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Monday, December 29, 2014

Martyrs 2: Wolfgang Schuch (Nein! Nein!- No! No!)

Rabus' depiction, pg 143

      This continues from Part 1c (Table of Contents in Part 1a) publishing the book of Pastor Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In this Part 2, I bring the story of the German Wolfgang Schuch.  —  In this story, our dear Schuch speaks the phrase "Nein! Nein!".  There was another Lutheran who spoke those words about 400 years later – Franz Pieper.  Pieper did not speak these words as a martyr, but in earnest for the Norwegian Lutheran pastors (in America) who were thinking to give in to false teaching on the Doctrine of Election of Grace.  Many gave in to the false doctrine and by their action are partially responsible for today's sorry state of the ELCA.  Others (the Minority) stayed out and formed the Ev. Lutheran Synod (ELS).   Spiritually, the cases are the same, for Wolfgang Schuch and Franz Pieper were fighting for the same unbounded grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
II.
"God will still not leave me even now in this last distress."
(Schuch before his end.)  
Wolfgang Schuch, a German by birth, was appointed as the pastor to St. Pildt (now Pölten or St. Hypolite), a town in Lorraine [France].  To these he preached the gospel with great earnestness and zeal, and praises them as “poor, obedient and willing people", and was eagerly received so that he stood in great honor and reputation among them.  Also the papal abuses were soon abolished, the fasting, the images, the dreadful business of the Mass and the perverse service of the Saints.
But the Papists were fiercely angered over this.  They brought action against our Schuch to the Duke of Lorraine, Anthony, as a seducer, scammer, insurgent and heretic, [Page 6] and delivered therein that the Duke threatened Schuch's congregation, to devastate their city with fire and sword.  In order to avert this calamity for his congregation, Schuch wrote a beautiful letter to the Duke, in which he frankly set apart the Evangelical-Lutheran doctrine, but also with all due deference.
He writes: "When I initially came in to this honored city, St. Hypolite, I have now and again found a roving people which erred like sheep that are without their shepherd, and quite corrupted by many and various horrors of error and superstition.  But I soon started without delay, as my office required, so I was commanded by the LORD, to bring the erring back on the right path, to warn them to repent of the past life, and said that the kingdom of God is near, and threatened that the axe is already laid to the root of the tree and will soon be cut down and thrown into the fire, so it is found barren otherwise, and that the time was at hand in which God's angels, that is the messengers of His Word, have been sent to remove all scandals from his kingdom.  I started at once, I say, like a good workman to pluck out all thorns and errors that gradually grew against the Lord and his Word, and have begun removing, ravaging and tearing everything that was raised high and firmly against the doctrine of God, and to plant trees that would bring fruits in their season, and to build an abode and dwelling that is not dwindled and earthly, but eternal in the heavens [2 Cor. 5:1] and would be builded upon the foundation of the saints and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, on whom all the building is joined together and grows into a holy temple of the Lord, to which we all need to be built into a tabernacle of God in the Holy Spirit. [Eph. 2:20-22]
"And thereby I speak understandably, so am I sent to your honored people to preach the gospel of God, which he had promised previously through his prophets in the Holy Scripture that concerns his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh.  But even He is the power of God for salvation of believers through which the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: The just shall live by faith. [Rom. 1:17]  The righteousness of God by which we are justified before God, through faith in Jesus Christ for all those and all they that yet believe [Page 7] on him. [Rom. 3:22]  Because we are now justified freely by his grace, we are justified by faith in his blood, without the works of the law."
Then he warned against reliance on any of our own works and pointed to the Word of God, "which commands not from or to the same [our works but] His words to do, lest every one of us does what seemeth right to him, [Prov. 14:12]  and that we do not rely on our wisdom, for the wisdom of the flesh is death." [Rom. 8:6]   He also defended himself against the charge of sedition by testifying how he incessantly strove that everyone should submit to the authorities, as a divine order.  "There is nothing that makes a country peaceful and quiet except the Word of Christ, a peaceful king in which love is taught which is patient, it suffers and carries all."  At the same time, he declared himself against the "cursed freedom of the flesh," and asks the Duke earnestly and most cordially that he "not hinder the run of God's Word."
