July - Christian Community Year Devotional

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Contents

July - The Christian Church, Growth

July 1

John Wycliffe - The Morning Star of the Reformation

John Wycliffe (1320 - December 1384 AD) "The Morning Star of the Reformation"

John Wycliffe was an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher at Oxford in England, who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers were known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached anticlerical and biblically-centred reforms. The Lollard movement was a precursor to the Protestant Reformation (for this reason, Wycliffe is sometimes called "The Morning Star of the Reformation"). He was one of the earliest opponents of papal authority influencing secular power.

Wycliffe was also an early advocate for translation of the Bible into the common language. He completed his translation directly from the Vulgate into vernacular English in the year 1382, now known as Wycliffe's Bible. It is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and it is possible he translated the entire New Testament, while his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe's Bible appears to have been completed by 1384, with additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe's assistant John Purvey and others in 1388 and 1395.

Conflict with the Church

Theologically, his preaching expressed a strong belief in predestination that enabled him to declare an "invisible church of the elect", made up of those predestined to be saved, rather than in the "visible" Catholic Church.

The sharper the strife became, the more Wycliffe had recourse to his translation of Scripture as the basis of all Christian doctrinal opinion, and expressly tried to prove this to be the only norm for Christian faith. To refute his opponents, he wrote the book in which he endeavored to show that Holy Scripture contains all truth and, being from God, is the only authority. He referred to the conditions under which the condemnation of his 18 theses was brought about; and the same may be said of his books dealing with the Church, the office of king, and the power of the pope - all completed within the space of two years (1378-79 AD). To Wycliffe, the Church is the totality of those who are predestined to blessedness. It includes the Church triumphant in heaven, those in purgatory, and the Church militant or men on earth. No one who is eternally lost has part in it. There is one universal Church, and outside of it there is no salvation. Its head is Christ. No pope may say that he is the head, for he cannot say that he is elect or even a member of the Church.

It would be a mistake to assume that Wycliffe's doctrine of the Church - which made so great an impression upon famous priest Jan Hus - was occasioned by the western schism (1378-1417). The principles of the doctrine were already embodied in his De civili dominio. The contents of the book dealing with the Church are closely connected with the decision respecting the 18 theses. The attacks on Pope Gregory XI grow ever more extreme. Wycliffe's stand with respect to the ideal of poverty became continually firmer, as well as his position with regard to the temporal rule of the clergy. Closely related to this attitude was his book De officio regis, the content of which was foreshadowed in his 33 conclusions: One should be instructed with reference to the obligations in regard to the kingdom - to see how the two powers, royal [state] and ecclesiastical [church], may support each other in harmony in the body corporate of the Church. The royal power, Wycliffe taught, is consecrated through the testimony of Holy Scripture and the Fathers. Christ and the apostles rendered tribute to the emperor. It is a sin to oppose the power of the king, which is derived immediately from God. Subjects, above all the clergy, should pay him dutiful tribute. The honors which attach to temporal power hark back to the king; those which belong to precedence in the priestly office, to the priest. The king must apply his power with wisdom, his laws are to be in unison with those of God. From God laws derive their authority, including those which royalty has over the clergy. If one of the clergy neglects his office, he is a traitor to the king who calls him to answer for it. It follows from this that the king has an "evangelical" control. Those in the service of the Church must have regard for the laws of the State. In confirmation of this fundamental principle the archbishops in England make sworn submission to the king and receive their temporalities. The king is to protect his vassals against damage to their possessions; in case the clergy through their misuse of the temporalities cause injury, the king must offer protection. When the king turns over temporalities to the clergy, he places them under his jurisdiction, from which later pronouncements of the popes cannot release them. If the clergy relies on papal pronouncements, it must be subjected to obedience to the king.

At Oxford

Wycliffe was Master of Balliol College, Oxford in 1361. In this same year, he was presented by the college with the parish of Fylingham in Lincolnshire. For this he had to give up the leadership of Balliol College, though he could continue to live at Oxford. He is said to have had rooms in the buildings of The Queen's College, Oxford. As baccalaureate at the university, he busied himself with natural science and mathematics, and as master he had the right to read in philosophy. Obtaining a bachelor's degree in theology, Wycliffe pursued an avid interest in Biblical studies. His performance led Simon Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, to place him at the head of Canterbury Hall in 1365, where twelve young men were preparing for the priesthood. Islip had designed the foundation for secular clergy; but when he died in 1366, Islip's successor, Simon Langham, a man of monastic training, turned the leadership of the college over to a monk. Though Wycliffe appealed to Rome, the outcome was unfavourable to him.

Between 1372 and 1384, he became a Doctor of Divinity, making use of his right to lecture upon systematic divinity, but these lectures were not the origin of his Summa. In 1376, Wycliffe received a letter from his parents suggesting he join a different university; he declined to take their advice. In 1368 (chronology), he gave up his living at Fylingham and took over the rectory of Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire, not far from Oxford, which enabled him to retain his connection with the university. Six years later, in 1374, he received the crown living of Lutterworth in Leicestershire, which he retained until his death. He had already resigned as prebendary of Aust in Westbury-on-Trym.

Source: wiki.com

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July 2

Reformation Review

A Review of the Protestanstant Reformation

The Need for Reformation a Reforming of the Church

Throughout the existence of the Christian Church the original and true Church doctrines have at times been estranged, isolated and even removed from within the confines of Church practices and traditions.

The new replacement doctrines consisting of Greek philosophy, Gnostic heresy, cultural traditions, political pressures and even occultic practices have had such a diluting effect on the actual Christian Church that a reformation a splitting away became the only viable option.

Reformation and Counter Reformation Bibles

King James Version (1611) - Revelation 5:10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Douay-Rheims (1899) - Revelation 5:10 And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.

Modern Bibles

Modern Catholic Bible - Revelation 5:10 You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.

New International Version (NIV) - Revelation 5:10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.

English Standard Version (ESV) - Revelation 5:10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.

Note: where Christianity seeks to make us "Children of God" a Kingdom of Priest and Prophets to God. The philosophy, secularism and Gnosticism of ancient religions, as revealed in the new modern bible translations of today, seek to make "them" a kingdom and priests unto an unknown god. The difference in religions is very distinct and very real.

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July 3

The 3 Solas by Martin Luther

Theological Issues of the Reformation "The 3 Solas" by Martin Luther

The theology of the Reformers departed from the Roman Catholic Church primarily on the basis of three great principles:

• Sole authority of Scripture -- God revealed (John 12:38, Romans 1:17, Ephesians 3:5)

• Justification by faith alone -- man revealed (Deuteronomy 29:29, Luke 2:35)

• Priesthood of the believer -- interaction between the two (Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 6:19, Hebrews 10:19-22)

By Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura)

Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) was one of the watchwords of the Reformation. This doctrine maintains that Scripture, as contained in the Bible, is the only authority for the Christian in matters of faith, life and conduct. The teachings and traditions of the church are to be completely subordinate to the Scriptures. Roman Catholicism, on the other hand, holds Scripture and Tradition to be of the same inspired Deposit of Faith.

By Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Sola Fide (by faith alone) was the other watchword of the Reformation. This doctrine maintains that we are justified before God (and thus saved) by faith alone, not by anything we do, not by anything the church does for us, and not by faith plus anything else. It was also recognized by the early Reformers that Sola Fide is not rightly understood until it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of Sola Gratia, by grace alone. Hence the Reformers were calling the church back to the basic teaching of Scripture where the apostle Paul states that we are "saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God," Eph. 2:8.

Priesthood of All Believers - 'one priesthood of believers' (Sola Sacerdos)

The third great principle of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers. The Scriptures teach that believers are a "holy priesthood," 1 Pet. 2:5. All believers are priests before God through our great high priest Jesus Christ. "There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. 2:5. As believers, we all have direct access to God through Christ, there is no necessity for an earthly mediator. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox concept of the priesthood was seen as having no warrant in Scripture, viewed as a perversion and mis-application of the Old Testament Aaronic or Levitical priesthood [the O.T. having been successfully accomplished, completed and fulfilled in the bringing in and establishing of the Messiah, Jesus Christ and His N.T.] which was clearly fulfilled in Christ and done away with by the New Testament.

Source: Theopedia.com

Note: The original 3 Solas are comprised of the three necessary and distinct categories; God Revealed (One Scripture), Man Revealed (One Faith), and the interaction between the two (One Priesthood).

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July 4

The Believer's Priesthood

The Believer's Priesthood "The Royal Priesthood"

The Believer's Priesthood

All of you (Redeemed) also, as lively stones (Members of the Eternal Temple), are built up a Spiritual House (Eternal Temple), an Holy [Melchizedek] Priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Peter 2:5

The main difference between the Levitical Priesthood of the Old Testament and the Royal Priesthood of the New Testament is that the Levitical Priesthood is physical in nature while the Royal Priesthood is Spiritual in nature otherwise the two priesthoods are nearly identical in that the physical sacrifices the Levitical Priests offered up to God are actually models and types of the Spiritual sacrifices that we now offer up to God.

For if He (Jesus) were on earth, He should not be a Priest, seeing that there are priests (Levitical) that offer gifts according to the law: Who (Levitical Priests) serve unto the example and Shadow of Heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the Tabernacle: for, See, says He (God), that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount. But now has He (Jesus) obtained a more excellent [than the Levitical] Ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better [New] Covenant, which was established upon better [blood of Jesus and the Resurrection of Jesus] promises. ~ Hebrews 8:4-6

Jesus instructed that the entire teaching of the Old Testament Law and of the Prophets is not physical but is Spiritual to direct mankind into a relationship of loving God and of loving our fellow neighbor.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. ~ Matthew 22:36-40

This is now fulfilled in the Royal Law of the New Testament's Royal Priesthood.

If all of you fulfil the Royal [Melchizedek] Law according to the scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, all of you do well: ~ James 2:8
But all of you are a chosen generation, a Royal Priesthood, an Holy Nation, an exclusive people; that all of you should show forth the praises of Him (God) who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; ~ 1 Peter 2:9

Both Priesthoods require a High Priest and for the Royal Priesthood it is Jesus that is the High Priest as Jesus occupies All three offices of King, Priest and Prophet and therefore His Priesthood derives the name of "Royal" Kingly Priesthood.

But [Jesus] Christ being come [incarnate] an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect [Heavenly] Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the Holy Place (Heaven), having obtained eternal redemption for us. ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

Conclusion: The Royal Priesthood

I plead to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that all of you present your bodies a living [Melchizedek] sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. ~ Romans 12:1

Source: BasicChristian.org

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July 5

House of Medici

The Occult - House of Medici

The House of Medici [Occult Family] was a political dynasty, banking family and later royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to fund the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence - though officially they remained citizens rather than monarchs.

The Four Medici Popes

The Medici produced four Popes of the Catholic Church - Pope Leo X (1513-1521) [the Pope Martin Luther opposed], Pope Clement VII (1523-1534) [presided during the sacking of Rome (1527)], Pope Pius IV (1559-1565), and Pope Leo XI (1605); two regent queens of France-Catherine de' Medici (1547-1559) and Marie de' Medici (1600-1610); and, in 1531, the family became hereditary Dukes of Florence. In 1569, the duchy was elevated to a grand duchy after territorial expansion. They ruled the Grand Duchy of Tuscany from its inception until 1737 AD, with the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici. The grand duchy witnessed degrees of economic growth under the earlier grand dukes, but by the time of Cosimo III de' Medici, Tuscany was fiscally bankrupt.

Their wealth and influence initially derived from the textile trade guided by the guild of the Arte della Lana. Like other signore families they dominated their city's government, they were able to bring Florence under their family's power, allowing for an environment where art and humanism could flourish. They fostered and inspired the birth of the Italian Renaissance along with other families of Italy, such as the Visconti and Sforza of Milan, the Este of Ferrara, and the Gonzaga of Mantua.

The Medici Bank was one of the most prosperous and most respected institutions in Europe. There are some estimates that the Medici family were the wealthiest family in Europe for a period of time. From this base, they acquired political power initially in Florence and later in wider Italy and Europe. A notable contribution to the profession of accounting was the improvement of the general ledger system through the development of the double-entry bookkeeping system for tracking credits and debits. The Medici family were among the earliest businesses to use the system.

Source: wiki.com

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July 6

Lorenzo de' Medici

Lorenzo de' Medici the de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance

Lorenzo de' Medici (1 January 1449 - 9 April 1492) was an Italian statesman and de facto ruler of the Florentine Republic during the Italian Renaissance. Known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (Lorenzo il Magnifico) by contemporary Florentines, he was a diplomat, politician and patron of scholars, artists, and poets. He is perhaps best known for his contribution to the art world, giving large amounts of money to artists so they could create master works of art. His life coincided with the high point of the mature phase Italian Renaissance and his death coincided with the end of the Golden Age of Florence. The fragile peace he helped maintain between the various Italian states collapsed with his death. Lorenzo de' Medici is buried in the Medici Chapel in Florence.

