Reshaping Marriage, Reformation Style – “Refo Thursday”

On this Thursday, the last day of August, we bring to mind again the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And we do so through another video clip from the Church History Institute, which they are sending out each Thursday this year – what they refer to as their “Refo Thursday,” “your weekly throwback to the Reformation.”

This particular video, sent out on August 10, celebrates the Reformation’s reform of marriage, including Martin Luther’s wonderful union with Katherine von Bora. On this day of my own thirty-ninth wedding anniversary to my lovely bride (August 31, 1978!), this post seems appropriate. Verna and I are personally grateful to the Reformers for restoring this aspect of the Christian life to its biblical foundation!

The article that goes with it – “The Reformation of Marriage” – includes these paragraphs at the beginning:

It is a remarkable fact that none of the leading Protestant reformers ended up a bachelor—Luther, Zwingli and Calvin all married in the course of the Reformation. It is remarkable because the prevailing late medieval ideal was that one should not marry in order to devote full attention to serving God. The same ideal prevailed for women. St. Jerome, writing in the fourth century, even offered a kind of algorithm for measuring one’s devotion to God. He assigned a spiritual value of 100 to virginity, but to marriage he assigned a paltry spiritual value of 30. The message was clear: if you really loved God, you would remain a bachelor or bachelorette.

The Reformation is most often identified with theological debates, whether over  justification by faith alone, predestination, or the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However, it can be argued that the most enduring consequence of the Reformation was not theological developments, but the transformation of the institution of marriage. By 1520, just three years after the 95 Theses, Luther publically renounced clerical celibacy in his famous pamphlet, To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation.

Read the rest of the article at the link provided, and be sure to watch this video and many others that make up this informative and interesting series. You can sign up to receive the “Refo Thursday” posts each week at the CHI website.

Friday Fun: Cubs-Diamondbacks’ bullpen antics during rain-delays

On this rainy Friday here in West Michigan, my thoughts turn to the rain delays at Wrigley Field in Chicago yesterday, when this cool front started to make its way through the area.

In another classic display of bullpen entertainment, the Cubs pitchers challenged the Arizona Diamondbacks to some friendly competition. And what you are about to see is the result.

Great, fun baseball stuff. Even if the Cubs lost. No wonder they are the lovable winners! 🙂

Need a good laugh on this cool, gloomy Friday afternoon? Cheer up with these images and video. Yes, by all means, watch the video found at the link below.

Here’s part of the description as found on the MLB.com website:

The D-backs beat the Cubs, 10-8, on Thursday in a game that featured three rain delays (Paul Goldschmidt homered after EACH one). Although much action happened on the field, perhaps the most important action occurred during the second stoppage in play in the Wrigley Field bullpens.

Source: Antics amaze in D-backs-Cubs delays | MLB.com

Published in: on August 4, 2017 at 3:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

2017 Reformation Books for Children – ABCs and More!

Looking for good books for your children during this year of celebrating the great Protestant Reformation’s 500th anniversary? I have a fine one for you, one I purchased this week and read through last night.

Ref-ABCs-Nichols-2017

Reformation ABCs: The People, Places, and Things of the Reformation from A to Z is a wonderful children’s “ABC” book written by Stephen J. Nichols (author) and Ned Bustard (author/illustrator) and published by Crossway (2017). The publisher gives this description:

Reformation ABCs is a fun way for kids to learn about the places, things, events, people, books, and ideas that shaped this pivotal time in church history. Through whimsical illustrations and engaging storytelling, this book teaches kids that even though the Reformation occurred five hundred years ago, it isn’t just about people and places in the past. The Reformers’ fight to reclaim the gospel is still relevant today.

To give you an idea of what’s inside, under “A” the book has “A is for ants, artists, and Augustine” (showing how the Reformation was a return to the theology of St. Augustine); “H” has “H is for hippos, hats, and Heidelberg” (a nice tribute to the Heidelberg Catechism)’ “T” has “T is for torch, trains, and Tyndale” (pointing out the significant Bible translation work of this godly man and martyr). One of my favorites was what they had for “Y” – “Y is for yellow, yodeling, and YOU,” part of which says this:

The Reformers wanted children to learn the Bible. Every morning Martin Luther opened his doors, and young boys and girls ran across his yard and gathered around his dining table to be taught. Since all of the German boys and girls could not fit around his table, he wrote a catechism for them. The Reformers in Heidelberg wrote a catechism. And the Reformers at Westminster wrote a catechism. All of these catechisms had one purpose: to teach boys and girls the Bible, the gospel, and the truth of the Christian faith. When these young boys and girls grew up, they became the next Reformers. And for centuries God has given the church Reformers. You are the next Reformer.

The back part of the book includes a section on “Reformation by the Numbers” (noting the significant numbers associated with the movement, such as Luther’s  95 Theses and the 5 solas of the Reformation) and a Reformation timeline.

