Reformation Flame War

Demonstrating that nothing ever really changes, blogger Laura Spires Freeburn translates a German Reformation era pamphlet that sounds uncannily like any internet argument today between Protestants and Catholics:

In honor of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 Theses, here is my heavily redacted version of a Reformation-era dialog by Hans Sachs, namely

A dialog on the hypocrisy of the religious and their vows, through which, despising the blood of Christ, they presume to become holy.

in which Peter the cobbler and Hans the baker amuse themselves by trolling an unsuspecting Franciscan friar who just wants some candles. These dialog pamphlets dramatizing theological disputes were very popular in the 16th century. Here the Franciscan friar attempts to defend traditional Catholic religious orders against Protestant objections. Like most Reformation dialogs, this one contains lengthy passages where the speakers just sling competing Bible verses at each other. I’ve cut most of that out and kept the fun stuff. Although this is a loose translation, it’s still fairly accurate. Enjoy!

Monk[1]: Peace be with you, dear brethren! Of your charity please give me some alms for the poor barefoot Franciscans, we need candles for singing and reading.

Peter: I don’t give to strong beggars like you and begging is forbidden. In Deut. XV God says, “There shall be no beggars among you.” I give candles to my poor neighbors who use them for WORKING. Get a job!

Monk: Ah, you must be Lutheran.

Peter: Nope, Evangelical.[2]

Monk: Then yeesh, do what the Gospel tells you and give to anyone who asks of you. Matthew V, Luke VI, and so on…

Hans: He just roasted you with Bible verses, Peter.

Peter: OK fine, I got roasted. Here brother Heinrich, behold this penny which I will give you for the Lord’s sake and which you can exchange for whatever candle suits your fancy.

Monk: Oh, God protect me, I’m not allowed to take money! My order forbids it.

Hans: Who set that order up?

Monk: Our holy father Francis.

Hans: Oh, so Francis is your father? Well GUESS WHAT – Christ says in Matthew XXIII to call no man “father,” for you have but one father who is in heaven!

Monk: Arrgh, we know that. But he taught us the way a good father teaches his children.

There’s plenty more here and it’s pretty fun.

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