Lorenzo's court included artists such as Piero and Antonio del Pollaiuolo, Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Michelangelo Buonarroti who were involved in the 15th-century Renaissance. Although he did not commission many works himself, he helped them secure commissions from other patrons. Michelangelo lived with Lorenzo and his family for five years, dining at the family table and participating in the discussions led by Marsilio Ficino.

Lorenzo was an artist himself, writing poetry in his native Tuscan. In his poetry he celebrates life even while-particularly in his later works-acknowledging with melancholy the fragility and instability of the human condition. Love, feasts and light dominate his verse.

Cosimo de' Medici had started the collection of books which became the Medici Library (also called the Laurentian Library) and Lorenzo expanded it. Lorenzo's agents retrieved from the East large numbers of classical works, and he employed a large workshop to copy his books and disseminate their content across Europe. He supported the development of humanism through his circle of scholarly friends including the philosophers Marsilio Ficino, Poliziano and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. They studied Greek philosophers, [published the Occult Kabbalah], and attempted to merge the ideas of Plato with Christianity.

Apart from a personal interest Lorenzo also used the Florentine scene of fine arts for his diplomatic efforts. An example includes the commission of Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, Pietro Perugino and Cosimo Rosselli to Rome in order to paint murals in the Sistine Chapel - a move that has been interpreted as sealing the alliance between Lorenzo and Pope Sixtus IV.

In 1471 Lorenzo calculated that since 1434, his family had spent some 663,000 florins (approx. 460 million USD today) for charity, buildings and taxes.

Source: wiki.com

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July 7

Kabbalah

Kabbalah - Jewish Occultism

Kabbalah (literally "receiving/tradition" also transliterated Cabala, Qabbala); different transliterations now tend to denote alternative traditions it is an esoteric [secret knowledge] method, discipline, and school of thought that originated in Judaism [by tradition with King Solomon]. A traditional Kabbalist in Judaism is called a Mekubal.

Kabbalah's definition varies according to the tradition and aims of those following it, from its religious origin as an integral part of [occult] Judaism, to its later Christian, New Age, and Occultist syncretic [one world religion] adaptations. Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings meant to explain the relationship between an unchanging, eternal, and mysterious Ein Sof (no end) and the mortal and finite universe (God's creation). While it is heavily used by some denominations, it is not a religious denomination in itself. It forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and thereby attain spiritual realisation.

Kabbalah originally developed entirely within the realm of Jewish thought, and kabbalists often use classical Jewish sources to explain and demonstrate its esoteric teachings. These teachings are held by followers in Judaism to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their formerly concealed transmitted dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

Traditional practitioners believe its earliest origins pre-date world religions, forming the primordial blueprint for Creation's philosophies, religions, sciences, arts, and political systems. Historically, Kabbalah emerged, after earlier forms of Jewish mysticism, in 12th- to 13th-century Southern France and Spain, becoming reinterpreted in the Jewish mystical renaissance of 16th-century Ottoman Palestine. It was popularised in the form of Hasidic Judaism from the 18th century onwards. 20th-century interest in Kabbalah has inspired cross-denominational Jewish renewal and contributed to wider non-Jewish contemporary spirituality, as well as engaging its flourishing emergence and historical re-emphasis through newly established academic investigation.

Source: wiki.com

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July 8

Michelangelo and the Medici

Michelangelo the Great Artist and Painter of the Famous Fresco in the Sistine Chapel

Michelangelo's father sent him to study grammar with the Humanist Francesco da Urbino in Florence as a young boy. The young artist, however, showed no interest in his schooling, preferring to copy paintings from churches and seek the company of painters. At thirteen, Michelangelo was apprenticed to the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio. When Michelangelo was only fourteen, his father persuaded Ghirlandaio to pay his apprentice as an artist, which was highly unusual at the time. When in 1489 Lorenzo de' Medici, de facto ruler of Florence, asked Ghirlandaio for his two best pupils, Ghirlandaio sent Michelangelo and Francesco Granacci. Lorenzo had taken notice of Michelangelo's unusual talent and, wishing to encourage him, proposed for Michelangelo to move into the palace and live there as his son to be educated along with the Medici children. Lorenzo even offered Michelangelo's father Lodovico a respectable position in the palace. Michelangelo was thrown into the midst of the Medici circle where he was involved with poetry, science, philosophy, and art. It was then that Michelangelo first began writing down his deepest thoughts in poetry which he continued to do for the rest of his life.

From 1490 to 1492, Michelangelo attended the Humanist academy which the Medici had founded along Neo Platonic lines. He absorbed Platonist and Neo-Platonist philosophies through his direct contact with some of the great Humanist philosophers of the Medici Court. Consequently, both Michelangelo's outlook and his art were subject to the influence of many of the most prominent philosophers and writers of the day including Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano. Michelangelo studied sculpture under Bertoldo di Giovanni. At this time Michelangelo sculpted the reliefs Madonna of the Steps (1490-1492) and Battle of the Centaurs (1491-1492). The latter was based on a theme suggested by Poliziano and was commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici.

Lorenzo de' Medici's death on April 8, 1492, brought a reversal of Michelangelo's circumstances. Michelangelo left the security of the Medici court and returned to his father's house. In the following months he carved a wooden crucifix (1493), as a gift to the prior of the Florentine church of Santo Spirito, who had permitted him some studies of anatomy on the corpses of the church's hospital. Between 1493 and 1494 he bought a block of marble for a larger than life statue of Hercules, which was sent to France and subsequently disappeared sometime around the 18th century. On January 20, 1494, after heavy snowfalls, Lorenzo's heir, Piero de Medici commissioned a snow statue, and Michelangelo again entered the court of the Medici. The Medici sixty year reign came to an end under the reign of Piero Medici. In the same year, the Medici were expelled from Florence as the result of the rise of Girolamo Savonarola. Michelangelo left the city before the end of the political upheaval, moving to Venice and then to Bologna, where he stayed for more than a year.

Towards the end of 1494, the political situation in Florence was calmer. Upon his return to Florence, he found that things in the city had greatly changed. The city, previously under threat from the French, was no longer in danger as Charles VIII had suffered defeats. Michelangelo returned to Florence but received no commissions from the new city government under Savonarola. He returned to the employment of the Medici. During the half year he spent in Florence he worked on two small statues, a child St. John the Baptist and a sleeping Cupid.

In 1527, the Florentine citizens, encouraged by the sack of Rome, threw out the Medici and restored the republic. A siege of the city ensued, and Michelangelo went to the aid of his beloved Florence by working on the city's fortifications from 1528 to 1529. The city fell in 1530, and the Medici were restored to power. Completely out of sympathy with the repressive reign of the ducal [Dukedom] Medici, Michelangelo left Florence for good in the mid-1530s, leaving assistants to complete the Medici chapel. Michelangelo left Florence for the last time at the age of sixty, leaving the Medici chapel unfinished. Michelangelo decided to settle in Rome, where he had hoped to finish Pope Julius II's tomb but was unable to do so, due to a new project that had been assigned to him by Pope Paul III. Thus Michelangelo set the tomb aside to paint a fresco in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was commissioned to do the tombs of Urbino, Lorenzo de' Medici's grandson, Giuliano, duke of Nemours and Lorenzo's third son, and popes Leo X and Clement VII, both Medici; also Lorenzo the Great. Only two were completed: Giuliano's and Lorenzo's.

Although the construction of the monument of Pope Julius did not go according to plan, it was officially unveiled in February 1545. The original design had been cut down to something small and manageable with only three sculptured done by Michelangelo. Michelangelo, at seventy years old, had set a high standard for the following artists to come. People were already attempting to sum up his accomplishments and considering his place in history. From this time on, he was known as the 'Divine Michelangelo', a living legend, the master of Renaissance. Yet old though he was, in 1547, Pope Paul III appointed him chief architect of St. Peter's Basilica, which he would work on for the rest of his life. Michelangelo died of old age, leaving the project unfinished. Though he devoted the last seventeen years of his life to this task, Michelangelo refused to accept anything. He said he did it for the good of his soul. Years later his body was brought back from Rome for interment at the Basilica di Santa Croce, fulfilling the maestro's last request to be buried in his beloved Tuscany.

Source: wiki.com

Note: there are indications that Michelangelo rejected his occult upbringing and converted to a mild form of [works based] Christianity. Before his death Michelangelo requested and later received a Christian burial along with receiving his 'last rites' sacrament from a priest.

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July 9

Pope Leo X - Occult Pope

Occult Pope - Pope Leo X granted fraudulent financial indulgences for sins and was opposed by Martin Luther's 95 Theses

Pope Leo X (11 December 1475 - 1 December 1521), born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was Pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521. The second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, ruler of the Florentine Republic, he was elevated to the cardinalate in 1489; subsequently progressing to the rank of cardinal-deacon.

Following the death of Pope Julius II, Giovanni was elected pope after securing the backing of the younger members of the Sacred College. Early on in his reign he oversaw the closing sessions of the Fifth Council of the Lateran, but failed sufficiently to implement the reforms agreed. In 1517 he led a costly war that succeeded in securing his nephew as duke of Urbino, but which damaged the papal finances. He later only narrowly escaped a plot by some cardinals to poison him.

He is probably best remembered for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica, which practice was challenged by Martin Luther's 95 Theses. He seems not to have taken seriously the array of demands for church reform that would quickly grow into the Protestant Reformation. His Papal Bull of 1520, Exsurge Domine, simply condemned Luther on a number of areas and made ongoing engagement difficult. He did, however, grant establishment to the Oratory of Divine Love.

He borrowed and spent heavily. A significant patron of the arts, upon election Leo is alleged to have said, "Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it". Under his reign, progress was made on the rebuilding of Saint Peter's Basilica and artists such as Raphael decorated the Vatican rooms. Leo also reorganised the Roman University, and promoted the study of literature, poetry and antiquities. His personal arrangements attracted contemporary comment on his possible homosexuality. He died in 1521 and is buried in Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.

Source: wiki.com

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July 10

Martin Luther

Martin Luther's posting of his "Ninety-Five Theses" on October 31, 1517 AD is considered the date of the Protestant Reformation

Martin Luther OSA [Order of Saint Augustine] (10 November 1483 - 18 February 1546) was a German monk, former Catholic priest, professor of theology and seminal figure of a reform movement in 16th century Christianity, subsequently known as the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with monetary values. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar, with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517. His refusal to retract all of his writings at the demand of Pope Leo X in 1520 and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521 resulted in his excommunication by the Pope and condemnation as an outlaw by the Emperor.

Luther taught that salvation and subsequently eternity in heaven is not earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin and subsequently eternity in Hell. His theology challenged the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God and opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians to be a holy priesthood. Those who identify with these, and all of Luther's wider teachings, are called Lutherans even though Luther insisted on Christian as the only acceptable name for individuals who professed Christ.

His translation of the Bible into the vernacular (instead of Latin) made it more accessible, which had a tremendous impact on the church and on German culture. It fostered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the writing of an English translation, the King James Bible. His hymns influenced the development of singing in churches. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage, allowing Protestant priests to marry.

In his later years, in deteriorating health, Luther became increasingly antagonistic toward Jews, writing that Jewish synagogues and homes should be destroyed, their money confiscated, and liberty curtailed. These statements and their influence on antisemitism have contributed to his controversial status. Martin Luther died unrecanted of his beliefs in 1546, while his decree of excommunication by Pope Leo X has never been rescinded.

Monastic and Academic Life

Luther dedicated himself to monastic life, devoting himself to fasting, long hours in prayer, pilgrimage, and frequent confession. He would later remark, "If anyone could have gained heaven as a monk, then I would certainly have done so." Luther described this period of his life as one of deep spiritual despair. He said, "I lost touch with Christ the Savior and Comforter, and made of him the jailer and hangman of my poor soul." Johann von Staupitz, his superior, pointed Luther's mind away from continual reflection upon his sins toward the merits of Christ. He taught that true repentance does not involve self-inflicted penances and punishments but rather a change of heart.

In 1507, he was ordained to the priesthood, and in 1508 von Staupitz, first dean of the newly founded University of Wittenberg, sent for Luther, to teach theology. He received a Bachelor's degree in Biblical studies on 9 March 1508, and another Bachelor's degree in the Sentences by Peter Lombard in 1509. On 19 October 1512, he was awarded his Doctor of Theology and, on 21 October 1512, was received into the senate of the theological faculty of the University of Wittenberg, having been called to the position of Doctor in Bible. He spent the rest of his career in this position at the University of Wittenberg.

