Along Martin Luther and Beyond

Now we go to some of Martin Luther’s counterparts and those who came after.

They are:

Desiderus Erasmus (~1467 to 1536), born in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Christian Humanist

John Calvin (1509 to 1564), born in France – didn’t stay there, considered Martin’s successor by many

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1484 to 1530), Swiss Reformer

As you can see, all three of these mean were technically contemporaries of Martin Luther though John Calvin was certainly one that came in the later.

All three were writers and influential in their own right. What’s more, they were not in isolation as there are more men that could be listed from these times but I am only focusing on these.

Desiderus Erasmus was primarily an influence through his writings and there is evidence his work influenced Zwingli who had interactions with Luther.

Martin Luther and Zwingli’s most notable interaction involved mass. Zwingli advocated the removal of the Catholic mass and replaced it with a simply communion as well as changed a few other liturgical traditions. However, this wasn’t the key point of their interaction. Luther and Zwingli sparred over their interpretation of the elements in the Eucharist (communion). You can find more details on this particular debate here in the section titled “Relations with Luther”.

Despite a disagreement, Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther agreed quite a bit in the focus of the Protestant Reformation  – Scripture has the highest authority. A few things of note from Zwingli that we see in much of Protestantism today include the simple communion, the removal of images in the church & other liturgical changes, put forth some theses of his own, as well as completed some influential writings of his own.

In order to have them for comparison later, here is a summation of Zwingli’s main theses:

  1. The Church is born of the Word of God. Also, Christ is the only head of the Church.
  2. Church “laws” are only binding so long as they agree with Scripture.
  3. Christ alone is man’s righteousness.
  4. Mass is a gross offense to the sacrifice and death of Christ.
  5. There is no biblical argument for mediation for the dead involving purgatory. This would include the use of images in this.
  6. That marriage is lawful for all.

With the above theses, you can imagine then the church changes he then sought to bring about in Switzerland. These are changes still widely observed in churches today across the world that stand in the Protestant tradition.

What about John Calvin?

Ok. We’re getting to him now.

John Calvin came into all this with the other men and their influence as the backdrop. As can be seen at the start by the time-frames of each of their lives, John was a young man when the others began to pass away.

Born in France, John would later end up in Geneva, Switzerland where he would later die. John started his career as a law student – much as Martin was supposed to have become originally – and during his studies he was influenced by the humanist Desiderus Erasmus as well as others. Key components from this drove John to seek to understand the Scriptures in their original languages (something continued to this very day). As such, he went on to study Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Among Calvin’s first essays there was an emphasis on salvation by grace alone (one of the 5 Solas) rather than to focus on works and ceremonies.

I don’t intend to get into every detail here as there are great resources for further reading in the links below. Even so, key contributions made by Calvin were in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, commentaries, and influence that gave direction to Protestants elsewhere in Europe including those who would later go to America and start the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. There are many churches today that would consider John Calvin to be their founding father.

Hope this proved informative to you! I challenge you to read more on each of these influential men of the Protestant Reformation period and would suggest the links below are a great place to start.

 

Resources for further reading:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Huldrych-Zwingli

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/erasmus/

https://www.biography.com/people/john-calvin-9235788?_escaped_fragment_=

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Calvin

 

Submission

Biblical submission is not the same in every use of the term you see. What do I mean?

I mean that submission we see described in the Scriptures, while it may look like the same English word, can actually be entirely different words in the Greek our English translations come from.

Why didn’t translators choose an English equivalent? Simple – because English lacks the word. Instead, we’d have to write out the meaning.

An area some get touchy about when it comes to submission is on the topic of marriage. People read the term “submit” in regards to a wife submitting to her husband and suddenly think that women/wives are being called to be subservient to their husbands.

Wrong! Let’s look at this more closely and with what it is related:

First of all – this is a submission calling for wives and wives only. Not married? Well, then you have absolutely ZERO calling to submit to a man! This calling we find in Ephesians 5 is for the wife.

