The Distinguishing Characteristic of the Man

You may think that Symbolics, the study of the creeds and confessions of the Church, sounds boring, but you’d be wrong. Today we learned of the Lord’s Supper controversy that took place in Heidelberg in the mid-16th century. What everyone involved in this controversy agreed on was that no one agreed with the Catholics. You were not eating the actual body and blood of Christ. But what the Lutherans insisted on was that Christ was in some way physically present during the Lord’s Supper, while the more Reformed-minded held that the Supper was merely symbolic, and that since Christ had bodily ascended into heaven, that’s where his body was. The conflict came to a head between two men: Heshusius, a pro-Lutheran professor of Theology at the university, and Klebitz, a student at the university who had successfully defended a thesis that argued the Reformed position. Klebitz also happened to be a deacon in the church. Once, during a Lord’s Supper celebration in the Holy Spirit Church in Heidelberg, these two men came to blows in the front of the church, and both were kicked out of town. You could say that Heshusius was Klebbered.

However, there were more civilized ways of handling this controversy, as well, like having planned debates at wedding receptions. The daughter of Elector Frederick III, Dorothea, was to be wed to a Mr. Johann Wilhelm. The two fathers decided that once the young lovers had said their vows, the attendees would then be treated to a debate over the praesentia illocalis sive definitiva. Apparently it was conducted peacefully, no doubt due to the praesentia illocalis of both Heshusius and Klebitz. Dr. Van Vliet threw out the idea that this might be something to think about at future wedding receptions, and so I throw it on to you.

It also happens that during the course of discussions over Theology, the Reformation, the Catechism, and various related fields of study, that the talk inevitably turns to beards. Dr. Van Vliet, of course, has a beard that is kept carefully under control. This has not been true of all Reformed beards, however, as our tradition is replete with a range of hirsute masterpieces. A fine example, you could call it the example, of a beard that reflects the breadth and depth of true Christian manliness, is that of Mr. Johannes Bogerman:


Hilmer remarked that it made him look like a Viking, and I think that’s appropriate. No doubt this man was to Arminian theology what the Vikings were to the coasts of Europe.  William sent around a link to an article that shows how God approves of beards in Scripture. You can find it here, but if you don’t feel like reading it, here’s the conclusion: “I trust in this study you have discovered that the beard is the distinguishing characteristic of the man, and it is the symbol of Life unto God, Submission unto God, Separation unto God, and the Blessing of God. It is an open assertion of our sanctification unto the Lord and a public testimony, as well as a private testimony of God’s grace in our hearts.”

I’ve not read the whole thing, so I can’t tell you if there’s anything to it. But I think he’s serious. Reflecting on the topic also made me wonder if we’d ever see the rise of the Reformed mullet. It is, you could argue, a hairstyle that illustrates both the efforts of man, and also the futility of those efforts. Further, in a mullet you find the genteel and creative influence of man, but also a humble unwillingness to exploit the raw, natural chaos that springs forth on its own, thus reflecting well the pastoral landscapes of 16th century Europe.

To finish with some random bits of news, we had the pleasure of Skyping with our classmate Jon Chase, who’s currently in Brazil to get married. He had a presentation due for our Intro to Theology class, so he delivered that today. Yesterday a bat flew into the school, but with a pan and a piece of cardboard the brothers Bruintjes took care of it.


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