By Scott Keith

(Today, my wife, Joy Keith, has stepped up to proclaim a little Gospel to the readers of The Jagged Word. Enjoy.)

As I was growing up as a Gen-X-er on the South Side of Chicago, my parents used many a classic turn of phrase assumingly trying to teach my brothers and me life lessons. Things like, “If you eat your (insert canned green vegetable of your choice here), you’ll grow hair on your chest.” Or, “Don’t cross your eyes too long or they’ll stay like that forever,” “Don’t speak unless spoken to!” “Children are to be seen and not heard!” “Actions speak louder than words.” So, as the only daughter, I sure as shooting wasn’t going to eat green vegetables, and I didn’t want to marry a guy who did. EWWWW! Recently, as I am a grandmother (who knows better and loves her FRESH green vegetables), I am watching my own kids who are moving out, becoming adults, growing up, and being parents themselves, I’ve been reflecting on some of my life before I left my childhood home.

By Scott Keith

Look at me! It’s cliché. In our age full of social media, selfies, and self-aggrandizement, we all want people to look at us. We want to be noticed. We want to be famous, if even for 15 seconds. We want the world to love us. It starts when we are young and just learning to do this or that, and we yell out to mom and dad, “look at me,” and it only gets worse from there.

By Scott Keith

The Search

Thus, we are at the end of our brief investigation of Philip Melanchthon; his theology, teaching, writings (especially the Loci Communes), work as a theological ambassador, reformer, and good friend of Martin Luther. Too, this short series has attempted to show that many, if not all, of the attempts that have been made to reveal or identify tensions or error in Melanchthon’s theology, have arisen primarily from anachronistic presuppositions of inconsistencies with Luther, or problems that have their grounding in modern systematic and dogmatic relevancies.

By Scott Keith

A Recap

The Reformation was firmly ensconced in the German lands and began to move to other countries. It even reached France. In 1534, Melanchthon was invited to France to defend the Lutheran position to King Francis, who seemed to favor the Reformation. Melanchthon responded that he would do what was within his power for the sake of true religion (CR: 2, 739). Melanchthon expressed a fond willingness to accept the invitation, though John Fredrick, his elector, refused to grant him leave to go. The refusal of permission to travel did not stop Melanchthon from keeping up correspondences with interested parties in France.

By Scott Keith

By the 1530s, the Lutheran Reformation was ensconced in most of Germany. This time marks an interesting development in Melanchthon’s life and career. From this point forward, he was called upon to defend the faith in the halls of princes and before political leaders for the rest of his life. He served as a de facto Lutheran ambassador to lands considering adoption of Reformation theologies.

By Scott Keith

The First Missteps:

Melanchthon was the consummate tinkerer and was never completely satisfied with anything he authored. Directly after the presentation of the Augsburg Confession and the publication of the Apology, Melanchthon began to make changes to the Augsburg Confession. These changes have become known as the Variata, or Altered Augsburg Confession. Up to 1540, these were mostly minor changes in wording. However, in 1540 and 1542, Melanchthon made changes to Article X, which caused considerable controversy. In Article X of the Variata, Melanchthon makes the language concerning the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper less precise to make the article more acceptable to the Reformed. While these changes were not extreme, they should not have been made as men had laid their lives on the line for what they originally signed in 1530. To change a document men had pledged their lives, reputations, and fortunes to defend is certainly a mistake.

By Scott Keith

Early Days at Wittenberg

Contrary to popular opinion, Melanchthon never served as a parish pastor. Unlike Luther, he was not known as a preacher. But as John Schofield points out in his work Philip Melanchthon and the English Reformation, his 1519 Bachelor of Divinity degree earned at Wittenberg and his appointment to the faculty at the University of Wittenberg made him the first ordained professor of Greek in Germany.

By Scott Keith

Luther Under the Ban Melanchthon Hard at Work

In 1521—the same year Melanchthon married his wife—at the Diet of Worms, Martin Luther was convicted of heresy and placed under a Papal bull and an imperial ban. The ban meant that he was an outlaw and could be killed or imprisoned on sight. It was only the grace and quick thinking of his elector, Fredrick the Wise, that saved Luther’s bacon. Elector Fredrick whisked Luther off to the Wartburg castle for safe keeping. Yet, while Dr. Luther was contending with the Papal bull against him, confessing the Christian faith at Worms, and writing sermons for preaching in the Castle Church and elsewhere, Melanchthon was at work developing the first Lutheran “system” of theology. This work was destined to exert a powerful influence on the Lutheran Reformation and marks an epoch in the history of Christian theology. The work in question was entitled the Loci Communes Theologici, or Common Topics of Theology.