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Comment 3. Kaspar von Schwenckfeld

 

When Bertha Dudde described her life, she reported to be born in Liegnitz and that her parents belonged to different denominations.

"The parents belonged to different denominations. Father was Protestant, mother Catholic."

These two denominations are the Catholic and the Protestant and to this background, the religious and also the local, Liegnitz, I will now add some details, which expand the understanding for these things.

First a quote, which sets the framework:

"Protestantism is, for the most part, just slightly reformed Roman Catholicism."
- Curtis Lee Hall

Now follows an extract from a book with the title "The Pilgrim Church" by E. H. Broadbent, 1931:

 

One who remained apart from the Roman Catholic Church, as well as from the Lutheran and the Reformed, and yet did not attach himself to those called Anabaptists, was the Silesian nobleman, Kaspar von Schwenckfeld (1489-1561), who exercised an important influence in his own country and beyond.* [* "Schwenkfeld, Luther und der Gedanke einer Apostolischen Reformation" Karl Ecke.] Occupied in matters of business in connection with one or another of the smaller German courts, he did not trouble himself much about Scriptures, until, when he was thirty years of age, he was awakened out of his indifference by Martin Luther’s "wonderful trumpet of God", yielded himself to the "clear light of God’s gracious visitation", and became "the soul" of the reformation in Silesia. It was not long before he found himself obliged to criticize some points in Luther’s teaching, in the first instance that regarding the Lord’s Supper. On this account he was attacked with virulence by Luther, who used his authority to get him treated as an outsider and a heretic. Schwenckfeld, however, never ceased to acknowledge his great debt to Luther in spiritual things, and after suffering for many years from attacks of Luther and the Lutheran preachers, he gave this counsel to those who sympathized with him, "Let us faithfully pray to God for them, for the time must come at last when they, with all of us, must together acknowledge our ignorance in the presence of the one Master, Christ."

I will here interrupt the report of E. H. Broadbent about Kaspar von Schwenckfeld and add remarks.

Kaspar von Schwenckfeld was therefore 30 years old when he heard about Luther’s work, and because he had been born 1489, this was therefore in the year 1519, and that was just two years after the start of the Reformation in the year 1517. So he was one of those who was shaken alive by the Reformation at the very beginning of the Reformation.

And what is of course highly important in this life of Kaspar von Schwenckfeld is that he, right at the very start of the coming into being of the new denomination of the followers of Luther and their leader, Luther, was persecuted. He wanted to discuss his insights and discoveries in the Bible with Luther, and what happened?

"On this account he was attacked with virulence by Luther, who used his authority to get him treated as an outsider and a heretic."

And at that time something like being declared to be a heretic was not simply a thing discussed among theologians and who exchanged their different views and different opinions and discussed them and tried to prove that the other was wrong. To be a heretic meant basically to have been sentenced to death. It was about life and death.

It was not just a matter of the official church, but at the same time of the state, and a heretic was also an enemy of the state and had to persecuted and punished.

Now von Schwenckfeld would obviously have been treated as a heretic in a Catholic German state, but now the Lutheran had declared him to be a heretic and therefore he also was an outcast in every Protestant state in Germany.

So right from the start the Lutheran Denomination persecuted Christians.

Right from the start the Lutheran Church was used by the devil to fight against God. Right from the start the Lutheran Church was integrated into the regiment of Antichrist.

The great "reformer" of Switzerland, Zwingli, for instance, declared his enemies to be heretics, and he then drowned them in the Limmat.

The Lutheran Church was right from the beginning, exactly as the Catholic Church, an organization of prophet murderers.

With this entire Reformation it was essentially about power and influence and money and income, and there Kaspar von Schwenckfeld was the rare exception.

When we look at the work of Bertha Dudde, then we realize that she wrote in the years from 1937 to 1965, and her writing began therefore in the middle of the Nazi rule and that was an atheistic dictatorship, which considered things like the messages from Bertha Dudde with absolute hostility. Her work and her life was therefore permanently in danger and she could not freely discuss and publish the things she wrote about. She had to exercise considerable caution. But this situation also meant that the two big denominations in Germany, die Catholic and the Protestant, were also under pressure, and were basically fought against by the state. And this was in a certain sense a blessing for Bertha Dudde and her work, that her real enemies, these two denominations, were themselves treated with hostility and were therefore not very keen to create additional problems for themselves. One can actually describe Bertha Dudde as the greatest prophetesses, and when Jakob Lorber is described as the greatest prophet in her messages, B.D. NR. 8909 then that is quite alright, but that was just when Bertha Dudde had not brought her work to an end. But out of the view of her concluded work, one can not only call her the greatest prophetess, but as the greatest of all the prophets. And the proof simply lies in the fact that the denominations today slander her work and fight against it. But at the time of the Third Reich and of the rule of the victorious powers there were hardly any grand-inquisitors, say representatives for sects, which could track down and harass Bertha Dudde. The prophet murderers murder first the prophecy, as they do now with the work by Bertha Dudde, and then they carry out character assassination, and after that, when he then still lives, the real murder.

