It is the 22nd of September 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I'm Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1566.
The Netherlands was undergoing rapid change under the leadership of Margaret of Parma and King Philip II of Spain. As Margaret rolled back religious freedoms, hundreds of nobles marched in protest in Brussels. They were responding to increased Protestant persecution from Catholics. Along with an iconoclastic attack on Catholic art, the march of the nobles would kick off the 80 Years' War with Spain.
In 1566 the official confession of the Swiss Cantons was published, The Second Helvetic Confession, written by Heinrich Bullinger. It was a follow up to (you guessed it) the First Helvetic Confession. The first was seen as too Lutheran and thus incapable of bridging the new Reformation traditions. The second was able to bridge many Protestants across Europe, but by removing the suspected "Lutheran" elements, most Lutherans could not sign off on the confession.
It is worth noting a few who died in 1566. Bartolome De Las Casas died this year. He was the Spanish missionary and historian who fought against slavery in the new world. He is important as an anti-colonial and anti-slavery voice in an era where we are sometimes taught that "they didn't know better." The DLC certainly did.
It is also the year that Nostradamus died. Why is Nostradamus important? Trick question, he isn't. Except for the fact that without him, and Hitler, and the Ancient Aliens, the History Channel would have little to no programming.
Also, Suleiman the Magnificent died in this year. The Ottoman Empire's greatest sultan was named the 38th most influential person of the last millennium by Life Magazine. That makes him two higher than John Calvin, but three behind Abraham Lincoln on one of the silliest lists I have read.
It was on this, the 22nd of September in 1566 that Johannes Agricola, the Lutheran firebrand, controversialist, and one-time Wittenberg exile, died.
Agricola was born in 1492 in Eisleben. In 1515 he went to Wittenberg to study medicine. Under the tutelage of a young Martin Luther, Johannes changed his course of study to theology. In 1519 he was Luther's secretary during Luther's famous debates with Johannes Eck.
However, things took a wrong turn for Agricola when he felt passed over for a theology position at Wittenberg. The position went to Philip Melanchthon, and Agricola seemed to have this supposed snub animate much of the rest of his life. Agricola, now teaching elsewhere, began to criticize Melanchthon's use of the law. Trying to distinguish between the Old Testament and New, he claimed that the law of Moses belonged in the gallows, not the Christian life. He was charged with antinomianism, and his old friend Luther wrote his tract "Against the Antinomians" at Agricola.
Agricola further angered his Lutheran brethren by helping to compose the Augsburg Interim. This document proposed a confessional peace between Lutherans and Catholics but conceded several Catholic doctrines and practices. Seen as having sold out the Lutherans, Agricola went into relative obscurity until he heard that a group of Lutherans had taken on the name of his former rival, Phillip Melanchthon. Agricola's ire was raised against these so-called "Phillipists," and he argued against the deviations from what he considered pure Lutheranism.
A man with a big intellect only matched by perhaps a bigger ego and lack of self-control, a tempestuous theologian, Johann Agricola died on this date, the 22nd of September, in 1566. The reading for today comes from Agricola himself, a stanza from a hymn entitled "Lord, Hear the Voice of My Complaint." You could certainly find some autobiography in his hymn.
Help me, for I am weak; I fight,
Yet scarce can battle longer.
I cling but to Thy grace and might,
'Tis Thou must make me stronger.
When sore temptations are my lot,
And tempests round me lower,
Break their power;
So, through deliv'rance wrought,
I know that Thou forsak'st me not!
That was a stanza from the hymn "Lord Hear the Voice of My Complaint" by Johannes Agricola and translated by Catherine Winkworth.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 22nd of September 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by Ancient Alien Afficianado Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. Remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true. Everything is going to be ok.