The Old Man Crucified Podcast

by Jonathan Master

Dr. Carlton Wynne is the assistant professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, and one of the speakers at the Quakertown Conference on Reformed Theology, entitled The Glory of the Cross.

How does the historical Adam magnify the cross of Christ? Carlton gives us a little glimpse into the glorious topic he’ll be addressing at the conference November 9 and 10.

Redemptive history is God’s theme for our faith, and Carlton comprehensively walks us through the imputation of Adam’s sin to all men, and how God deals with this catastrophic event through the person and work of Christ.

 

Show Notes

The Glory of the Cross

Romans 6

No Adam, No Gospel: Adam and the History of Redemption by Richard B. Gaffin Jr.

1 Corinthians 15

Genesis 3, 4, and 5

 

We are giving away a few free registrations for The Glory of the Cross Conference. Register here for the opportunity to attend free of cost!



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Place for Truth is a voice of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Place for Truth and the mission of the Alliance.

Heaven on Earth?: Where do I go when I die?

by Joel Wood

Where you going, Dad?

This question, above all others, comes from the lips of my now 10 year old son. He has always, from his earliest days, been keenly aware when I’m walking out the door, or even looking like I might walk out of the door. Then, it comes: “Where you going, Dad?” With pastoral work, especially counseling, I’m not always able to tell him specifics: out to meet with someone, a meeting, to counsel with somebody. Any of these has come to satisfy his urge to know: where is dad going?

There’s a more important question about my destination that I’m much more concerned to pass on to him: where I will go when I die. When that day comes, and my heart beats its last upon the earth, I want him to know just where Dad went. But this question is larger than for just me. Everyone eventually confronts this question. So far, the ratio of births to deaths is 1:1, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon. So, where are you going, friend?

First, we should be clear that everybody goes somewhere when they die. There is an existence beyond this one. No one fails to slip the surly bonds of earth. In discussing Christ’s second coming, the writer of Hebrews reminds us: As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes the judgment… (9:27, MEV). One cannot be judged, if he no longer exists.

Second, we should be clear that there are only two places that one might go after they die. From the Roman Catholic Church to Mormonism, there are those who claim to agree with what the biblical says and, yet, so many continue to add places to land post-death to the biblical eschatology. Heaven or Hell. These are the options. We see this no more starkly presented than in Jesus’ story about “The Rich Man & Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31).  Now, you may want to debate whether there really was a Rich Man with a beggar who lived just outside his house name Lazarus. While I believe there was, Jesus grounds this story, a parable, in the historical truth. When he was done, nobody said: “Awwwww, Jesus, you almost had us there! Everybody knows that [insert unbiblical, personal eschatology here]!!” No. They all knew that when you die on earth, you live on in either a place of blessing and reward or of punishment and misery. Additionally, no one asked where the people were who were in purgatory, limbo, celestial kingdoms, etc.

Third, we should be clear what guarantees entrance into those two places. For Hell, that’s easy. We are born condemned after our father Adam’s fall. Jesus reminds us of this in John 3. He didn’t have to condemn the world, because it was already in that predicament. For Heaven, one must be saved by saving faith, that faith which is of God and finds as its only object Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God who gave his life as a ransom for many. Paul, the Apostle, said it best: “For those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29–30, MEV).

Fourth, we should be clear just what heaven is all about. The Apostle John described heaven in his recording of the Revelation that he had while a prisoner on Patmos. Just this portion tells us that Heaven is so much more than we could ever imagine or hope for:

I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city has no need of sun or moon to shine in it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall never be shut by day, for there shall be no night there. They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. No unclean thing shall ever enter it, nor shall anyone who commits abomination or falsehood, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:22–27, MEV).

If we’re not happy with the things of Jesus, the gospel, and the glory of God on earth, we most certainly won’t be happy with Heaven. Heaven isn’t the perfection of what WE want on earth in our sinful flesh. No. Heaven is all about Jesus. John Piper put it well when he said:

The critical question for our generation—and for every generation—is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there? (John Piper, God Is the Gospel: Meditations on God’s Love as the Gift of Himself)

If you don’t like Jesus here, you won’t like him there.

Finally, we should be clear that we want others to believe and to enter Heaven. Like Joshua stated, as the options were laid out before God’s people as their wilderness wandering came to a close, giving that cosmic cheat sheet, we say: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Yes, friend, choose life. Choose today. Choose Christ and live in him. Know that when you die that you will be with him. (2 Corinthians 6:8)

Joel Wood is the pastor of Trinity RPC in Burtonsville, MD, between DC and Baltimore. He holds M.Div. and D.Min. degrees from the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is 1/4 of The Jerusalem Chamber podcast, a roundtable discussion about the doctrine, worship, and piety of the Westminster Confession of Faith.



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Heaven on Earth? Protestants & Dante

by Stephen Unthank

I have the pleasure of meeting with some very bright high school students twice a week to think through worldviews and the history of ideas. A large part of our time is spent discussing some of the great books of Western Civilization and this fall we’ve been reading through and discussing Dante’s Comedy. The question that continually arose, at least during the beginning of our reading and discussions, was how to read and benefit from a book, a poem really, that was not only so foreign to what we’re used to reading today, but a work that was so, well, Roman Catholic. Dante’s discussions of Catholic saints, of prayers for the dead, and an entire section devoted to the very unbiblical idea of Purgatory! What benefit, if any, is there for Protestant, Sola Scriptura affirming Christians in reading such a treatise. Here are some of my reasons.

Dante’s Divine Comedy is an allegorical epic meant to draw our minds towards contemplating truths in and through artistic images. It is a parable, of sorts, not meant to  be read as a systematic theology. Much in the same way John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress displays spiritual truths through inventive scenes. We don’t treat Bunyan’s scene of Christian crossing the Jordan into glory as a literal description, and so we shouldn’t with Dante.

Dante thus invites us to read his travels through the Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven) as more of a contemplation for how to live now than as a literal description of the afterlife. Indeed, the very first line of his epic includes us in his journey: “Midway in the journey of our life…” Here is a man, midway through life – having a “mid-life crises”, if you will – and he’s just awoken to find himself in a dark wood. In other words, he finds himself lost amidst his midlife slumber.