But we now carry on with the report of E. H. Broadbent about Kaspar von Schwenckfeld :

The study of the Scriptures became his great delight. He reckoned that if he read four chapters a day he would read the Bible through once a year, and at first made this a rule, though afterwards he left it to the Holy Spirit to direct his reading and did not bind himself to a certain number of chapters daily. "Christ", he said, is the "summary of the whole Bible" and "the principle object of the whole of Holy Scripture is that we may fully know the Lord Christ." Faith in the accuracy and inspiration of the whole Bible was to him not a holding on to old and doubtful dogma but a new discovery of illimitable possibilities; not ancient superstition but modern progress. He described his reading of Scripture as "a brooding over, seeking, boring into; indeed a reading and re-reading of all, chewing, meditating, turning over and thoroughly thinking out everything." "For there, undiluted treasure is revealed to the believer, pure pearls, gold and precious stones." As a "safe rule" for the expositor, he says, "where disputed passages occur, the whole context must be taken into account, Scripture brought to bear on Scripture, single passages brought to the whole, compared with one another and the application found, not only by the outward appearance of a single passage, but according to the sense of the whole of Scripture." He studied Hebrew and Greek and in his work made use not only of Luther’s translation but also of "the old Bible" (used by the Anabaptists) and the Vulgate. He found the key to much that is contained in the Old Testament in the typical use made of it in the New. He determined to yield himself to the guidance of the Scripture in doctrine and in practice, and, "if we do not understand everything" he said, "do not let us blame the Scriptures for it, but rather our own ignorance."

From this report one can already see the entire attitude of Kaspar von Schwenckfeld.

He was not interested to use his new situation to earn a living out of it, to build up a career, which secured an income for him, as they do who study theology to become a priest or pastor.

For him it was obviously about the word of God as if he would be able to find truth and all answers for life in it.

It was the effect of his first contact with the word of God.

Schwenckfeld describes the approach to the word of God as the breaking open and breaking to pieces an object to get hold of that what is inside. Only when one has dismantled it one can see what had been hidden before, and that is the actual important thing, the spiritual meaning of the word. And of it there are again different levels and degrees.

Eight years after his first "visitation" he had a further experience which seemed to him to affect his life even more. Up to this time he had been zealous in proclaiming the Scriptures and Lutheranism; but now what he had intellectually believed turned to an entire persuasion of the heart. He was made aware of his heavenly calling, received an overwhelming assurance of salvation, yielded himself to God as a "living sacrifice." A deep sense of sin and appreciation of the sufficiency of the redemption wrought for us in Christ, by His death and resurrection, captured his will, transformed his mind and brought him to that obedience in which he found liberty to do the will of God.

He also made the discovery that the Scriptures not only give sure guidance as to personal justification, but that they also contain definite instruction with regard to the Church. "If we would reform the Church", he said, "we must make use of the Holy Scriptures and especially of the Acts, where it is clearly to be found how things were in the beginning, what is right and what is wrong, what is praiseworthy and acceptable to God and to the Lord Christ." He saw that the Church in the time of the Apostles and their immediate successors, was a glorious gathering, not only in one place but in many. He asks where such assemblies are to be found to-day, for, he says, "the Scripture knows no other than those which acknowledge Christ as their Head and willingly yield themselves to be ruled by the Holy Spirit, who adorns them with spiritual gifts and knowledge." Jesus Himself directs through the spiritual gifts which he dispenses, not only to the whole Church, but also to the separate assemblies. In these assemblies spiritual gifts are manifested for the common good; the same Spirit divides the gifts, but they are manifested in each one of the members. The Spirit has untrammelled liberty. If one, led by the Spirit, rises, the one already speaking must cease. The churches are not perfect, it is always possible that hypocrites may creep in unobserved, but when detected they must be excluded. Schwenckfeld could not therefore recognize the Reformed religion as a Church, because the great mass of the baptized Christians were without the Spirit of Christ and took the Sacrament without the grace of God. He was willing to receive the help of missionary organizations, if they did not pretend to take the place of churches of Jesus Christ. A National Church is one, he said, that has gone back to the stage reached in the Old Testament.

