Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Dedication, Part 2

There is a certain sort of Prophets, recent and new, who, under the pretext of extraordinary piety, are come to overthrow the foundations; inflated with an opinion of profound mysteries, they ridicule the simplicity of heavenly doctrine, and, with the letter of the divine word neglected, search for secret meanings, of which there are not even any vestiges in the Scriptures. Indeed, with this madness they are become so overbearing that they prefer to be called Theosophists, rather than Theologians, and claim for themselves alone, as men greatly beloved, and the friends of God, heavenly wisdom and illumination as their inheritance. For some many ages pious Fathers, holy Martyrs, and religious Theologians, gnawed the husk, but did not reach the kernel, reserved from these mystagogues, not bookish men, who with the literal sense, which the Church acknowledges and preaches as the foundation of the faith of Christ, tranquilize souls, but spiritual, who abjure all commerce with the letter, so that the license of devising dogmas might be able to extend endlessly.


These prophets are set ablaze, not by that pleasant and shining pentecostal fire, which, descending from heaven, kindled the minds and tongues of the Apostles to proclaim the wonderful works of God: but by a dark flame, ignited from the alchemic furnaces of Hermes[1] and Paracelsus,[2] which with foul soot darkens the shining face of heavenly doctrine. Would that it only darkened, and did not, as far as in it lies, completely efface! For it is not able to be expressed, what monstrous phantasms the fumes ascending from the Paracelsian furnaces produce in the heads of those mystics, the giving of a certain specimen of which, chiefly from Paracelsian and Weigelian[3] writing, here is not alien to the scope of this preface. It is agreeable to go through a few heads of Theology.

Valentin Weigel

Concerning Theology, and the written word of God, thus Weigel: Theology is the inner sense infused from heaven, concerning the nature and order of the creatures, and the end of man. Although the Description could appear tolerable at first glance, yet it is fully consonant with their desperate dogmas, which monstrous doctors promulgate concerning the word of God: since they deny that sense to be had from the Scripture, but contend that it is to be imported into Scripture from elsewhere. They say that the literal sense is a shadow, an Antichristian sound, lacking wisdom, devoid of spirit, a sandy foundation,[4] hurtful to salvation, doubtful in words, imperfect in doctrine, dead and inefficacious in letter,[5] unsuitable for consolation.[6] All which, with a blasphemous mouth, the Cyclopic Theology of Weigel vomits upon the Scripture.


Concerning God, and the most holy Trinity, thus Paracelsus: God has eternal flesh and blood, whence after the image of God man was made flesh and blood: God from His own person divided for Himself a woman, which ought to be regarded as God, because it was not separated from Deity: God of Himself made for Himself a wife, by whom He procreated a son.


Thus Stiefelius:[7] From eternity God betrothed a virgin to Himself, from whom, as a mother, He received His son.


Thus Weigel: God is a creature, the Son is a creature, the Holy Spirit is a creature: God is whatever creature: GOD is the essence of all creatures: God makes and creates Himself: GOD works nothing: The Father is the Son and the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the Father Himself and the Son. Before the birth of Christ the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father alone; but after the birth of Christ, from the Father and the Son.


Concerning the Wrath of God against sins, thus Weigel: God does not punish sins in the body: God is not interested in external sins.

Paracelsus

Concerning the incarnation of Christ, thus Paracelsus: Believe not that Christ assumed a human body, but rather only a human nature, in a divine body, not in a human one: He assumed a divine body with human senses, manners, and gestures: The Cross is the root of Jesse,[8] of which the Savior of the world was born: Mary was only cistern and vessel, from whom Christ assumed nothing.[9]


Thus Weigel: Christ brought His flesh and blood from heaven, and did not assume them from the earth, did not assume them from Adam: There is nothing terrestrial in Christ except His gesture: He has two bodies, mortal and immortal: one divine from the Holy Spirit, one mortal and visible from the Virgin Mary, which nevertheless is not Adamic: Even according to the flesh He is the natural Son of God:[10] The body of Christ is not of the elements, but is deified.


Thus Menno:[11] Christ was conceived of the incorruptible seed of God the Father.


