Monday, December 11, 2017

Semper reformanda

Although there are now many variants on the phrase semper reformanda, at the core of them all lies (in the 21st century) the formulation ecclesia reformata semper reformanda"The church reformed [and/but/because] always to be reformed," i.e. perpetually in need of further reformation.  (It should be noted that one might say exactly this of the Christian university (Universitas) as well.)  It was not used by the 16th-century Protestant Reformers, who thought the requisite degree of reformation achievable, and even—as did Calvin, who was followed in this by Jerome Zanchi (1516-1590), André Rivet (1572-1651), François Turretin (1623-1687), and Peter von Mastricht (1630-1709)—urged their successors not to introduce any further innovations (Busch, 298; van Lieburg is rightly more cautious, but cites no specifics:  "The conviction that the church had continually to examine and purify itself in doctrine and practice cannot be denied to great reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin" (44, italics mine)).  Indeed, "The 'reformanda' is in Zanchi and Turretin to be understood of Papism" exclusively, and "not the Reformed Church", such that Peter von Mastricht could speak of a two-fold theology:  "reformanda or papal, & reformata by Zwingli, Luther, and others" (Mahlmann (2010), 405n130 and especially 424n224).
The origin of the idea of, and indeed even the explicit contrast between a church reformata and yet reformanda as applied to the reformed (reformata) churches (according to Mahlmann "a hitherto unheard of claim", a "break with the tradition [that extended clear] back to Calvin" (424 and 424n224)) was until quite recently thought to lie in the late-17th-century Dutch proto-Pietists of the Nadere Reformatie ("further Reformation"), and in particular Jodocus van Lodenstein ("Such a person of understanding would not have called the Reformed Church reformata, or reformed, but reformanda, or being reformed" (Lodenstein in 1678 (not 1674), as quoted at Busch, 286, and Mahlmann (2010), 387 and 387n24, 424)), where it apparently still does represent a reversal of "the dynamic [established by Jerome Zanchius, 'The only sixteenth-century theologian . . . to use the two participles . . . in a single context to speak of the problem of reformation in the [supposedly already reformed] church'], so that reformanda [rather than the 16th-century's relatively achievable reformation] became the ideal, while reformata came to represent a passive, self-satisfied complacency in the face of lax faith and morals" (Busch, 291-292).
But it does not lie there (Mahlmann (2010), 435).  In his groundbreaking article of 2010, already much referenced above, Theodor Mahlmann pushed it—the concept, that is—nearly a century further back, as far as a Reformed 1595 hypothetically, but to a Lutheran 1610 for sure.  Here I list only the relevant Latin (rather than the many vernacular) highlights, though the treatment given this by Mahlmann is nothing if not astonishingly fulsome:
  • 1595 (Bremen)/1596 (Anhalt)/Marburg (1605)/Brandenburg (1613)/Bohemia (1618-1620):  Mahlmann hypothesizes, short of the documentary evidence he is so exceptionally good at uncovering, that the abortive attempt at a "Calvinization" ("Calvinisierung") of these areas is the background against which Friedrich Balduin was writing in 1610 (Mahlmann, 441-442).
  • 1610:  Friedrich Balduin of Wittenberg, on Mal 1:1, the ultimate source of the very nearly identical Latin claim in Johann Schmidt (1719):  "semper in Ecclesia opus esse Reformatione, quia semper occurrunt corruptelæ morum & doctrinæ" (Mahlmann, 438 ff.; in Schmidt it was est).
  • 1629-1637:  Sweder Schele of the Castle Welbergen:  "In omni facultate et ordine semper reformandum est, hos est ad principia redeundum, in Ecclesia ad Principium verbi Dei divinæ veritatis, in Politia ad ius[,] . . . et . . . in domo ad bonum ordinem domesticum et commodum honestum rei familiaris" (Mahlmann, 434 ff.).
  • 1660:  Johannes Hoornbeecks:  "commune opus reformandae in melius ecclesiae" | "reformantium, & non tantum reformatorum, ut semper debeamus reformare, siquidem reformati esse cupimus, & nomine isto digni, quia studio" (Mahlmann, 426 ff.).  1663:  Johannes Hoornbeecks:  "Omnis reformatus, est & reformans", etc. (there is more; Mahlmann, 430 ff., on "Hoornbeecks' program of a reformation of the present Reformed churches . . . on all [of the] levels at which the Reformation of the 16th century was once directed" (430)).
  • 1678 (not 1674, as usually stated, for example by Busch):  Jocodus van Lodensteyn:  "een geleerd Man de Gereformeerde Kerke [(namely Hoornbeecks, above)] genoemt woude hebben niet Reformata of Gereformeerd maar Reformanda of te Reformeeren.  Wat een suy vere Kerek woude dat werden die altijd daar in besig was?  hoe bondig in Waarheyd, hoe heylig in Practijke" (Mahlmann, 424, where, at 424n223, Busch's quotation of this is corrected).
  • 1696:  Johann Heinrich Heidegger of Zurich:  "Ecclesia quaevis particularis purgatione & reformatione indiget | Sed duplex Ecclesiae Reformatio, ordinaria, & extraordinaria est.  Illa continue esse debet" (Mahlmann, 420 ff.).
These, the concept's rather innovative and elemental roots in the early 17th-century (or possibly even the very late 16th century) aside, as blossoming on out into
  • the 18th- and 19th-century vernacular, but into
  • Latin aphorisms in the case of Alexander Schweizer in 1847-1848 and 1863and Wilhelm Goeters in 1911 (Mahlmann (2010), 420, a summary of 411 ff.), and into the Latin aphorism that Mahlmann was still ascribing to Barth alone (Mahlmann (2010), 384 ff.) in at least Kuyper in 1892 (Mouthaan, 88) and Bauer in 1893 (Perisho),
it was in fact the 20th-century Reformed theologian Karl Barth who from 1947 greatly popularized the saying that we tend to think of as so ancient today, as amplified with the re-insertion of reformata by Peter Vogelsanger in 1952 (Mahlmann (2010), 420).
Unaware of those occurrences of "ecclesia semper reformanda" in 1892 and 1893, uncovered in 2014 and 2017 respectively (but not yet the earliest such, undoubtedly!), Mahlmann could speak of Barth's having forgotten that he had been the one to coin the phrase, and note that within a decade or so of 1947 he (Barth) was apparently asking the Catholic theologian Hans Küng—who, following Barth, had called the Catholic Church, too, an "Ecclesia reformanda" in an unpublished lecture delivered at Barth's invitation in January of 1959, and was later instrumental in getting the phrases "Ecclesia . . . semper purificanda" and "perennem reformationem" inserted into the documents of Vatican II (Mahlmann (2010), 391n43)—if he (Küng) could perchance shed any light on its presumably ancient (perhaps even, as Küng once speculated, its pre-16th-century) origins (since by that time Barth had apparently accepted that his formulation, too, was owed to ancient tradition (in the German of Mahlman (2010) at 388, "scheint Karl Barth . . . gar angenommen zu haben, diese verdanke sich alter Überlieferung").  It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that Peter Vogelsanger, editor-in-chief of the journal Reformatio, was calling it "th[at] ancient [(alt)] Reformed formula of the ecclesia semper reformanda" as early as 1961 (Mahlmann (2010), 394).
For an extensive treatment of the period after Barth (1947-2009), in which, by the way, Vogelsanger's mistake (?) was often made (for example by Pedersen as late as 2007 (Mahlmann (2010), 404)), see Mahlmann (2010), 384-404.
The medieval precedent for the very phrase does not appear to have been studied extensively (van Lieburg, 44), but Mahlmann cites a "monasteria semper reformanda" (403-404), and Mouthaan, a "semper reformari debet monasterium de hominibus eiusdem professionis, si fieri potest" attributed in 1582 to the canonist Bernard of Parma (d. 1266) (88).  To these van Lieburg adds certain "slogans of the Carthusian Order" ("numquam reformata, quia numquam reformanda (never reformed because it never needed reform) or numquam reformata, quia numquam deformata (never reformed because never deformed)"), and the late medieval goal of a "reformatio in capite et in membris (reformation in head and members)" (van Lieburg, 43).
For the patristic concept of reform in general, see (for starters) the undoubtedly somewhat dated classic by Ladner, below.
Busch, at least, claims to be unaware "of any evidence that a reformanda saying served as a motto or slogan for a person, movement, or institution before 1983, when one appeared on the interim seal of the newly created Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" (289, italics mine, and quoted without any criticism at Mahlmann (2010), 391n44).
A Select Bibliography on the History:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Do pagans dream of the Cath'lic deep?