Second – this does not mean that the wife is being called to be some sort of unquestioning servant. The Greek verb here (hu-po-ta’s-so) carries the meaning, “to submit to; to put under, or to relinquish one’s rights, or to arrange yourself in rank under.” Now, some will say – now that looks like slavery! Don’t be dim! Look again! This is a verb directed toward the wife to carry out. This isn’t meant as a heavy-handed command from her husband. “to arrange yourself in rank under” – the wife is called to choose to do this. This is in stark contrast to the submission described of children which is a different Greek term that describes a call to obey their parents’ commands. So, a wife is called to willingly submit to her husband’s lead (not unquestioning) and the kids are commanded to an intense “servitude” to submit to both of their parents (more or less unquestioning).

Third – both wife and husband have equal worth before God as image bearers and are both called to submit to the authority of God. Submitting to God is where they can find their greatest joy and fulfillment in Him.

Fourth – much of the marriage layout goes back to the fall in the Garden of Eden. As a result of the curse upon humanity, wives would now become inclined to usurp and dominate their husbands. Husbands, again because of the curse, would be inclined to retaliate with force and what we would call today as an oppressive, heavy-handed, chauvinistic manner. The calls to submit we see in Ephesians are designed to counteract these sin-cursed tendencies within men and women who enter into marriage.

Fifth – husbands are called to also submit! They are called to submit to God (as are all) but they are also called to submit to God’s direction in leading their families. How is this done? In love! A husband is not ever meant to respond to his wife with neglect, verbal/physical abuse, &/or abandonment of his family. He is called to lovingly direct his family in a self-sacrificing manner that seeks the well-being of his wife and children. A husband should be the exemplary image of what it means to be a servant-leader.

Sixth – I realize these points may seem like they’re going well beyond the original questions; however, they are all interrelated and one particular element helps to unite much of the submission described – service. All those in Christ are called to be servant-leaders. Husbands are supposed to be the prime example but each believer is still called to lead by example and to outdo each other in serving one another. Romans 12:10 is an example that shows this calling. Couple this with the unique roles found within marriage and you are left with an image that parallels Christ and the Church. Christ – lovingly leading & the Church – respectively submitting to that lead.

Entire books can be (and have been) written on this subject (though I’ll admit most are sermons). I don’t intend on getting into every use of submission there is in the Scriptures in this article. However, I do want to leave off with a few points that all too commonly get overlooked when people open their Bibles and sadly have been neglected on this very topic:

  1. Read carefully. Too often people simply go off of what their first impression is after reading a passage. This too easily leads to errant thinking and belief.
  2. Read in context. All portions of Scripture are part of a larger whole. If you try to derive meaning from one piece without reading it in its context (the surrounding text), you become quite capable of making it say something that it, in actuality, does not say. Such an error can occur with any text read.
  3. If a particular word is proving troubling to you and your understanding, look up the word from which it was translated and its meaning. New Testament books will be in Greek originally and those of the Old Testament will be in Hebrew.
  4. Cultivate a desire for the truth. Don’t simply settle for a quick explanation; seek to understand the explanation and why that explanation is correct.

 

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”  – Psalm 145:5

Marriage

Marriage was instituted by God and designed by God. (See Genesis 2:18-25)

At the heart of the relationship is companionship and intimacy, which BOTH husband and wife must promote by their actions.

These things about marriage are not typically missed by Christians but this next point is missed in some circles.

The relationship seen between husband and wife is similar to that between Christ and the church and this has profound implications about our marriage relationships that entire books could (and have been) be written on.

Read: Ephesians 5:23, 31-32    Ephesians 5:25    Colossians 3:19    1 Peter 3:7

As Christ is head of the church, husbands are head of the family and wife, but this is NOT a domination sort of thing. As Christ models, we are to lead by serving. Furthermore, God makes clear there is no such thing as a “lesser” sex in 1 Peter 3:7 as it is pointed out that wives are “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life,”. There is a call here to respect wives and be considerate of them which lines up perfectly with the idea of leading by serving.

Don’t confuse the point made in 1 Peter about wives being “weaker” with “lesser”. This statement is merely pointing to the typical biology that makes it easy for men to be physically strong and women not as much (its a muscle density thing, women can still be quite physically strong). This is NOT to say that women are somehow weak in ability as they prove time and again otherwise. Instead, when taken in context of the surrounding scriptures, we see here a call to be considerate of women (especially wives) such that we (as men) avoid being physically harsh or abusive.


As I’ve said, there’s is much to this topic, but I’ll leave it there – for now.


Want to know more about the work at Monergist Gratia? Check out my Patreon!