Thus Felgenhauer:[12] He is without a rational soul, in the place of which is Deity. Concerning Christ, which sort according to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is believed by Christians, namely, that He is the true θεάνθρωπος/Theanthropos/God-man, the Redeemer of mankind, he vomits these blasphemies, which not even Satan ever dared to do: This Christ is the very Antichrist, and the man of sin.[13] The blasphemous Weigel adds: He is the seven-headed beast, the false prophet, the Dragon.[14] Let heaven and earth tremble and shake! Should Germany bear and nurture these monsters?


Concerning the office of Christ, thus Paracelsus: Christ suffered in a heavenly body, not in a mortal body: for, if He had suffered in a mortal body, it would have profited us nothing.


Thus Weigel: The office of Christ concerns the New Testament alone: Christ did not deliver the flesh of Adam: He did not redeem the body: He is not found in Adamic flesh.


Concerning the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ, thus Paracelsus: Mary is a Goddess: she is the wife of God: she is an eternal Virgin: she is the heavenly Eve: from the heavenly Throne she descended to earth.


Thus Weigel: Mary is not a Daughter of David.


Thus Menno: The virgin Mary is a fetid Elder Tree,[15] a thorny bush of the forest.


Thus Theodorus Philippi: The Church, not Mary, is the woman, whose seed crushed the head of the serpent.[16]


Concerning Angels, thus Paracelsus: They are not substances distinct from God, but only the force and power of God.


Thus Weigel: They perform nothing: they have all things in themselves.


Concerning Man, thus Paracelsus: By faith and a strong imagination the spirit of each man is able to be composed into an image: by faith alone and a strong imagination voices and responses are able to be elicited from heaven as often as they are expected.


Thus Croll:[17] The elevated imagination of men is able to produce whatever we see with the eyes in the greater world: all herbs, all growing things, all metals, all visible bodies, whatever marvelous operations, whether it be present or absent: it is also able to move mountains, and has dominion over all spirits. With the impudence vies the fancy of pretence and impiety. Which of you, says Christ, by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? Matthew 6:27. The elevated imagination held in readiness here by Croll, since it is capable of all things, why is it not also capable of this? Then miracles, as the proper works of God alone, would cease: Confirmation of saving doctrine through miracles would cease:[18] The imagination of man is capable of all things: which, if perhaps it might confirm the Hellish Theology of Paracelsus and Weigel by its θαυματουγίᾳ/thaumaturgy, and nothing is impossible for the minds of men, what then is left for the Holy Spirit, so that He might convince of His doctrine, and loose the elect from the snares of the Devil?


Thus Weigel: All things are by nature in man; believing men have two bodies, a spiritual and a corporeal: Man has his spirit from the Father, his body from the Son.


Concerning the Fall of man, thus Paracelsus: The Serpent, which deceived Eve, appeared in the form of Adam, in which he had come to be after the fall: the fruit conceived by Eve was the virile member.


Thus Antonius Pocquius:[19] That Serpent was Adam himself.


Thus Felgenhauer: The keeping of Paradise, which is in the lofty ether, God committed to the Angels, with whom performing the watching more negligently, Satan crept into it, and instigated our first parents to fall, on which account God expostulated severely with the good angels.


Concerning Sin, thus Weigel: There is no sin, except unbelief: concupiscence, unto which there is no consent, harms nothing: sin is an accident and a substance: man is corrupt accidentally and substantially.


Concerning Faith, thus Weigel: All infants believe in Christ: Faith is not be external hearing: one may deny with the mouth true faith:[20] there ought not to be any quarrel concerning the articles of faith with anyone: natural faith is provided, and that most efficacious.


Concerning Justification and remission, thus Weigel: Adamic flesh is not fit for the remission of sins: we are justified by the mortification of our members:[21] we are justified, not by imputation, but by the substantial inhabiting of Christ.


Concerning Regeneration, thus Paracelsus: Regeneration is a substantial change, wherein the Adamic flesh is destroyed with respect toοὐσίαν/being, and flesh new and eternal is born from the flesh of Christ: We are regenerated from the Virgin: by regeneration we are changed into God.


Thus Weigel: Regeneration is substantial: by regeneration man assume flesh completely heavenly: the hearing of the divine word, the frequenting of public assemblies, and the use of the sacraments, are impediments to regeneration: those regenerated by Christ have immortal and incorruptible flesh: they are natural Sons of God: as Even was of Adam, so they are of Christ.