"It is clear and evident" he says further, "that all Christians are called and sent to praise their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to publish His virtues who has called them from darkness to His wonderful light, and to confess His Name before men." Any restriction of the universal priesthood of all believers is a limitation of the Holy Spirit. "If in the time of Paul they had acted thus, and only those appointed by the magistrate had been allowed to preach, how far would the Christian faith have reached? How would the Gospel have reached to our times?" Some are chosen from among the believers to special service, and are fitted for and separated to their office, not by study, election, or ordination, but by the thrust, revelation and manifestation of the Spirit, "that Christ is with them being shown in grace, power, life and blessing." Since their "calling and sending is solely from God, in the grace of Christ, they act with power and with great assurance in the Holy Spirit, souls are born again, hearts are renewed, the kingdom of Christ is built up." "The believer can never be tired of such apostolic, spiritual preachers, nor hear them enough, for they find with them the power of God and food for their souls; it is such that the Lord Christ said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth Me’ (John 13. 20). No unconverted person or one of unholy conduct can be a right minister for the increase of the church, even though he might be a Doctor and Professor, know the Bible off by heart, and be a great orator." When "some say that the person and the office are separate, so that even if a bishop, priest or preacher should be an evil man, yet he can occupy a good office, the office of a teacher of the New Testament, and can be a servant of the Holy Spirit, this is against all Scripture and against the ordinance of Christ." "What sort of ministry is that, where the teacher is himself untaught in his heart . . . and does not believe what he teaches, that is, does not himself do or act what he says, whereas, in the right ministry of the New Covenant, according to the instruction of all Apostolic Scriptures and the example of the Lord Christ Himself, these two must always go together."

As to baptism, Schwenckfeld taught that it does not save, and that salvation can be had without it; but at the same time he saw its importance and that only those who confess themselves as believers should be baptized, and that as children in the cradle are not capable of faith they are not suitable subjects for baptism.

Yet he did not attach himself to those called Anabaptists. Though he describes them as a God-fearing people, separate from the great mass of those who were indifferent to religion, distinguished by their upright conduct and deep religious earnestness, yet he accuses them of legalism and ignorance, and, in common with so many others, confounds together, as though they were one, the godly, long-suffering brethren, with all the fanatical elements concerned in the Peasants’ War, the Münster extravagances and other outbreaks. He claims to have known "the first Baptists" and then describes Müntzer, executed for sedition in the Peasants‘ War; speaks of men of the type of Balthazar Hubmeyer as being disciples of Hans Hut, although the former was a strenuous opponent of the extreme and unbalanced teachings of Hut; relates a rumour that Hut had committed suicide in prison, though he adds that some say this was unintentional, and he attaches the name "Hutist Baptists" generally to those called by most people "Anabaptists". He recounts various detrimental anecdotes that had been communicated to him by letter, and one that he himself heard from a person who had left one of the "Hutist" assemblies, but of whose Christianity he expresses a poor opinion. He says they had little well-grounded knowledge as to sin, salvation through the grace of God and assurance of salvation, and especially that they had not grasped the ideal of the true Apostolic Church. "They persuaded themselves", he said, "that . . . as soon as they are received outwardly . . . into their own self-gathered assemblies, they are the holy people of God, a people that He has chosen out from among all others, a pure, unblemished church, . . . although the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the ornament and beauty of Christian assemblies and churches, as described in the Holy Scriptures, are very little in evidence among them." An outward orthodoxy is to them the mark of the true Church of Christ. Therefore an unbiblical spirit of judging, and spiritual pride, are characteristic of them. "They are so well pleased with themselves in all that they do, that all others, who are not of their way of thinking, that is, who have not accepted their baptism and will not join their assemblies, are condemned by them, separated from the fellowship of the saints of God, as they regard it, and considered as under Satan’s power. Even if they were as full of faith as Stephen, filled with the Spirit and godly wisdom, that counts for nothing among the Baptists, so fast are they fixed, especially the leaders, in frivolous judgement, in self-love and in spiritual pride." They are always breaking bread in their assemblies, and this, and water baptism, take the place of that which is inward and more important. "If you were to see one of their companies you would take them for the people of God, for there is no doubt as to the piety of their outward conduct." He points out, however, that the Pharisee in the parable had a more pious outward appearance than the Publican. "Not," he adds, "that we wish to blame outward piety, either in Baptists or monks," but "more is required than just, ‘Come here and be baptized.’" He complains also that tyranny was exercised over the consciences of the members, that there was legality as regards habits, dress and other outward things, and he opposed their views as to oaths, war and participation in civil government. From all which it may safely be gathered that among these people, as among any considerable body of men, even Christians, there were failures, weaknesses and errors to be found, and that the narrowness and legality complained of were limitations to which some of those called "Anabaptists" were always liable, and against which the better men among them were constantly protesting. Schwenckfeld disapproved of the cruel persecution to which they were subjected. "I would gladly spare the God-fearing, simple people that are among them" he says, and reminds his hearers that there were true Christians among them, who, in spite of lack of knowledge, had life from God; he points to their joy under suffering, advises that if, as was so often said, they were seditious, the civil government should be left to deal with them, adding that he found them to be peaceful people, without seditious plans.

