The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Brief history of universlaism in the C of E

This takes the form of an imaginary (or not so imaginary) dialogue between me - Dick Whittington -and a very bright button with the curiosity of Yentil the Yeshiva boy :smiley:

Dick said

A question for all and sundry here. Who is meant to have said ‘We are not a tyrant, we would not make windows into men’s souls’? Clue - it was a woman, she was a Queen of England. And how could this be a criticism of the habits of sectarian Calvinists? (because it was). Answers on a postcard please - well a post will do. At least try to get who you think may have said it with that big clue I’ve given :smiley: much love from ‘once a teacher, always a bloody teacher’.

A very bright button said

I was thinking it was the Virgin Queen

Dick said

Well done; it was Elizabeth - or her speech writer. Her idea was that as long as you conformed to the outward practices of the Anglican Church then it was not her business to question your conscience about your opinions. Contrast this to Calvin’s Geneva - know as ‘The City of Glass’ -because everyone knew everyone else’s business and enquired into the exact nature of their neighbours beliefs.

Very bright button said

I was in an Anglican community the other day. The liturgy was all very traditional but when we got round to supper everyone had different views on everything!

Dick said

Exactly - and we share a common faith but apprehend it largely as mystery. Of course the task of theology to articulate faith rationally is noble and splendid and necessary but still theology is nourished by mystery. And the mystery of faith it will mean slightly different things to different people and slightly different things to the same person at different stages of their life. In essentials, unity; in opinions, latitude and in all things, charity. We would not make windows into men’s souls - we are not tyrants :slight_smile:

And as for Elizabeth? – well it is very hard to make a window into her soul because she kept her opinions closely guarded. However, when she became Queen one of the first acts of her new Archbishop was to abolish the article that required Anglicans to believe in eternal damnation (and Anglican Universalist ever since have seen this as the thumbs up within their tradition). I have studied this closely and concluded that it is impossible to say why this was done –there are no records of the meeting extant and all the rest is speculation.

However I can say that Elizabeth, within her Royal household, had members of the Family of Love a sect who taught the basic old universalist teaching that ‘nothing perishes in hell but self will’. – and she protected them against Calvinist persecution. It seems that it was due to her that ‘comfortable words’ were including in the prayer book reminding people of God’s great mercy to all, and that the funeral service includes the affirmation for anyone buried in an Anglican Church – which meant just about everyone then – that they will rise again in glory (Calvinists lobbied parliament to have this ‘Origenist’ service changes – without success)

When she came to power there were no reprisals against the Catholic persecutions of her sister Bloody Mary; and for fifteen years no one was killed for their faith – an incredible record at a time when Europe was convulsed in religious slaughter. After this with repeated assassination attempts on her life and rebellions by Catholic plotters, a fatwa on her from the then Pope, and planned and real invasion by Catholic Princes, her administration became paranoid and did persecute the Catholics – some of whom were terrorists and traitors, tethers who were innocent.

Elizabeth also had to please a fast growing sect of Calvinists in her realm but made life difficult for their priests by insisting that they had to wear the flowery surplice at communion and not the stark black Geneva gown as they wished (which was a bit like making American Football players dress up in pink tutus.

Elizabeth – whether a universalist or not - is a key figure in the story of Anglican universalism and was nurtured in the Christian humanism of Erasmus, the great Origen scholar

Very bright button said

Inver knew Elizabeth was so cool, She gets the thumbs up from me. Now I know all about the 42nd article being abolished under Elizabeth – the one that required Anglicans to believe in eternal damnation – but what about the Athanasian Creed? Aren’t Anglicans required to believe this by the Prayer Book?

Dick said

It was taken out of the Episcopalian prayer book when America won independence – mainly through the influence of Episcopalian Universalists. The English Church let them do their own thing graciously because they were worried that the Episcopalians might link up with English and Scottish Anglicans who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie – and the his followers the Jacobites still posed a threat in England at this date.

There is another article that says that the pronouncements of the Church Councils are always open to revisions – and this cover the damnatory clauses because since the seventeenth century Anglican scholars have known that the Athanasian creed was not written by Athanasius – and the real Athanasius was actually sympathetic to universalism.

