Quote of the day – E.H. Broadbent

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“It is sometimes supposed that Scripture is not sufficient for the guidance of the churches without the addition of, at least, early tradition, on the ground that it was by the early Church councils that the Canon of Scripture was fixed. This, of course, could only refer to the New Testament. The peculiar characteristics and unique history of Israel fitted them to receive the divine revelation, to recognize the inspired writings, and to preserve them with invincible pertinacity and accuracy. With regard to the New Testament, the canon of inspired books was not fixed by the Church councils; it was acknowledged by the councils because it had already been clearly indicated by the Holy Spirit and accepted by the churches generally. This indication and acceptance has ever since been confirmed by every comparison of the canonical with the apocryphal and non-canonical books, the difference in value and power being evident.”

Edmund Hamer Broadbent

“Christianity in Christendom,” The Pilgrim Church, p. 45, Gospel Folio Press, Grand Rapids, MI.

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A curiousity of history – Catholic Charlemagne’s view concerning the veneration of images

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Deuteronomy 4

9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; 10 specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children. 11 And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. 12 And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. 13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

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The Pilgrim Church (Hardcover)

The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent is helpful in getting an overview of the history of Christianity, especially the history of Bible Christians, from the days of the apostles to the early 20th century. 

In it I learned something that surprised me about Charlemagne, that his view concerning images was opposed to that which Romanism held then and holds today (Nicaean CouncilsTrent, the Council of (Concilium Tridentinunm); Catechism of the Catholic Church).

In learning and trying to write about this, I’ve waded out into waters over my head, however, though the history is complex, I think it’s fair to draw conclusions from the basic elements I know. 

Emperor Charlemagne called and presided at the Council of Frankfurt, which not only addressed the adoptionist heresy but responded to the acts of the Second Council of Nicea, which upheld the veneration of images. The issue of making and venerating images was extremely contentious back then, even violent. I wish that we too would be concerned about it, but in a peaceful, respectful manner.

Selected timeline:

754 – The Iconoclast Council rules against the veneration of images, and many images are destroyed. (Sometimes this council is referred to derisively as “The Mock Synod of Constantinople.”) (Please note that this link takes you to Jesuit Fordham University.)

787 (786) – The Second Council of Nicea reinstates veneration and anathematizes the Iconoclast Council.

790 – The Caroline Books are written; in them the veneration  of images is shown to be unBiblical.

792 – Charlemagne forwards materials on the Second Council of Nicea to Offa, king of the Mercians in Britain.

794 – The Council of Frankfurt opposes veneration of images but retains their use for instruction and adornment.

800 – Charlemagne is crowned emperor. Under his leadership the Carolingian Renaissance of learning continues.

Opposition to the veneration of images remains in Francia and Britain for an extended period.

Seeing that the Council Frankfurt rejected the veneration of images, while retaining their use for instruction and adornment, it is fair to say that Charlemagne’s view of images was closer to that of many evangelicals today than it is to that of Catholics of his own day and ours.

What is your view? Evangelical, Catholic, Biblical? Guess my own view is showing…

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Charlemagne instructing his son, Louis the PiousThe COUNCIL of FRANKFURT AD 794 (from The Pilgrim Church)

“The question of images had an important place in the Council called and presided over by Charlemagne at Frankfurt (794).3  Both civil and ecclesiastical rulers were present, so that it legislated on all matters. The pope sent his representatives. The decisions of the Second Council of Nicea, which had established the service and adoration of the images, were set aside, though they had been confirmed by the pope and accepted in the East. In their zeal for images, those who favored their use went so far as to call their opponents not only iconoclasts but also ‘Mohammedans.’ Nevertheless it was laid down in Frankfurt that all worship of images was to be rejected; there was to be no adoration, worship, reverence, veneration of them; no kneeling, burning of lights or offering of incense before them, nor any kissing of lifeless images, even though representing the Virgin and the Child. But images might be allowed in churches as ornaments and as memorials of pious men and pious deeds.

“Also the teaching that God can only be worshiped in the three lanagues – Latin, Greek, and Hebrew – was controverted, and it was affirmed that ‘there is no tongue in which prayer may not be offered.’ The representatives of the pope [Adrian I] were not then in a position to protest. The general feeling of the Franks, in their wars against, and missions to, the heathen Saxons was not favorable to idolatry.