Through Schwenckfeld’s diligent activities, circles of believers were gathered throughout Silesia, beginning in and around Liegnitz. They were a pattern of godliness to those about them. In view of the great misuse of the Lord’s Supper, Schwenkfeld discontinued it for the time being, and the influence of his teaching as of the worthy and unworthy taking of it had such an effect that the Lutheran clergy in Liegnitz began (1526) to follow his example. This led many to accuse Schwenckfeld of disparaging the Lord’s Supper, though it was the opposite feeling that had influenced him. His great desire was to realize the unity of the Church. "Oh would to God" he wrote, "we were truly the body of Christ, united in the bonds of love . . . but alas there is as yet no sign of anything that could be compared with the first church, where the believers were of one heart and of one mind." "We will, however, stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and not enter into any human sect, nor turn away from the universal Christian Church; we will not be bound by any yoke of bondage but only cling to the one Divine sect of Jesus Christ".. . . "My desire and the wish of my heart is that I might help everyone to the truth and unity of Christ and His Holy Spirit and not that I should be a cause of sectarianism, division or falling away from Christ. . . . As there are now four that are called churches, the Papal, Lutheran, Zwinglian, and Baptist or Pickard, and each condemns the other, as is to be seen, that Luther condemns the Zwinglian Church and the fanatics, one cannot help asking whether all of them are, or which of them is, the true assembly of the Church of Christ, where one ought to be found and where one may be blessed. . . . We will answer the question in the words of Peter . . . ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him’ (Acts 10. 34, 35). . . . So the more these churches condemn one another, so much the more will those who fear God and live uprightly and Christianly, be, in the sight of God, unexcluded and uncondemned. . . . Although I have so far fully joined myself to no church . . . yet I have not despised any church person, leaders or teachers, I desire to serve every one in God, to be the friend and brother of each who has a zeal for God and loves Christ from the heart. . . . Therefore I pray God to lead me aright in all things, to enable me, according to the Apostolic rule, rightly to recognize all spirits, especially the Spirit of Jesus Christ; to teach me to prove all things and to distinguish, and to accept and hold what is good, so that in this present state of divisions and separations, I may attain, with a clear, sure conscience in Christ, to truth and unity." . . . "My liberty does not suit all, . . . some call me an eccentric . . .and many look upon me with suspicion, . . . but God knows my heart. . . . I am . . . no sectarian, and with God’s help, will not be a disturber of peace." . . . "Rather than destroy anything good, I would die. And therefore I have not fully attached myself to any party, sect, or church, so that I might, in the will of God, through His grace, apart from party serve all parties."

The teachings of Schwenckfeld and the growth of the circles he established drew upon him the attention of King Ferdinand, who regarded him as a despiser of the Lord’s Super, and he was obliged (1529) to leave his native land, where he had always enjoyed a high position and great consideration. For the remaining thirty years of his life he was a wanderer, persecuted by the Lutheran Church, which formally declared him a heretic, but his exile led to a further spread of the groups which received his teaching, especially in South Germany, where some of the rulers protected him. Under Schwenckfeld’s teaching these groups did not consider themselves as churches, such a position would, they thought, imply separation from believers in the existing parties, all of whom they wished to serve. They left baptism and the breaking of bread in abeyance until better times should come, and, in the meantime, they prayed and looked for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit before the Lord’s coming, which would unite His Church. Their part was, by Bible readings, visiting, and every means of testimony accorded to them, to prepare saints for that time, as well as, by preaching the Gospel, to gather in from among the unconverted as many as possible to be sharers in the blessings to be revealed.