But by God’s grace he’s now woken up to his lostness. He’s at least aware. And what he does is now invite us likewise wake up, become aware, and now travel with him down into the darkness of Hell. And it’s there in the Inferno where Dante, in his crisis, fears his life and our lives are heading.

And once he’s there and he see’s what sin really leads to he’s led to a place where he can begin to work out his salvation in fear and trembling; a purging of sorts in Purgatorio. And this, in the end, will lead him, and us, to behold the end for which we were created – the beatific vision of God in His glory. And all of this is done within his lifetime and before he ever dies. Will such a pilgrimage have an effect upon his life and yours? Dante thinks so.

Dante’s guide is the Roman poet Virgil. Does this mean that Dante think’s Virgil, who didn’t know of nor believe in Christ, was actually saved and allowed into heaven? Probably not. Virgil actually isn’t allowed to guide Dante into Paradise; he must stop short and allow Beatrice to guide Dante the rest of the way. Dante, I think, is expressing the idea that great writers, and beautiful poetry in particular, have done much to help him contemplate the beauty of God. Here then is Dante’s gratitude to Virgil, the most beautiful of human poets, who has stirred Dante’s heart to seek after the most Beautiful Poet. There’s a lesson here for those who only listen to the artistically sub-par music (generally speaking) of Contemporary Christian Music.

As many commentators have noted in the past, Dante is inviting us to likewise wake up from our spiritual slumber and to embark on a tour of what lies beyond, a tour which ought to, hopefully bring sanctification. Here Dante is acting on what John says in 1 John 3:2-3, where we’re reminded that there is something actually purifying about looking forward in hope to what we will be in glory “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

This concept, I think, gives us, even as Protestants, great benefit in reading Dante. But still, why read his section on Purgatory if Purgatory is, for all intents and purposes, a fictional place? And I think the answer is this: because for the believer, purgatory is now. We are being sanctified and conformed more and more into the image of Christ now! And that’s what Dante is dealing with in this section of his Divine Comedy.

There is this wonderful section in the Purgatory, in Canto’s 19 and 20, where these yet-to-be-glorified but still hopeful souls are walking around repeating, actually meditating upon, Psalm 119:25, “My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” In life they were people full of pride, but now in Purgatory they are humbled – literally by a massive boulder weighing them down and causing them to walk in lowliness! But their realization is more and more that it is a good thing to be humbled over sin and to find life not in their own will and wants but in God’s word.

Here, Dante meets one of his old drinking buddies, Forese Donati. Donati, along with other penitent souls who were once committed to drunkenness and gluttony are said to have “dark and sunken eyes, pallied in the face and so gaunt, that the skin took all its form from the bones” (Purgatorio 23:22-24). Then the poet makes a fascinating comment. He says, “Their eye sockets looked like rings with gems; and he who sees ‘omo’ written into the visage of men would have recognized the letter m” (Purgatorio 23:31-33).

In other words, their faces have become so thin, their eyes so sunken, that the nose and cheek bones form the letter m, with the eyes forming to o’s in the middle – that is, spelling the word omo, Latin for “man.” Jason Baxter, commentating on this account, points out that these sunken-face souls, while contemplating on and reading Scripture and groaning under the pains of Purgatory (think here of Romans 8), their very faces are being rewritten, so that their humanity is now becoming apparent once again. Dante’s old drinking buddy, Forese, was, as a drunkard, a text poorly written. But now, through God’s purifying grace, he is being rewritten back into true ‘omo’; his true humanity being restored.[1]

Dante weaves accounts like this in almost every page, leading the careful reader to contemplate not only the end for which vice will lead a man, but the grace of God in virtue and upon heavenly contemplation. I imagine Dante would have nodded with deep approval at the Puritan practice of memento mori, remembering death. Keeping an eye towards the afterlife, whether it be the glories of Heaven or the terrors of Hell, ought to produce a purifying – a spiritual purging – upon the true believer now. It is here where Dante and his beautifully written epic can serve the thoughtful and heavenly minded Christian.

Stephen Unthank (MDiv, Capital Bible Seminary) serves at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Maryland with his wife, Maricel and their two children, Ambrose and Lilou.


[1] Jason M. Baxter, A Beginner’s Guide To Dante’s Divine Comedy. (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI. 2018), 110-111.

 



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Place for Truth is a voice of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Place for Truth and the mission of the Alliance.

Heaven on Earth?: Some Hard Questions & Some Help

by Jeffrey Stivason

It is fitting that Christians should love the springtime of the soul, the bodily resurrection that will come in God’s time.  But how much do we really know about the resurrection?  Children often ask, “Will I know my mommy and daddy in heaven?”  Wives want to know what kind of relationship, if any, they will enjoy with their husbands (Matthew 22:23-33).  Some have concerns about cremation, while others are distressed over the bodily loss of a loved one due to some tragedy.  These, as well as other questions can be vexing but they need not be.  The resurrection is the great hope of the Christian not the great fear.  Let me introduce you to someone who might be of help.

Meet St. Augustine

We might describe Augustine as an untamed and rebellious fourth century youth.  However, his redeeming quality, which also led to great temptation prior to his conversion, was his intellectual ability.  Augustine had a keen mind and his pilgrimage of thought is sketched out in his autobiography, Confessions, but so are his many temptations leading up to his conversion.  Consequently, upon his conversion God added a mighty intellect to the Church.

So, how might Augustine provide answers to those resurrection “mind-benders?”  Well, let’s start with the barbarian invasion of Rome in 410 AD.  Rome had been the mistress of the world for many long years.  Some thought the Eternal City would stand forever!  However, when she fell those who followed the pagan gods, and it seems they were not a few, looked around for a scapegoat upon which to lay the guilt for this catastrophe. For some Christianity was the likely choice. So, in 413 AD Augustine took up his pen to prove the absurdity of such a charge.  The twenty-two books of The City of God were written slowly and appeared in parts over a thirteen-year period.  The last two books concern the resurrection of the wicked and the righteous.