I highly recommend this book to you. If you buy one Reformation children’s book this year, make this the one. In light of my post on Tuesday of this week about reading to your children, this would make an excellent one to use. Read it to your young children and let the young readers in your home read it again on their own. And, grandparents, this would make a great gift for your grandchildren. That’s what I bought it for. 🙂

PMVermigli-Carr-2017

Also, do not forget the wonderful church history series Reformation Heritage Books publishes, “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series, featuring Reformed author Simonetta Carr. This series includes Reformation titles on Martin Luther,  John Calvin, John Knox, Lady Jane Grey, and the newest, Peter Martyr Vermigli. Here’s a video on that title:

John Calvin and his Institutes – “Refo Thursday”

On this Thursday night, it is time for another “Refo Thursday” feature.

As we have mentioned several times here already this year, the Christian History Institute (which also publishes the magazine Christian History – issue #120 is about Calvin and the Reformation – cf. image here) has a special post each week featuring various aspects of the Reformation.

It is called “Refo Thursday” (“your weekly throwback to the Reformation” [in their words] – connected to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017), and usually features a quote from one of the major Reformers and a brief video on an aspect of Reformation history.

Today’s short video, featuring Karin Maag from the Calvin Meeter Center and Michael Horton from Westminster Seminary (West-CA), focuses on John Calvin’s attempts to bring reformation to Catholic France, his home country, by writing his first edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion – from Basel, Switzerland.

Listen in and learn about how Calvin viewed himself and the other Reformers as more “catholic” than the Roman Catholic Church.

The Price of Knowledge – Refo Thursday – Christian History Insititute

Yesterday’s “Refo Thursday” post from the Church History Institute (focusing on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) looks at the significance of the development of the printing press on the Reformation.

In his post Dan Graves references Erasmus and his use of this means for the promotion of his Greek NT, among other things. He says in part (read the rest at the link below the quotation),

Thanks to the development of the printing press, books were coming down in price during Erasmus’s years (c. 1466–1536), but he was preparing scholarly versions of hitherto unprinted manuscripts for the press, and that was not an inexpensive task. He had to correspond with scholars across Europe, visit libraries, and pay for hand-copying. It’s a cinch he wasn’t picking up ten books for four bucks. In fifteenth-century England, one could still rent a cottage for a year for six shillings—the price of a moderately-priced book. In fact, his work was so expensive he had to beg large sums from patrons all over Europe. He remarked that it cost him and his co-workers more in time and money to restore the works of Jerome than it cost the saint to write them.

Of course, we also know how much the press was used by Luther and the other Reformers to advance the cause of the Protestant Reformation. The Word of God in print and the doctrines rediscovered by the Reformers in that Word could not have spread among the common people without the printing press.

In the video below Dr. Karin Maag (Director of the Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin College) gives a short talk about the impact the printing press had on the Reformation – and vice versa.

Source: Blog: The price of knowledge | Christian History Insititute

Boston Public Library’s ‘Car Wash’ for Books

For our “Friday Fun” item on this first Friday of May, we present this nifty carwash device for books, compliments of the Boston Public Library. The geography trivia website Atlas Obscura posted this last week (April 26, 2017), and it immediately caught my attention. What a clever invention!

Below is the introduction to this “bookwash” instrument. Be sure to catch the little video by clicking on the link below or on the image above. Quite amazing. But my manual device works fairly well top (two hands, vinegar and water mix, and paper towels). Enjoy!

Library books change hands all the time, and in the process, they end up getting pretty dirty, hence: the Boston Public Library’s book-sized “car wash,” which gets rid of dust and grime.

In a video the library recently posted to Twitter, the automated system, called a Depulvera, pulls books through a familiar looking series of stations to get their books clean. In the video, a book can be seen being pulled down the line by a conveyor system that drags it through a couple of steps, reorienting the book past a series of spinning brush bars, and finally out the other end, through a curtain of hanging plastic strips, just like in a full size car wash.

And it’s very satisfying to watch in action.

Source: The Boston Public Library Has a ‘Car Wash’ for Books – Atlas Obscura

Published in: on May 5, 2017 at 8:46 AM  Leave a Comment  

Martin Luther Documentary Official Trailer – Plus a J. Wycliffe Notice

This newly released (April 2017) special documentary film commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation focuses on the life and work of Martin Luther.

It is produced by Stephen McCaskell and makes use of prominent Reformed and Evangelical theologians and historians such as R. C. Sproul, Steven Lawson, Robert Godfrey, and Carl Trueman. The beautiful photography features the places and sites surrounding the life of Luther in Germany.

You may order a copy for viewing individually or with a group at http://www.lutherdocumentary.com or at FaithLife TV (part of Logos.com). This may be something our schools or Bible study groups would want to make use of. It is a recommended resource in this year in which we too celebrate God’s work in the great Reformation.

To view the trailer, click on the video below.

JWycliffe-BibleAnd in pre-Reformation church history news for this date, you should know that John Wycliffe, the “morning-star of the Reformation,” was condemned for his “heretical” views by the Council of Constance on May 4, 1415.