First I want to repeat one sentence here: "If one, led by the Spirit, rises, the one already speaking must cease."

That is a rule which is quite plausible and appropriate, and should be applied by Christians in the assembly, in the assembly of true believers. It is an expression of respect towards the other person, and also a realization that the contribution may already start to become worldly. It is a giving up of management to the holy spirit.

Imagine a carnal gathering of carnal Christians in a denomination that somebody stands up there to contribute something from the holy spirit when the Very Reverend is busy speaking or preaching.

"They left baptism and the breaking of bread in abeyance," we just read and one can actually assume that this happened less for the stated reasons but rather that they, also here, where guided by the spirit of God.

Precisely from Bertha Dudde we have statements, which give us a deep insight into baptism. I quote from B.D. NR. 8643:

By baptism you always only understand the submerging in water - an outer form which men apply to announce their obedience to the commandment of baptism - but which was and just is only an outer accompanying form, but never touches the actual core of my commandment. Water baptism as such brings about no change at all to a man, what you men have to admit after all. Only the allocation of that what goes out from the father, from the son, from the spirit - what proves the love of the father, the wisdom of the son and the power of the spirit - that can bring about in man a change and is only the true baptism, which every man has to receive to reach his aim on earth: to perfect himself, to be able to unite with me forever.

Love, wisdom and power - about these you men have to be truthfully enlightened, and this enlightenment is a true spirit baptism, but which cannot be replaced through an submerging in water. Just understand, you men, that you are not to bind yourselves to outer forms - understand it that I certainly do not demand formalities from you, but always only assess what is undertaken in spirit and in truth.

I can only tell you again and again that all outer acts and practices have no value, that I never assess a man by what he does outwardly, but alone the inner attitude towards me and my word is decisive because as soon as a man accepts my word, acknowledges it and leads a life according to this word, he will perfect himself still on earth because my word is the water of life, which flows out of the original source.

And now still parts from B.D. NR. 8688:

For every demand I made towards your souls you have thought up and carried out a worldly event for yourselves, and you then have called these events sacraments and then conferred an over high importance on them, so that now innumerable men comply with the demands which were made on them with greatest conscientiousness and believe to gather a treasure of favours for their souls through the fulfilling of humanly issued commandments. And everything is just form and appearance and completely meaningless for the maturing of the soul. But you men persist with utmost tenacity in such forms, which you have made for yourselves, but which were never demanded by me of you men. All my words which I spoke when I myself walked over the earth as man had a deep spiritual meaning and can never be replaced through outer acts. But you have not grasped the deeper idea, and for you it is enough to have outer practices, which can never bring in an advantage for your souls. Consider which effects you alone concede just to baptism! Consider that you carry out a simple outer act and are now convinced of spiritual success: may it be the release from original sin, may it be the inclusion in my church - the inclusion in a religious community. But all this man has to acquire for himself during his life on earth; he has to let himself be redeemed from sin through Jesus Christ in free will. Therefore more than just the act of baptism belongs to it, which is carried out with a child.

Water baptism is definitely wrong when infants are baptised, but also baptisms of adults can be wrong when they are used by denominations to declare the now baptised person to be a member of their self-made and man-made church.

Because there has been so much done wrong regarding baptism, it is quite sensible to do without it.

And with communion it is not much different. The decisive point with the discussion about communion is to be found in John 1 verse 14 where John says, "And the Word was made flesh."

When we are to eat the flesh of Jesus, then this means quite directly that we are to eat God’s word.

It is about spiritual nourishment and hardly about food for our body.

The consumption of physical food is and can purely be a side effect.

When Kaspar von Schwenckfeld and his friends therefore did away with communion, then they actually discarded nothing, because they mainly dealt with the discussion of the word of God, and that is in fact the holding of communion.

The explanation for Jesus’ request to eat his flesh is that his flesh is his word that has become flesh und dwells among us.

This explanation is so simple, but before Jesus preached to eat his flesh he still had more than 70 disciples, and after this preaching many left him and he had only 32 disciples left.

