Volume 9, Issue 5: Verbatim
Quotations on Medivalism
Various Saints and Observers
For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For He hath put all things under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:25-27
"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein."
If one is to contend that the Reformation recovered a necessary element of the Gospel, it is necessary to argue that medieval Catholicism had lost it. And indeed this is precisely what seems to have been the case. Prior to the thirteenth century, heretical movements represented an exaggeration of an amputation of particular elements of the historic Christian faith. They were eccentric, while the church as a wholewhatever its faultsremained closer to the center. Consequently, the heretical movements were sooner or later sloughed off and Christendom remained more or less unified. But after the thirteenth centurywith the definition of transubstantiation, the absolutist claims of the papacy, and the creation of the Inquisitionit was the medieval church itself that had moved away from the center. Its tremendous size, universality, and institutional strength enabled it to survive and even to grow, despite the damage wrought by Protestantism, but it no longer occupied the center; Reformation Protestantism despite its particularity, nationalism, and frequent doctrinal one-sidedness could credibly claim to have recovered vital elements of the Gospel and thus to be more in accord with the New Testament and its message than Catholicism.
Harold O.J. Brown
I say this lasted until the Reformation, which may seem surprising at first. Was not the Reformation just another form of ecclesial continuity? Was it not the Enlightenment that truly liberated Biblical texts from the domain of church and theology? Without wanting to engage the debate whether the Reformation was the beginning of modernity or a continuation of medievalism, in many respects the answer to these questions is, yes.
But Natural Love and Conscience shall come together, and turn Law into an honest workman. Such love shall arise, and such peace and perfect truth among the people, that the Jews, amazed that men should be so truthful, will be filled with joy, thinking that Moses of the Messiah has come to earth.
And any man who carries a sword, a lance, an axe, a dagger, or any kind of weapon, shall be put to death, unless he sends it to the smithy to be turned into a scythe, a sickle, or a ploughshare."They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." And men will pass their time in digging or ploughing, spinning yarn or spreading dung, or else there will be nothing for them to do.
And the only kind of hunting left to priests will be for the souls of the dead; and they will hammer at their Psalms from morn till night. For if any of them hunt with hawks and hounds, they shall lose their boasted livings.
No king or knight or officer or Mayor shall tyrannize over the people, or summon them to serve on juries and compel them to take oaths. But each criminal will be punished according to his crime, heavily or lightly as Truth shall decide. And the King's Court, the Common Court, the Church Court, and the Chapter shall all be one Court, with a single judge, one True-tongue, an Honest man who never opposed me. There shall be no more battles, and any blacksmith who forges a weapon shall perish by it.
"Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
William Langland, Piers Plowman
But Andrada wrongs us in that he clamors that we disregard the testimony of antiquity altogether, that we count the authority of the fathers as nothing, that we overthrow the approbation, faith, and majesty of the church. For we can affirm with a good conscience that we have, after reading the Holy Scripture, applied ourselves and yet daily apply ourselves to the extent that the grace of the Lord permits to inquiry into and investigation of the consensus of the true and purer antiquity. For we assign to the writings of the fathers their proper and, indeed, honorable place which is due them, because they have clearly expounded many passages of Scripture, have defended the ancient dogmas of the church against new corruptions of heretics, and have done so on the basis of Scripture, have correctly explained many points of doctrine, have recorded many things concerning the history of the primitive church, and have useful called attention to many other things.
New reforms were initiated in the leading cities of the Reformation which reflected the conviction that true worship must be "according to Scripture," and consequently simple, spiritual, and intelligent. Intensive study of Scripture and Patristic sources over the next two decades, as well as regular interaction among the leading reformers resulted in a more thorough reform. Based upon their study they revived worship that Calvin claimed was "The Form of Church Prayers . . . According to the Custom of the Ancient Church."
Terry L. Johnson
Many Christians treat the past like a dead, and therefore irrelevant, ancestor. As a result, memory has little place in an age that has little vision. Rather than repressing memories about our predecessors and their virtue, remembering may be an undetected aid "for the living of these days"unless, of course, we have definitively judged that our spiritual parents were so feeble, inferior, cowardly, or unenlightened as to be prevented from communing at the same table as we. That is the arrogance of the modern.
American secular tradition sneers at Constantine, because he began the process of creating a Christian state. The American evangelical tradition disdains him, because he established Catholicism as the empire's official faith (a Catholicism not yet Roman, of course). . . . Americans speak with relief rather than with regret of being Post-Constantinian.
Harold O.J. Brown
Wealth has corrupted the peasants of this and other lands in Germany. I have met peasant families who spend as much on the weddings of their sons and daughters, or christenings for that matter, as others on their homes, even with a plot and a vineyard.
It is impossible to understand the works of St. Thomas without seeing them in the context of his world; yet it is astonishing to observe how little that world understood and followed his reflections on its fundamental issues during that critical third quarter of the thirteenth century which marked the first decisive philosophical encounter between Hellenism and Christianity.
I classify the human race into two branches: the one consists of those who live by human standards, the other of those who live according to God's will. I also call these two classes the two cities, speaking allegorically. By two cities I mean two societies of human beings, one of which is predestined to reign with God for all eternity, the other doomed to undergo eternal punishment with the Devil.
Augustine of Hippo
Since the Savior's advent in our midst, not only does idolatry no longer increase, but it is getting less and gradually ceasing to be. Similarly, not only does the wisdom of the Greeks no longer make any progress, but that which used to be is disappearing. . . . On the other hand, while idolatry and everything else that opposes the faith of Christ is daily dwindling and weakening and falling, the Savior's teaching is increasing everywhere!
The Christian religion provided the most potent binding force known to Western society in the ninth century, and this was particularly true when the ruler was as good a Christian as Alfred. In him more than in any other rulers of the period, even the Great Charles himself, we see the ideal of Christian kingship: a successful defender of Christian peoples against pagan onslaught and also an assiduous supporter of scholarship and of Christian missionary effort. And in order to make the basis of his authority better appreciated he drew with great wisdom upon the work of Gregory, the fortitude of Boethius, the world picture of Orosius and the theology of St. Augustine of Hippo, from whose works he had sound and workmanlike translations made at his West Saxon court.
The Prayer of the Faithful began to fade as the Middle Ages progressed. This is the case in the West at least. By the end of the Middle Ages the Prayer of the Faithful had all but disappeared. . . . [Martin] Bucer, who had a good knowledge of patristic literature, knew well that the church of an earlier age had included such concerns in prayers. Bucer's reform was based on Scripture, to be sure, but it was also informed by his knowledge of the practice of the ancient church.
Hughes Oliphant Old