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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Martyrs 1c: Caspar Tauber (not Bonhoeffer)

Caspar Tauber

      This continues from Part 1b (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Pastor Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In this Part 1c, I begin with Fick's first martyr, Caspar Tauber.
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The following account of Caspar Tauber's martyrdom brings tears to the eyes as he continually puts the blame only with the false teachers and leaders, the papal bishop, priests and monks, and calls to those who were stirred up by them as "dearly beloved in Christ".  How could he do this?  He believed that they too had their sins paid for by Christ... that he was in reality no better than they were before God.  Caspar Tauber believed UOJ – that God was in Christ reconciling the world (Universal) to himself (Objective), not imputing their trespasses unto them (Justification). 2 Cor. 5:19.

To renew the memory of this dear Lutheran martyr, I present Hermann Fick's account of Caspar Tauber.  May the memory of this martyr be for the reader's mental health!
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
I.
"And if I still had eighty thousand souls, they would all be supplied today through my faith in God."
(Tauber against the Roman priests.)
Caspar Tauber was a highly respected, wealthy citizen of Vienna, Austria, and had a beautiful wife and several children.  He had everything that people highly desire.  But he left everything and denied himself; he took up his cross, and followed the Lord Jesus as a faithful disciple through shame, prison, sword and fire.
After he had championed Christian liberty often and much with words and works as a true Christian against the Antichrist, he was at last taken in solely by the Word of God in 1524.  When he had for some time patiently suffered imprisonment, the Bishop of Vienna, John of Revelles, and his assessors spent much time secretly in prison with him in order to prevent him from making his Christian separation. But in vain.  The blessed martyr chose the better part and stayed with the Word of God, fought gallantly and fearlessly, and persisted until the end.  As he was taught by the Spirit of God, he was persuaded neither by threats nor by flattery and sweet words to a defection from the Gospel.  [Page 2]
Then the servants of Antichrist tried other means. They printed a retraction that Tauber should read publicly.  In it they imputed to him out of malice the error that because Christ is a spirit, his true body and blood cannot be present in Lord’s Supper.  Furthermore in it is indicated that he said that he was both a priest, as an other ordained priest, that the keys of the church together belonged to all Christians, men and women.  Also he had rejected the intercession of the saints, purgatory, auricular confession, and the superstition that the things blest by the priest expelled the devil.  All this he should revoke and publicly renounce the Lutheran doctrine.
Now on the day appointed a high pulpit was erected in the churchyard of St. Stephen, which Tauber had to climb.  Beside him, on another pulpit, was the choral master, and around them was a considerable crowd in tense anticipation. Tauber alone remained quiet and patient in the deepest silence. Then spoke the choral master: "Tauber, you are conscious why our prince and lord, Lord Ferdinand, has put there to you to recant without doubt the articles that thus lie here before you; now then you would do enough and follow."
Then the devout Christian lifted his eyes towards heaven to God, and answered, "Dear beloved in Christ, God Almighty does not want people to be laid with heavy burdens, as He indicates in Matthew 23. Therefore is my plea to all you gathered here, and pray for the sake of God's love, to pray an Our Father, therewith the almighty everlasting God this, so to be in the right true Christian faith, to stay and remain steadfast, but these who are not illuminated, thus are yet enlightened in Christ Jesus our dear Lord."
But the choral master fell on his speech: "Tauber, you are not to preach but to recant what was previously stated."  With gentle heart he replied: "My lord, I have listened to you, so listen to me a little."  But the choral master angrily shouted: “You are not commanded to say such, but speak and read off what is set before you"  Then said Tauber to the people: “Dearly beloved, one  has sent me a writing that I should make a revocation, particularly the first article of the sacrament of the altar, which they have invented and set at their pleasure. [Page 3]  They scold me as a heretic and deceiver, and yet have not overcome me by the Holy Scriptures.  I appeal publicly here to the Holy Roman Empire, that they choose me as their judge.  I will then overcome by the Holy Scriptures, or be found unjust, so will I suffer over what set me right."  And again he said: "I testify here before everyone that I revoke absolutely nothing."  But he was ordered to descend, where he lamented, "My enemies have compassed me about, and I may never speak."  Then he was returned to prison, and the people followed him.
Then on September 10, the final judgment was made on Tauber.  Early in the morning at 7 clock he was placed before the court in the Augustinian monastery.  "Revoke, revoke, or you will die as a heretic!"  shouted the popish clergy to him.  But Tauber remained steadfast.  Whereupon the Official read in Latin the court’s judgment, declaring him to be a public damned heretic and condemned him to death.
But the martyr said to the assembled citizens: "Dear friends, I beg you, for God's sake, will ye be also my witnesses, not only here, but also by the almighty God, that they have so falsely and secretly condemned me; neither I, nor you, have all understood their words and actions. For this ye also well see that they have not presented any articles to me.  It would have been easy for me to answer, by God's grace, from divine Scriptures.  Unconquered, and even without a hearing, I must be condemned.