It was a big problem for them and that has not changed in the last 2000 years. The Catholic Church has made a big hocus-pocus out of it, as also out of many other things, which Jesus has said and where they made a worldly act out of them, a "sacrament".

And the split offs from the Catholic Church, the sects and denominations, which no longer wanted to be Catholics, but did not give up that which is essential, the clericalism of orthodoxy, have partly turned communion into the opposite to what it really is. They made a ceremony out of it, which stands so in the foreground that the real thing, the talking about and interpretation and discussion of the word, no longer takes place at all.

And now back to the Pilgrim Church:

Their abstention from any church testimony, merely because of the difficulties connected with it, made them a source of weakness rather than of strength to those brethren who were continuing in faith to carry out, as had been done by some from Apostolic times, the teaching of Scripture as regards the churches. Those principles, when rightly carried out, did not establish a sect or divide them from Christians who did not meet with them, but afforded the one ground on which it was possible for all believers to enjoy fellowship with each other, the ground of their common fellowship with Christ.

Pilgrim Marbeck, in conjunction with others, wrote a reply to Schwenckfeld’s strictures on the believers who gathered as churches and practised baptism and the breaking of bread. Schwenckfeld had expressed his disapproval in a work entitled, "Of the New Pamphlet of the Baptist Brethren published in the year 1542." Marbeck’s reply had a long title (eighty-three words) and took the form of quoting Schwenckfeld and giving 100 answers. In it he and the brethren with him say: "It is not true that we refuse to count as Christians those who disagree with our baptism and reckon them as misguided spirits and deniers of Christ. It is not ours either to judge or condemn him who is not baptized according to the command of Christ."

The Bible deals directly with the contact of Christians who do not live according to Scripture, and there it is mainly about finding the right way of getting them back on the right way.

An example is fornication, where, in 1 Corinthians 5, one has his father’s wife and this man has to be delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. That is a clear rule; one excludes him from the community, and lets him suffer, until he again comes to his senses, and makes an end to his fornication.

And in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 an entire list of bad habits is cited and then we are told that we are also not to eat with such an one, and that is also expulsion from the assembly. And in Ephesians 5:3-5 there is a similar list and in Ephesians 5:7 comes the clear rule: Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

But also regarding the right or the wrong church there the Bible has clear instruction how one has to deal with Christians who are active as dividers and belong to man-made churches.

What does one have to do when I meet a Christian, and we talk about the word of God and enjoy fellowship and mutual closeness, but in the course of time it transpires that this man belongs to a denomination, a church, which is part of the framework of orthodoxy and where the clerical system prevails?

I will try to bring this man with Scriptures on the right way, and because we understand ourselves well, I will have no difficulties doing this in love and with the right attitude, and my experience is that something like this goes down well with people who really want to live with God, and they, who never before have heard anything like this, but immediately recognize the truth of the words, react positively to this truth and start to brood their own position, or actually give it up immediately and apply the new acquired knowledge in their life.

But when this change does not take place then Scripture has clear instruction what to do.

There is the instruction in 2 Timothy 3:5 to turn away from such who, also here again a list of bad habits in the preceding verses and also in the verses following, have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.

And in 2 John 10-11 we are told If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. So we have so detailed commandments that they even contain whom we have to greet und who not to greet. Und in the 7th verse of John 2 we are told, about what kind of teaching of John it is all about. It is about the deceiver and antichrist. People who call themselves Christians, and belong to the regiment of Antichrist, we do not greet.

In the verse of 2 Chronicles 29:2 the entire thing is summarized: carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.

It is about keeping the church clean.

Also when they are Christians, we still have to separate from them when they are unclean.

And there exist indications that the church about which John writes is the church of Ephesus, and that John was an elder there. And there are not only indications, but direct statements, that that person who gave Bertha Dudde her messages, was also this John:

The only task, with which a teacher confronts his pupil, is to be solved to the satisfaction of the divine master teacher, and that is why you are looked after and taught by that spirit power tirelessly, which was assigned to you as leader and protector and which rules with great joy his office . . . . That being, which is constantly around you, which steers your thoughts, is well-disposed towards you . . . . It is the Lord’s most loved servant John . . . . Amen B.D. NR. 389

We have clear guidelines how we have to proceed. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus explains to us three exactly defined steps of the process: go and show him his fault (1), witnesses to be taken with (2), and tell it to the church (3). All three steps can lead to success. If they do not, exclusion.

