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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Martyrs 6: Widow Wendelmut–true cross in her heart; example for women

This continues from Part 5d (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Pastor Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Part 6 is the account of the Widow Wendelmut. —  It is a favorite "straw man" argument of modern theology to attack true Christian teaching on the place of women in the church. What they are actually attacking is God's Word (the Bible) and at the same time they are in fact the worst enemies of women.  And this account of Widow Wendelmut is striking in its praise of a woman of faith. Hermann Fick does not miss this point saying:
She has given to all widows and women a splendid example to stay with the same fidelity in the Lord, and everything dear to suffer, even death rather than deny the Lord Jesus and the Lutheran doctrine.
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
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by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
VI.
Widow Wendelmut.
"I'll stay with my Lord, with my God; neither death nor life shall separate me from Him."
(Wendelmut against a monk.)
"Abide in Me, and I in you. Abide in my love," (John. 15:4, 9) – the Lord Jesus exhorts us that we are ingrafted into our heavenly vine by faith as His branches, for faithful perseverance in love of Him. This admonishment fulfilled the blessed Wendelmut. She was just a [page 30] weak woman who could do nothing without Jesus; but she remained in Jesus by faith, and His almighty grace did strengthen her that she remained faithful to Him until death, and sealed the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine with her blood.
Wendelmut was a widow, the daughter of Claus von Münchendamm. On November 15, 1527 she was captured by the castle warden, brought into the city Hague, Netherlands, where the count of Hochstraten, governor of Holland, came for her case on the 17th of the same month. On November 18 court was held; the governor and the full Council of Holland gathered and Wendelmut was brought forward.
Then she was asked by one “N.”: "Woman, have you well-considered of the things which were presented to you by my lord?" — Wendelmut: "What I have spoken, I remain steadfast in." — N. "Where you do not change your talk and turn from your error, it will come to you an intolerable death." — W. "The power is given to you from above, so I'm willing to suffer." — N. "How is it that you do not fear death, since you have not tasted it?" — W. "That's true. I shall never taste death, because Christ says: If a man keep my Word, he shall never taste of death. But the rich man tasteth death and shall taste it forever."
N. "What do you think of the sacrament?" — "I hold your sacrament for bread and flour; and where your people think that is a God, I say that it is your devil." — N. "What do you think of the saints? — W. "I know of no other mediator than Christ." — N. "You must die if you thereby remain." — W. "I'm already dead." — N. "If you are dead, how can you then speak?" — W. "The Spirit lives in me; the LORD liveth in me, and I in him."
N. "Will you keep a father-confessor, or not?" —  W. "I have Christ, whom I confess, but none the less, where I would have angered someone, then I want to gladly ask them that they forgive me." —  N. "Who taught you this view, and how did you arrive at it?" —  W. "The Lord [page 31] draws all men unto himself. I too am one of his sheep, so I can hear his voice." —  N. "Are you then the only one called?" —  W. "No, because the Lord calls all those that are heavy laden to himself."
After many other such like speeches Wendelmut was led back to prison.  On the following two days, she was tried and challenged by various people, namely by monks, priests, women, and their closest friends.  Among others, a woman came to her from simplicity, accused and tried her in this manner: "Dear mother, can you not think what you want and be silent, then you shall not die."
Then Wendelmut answered her and said, "Dear sister, it is ordered that I should speak; and I'm called upon, so that I should not nor may not keep silent." — Woman: "So I am afraid that they will kill you." —  W. "Whether they burn me tomorrow or put into a sack, for me it is all the same.  As it has been provided by the LORD, that it shall be done and not otherwise.  I want to stay with the Lord." —  Woman: "If you have done nothing else, I hope that you will not die." —  W. "To me nothing is situated; but when I came from the room above, I cried very much; then He had compassion on me, there I saw that all men are still blinded.  But I will pray to the Lord for them."
Black or preacher's monks also came to her, one as her father confessor, the other as an instructor.  The latter showed her the cross and said, "Behold, here is your Lord, your God."  Wendelmut replied: "This is not my God.  There is another cross where I was redeemed.  This is a wooden god; cast him into the fire and be ye warmed by it."
The other asked her, on the morning that she would die, if she would want to receive the sacrament, he would give it to her.  She replied, "What god would you give me?  Whom you sold this past Easter for a trifle or a mite?"  And to a priest or canon, who rejoiced that he had held Mass on that day, she said that he had crucified God anew.  There said N.: "Me thinks that you are verdollet (gone mad)."  With this vilification he only proved that he thought that Christ was crucified for foolishness. [Page 32]  Quietly Wendelmut replied: "I can not mend.  My Lord, my God, to whom honor, praise and thanksgiving be forever, made me so."
On Wednesday morning, she was taken to court.  When they reached the room, the monk went to her, and held the cross in front of her face and said. "Revoke all, but before the judgment is given"  But the dear Christian turned away from that cross with the words: "I will stay with my master, with my God; neither death nor life is to separate me from Him."  When she came to the judges, the monk whispered in her ear: "Fall on your knees and ask the Lord for mercy."   But Wendelmut dismissed him with the words: "Be quiet! have I not told you that you should not draw me from my master?"
Then the Decan of Naeldwich read the verdict, condemned her as an obstinate heretic and handed her over to the secular authority with the hypocritical protest that he did not consent to their death.  Then he got up, together with his two assessors, whereupon they went as clergy away from the Council.  Hardly had they removed themselves however, than the Chancellor was reading the judgment: as Wendelmut was found unrepentant and should not remain unpunished, so she should be burned to ashes, and all her goods confiscated.