“Louis, the third son of Charlemagne, who was at that time King of Aquitaine, succeeded his father as Emperor (AD 813). He was an admirer of a Spaniard named Claudius, a diligent student of the Scriptures, who had become renowned for his Commentaries on the Bible. As soon as he became Emperor, Louis appointed Claudius Bishop of Turin. The new bishop, with his knowledge and love of Scripture, took immediate advantage of the favorable circumstances created by the Council of Frankfurt, going even beyond its decrees in removing from the churches of Turin all images, which he called idols, not excepting the crosses. So many approved that no effective resistance could be made in Turin. Claudius also taught publicly that the apostolic office of St. Peter ceased with his life, that ‘the power of the keys’ passed to the whole episcopal order, and that the Bishop of Rome had apostolic power only so far as he led an apostolic life. There were naturally many who opposed this. Prominent among them was the abbot of a monastery near Nimes (look up for diacritical marks), yet even he admitted that most of the Transalpine prelates agreed with the Bishop of Turin.”

3. Latin Christianity, Dean Milman, Vol. III.

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Christian or Christ-follower – brief follow-up

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(This is a short postscript to my post about the terms Christian or Christ-follower)

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At the close of The Pilgrim Church, E.H. Broadbent offered a “Timeline Of Some Key Events (29 – 1917 A.D.).” After this, he wrote:

The following is a list (in the order of their appearance in the book) of names given to those throughout Church history who desired only to be known by the names given in the Word of God to all to trust alone in the Lord Jesus: “believers” emphasizing their faith in Christ; “brethren” pointing to their nearness to Christ; “disciples” speaking of their following after and learning from Christ; “saints” reminding them of their separation from the world and to Him; and “Christians” (perhaps first used in scorn) to point out their eternal link with Christ.

Cathars, Puritans, Novations, Priscillianists, Paulicians, Thonraks, Bogomils, Bulgarians, Patarenes, Albigenses, Nazarenes, Nestorians, Petrobrussians, Henricians, Good Men, Poor Men of Lyons, Waldenses, Vaudois, Evangelic, Spirituali, Passagini, Josepini, Arnaldistae, Speronistae, Weavers, Beghards, Beghines, Brethren, The Poor in Life, Apostles, Schwestrionen, The Poor, Hussites, Taborites, Utraquists, Calixtines, Bohemian Brethren, Jednota Bratrska, Unitas Fratrum, Anabaptists, Mennonites, Mennonite Brethren, Lollards, Wycliffites, Picards, Corner-Preachers, Deceivers, Heretics, Bush Preachers, Sectaries, Hutists, Gospellers, Those of the Religion, Huguenots, Independents, Congregationalists, Baptists, Brownists, Presbyterians, Particular Baptists, Quakers, Friends, Evangelical, Pietists, Spenerites, Quietists, Moravians, Methodists, Stonettes, Campbellites, Disciples, Churches of Christ, Stundists, Evangelical Christians, Plymouth Brethren Exclusives, Open Brethren.

I realize that there are some doctrinal problems with some of these, but still the list is important and interesting. 

There is another name for the Christian faith itself that I recently learned about while reading The Edict of Fontainbleau (Revocation of the Edict of Nantes), in preparation for writing about François Fénelon. This edict repudiated the former edict of toleration of Protestantism in France. It referred to the Christian faith using only initials – RPR, which stand for: 

Religion prétendue réformée = “the religion called the Reformed” that is, the allegedly  Reformed religion. 

Of huge interest is the fact that when I entered the French into Google Chrome’s French to English translator, to be sure I had things right, it translated the French into the initials from the revocation of the edict of toleration – RPR. Babylon translated the key word in this term as ‘allegedly’.

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François Fénelon, understanding who he was – part 1

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François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fenelon, Archeveque De Cambrai (1651-1715), Joseph Vivien, 18th century, Public Domain, Wikimedia

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Who was Fénelon, this mature-looking man with the intelligent, attractive face? 

Fénelon, François de Solignac de la Motte (1651–1715). Spiritual writer. In 1695 he became archbishop of Cambrai. Through his friendship with Mme Guyon and his defence of her doctrine of pure love, he became involved in the Quietist controversy and was attacked by Bossuet, as a result of which he was banished from the court in 1697. His letters of spiritual direction have long been greatly valued.

JOHN BOWKER. “Fénelon, François de Solignac de la Motte.” The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Retrieved December 07, 2015 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O101-FnelonFranoisdeSlgncdlMtt.html

Archbishop Fénelon was a hardworking Roman Catholic priest, a nobleman who Let Go, The Spiritual Classic by Fenelon website photomoved in the circles of the nobility and gave spiritual advice to them, for example to mothers raising daughters, and even to the King of France himself, Louis XIV, the Sun King.

For a time Fénelon was tutor of the Duke of Burgundy, who later became king; was a missionary to the Huguenots (Reformed Christians); and Superior at the “Maison des Nouvelles-Catholiques,” a convent where the re-education of Protestant women, and little girls who had been removed from their parents’ homes, took place. As the author of a novel (The Adventures of Telemachus), other works, and letters he wrote as a spiritual director, he is still admired. It is a matter of concern however, that evangelical Christians are reading him devotionally (Let Go, The Spiritual Classic by Fenelon), despite the fact that he was a mystic – as all true Roman Catholics are – and a persecutor of Christians.