But for the relations with Christians, which belong to denominations, who therefore divide the body of Christ, or who come into our assemblies, and show divisive tendencies, and want to recruit members for their denominations, the Bible still has special guidelines.

In such cases a strict attitude is adopted from the start.

Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
Titus 3:10-11

So here there is only a two-fold approach and every time it is immediately a warning.

This is of course especially necessary when they are ravenous wolfs, which want to found their own kingdom and built it up. Any hesitation would be a deadly danger for the assembly.

Especially for elders this task is important; it is one of their main assignments having a nose for these sectarians and sort them out right at the start.

According to Romans 16:17 we have to mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

This also has direct and personal consequences. When I am seen by others how I greet such a divisive person and may be even talk to him, then the suspicion can come immediately upon me that I also tend in that direction.

A warning also always involves the thread of punishment.

The separation also always involves a separation from mutual eating. We already said that communion means eating the word of God, and not the eating of natural food. But that does not exclude that, while the word of God is broken, to see what is in the inside of it – spiritual food - , we not also consume physical food for the body.

Such a gathering can absolutely also comprise a mutual meal and this is also a clear statement that it is there about the gathering of a family, but not just the natural family but the spiritual family, the true church.

The family belonging is expressed. The belonging to the natural family completely fades in importance, only the belonging in spirit – to the spiritual family – is valid.

And this mutual meal with the Christian sisters and brothers also means that we do not consume it with the members of our natural family – but that we have separated ourselves from them.

All these situations we discussed, where we are to separate from certain people, do of course not exclude the members of our natural family.

And when there is only a wafer administered and is swallowed, then that is just the expression of a completely wrong religiosity and of idolatry, and already for this reason it is appropriate to do away with the celebrating of communion, and to consciously come together to investigate the word und to talk about it.

We have now come to the end of the discussion, and also to the end of the extracts themselves from the book with the title "The Pilgrim Church" by E. H. Broadbent, 1931, regarding Kaspar von Schwenckfeld.

Now follows an extract, also about Schwenckfeld, from another book: "Hermes Handlexikon – Martin Luther und die Reformation – Gestalten, Ereignisse, Glaubensinhalte, Kontroversen" (Hermes‘ Hand-Encyclopaedia – Martin Luther and the Reformation – Figures, Events, Faith Contents, Controversies) By Hubert Stadler:

Kaspar von Schwenckfeld

(*1489 Ossig near Lüben, †10.12.1561 Ulm)

Schwenckfeld

Kaspar von Schwenckfeld. Holzschnitt (1587)

Kaspar von Schwenckfeld. Woodcut (1587)

Kaspar von Schwenckfeld was a Silesian nobleman from the duchy Liegnitz and attended several universities, among others from 1505 to 1507 Cologne; but he earned no academic degree and remained a layman all his life.

When 1518 the first news about Luther reached Silesia, Schwenckfeld took up this spiritual movement immediately and entered into the service of Duke Friedrich II of Liegnitz to support the evangelical movement in the country. After he had achieved this, he left 1523 the court again und worked in the surroundings of Ossig as lay preacher. In December 1525 he presented to Luther his understanding of Communion, which the Wittenberg reformer three months later condemned in a letter. This admittedly ended the friendly relation, but did not prevent Schwenckfeld to show respect high respect to Luther and to thank him for his own religious rebirth. After that Schwenckfeld engaged himself in the Baptist issue, by advising Friedrich II to liberal and tolerant politics. So Swiss theologians came to the University of Liegnitz (1526-1530). When then Ferdinand I as feudal lord asked Liegnitz to return to the old faith, Schwenckfeld went 1529 to Strasbourg, to not bring Duke Friedrich II into still greater difficulties.

In Strasbourg he was received heartily by Bucer and Capito. He moved into a flat in the house of Capito and in this time came across Melchior Hoffmann, Sebastian Franck and Bernhard Rothmann. 1533 he set off to a journey through upper Germany, remaining in Augsburg and Ulm for a longer time and in July 1534 went again to Strasbourg. Disappointed by the politics of suppression against deviations (mainly of the baptizers), which was not usual in the free city before, but had been legitimized based on the Strasbourg synod of 1533 (Brucer), Schwenckfeld soon moved again to Ulm, where he lived at Mayor Bernhard Besserer until 1539. From 1540 to 1547 he lived at the Feyberg castle in Justingen, after that until 1550 in the Esslingen Franciscan monastery. The last ten years of his life he spent on travels, always while fleeing from persecutors. Few months before his death Agathe Streicher invited him to her house in Ulm and offered her care to him. Kaspar von Schwenckfeld followed her invitation with pleasure and died shortly afterwards in her house.

