Friday, March 06, 2009

Exsurge Domine

(Latin, “arise Lord”)

This refers to the papal bull written by Pope Leo X on June 15, 1520. The bull intended to bring an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther and his rebellion to a halt by the threat of excommunication from the Church. In it, the demand was made that Luther retract 41 errors within 60 days. From the first paragraph, “Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. . . . The wild boar [Luther] from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.” On December 10, 1520 Martin Luther burned the bull in front of his students at Wittenberg. It is reported that he uttered these words at the burning, “Because you have confounded the truth [or, the saints] of God, today the Lord confounds you. Into the fire with you!” Some would suggest that this is the formal day on which the Great Reformation began. On January 3, 1521, Leo excommunicated Luther issuing another bull Decet Romanum Pontificem.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


The agrapha are those sayings of Christ that were not recorded by the Gospel writers, yet are attested either in the traditions of the early church or in other New Testament books. A definite example of an agrapha is recorded in Acts, 20:35 where Paul says, “Remember the word of the Lord Jesus, how he said: It is a more blessed thing to give, rather than to receive.” These words are not recorded in the Gospels, but are part of the unwritten tradition which Paul received. The agrapha are normally found in the writings of church Fathers. If the writing has sufficient attestation in the Fathers and it does not contradict any canonical teaching, it is considered a possible instance of agrapha. One example in the early church is from Justin Martyr, Dial. 47: “Wherefore also our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘In whatsoever things I apprehend you, in those I shall judge you.’” Many of the proposed agrapha, however, could very easily be summaries or paraphrases of canonical sayings, thus making a genuine agrapha difficult to determine.

Regula Fidei

This is a phrase used often in the early Church to refer to the summation of the Christian faith. The regula fidei was seen as the faith which was held “always, everywhere, and by all.” It was seen as being inherited and passed on, not through an avenue of inspired or infallible information distinct from that of Scripture, but as representative of the essential doctrinal and moral elements of the faith contained in Scripture. This concept served as a theological barrier to gauge and protect orthodoxy. Also known as the “analogy of faith,” from Latin analogia fidei.