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Sunday, August 21, 2011

St. John Frederick, the Magnanimous -- Modern day Job

John Frederick,
the Magnanimous
(updated October 25, 2014 - added picture, links to Wikipedia)
This is about a man who is not pictured in my masthead above, but perhaps should be.  In April of 1998, I wrote the following.  I present it now as a testimony that remains fresh:
I have been reading a large amount of material on Luther’s life and the time of the Reformation.  But I just ran across something in Henry Eyster Jacob’s book “The Lutheran Movement in England” that caused me to stop and rejoice.  I can hardly continue for some time because of the joy from this man and his testimony.   I quote from page 202:
One great figure, however, stood forth as a beacon light amidst the storm.  One heart rose superior to the crisis.  The clearness of the testimony of the imprisoned Elector, upon whom even sentence of death had been passed, carried with it a moral weight that was felt throughout Christendom.  Summoned before the Emperor in 1548, he was offered the most favorable terms, in case he would desist from his error, and submit to a council.  His answer is worthy of everlasting remembrance:
I stand before your Imperial Majesty a poor prisoner. I do not deny that I have confessed the truth, and for it have lost possessions and property, wife and child, land and people, in short everything that God has given me in the world.  I have nothing left but this imprisoned body, and even this is not within my power, but within that of your Majesty.  By the truth which I have confessed, I will abide, and will suffer, as an example, whatever else God and your Imperial Majesty may impose.” (The Lutheran Movement in England, Henry Eyster Jacobs, Philadelphia, 1916, page 202)
Why do we not hear more of John Frederick in Lutheran history?  Some call Martin Chemnitz the Second Martin for which Lutheran theology was upheld from dying out.  But this testimony of John Frederick the Magnanimous carried the Church easily to the time of Chemnitz.  I must add an “Amen” to the words of Jacobs that this testimony was “felt throughout Christendom” and “worthy of everlasting remembrance”.
Luther called Robert Barnes “St. Robertus” after his martyrdom.  I must call this man “St. John Frederick”.  These words will live throughout time.  May they be remembered at this time of Easter.
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I was struck now as I reread the quote of John Frederick... for he is the modern day Job.  Job had a faith that did not depend on earthly possessions.  He said (Job 19:25) "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth".

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