Oddly, the well-read and sensible E.H. Broadbent, whose book The Pilgrim Church I’ve been reading, mentioned him in a section subtitled “INFLUENCES for GOOD in the ROMISH CHURCH”:

Madame Guyon (1648-1717) by her life and writings led wide circles to strive after a life of perfect love and entire acquiescence to the will of God. The gifted and saintly Archbishop Fénelon accepted and defended her teaching at the cost of all his popularity and prospects at court. Louis XIV imprisoned her repeatedly, at last in the dreaded Bastille, but those stone walls, twelve feet thick, could not check the influence and spread of her teaching. (p. 289-290)

As a student I learned about Fénelon in French class, and received the naïve impression that he was only a distinguished person from the golden age of French classic drama and fairy tales. Much later I learned from Timothy F. Kauffman, at Out of His Mouth blogabout Fénelon’s persecution of the Huguenots, and of Kauffman’s concern that Presbyterian pastors and professors were promoting Fénelon, and by means of Fénelon, promoting an appreciation of Catholicism among younger Presbyterians.

After this, Fénelon’s advice began turning up in posts at a blog I follow, written by a young Presbyterian. From reading a few of these posts, my impression is that Fénelon’s spiritual direction involved a minute examination of motives in an effort to eradicate selfishness from the human heart. But doesn’t God’s Word sanctify His children? “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) Also, Fénelon spoke with such authority about things he couldn’t have known, and because of his position people would have listened and felt the need to obey. It is as if he was certain that he could clearly see into a man’s thoughts, when we know that’s impossible, “For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” (1 Corinthians 2:11a)

France has been called ‘the eldest daughter of Rome’ – to me, a chilling label. View of La Rochelle, 1573, pen and ink drawing, Public Domain, WikimediaFénelon was born, raised, and lived in this nation the century after the French Wars of Religion (1562–98), which followed the Reformation, when “between 2,000,000 and 4,000,000 people were killed as a result of war, famine and disease” (quote from Wikipedia, cited to Robert J. Knecht’s 2002 book The French Religious Wars 1562-1598, Osprey Publishing). The supremacy and peace of Fénelon’s One True Church and Catholic France had been undermined by enemies who still lived in rebellion within his homeland. But we know that these enemies were Reformed Christians, many of whom were children of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone; and so it was Christ’s kingdom that had intruded upon France and the Kingdom of Antichrist, as it had in the Middle Ages in the case of the Vaudois (Waldenses) and Albigois (Albigenses). 

Fénelon was an important actor in the Counter-Reformation, so what are Christians doing reading him for spiritual advice? The following gives the Catholic view of his motivations and actions as he strove to help reestablish the Catholicity of France. 

(A link to the Edict of Nantes at a Protestant website has been added in this text.) 

François de Salignac de la Mothe-Fénelon 

New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia online

In 1678 Harlay de Champvallon, Archbishop of Paris, entrusted Fénelon with the direction of the house of “Nouvelles-Catholiques”, a community founded in 1634 by Archbishop Jean-François de Gondi for Protestant young women about to enter the Church or converts who needed to be strengthened in the Faith. It was a new and delicate form of apostolate which thus offered itself to Fénelon’s zeal and required all the resources of his theological knowledge, persuasive eloquence, and magnetic personality. Within late years his conduct has been severely criticized, and he has been even called intolerant but these charges are without serious foundation and have not been accepted even by the Protestant authors of the “Encyclopédie des Sciences Religieuses”; their verdict on Fénelon is that in justice to him it must be said that in making converts he ever employed persuasion rather than severity”.

When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, by which Henry IV had granted freedom of public worship to the Protestants, missionaries were chosen from among the greatest orators of the day, e.g. Bourdaloue, Fléchier, and others, and were sent to those parts of France where heretics were most numerous, to labour for their conversion. At the suggestion of his friend Bossuet, Fénelon was sent with five companions to Santonge, where he manifested great zeal, though his methods were always tempered by gentleness. According to Cardinal de Bausset, he induced Louis XIV to remove all troops and all evidences of compulsion from the places he visited, and it is certain that he proposed and insisted on many methods of which the king did not approve. “When hearts are to be moved”, he wrote to Seignelay, “force avails not. Conviction is the only real conversion”. Instead of force he employed patience, established classes, and distributed New Testaments and catechisms in the vernacular. Above all, he laid especial emphasis on preaching provided the sermons were by gentle preachers who have a faculty not only for instructing but for winning the confidence of their hearers”. It is doubtless true, as recently published documents prove, that he did not altogether repudiate measures of force, but he only allowed them as a last resource. Even then his severity was confined to exiling from their villages a few recalcitrants and to constraining others under the small penalty of five sous to attend the religious instructions in the churches. Nor did he think that preachers ought to advocate openly even these measures; similarly he was unwilling to have known the Catholic authorship of pamphlets against Protestant ministers which he proposed to have printed in Holland. This was certainly an excess of cleverness; but it proves at least that Fénelon was not in sympathy with that vague tolerance founded on scepticism which the eighteenth century rationalists charged him with. In such matters he shared the opinions of all the other great Catholics of his day. With Bossuet and St. Augustine he held that “to be obliged to do good is always an advantage and that heretics and schismatics, when forced to apply their minds to the consideration of truth, eventually lay aside their erroneous beliefs, whereas they would never have examined these matters had not authority constrained them.”

