It is the 17th of August 2021 Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
It was on this, the 17th of August in 1568 that Johann Valentine Andreae was born to Johann and Marie Andreae. The elder Johann was one of the most influential second-generation Lutheran reformers and a major force behind the compilation of the Lutheran Confessions.
Johann Valentine however was not initially interested in confessional theology but was instead looking for something more esoteric. This is nothing new as we tend to see subsequent generations reacting against each other. Young Johann would eventually make his way to service in the Lutheran church but this would be after his famous father died and after he had laid the foundations for one of the greatest hoaxes in Early Modern church history.
A couple of threads to hold onto:
The Reformation and its children
The influence of printed works on the belief
If it’s printed it must be true!
The relationship between Astrology and Astronomy
As the “natural sciences” became a modern discipline the more esoteric arts went underground and became less “respectable”.
What did JV Andreae do?
3 important books were anonymously published in the early 1600s
Fama Fraternitatis, the Confessio Fraternitatis, and the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. The first two were likely written by a collection of Lutheran theologians at Tubingen of which Andreae was a part. The last was written by Andreae.
The basic idea was that these Lutherans believed that hidden esoteric knowledge was not out of bounds for a Christian but rather that all of this esoteric knowledge had Christian roots. And thus a little bit of creative storytelling was seen as appropriate to divert the would-be occultist back to the Christian faith.
Essentially this work followed the legend of Christian Rosenkreutz (“Rosy-Cross”) who was said to have been born in 1378- he traveled through Africa and the Middle East collecting the gamut of esoteric works to bring to Germany to start the order in 1403. It is said he died in 1484 and his tomb was discovered 120 years later which became the occasion for the group's public announcement.
Later in life after Andreae was finally admitted to the Lutheran pastorate and he claimed that this work was “parable” and a lark.
But none of that mattered to the people who wanted to believe. And there have been a lot of people who wanted to believe.
The 18th and 19th centuries saw a revival in occult interest (partially as a reaction to the Enlightenment and partially as a parallel to Romanticism). The Rosicrucian Order was reborn in both England and San Francisco and today they have regular meetings, websites, and museums.
[Short story about my own fascination with Freemasonry and why it seems ultimately like a mash-up of civil war reenacts and D&D fans (which isn’t necessarily bad, just a lousy religion)]
Andreae’s legacy as the son of a pillar of the Lutheran reformation as well as his relationship to the esoteric cult has left him something of a lost man to history. 20 years ago I flew to two libraries in Germany and England to collect primary sources and secondary literature to make him part of my doctoral dissertation. I had to jettison it then, but luckily some newer works are trying to piece together the life of the man we remember today- Johann Valentine Andreae who was born on, the 17th of August in 1568.
The last word for today comes from 2 Timothy:
I’m giving you this commission in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearance and his kingdom. 2 Preach the word. Be ready to do it whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Correct, confront, and encourage with patience and instruction. 3 There will come a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. They will collect teachers who say what they want to hear because they are self-centered. 4 They will turn their back on the truth and turn to myths. 5 But you must keep control of yourself in all circumstances. Endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the good news, and carry out your service fully.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 17th of August 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by A third Degree Master Mason (although he claims it has to do with bricks and cement) he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man still yearning to discover the secrets of Springfields Stonecutters, I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.