Later Life

Luther wrote about the Jews throughout his career, though only a few of his works dealt with them directly. Luther rarely encountered Jews during his life, but his attitudes reflected a theological and cultural tradition which saw Jews as a rejected people guilty of the murder of Christ, and he lived within a local community that had expelled Jews some ninety years earlier. He considered the Jews blasphemers and liars because they rejected the divinity of Jesus, whereas Christians believed Jesus was the Messiah. But Luther believed that all human beings who set themselves against God were equally guilty. As early as 1516, he wrote that many people "are proud with marvelous stupidity when they call the Jews dogs, evildoers, or whatever they like, while they too, and equally, do not realize who or what they are in the sight of God". In 1523, Luther advised kindness toward the Jews in That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew, but only with the aim of converting them to Christianity. When his efforts at conversion failed, he grew increasingly bitter toward them.

Luther had been suffering from ill health for years, including Ménière's disease, vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, and a cataract in one eye. From 1531 to 1546, his health deteriorated further. The years of struggle with Rome, the antagonisms with and among his fellow reformers, and the scandal which ensued from the bigamy of the Philip of Hesse incident, in which Luther had played a leading role, all may have contributed. In 1536, he began to suffer from kidney and bladder stones, and arthritis, and an ear infection ruptured an ear drum. In December 1544, he began to feel the effects of angina.

His poor physical health made him short-tempered and even harsher in his writings and comments. His wife Katharina was overheard saying, "Dear husband, you are too rude," and he responded, "They are teaching me to be rude." In 1545 and 1546 Luther preached three times in the Market Church in Halle, staying with his friend Justus Jonas during Christmas.

His last sermon was delivered at Eisleben, his place of birth, on 15 February 1546, three days before his death. It was "entirely devoted to the obdurate Jews, whom it was a matter of great urgency to expel from all German territory," according to Léon Poliakov. James Mackinnon writes that it concluded with a "fiery summons to drive the Jews bag and baggage from their midst, unless they desisted from their calumny and their usury and became Christians." Luther said, "we want to practice Christian love toward them and pray that they convert," but also that they are "our public enemies ... and if they could kill us all, they would gladly do so. And so often they do." {Complete lies of unfounded, disoriented, misinformation.}

An apoplectic stroke deprived him of his speech, and he died shortly afterwards at 2:45 a.m. on 18 February 1546, aged 62, in Eisleben, the city of his birth. He was buried in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, beneath the pulpit. The funeral was held by his friends Johannes Bugenhagen and Philipp Melanchthon. A year later, troops of Luther's adversary Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor entered the town, but were ordered by Charles not to disturb the grave.

A piece of paper was later found on which Luther had written his last statement. The statement was in Latin, apart from "We are beggars," which was in German.

1. No one can understand Virgil's Bucolics unless he has been a shepherd for five years. No one can understand Virgil's Georgics, unless he has been a farmer for five years.

2. No one can understand Cicero's Letters (or so I teach), unless he has busied himself in the affairs of some prominent state for twenty years.

3. Know that no one can have indulged in the Holy Writers sufficiently, unless he has governed churches for a hundred years with the prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the Apostles. -- {Possibly a later addition} (Do not assail this divine Aeneid [Greek gods]; nay, rather prostrate revere the ground that it treads.) We are beggars: this is true.

Source: wiki.com

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July 11

Pope Clement VII - Occult Pope

Pope Clement VII - The Sacke of Rome 1527 AD

Pope Clement VII (26 May 1478 - 25 September 1534), born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was Pope from 19 November 1523 to his death in 1534.

Sack of Rome 1527 AD

The Pope's wavering politics also caused the rise of the Imperial party inside the Curia: Cardinal Pompeo Colonna's soldiers pillaged Vatican Hill and gained control of the whole of Rome in his name. The humiliated Pope promised therefore to bring the Papal States to the Imperial side again. But soon after, Colonna left the siege and went to Naples, not keeping his promises and dismissing the Cardinal from his charge. From this point on, Clement VII could do nothing but follow the fate of the French party to the end.

Soon he found himself alone in Italy too, as Alfonso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, had sided with the Imperial army, allowing the horde of Landsknechts led by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon and Georg von Frundsberg to reach Rome without harm.

Charles of Bourbon died while mounting a ladder during the short siege and his starving troops, unpaid and left without a guide, felt free to ravage Rome from 6 May 1527. The many incidents of murder, rape, and vandalism that followed ended the splendours of Renaissance Rome forever. Clement VII, who had displayed no more resolution in his military than in his political conduct, was shortly afterwards (6 June) obliged to surrender himself together with the Castel Sant'Angelo, where he had taken refuge. He agreed to pay a ransom of 400,000 ducati in exchange for his life; conditions included the cession of Parma, Piacenza, Civitavecchia, and Modena to the Holy Roman Empire. (Only the last could be occupied in fact.) At the same time, Venice took advantage of his situation to capture Cervia and Ravenna while Sigismondo Malatesta returned in Rimini.

Clement was kept as a prisoner in Castel Sant'Angelo for six months. After having bought off some Imperial officers, he escaped disguised as a peddler and took shelter in Orvieto and then in Viterbo. He came back to a depopulated and devastated Rome only in October 1528.

During his half-year imprisonment in 1527, Clement VII grew a full beard as a sign of mourning for the sack of Rome. This was a violation of Catholic canon law, which required priests to be clean-shaven; however, it had the precedent of the beard which Pope Julius II had worn for nine months in 1511-12 as a similar sign of mourning for the loss of the papal city of Bologna.

Unlike Julius II, however, Clement VII kept his beard until his death in 1534. His example in wearing a beard was followed by his successor, Paul III, and indeed by twenty-four Popes who followed him, down to Innocent XII, who died in 1700. Clement VII was thus the unintentional originator of a fashion that lasted well over a century.

Meanwhile, in Florence, Republican enemies of the Medici took advantage of the chaos to again expel the Pope's family from the city.

In June of the next year the warring parties signed the Peace of Barcelona. The Papal States regained some cities, and Charles V agreed to restore the Medici to power in Florence. In 1530, after an eleven-month siege, the Tuscan city capitulated, and Clement VII installed his illegitimate son Alessandro as duke. Subsequently the Pope followed a policy of subservience to the emperor, endeavouring on the one hand to induce him to act with severity against the Lutherans in Germany and on the other to avoid his demands for a general council.

The English Reformation

Clement's dependence on Charles V led indirectly to the break between the Kingdom of England and the Catholic Church. By the late 1520s, King Henry VIII wanted to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled. The royal couple had not produced a male heir who survived into adulthood, and Henry wanted a son to secure the Tudor dynasty. Henry claimed that this lack of a male heir was because his marriage was "blighted in the eyes of God". Catherine had been his brother's widow, and it was therefore against Biblical teachings for Henry to have married her. Indeed, a special dispensation from Pope Julius II had been needed to allow the wedding in the first place. Henry argued that this had been wrong and that his marriage had never been valid. In 1527 Henry asked Pope Clement to annul the marriage, but the Pope refused. According to canon law, the Pope cannot annul a marriage on the basis of a canonical impediment previously dispensed. Clement also feared the wrath of Catherine's nephew, Charles V, whose own troops were responsible for the episode earlier that year that included the sack of Rome. In the matter of the annulment, no progress seemed possible: the Pope seemed more afraid of Emperor Charles V than of Henry. Many people close to Henry VIII wished simply to ignore the Pope; but in October 1530 a meeting of clergy and lawyers advised that the English Parliament could not empower the Archbishop of Canterbury to act against the Pope's prohibition. In Parliament, Bishop John Fisher was the Pope's champion.

Henry was married to Anne Boleyn at some debated point between the end of 1532 and the beginning of 1533. One 16th century chronicler put the wedding service on the feast of Saint Erkenwald in Dover Castle, around 14 November, whilst others have suggested a second or perhaps sole Nuptial Mass at the Palace of Whitehall in Westminster on 25 January 1533. The name of the celebrant is unknown, although various sources suggest it was Father Rowland Lee, future Bishop of Lichfield, or Prior George Browne, future Archbishop of Dublin. The marriage was made easier by the death of Archbishop William Warham, a stalwart friend of the Pope, after which Henry persuaded Clement to appoint Father Thomas Cranmer, a friend of the Boleyn family, as his successor as Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pope granted the papal bulls necessary for Cranmer's promotion to Canterbury, as Henry had personally financed them. Cranmer was prepared to grant the annulment of the marriage to Catherine as Henry required. Anne gave birth to a daughter, the future Queen Elizabeth I, three months after her public coronation as queen in Westminster Abbey. The Pope responded to the marriage by excommunicating both Henry and Cranmer from the Catholic Church. For some time, the news was kept from the new queen, for fear it would bring about a miscarriage.

Consequently in England, in the same year, the Act of First Fruits and Tenths transferred the taxes on ecclesiastical income from the Pope to the English Crown. The Peter's Pence Act outlawed the annual payment by landowners of one penny to the Pope. This act also reiterated that England had "no superior under God, but only your Grace" and that Henry's "imperial crown" had been diminished by "the unreasonable and uncharitable usurpations and exactions" of the Pope. Ultimately Henry led the English Parliament to pass the Act of Supremacy (1534) that established the independent Church of England and breaking from the Catholic Church.

Source: wiki.com

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July 12

John Calvin

John Calvin the Father of the dubious Modern Reformed Theology

John Calvin (French: Jean Calvin, born Jehan Cauvin: 10 July 1509 - 27 May 1564) was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist (i.e. professionalism) lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530. After religious tensions provoked a violent uprising against Protestants in France, Calvin fled to Basel, Switzerland, where he published the first edition of his seminal work Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536.

In that year, Calvin was recruited by William Farel to help reform the church in Geneva. The city council resisted the implementation of Calvin's and Farel's ideas, and both men were expelled. At the invitation of Martin Bucer, Calvin proceeded to Strasbourg, where he became the minister of a church of French refugees. He continued to support the reform movement in Geneva, and was eventually invited back to lead its church.

Following his return, Calvin introduced new forms of church government and liturgy, despite the opposition of several powerful families in the city who tried to curb his authority. During this period, Michael Servetus, a Spaniard known for his heretical views, arrived in Geneva. He was denounced by Calvin and executed by the city council. Following an influx of supportive refugees and new elections to the city council, Calvin's opponents were forced out. Calvin spent his final years promoting the Reformation both in Geneva and throughout Europe.

Calvin was a tireless polemic and apologetic writer who generated much controversy. He also exchanged cordial and supportive letters with many reformers, including Philipp Melanchthon and Heinrich Bullinger. In addition to the Institutes, he wrote commentaries on most books of the Bible, as well as theological treatises and confessional documents. He regularly preached sermons throughout the week in Geneva. Calvin was influenced by the Augustinian tradition, which led him to expound the doctrine of predestination and the absolute sovereignty of God in salvation of the human soul from death and eternal damnation.

Calvin's writing and preachings provided the seeds for the branch of theology that bears his name. The Reformed, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches, which look to Calvin as the chief expositor of their beliefs, have spread throughout the world.

Opposition

Calvin encountered bitter opposition to his work in Geneva. Around 1546, the uncoordinated forces coalesced into an identifiable group whom he referred to as the libertines, but who preferred to be called either Spirituels or Patriots. According to Calvin, these were people who felt that after being liberated through grace, they were exempted from both ecclesiastical and civil law. The group consisted of wealthy, politically powerful, and interrelated families of Geneva. At the end of January 1546, Pierre Ameaux, a maker of playing cards who had already been in conflict with the Consistory, attacked Calvin by calling him a "Picard", an epithet denoting anti-French sentiment, and accused him of false doctrine. Ameaux was punished by the council and forced to make expiation by parading through the city and begging God for forgiveness. A few months later Ami Perrin, the man who had brought Calvin to Geneva, moved into open opposition. Perrin had married Françoise Favre, daughter of François Favre, a well-established Genevan merchant. Both Perrin's wife and father-in-law had previous conflicts with the Consistory. The court noted that many of Geneva's notables, including Perrin, had breached a law against dancing. Initially, Perrin ignored the court when he was summoned, but after receiving a letter from Calvin, he appeared before the Consistory.

By 1547, opposition to Calvin and other French refugee ministers had grown to constitute the majority of the syndics, the civil magistrates of Geneva. On 27 June an unsigned threatening letter in Genevan dialect was found at the pulpit of St. Pierre Cathedral where Calvin preached. Suspecting a plot against both the church and the state, the council appointed a commission to investigate. Jacques Gruet, a Genevan member of Favre's group, was arrested and incriminating evidence was found when his house was searched. Under torture, he confessed to several crimes including writing the letter left in the pulpit which threatened the church leaders. A civil court condemned Gruet to death and he was beheaded on 26 July. Calvin was not opposed to the civil court's decision.