"If there were eighty thousand of their Doctors, so could or would they not get anything of me, because the Word of God is on my side.  In the dark have they played with me.  They are ashamed of their actions, so they hate the light.  On the Word will I persevere, die and be healed. They want to force me, and set me up with falsehoods which I have not spoken.  I have thought they should make heretics Christians, so they would make of me Christian from a heretic over my will and without all my confessions of a heretic. So God has taught me, so I must die."
Then he was led into the house of the executioners. When going in, he turned to the people with the words: "My dear brothers and merchants, write it in all the land, that the treatment of  [Page 4] Caspar Tauber was so unchristian, and that even a dishonest act was commited on him.  So you will be blessed of God."
But the anti-Christian mob was still not satisfied that they had damned innocent blood. They wanted to despise and blaspheme God and His chosen ones even higher. That is why the monks and priests spread the rumor, Tauber had given himself the executioners home with a bread knife three stitches, what he was going to die. [BTL- exact meaning unclear]  "Behold, said the impious ones, there is the gallant, Lutheran, Protestant people!  If they see that they are overcome, they despair, and bring themselves to life, on that they may not become the executioner’s part because they always scream but just now: "I want to burn; I want to be stoned to death; I want to be drowned."  [BTL- The thought appears to be that the monks/priests are saying the Lutheran martyr wants to save his life by a protest of death by beheading, a protest feigning a preference for death by burning, stoning, or drowning.  But see the refutation of this in 2nd to last paragraph.]
After such a long struggle God wanted to reveal his glory and Tauber's faith. Once again the tyrants tried to persuade him to revoke.  Many men and a great crowd gathered, eager to all learn if he would recant. But the pious Christian was not weaker but stronger and more joyful through so much pain and shame. He desired not to withdraw, but only to die.
On September 17, 1524 he won the martyr's crown.  Early in the morning at 6 o’clock he was taken to be executed on a cart.  Before him was a Roman Catholic priest who reproached him with a little board painted with a crucifix and the image of the Virgin Mary; behind him sat the executioner, beside him were seven servants of the mayor and four henchmen. So the train went secretly behind the town wall by the exchange gate out on the gravel.  Arriving at the place of execution, he went joyfully from the carriage and asked all those present that they should not be bad-tempered nor enemies towards those who would be so responsible for his death, for thus it would please God.
Then spoke the papal priest; "Tauber, will you not confess?"  The martyr replied: "Arise, my idleness, createth your cause.  I have confessed God, my heavenly Father."  The priest replied, "You should see to it that your soul is supplied." Tauber said, "I have already supplied my soul; and if I still had eighty thousand souls, they would all be supplied today through my faith in God."
Having said this, he looked up to heaven, and said, "O [Page 5] Lord Jesus Christ, you who have died for our sake and for us, I give Thee thanks that you chose me,  unworthy, and hast made me worthy to die for the sake of thy divine Word."  Then he made a cross with his right foot upon the earth and knelt down joyfully on it.
As now the executioner took off his red cap, the dear martyr spoke to him: "Dear Master, take it and carry it from me!" Then the executioner he tore the shirt of the neck Tauber however, very willing and eager to die, wound his hands one over the other, raised his eyes to heaven and said three times with a loud voice, and joyful, fervent heart. "Lord Jesus Christ, into your hands I commend my spirit."
And immediately his head fell, from which his body was dragged to a large pyre and burned.  Thus he fell asleep in the Lord.
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Annotations:
1. Tauber. Sources: Histories of the holy chosen witnesses of God, confessors and martyrs, by Ludwig Rabus of Memmingen, Doctor of Holy Scripture, from the year 1557. Thl. 6, p.22. Caspar Tauber is cited by Luther as a martyr. Luthers Werke; Walch edition. vol.. 21 column 96.
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Dear God!  Would that thou wouldst grant me just one of the 80,000 souls that Tauber's faith would sustain.  Would that thou keep me by Thy Word as thou kept Tauber.  Wouldst thou ever keep the sign of Thy Cross in my heart, the cross that Tauber knelt on as he joyfully fell asleep in Thee. In Jesus precious name!  Amen!  Amen!
An approximation of the likely protocol of this beheading is shown >> here <<, with the shirt torn at the neck, and the sword drawn just before the beheading.
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Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been called a "martyr", specifically in a "New York Times Bestseller" book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy,  But I do not call Bonhoeffer a martyr, for it is well known that he was not put to death for his Christian faith, but rather for his involvement in the plot to kill Adolf Hitler.  Bonhoeffer was far from the Christian truth during much of his life, yet he had the word of truth in his mouth near the end of his life.  Some who criticize Bonhoeffer ignore this wonderful episode in an otherwise distressing life.  I will comment on this at another time but anyone who has read recent books on Bonhoeffer, including the current opus Strange Glory, will read of this event in the final chapters.  But I will read of the true martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the ones that Pastor C.J. Hermann Fick (and Luther and Walther) write about for truly edifying stories of Christian faith, even unto death.
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After reading Tauber's story and considering the question I posed in Part 1a, I think that it was C.F.W. Walther who encouraged Fick to write this book. — In the next Part 2, I will present Wolfgang Schuch.

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