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Please stay tuned for part two! 

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FURTHER STUDY:

Edict of Nantes (1598)

Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (October 22, 1685)

The eight wars of religion (1562-1598)

PEDDLING FÉNELON

L’INTOLÉRANCE DE FÉNELON – The Intolerance of Fénelon

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In the shadow of the “great priest”

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Hebrews 12:1-3

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

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Petr Chelčický talking with masters of the University of Prague, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

In reading Broadbent’s The Pilgrim Church, I’ve come to learn about many people who form part of the “great cloud of witnesses.” Here is an excerpt in which Broadbent speaks of another Bohemian brother and quotes from him. The quotes are worth sharing because of their expressiveness and insight: 

“Although the writings of the brethren were frequently burned with their authors, some escaped, among them a book by Peter Cheltschizki (Petr Chelčický),  entitled The Net of Faith written in 1440, which preserves much of their teaching and exercised a great influence. He [Cheltschizki] writes:

Nothing else is sought in this book but that we, who come last, desire to see the first things and wish to return to them insofar as God enables us. We are like people who have come to a house that has been burnt down and try to find the original foundations. This is the more difficult in that the ruins are grown over with all sorts of growths, and many think that these growths are the foundation, and say, ‘This is the foundation’ and ‘This is the way we must go,’ and others repeat it after them. So that in the novelties that have grown up they think to have found the foundation, whereas they have found something quite different from, and contrary to, the true foundation. This makes the search more difficult, for if all said, ‘the old foundation has been lost among the ruins,’ then many would begin to dig and search for it and really to begin a true work of building upon it, as Nehemiah and Zerubbabel did after the destruction of the temple. It is much more difficult now to restore the spiritual ruins, so long fallen down, and get back to the former state, for which no other foundation can be laid than Jesus Christ, from whom the many have wandered away and turned to other gods and made foundations of them.

“He relates how ‘in Basel in 1433 the papal representative said that though there was much to praise in the early Church, yet it was very simple and poor, and as the temple followed the tabernacle, so the present beauty and glory of the Church has followed its first simplicity. Also many things unknown in the early Church are now made known.’ Cheltschizki’s comment: ‘The song would be good if it were not a lie.’

“He taught that the ‘great priest’ (i.e., the pope) dishonors the Saviour by taking to himself the divine power to forgive sins, which God has reserved for Himself alone.

God has borne witness that He Himself remits sins and blots out men’s iniquities through Christ who died for the sins of men. As to this, the testimony of faith is that He is the Lamb of God who took away sins and forgives the world, possessing in Himself the unique right of forgiving sins, because He is Himself at once God and man. And on this account He died as a man for sins and gave Himself to God on the cross as an offering for sins. Thus God obtained by Him and His pains the forgiveness of the sins of the world. He alone has the power and right to forgive men their sins.

Therefore, the great priest, in utmost pomp with which he raises himself above all that is called God, as a robber has laid hands on these rights of Christ. He has instituted the pilgrimage to Rome through which sins are to be cleansed away. Therefore, drunken crowds run together from all lands, and he, the father of all evil, distributes his blessing from a high place to the crowds that they may have the forgiveness of all sins and deliverance from all judgment. He saves from hell and purgatory, and there is no reason why anyone should go there. Also he sends into all lands tickets, for money, which ensure deliverance from all sins and pains; they do not even need to take the trouble to come to  him, they have only to send the money and all is forgiven them. What belongs to the Lord alone, this official has taken to himself, and he draws the praise which belongs to his Lord, and becomes rich through the sale of these things. What is left for Christ to do for us when his official frees us from all sins and judgment and can make us just and holy? It is only our sins that stand in the way of our salvation. If the great priest remits all these, what shall the poor Lord Jesus do?

Why does the world neglect Him so and does not seek salvation from Him? Simply on this account that the great priest overshadows Him with his majesty and makes Him darkness in the world, while he, the great priest, has a great name in the world and unexampled renown. So that the Lord Jesus, already crucified, is held up to the world’s laughter, and the great priest only is in everyone’s mouth, and the world seeks and finds salvation in Him.

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