The Spirituels and Patriots continued organizing opposition, insulting the appointed ministers, and challenging the authority of the Consistory. The council straddled both sides of the conflict, alternately admonishing and upholding Calvin. When Perrin was elected first syndic in February 1552, Calvin's authority appeared to be at its lowest point. After some losses before the council, Calvin believed he was defeated; on 24 July 1553 he asked the council to allow him to resign. Although the libertines controlled the council, his request was refused. The opposition realised that they could curb Calvin's authority, but they did not have enough power to banish him.

Source: wiki.com

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July 13

TULIP

T-U-L-I-P - The Five Points of Calvinism

Calvinism, also called the Reformed tradition or the Reformed faith, is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice of John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. Calvinists broke with the Roman Catholic Church but differed with Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper, theories of worship, and the use of God's law for believers, among other things.

Calvinism can be a misleading term because the religious tradition it denotes is and has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. The movement was first called "Calvinism" by Lutherans who opposed it, and many within the tradition would prefer to use the word Reformed. Since the Arminian controversy, the Reformed (as a branch of Protestantism distinguished from Lutheranism) are divided into Arminians and Calvinists, however it is now rare to call Arminians Reformed, as many see these two schools of thought as opposed, making the terms Calvinist and Reformed synonymous.

While the Reformed theological tradition addresses all of the traditional topics of Christian theology, the word Calvinism is sometimes used to refer to particular Calvinist views on soteriology and predestination, which are summarized in part by the five points of Calvinism. Some have also argued that Calvinism as a whole stresses the sovereignty or rule of God in all things - in salvation but also in all of life.

Early influential Reformed theologians include John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. B. Warfield, Karl Barth, and Cornelius Van Til were influential, while contemporary Reformed theologians [hoaxers and agents of disinformation] include J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul {epicenter of disinformation - inventor of the modern 5 Solas hoax}, N. T. Wright [Occultist], Timothy J. Keller [Occultist], Alister McGrath, and Michael Horton.

The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches with more than 80 million members in 211 member denominations around the World. There are more conservative Reformed federations like the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches.

Most objections to and attacks on Calvinism focus on the "five points of Calvinism," also called the doctrines of grace, and remembered by the mnemonic "TULIP." The five points are popularly said to summarize the Canons of Dort, however there is no historical relationship between them, and some scholars argue that their language distorts the meaning of the Canons, Calvin's theology, and the theology of 17th-century Calvinistic orthodoxy, particularly in the language of total depravity and limited atonement. The five points were popularized in the 1963 booklet The Five Points of Calvinism Defined, Defended, Documented by David N. Steele and Curtis C. Thomas. The origin of the five points and the acronym is uncertain, but it was used by Cleland Boyd McAfee as early as circa 1905. An early printed appearance of the T-U-L-I-P acronym is in Loraine Boettner's 1932 book, "The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination". The acronym was very cautiously if ever used by Calvinist apologists and theologians before the booklet by Steele and Thomas.

Source: wiki.com

The Five Points of Calvinism --- {TULIP Refuted}

Total depravity --- {Acts 10:1-4, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 Timothy 6:17-19} Unconditional election --- {Romans 2:10-11, Colossians 3:23-25, 1 Peter 1:16-17} Limited atonement --- {John 3:16, Romans 5:18, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:11} Irresistible grace --- {1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:12, Titus 3:4-7} Perseverance of the saints --- {John 15:6, Jude 1:12-13, Hebrews 10:39-39, 2 Peter 2:20-21}

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July 14

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli

Huldrych Zwingli - Early Reformer

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1 January 1484 - 11 October 1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. Born during a time of emerging Swiss patriotism and increasing criticism of the Swiss mercenary system, he attended the University of Vienna and the University of Basel, a scholarly centre of humanism. He continued his studies while he served as a pastor in Glarus and later in Einsiedeln, where he was influenced by the writings of Desiderius Erasmus.

In 1518, Zwingli became the pastor of the Grossmünster in Zurich where he began to preach ideas on reforming the Catholic Church. In his first public controversy in 1522, he attacked the custom of fasting during Lent. In his publications, he noted corruption in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, promoted clerical marriage, and attacked the use of images in places of worship. In 1525, Zwingli introduced a new communion liturgy to replace the Mass. Zwingli also clashed with the Anabaptists, which resulted in their persecution.

The Reformation spread to other parts of the Swiss Confederation, but several cantons resisted, preferring to remain Catholic. Zwingli formed an alliance of Reformed cantons which divided the Confederation along religious lines. In 1529, a war between the two sides was averted at the last moment. Meanwhile, Zwingli's ideas came to the attention of Martin Luther and other reformers. They met at the Marburg Colloquy and although they agreed on many points of doctrine, they could not reach an accord on the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In 1531 Zwingli's alliance applied an unsuccessful food blockade on the Catholic cantons. The cantons responded with an attack at a moment when Zurich was ill prepared. Zwingli was killed in battle at the age of 47. His legacy lives on in the confessions, liturgy, and church orders of the Reformed churches of today.

Source: wiki.com

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July 15

William Tyndale

William Tyndale translated the first English Bible from the Ancient Greek

William Tyndale translated the first English Bible from Greek notably using in part the Greek Textus Receptus of Desiderius Erasmus.

William Tyndale (1494-1536 AD) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in Protestant reform in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known for his translation of the Bible into English. He was influenced by the work of Desiderius Erasmus, who made the Greek New Testament available in Europe, and by Martin Luther. While a number of partial and incomplete translations had been made from the seventh century onward, the grass-roots spread of Wycliffe's Bible resulted in a death sentence for any unlicensed possession of Scripture in English-even though translations in all other major European languages had been accomplished and made available. Tyndale's translation was the first English Bible to draw directly from Hebrew and Greek texts, the first English one to take advantage of the printing press, and first of the new English Bibles of the Reformation. It was taken to be a direct challenge to the hegemony of both the Roman Catholic Church and English Laws to maintain church rulings. In 1530 AD, Tyndale also wrote The Practyse of Prelates, opposing Henry VIII's divorce on the grounds that it contravened Scripture.

Tyndale had to learn Hebrew in Germany due to England's active Edict of Expulsion against the Jews. He worked in an age where Greek was available to the European scholarly community for the first time in centuries. Erasmus compiled and edited Greek Scriptures into the Textus Receptus - ironically, to improve upon the Latin Vulgate-following the Renaissance-fueling Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the dispersion of Greek-speaking intellectuals and texts into a Europe which previously had access to none. Sharing Erasmus' translation ideals, Tyndale took the ill-regarded, unpopular and awkward Middle-English "vulgar" tongue, improved upon it using Greek and Hebrew syntaxes and idioms, and formed an Early Modern English basis that Shakespeare and others would later follow and build upon as Tyndale-inspired vernacular forms took over. When a copy of The Obedience of a Christian Man fell into the hands of Henry VIII, the king found the rationale to break the Church in England from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534.

In 1535 AD, Tyndale was arrested and jailed in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) outside Brussels for over a year. In 1536 he was convicted of heresy and executed by strangulation, after which his body was burnt at the stake. His dying request that the King of England's eyes would be opened seemed to find its fulfillment just two years later with Henry's authorization of The Great Bible for the Church of England-which was largely Tyndale's own work. Hence, the Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across the English-speaking world and eventually, on the global British Empire.

Notably, in 1611, the 54 independent scholars who created the King James Version, drew significantly from Tyndale, as well as translations that descended from his. One estimate suggests the New Testament in the King James Version is 83% Tyndale's, and the Old Testament 76%. With his translation of the Bible the first ever to be printed in English, and a model for subsequent English translations, in 2002, Tyndale was placed at number 26 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

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July 16

Desiderius Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus in 1516 AD, published the Greek (Textus Receptus) New Testament

Desiderius Erasmus in 1516, published his (Textus Receptus) Greek New Testament - [Note: the (Textus Receptus) was a coalition of various existing Greek Texts aligned to the newly received more ancient Greek texts from the recently fallen region of Constantinople hence the name "Textus Receptus" or simply Texts Received.

Desiderius Erasmus

Over the years, Erasmus became intimately acquainted with biblical manuscripts available throughout Europe, particularly of the New Testament. Because the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, it is evident as Erasmus began to search the Scriptures, they had a profound effect upon his life. By the time of his death, the theology of Erasmus had shifted closer to that of the Anabaptists than that of Rome. This will shortly be documented.

As noted above, in 1516, Erasmus published from Basel, Switzerland, his Greek New Testament which he called the Novum Instrumentum. In English that means the "New Instrument. Contrary to popular misconception, Erasmus had more than a handful of manuscripts at his disposal. Preserved Smith, the noted expert on the life of Erasmus, comments, "For the first edition Erasmus had before him ten manuscripts, four of which he found in England, and five at Basle. . . . The last codex was lent him by John Reuchlin . . . [and] appeared to Erasmus so old that it might have come from the Apostolic Age." He was aware of Vaticanus in the Vatican Library and had a friend by the name of Bombasius research that for him (165). He, however, rejected the characteristic variants of Codex Vaticanus which distinguishes itself from the Received Text (RT).

Source: av1611.com

Desiderius Erasmus (27 October 1466 AD - 12 July 1536 AD), known as Erasmus of Rotterdam, or simply Erasmus, was a Dutch Renaissance humanist (i.e. professionalism), Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian.

Erasmus was a classical scholar who wrote in a pure Latin style. He was a proponent of religious toleration, and enjoyed the sobriquet "Prince of the Humanists"; he has been called "the crowning glory of the Christian humanists". Using humanist techniques for working on texts, he prepared important new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament. These raised questions that would be influential in the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation. He also wrote On Free Will, The Praise of Folly, Handbook of a Christian Knight, On Civility in Children, Copia: Foundations of the Abundant Style, Julius Exclusus, and many other works.

Erasmus lived against the backdrop of the growing European religious Reformation; but while he was critical of the abuses within the Church and called for reform, he kept his distance from Luther and Melanchthon and continued to recognise the authority of the pope. Erasmus emphasized a middle way, with a deep respect for traditional faith, piety and grace, and rejected Luther's emphasis on faith alone. Erasmus therefore remained a member of the Catholic Church all his life. Erasmus remained committed to reforming the Church and its clerics' abuses from within. He also held to Catholic doctrines such as that of free will, which some Reformers rejected in favor of the doctrine of predestination. His middle road approach disappointed and even angered scholars in both camps.

Erasmus died suddenly in Basel in 1536 while preparing to return to Brabant, and was buried in the Basel Minster, the former cathedral of the city. A bronze statue of him was erected in his city of birth in 1622, replacing an earlier work in stone.

Source: wiki.com

Note: though Erasmus had about a dozen Greek NT text Manuscripts available to him after comparing the various Manuscripts and confirming their uniformity he only heavily used a couple of them to complete his Greek NT Edition the Textus Receptus - not many repetitive Texts are needed if they all say the same thing because they are supposed to say the same thing. Only a couple of reliable Manuscripts were needed in order to combine them into the Greek Textus Receptus that we have today.

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July 17

King James Version

The King James Version 1611

The King James Version (KJV), commonly known as the Authorized Version (AV) or King James Bible (KJB), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England begun in 1604 AD and completed in 1611 AD. First printed by the King's Printer Robert Barker, this was the third translation into English to be approved by the English Church authorities. The first was the Great Bible commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535 AD), and the second was the Bishops' Bible of 1568 AD. In January 1604 AD, King James VI and I convened the Hampton Court Conference where a new English version was conceived in response to the perceived problems of the earlier translations as detected by the Puritans, a faction within the Church of England.

King James gave the translators instructions intended to guarantee that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology and reflect the episcopal structure of the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew text, while the Apocrypha were translated from the Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662 AD), the text of the Authorized Version replaced the text of the Great Bible - for Epistle and Gospel readings - and as such was authorized by Act of Parliament. By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorized Version was effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and Protestant churches. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorized Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English speaking scholars. Today, the most used edition of the King James Bible, and often identified as plainly the King James Version [and even KJV 1611], especially in the United States, closely follows the standard text of 1769 AD, edited by Benjamin Blayney at Oxford.

Source: wiki.com

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July 18

Myles Coverdale

Myles Coverdale - Coverdale Bible, the first complete English Bible 1535 AD

Myles Coverdale (1488 - January 20, 1569 AD) was a 16th-century Bible translator who produced the first complete [OT and NT] printed translation of the Bible into English.