But this urgent letter was not considered, and the Duke remained with his purpose, to destroy the city of St. Pildt.  When the dear Wolfgang Schuch was told this, he himself went to Nancy, capital of Lorraine, to answer the Duke for his congregation and for himself against all false accusations.  He had only scarcely arrived there when he was thrown into prison where he was forced to remain for a long time.  But he persisted steadily in confessing the truth, and did not let himself soften, neither by threats, nor by promises, still by love for his wife and his children, of whom he had six or seven.
Now and again he was led into the Barefoot monastery where the monks and priests examined him. Presiding over this was a rough, outrageous, fat, unlearned monk named Bonaventura Revel, [?] the highest one of the Barefoot-Order, and confessor to the Duke.  But he knew nothing to put forward against Schuch other than insults and blasphemous words, calling him a heretic and devil.  The dear martyr did not scold again, but put him to shame by the power of the Word of God, and threatened him and his monastery brothers the terrible [Page 8] judgment of God. Furthermore they gnashed their teeth from grim malice, tore from him the Bible out of his hands like rabid dogs, and because it was too hard to disprove it, so they burned it with fire.
During his last interrogation, the Duke was present in person, but only so that they should not know him.  But because the martyr spoke only Latin, he did not understand, also on his gestures could not notice that he would be overcome or scared, so he decided: One must not dispute with him, but proceed to final judgment, because he had denied the holy Mass.  
The Papists registered 25 articles in which Schuch rejected the errors and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and had confessed the truth.  It states among others: "Christ in the Mass is not a sacrifice.  The worthy partaking of the sacrament does not stand in remorse and satisfaction for the savorer, rather that he believeth that Jesus Christ is our pledge and redemption.  He also believes there is no other satisfaction, for the satisfaction of Christ's suffering.  Those who want to go to the Sacrament of the Body and Blood, should and must not be afraid because of the magnitude of their sins, but stand still.  Only faith justifies and without all work and merit he makes God his friend. The work of repentance to which we are called, is nothing else than slaying of ourselves (which is the old Adam), which there begins in baptism, and is entirely in death."  So, because the dear Schuch had testified nothing but the pure Bible teaching, that is why he was condemned to death by fire.
When it was announced his judgment, he broke into the words of Psalm 122:1:. "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD."  On the way to the place he had to pass in front of the Franciscan monastery.  There Bonaventura [Revel] cried out to him, pointing him to the images of saints on the cloister door: "Behold, thou accursed heretic, honor God and His mother Mary, together with all the Saints"  Wolfgang Schuch rebuked him: O hypocrites and whited wall, our Lord will punish you, and bring to light this your trickery and knavery once and indeed soon."
Arriving at the place of execution, his books were first burned before his eyes.  Then he was asked if he would revoke [Page 9], so should his punishment be mitigated. But the faithful witness replied: No, no!  For the kind merciful God has stood by me all the time in my life, so will He not leave me, indeed also not now in this last distress in which I need His help and assistance the most."  Then he said with a joyful heart.: "Mandetur executioni sententia, i.e.: Let the judgment proceed," and went willingly on the pyre.  There he began in a loud voice to sing Psalm 51, so long until he could no longer go on against the smoke and fire. This happened on August 19 in the year 1525.
Due to his resistance and the brave confession of this learned and excellent martyr many pious hearts were built; however, the enemies of truth are shocked and benumbed over it.  Also soon after this martyrdom the judgment of God could be obviously seen, since the two most distinguished pursuers and condemners of blessed Wolfgang Schuch, namely the commander St. Antonii Viennensis and the abbot of the monastery Clari Loci, Auxiliary Bishop to Metz, miserably died a nasty, fast death.
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Annotations:

2. Schuch. Sources: The Great Martyr Book and Church Histories, by Dr. Paul Crocius from 1682, page 173 and  Rabus Th. 5. page 143.  According to Rabus Schuch's death was on about June 21, 1525.  Dr. Löscher (hist. mot. Thl. 3. page 73) cites Wolfgang Schuch as a Lutheran.
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There are 2 threads running through these accounts of the Lutheran martyrs:
  1. the Lutheran Doctrine of Justification, and
  2. the absolute truth – infallible, inerrant, inspired – of the Holy Scriptures
Indeed it is the Lutheran Church that is the Bible Church, the Church built on the Holy Scriptures.  And the blood of the Lutheran martyrs testify to this.  So when the Anabaptist-Mennonites praise the martyr Caspar Tauber, they testify against themselves that they left the Church of the Reformation, the Lutheran Church.  As Walther tells us: All Reformed sects... were first Lutheran!  —  In the next Part 3, Fick tells the story of the martyr Peter Spengler.

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