Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Violent Christiananity part 2 Updated

If you have read my blog for a while you will know that I have deep reverence for Martin Luther. Not so much for some of the church that bears his name. I often ask the question, "if Luther were alive today would he be a Lutheran"?

In my opinion he wouldn't. He would have little in common with them.

But we'll never know. Maybe in Heaven I'll ask.

My friend Pastor Harold Hein called me this week and in response to the non violence propounded by some Christians who mean well but may be misdirected. He pointed me to the old Lutheran Hymnal. #261.

The words in the old hymnal I have from 1959 with my name in gold inscribed across the front (a confirmation gift) are pretty anemic. Even 50 years ago political correctness had invaded the Church of Jesus.

Luther was no pacifist. He saw the threat of a corrupt church and a hoard of Muslims invading Europe. He came against them. Europe would be and Islamic state today except for the bravery of men like Luther.

What is interesting is this hymn was targeted toward little children who Luther believed had more prayer power than did the general church population steeped in doubt and unbelief. That's still the case.

When you think of the way many responded to the Jesus Camp movie I think they would have had a cat in reading the words of Luther's hymn. They would have condemned Luther as well for using such harsh and militaristic terminology.

What's interesting is those of you who understand German as I do see that in the original language the aggressive violence is even stronger. We have become weak in the church.

Erhalt' uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort.
Lord, keep us in Thy Word and Work.
By Dr. Martin Luther
Hymn 261 Lutheran Hymnal

A Children's Song against the two arch-enemies of Christ and his Holy Church.

Melody, 1543. Harmony by WM. STERNDALE BENNETT, 1865.

1. Lord, keep us in thy word and work,
Restrain the murderous Pope and Turk,
Who fain would tear from off thy throne
Christ Jesus, thy beloved Son.

2. Lord Jesus Christ, thy power make known,
For thou art Lord of lords alone.
Shield thy poor Christendom, that we
May evermore sing praise to thee.

3. God, Holy Ghost, our joy thou art,
Give to thy flock on earth one heart.
Stand by us in our latest need,
And us from death to glory lead.
German Translation:

1.Erhalt' uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
Und steure deine Feinde Mord,
Die Jesum Christum deinen Sohn,
Wollen stuerzen von deinem Thron.

My friend Harold is Right. See comment below. The German does not say exactly what the English does in what I found initially on the web..

It appears that there is some discussion on this issue. In Googling the phrase Erhalt uns Herr
I found several discussions (in German) by various musicologists and theologians who argue about the actual Luther writing. Bach used his words in a cantata which is exactly sung:

Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort,
Und steur' des Papsts und Türken Mord,
Die Jesum Christum, deinen Sohn,
Stürzen wollen von seinem Thron.

That is where the first verse in english is tranlated from.

The question apparently is, "are those the words of the Hymn itself. Or did some other writing of Luther become interpolated in the Bach Work?"

I think the implication is clear. Both word sets are his.

If you are interested in several thousand links in German to read all about this minutia (which I find fascinating) just Google Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort Luther and you will get far more about this than you may want to know.

2.Beweis' dein Macht, Herr Jesu Christ,
Der du Herr allen Herren bist;
Beschirm' dein' arme Christenheit,
Dass sie dich lob' in Ewigkeit.

3. Gott heil'ger Geist, du Troester werth,
Gieb' dei'm Volk ein'rlei Sinn' auf Erd'
Steh bei uns in der letzten Noth,
G'leit uns ins Leben aus dem Tod.

Jesus said, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." Matt: 11:12

Jesus wasn't all that Pacifistic.


Anonymous said...

Gene, the German words you quoted in stanza one are different from the one I found. Mine go thus , "Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort; Steure papst und Tuerken Mord...." This line specificially mentions the "Turk", that, is, the Muslim hordes threatening Europe and Chrsitainity.

Bruce said...

I hope you realize you are taking the words of Jesus out of context to prove your point?

He wasn't speaking of a physical kingdom but rather a spiritual one.

Adam Selene said...

I don't think Martin Luther is quoting Jesus -- this is an inspirational hymn, but not from the Bible (because, needless to say, at the time of Christ there were no Turks).