Augustine on the Resurrection

In The City of God Augustine provides a helpful roadmap through the myriad questions surrounding the early Christian understanding of the resurrection.  However, early in book twenty-two, so as to lay a firm foundation for what follows, Augustine insists that all Christians affirm three central beliefs about the resurrection.  First, Christ himself has been raised from the dead and is alive in heaven.  Second, there will be a future resurrection of humanity.  And third, the human body itself is immortal.  Interestingly, the verse from which each of these fall out is, for Augustine, Romans 8:29, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.”  Now, with that as a foundation and Augustine as our guide let’s tackle some tough questions concerning the resurrection.

First, and I will have to be selective, what about aborted children and children who die outside the womb?  What will be the nature of their resurrected body?  Will they have the body of a child in heaven?  Augustine does not think so.  Rather, by what Augustine describes as a “marvelous and instantaneous act of God,” those who die young will “gain that maturity they would have attained by the slow lapse of time.”  Can you guess why Augustine might think this way?  It’s simple, for Augustine the stature and size of Christ’s body shall be the measure of the bodies of all those who shall be in His Kingdom.  Talk about Christ centered! 

Now, some folks may not like this answer.  I have even heard people say that if there were no children in heaven they would not want to be there.  But why?  Are you looking for your heaven or God’s heaven?  What if it is true that by an instantaneous act God made all deceased children mature?  What if heaven is made up entirely of physically mature saints who resemble Christ’s earthly age at His death?  Would that really make you want to forfeit heaven?    

Another question concerns human stature of the resurrected body.  What will it be like?  If I am six feet tall now, will I be six feet tall at the resurrection of the dead?  Augustine answers in the affirmative.  Just as Jesus appeared in a form that was familiar to them so too will we experience the same continuity.  Not surprisingly, Augustine links his answer to the words of Jesus, “Not a hair of your head shall perish” (Matthew 10:30).  So, if I am shorter in my resurrected body than in my present body Jesus’ promise would appear to fail.  Therefore, concludes Augustine, “every man shall receive his own size which he had in youth, though he died an old man, or which he would have had supposing he died before his prime.”

Augustine poses a third question, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:30, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven” will males be raised male and females female?  Will such distinctions be maintained in the age to come?  Some, during Augustine’s day argued that a sexual distinction would not persist.  But according to Augustine “they seem wiser who make no doubt that both sexes shall rise.”  After all, sexual distinctions were part of the created order before the sin of Adam and Eve.  Therefore, according to Augustine, Jesus simply means that the sexual lust connected with the Fall will be eradicated in the resurrected state. 

Augustine also deals with the question of human defect and deformity.  Will deformities remain in the resurrection?  Even though Augustine has argued that not one hair will perish from our heads he assures us that present defects and deformities will not be retained in our resurrection body.  Augustine’s regenerate reasoning is simple; healing the body does not necessitate a loss of anything essential to the body itself.  Indeed God will perfect our bodies in the resurrection, removing the distorting effects of the Fall and its penalties, with beauty as the result.  However, interestingly Augustine says that martyrs may retain some mark of their afflictions, as did Christ.  However, these will only add luster to the appearance of the body.

Finally, Augustine is hesitant to describe a spiritual body, simply because “we have as yet no experience of it.”  But he does not hesitate to describe what we shall be doing in our immortal bodies.  We shall worship Christ and see Him as He is and we shall rejoice and possess a peace that surpasses all understanding.  However, Augustine is not sure whether we will behold the beatific vision with our eyes or with our intellect.  But whatever the case may be Augustine is certain that we shall enjoy the “perpetual Sabbath” of God’s uninterrupted presence.       

Jeffrey A. Stivason is the pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He also holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.  Jeff is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and is the Executive Editor for Place for Truth.

 



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Jan Hus – Not Just a Wycliffite

by Simonetta Carr

           Jan Hus is often considered a disciple of the English John Wycliffe and imitator of his views. In reality, much of his thought developed independently, along similar lines.

            Born in Husinec, southern Bohemia (approximately in the same area as today’s Czech’s republic), Hus studied at the prestigious University of Prague, founded by Emperor Charles IV, where he was influenced by a strong, native Reformation movement – particularly by leaders such as Konrád Waldhauser, Jan Milíč and Matěj of Janov. While the first two preachers stirred the masses with religious fervor and a strong opposition to the corruption of the church, Matěj used his literary skills to inspire similar feelings around Bohemia, and to raise questions about the Lord’s Supper, the authority of the pope and human traditions, and a return to the simplicity of the gospel both in life and worship.

            Hus was acquainted with Wyclif’s philosophical writings on realism, to which he and most other teachers at Prague adhered, before he read any of his theological works, which were mostly introduced to Bohemia by Jerome of Prague after his studies at Oxford.

A Czech Reformation

            Hus found in Wyclif many similarities with the ongoing Bohemian Reformation, as well as with the protests of other men of his time, such as Marsilius of Padua and John of Paris.

            While these protests were certainly not rare in the 14th century, the church had to stress some limitations. The papacy’s relative tolerance of Wyclif’s attacks on the church’s excesses came to a halt when he opposed the doctrine of eucharistic transubstantiation which had become official Roman Catholic dogma in 1215. Equally concerning was the proliferation of a Wycliffite movement disparagingly called “Lollardy” (either from the Latin lollum, meaning “tares” or from the Dutch lolle, meaning “murmuring”).

            If Wyclif escaped martyrdom thanks to the help of powerful friends and the timing of his natural death, other people were captured and detained throughout Europe. In Bohemia, three men were arrested under suspicion of adherence to these new teachings. Two recanted, and another was imprisoned for life.

            Hus was able to keep preaching at his parish church, Bethlehem Chapel, in Prague, until a controversy with the local archbishop, Zbyněk Zajíc (who had once been his friend), placed him in the limelight.

A Czech Revolution

            The controversy was about papal elections. Since 1378, the Roman Catholic Church had been divided in their allegiance between two popes, Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, each claiming to be the rightful successor of Peter. Since each pope had excommunicated the followers of the other, everyone in Europe was somehow excommunicated. A council of cardinals decided to solve the matter by deposing both popes and electing a new one, Alexander V. Quite predictably, the deposed popes refused to step down, leaving the church divided in allegiance among three popes.