The Athanasian creed was used in the last prosecution for blasphemy against a universalist in England in the nineteenth century– eh was found guilty but when referred to the privy council the case was thrown out. An English wit made some witty comment about this begin an instance of freeborn Englishmen defending their right to be eternally damned.

The thirty nine articles is actually a very subtle document – the different articles can be balanced against each other in different ways – this was Elizabeth’s intention – so that everyone could think that they agreed although they disagreed and could therefore live in peace.

Very bright button said

So the Episcopalians were largely responsible decline in the use of the Athanasian Creed by Anglicans?

Dick said

It was taken out of the Episcopalian prayer book when America won independence – mainly through the influence of Episcopalian Universalists. The English Church let them do their own thing graciously because they were worried that the Episcopalians might link up with English and Scottish Anglicans who supported Bonnie Prince Charlie – and the his followers the Jacobites still posed a threat in England at this date.

There is another article that says that the pronouncements of the Church Councils are always open to revisions – and this cover the damnatory clauses because since the seventeenth century Anglican scholars have known that the Athanasian creed was not written by Athanasius – and the real Athanasius was actually sympathetic to universalism.

The Athanasian creed was used in the last prosecution for blasphemy against a universalist in England in the nineteenth century– eh was found guilty but when referred to the privy council the case was thrown out. An English wit made some witty comment about this being an instance of freeborn Englishmen defending their right to be eternally damned :smiley:

The Thirty Nine Articles is actually a very subtle document – the different articles can be balanced against each other in different ways – this was Elizabeth’s intention – so that everyone could think that they agreed although they disagreed and could therefore live in peace.

Very bright button said

What is this Article that says that Church Councils can err? And can you give me a quote from Athanasius about universal salvation?

Dick said

Will get back you on this - there’s loads of derailed stuff at EU about this. The debunking of the Athanasian Creed came first - a Dutch Christian Humanist did the work (also in Anglican minor orders). IT was written at least a hundred and fifty years after Athanasius died and probably in Southern France and is written to combat heresies that weren’t around in Athanasius’ day. And it has some of the temper of St Augustine in it. It has never been accepted by the whole of the Eastern Church so it is not an ecumenical creed.

The damnatory clauses of the Athanasian creed were strongly disliked by influential Anglicans from the seventeenth century onwards - John Wesley strongly disapproved of them for example. I think the Episcopalians just had the opportunity to do what other Broad/Comprehensive Church Anglicans in England wanted to do anyway - the Anglican traditionalists in America had supported the Crown against the revolution, so didn’t have a lot of clout. The Anglican ultra conservative traditionalists in American are descended from the Anglican traditionalists of those times.

The creed is not often used in broad Church Anglicanism’s today - and some who use it omit the damnatory clauses - there is latitude in this. However, very conservative Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals still use it.

Athanasius was a universalist sympathiser who had the notion of apocatastasis underpinning his theology is looked at in detail by Illaria Ramelli (the leading authority) and Jason has summarised her argument’s at EU.

The Article about error and Church Councils is I Article 21 –

Of the authority of General Councils

‘’General councils… when they be gather together (inasmuch as they be assemblies of men, in which all may not be governed by the Spirit and the Word God) may err, even in things pertaining to God. Therefore the things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength not authority, unless it may be declared that they are taken out of holy scripture’’.

This opens up Anglicanism to the future. Note it means that even the council that formulated the Thirty Nine Articles was prone to error. This article needs to be balanced against –

Article 8

The three Creeds

‘’The three creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius Creed and that which is commonly called the Apostle’s Creed ought thoroughly to be received and believed for they are proved by most certain warrants of holy scripture’’.

Well at this time the Athanasian Creed was commonly thought to be consonant with holy writ not regarding damnation but regarding it’s doctrine of the Trinity because there was forged passage in John’s first Epistle – known as the Johannine Comma and accepted as genuine – which stated a fully developed doctrine of the Trinity. This passages is no longer included in Bibles today – everyone knows it was a medieval forgery (Erasmus was the first to cast doubts on it because it cannot to be found in any early Greek manuscripts of the NT -only in Jerome’s Latin version).