Emmanuel College, Cambridge
"Nobody in the West can be wholly non-Christian. We cannot help continuing to be influenced by the old dreams, as for example Marxists, anarchists, utopians, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, and Jürgen Habermas were when they all continued to pursue some version of the old biblical vision of a fully reconciled, free and open future society, the messianic Kingdom here on this earth. Whether or not you personally think of yourself as being a Christian does not very much affect the extent to which Christianity goes on influencing your hopes and your dreams. . . . You may call yourself a non-Christian, but the dreams you dream are still Christian dreams, and you continue to be part of the history of Christianity. That’s your fate. You may consider yourself secular, but the modern Western secular world is itself a Christian creation."

     Don Cupitt, The meaning of the West:  an apologia for secular Christianity (London:  SCM Press, 2008), 66-67.  I was put onto this by Matthew Rose, "Our secular theodicy," First things no. 278 (December 2017):  41 (37-42).  Cupitt, I gather, would say that secular Christians such as himself are, however, the true heirs of the Christian tradition.

Be a vessel, not a channel, a lake without an outlet

William Pye, Cathedral font, Salibury.
"The man who is wise . . . will see his life as more like a reservoir [(concham)] than a canal [(canalem)].  The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow [(quod superabundat)] without loss to itself.  He knows that a curse is on the man who allows his own property to degenerate. . . . Today there are many in the Church who acts like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare.  So urgent is the charity of those through whom streams of heavenly doctrine flow to us, that they want to pour it forth before they have been filled; they are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves."