            Each country was affected in different ways. In Bohemia, the archbishop and higher clergy were faithful to Gregory, while Hus and the reform party acknowledged Alexander V, implicitly recognizing the authority of church councils over popes. Since the reformers enjoyed the support of the Bohemian King, Wenceslaus IV, Zbyněk was forced to submit to Alexander.

            Stung by the humiliation, Zbyněk planned with Alexander a ban of any sort of preaching in non-parochial churches. This was a direct attack at Hus, since Bethlehem was a private chapel. What’s more, it was a provocation to elicit his foreseeable disobedience (which would warrant a harsher punishment).

            Zbyněk’s expectations were correct. Hus refused to discontinue preaching, and Zbyněk was able to excommunicate him. This didn’t stop Hus, who was backed by King Wenceslas and his wife Queen Zofie. In fact, Zofie used her royal authority to urge the pope to allow Hus to continue preaching at Bethlehem Chapel, and protested the burning of Wyclif’s books. In the meantime, swarms of protesters took to the streets to pledge obedience to Hus. Some historians have considered this act of rebellion an actual revolution.

Exile and Writings

            Hus continued preaching until 1412, when Prague was placed under interdict as a result of his action. Unwilling to see the city suffer for his sake, he decided to go into voluntary exile and found refuge in the castles of Kozí Hrádek and Krakovec, each about 50 miles from Prague (one south and one north). He stayed there two years, devoting his time to writing about fifteen books. His Czech work On Simony (1413) and his Latin De ecclesia (1413) are probably the most famous.           

            In spite of its frequent references to and paraphrases of Wyclif’s homonymous work, there were several differences between the two reformers. Most evident is the different scope. Wyclif’s writings were technical and academical, contributing to the heated discussions of his day, while Hus wrote as a pastor concerned for his flock. In fact, he started writing while he was in exile as a way to nourish and guide the congregation he had left behind.

            His writing style, directly addressing the common people, often reminds of Luther’s. For example, in On Simony, Hus appeals to the people’s common sense in response to the notion that the pope was innocent of trafficking because he marketed in silence. “Hodek, the baker, or Huda, the vegetable woman, would answer … that when Hodek has bread for sale and when someone comes and in silence lays the money on the counter, either before or after taking the bread, Hodek or Huda concludes that the customer has bought the bread.”[1] In other words, the facts speak for themselves, and the bakers and vegetable women in Hus’s audience can identify with this common wisdom.

            Hus differs from Wyclif also in the range of his accusations, which include everyone, from the pope to the layman (while Wyclif had aimed mostly at the papacy and those in power), with the ultimate goal of bringing his readers to repentance. Theologically speaking, Hus’s views were more moderate, especially about the Lord’s Supper.

Betrayal and Martyrdom

            Hus’s exile ended in the fall of 1414, when he accepted an invitation to appear at the ecclesiastical Council of Constance. It was a dangerous move, but Hus trusted in the promise of safe-conduct given by Sigismund, king of Hungary.

            After spending a few weeks in Constance as a free man waiting for an expected debate, Hus was imprisoned on the claim that he had attempted to flee. He was eventually transferred to the castle of the bishop of Constance, where he remained as a prisoner for 73 days, in poor living conditions, and finally to a Franciscan monastery during his trial.

            The trial consisted mostly in a concerted effort to persuade Hus to recant from his alleged adherence to Wyclif’s heresies. Hus protested that he had never defended Wyclif’s doctrine of The Lord’s Supper or other doctrines the church had considered heretical. He couldn’t recant something he had never taught. On other issues, however, he had to stand his ground and act according to conscience. Here too we find an echo in Luther’s speech at the Diet of Worms.

            Unlike Wyclif and Luther, however, Hus didn’t have powerful friends to defend him. Wenceslaus had turned his back for political reasons, and Sigismund was persuaded that a promise made to an heretic could be broken. Standing alone, Hus was quickly condemned, stripped of his priestly ornaments, marked as heretic, and led to the stake, where he was burned. His ashes were later thrown into the Rhine River.

Legacy

            Hus’s execution backfired, as the people of Bohemia organized into a military revolt against the church of Rome, defeating four consecutive crusades incited against them by the papacy between 1419 and 1434. Eventually, the Roman Catholic Church allowed the people of Bohemia to practice their own version of Christianity, known as Hussitism, which included the people’s participation of both elements in the Lord’s Supper, and the priests’ renunciation of worldly properties.

            Hus had his widest influence in the 16th-century Reformation, where he was hailed as one of its forerunners. Outside of England, his influence was even greater than that of Wyclif, whose works were largely unknown until the 19th century.

            Luther compared himself to Hus and encouraged the publication of his main works. According to popular accounts, Hus had prophesied about Luther at his trial, when he said, “You may burn a goose, but in a hundred years will come a swan you will not be able to burn.” Since the name Hus meant “goose” in Czech, and Luther had sometimes referred to himself as a swan singing the gospel message, it was easy to make a connection. Because of this, the swan remained an important Lutheran symbol for centuries.

 


[1] “Hus on Simony,” in Matthew Spinka, ed., Advocates of Reform from Wyclif to Erasmus, Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1953, p. 219.

 



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Place for Truth is a voice of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Place for Truth and the mission of the Alliance.

Heaven on Earth?: Talking with Our Children about Death

by Rachel Miller

“Is she going to die?” That’s what my boys wanted to know when we told them how sick their Bisabuela[1] was. How do we answer that question and other questions about death that our children ask?

Talking about death is uncomfortable, isn’t it? As a culture, we don’t like to think about it. In fact, we avoid thinking about it. We exercise and eat “right” and take vitamins and supplements that promise us eternal youth, or at least a long life.

But eventually, we’re confronted with the reality of death. Maybe it’s the death of a grandparent. Maybe it’s the loss of a child. Maybe it’s a life-threatening illness. Whatever the circumstances, we come to a point where we can’t just ignore death. For ourselves and our children, we need to be ready to give biblical answers and gospel encouragement when the time comes.

So, what should we tell our children about death? In my experience, children want answers to three basic questions. Why do people have to die? Are you/am I going to die? What happens when we die? These can be hard questions to answer. The good news is that God has given us answers in the Bible.