Also one of Elizabeth’s Bishops - Bishop Jewell – was aware of the murmurings about the Athanasian Creed not being genuine. A Christian Humanist scholar had published a book about it in Greek –because he was too scared to publish the same in Latin with a wider readership. Jewell had read this book – acknowledged its conclusions -but kept his mouth shut.

The Articles are only binding - in a very lose sense - to clergymen. They have never been binding upon the laity. I think if seen in their historical context none are actually necessarily offensive to a universalist (I can recommend a short book that looks at this in detail - and note the article on predestination, for example, only affirms predestination to life - but not predestination to hell).

Very bright button said –

I must give the Thirty Nine Articles another go – but I’ve always been put off by them since I come from an Anglo Catholic background. And I must find out more about Erasmus.

Dick said –

In the nineteenth century there was a movement of Anglican Anglo Catholics – known as the ‘Tractarians’ or ‘Oxford Movement’. Some of them actually converted to Catholicism in the need – like John Henry Newman – later Cardinal Newman and he’s recently been made a Catholic Saint I believe; but many remained Anglicans and their writings are still influential on Anglican Anglo Catholics. They were known as ‘Tractarians’ because they wrote and published a series of Tracts for our Times’ arguing for a more Catholic interpretation of the 39 Articles.

There had always been a more or less Catholic wing of the Church of England alongside a more or less Protestant wing. Elizabeth had even seen to it that Anglicans were allowed either to kneel or stand when receiving holy communion to include both – much to the outrage of the hard line Calvinists. She also suppressed the ‘black rubric’ from Cranmer’s prayer book which was a public cursing of the Pope. But the nineteenth century Oxford Tractarians took Anglican Catholicism to new heights – and outraged Evangelicals spoke of their high Church celebrations of the Eucharist as profanities in the temples of Juno and mars :smiley:

Indeed where I live the Parish Church of St George’s had an Oxford Movement vicar installed in the mid nineteenth century, and the evangelicals in the town rioted - with a quite serious outbreak of violence - and took themselves off up the High Street and built another Church ‘ Christ Church’ – that is still the hub of Conservative Evangelicalism in Beckenham today.

The Tractarians pushed the boat out too far – in the eyes of Evangelicals’-when they argues that Purgatory and Prayers for the dead were compatible with Anglicanism and the Thirty Nine Articles where they ‘seem’ to be forbidden. Well certainly the ‘Romish’ doctrine of Purgatory is forbidden in the articles. But IMHO the Tractarains had a fair point in saying that it was only forbidden because the doctrine had been abused by the medieval Roman Catholic Church with the sale of indulgences to enrich the Church under the guise that you could buy off God’s wrath for your loved ones, and by the novel teaching that purgatory is a less permanent hell where God punished people to satisfy his wrath rather than a place of purification.

Also although Elizabeth allowed the article that showed disapproval of prayers for the dead – she privately approved of these prayers because she wanted the first prayer book to be restored in a revised form (not Cranmer’s second prayer book – which is what actually happened). The first prayer book was written by Cranmer before the continental Reformers Martin Bucer and Peter Martyr had an influence eon him – and it included prayers for the dead. And as a sort of counter measure Elizabeth allowed a manual of personal devotional prayers for Anglicans’ – a primer – to be printed with her approval that included prayers for the dead.

If you are ever seriously thinking of becoming an Anglican – and whatever you decide is fine by me – since you have a very enquiring mind like Yentil the Yeshiva Boy :smiley: I’d recommend you first read ‘On the Thirty Nine Articles; Conversations with Tudor Christianity’ by Oliver O’Donovan. Read it and we can also discuss it if you wish.

Regarding Erasmus – well my view is that he was a secret universalist who made space for universalism but didn’t completely reveal his hand because he cared about Church unity at a time when universalism was seen as sheer madness.

Elizabeth’s tutor Roger Ascham was a Protestant Christian humanist scholar in the tradition of Erasmus. Elizabeth herself translated potions of Erasmus in English translation back into Latin when she was a teenager. She also insisted that Erasmus’s Paraphrases of the New Testament be used in all Anglican Churches alongside the very Protestant ‘The Bishops Bible – this was before the King James’s version had been made – and that all Anglican clergy who had an MA or Doctorate should have a copy of Erasmus Annotations of the New Testament in Greek (which doesn’t mention universalism explicitly but uses Origen as the chief authority on how to interpret difficult passages).

