking and reached a high standard of consistency, but was often too literal to be used in public worship.  There was a strong tendency to retain technical words  .  .   ."  Ah, like Judaize.

I think it ironic that Stott, an Anglican priest, adopts "Judaizers" as a term of art for the people troubling the Galatian Christians.  That word comes from the first Roman Catholic, English version of the Bible.  It was translated by scholars fleeing persecution because they were Roman Catholic, persecution by Queen Elizabeth, the head of the Anglican Church.   How many Protestants, who might look at Galatians narrowly as a sort of rebuke of the Roman Church, use that word, ignorant of its source?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Studying Galatians

In the adult Sunday School class that I teach, we have been using as our texts the small books written by N.T. Wright in the Paul for Everyone series, following the lead of Macon and Walter when they taught their Sunday School class at West Lake.  They started with Wright's study on Romans, and we followed, then to the Gospel of John, and now to Galatians.  With each of these studies, I used other commentaries and texts. I have been able  to acquire most of these other books in used editions at a reasonable cost through either and  I buy the N.T. Wright texts new from Amazon, however.  At the end of a study, most of the students will give the Wright texts back to me, and I put them on and recover about 40% of their cost.

To supplement the Galatians study, I am using Stott's The Message of Galatians in The Bible Speaks Today series published by Intervarsity Press.  I would use a Stott study as the main text, in preference to Wright's, in every case, but the IVP editions are more expensive than the Wright texts, and many of the people in the class pay for their class text.  Furthermore, Stott doesn't necessarily have a study for each book in the NT.

I am also using Luther's Commentary of the Epistle to the Galatians, which, according to Stott who quotes often from this commentary, is based on lectures delivered by Luther in 1531.  Amazon publishes a Kindle edition of this commentary and charges nothing for it.  I also have John Brown's An Exposition of Galatians, which Stott also cites from time to time.  John Brown was a Scottish minister, born in 1784, who "entered the University of Edinburgh at the age of 13, and in three session in the Arts faculty, gained such a command of Latin as to read it in like his mother tongue," according to the introduction in the reprint edition of this commentary published by Sovereign Grace Publishers in 1970.