Concerning the Sacraments, thus Weigel: The frequent use of the sacraments has not been commanded: The Sacraments do not confirm faith.


Concerning Prayers, thus Weigel: Bodily things are not to be asked of God.


Concerning the Church, and the Schools of Christians, thus Weigel: The Church is not in a certain place, not in assemblies, neither does it associate with itself princes: its Marks are not the word and sacraments. Where there is a visible assembly, there the true Church is not: the Church is not to be purged; there is to be no resistance of heretics: in Academies not even a small acquaintance with Christ is able to be found: there is no Academy in the whole world in which Christ might be found (what this monster of a man affirms to be true is as true as the assertion that he himself is a man): I ask for myself the names, even any Academy in the Roman Empire, in which there is a place for Christ: Christ was unwilling that the Gospel should be preached by Devils: as all Synagogues, Academies, Consistories, and Councils, with the power of secular princes, are enemies of Christ.


Concerning the ministers of Churches and Schools, thus Weigel: Those that are taught by men know not Christ, and do not want to know Him: all not immediately called are unsuitable for the ministry; all that are taught in the schools are unsuitable; it is necessary for the student of Theology to unlearn all that he has previously learned: ministers ought not to be fixed to one place, not to receive salaries: there ought not to be preaching in churches, in schools, in assemblies: from all contradiction, argumentation, and disputation, there ought to be an abstention by all those that want to make progress in the doctrine of salvation: Christ does not make use of the labor of men in the remission of sins: In the school of silence and sabbath ministers are to be instructed.


Concerning Magistracy, thus Weigel: The Magistrate does not undertake the process of law, but depends on the rules of Christ alone: it is not lawful for Christians to contend in judgment before the magistrate: it is sinful for a Christian to exact capital punishment: taxes and tributes are not to be exacted from subjects: the entire Justinian law[22] is to be abrogated.


Concerning Death, thus Weigel: Even with the external body burned, the internal body remains unharmed: Those dead before the birth of Christ awaited the resurrection of Christ in the atrium of hell.


Concerning the Resurrection, thus Weigel: The Resurrection of believers will happen in new and celestial bodies: We shall rise in the flesh of Adam: but in that we shall not be brought to judgment: heavenly flesh alone will be received in heaven.


Concerning the final Judgment, thus Weigel: Men are going to appear with the instruments wherewith they sinned and were punished: thieves with crosses and gibbets, murderers with swords and wheels.


Concerning Hell, thus Weigel: Hell is in heaven, and heaven in hell: heaven and hell are one. Lest anything should be wanting to the madness, even that common and first principle, into which all things are at last resolved: A thing is, or it is not: or, Two contradictories are not able to be true at the same time: the insane man dislodges, with this infamous aphorism promulgated: In the school of grace, two things really contradictory are united and combined by the mind, so that both might be true together and at the same time, in the same respect, and absolutely. This stone having been cast at the same time falls back upon the unhappy head of Weigel himself. For, if both poles of a contradiction in the Weigelian School of grace are true, absolutely and in the same respect, it will certainly be true that the Weigelian Theology (however much the author might contradict) is impious blasphemous, satanic, and worthy of the flames of hell together with its author: as it is certainly altogether true. For, if all the heresies, as many as have infested the Church from the birth of Christ unto the present day, might be raked together into one, they would easily be surpassed by this one Theology of Paracelsus, Weigel, and his disciples, in absurd blasphemies: so that it is a marvel that in the bosom of the Church of Christ there are those that foster these asps, who either commend, or propagate, or at least excuse these poisons, as if under the shell of the words, at first sight hard and bitter, an exceedingly sweet kernel and profound mysteries lie hidden, which they could by no means follow, unless initiated into a Weigelian sabbath and spirit in the school of silence, which practices the art of exalting Fantasy. This madness has, in this most calamitous age, patrons and eulogists not a few, who even brave the halls of great men, if perchance by some means they might be able to infect heads, and through them to consume the remaining members.


