Wednesday, August 31, 2005

the right faith


When I was a child, I once reflected that it was fortunate that I was born into a Southern Baptist family. Because we had the truth. But what if I had been born Catholic? Or pagan? Those were a child's thoughts, but I remembered them as I read through Chapter Four of McCulloch's The Reformation.

Luther started a fire, so to speak, but once it got out of his control, and folk started taking his points to further conclusions (where does it say in the Bible that it is ok to have infant baptism? why is the Eucharist special if it is not the actual body and blood of Jesus?), he got nervous and angry.

Then Zwingli in Zurich went further in stripping away Christian faith from Catholic trappings. Then dissenters in Zurich started re-baptizing, my Anabaptist ancestors, for which they were drowned in the river. And then you have the Texas of my youth, where there were hardshell Baptists, and independent Baptists, and Southern Baptists, and a few outcroppings of American Baptists, not to mention a host of pentecostal churches, and the various established denominations. Purity and right belief in action.

cuis regio, eius religio -- Where you come from decides your religion, and within that region no other can be tolerated. (p. 160). Or what family you are born into, for that matter. In several instances, McCulloch says that they all thought they were in the last days, and that Luther, or any number of the new protestants, were prophets calling people to judgment and repentance. Things were in an uproar. But it quickly became a territorial decision. If your prince (who was, afterall, God's agent) decided to leave the Old Church, then pack your rosary away. There were some examples of toleration of dual (or more) systems of Christianity, but this was the exception.

Covenant -- I didn't realize that this was potentially a protestant idea, in terms of taking the Old Testament faith experience and translating it to the Christian faith (i.e., Christ's death and resurrection was the new covenant). Am I overreading McCulloch on this? Did the Catholic or Old Church not use this language to describe the Eucharist and the Christian faith experience?

Shrine of St Sebald, 1510s, Bronze, Sebaldskirche, Nuremberg

Shrines -- McCulloch includes a b x w photo of St. Sebaldus' shrine in Nuremberg. I was excited to see it, because in the English cathedrals, most of the shrines were destroyed by Reformers after the dissolution or by Oliver Cromwell's puritans during the commonwealth. There are often newly created shrines (such as for Cuthbert in Durham or Richard in Chichester) or at least memorials to where the shrines were (Swithin in Winchester), but it was nice to actually see what one might look like. In medieval times, pilgrims were drawn to the cathedrals to seek help from Saints, either a miracle, or assistance in making purgatory shorter, etc. The shrines included a relic or the body of the Saint.


1 comment:

lemming said...

Thoughly enjoying what you and Emily have to say - carry on!!