History Today carries the brief story, a part of which email notice I quote:

Meanwhile, in 1415, the Council had considered, and condemned as heretical, the teachings of the Prague priest Jan Hus and he was burned at the stake in Constance. It also condemned an Englishman whose writings had influenced Hus.

Fortunately for the Englishman, he was dead. Thought to have been born in the mid-1320s, John Wycliffe or Wyclif (there are several other spellings) was a Yorkshireman, who studied at Oxford University, became a fellow of Merton College and went on to win a brilliant reputation as an expert on theology. Ordained priest in 1351, he was vicar of Fylingham, a Lincolnshire village, from the 1360s, but spent most of his time at Oxford. In 1374 he was made rector of Lutterworth in Leicestershire.

By that time Wycliffe had developed startlingly unorthodox opinions, which were condemned by Pope Gregory VII in 1377. He had come to regard the scriptures as the only reliable guide to the truth about God and maintained that all Christians should rely on the Bible rather than the unreliable and frequently self-serving teachings of popes and clerics. He said that there was no scriptural justification for the papacy’s existence and attacked the riches and power that popes and the Church as a whole had acquired. He disapproved of clerical celibacy, pilgrimages, the selling of indulgences and praying to saints. He thought the monasteries were corrupt and the immorality with which many clerics often behaved invalidated the sacraments they conducted. If clerics were accused of crime, they should be tried in the ordinary lay courts, not in their special ecclesiastical tribunals.

For the rest of this story, visit the History Today link above.

The Uniqueness of the Psalms – Dr. Robert Godfrey

The book of Psalms remains an important object of study on the part of Christians and the Christian church. Every year new books about and commentaries on the Psalms appear. This year is no exception. No doubt with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, books will appear relating the two, since the Reformation was also a return to this OT songbook for the church.

Reformation Trust has recently published a new book on the Psalms, Learning to Love the Psalms (March, 2017; 263 pp.). It is written by Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary (Escondido, CA) and professor of church history there.

The publisher provides this summary of the title:

The Psalms are undeniably beautiful. They are also difficult, and readers often come away convinced that tremendous riches remain just beyond their grasp. In this book, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey invites us to journey with him towards a greater understanding and love for these sacred verses. The timeless elegance of the Psalms, their depth of expression, and testimony to the greatness of God have enchanted and edified God’s people for centuries. Learning to Love the Psalms is intended to help today’s Christians share in that delight.

In connection with this new book, Ligonier posted a brief video with Godfrey describing the richness of the Psalms (dated April 11, 2017). You may watch it here:

This book has been added to the PRC Seminary’s collection of books on the Psalms. It may be a title you wish to add to your personal or family library as well.

Source: The Uniqueness of the Psalms

Let Hardship Grow Us – Martin Luther | Christian History Insititute

We have referenced these “Refo Thursday” posts from the Christian History Institute before here, and this is another one (dated March 16, 2017)as we consider the life and work of Martin Luther during this year of marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

 

This post focuses on a more personal and practical side to Luther’s life – and that of every believer: suffering and affliction. Below are some thoughts on this from Andrew Garnett and from Luther himself. Find the full post at the link below.

On November 3, 1515, Martin Luther began to lecture on Romans at the University of Wittenberg. Luther had been a professor at the university for just over three years, but the posting of his famous Ninety-five Theses was still two years in the future. After several weeks of lecturing, he reached Romans 5:3-4: “…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…” (NRSV).

As he prepared his lecture notes, Luther could see the positive impact of hardship which Paul had described; Luther saw how suffering could develop virtues in an individual’s life. However, Luther realized that the converse was also true: hardship could also have a corrupting effect on an individual. Perhaps he was thinking of his own life as an Augustinian friar. Luther was very unhappy while living the cloistered life of a friar, but his hardship did not lead to spiritual growth; on the contrary, Luther found that the more he fasted and prayed, the more miserable he became.

Source: Blog: Let Hardship Grow Us | Christian History Insititute

In connection with this post, the CHI also featured a video providing a tour of the Wartburg Castle where Luther was hid following the Diet of Worms in 1521.

And, on this PRC archives day, we may also add this cover image of Luther on an early issue of the Beacon Lights. Unfortunately, there were no articles on him or the Reformation in that issue, other than the words to his famous hymn (see cover below). But they made up for this in future issues. 🙂

BL--RWH-Luther_0001

The Wexford Carol

On this Christmas holiday Monday we feature a beautiful Christmas carol, perhaps not as well known as others – the Wexford Carol, a traditional Irish Christmas song – which is thought to date back to the 12th century.

The lyrics are:

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born

The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox’s stall

Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God’s angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you’ll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born

With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God’s angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife

There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

For a beautiful performance of this carol, listen to this version sung by the Clare College Choir (Cambridge), directed by John Rutter.

For another unique performance, in which the words come out more clearly, listen to this one.

Published in: on December 26, 2016 at 9:11 AM  Leave a Comment