According to a plaque on the wall of York Minster he was believed to have been born in York in or about 1488. He studied at Cambridge (bachelor of canon law 1513), became priest at Norwich in 1514 and entered the convent of Austin friars at Cambridge, where Robert Barnes was Prior [Monastic superior] in 1523 and probably influenced him in favour of Reform. When Barnes was tried for heresy in 1526, Coverdale assisted in his defence and shortly afterward left the Augustinian house and fled to the Continent. Under the influence of Anglo-Italian senior clerks, Barnes would ultimately be burned at the stake in 1540 after the official passage of the Six Articles.

Legacy

His legacy was far-reaching and broad, including his English Bible of 1535. It may be an understatement to say that Erasmus, Tyndale, Coverdale, Roy and others laid the foundation for a Reformed Church of England. Further, he was involved with gentle revisions in the Great Bible, retaining much of Tyndale's original work: the entire Tyndalian New Testament, Pentateuch and historical works were essentially retained; he reworked his original work in the poets and prophets. He left his translation of the Psalter alone. His translation of the Psalter is used in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and is the most familiar translation of the psalms for many Anglicans all over the world until revisions occurred in the 1960s. The Coverdale Psalter, however, if often used in the Collegiate and Cathedral Churches. As a consequence, many musical settings of the psalms make use of the Coverdale translation. His translation of the Roman Canon is still used in some Anglican and Anglican Use Roman Catholic churches.

Coverdale is honoured, together with William Tyndale, with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on 6 October. His extensive contacts with English and Continental Reformers was integral to the Edwardean English Reformation: Robert Barnes, John Frith, Martin Luther, Philip Melancthon, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, Peter Martyr, Thomas Cranmer, and Hugh Latimer, to mention a few. Erasmus' Greek New Testament fostered proliferating vernacular Bibles on the Continent and William Tyndale, George Roy and others--at great sacrifice to themselves--joined in that revolutionary stream of activity. Miles Coverdale joined in the translation activity and that stream of Reformers that took England into the modern period with "millions of English Bibles"--a number that probably cannot be calculated. He is remembered by Christians in October.

Source: wiki.com

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July 19

Oxford Martyrs

The Oxford Martyrs of 1555 AD

The Oxford Martyrs were tried [during the reign of "Bloody Mary" the Catholic Mary I of England] for heresy [Protestantism] in 1555 AD and burnt at the stake in Oxford, England, for their religious beliefs and teachings. The three martyrs were the Anglican bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The three were tried at University Church of St Mary the Virgin, the official church of Oxford University on the High Street. The martyrs were imprisoned at the former Bocardo Prison near the still extant St Michael at the Northgate church (at the north gate of the city walls) in Cornmarket Street. The door of their cell is on display in the tower of the church.

The martyrs were burnt at the stake just outside the city walls to the north, where Broad Street is now located. Latimer and Ridley were burnt on 16 October 1555. Cranmer was burnt five months later on 21 March 1556.

A small area cobbled with stones forming a cross in the centre of the road outside the front of Balliol College marks the site. The Victorian spire-like Martyrs' Memorial, at the south end of St Giles' nearby, commemorates the events. It is claimed that the scorch marks from the flames can still be seen on the doors of Balliol College (now rehung between the Front Quadrangle and Garden Quadrangle).

Source: wiki.com

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July 20

Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, Oxford Martyr, compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer

Thomas Cranmer (2 July 1489 - 21 March 1556) was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which was one of the causes of the separation of the English Church from union with the Holy See. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of Royal Supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm.

During Cranmer's tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury, he was responsible for establishing the first doctrinal and liturgical structures of the reformed Church of England. Under Henry's rule, Cranmer did not make many radical changes in the Church, due to power struggles between religious conservatives and reformers. However, he succeeded in publishing the first officially authorised vernacular service, the Exhortation and Litany.

When Edward came to the throne, Cranmer was able to promote major reforms. He wrote and compiled the first two editions of the Book of Common Prayer, a complete liturgy for the English Church. With the assistance of several Continental reformers to whom he gave refuge, he developed new doctrinal standards in areas such as the Eucharist, clerical celibacy, the role of images in places of worship, and the veneration of saints. Cranmer promulgated the new doctrines through the Prayer Book, the Homilies and other publications.

After the accession of the Roman Catholic Mary I, Cranmer was put on trial for treason and heresy. Imprisoned for over two years and under pressure from Church authorities, he made several recantations and apparently reconciled himself with the Roman Catholic Church. However, on the day of his execution, he withdrew his recantations, to die a heretic to Roman Catholics and a martyr for the principles of the English Reformation. Cranmer's death was immortalised in John Foxe's Book of Martyrs and his legacy lives on within the Church of England through the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles, an Anglican statement of faith derived from his work.

While Cranmer was following Charles through Italy, he received a royal letter dated 1 October 1532 informing him that he had been appointed the new Archbishop of Canterbury, following the death of archbishop William Warham. Cranmer was ordered to return to England. The appointment had been secured by the family of Anne Boleyn, who was being courted by Henry. When Cranmer's promotion became known in London, it caused great surprise as Cranmer had previously held only minor positions in the Church. Cranmer left Mantua on 19 November and arrived in England at the beginning of January. Henry personally financed the papal bulls necessary for Cranmer's promotion to Canterbury. The bulls were easily acquired because the papal nuncio was under orders from Rome to please the English in an effort to prevent a final breach. The bulls arrived around 26 March 1533 and Cranmer was consecrated as archbishop on 30 March in St Stephen's Chapel. Even while they were waiting for the bulls, Cranmer continued to work on the annulment proceedings, which required greater urgency after Anne announced her pregnancy. Henry and Anne were secretly married on 24 or 25 January 1533 in the presence of a handful of witnesses. Cranmer did not learn of the marriage until a fortnight later.

It is difficult to assess how Cranmer's theological views had evolved since his Cambridge days. There is evidence that he continued to support humanism; he renewed Erasmus' pension that had previously been granted by Archbishop Warham. In June 1533, he was confronted with the difficult task of not only disciplining a reformer, but also seeing him burnt at the stake. John Frith was condemned to death for his views on the eucharist: he denied the real presence. Cranmer personally tried to persuade him to change his views without success. Although he rejected Frith's radicalism, by 1534 he clearly signalled that he had broken with Rome and that he had set a new theological course. He supported the cause of reform by gradually replacing the old guard in his ecclesiastical province with men who followed the new thinking such as Hugh Latimer. He intervened in religious disputes, supporting reformers to the disappointment of religious conservatives who desired to maintain the link with Rome

Source: wiki.com

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July 21

Book of Common Prayer

Book of Common Prayer 1549 AD - A major revision was published in 1662 AD and Later Modernized

The Book of Common Prayer is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion [Church of England], as well as by the Continuing Anglican, "Anglican realignment" and other Anglican churches. The original book, published in 1549 (Church of England 1957), in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. Prayer books, unlike books of prayers, contain the words of structured (or liturgical) services of worship. The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion and also the occasional services in full: the orders for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, 'prayers to be said with the sick' and a Funeral service. It also set out in full the "propers" (that is the parts of the service which varied week by week or, at times, daily throughout the Church's Year): the collects and the epistle and gospel readings for the Sunday Communion Service. Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were specified in tabular format as were the Psalms; and canticles, mostly biblical, that were provided to be said or sung between the readings (Careless 2003, p. 26).

The 1549 book was soon succeeded by a more reformed revision in 1552 under the same editorial hand, that of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was used only for a few months, as after Edward VI's death in 1553, his half-sister Mary I restored Roman Catholic worship. She herself died in 1558, and in 1559 Elizabeth I reintroduced the 1552 book with a few modifications to make it acceptable to more traditionally minded worshippers, notably the inclusion of the words of administration from the 1549 Communion Service alongside those of 1552 AD.

In 1604 James I ordered some further changes, the most significant of these being the addition to the Catechism of a section on the Sacraments. Following the tumultuous events leading to and including the English Civil War, another major revision was published in 1662 (Church of England 1662). That edition has remained the official prayer book of the Church of England, although in the 21st century, an alternative book called Common Worship has largely displaced the Book of Common Prayer at the main Sunday worship service of most English parish churches.

A Book of Common Prayer with local variations is used in churches inside and outside the Anglican Communion in over 50 different countries and in over 150 different languages (Careless 2003, p. 23). In many parts of the world, other books have replaced it in regular weekly worship.

Traditional English Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian prayer books have borrowed from the Book of Common Prayer and the marriage and burial rites have found their way into those of other denominations and into the English language. Like the Authorized King James Bible and the works of Shakespeare, many words and phrases from the Book of Common Prayer have entered common parlance.

Source: wiki.com

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July 22

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell - 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland

Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 - 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader and later Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Born into the middle gentry, Cromwell was relatively obscure for the first 40 years of his life. After undergoing a religious conversion in the 1630s, he became an independent puritan, taking a generally (but not completely) tolerant view towards the many Protestant sects of his period. An intensely religious man-a self-styled Puritan Moses-he fervently believed that God was guiding his victories. He was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640-49) Parliaments. He entered the English Civil War on the side of the "Roundheads" or Parliamentarians. Nicknamed "Old Ironsides", he was quickly promoted from leading a single cavalry troop to become one of the principal commanders of the New Model Army, playing an important role in the defeat of the royalist forces.

Cromwell was one of the signatories of King Charles I's death warrant in 1649, and, as a member of the Rump Parliament (1649-53), he dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England. He was selected to take command of the English campaign in Ireland in 1649-50. Cromwell's forces defeated the Confederate and Royalist coalition in Ireland and occupied the country - bringing to an end the Irish Confederate Wars. During this period a series of Penal Laws were passed against Roman Catholics (a significant minority in England and Scotland but the vast majority in Ireland), and a substantial amount of their land was confiscated. Cromwell also led a campaign against the Scottish army between 1650 and 1651.

On 20 April 1653 he dismissed the Rump Parliament by force, setting up a short-lived nominated assembly known as the Barebones Parliament, before being invited by his fellow leaders to rule as Lord Protector of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland from 16 December 1653. As a ruler he executed an aggressive and effective foreign policy. After his death from natural causes in 1658 he was buried in Westminster Abbey, but after the Royalists returned to power in 1660 they had his corpse dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell is one of the most controversial figures in the history of the British Isles, considered a regicidal dictator by historians such as David Hume, a military dictator by Winston Churchill, but a hero of liberty by Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner. In a 2002 BBC poll in Britain, Cromwell was selected as one of the ten greatest Britons of all time.

English Civil War (1642-1651)

Failure to resolve the issues before the Long Parliament led to armed conflict between Parliament and Charles I in late 1642, the beginning of the English Civil War. Before joining Parliament's forces Cromwell's only military experience was in the trained bands, the local county militia. He recruited a cavalry troop in Cambridgeshire after blocking a valuable shipment of silver plate from Cambridge colleges that was meant for the king. Cromwell and his troop then rode to, but arrived too late to take part in the indecisive Battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642. The troop was recruited to be a full regiment in the winter of 1642 and 1643, making up part of the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester. Cromwell gained experience in a number of successful actions in East Anglia in 1643, notably at the Battle of Gainsborough on 28 July. He was subsequently appointed governor of Ely and a colonel in the Eastern Association.

By the time of the Battle of Marston Moor in July 1644, Cromwell had risen to the rank of Lieutenant General of horse in Manchester's army. The success of his cavalry in breaking the ranks of the Royalist cavalry and then attacking their infantry from the rear at Marston Moor was a major factor in the Parliamentarian victory. Cromwell fought at the head of his troops in the battle and was slightly wounded in the neck, stepping away briefly to receive treatment during the battle but returning to help force the victory. After Cromwell's nephew was killed at Marston Moor he wrote a famous letter to his brother-in-law. Marston Moor secured the north of England for the Parliamentarians, but failed to end Royalist resistance. The indecisive outcome of the Second Battle of Newbury in October meant that by the end of 1644 the war still showed no signs of ending.

At the critical Battle of Naseby in June 1645, the New Model Army smashed the King's major army. Cromwell led his wing with great success at Naseby, again routing the Royalist cavalry. At the Battle of Langport on 10 July, Cromwell participated in the defeat of the last sizeable Royalist field army. Naseby and Langport effectively ended the King's hopes of victory, and the subsequent Parliamentarian campaigns involved taking the remaining fortified Royalist positions in the west of England. In October 1645, Cromwell besieged and took the wealthy and formidable Catholic fortress Basing House, later to be accused of killing 100 of its 300-man Royalist garrison after its surrender. Cromwell also took part in successful sieges at Bridgwater, Sherborne, Bristol, Devizes, and Winchester, then spent the first half of 1646 mopping up resistance in Devon and Cornwall. Charles I surrendered to the Scots on 5 May 1646, effectively ending the First English Civil War. Cromwell and Fairfax took the formal surrender of the Royalists at Oxford in June.