Very bright button said

I wish I had something more to say - but I must read the Articles again a.s.a.p.

Dick replied

You are a very good listener!!! -and only listen if what I write/say is interesting to you :wink: - Och I can bore for England if I’m not careful. I think the thirty nine articles mean very little to most lay Anglicans - they don’t even read them. They are an historical testimony to a noble and largely successful attempt to keep peace between warring religious parties - and the threat to the peace of the realm was always very serious. Once upon a time a new Vicar would have to read them all out when he first became incumbent in a new Church - I witnessed this in 1972 but I’m not sure this is still the case. But that was not to impose them on the parishioners - rather it was to state that in some general sense the vicar could agree with the spirit of them rather than the letter. But they would matter to you because you are naturally curious :smiley: Don’t read the Articles ‘cold’!!! :smiley:. Read the book I’ve recommended . If you like I can get a copy for you on Amazon and have it delivered to your address - its; not a big or long book or an expensive book - but its a very good book :slight_smile:

Ahem. Squee.

CRAP I DIDN’T MEAN TO SQUEE I MEANT uh… squeeeeonk. The sound Godzilla makes, sometimes, in comics. Yeah. :confused: :sunglasses:

Are you two yahoos speaking in code? “Yentl the Yeshiva Boy” and Godzilla? :laughing:
Good to hear from you Dick.

Good to hear from you too old mate - and love the new avatar :smiley: - Och well I haven’t had a chance to ask Yentil although I know they wouldn’t mind - but I’ve disguised their identity as a matter of honour. I wonder who it could be?

Almost thou persuadist me to be an Anglican once more Dick (I was one by default many years ago). Ah the Virgin Queen was one canny lady!

Indeed she was :slight_smile:

Hmmm… who could this ‘Yentl’ be…? :wink:

Awesome stuff, as usual, Dick. I’m a bit embarrassed at my lack of historical knowledge. You inspire me to know more. Elizabeth sounds like a fascinating individual. After reading your bit, I looked up reviews on the two Elizabeth films with Cate Blanchett. The first one got good reviews, and the second did not, but I’m hesitant to watch the first one because of all the sensuality and nudity that’s in it. I typically watch movies with my wife, and she would not be happy. I don’t need that stuff in my head either. Be that as it may, did you see either movie and think they were any good?

You also bring up Erasmus again, who you got me interested in after mentioning him in the McClymond threads. (Its a shame he didn’t continue to engage with you, or Ramelli or Tom Talbott.) Makes me wonder if he just blew off those responses, or was embarrassed, or just too busy, or couldn’t emotionally deal with all this contrary evidence to this super long book he’s writing). Anyways, I came upon this great article on Erasmus by Ron Dart (who is a buddy of Kevin Miller of Hellbound? fame and was in the movie I believe):

Also, do you have a source or context for your frequent salutation “In Christ our Hen”, which you’ve attributed to Erasmus? I like that a lot!

The book by Oliver O’Donovan may end up on my reading list. I’d never heard of him, but he seems to have written quite a few very interesting books. Have you read anything else by him?



Edit: just realized the last word in Ron Dart’s article is sobornost, which I promptly looked up on Wikipedia. I had always wondered what that meant!

Lovely - am busy now but will get back to you - and I have some more posts that spiral no the subject I can place here - including one on ‘Christ our Hen’ if you’d like that. And Kate is Yentil btw :smiley: Yes shame about Dr Mike - he was actually growing on me :smiley: One day I may write a proper book about this -that’s why I’m just spiralling on the subject here :slight_smile: I’m seeing a Professor for a chat soon (my ex manager and old friend) and hope for some final leads in my research about Erasmus and a few other bods; but will read your article :slight_smile: and do some further posts.

I’d love to hear more about “Christ our Hen”

Very bright button, a.k.a. ‘Yentil’ a.k.a. ‘our Kate’ said:

‘Who first said ‘In Christ our Hen?’