Why do people have to die?

Children are right to ask this question. Why do we have to die? It doesn’t seem right. And it’s not. We weren’t created to suffer and die. As the Catechism for Young Children teaches us, we were created “holy and happy” and with “souls that could never die.” God made us to live with Him forever.

So, what happened? Why do we get sick and die? Genesis 3 tells us that Adam and Eve disobeyed God and brought sin and death into the perfect world God created. Because of their sin, Adam and Eve died, physically and spiritually. As their children, we’re born to die (Job 5:7). Apart from Christ, we’re spiritually dead and physically our bodies will one day die.

Not a cheery thought and answering this question usually brings the next question to mind.

Are you/am I going to die?

When children become aware of death, they become aware that you, a fixture of their world, may die. Or they may realize that they too will die. It’s a scary thought. And it’s tempting to reassure our children by telling them not to worry or that we won’t die for a long, long time. Certainly, we should encourage our children not to worry, but we don’t know the future. As Scripture says, “Man does not know his time,” (Eccl. 9:12, NASB).

We don’t need to be morbid or morose. But it’s right to tell our children that while we don’t have any reason to expect to die soon, only God knows the future. The encouragement for us and for our children is knowing that God, who is good and loving, is not surprised by anything. Everything that happens is in His hands, including our lives, and God will take care of us. No matter what.

What happens when we die?

Once we understand the reality and inevitability of death, we want to know what happens when we die. And it’s not just children who are wondering. Every culture, every religion, every person who has ever lived has asked this question. Different religions give different answers to what happens after death. But the only true answer is found in the Bible. It may not tell us everything we’d like to know about life after death, but it does tell us what we need to know.

Scripture teaches that there are two paths for the future. Those who believe in Christ and trust in Him for their salvation will live forever with God. Those who reject Christ will spend eternity in Hell (Matt. 25:31-46).

For believers, when we die, we go immediately to be with the Lord (Luke 23:43). There we await Jesus’s return when the dead will be raised (1 Thess. 4:13-18). After the judgment, believers will live forever with the Lord in the new heavens and new earth where there will be no more pain or sorrow or separation or sin or death (Rev. 21:1-5). This is the glorious hope and future we have as God’s children.

Our “only comfort in life and in death”[2]

Death is a frightening thing and not just for children. Death is an enemy. It’s painful and sad. We are right to mourn when loved ones die. But we don’t grieve as those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We know the future. Jesus has won! He’s defeated death, and He will return and bring us home. In the meantime, He’s promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38-39). And that’s the best news we have for ourselves and our children.

Rachel Miller is News Editor for the Aquila Report. She has a BA in History from Texas A&M University. She is a member of a PCA church in the Houston area and the homeschooling mother of three boys.


[1] Great-grandmother

[2] Heidelberg Catechism, question 1

 



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Heaven on Earth? The Beatific Vision

by Jeffrey Stivason

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).  I am captivated by this beatitude.  All of them are deeply searching and logical.  There is precision in every statement and in every promise.  But I am not alone in saying that this particular beatitude holds sway over them all, not in authority, but in fodder for meditation.  The divines of history have agreed.  The volume of material produced on this beatitude alone surpasses them all and it is not difficult to understand why.  As Christians we yearn to see God.  There it is.  That is what makes this beatitude so inviting, so engaging.  Pining for God is our calling, our chief end.

Now, at the present, if you are alive that is, you see God by faith.  At present we walk by faith and not by sight.  What is more, our “vision” of God now, by faith, is only adequate and apprehensive because the finite is not able to grasp the infinite.  However, there will come a day when faith will give way to sight.  But of what kind of sight are we speaking?  Paul wrote in his first epistle to Timothy saying, “no man has seen nor can see” God (I Tim. 6:16).  So, how in the world are we going to see the un-seeable? 

Certainly in heaven there will be a seeing that is physical.  We shall see Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Second Person of the Trinity, who is the express image and exact likeness of God (Colossians 1:15).  Nevertheless, if we want to see God the Father physical sight, even in a resurrected body, won’t do us any good.  The physical cannot see the invisible.  Thus, how shall the promise of the beatitude be fulfilled which assures the pure in heart that they shall indeed see God?

In his sermon on Matthew 5:8 that great puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards writes, “But to see God is this.  It is to have an immediate, sensible, and certain understanding of God’s glorious excellency and love.”  For Edwards this seeing will be immediate and direct but not physical.  Rather “it is an intellectual view by which God is seen,” says Edwards, “For God is a spiritual being, and is beheld with the understanding.”

Now, there are some if not many among us who believe that the movie is better than the book, or the video is better than the simple song, surely video did kill the radio star. Thus the massive screen image is better than imagination, which is a primary function of the intellect.  However, this is only true for those of us living AT (After – Television).  Prior to the television era the image was what you thought not what you saw.  It is striking that Jesus was referred to as the incarnate “Word” of God, not the incarnate “image.”   

Nevertheless, Edwards, contrary to the television generation, believed that “a more perfect way of perception than by the eyes of the body” was the “apprehension of God by the understanding.”  Thus, the ultimate glory is not seeing friends in heaven.  The ultimate reward (Genesis 15:1) of every Christian is the view of God Himself; the beatific vision; the amor intellectualis Dei.  In a sermon on Romans 2:10 Edwards says that this intellectual vision “is the chief bliss of heaven.”

Francis Turretin (1623-87), who has been called the best expounder of Reformed doctrine, helps us to understand this even further. He begins by telling us what the beatific vision is.  He writes, “the beatific vision implies the most perfect and clear knowledge of God and of divine things, such as can belong to a finite creature, opposed to the imperfect and obscure knowledge which is possessed here by faith.”  Good enough.  The heavenly vision of God is the clearest and most perfect knowledge that a finite creature can possess. 

Next he writes, “This perfection of the intellect by the beatific vision will be followed by no less a consummation of the will by absolute holiness and by a most pure and intense love to arise from that infinite light and the celestial intuition of it.  By it we will cleave so unchangeably to God that we shall in a measure be transformed into him by a participation of the divine nature.”  Here Turretin is saying that upon seeing God we will wholly inherit what became ours at the time of our conversion.