Second Civil War

The failure to conclude a political agreement with the king led eventually to the outbreak of the Second English Civil War in 1648, when the King tried to regain power by force of arms. Cromwell first put down a Royalist uprising in south Wales led by Rowland Laugharne, winning back Chepstow Castle on 25 May and six days later forcing the surrender of Tenby. The castle at Carmarthen was destroyed by burning. The much stronger castle at Pembroke, however, fell only after a siege of eight weeks. Cromwell dealt leniently with the ex-royalist soldiers, but less so with those who had previously been members of the parliamentary army, John Poyer eventually being executed in London after the drawing of lots.

Cromwell then marched north to deal with a pro-Royalist Scottish army (the Engagers) who had invaded England. At Preston, Cromwell, in sole command for the first time and with an army of 9,000, won a brilliant victory against an army twice as large.

During 1648, Cromwell's letters and speeches started to become heavily based on biblical imagery, many of them meditations on the meaning of particular passages. For example, after the battle of Preston, study of Psalms 17 and 105 led him to tell Parliament that "they that are implacable and will not leave troubling the land may be speedily destroyed out of the land". A letter to Oliver St John in September 1648 urged him to read Isaiah 8, in which the kingdom falls and only the godly survive. This letter suggests that it was Cromwell's faith, rather than a commitment to radical politics, coupled with Parliament's decision to engage in negotiations with the king at the Treaty of Newport, that convinced him that God had spoken against both the king and Parliament as lawful authorities. For Cromwell, the army was now God's chosen instrument. The episode shows Cromwell's firm belief in "Providentialism"-that God was actively directing the affairs of the world, through the actions of "chosen people" (whom God had "provided" for such purposes). Cromwell believed, during the Civil Wars, that he was one of these people, and he interpreted victories as indications of God's approval of his actions, and defeats as signs that God was directing him in another direction.

Death and Posthumous Execution

Cromwell is thought to have suffered from malaria and from "stone", a common term for urinary/kidney infections. In 1658 he was struck by a sudden bout of malarial fever, followed directly by illness symptomatic of a urinary or kidney complaint. A Venetian physician tracked Cromwell's final illness, saying Cromwell's personal physicians were mismanaging his health, leading to a rapid decline and death. The decline may also have been hastened by the death of one of his daughters, Elizabeth Claypole, in August. He died aged 59 at Whitehall on Friday 3 September 1658, the anniversary of his great victories at Dunbar and Worcester. The most likely cause of Cromwell's death was septicaemia following his urinary infection. He was buried with great ceremony, with an elaborate funeral based on that of James I, at Westminster Abbey, his daughter Elizabeth also being buried there.

On 30 January 1661, (the 12th anniversary of the execution of Charles I), Cromwell's body was exhumed from Westminster Abbey, and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution, as were the remains of Robert Blake, John Bradshaw and Henry Ireton. (The body of Cromwell's daughter was allowed to remain buried in the Abbey.) His disinterred body was hanged in chains at Tyburn, and then thrown into a pit, while his severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Hall until 1685.

In Westminster Abbey, the site of Cromwell's burial was marked during the 19th century by a floor stone in what is now the Air Force Chapel, reading, "THE BURIAL PLACE OF OLIVER CROMWELL 1658-1661".

Source: wiki.com

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July 23

Westminster Confession of Faith

The Westminster Confession of Faith authored in 1646 and a longer printed version in 1647 AD

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith. Drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly as part of the Westminster Standards to be a confession of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been influential within Presbyterian churches worldwide.

In 1643, the English Parliament called upon "learned, godly and judicious Divines", to meet at Westminster Abbey in order to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. Their meetings, over a period of five years, produced the confession of faith, as well as a Larger Catechism and a Shorter Catechism. For more than three centuries, various churches around the world have adopted the confession and the catechisms as their standards of doctrine, subordinate to the Bible.

The Westminster Confession of Faith was modified and adopted by Congregationalists in England in the form of the Savoy Declaration (1658). Likewise, the Baptists of England modified the Savoy Declaration to produce the Second London Baptist Confession (1689). English Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists would together (with others) come to be known as Nonconformists, because they did not conform to the Act of Uniformity (1662) establishing the Church of England as the only legally approved church, though they were in many ways united by their common confessions, built on the Westminster Confession.

Contents

The confession is a systematic exposition of Calvinist orthodoxy (which neo-orthodox scholars refer to as "scholastic Calvinism"), influenced by Puritan and covenant theology.

It includes doctrines common to most of Christendom such as the Trinity and Jesus' sacrificial death and resurrection, and it contains doctrines specific to Protestantism such as sola scriptura and sola fide. Its more controversial features include double predestination (held alongside freedom of choice), the covenant of works with Adam, the Puritan doctrine that assurance of salvation is not a necessary consequence of faith, a minimalist conception of worship, and a strict sabbatarianism.

Even more controversially, it states that the Pope is the Antichrist, that the Roman Catholic mass is a form of idolatry, that the civil magistrates have divine authority to punish heresy, and rules out marriage with non-Christians. These formulations were repudiated by several bodies which adopted the confession (for instance, the Church of Scotland, though its ministers are still free to adhere to the full confession and some do), but the confession remains part of the official doctrine of some other Presbyterian churches. For example, the Presbyterian Church of Australia holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith as its standard, subordinate to the Word of God, and read in the light of a declaratory statement.

American Presbyterian Adoption with Revisions

The first American Presbyterian ministers were New England Congregationalists, whose congregations originated with the migration from England to the Dutch colony in America as early as the 1640s, and Presbyterian immigrants from Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The first American presbytery, uniting some of these independent congregations and those of the British immigrants, was formed in 1706. This body grew large enough to form the first synod in Philadelphia in 1716. Prior to 1729, some presbyteries required candidates for the ministry to profess adherence to the Westminster Confession.

When the Synod of Philadelphia met in 1729 to adopt the Westminster Confession as the doctrinal standard, it required all ministers to declare their approval of the Westminster Confession of Faith and catechisms. At the same time, the Adopting Act allowed candidates and ministers to scruple articles within the Confession. Whether or not the article scrupled was essential or nonessential was judged by the presbytery with jurisdiction over the candidate's examination. This allowance implied a difference, within the standards themselves, between things that are essential and necessary to the Christian faith, and things that are not. This compromise left a permanent legacy to following generations of Presbyterians in America, to decide what is meant by "essential and necessary", resulting in permanent controversies over the manner in which a minister is bound to accept the document; and it has left the American versions of the Westminster Confession more amenable to the will of the church to amend it.

Source: wiki.com

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July 24

Counter-Reformation

The Catholic Counter-Reformation initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation

The Counter-Reformation (also the Catholic Revival or Catholic Reformation) was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War (1648), and was initiated in response to [undo] the Protestant Reformation.

The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of four major elements:

Ecclesiastical or structural reconfiguration Religious orders Spiritual movements Political dimensions

Such reforms included the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests in the spiritual life and the theological traditions of the Church, the reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations, and new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a personal relationship with Christ, including the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality. It also involved political activities that included the Roman Inquisition.

Policies

The Catholic Reformation was not only a political and Church policy oriented movement, but it also included major figures such as Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and Philip Neri, who added to the spirituality of the Catholic Church. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross were Spanish mystics and reformers of the Carmelite Order, whose ministry focused on interior conversion to Christ, the deepening of prayer, and commitment to God's will. Teresa was given the task of developing and writing about the way to perfection in her love and unity with Christ. Her publications, especially her autobiography The Life of Theresa of Jesus, had multiple effects. It's to be placed besides the Confessions of Augustine.

Thomas Merton called John of the Cross the greatest of all mystical theologians. An important clarification about the word "mystical" is necessary here. When one considers its definition or the nature of "mysticism," a common misunderstanding exists that if one is to become a mystic they are required to seclude themselves physically from the outside world to have this kind of experience. Although such seclusion can, indeed, be the only apostalate (vocation) to which some are called to a life of prayer, there are others who have dual apostalates. In fact, John of the Cross himself served as both confessor/spiritual director within the confines of the cloistered communities that he and Teresa of Ávila worked vigorously to establish, but he also literally helped to build a number of those convents and monasteries. It is true that Ignatius of Loyola and Francis de Sales were called to a more active spirituality or apostalate, but their vocations were not "the opposite" of Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross as this article previously indicated. Returning to Ignatius of Loyola, "to see God in all things" was a typical expression of Ignatius and a main theme of his Spiritual Exercises. The spirituality of Filippo Neri, who lived in Rome at the same time as Ignatius, was practically oriented, too, but totally opposed to the Jesuit approach. Said Filippo, "If I have a real problem, I contemplate what Ignatius would do ... and then I do the exact opposite". As a recognition of their joint contribution to the spiritual renewal within the Catholic reformation, Ignatius of Loyola, Filippo Neri, and Teresa of Ávila were canonized on the same day, March 12, 1622.

The Virgin Mary played an increasingly central role in Catholic devotions. The victory at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 was accredited to the Virgin Mary and signified the beginning of a strong resurgence of Marian devotions. During and after the Catholic Reformation, Marian piety experienced unforeseen growth with over 500 pages of mariological writings during the 17th century alone. The Jesuit Francisco Suárez was the first theologian to use the Thomist method on Marian theology. Other well-known contributors to Marian spirituality are Lawrence of Brindisi, Robert Bellarmine, and Francis of Sales.

The sacrament of penance was transformed from a social to a personal experience; that is, from a public community act to a private confession. It now took place in private in a confessional. It was a change from reconciliation with the Church to reconciliation directly with God and from emphasis on social sins of hostility to private sins called "the secret sins of the heart."

Source: wiki.com

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July 25

Guy Fawkes - The Gunpowder Plot

Guy Fawkes - The Gunpowder Plot against King James I of England (sponsorer of the KJV (AV) translation of the Bible that was named after him)

Guy Fawkes (April 13, 1570 - January 31, 1606 AD), also known as Guido Fawkes, the name he adopted while fighting for the Spanish in the Low Countries, was a member of a group of provincial English Catholics who planned the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 AD, in earlier centuries often called the Gunpowder Treason Plot or the Jesuit Treason, was a failed assassination attempt against King James I of England and VI of Scotland by a group of provincial English Catholics led by Robert Catesby.

Gunpowder Plot

In 1604 Fawkes became involved with a small group of English Catholics, led by Robert Catesby, who planned to assassinate the Protestant King James and replace him with his daughter, third in the line of succession, Princess Elizabeth. Fawkes was described by the Jesuit priest and former school friend Oswald Tesimond as "pleasant of approach and cheerful of manner, opposed to quarrels and strife ... loyal to his friends". Tesimond also claimed Fawkes was "a man highly skilled in matters of war", and that it was this mixture of piety and professionalism which endeared him to his fellow conspirators. The author Antonia Fraser describes Fawkes as "a tall, powerfully built man, with thick reddish-brown hair, a flowing moustache in the tradition of the time, and a bushy reddish-brown beard", and that he was "a man of action ... capable of intelligent argument as well as physical endurance, somewhat to the surprise of his enemies."

The first meeting of the five central conspirators took place on Sunday 20 May 1604, at an inn called the Duck and Drake, in the fashionable Strand district of London. Catesby had already proposed at an earlier meeting with Thomas Wintour and John Wright to kill the King and his government by blowing up "the Parliament House with gunpowder". Wintour, who at first objected to the plan, was convinced by Catesby to travel to the continent to seek help. Wintour met with the Constable of Castile, the exiled Welsh spy Hugh Owen, and Sir William Stanley, who said that Catesby would receive no support from Spain. Owen did, however, introduce Wintour to Fawkes, who had by then been away from England for many years, and thus was largely unknown in the country. Wintour and Fawkes were contemporaries; each was militant, and had first-hand experience of the unwillingness of the Spaniards to help. Wintour told Fawkes of their plan to "doe some whatt in Ingland if the pece with Spaine healped us nott", and thus in April 1604 the two men returned to England. Wintour's news did not surprise Catesby; despite positive noises from the Spanish authorities, he feared that "the deeds would nott answere".

One of the conspirators, Thomas Percy, was promoted in June 1604, gaining access to a house in London that belonged to John Whynniard, Keeper of the King's Wardrobe. Fawkes was installed as a caretaker and began using the pseudonym John Johnson, servant to Percy. The contemporaneous account of the prosecution (taken from Thomas Wintour's confession) claimed that the conspirators attempted to dig a tunnel from beneath Whynniard's house to Parliament, although this story may have been a government fabrication; no evidence for the existence of a tunnel was presented by the prosecution, and no trace of one has ever been found; Fawkes himself did not admit the existence of such a scheme until his fifth interrogation, but even then he could not locate the tunnel. If the story is true, however, by December 1604 the conspirators were busy tunnelling from their rented house to the House of Lords. They ceased their efforts when, during tunnelling, they heard a noise from above. Fawkes was sent out to investigate, and returned with the news that the tenant's widow was clearing out a nearby undercroft, directly beneath the House of Lords.