Dick said:

‘‘Christ our Hen’ - as we know - refers to Christ weeping over the fate of Jerusalem wishing he could cluck his children to himself like a Mother Hen and prevent the slide towards destruction.

Funnily enough one person who later made use of this image was St Anselm – the man who invented the first model of Penal Substitution (in which God’s honour is infinitely offended by our sin – because God and His hour infinite and we are not – rather than his abstract justice being infinitely offended as Calvin later taught). He had a rather confused view of the Trinity as if God was the furious, brutal and unforgiving ‘Pop’, with Christ as the ‘Mom’ Hen whose feathered skirts we could hide under from Pop’s raging. Anselm also wrote some very disturbing poetry in which Jesus is both male and female and the two aspects are in conflict. He was Archbishop of Canterbury to a brutal Norman king who oppressed his Saxon people and took infinite offence at any murmurings from them retaliating with terrible, draconian punishments.

Of course in Mother Julian Jesus is spoken of as both male and female in a symbolic way – but the two aspects are at peace and in gentle harmony because God is not ‘wroth’ with us in Julian’s reckoning. As far as I know she does not speak of ‘Christ as our Hen’.

But Erasmus does speak of the ‘Christ Hen’– he did not know Julian but he was well versed in Origen. In an exchange between he and Luther, Luther declares– ‘‘you and your peace loving Gospel – you don’t care about truth’’. But Erasmus protests in reply in ‘Complaint of Peace’- ‘’What happens to truth when men are embroiled in wars of religion…How can you say ‘Our Father’ if you plunge steel into the guts of your brother? Christ compared himself to a Hen: Christians behave like Hawks. Christ was a shepherd of sheep; Christians tear like wolves’’.

I cannot remember where, but I’ve also seen an early Quaker speak of ‘Christ our Hen’ too. The Quaker intellectuals – William Penn, Robert Barclay, and Isaac Pennington – used Erasmus to support their beliefs and practices just as the earlier Anglicans had done. And from the above quotation we can see why. Luther is fixated upon correct definitions of justification by faith alone and is prepared to go to war and kill over these. But for Erasmus the Way of Christ (which he also sometimes termed ‘The Philosophy of Christ’ – by which he meant a practical wisdom) is about living with faithful love rather than holding accurate definitions – and this is exactly what the Quakers argued and it also informs the idea of the middle way in Anglicanism.

In Christ our Hen’

Very bright button, a.k.a. ‘Yentil’ a.k.a. ‘our Kate’ said:

‘Ah, so the phrase is indirectly Quaker (very Quaker, but indirectly Quaker). That explains why I couldn’t find anything about its Quaker roots except for an article written by a certain Richard Whittington :wink:

Of course I’ve always loved the term. When I attended a Quaker Meeting, and a ‘Public Friend’ spoke about the saying, she emphasized that it pointed to a feminine nature of Christ. I think that is very true and wise, but I think there is more to the saying, pointing to a deeper truth. Christ is not just ‘motherly’, but he expects the same loving , nurturing, and caring attitude from his followers.

Speaking of hens, I must be going, because I’m supposed to make some chicken salad for supper tonight 

In Christ our Hen’

And here are some quotations from the lovely introduction to Erasmus article that Caleb has posted - which includes the Christ the Hen quotation from ‘Complaint of Peace’. All illustrate Erasmus point about Christ as or Hen - Thanks Caleb !!! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Wherever you encounter truth, look upon it as Christianity.”

“There is nothing more wicked, more disastrous, more widely destructive, more deeply tenacious, more loathsome [than war]…. Whoever heard of a hundred thousand animals rushing together to butcher each other, as men do everywhere?”

Erasmus excoriated theologians who tried to justify war on the ground that Christ said “Let him who has no sword sell his mantel and buy one.” “As if Christ, who taught nothing but patience and meekness, meant the sword used by bandits and murderers rather than the sword of the Spirit. Our exegete thinks that Christ equipped the apostles with lances, crossbows, slings, and muskets.” (btw in his Annotations he used Origen to counter the violent interpretation of this text)

“I would be glad to be a martyr for Christ, but I cannot be a martyr for Luther.”