Turretin makes a further comment that is in keeping with the beatitude though he does not quote it at this particular point.  The beatitude says that the pure in heart shall see God.  Turretin says that the beatific vision shall produce a love for God within us that is absent of impurity.  “It will arise from the possession of God himself,” says Turretin, “which, as he is the supreme good, embraces the universality and perpetuity of all blessings.  Whatever is desired will be present there, nor will anything be desired which is not becoming.  God will be seen without end, loved without cloying (ever overindulging), praised without weariness.”

Perhaps one further thing may be added as we ponder our celestial home and Him who is our reward.  This short pilgrimage is simply preparation for heaven.  We are, as it were, growing ripe for heaven.  Now, glorification and rewards as a result of God’s free grace will not come until the end of the world.  But when they do we, glorified yet imperfect, shall continue to make new discoveries.  In heaven there is eternal progress in knowledge and holiness for the glorified saint and it will be a time of eternal rejoicing.  In a miscellaneous writing Jonathan Edwards agrees when he writes, “Happiness of heaven is progressive and has various periods in which it has a new and glorious advancement and consists very much in beholding the manifestations that God makes of himself in the work of redemption.”

The pure in heart shall certainly be happy in heaven.  The strivings for purity of the person professing to be saved by grace alone only prove that they long for the time when their desires shall be wholly pure.  For now their flesh often fails them and they often need to beat their body and make it their slave but there it shall be different.  In heaven they shall tire no more but instead with a pure heart long for God without faltering.  As much as the finite can they shall see Him as He is and not through a glass dimly.

Perhaps I might finish with a quote from Edward’s sermon on Romans 2:10.  He preached to his congregation at Northampton, “They shall see every thing in God that tends to excite and inflame love, i.e., every thing that is lovely, every thing that tends to exalt their esteem and admiration, to warm and endear the heart…they shall see every thing in God that gratifies love…the effects of this vision…are, that the soul shall be inflamed with love, and satisfied with pleasure.”  Surely Edwards is simply echoing the Psalmist when he raised his voice to God singing (Psalm 73:25), “Whom have I in heaven but thee?”

Jeffrey A. Stivason is the pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He also holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, PA.  Jeff is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and is the Executive Editor for Place for Truth.

 



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Place for Truth is a voice of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Place for Truth and the mission of the Alliance.

Natural Theology: The Design of Creation

by David Smith

Genesis 1-2 reveals that God created in an orderly way and a cosmic order with everything having a function based on what he created it to be.  In other words, when we use the phrase “the design of creation” we ought to understand the word “creation” as both a noun and a verb. Creation refers not only to what God created, but his act of creating. And in both uses of the term we can speak of their being design. God’s design reveals God.

Psalm 19:1-6 and Romans 1:20-21 tell us that what God created reveals him. All creation reveals the only living and Triune God. The implications of this are massive and obviously a short blog post cannot explore them all. Let’s look at perhaps the most important ones that should govern our thinking and living.

First, we can and must speak of an objectivity to creation, and our knowledge of its various objects. This objectivity is unavoidably joined to a subjective experience as personal rational beings. Thus, objectivity and subjectivity are inseparably related. Now, what precisely we affirm regarding the objective nature of particular realities and how they relate to our subjective experience of them is certainly an important and large issue with multiple facets to it. But, we will make no progress in arriving at a correct understanding of these issues and their many facets if we think and act as if no such objectivity exists, or obligates us to think and act in any particular way. Among other things, this means that every aspect of the physical creation is what it is regardless of how we or anyone else feels about it or chooses to relate to it. Time and space are created realities. Maleness and femaleness are created realities. According to God’s written word, we are obligated to think about and act in relation to all creation in the way that God’s word requires based on what his word reveals. Our choices and feelings do not determine what the created realities are.    

Second, Scripture reveals that it is not just Scripture itself that reveals God. Creation reveals God and not just to Christians. All people know some true things about the only living and true God. According to Romans 1:18-32, it is the very reason why we have no reasonable or justified excuse for our sin (v. 20). The term Paul uses in v. 20 to express this absence of excuse is a form of the word from which we derive the word apologetics. Except the term Paul uses communicates that the unrepentant sinner has no apologetic, or rational explanation for their sin. Paul is not saying that people do not try and justify their sin. He certainly knew many people who tried to justify their sin. Paul himself had tried to justify his sin. Paul’s point in Romans 1 is that because God is truly, actually revealed in creation, and all people are God’s creatures inseparably joined to God’s creation, they therefore have no rational excuse or justification for their sin. After all, it’s not only things like the sun, moon, oceans and mountains that reveal God, but also human beings. Every human being carries within themselves, as a human being, the revelation of God. This is so masterfully expressed and explained by John Calvin at the beginning of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. The brevity of this post does not allow exploration of it here, but I commend its reading to you.

Thirdly, God’s design in the act of creation reveals, among other things, that there is an essential unity and diversity of, or in, creation. God created distinct realities that are fundamentally united. He, as the Triune God, three persons in one being, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, has revealed his very nature and power in this unity and diversity. Herein is the fundamental nature of all human knowledge. Recognizing what is true about the distinction of one reality from another, or several realities, while also recognizing how they are inseparably united is of the essential nature of human knowledge. While many in the church are busy trying to decide the duration of the creation days, perhaps we should spend a lot more time recognizing that the seminal point revealed in Genesis 1-2 is that there is a distinction between the days and what God created on each day, even as there is a unity among them. God’s design of creation reveals the systematic, theological and personal nature of all knowledge.

One of the ways to understand the very nature of non-Christian thinking and living is that it affirms that people must do that which God has already done, is doing and will do. According to what Scripture and creation reveal, do you and I have to integrate human faith and reason, or do we have to learn and discern the ways human faith and reason have been integrated by God because of what God created them to be? Did human sin bring an utterly new reality, or did it damage and distort the one created by God? According to Scripture, is God relying upon us to cure and correct the damage and distortion that is sin? Or is God at work causing people to receive his cure and correction so that we have to rely and wait upon him, receiving what he alone gives in his time and way, even as we act in obedience to what he has commanded? 