The greatest part of Schwenckfeld‘s works consists of letters to certain subjects of reformation theology, which were already published while he was still alive in 180 books and brochures. He propagated a spiritual Christianity, which came very close in its earnestness to the Baptists, but were still clearly differentiated from them. The outer signs of church identity like administering sacraments Schwenckfeld considered unimportant, he even recommended renunciation of them as long as their offering was associated with narrow contemporary interpretations. He only acknowledged the »invisible church« of all those who were prepared inwardly, »to pay tribute to the father in spirit and truth«; dogmatic differences are there of no importance. His followers therefore also did not give themselves the title »church«, but understood themselves as a congregation, which met for mutual Bible reading and edification, but belonged to the one ecumenical church. Schwenckfeld’s lifelong conflict with the Baptist attempts of a separation of its members from this world was also based on this. Only 1909 it came to the founding of a »Schwenckfeld Church« in Pennsylvania, USA, which refers itself to Kaspar von Schwenckfeld in its traditions.

»Both from preachers and others I have been suspected to be a baptizer, as just all, who lead a true, pious, Christian life, are now almost everywhere inflicted with this name.«
Schwenckfeld in a letter from his last years of life

So this was our second quote about Kaspar von Schwenckfeld.

Now we come to quotes, again from the book "The Pilgrim Church" by E. H. Broadbent, 1931, which contain information about the two big denominations in German during the time of Schwenckfeld:

The conflict was too bitter for such moderate counsels to prevail. They were few who saw any possibility of tolerance. The development of Luther himself under the influence of such extraordinary circumstances, in its turn influenced them. From having been a devoted Roman Catholic in his earlier years, he had by his meeting with Staupitz and occupation with the Scriptures been brought into sympathy with the Brethren and with the Mystics, but his conflict with the Roman clergy now drew him into close relations with a number of the German Princes; and this association, together with the returning influence of his old training, led him gradually to the formation of the Lutheran Church. The stages of this development were marked by a drawing away from the old congregations of brethren and, side by side with the revival of much Scripture truth, an incorporation in the new Lutheran Church of much also that was taken over from the Roman system. Luther emphasized the teachings of the Apostle Paul more, those of the Gospels less, than the old churches of believers; he pressed the doctrine of justification by faith, without a sufficiency of the balancing truth of the following of Christ which was so prominent in their preaching. His teaching as to the absence of any freedom of will or choice in man, and of salvation as being solely by the grace of God, went so far as to lead to the neglect of right conduct as a part of the Gospel. Among the doctrines carried over from the Church of Rome was that of baptismal regeneration, and, with this, the general practice of baptising infants. While reviving the teaching of Scripture as to individual salvation by faith in Christ Jesus and His perfect work, Luther did not go on to accept the New Testament teaching as to the churches, separate from the world, yet maintained in it as witnesses to it of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ; he adopted the Roman Catholic system of parishes, with their clerical administration of a world considered as Christianized. Having a number of rulers on his side, he maintained the principle of the union of Church and State, and accepted the sword of the State as the proper means of converting or punishing those who dissented from the new ecclesiastical authority. It was at the Diet, or Council, of Speyer (1529) that the Reform party presented the protest to the Roman Catholic representatives, from which the name Protestant came to be applied to the Reformers. The League of Smalcald in 1531, bound together nine Princes and eleven free cities as Protestant Powers.

Instead, however, of continuing in the way of the Word, Luther then built up a church, in which some abuses were reformed, but which in many respects was a reproduction of the old system.

Luther had seen the Divine pattern for the churches, and it was not without an inward struggle that he abandoned the New Testament teaching of independent assemblies of real believers, in favour of the National or State Church system which outward circumstances pressed upon him.

Luther caused that the Catholic Church had to experience its greatest setback in its history, and he also triggered a revival, but the terror of orthodoxy was actually only reinforced through him because now it came to the formation of many other organizations, which fought about men to enslave them in their orthodoxy, and exposed themselves as prophet murderer organizations right from the start.

And now we close with, again, Curtis Lee Hall: "Protestantism is, for the most part, just slightly reformed Roman Catholicism."

 

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