“It is no great feat to burn a little man. It is a great achievement to persuade him.”

“How can you say Our Father if you plunge steel into the guts of your brother? Christ compared himself to a hen: Christians behave like hawks. Christ was a shepherd of sheep: Christians tear each other like wolves.”

“I see you, while the standard of salvation is in one hand, rushing on with a sword in the other, to the murder of your brother; and, under the banner of the cross, destroying the life of one who owes his salvation to the cross. Even from the Holy Sacrament itself, (for it is sometimes, at the same hour, administered in opposite camps) in which is signified the complete union of all Christians, the warriors, who have just received it, run instantly to arms, and endeavor to plunge the dreadful steel into each other’s vitals. Of a scene thus infernal, and fit only for the eyes of accursed spirits, who delight in mischief and misery, the pious warriors would make Christ the spectator.”

Erasmus was disgusted by the incivility and humourlessness of militant Protestants: “I have seen them return from hearing a sermon as if inspired by an evil spirit. Their faces all showed a curious wrath and ferocity.”

In The Complaint of Peace, Peace herself rises to complain about how much her name is praised by one and all yet how few live peaceful lives. “Without me there is no growth, no safety for life, nothing pure or holy, nothing agreeable, while war is a vast ocean of all the evils combined, harmful to everything in the universe.”

“We must look for peace by purging the very sources of war—false ambitions and evil desires. As long as individuals serve their own personal interests, the common good will suffer. Let them examine the self-evident fact that this world of ours is the fatherland of the entire human race.”

Yeah, I forgot that that Christ our Hen quote was in that article. But you helped provide the context of it in his engagement with Luther. What type of engagement was this? Letter’s or manuscripts back and forth, a public debate?

And do you have any idea of how Erasmus interpreted the violent OT texts, like the slaughter of the Canaanites, and the Levites killing their fellow Jews over the Golden Calf? I would guess that militant protestants (can we group Calvin and Luther there?) would point to the OT texts to justify their approval of violent means.

The correspondence with Luther was by letter. They didn’t like each other - they had completely different temperaments. The only Reformer as far as I know that Erasmus is on record as saying ‘I never disliked you’ was Martin Bucer - who was the most conciliatory of the Reformers and had a great influence on Cranmer’s second prayer book in the Reformed direction but not in a Calvinist one. but he didn’t approve of Bucer’s claim that he spoke with direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Erasmus only ever claimed to be a humble follower in the school of Christ who saw through a glass darkly. (

When this topic was first broached at EU there was some speculation that Bucer may have influenced the cancelling of the Anglican 42nd article about the necessity for believing in hell. But after much research I do not think this is so. Bucer was a moderate man in terms of the Reformers and was a tutor of Elizabeth’s first Archbishop the irenic Matthew Parker - but when he was Protestant magistrate Strasbourg he had had Hans Denck banished because of claims that Denck was a universalist (but he was charitable to Denck in saying that he thought him a fine man of good courage - and he didn’t have him killed). There was also speculation that Matthew Parker may have been behind the cancelation or abrogation of the 42nd article. However, although we do not have the minutes of Convocation, Parker’s annotations and deletions and proposed additions to Cranmer’s articles that he made beforehand as a basis for discussion and in his own hand do still exist. And the 42nd article is not crossed out in this. So whatever the reasons for its abrogation was, this happened in Convocation and/or was influenced by pressure from the Queen or her Ministers. There are lots of theories about this - but they can never be more than theories.

Regarding Erasmus and the OT - Erasmus believed that the OT was like a Platonic shadow of the New (using imagery from the Book of Hebrews’). And with the light of the New the clear day light of Christ has illumined and dispersed the shadows in the OT. So the OT must be interpreted in the light of the NT (as Origen also thought). I’m not sure what Erasmus made of the genocide texts but will find out for you some day soon I hope. Origen ceritainly consigned the genocide texts to allegory about spiritual struggle against vices - in his opinion they were not to be taken literally, Origen assigned four levels of meaning to scripture - literal/historical, moral, allegoric, and spiritual. Some assume that he thought all of scripture had all four levels of meaning - but this is not so (as his commentary on Joshua makes very clear). Some passages of stature, in his view, had all four levels of meaning but others had just one or two levels of meaning - especially those he found morally dubious in the daylight of Christ. Erasmus was enthusiastic about Origen’s fourfold level of interpretation - this much I do know.