The plotters purchased the lease to the room, which also belonged to John Whynniard. Unused and filthy, it was considered an ideal hiding place for the gunpowder the plotters planned to store. According to Fawkes, 20 barrels of gunpowder were brought in at first, followed by 16 more on 20 July. On 28 July however, the ever-present threat of the plague delayed the opening of Parliament until Tuesday, 5 November.

Overseas

In an attempt to gain foreign support, in May 1605 Fawkes travelled overseas and informed Hugh Owen of the plotters' plan. At some point during this trip his name made its way into the files of Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, who employed a network of spies across Europe. One of these spies, Captain William Turner, may have been responsible. Although the information he provided to Salisbury usually amounted to no more than a vague pattern of invasion reports, and included nothing which regarded the Gunpowder Plot, on 21 April he told how Fawkes was to be brought by Tesimond to England. Fawkes was a well-known Flemish mercenary, and would be introduced to "Mr Catesby" and "honourable friends of the nobility and others who would have arms and horses in readiness". Turner's report did not, however, mention Fawkes's pseudonym in England, John Johnson, and did not reach Cecil until late in November, well after the plot had been discovered.

It is uncertain when Fawkes returned to England, but he was back in London by late August 1605, when he and Wintour discovered that the gunpowder stored in the undercroft had decayed. More gunpowder was brought into the room, along with firewood to conceal it. Fawkes's final role in the plot was settled during a series of meetings in October. He was to light the fuse and then escape across the Thames. Simultaneously, a revolt in the Midlands would help to ensure the capture of Princess Elizabeth. Acts of regicide were frowned upon, and Fawkes would therefore head to the continent, where he would explain to the Catholic powers his holy duty to kill the King and his retinue.

Discovery

A few of the conspirators were concerned about fellow Catholics who would be present at Parliament during the opening. On the evening of 26 October, Lord Monteagle received an anonymous letter warning him to stay away, and to "retyre youre self into yowre contee whence yow maye expect the event in safti for ... they shall receyve a terrible blowe this parleament". Despite quickly becoming aware of the letter - informed by one of Monteagle's servants - the conspirators resolved to continue with their plans, as it appeared that it "was clearly thought to be a hoax". Fawkes checked the undercroft on 30 October, and reported that nothing had been disturbed. Monteagle's suspicions had been aroused, however, and the letter was shown to King James. The King ordered Sir Thomas Knyvet to conduct a search of the cellars underneath Parliament, which he did in the early hours of 5 November. Fawkes had taken up his station late on the previous night, armed with a slow match and a watch given to him by Percy "becaus he should knowe howe the time went away". He was found leaving the cellar, shortly after midnight, and arrested. Inside, the barrels of gunpowder were discovered hidden under piles of firewood and coal.

Trial and Execution

The trial of eight of the plotters began on Monday 27 January 1606. Fawkes shared the barge from the Tower to Westminster Hall with seven of his co-conspirators. They were kept in the Star Chamber before being taken to Westminster Hall, where they were displayed on a purpose-built scaffold. The King and his close family, watching in secret, were among the spectators as the Lords Commissioners read out the list of charges. Fawkes was identified as Guido Fawkes, "otherwise called Guido Johnson". He pleaded not guilty, despite his apparent acceptance of guilt from the moment he was captured.

The outcome was never in doubt. The jury found all of the defendants guilty, and the Lord Chief Justice Sir John Popham proclaimed them guilty of high treason. The Attorney General Sir Edward Coke told the court that each of the condemned would be drawn backwards to his death, by a horse, his head near the ground. They were to be "put to death halfway between heaven and earth as unworthy of both". Their genitals would be cut off and burnt before their eyes, and their bowels and hearts removed. They would then be decapitated, and the dismembered parts of their bodies displayed so that they might become "prey for the fowls of the air". Fawkes's and Tresham's testimony regarding the Spanish treason was read aloud, as well as confessions related specifically to the Gunpowder Plot. The last piece of evidence offered was a conversation between Fawkes and Wintour, who had been kept in adjacent cells. The two men apparently thought they had been speaking in private, but their conversation was intercepted by a government spy. When the prisoners were allowed to speak, Fawkes explained his not guilty plea as ignorance of certain aspects of the indictment.

On 31 January 1606, Fawkes and three others - Thomas Wintour, Ambrose Rookwood, and Robert Keyes - were dragged (i.e. drawn) from the Tower on wattled hurdles to the Old Palace Yard at Westminster, opposite the building they had attempted to destroy. His fellow plotters were then hanged and quartered. Fawkes was the last to stand on the scaffold. He asked for forgiveness of the King and state, while keeping up his "crosses and idle ceremonies". Weakened by torture and aided by the hangman, Fawkes began to climb the ladder to the noose, but either through jumping to his death or climbing too high so the rope was incorrectly set, he managed to avoid the agony of the latter part of his execution by breaking his neck. His lifeless body was nevertheless quartered and, as was the custom, his body parts were then distributed to "the four corners of the kingdom", to be displayed as a warning to other would-be traitors

Source: wiki.com

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July 26

Ignatius of Loyola - Agent of Rome

Ignatius of Loyola a Catholic agent who founded the militant Jesuits Order (Agency) - a Secret Service/CIA version for the Roman Catholic Church

Ignatius of Loyola (October 27, 1491 - July 31, 1556) was a Spanish knight from a local Basque noble family, hermit, priest since 1537, and theologian, who founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and, on 19 April 1541, became its first Superior General. Ignatius emerged as a religious leader during the Counter-Reformation. Loyola's devotion to the Catholic Church was characterized by absolute obedience to the Pope.

Ignatius was chosen as the first Superior General of his religious order, invested with the title of Father General by the Jesuits. He sent his companions as missionaries around Europe to create schools, colleges, and seminaries. Juan de Vega, the ambassador of Charles V at Rome had met Ignatius there. Esteeming him and the Jesuits, when Vega was appointed Viceroy of Sicily he brought Jesuits with him. A Jesuit college was opened at Messina; success was marked, and its rules and methods were afterwards copied in other colleges. In 1548 Spiritual Exercises was finally printed, and he was briefly brought before the Roman Inquisition, but was released.

Ignatius wrote the Jesuit Constitutions, adopted in 1554, which created a monarchical organization and stressed absolute self-abnegation and obedience to Pope and Superiors (perinde ac [si] cadaver [essent], "[well-disciplined] like a corpse" as Ignatius put it). His main principle became the Jesuit motto: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam ("for the greater glory of God"). The Jesuits were a major factor in the Counter-Reformation. During 1553-1555, Ignatius dictated his life's story to his secretary, Father Gonçalves da Câmara. This autobiography is a valuable key for the understanding of his Spiritual Exercises. It was kept in the archives for about 150 years, until the Bollandists published the text in Acta Sanctorum. He died in Rome on July 31, 1556, as a result of the Roman Fever, a severe case of malaria that recurred in Rome, Italy, at different points in history.

Source: wiki.com

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July 27

Jesuits - Pope Francis the Occult "Black" Pope

The Jesuits Agency for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God"

The Society of Jesus (SJ) is a Christian male religious congregation of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents. Jesuits work in education (founding schools, colleges, universities and seminaries), intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes and promote social justice and ecumenical dialogue.

Ignatius of Loyola founded the society after being wounded in battle and experiencing a religious conversion. He composed the Spiritual Exercises to help others follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 1534, Ignatius and six other young men, including Francis Xavier and Peter Faber, gathered and professed vows of poverty, chastity, and later obedience, including a special vow of obedience to the Pope. Rule 13 of Ignatius's Rules for Thinking with the Church said: "That we may be altogether of the same mind and in conformity ... if [the Church] shall have defined anything to be black which to our eyes appears to be white, we ought in like manner to pronounce it to be black." Ignatius's plan of the order's organization was approved by Pope Paul III in 1540 by the bull containing the "Formula of the Institute".

Because of the military background of Ignatius and the members' willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and to live in extreme conditions where required, the opening lines of this founding document would declare that the Society of Jesus was founded for "whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God" (Spanish: "todo el que quiera militar para Dios"), "to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine." Therefore Jesuits are sometimes referred to colloquially as "God's Soldiers" or "God's Marines". The Society participated in the Counter-Reformation and later in the implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the Catholic Church.

The Society of Jesus is consecrated under the patronage of Madonna Della Strada, a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and it is led by a Superior General, currently Adolfo Nicolás.

The headquarters of the society, its General Curia, is in Rome. The historic curia of St. Ignatius is now part of the Collegio del Gesù attached to the Church of the Gesù, the Jesuit Mother Church.

Pope Francis - The Jesuit Pope aka The Black [Occult] Pope

Francis (Latin: Franciscus; Italian: Francesco; born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 17 December 1936) is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, having been elected Bishop of Rome and absolute Sovereign of the Vatican City State.

Popular mainstream media frequently portray Pope Francis either as a progressive papal reformer or with seemingly liberal, moderate values. Western news outlets often seek to portray his message with a less-doctrinal tone of papacy in hopes of extrapolating his words to convey a more merciful and tolerant message. In addition, various media outlets persist with notions that the Pontiff would officially change Catholic doctrine as part of the reform on the Roman Curia. In the news media, both faithful and non-believers often refer to a "honeymoon" phase in which the Pope has seemingly changed the tone on Catholic doctrines and initiated ecclesiastical reform in the Vatican, a position often publicly disputed and negated by Catholic priests and apologists.

Source: wiki.com

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July 28

Separatists - Pilgrims

Separatists also commonly called Pilgrims

Separatists commonly called Pilgrims established the Colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts in North America

Pilgrims (US), or Pilgrim Fathers (UK), is a name commonly applied to early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States.

Their leadership came from the religious congregations of Brownist English Dissenters who had fled the volatile political environment in England for the relative calm and tolerance of 16th-17th century Holland in the Netherlands.

Concerned with losing their cultural identity, the group later arranged with English investors to establish a new colony in North America. The colony, established in 1620, became the second successful English settlement (after the founding of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607) and later the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in what was to become the United States of America.

The Pilgrims' story of seeking religious freedom has become a central theme of the history and culture of the United States.

By this time, non-English European colonization of the Americas was also underway in New Netherland, New France, Essequibo, Colonial Brazil, Barbados, the Viceroyalty of Peru, and New Spain.

Separatists

The core of the group that would come to be known as the Pilgrims were brought together by a common belief in the ideas promoted by Richard Clyfton, a Brownist parson at All Saints' Parish Church in Babworth, near East Retford, Nottinghamshire, between 1586 and 1605. This congregation held Separatist beliefs comparable to nonconforming movements (i.e., groups not in communion with the Church of England) led by Robert Browne, John Greenwood and Henry Barrowe.

Unlike the Puritan group who maintained their membership in and allegiance to the Church of England, Separatists held that their differences with the Church of England were irreconcilable and that their worship should be organized independently of the trappings, traditions and organization of a central church. William Brewster, a former diplomatic assistant to the Netherlands, was living in the Scrooby manor house, serving as postmaster for the village and bailiff to the Archbishop of York. Having been favorably impressed by Clyfton's services, he had begun participating in Separatist services led by John Smyth in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

The Separatists had long been controversial. Under the 1559 Act of Uniformity, it was illegal not to attend official Church of England services, with a fine of one shilling (£0.05; about £16 today) for each missed Sunday and holy day. The penalties for conducting unofficial services included imprisonment and larger fines. Under the policy of this time, Barrowe and Greenwood were executed for sedition in 1593.

Mayflower Compact

With the charter for the Plymouth Council for New England incomplete by the time the colonists departed England (it would be granted while they were in transit, on November 3/November 13), they arrived without a patent; the older Wincob patent was from their abandoned dealings with the London Company. Some of the passengers, aware of the situation, suggested that without a patent in place, they were free to do as they chose upon landing and ignore the contract with the investors.

To address this issue, a brief contract, later to be known as the Mayflower Compact, was drafted promising cooperation among the settlers "for the general good of the Colony unto which we promise all due submission and obedience." It organized them into what was called a "civil Body Politick," in which issues would be decided by that key ingredient of democracy, voting. It was ratified by majority rule, with 41 adult male passengers signing for the 102 passengers, seventy-three males and twenty-nine females. There were included in the company nineteen male servants and three female servants, along with some sailors and craftsmen hired for short-term service to the colony. At this time, John Carver was chosen as the colony's first governor. It was Carver who had chartered the Mayflower, and being the most respected and affluent member of the group, his is the first signature on the Mayflower Compact. The Mayflower Compact was the seed of American democracy and has been called the world's first written constitution.