Then said Wendelmut: "Is it now about to happen?  I ask you all if I had offended someone, that you will pardon me that."  Then the shameless monk said: "Kiss your Lord only once."  She replied: "That is not my Lord."  In departing from the council chamber the monk said: she should call on Our dear Lady, the Virgin Mary, that she should pray for her.  Wendelmut replied: "Our Lady is well contented in God." —  Monk. "Call on her." —  W. "We have the Lord, who is seated at the right hand of His Father and prays for us."
When they came out of the hall and went to the place of execution, the monk said: "See your Lord now only once, who died for you."  But Wendelmut replied, "That's not My Lord.  My Lord, my God is in me, and I in him."  Monk: "Look around, would you condemn all this flock and are they all damned?" —  Wendelmut: "Not all, but that judgment belongs to God." — M. "Fear ye [Page 33] not before the stern judgment of God?" —  W. "God does not judge the sinner, but to give peace." —  M. "It is an article of faith that He will judge the living and the dead." —  W. "He will not do now." —  M. "Do you not fear the judgment which you shall suffer in an hour?" —  W. "No, for I know where I stand with my Lord."
On the scaffolding the hypocritical monk said to her, "Turn around, and ask the people that they would forgive you that you give them a bad example."  But Wendelmut did not deign to answer.  Then one of the bystanders said: "Mother, turn yourself to the people and ask them if you had angered somebody, that you would have them forgive you, because this should help a lot."  This she did.  Then she helped the executioner put the flux powder into her bosom.  Again the monk tried her with the cross, which she pushed away with the words: "Oh how you try me; my Lord, my God above is here."
Then she went on merrily as if she were going to a wedding and was not horrified by any means before the fire.  Monk: "Will you always and forever remain with God? —  Wendelmut: "Yes, in truth—!"  M. "And in the Holy Gospel?" —  W. "Yes!" —  M. "Behold you must go into the fire now, even now revoke all."  W. "I am well pleased.  The Lord's will must be done." —  M. "That is not the Lord's will; the will of God is your sanctification."
Then the executioner said, "Mother, abide in God, and let you not be drawn from God."  Meanwhile, she went alone to the chair fearless and submitted herself to the staves on which she should burn, and asked: "If the chair stands firm, will I also fall?”
Now when the executioner prepared the ropes with which he wanted to strangle her, the monk said: "Wendelmnt, do you want to die as a Christian?" — Wendelmut replied, "Yes!" —  M. “You deny all heresies?" —  W. "Yes "! —  M. "Hold ye not to the Christian Church and deny all errors?"  —  W. "Yes!" —  M. "That's good; Wherefore are you also sorry for it that you have erred? " —  W. "I have formerly erred to be sure, for that I am sorry.  But this is not an error, rather the right way and I stand with God." [Page 34]
After the precious martyress of our Lord Jesus had spoken this, the executioner began to strangle her.  As she felt it, she shut her eyes firmly and lovely, as if she had fallen into a sleep.  And when she had given up the ghost, and was slain, they saw that nothing was moving in her, such as previously the fingers on both hands suspended at her side. This happened on November 20, 1527.
Thus, the pious widow Wendelmut remained loyal in the Lord Jesus and His love to her end.  By nature a weak woman, she has overcome through the grace of the Lord the devil, the Roman Antichrist, the monks and the priests, and triumphs now with the Lord in eternal bliss.  And she has also given to all widows and women a splendid example to stay with the same fidelity in the Lord, and everything dear to suffer, even death rather than deny the Lord Jesus and the Lutheran doctrine.  "I'll stay with my Lord, with my God; neither death nor life shall separate me from Him!"  That was for her and for us all our motto.
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Annotations
6. Wendelmut, Widow. Source: Rabus Thl .3, page. 121.
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The Cross
The description of the monk forcing a wooden cross into the face of the dear widow was striking to me. There is a lot of use of the image of the cross today… you see it even in tattoos and jewelry, painted on motorcycles, etc.   We see that the monk meant his wooden cross not as a sign of Christ's sacrifice for the whole world from sin, but rather for obedience to his Church (of the Antichrist) and its sacrifice of Mass, its "good luck charms"... apart from faith. These crosses seen in our modern world cause me to think that these people have learned this from the Roman Catholic Church, perhaps even Romanizing "Lutherans".  How so?  Hermann Fink shows us in his comment following this exchange:
To a priest or canon, who rejoiced that he had held Mass on that day, she said that he had crucified God anew. There said N.: "Me thinks that you are gone mad." With this vilification he only proved that he thought that Christ was crucified for foolishness.
She may have been a "weak woman", but dear God! how powerful she was in Thy precious Word!... how her star shines in heaven!  How she towers over today's LC-MS which stammers in describing The Lutheran Difference, ignoring the fact that Vatican II never repealed the Council of Trent's anathema of Christianity, a Christianity where Christians believe that God is already reconciled to them for the sake of Christ's perfect, complete sacrifice in their stead.  But the dear Widow Wendelmut rather turned away the monk's trinket (even a wooden cross), the monk's apostasies, and relied utterly on Jesus:
"I'll stay with my Lord, with my God; neither death nor life shall separate me from Him!"
Amen! —  In the next Part 7 is Georgius Schärer of Salvelden.

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