Btw If anyone wants to check what I’ve said about Origen’s commentary on Joshua, Philip Jenkins looks at this in relevant detail on pages 193-5 of his book Laying Down the Sword. The chapter’s title is ‘Coming to Terms’ (with the OT genocide tests) and the section title is ‘Shadowing Mysteries’. I’ve no reason to doubt Jenkins here – thus far I’ve only read Origen’s commentaries on Genesis, Matthew and John and I will get round to cheeking what Jenkins says soon by reading Origen’s commentary on Joshua. But I’ve no reason to doubt him. He is an internationally recognised scholar and was advised by many other scholars of high repute and integrity while writing this book – and he makes good use of sourced quotations.
The stuff I’ve said about Erasmus – of him taking up the view of the OT as a ‘shadowing mystery’ and of him using Origen as his authority to counter the violet interpretation of Jesus’ saying about selling your cloak to buy a sword comes from M,A. Screech’s ‘Laughter at the Foot of the Cross’ – one of my favourite all time books; and Screech is a scholar who really known his onions concerning Erasmus. I won’t give further details here – if I write my book I’ll cover these points in more detail – but you can trust me on this (or PM me if you want to pin me down for more information because you want to read these secondary sources for yourself).

I’m not trying to push an agenda here for Non –violent theology – although I do hold to a no utopian version of non violent theology (and it is a nuanced position that I’ve gone into on other threads here). As those of you here who have read some of my posts about non violent theology will know I am not a utopian pacifist – neither were Erasmus or Elizabeth!!! – but i do think use of violence should be seen as a necessary evil and never as a positive good, and that force should always be used without triumph and with much thinking through. I am in favour of dialogue between Christian utopians and Christians following a Just War traction on this score – because Christian Just War tradition actually underpins the Geneva Convention. But on this thread the issues have only come up because they are relevant – and you can judge for yourself about Erasmus and Elizabeth 

I am happy to probe a little further into Erasmus de bates with Luther and – of you wish – into the theories around the cancellation/ suppression/ abrogation (what you will) of the 42nd Article, Not in great detail – but I am happy to give a little more detail.

In Christ our Hen :wink:


As an aside, I think I recall an early focus (e.g. from Justin Martyr?) on comparing Christ to the phoenix, though this was eventually dropped; but the legend of the phoenix must have been originally inspired by occasionally finding mother birds (like hens) who sacrificed themselves to protect their chicks during a fire. That’s certainly the concept that would have come to mind to those who heard Christ giving this lament.

Clement of Rome in the 25th chapter of his first epistle (certainly written in the 1st century, perhaps as early as the late 60s) wrote the following about the phoenix:

I think that in medieval bestiaries Christ was also compared to the Mother Pelican whom they wrongly believed would die to feed it’s children by pecking at its own breast and feeing the flesh to them. I know that King Lear in Shakespeare calls his ungrateful daughters who are breaking his heart with their cruelty his ‘Pelican Daughters’.

And that’s interesting about the Phoenix too Jason :slight_smile: because the alchemists of Erasmus day - the sort of people he thought fools and charlatans ( and was probably right about most of them) - had a sort of garbled memory of this. For them the Phoenix arising from ashes symbolised the successful transmutation of based metal into gold (and perhaps some actually did see this spiritual transformation as the true essence of Alchemy - but there were lots of ‘puffers’ motivated by pure greed). I think sacrificial love, nurturing ‘motherly’ qualities (in both women and men) and seeking the peace frits instead of reaching for war and violence for instant gratification are all related :slight_smile: And there is a very old saying - 'The fool finds gold in a ruin, while the alchemist dies in pain (of lead poisoning?). :slight_smile:

Some Pics: (If you click on the pics, you can see the whole image at once)

This one’s funny:

My favorite:

Cluck, cluck :smiley: Have you got any other questions - Caleb or anyone else?