Source: wiki.com

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July 29

The Puritans

The Puritans, English Protestants who desired further reforms after the Reformation

The Puritans were a significant group of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, including, but not limited to, English Calvinists. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England.

In modern times, the word 'puritan' is often used to mean 'against pleasure'. Historically, the word was used pejoratively to characterise the Protestant group as extremists, similar to the Cathars of France and, according to Thomas Fuller in his Church History, dated back to 1564. Archbishop Matthew Parker of that time used it and "precisian" with the sense of the modern "stickler".

Puritans were blocked from changing the established church from within, and severely restricted in England by laws controlling the practice of religion. Their views, however, were transported by the emigration of congregations to the Netherlands (and later New England), and by evangelical clergy to Ireland (and later into Wales), and were spread into lay society and parts of the educational system, particularly certain colleges of the University of Cambridge. They took on distinctive views on clerical dress and in opposition to the episcopal system, particularly after the 1619 conclusions of the Synod of Dort were resisted by the English bishops. They largely adopted Sabbatarian views in the 17th century, and were influenced by millennialism.

In alliance with the growing commercial world, the parliamentary opposition to the royal prerogative, and in the late 1630s with the Scottish Presbyterians with whom they had much in common, the Puritans became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642-46). After the Restoration of 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act, almost all Puritan clergy left the Church of England, some becoming nonconformist ministers. The nature of the movement in England changed radically, although it retained its character for a much longer period in New England.

Puritans, by definition, were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation, and the Church of England's tolerance of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church. They formed, and identified with, various religious groups advocating greater "purity" of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety. Puritans adopted a Reformed theology and, in that sense, were Calvinists (as were many of their earlier opponents), but they also took note of radical views critical of Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Geneva. In church polity, some advocated for separation from all other Christians, in favour of autonomous gathered churches. These separatist and independent strands of Puritanism became prominent in the 1640s, when the supporters of a Presbyterian polity in the Westminster Assembly were unable to forge a new English national church.

Puritans and Separatists

Puritans who were not satisfied with the Reformation of the Church of England, but who remained within the Church of England advocating further reforms, are known as "non-separating Puritans". This group disagreed among themselves about how much further Reformation was necessary. Those who thought that the Church of England was so corrupt that true Christians should separate from it altogether are known as "separating Puritans" or simply "Separatists". "Puritan," in the wider sense, includes both groups.

Separatists were a group who advocated complete separation from the Church of England, but had no particular Church title. Many of the Mayflower Pilgrims were referred to only as Separatists.

John Winthrop and the other main leaders of emigration to New England in 1629 were non-separating Puritans. However, John Robinson and William Brewster, the Pilgrim leaders, were separatists. There is no current consensus among historians whether Separatists can properly be counted as Puritans.

Especially after the English Restoration of 1660, separating Puritans were called "Dissenters". The 1662 Uniformity Act caused almost all Puritan clergy to leave the Church of England. Some became nonconformist ministers. The movement in England changed radically at this time, though this change was not as immediate for Puritans in New England.

Source: wiki.com

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July 30

The Quakers

Quakers are a family of religious movements collectively known as the Religious Society of Friends

During and after the English Civil War (1642-1651) many dissenting Christian groups emerged, including the Seekers and others. A young man named George Fox was dissatisfied by the teachings of the Church of England and non-conformists. He had a revelation that there is one, even, Christ Jesus, who can speak to thy condition, and became convinced that it was possible to have a direct experience of Christ without the aid of an ordained clergy. He had a vision on Pendle Hill in Lancashire, England, in which he believed that "the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered". Following this he travelled around England, the Netherlands, and Barbados preaching and teaching them with the aim of converting them to his faith. The central theme of his Gospel message was that Christ has come to teach his people himself. His followers considered themselves to be the restoration of the true Christian church, after centuries of apostasy in the churches in England.

In 1650, George Fox was brought before magistrates, Gervase Bennet and Nathaniel Barton, on a charge of religious blasphemy. According to George Fox's autobiography, Bennet "was the first person that called us Quakers, because I bade them tremble at the word of the Lord". It is thought that George Fox was referring to Isaiah 66:2 or Ezra 9:4. Thus, the name Quaker began as a way of ridiculing George Fox's admonition, but became widely accepted and is used by some Quakers. Quakers also described themselves using terms such as true Christianity, Saints, Children of the Light, and Friends of the Truth, reflecting terms used in the New Testament by members of the early Christian church.

Quakerism gained a considerable following in England and Wales, and the numbers increased to a peak of 60,000 in England and Wales by 1680 (1.15% of the population of England and Wales). However the dominant discourse of Protestantism viewed the Quakers as a blasphemous challenge to social and political order, leading to official persecution in England and Wales under the Quaker Act 1662 and the Conventicle Act 1664. This was relaxed after the Declaration of Indulgence (1687-1688) and stopped under the Act of Toleration 1689.

One modern view of Quakerism at this time was that the relationship with Christ was encouraged through spiritualization of human relations, and "the redefinition of the Quakers as a holy tribe, "the family and household of God". Together with Margaret Fell, the wife of Thomas Fell, who was the vice-chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a pre-eminent judge, Fox developed new conceptions of family and community that emphasized "holy conversation": speech and behavior that reflected piety, faith, and love. With the restructuring of the family and household came new roles for women; Fox and Fell viewed the Quaker mother as essential to developing "holy conversation" in her children and husband. Quaker women were also responsible for the spirituality of the larger community, coming together in "meetings" which regulated marriage and domestic behavior.

Quakers (or Friends, as they refer to themselves) are members of a family of religious movements collectively known as the Religious Society of Friends. The central unifying doctrine of these movements is the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine derived from a verse in the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:9. Most (but not all) Friends view themselves as members of a Christian denomination. They include those with evangelical, holiness, liberal, and traditional conservative Quaker understandings of Christianity.

The first Quakers, known as the Valiant Sixty, lived in mid-17th century England. The movement arose from the Legatine-Arians and other dissenting Protestant groups, breaking away from the established Church of England. These Quakers attempted to convert others to their understanding of Christianity, traveling both throughout Great Britain and overseas, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of the early Quaker ministers were women. They based their message on the religious belief that "Christ has come to teach his people himself," stressing the importance of a direct relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and a direct religious belief in the universal priesthood of all believers. They emphasized a personal and direct religious experience of Christ, acquired through both direct religious experience and the reading and studying of the Bible. Quakers focused their private life on developing behavior and speech reflecting emotional purity and the light of God.

Immigration to America

In search of economic opportunities and a more tolerant environment in which to build communities of "holy conversation," some Friends emigrated to the Northeastern region of the United States in the early 1680s.

While in some areas like New England they continued to experience persecution, they were able to establish thriving communities in the Delaware Valley. The only two colonies that tolerated Quakers in this time period were Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, where Quakers established themselves politically. In Rhode Island, 36 governors in the first 100 years were Quakers. Pennsylvania was established by affluent Quaker William Penn in 1682, and as an American state run under Quaker principles.

Today, around 89% of Friends worldwide practice programmed worship - that is, worship with singing and a prepared message from the Bible, often coordinated by a pastor. Around 11% of Friends practice waiting worship (also known as unprogrammed worship) - that is worship where the order of service is not planned in advance, which is predominantly silent, and which may include unprepared vocal ministry from anyone present, so long as it is credible to those assembled that the speaker is moved to speak by God. Some meetings of both styles have Recorded Ministers [i.e. satellite churches] in their meetings - these are Friends who have been recognised for their gift of vocal ministry.

Source: wiki.com

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July 31

The Mennonites

The Mennonites are Church Communities formed from Anabaptist Denominations

The Mennonites are a Christian group based around the church communities of Anabaptist denominations named after Menno Simons (1496-1561) of Friesland (at that time, a part of the Holy Roman Empire). Through his writings, Simons articulated and formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders. The teachings of the Mennonites were founded on their belief in both the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, which they held to with great conviction despite persecution by the various Roman Catholic and Protestant states. Rather than fight, the majority survived by fleeing to neighboring states where ruling families were tolerant of their radical belief in believer's baptism. Over the years, Mennonites have become known as one of the historic peace churches because of their commitment to pacifism.

In contemporary society, Mennonites either are described only as a religious denomination with members of different ethnic origins or as both an ethnic group and a religious denomination. There is controversy among Mennonites about this issue, with some insisting that they are simply a religious group while others argue that they form a distinct ethnic group. Some historians and sociologists treat Mennonites as an ethno-religious group, while other historians challenge that perception.

There are about 1.7 million Mennonites worldwide as of 2012. Mennonite congregations worldwide embody the full scope of Mennonite practice from "plain people" to those who are indistinguishable in dress and appearance from the general population. The largest populations of Mennonites are in India, Ethiopia, Canada, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States, but Mennonites can also be found in tight-knit communities in at least 82 countries on six continents or scattered amongst the populace of those countries. There are German Mennonite colonies in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, and Paraguay, who are mostly descendants of Mennonites from eastern Europe. A small Mennonite congregation continues in the Netherlands where Simons was born.

The Mennonite Disaster Service, based in North America, provides both immediate and long-term responses to hurricanes, floods, and other disasters. The Mennonite Central Committee provides disaster relief around the world alongside their long-term international development programs. Other programs offer a variety of relief efforts and services throughout the world.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, some Mennonite groups have become more actively involved with peace and social justice issues, helping to found Christian Peacemaker Teams and Mennonite Conciliation Service.

Fragmentation and Variation

During the 16th century, the Mennonites and other Anabaptists were relentlessly persecuted. This period of persecution has had a significant impact on Mennonite identity. Martyrs Mirror, published in 1660, documents much of the persecution of Anabaptists and their predecessors. Today, the book is still the most important book besides the Bible for many Mennonites and Amish, in particular for the Swiss-South German branch of the Mennonites. Persecution was still going on until 1710 in various parts of Switzerland.

Disagreements within the church over the years led to other splits; sometimes the reasons were theological, sometimes practical, sometimes geographical. For instance, near the beginning of the 20th century, some members in the Amish church wanted to begin having Sunday Schools and participate in progressive Protestant-style para-church evangelism. Unable to persuade the rest of the Amish, they separated and formed a number of separate groups including the Conservative Mennonite Conference. Mennonites in Canada and other countries typically have independent denominations because of the practical considerations of distance and, in some cases, language. Many times these divisions took place along family lines, with each extended family supporting their own branch.

The first recorded account of this group is in a written order by Countess Anne, who ruled a small province in central Europe. The presence of some small groups of violent Anabaptists was causing political and religious turmoil in her state, so she decreed that all Anabaptists were to be driven out. The order made an exception for the non-violent branch known at that time as the Menists.

Political rulers often admitted the Menists or Mennonites into their states because they were honest, hardworking and peaceful. When their practices upset the powerful state churches, princes would renege on exemptions for military service, or a new monarch would take power, and the Mennonites would be forced to flee again, usually leaving everything but their families behind. Often, another monarch in another state would grant them welcome, at least for a while.

While Mennonites in Colonial America were enjoying considerable religious freedom, their counterparts in Europe continued to struggle with persecution and temporary refuge under certain ruling monarchs. They were sometimes invited to settle in areas of poor soil that no one else could farm. By contrast, in The Netherlands the Mennonites (nl: Doopsgezinden) enjoyed a relatively high degree of tolerance. The Mennonites often farmed and reclaimed land in exchange for exemption from mandatory military service. However, once the land was arable again, this arrangement would often change, and the persecution would begin again. Because the land still needed to be tended, the ruler would not drive out the Mennonites but would pass laws to force them to stay, while at the same time severely limiting their freedom. Mennonites had to build their churches facing onto back streets or alleys, and they were forbidden from announcing the beginning of services with the sound of a bell.

In addition, high taxes were enacted in exchange for both continuing the military service exemption, and to keep the states' best farmers from leaving. In some cases, the entire congregation would give up their belongings to pay the tax to be allowed to leave. If a member or family could not afford the tax, it was often paid by others in the group.

A strong emphasis on "community" was developed under these circumstances. It continues to be typical of Mennonite churches. As a result of frequently being required to give up possessions in order to retain individual freedoms, Mennonites learned to live very simply. This was reflected both in the home and at church, where their dress and their buildings were plain. The music at church, usually simple German chorales, was performed a cappella. This style of music serves as a reminder to many Mennonites of their simple lives, as well as their history as a persecuted people. Some branches of Mennonites have retained this "plain" lifestyle into modern times.

Source: wiki.com

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