For fighting this πολυκεφάλῳ/many-headed monster, Herculeses are to be sought in the Churches and Schools: against this venomous thorn the scholastic youth, by salutary antidotes from the medicine chest of divine books, are to be well fortified and prepared, and by the holy art of strengthening the tender soul, so that they might be safe and secure from all danger of wounding or death. Neither have pious and learned men hitherto neglected their office (among whom our Most Illustrious Superintendent, Christian Becmann,[23] also places his own name, whose elaborate work, against the whole mystery of Weigelian-Paracelsian impiety, will soon see the light), whom the sleepless Keeper of Israel[24] brought into the arena in great number, furnished with His Spirit, and most successfully engaged against Satan and his wretched slaves, the heresiarchs, in most of the provinces of Europe.


This battle was fought by them, with such vigor, and with such a powerful apparatus of arms, that it might seem strange that there are yet those that murmur to the contrary, and, although lethally and deeply wounded in the chest, are able to bear upon the face the appearance of the hope of life: which they could be no means do, unless they had completely dismissed shame, and with the enemy of the Church and mankind taken up impudence as a shield.


Indeed, God forbid that I should place myself among those great warriors, who have hitherto fought the battles of Jehovah, and with the two-edged sword of the divine word have cut all the knots of the heretics, and, among these, of the Paracelsians and Weigelians. Neither was it my desire either with a new sort of arms (for novelty is suspect in this holy war) to assail these monsters of doctrines, or to draw into the midst things overlooked by others (for what had been able to evade the industry and acumen of such men?): but from the spacious arena of Christ’s Wrestlers against the Goliaths, who disgrace the ranks of Israel, to select the most polished stones, and to prepare them for the hands and slings of new recruits (when they are not suited heavier armaments): so that with the boy David they might learn by degrees to fight for Israel; and, having departed from this battle, contemplate the golden peace of the heavenly Jerusalem, and, relying on true faith, pant for it in ardent prayers. Which was my sole scope/goal in composing this little work: which I intend, not for the learned, but for learners.

[1] Hermes Trismegistus is a lengendary figure, a composite of the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth. There is a body of literature attributed to him, the Hermetica, which includes material on philosophy and religion, astrology, medicine, alchemy, and magic. The oldest material comes from the second century AD. [2] Paracelsus (c. 1493-1531) was a Swiss Renaissance philosopher, physician, and alchemist. [3] Valentin Weigel (1533-1588) was a German theologian and mystic. He served as a Lutheran pastor at Zschopau, and wrote voluminously. He kept his more radical ideas to himself, and lived peacefully. Contrary to the dogmatic tendency of the age, Weigel believed that internal illumination is superior to all external means of spiritual knowledge. [4] See Matthew 7:24-27. [5] See 2 Corinthians 3:6. [6] See Romans 15:4. [7] Esaias Stiefel (died 1627) was a German merchant, who became the leader of a mystical sect. He was given to speculation, and pride induced him to spread his views. [8] See Isaiah 11:10; Romans 15:12. [9] See Galatians 4:4. [10] See Romans 1:3, 4. [11] Menno Simons (1496-1561), a former Roman Catholic priest, was an Anabaptist leader, and founder of the Mennonites. [12] Paul Felgenhauer (born 1600) was a Bohemian theosophist, mystic, and alchemist. His theological views show affinity with pantheism, Sabellianism, and Monophysitism. [13] See 2 Thessalonians 2:3. [14] See Revelation 12; 13; 16:13; 19:20; 20:10. [15] The crushed immature foliage and fruit of the Elder give off a foul smell. [16] See Genesis 3:15. [17] Oswald Croll (c. 1563-1609) was a German physician and alchemist, serving as Professor of Medicine at the University of Marburg. [18] See Hebrews 2:2, 3. [19] Antonius Pocquius, a Franciscan Friar professing conversion, was condemned by Calvin as one of the leaders of the Libertines and Enthusiasts. [20] See Romans 10. [21] See Colossians 3:5. [22] Justinian I (483-565) was the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire from 527 until his death. The Digest, or Pandects, was a compendium of Roman law, compiled at the command of Justinian I. [23]Christian Becmann (1580-1648) was a German Reformed theologian; he served as Professor of Theology at Zerbst (1627-1648). [24] See Psalm 121:4.

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