Many, even in the church, are busy thinking that they have to choose to do all sorts of things in life that in fact have already been forced upon us by God in his creating things to be what they are and his accomplishing and applying salvation. Are we learning from God’s design of creation or listening to the mantras of a culture trying to ignore God’s design?

David P. Smith (Ph.D.) is the author of B. B. Warfield’s Scientifically Constructive Theological Scholarship (Wipf & Stock) and co author with Ronald Hoch of Old School, New Clothes: The Cultural Blindness of Christian Education Wipf & Stock). David is Pastor of Covenant Fellowship A.R.P. Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.  



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Heaven on Earth?: What is Heaven?

by Tim Bertolet

When I was a child, we used to sing a little song that went, “Heaven is a wonderful place; filled with glory and grace; I want to see my Savior’s face, ‘cause heaven is a wonderful place.” This is very simple yet strikes at deep truths. In this easy we want to outline a few brief points that the Bible tells us about heaven.

Heaven was created by God. Heaven is something that God created (Ps. 96:5, 136:26). Genesis 1:1 tells us “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It is important that we recognize that God is eternal; heaven is not eternal. Before creation there was simply the Triune God. God did not reside anywhere, He just existed. Sometimes we wrongly think that heaven is where God has always been. More than anything, heaven is a place God created for our destiny not because he needed a home.

Heaven is a true and perfect temple. In the Old Testament, God had his people make a tabernacle and then later a temple so that they would understand what is was like to fellowship with God and what was necessary to approach God. The tabernacle was modeled off of how God has made heaven (Heb. 8:5; Exodus 25:40). Heaven is the “true tent [i.e. tabernacle/temple]” which God made with His own hands (Heb. 8:2; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24; Isa. 66:1-2). The Lord dwells in heaven (2 Chr. 6:21, 30, 33, 39; Ps. 2:4; 11:4; 33:13; 102:19 103:19, etc.).

The Lord has made His throne in heaven. Psalm 103:19 “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” When God made the heavens and the earth, in order to show us His rule and authority over all creation, he ‘sat down’ in heaven. Heaven is likened to a great throne room where God sits and rules over all his creation (Isa. 66:1-2). Again, this is not because God needed a throne or because God is not omnipresent in his creation (Ps. 139: 7-12). More than anything it is a picture to us giving us assurance that God is in control and always retains authority over all that He has made. God does not need a throne to be the authority; He is the authority by virtue of creating all things. God’s glory is higher than the heavens. It is a picture to us how much beyond this creation God is. He “dwells” as the supreme one over all the creation. It shows us his glory, his majesty, and his holiness.

Jesus rules from heaven. This is one of the great assurances to us that heaven is a “real place.” Jesus Christ after his resurrection ascended bodily into heaven. He sat down at God’s right hand. Now, God is spirit and does not have a literal right hand. However, the Son in human resurrected flesh takes up the supreme position over all creation in the very glory cloud of God. In his divinity, the Son’s glory and the Father’s glory is one glory; and the Son reigned with God from all eternity. Yet, the climax of God’s redemptive purposes is the Son in his humanity that was crowned with glory entered heaven in human flesh. If we are ever tempted to doubt that heaven is a real “place” with real spatial or dimensional features, ask yourself this question: where is Christ’s body? It did not dissipate. His body did not merge with the beyond like a drop of water might merge with the ocean. Jesus Christ went up and sat in heaven. He reigns and rules from here. This is a great comfort and assurance to believers because Christ continues to serve as our mediator. He is our king and high priest.

Heaven is a wonderful place. Jonathan Edwards is probably most famous for his sermon “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” but few people know that he wrote a sermon entitled “heaven is a world of love.” Heaven is a world of love because God is love and God dwells in heaven. The beauty and wonder of heaven is beyond our comprehension. It is a place of peace and tranquility. It is a place where God’s will is done perfectly and God’s authority and glory are perfectly manifest. It is a place of magnificent worship of the high and holy one (Rev. 4-5).

Believers go to heaven when they die. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Paul in Phil. 1, desires to depart and be with the Lord. When the body dies, the believer goes to be in the presence of the Lord. In the book of Revelation, for example, we see that saints who were martyred cry out (Rev. 6:9-11). The martyrs rest in heaven and await the judgment where the Lord sets things right on earth as it is in heaven.

Heaven is not our ultimate hope. If we are a believer, we should rightly look forward to heaven when we die. However, sometimes Christians never realize that there is a hope beyond living in heaven as a soul without a body. The final hope is the resurrection of the dead. God will bring the new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21-22). The temple, or New Jerusalem/holy city will come down and be in this new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:10). The great hope is that God will dwell with man: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God” (Rev. 22:3). God no longer has a temple in the city (or in heaven) because the temple of the city “is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22). The throne of God will be in the middle of the new city that God brings down (Rev. 22:1-3). The throne is not “above” but the throne is in the very midst of everything. All things are set right and God’s glorious presence is in the center of God’s creation.

Tim Bertolet is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College and Westminster Theological Seminary.  He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He is an ordained pastor in the Bible Fellowship Church, currently serving as pastor of Faith Bible Fellowship Church in York, Pa. He is a husband and father of four daughters. You can follow him on Twitter @tim_bertolet.



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Anne of Bohemia and her Multilingual Scriptures

by Simonetta Carr

On December 18, 1381, 15-year old Anne crossed the British Channel with her large entourage. It was a wretched time for travel, but she was on her last stretch of her 700-miles journey from Prague. It was the season for storms, but thankfully the winds rose only after her crossing, destroying her ship but preserving her life.

            She was the eldest daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and of his fourth wife Elizabeth, Duchess of Pomerania. Her final destination was London, where she would marry Richard II, King of England, eight months younger than her.

            It was, as expected, an arranged marriage, with off-and-on negotiations starting in 1377, when Richard was first crowned. Initially, the proposal was rejected, but Pope Urban VI convinced Richard and his council to change their minds. At that time, the papacy was claimed by two different popes, and Urban needed his supporters (which included England and Bohemia) to band together.

            The arbitration was not without hindrances. The English envoys were kidnapped and held for ransom on their way back from Bohemia, and Anne’s family was so poor that couldn’t afford to pay the dowry. In the end, Richard had to send a loan of 15,000 pounds in order to get his bride to England.

