Tag Archives: Vermigli
Posted on 13. Feb, 2012 by Lee Gatiss.
Peter Martyr Vermigli, the anniversary of whose death 450 years ago we celebrate this year, has this to say about ministers who do not preach very well (in his commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, on the church) …
“We need the admonitions and expositions which in contemporary Christendom are so deplorably neglected. Here is the principal and supreme apostolic duty, yet these new leaders have put this aside as being beneath their pontifical dignity. They have instead relegated it to some poor friars… and unloaded the responsibility that so definitely belongs to their episcopal office. Although declining to preach themselves, they dictate how others must preach. So Christ’s sheep are badly fed, left to starve, or hardly allowed to graze… They make sermons which contain either nonsense and the impenetrable darkness of ignorance, or words of truth so camouflaged, mutilated, and diluted that they mystify rather than edify their listeners… No word is heard that might build up the pitiable people.”
Pastors, and all “new leaders”, beware of these temptations and dangers, which are just as real in our day as in the 16th century.
Posted on 06. Feb, 2012 by Lee Gatiss.
Last summer here in the UK we had some riots. People breaking into shops and businesses in opportunistic “smash and grab” raids; cars set on fire and neighbourhoods torn up; people injured and killed by rampaging mobs bent on nothing but disorder, chaos, and anger.
I don't want to make any particular comment on the social inequality and injustice which may or may not lie behind these particular riots. Others have already done that much better than I could. But it does strike me that this sort of behaviour is actually just a small picture of this rebellious world's reaction to the gospel.
Or rather, Peter Martyr Vermigli suggested this interpretation to me, when I was reading his 1544 commentary on the Apostles' Creed. Commenting on Christ's impartiality in judging the world, he says:
“Partiality is a vice that prevents the enemies of piety from speaking sanely and judging accurately concerning Christianity. Christ and his people are boldly accused and condemned by those whose verdicts are vitiated by selfish gain and disordered desires… Christ's judgments will differ from the false and corrupt sentences passed by this world's tyrants against Christianity. Either they will not succeed, or they will do more harm to themselves than to Christians.”
This is a very helpful perspective, not just on riots, but on all the opposition we face as Christians from this miserable and naughty world (to use a phrase from the Book of Common Prayer). I think Vermigli stole the phrase “disordered desires”; at least, I know Aquinas uses it and I'm fairly sure Augustine did before him. But it is a useful way of seeing worldly opposition to Christ and Christians: it is ultimately motivated by selfish gain and disordered desires.
Vermigli's observation that these will do more harm to our opponents than they could ever do to us, is sobering. It is not just about “this world's tyrants” of course, but our unbelieving friends and neighbours too, who struggle with their own desires and needs but kick against their most perfect antidote in the person of Jesus Christ, our glorious Prince of Peace. It also forgets that he will come again to judge the living and the dead, to dispense the most perfect and unassailable justice. Pray for our rebellious world!
The picture above comes from http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/08/the-london-riots/ if you want to see more devastation caused by the riots here last summer.
Posted on 30. Jan, 2012 by Lee Gatiss.
I love the teaching in Ephesians 2:6 that we are so united to Christ that we can actually be said to be raised and seated with him in the heavenly realms. What God did for Christ, raising him from death and seating him with God (Ephesians 1), he does for us too (Ephesians 2) when we are united to him by faith. But this is a tricky truth to illustrate in a sermon or talk, because it can sound a bit abstract and for want of a better word, “theological”.
Someone once asked me how to help people who think more “concretely” to understand this scriptural teaching. It was a good question, and I'm sure I gave a bad answer. But as one who is committed to using the actual images given to us in the text (rather than cluttering our messages with a lot of only tangentially relevant anecdcotes), I have often pondered it. Until recently, when I came across this excellent illustration from one Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499-1562), in his commentary on the Apostles' Creed:
“Since he is risen and is our head, we are also risen in him. Tell me, I pray you, when one holds his head above the deep and deadly waters of a fast flowing stream, do we not say that he has escaped death even though his other bodily members are yet below the surface? The same holds true for us, who are all one body in Christ. Our head is risen from the depths of death. Even though we may appear to be overwhelmed in the mortal stream, yet we are risen in him. We must either deny that he is our head or acknowledge that we are members of his body – in which case we are compelled to affirm that our resurrection has begun in his.”
He has a gift for this sort of thing, Dr. Peter. Wonderful!
The image I have attached to this post is actually a scene from Pilgrim's Progress by that inimitable Puritan, John Bunyan. Cards of this fantastic image are available for purchase here.
Posted on 23. Jan, 2012 by Lee Gatiss.
I have been reading a bit of Peter Martyr Vermigli. He’s not as well known as other 16th century Reformers, but he is certainly amongst the most important. In particular, he had quite an impact on the English Reformation in various ways, not least in his work on the Book of Common Prayer (the 1662 version of which is celebrating its 350th birthday this year). I like him because he’s not only a solid theologian but also a rigorous and careful exegete (the two should of course go together, but sadly this is not always the case).
I know he’s probably not technically a Puritan (though it dependson your definition!), but I wanted to share this great quote from the preface to Vermigli’s commentary on 1 Corinthians, because it has great modern relevance too.
“Thus holy men are made sure concerning the truthfulness of the Scriptures, so that they are not afraid to die a horrible death for their sake. Rarely or never has it happened regarding physics or mathematics that the dogmas of those sciences are confirmed by blood or loss of life.”
I especially like that this comes from a man who is known by the name Peter MARTYR… It would make an interesting conversation starter with an atheistic scientist, wouldn’t it? How many people who believe as you believe would be willing to stake their lives on it? And if it is not many (how many can you name who would happily shed their blood for their favourite scientific theory?), then is it really all that important?