". . . si sapis, concham te exhibebis, et non canalem.  Hic siquidem pene simul et recipit, et refundit; illa vero donec impleatur exspectat, et sic quod superabundat sine suo damno communicat, sciens maledictum qui partem suam facit deteriorem. . . . Verum canales hodie in Ecclesia multos habemus, conchas vero perpaucas.  Tantae caritatis sunt per quos nobis fluenta caelestia manant, ut ante effundere quam infundi velint, loqui quam audire paratiores, et prompti docere quod non didicerunt, et aliis praeesse gestientes, qui seipsos regere nesciunt."

     Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon on the Song of songs 18.3 (1135/1136), trans. Walsh & Edmonds.  SC 431, 90, 92; Sämtliche Werke lateinisch/deutsch 5, 104.  I was put onto this by Jeff Van Duzer.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Cantemus Alleluia

Samoan firefighters singing an Alleluia
as they come off of the fireline,
Helena Fire, Trinity County, CA,
September 2017.
"[1. . . .] Let us sing alleluia here on earth, while we still live in anxiety [(solliciti)], so that we may sing it one day in heaven in full security [(securi)]. Why do we now live in anxiety? Can you expect me not to feel anxious [(sollicitus)] when I read: Is not man’s life on earth a time of trial? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when the words still ring in my ears: Watch and pray that you will not be put to the test? Can you expect me not to feel anxious when there are so many temptations here below that prayer itself reminds us of them, when we say: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us? Every day we make out petitions, every day we sin. Do you want me to feel secure [(securus)] when I am daily asking pardon for my sins, and requesting help in time of trial? Because of my past sins I pray: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and then, because of the perils still before me, I immediately go on to add: Lead us not into temptation. How can all be well with people who are crying out with me: Deliver us from evil? And yet, brothers, while we are still in the midst of this evil, let us sing alleluia to the good God who delivers us from evil.

"[3. . . .] Even here amidst trials and temptations let us, let all men, sing alleluia. God is faithful, says holy Scripture, and he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. So let us sing alleluia, even here on earth. Man is still a debtor, but God is faithful. Scripture does not say that he will not allow you to be tried, but that he will not allow you to be tried beyond your strength. Whatever the trial, he will see your through it safely, and so enable you to endure. You have entered upon a time of trial but you will come to no harm – God’s help will bring you through it safely. You are like a piece of pottery, shaped by instruction, fired by tribulation. When you are put into the oven therefore, keep your thoughts on the time when you will be taken out again; for God is faithful, and he will guard both your going in and your coming out.

"But in the next life, when this body of ours has become immortal and incorruptible, then all trials will be over. Your body is indeed dead, and why? Because of sin. Nevertheless, your spirit lives, because you have been justified. Are we to leave our dead bodies behind then? By no means. Listen to the words of holy Scripture: If the Spirit of him who raised Christ from the dead dwells within you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your own mortal bodies. At present your body receives its life from the soul, but then it will receive it from the Spirit.

"O the happiness of the heavenly alleluia, sung in security, in fear of no adversity [(O felix illic Alleluia! O secura! o sine adversario)]! We shall have no enemies in heaven, we shall never lose a friend. God’s praises are sung both there and here, but here they are sung by those destined to die, there, by those destined to live for ever; here they are sung in hope, there, in hope’s fulfillment; here they are sung by wayfarers, there, by those living in their own country [(Ibi laudes Deo, et hic laudes Deo: sed hic a sollicitis, ibi a securis; hic a morituris, ibi a semper victuris; hic in spe, ibi in re; hic in via, illic in patria)].

"So, then, my brothers, let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labors. You should sing as wayfarers do – sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going. What do I mean by keep going? Keep on making progress [(Modo ergo, fratres mei, cantemus, non ad delectationem quietis, sed ad solatium laboris. Quomodo solent cantare viatores; canta, sed ambula: laborem consolare cantando, pigritiam noli amare: canta, et ambula. Quid est ambula? Profice, in bono profice)]. This progress, however, must be in virtue; for there are some, the Apostle warns, whose only progress is in vice. If you make progress, you will be continuing your journey, but be sure that your progress is in virtue, true faith and right living. Sing then, but keep going [(Tu si proficis, ambulas: sed in bono profice, in recta fide profice, in bonis moribus profice: canta, et ambula).  Desire neither to wander, nor to turn back, nor to remain.  Wheel about [and head straight] for the Lord (Noli errare, noli redire, noli remanere. Conversi ad Dominum), etc.]"

     St. Augustine, Sermo 256, "De Alleluia" (Sunday, 5 May 418), secs. 1 and 3, as excerpted without ellipses in the Office of Readings for the Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Liturgy of the hours (vol. 4, pp. 608-610).  Cf. WSA III/7, trans. Hill.  PL 38, cols. 1191-1193 (1190-1193).
     Cf. the lovely The Oikos or Ikos (Ὁ Οἶκος) to the Kontakion for the Orthodox funeral service in the church.