File Size: 972 KB
Print Length: 128 pages
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (May 31, 2001)
Publication Date: May 31, 2001
Beranger, " little known to history. " Pick any period of historical past of which
you are especially loving, and you will feel strongly that some figure you
deem important is actually " little known. "
Consider the era of the English Reformation. This is a time of tumultous
change. A king shifts his faith, leaders are burned at the stake, people
flee the country, many monasteries are destroyed, and the king's successors
shift back and forth in the middle of the sixteenth century with unbelievable
rapidity. Study any work on this time and the authors TEND to focus on the
politics, the leaders, the church, the liturgy and the men. When a woman is
mentioned at all, the main one bright light that gets practically all the attention is
Elizabeth I (1533-1603).
Nearly all another women are less discovered, so when they are concentrated on
little is said about the role THEOLOGY plays in their lives and ministries.
In a highly provocative and little noticed book, " When Life and Beliefs
Collide: How Understanding God Makes a Difference" (Zondervan, 2001), Carolyn
James writes: " As I have achieved with hundreds of women, I have encountered a
wide spectrum of negative attitudes towards theology, from casual
indifference to open violence, and all points in between. Here and there,
a few women could find theology exciting, may even devote a lot of time to
study it, nevertheless they are exceptional and, in the thoughts and opinions of some, just a little
peculiar. Beyond these unusual exceptions, nearly all women cannot be bothered. "
Well, in the period of the English Reformation women COULD be bothered,
indeed fascinated, by theology, as Paul Zahl's " Five Women of the English
Reformation" (Eerdmans, 2001) shows. Dr. Zahl picks Bea Boleyn
(1507-1536), Anne Askew (1521-1546), Katherine Parr (1514-1548), Jane Greyish
(1537-1554), and Catherine Willoughby (1520-1580) for his examination. " All
of these woman thought theologically, " he writes. " They were lay
theologians. They read biblical books, most importantly the Holy bible, and
something to which they could gain access from the continental Protestant
Reformers. They talked theology. Their inner circles were
twenty-four-hours-a-day Holy bible studies. They saw exactly what happened
through two lenses: the lens of the providence of God and the lens of the
furtherance of the Converted religion. "
For Dr. Zahl, the " Reformed religion" comes to England in three successive
parts. " The first phase of Reformation theology was justification by grace
through faith rediscovered. The second phase was the effects of
justification by faith for the Mass, the Mass being the key action and
transaction of medieval Catholicism. The 3 rd phase of the English
Reformation was the focus on election and predestination. "
Phase one concerns Bea Boleyn, " who perished meekly but gave away nothing. " So
completely was she erased from the recognized record " it became as if she had
never resided. " For Zahl, however, she left the marked mark of her belief.
" Since queen, Anne understood the girl providential mission to be. to bring the
Reformation to Great britain and employ every solitary instance of patronage and
influence to that end. " What is the human problem? " The human person is
caught up in himself and herself until set liberated to love by a before exterior
love. " That prior love is the love above all loves, and the heart of Anne's
faith, " the forgiving love of Christ Jesus, without which all human
efforts of love are doomed to be scripted and need projected. "
The second period of the Reformation requires another Anne. " Bea Askew's
primary target was biblical educating concerning the eucharist, and more
precisely the notion of transubstantiation. Anne was burned for denying
transubstantiation. Her refusal of it was aggressive. Within fact she mocked
the notion! "
Zahl believes Bea Askew rejected transubstantiation for two reasons.
" First, it is irrational to say that God can be comprised within any object
of any kind.. `God will not be eaten with teeth': This particular is the Enlightenment
or critical, deconstructing side of Protestantism in early form. " Anne's
second reason Zahl calls an " evangelical" one, namely the notion that Christ
's atoning death occurred once for those. " To conceive of the Eucharist as a
sacrifice of replication, by which the benefits of Christ's death are
presented new and actual each time on the altar, was to denigrate the `one,
full perfect sacrifice'" of which Cranmer had written.