Anne’s Character

            As Anne continued her travels from Dover to Canterbury, the English people continued to gossip about her poverty. After all, much of the money spent by the crown came from their taxes. Their complaints flared as she entered London. Some even tore down the display of royal arms crossing imperial arms, a symbol of Richard and Anne’s union.

            In spite of this, the wedding took place on January 20, 1382 at Westminster Abbey and the coronation of Anne two days later.

            As it turned out, Richard and Anne really loved each other. With time, even the English people came to appreciate her. She was described as intelligent, pious, and gentle. Richard had the palace at Eltham remodeled for her, and rarely allowed her to leave his side.

            The people had a harder time accepting her and her large Bohemian entourage, especially since Richard was very generous with them. His building projects in Anne’s honor were legendary, and their married life was described as one of elegance and luxury. Apparently, both Richard and Anne were passionate about fine clothing, and introduced new trends, including long and pointed shoes for women.

            What won the people’s hearts, however, was Anne’s role of advocate and mediator.

            Her first intervention was in 1381, when she interceded with the king in behalf of the participants in the Peasants’ Revolt. In 1384, she persuaded Richard to change the punishment of  John Northampton, Lord Mayor of London, from execution to lifelong imprisonment. Her most famous intercession, however, was on behalf of the citizens of London in 1392, when the king, furious after a loan denial, arrested some city officials, revoked many of the city’s privileges and charged the city a fine of 100,000 pounds.

            Anne begged the king on her knees during a public ceremony until Richard raised her up and seated her at his side, assuring the city of his pardon. The same year, the grateful Londoners responded by gracing the royal couple with extravagant Christmas gifts: a camel for Richard and a pelican (symbol of maternity) for Anne. Anne, however never had children, as much as she pined for them.

            Some of Anne’s entourage has been given credit for introducing the style of shoes having long pointed toes which had to be held up with chained garters that wrapped around the knees. The Queen brought other Bohemian fashions to England including the ladies side saddle and a jaunty form of cap. The Bohemians also had influence in England on art and illuminated manuscripts.

Anne’s Convictions

            The days of Anne’s life were troubling times for the church. In 1377, when Anne was eleven, Pope Gregory XVI ended a seventy-year residence of the papacy in Avignon, France, which had caused a general mood of shock and complaint from those who interpreted it as a subservience to the French crown.

            The move back to Rome, however, didn’t put an end to troubles, as the cardinals were divided in their choice of a new pope. Their final choice, Urban VI, proved to be so domineering that a group of cardinals declared the election null because it was done under duress. After moving back to Avignon, they elected a different man, Clement VII. Europe was split down the middle.

            Even apart from these events, discontent with the papacy had been brewing for some time. In England, one of the most radical voices of protest, John Wyclif, had barely escaped papal condemnation thanks to the protection and support of members of the royal court, including Joan of Kent, Richard’s mother, who interceded for him as a 1378 trial.

            Most likely, Anne was well aware of this tense situation before she came to England. She had grown under the care of her elder step-brother Wenceslaus IV. Unlike their father Charles, who was an avid collector of relics, Wenceslaus shunned superstitions and welcomed new ideas. He was for some time a supporter of Wyclif and of Bohemian Reformers such as Jan Hus. His wife Zofie, who enjoyed Hus’s sermons, interceded on his behalf when the pope tried to forbid him from preaching. Anne’s education was shaped in that environment.

            Traditionally, women in Bohemia had been avid readers, and Anne’s father, Charles IV, had done much to promote the translation of important works into both Czech (Bohemian) and German. According to contemporary sources, Anne arrived in England with copies of the New Testament in Latin, Czech and German. There have also been claims that she owned a copy of all four Gospels in English. This was not an unusual situation. A few years later, her sister Margaret traveled with a Latin, German, and Polish Psalter as she went off to marry the King of Poland.

            Anne’s books, which might have passed relatively unobserved in other cases, caught the attention of Wyclif, who used them as justification of his production of an English Bible. “For it is possible that the noble Queen of England, sister of the Emperor, had the Gospel in three languages: Bohemian, German, and Latin,” he said, “and to call her a heretic for this reason would be diabolical pride.”[1]

            Wycliffe’s endeavor to produce an English Bible was considered heretical by church officials, who feared that untrained minds would misunderstand its teachings and cause further problems in the church.

Anne’s Death and Legacy

            Anne died on June 7, 1394, most likely of the plague. Richard was so distraught by her early death that he had the palace torn down and destroyed. He vowed that for an entire year he would enter no building except a church where he had spent time with Anne. He also delayed her funeral for two months so he could plan a magnificent ceremony, and built a magnificent tomb in Westminster where there are still effigies of Anne and Richard with their hands clasped.

            While her life is mostly remembered as a bitter-sweet love story, Anne, as other female rulers of her day, had a great influence on European thought. For example, she arrived in England not only with books, but with a team of Bohemian illustrators who left a strong influence on English art. Conversely, her presence in England encouraged a reverse cultural exchange, hastening the spread of Wyclif’s writings in Bohemia.

            As centuries went by, Anne’s role has often been debated, swinging from a quiet and meek wife to a fierce promoter of Wyclif’s works. As it is often the case with medieval women, we know little about her life and thought, but it’s safe to say that she was a typical exponent of the cultured ladies of her day who were able to read Scriptures and participate in the religious debates of their times.

            Since their involvement in politics was usually less engrossing than their husbands’, they could back the causes they found truthful by protecting and supporting the men who led them. Those who, like Anne, left their countries behind to marry noblemen in other lands were also able to share their culture, habits, and causes with other nations, fostering the spread of new ideas and practices.

            If all this seems too ordinary, it’s important to remember that the Reformation was not the sudden product of the blow of a hammer on a church door. It was brewing for a long time and usually proceeded in small steps, often taken by lesser-known women.

 


[1] John Wycilf, Polemical Works in Latin, vol. 1, ed. by Rudolf Buddesieg, Wyclif Society by Trubner & Co., London, 1883, p. 168 (my translation)

 



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Place for Truth is a voice of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Place for Truth and the mission of the Alliance.