The ultimate phase of the Reformation concerns Catherine Willoughby, the
duchess of Suffolk in 1533, who lived the longest of the five women treated
by Doctor. Zahl. She addresses generally the subjects of divine will,
providence, and election. When she loses her sons Charles and Henry to
death, she seeks to understand it as a " mercy. She means that by taking
away from her, the girl very most cherished prerogative-her children and her
attachment to them-God has intentionally forced the girl to rely solely on Him. "
Zahl confesses this is " counterintuitive" yet recognizes it as the inevitable
outflow of Luther's theology. " When grace alone saves, then God alone is the
willing professional in most human events. Modern day people make heavy weather of
this. Our ancestors generally accepted it. "
So here is vintage Zahl: compact, pithy, and theologically oh so rich.
Appropriately, there is a chapter of expression by Mary Zahl which concludes
with the best call of the book: " Study the Bible. be courageous. See God as.
[your] only authority. Be thankful that.[we are] if she is not asked to die for"
With regard to all the talk about theology, however, this theologian was most struck by
all the struggling these women experienced, the physical agony, the
emotional trauma of becoming convenient victims in other's schemes, and the
lives slice so terribly short (Willoughby excepted). " What I actually think we can say
regarding the steel of our heroes' convictions is that in each case their
new convictions were made firmer by means of affliction, loss and
harassment. " Indeed. " Shall I fall in desperation? " Katherine Parr asks.
" Nay, I am going to call on Christ, the sunshine of the world. The Fountain of
life, the relief of all careful consciences, the Peacemaker between God and
man, and the only health and comfort of all repentant sinners. "
Oh how they suffered, nevertheless they suffered for and with Christ. Might God grant
us similar rich and deep devotion to your pet within our generation.
--The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon (ksharmon@mindspring. com) serves as Theologian in Home at St.
Paul's Episcopal Church in Summerville, South Carolina, Biographical historians would do well to emulate this book. This particular is history enthusiastically--never dully--told. Paul Zahl spins his true tales with zeal, wit and total dedication to the subject: 5 women who dared to think and tell what they knew to be the truth. It's a difficult book to put aside, simply because the author is actually time-travelling: you feel he was actually there, watching the remarkable times in which his subjects resided. Zahl brings each woman to life and makes someone wish for more. Mary Zahl adds an epilogue that injects just the right amount of support for Paul Zahl's courage to write about women who are bigger than life--from a men perspective. Well done!, Biographical historians would do well to emulate this book. This is history enthusiastically--never dully--told. Paul Zahl spins his true tales with zest, wit and total commitment to the subject matter: five women who dared to think and tell what they knew to be the truth. It's a difficult book to put besides, simply because the author is obviously time-travelling: you feel having been actually there, watching the remarkable times in which his subjects resided. Zahl brings each woman to life besides making the reader wish for more. Mary Zahl adds an epilogue that injects just the right level of support for Paul Zahl's bravery to write about women who are bigger than life--from a male perspective. Well done!, Dean Zahl is an intriguing and interesting preacher and author. I actually read the book as I am deeply thinking about the Reformation - particularly in britain. I was most impressed with his chapter on Female Jane Grey who certainly ought to be the role model and main subject of the five. I believe he should have downplayed the role of Anne Boleyn because of the great sorrow the girl marriage to Henry VIII caused to his spouse of 20+ years. I actually am of course referring to Katherine of Aragon. Henry and Cranmer's treatment of the Queen was cruel and really should not be defended in any modern Protestant forum. Indeed in Britain in Peterborough Cathedral the girl grave (desecrated by Protestants) was restored and after this befittingly says " Katherine The Queen". I otherwise enjoyed the book but wish he had not stayed silent on this problem when proclaiming Anne's virtues. A contemporary parallel might be considered in the partnership of Edward VII and Alexandra - Alexandra a devout Protestant endured Edward's numerous affairs. Katherine endured the same with Bea. I have read all of his books and consider him a scholar on Anglicanism. A little more compassion for Katherine would have made me rate the book higher., I you do not have the book in front of me anymore, so I cannot pull quotes from it, but I remember thinking as I read this book that the author did not really understand what the Reformation was about. At one point, he says in effect " God's love responds to man's faith". The Reformers evidently educated that man's faith does respond to God's love and His calling. I know that the book had not been about in depth theology, but statments like the above made it challenging to take the rest of the book seriously.
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