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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Martyrs 16: Matthias Waibel; Fick's heart theology; a folk song;

Matthais Waibel
(from Rabus)
      This continues from Part 15 (Table of Contents in Part 1a and Part 1b) publishing the book of Hermann Fick on the martyrs of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.  —  Part 15 presents the essay on Matthias Waibel.
      There is an article on Waibel in the German Wikipedia here, however, I am reserving the better record of Waibel to be from Hermann Fick. — Fick begins this essay with a thrilling synopsis of the Reformation.  Modern theologians, like Robert Kolb, tone down this history.  But it is Fick and the old (German) Missouri Synod who bring the Reformation to our day.  Sadly, the "Center for Reformation Research" fails to do this as it should be done.  Robert Kolb and his "Center" largely followed the "wissenschaftlich" method, the "scientific method".  Luther, Walther, Pieper, and Hermann Fick followed a "heart" theology, a heart of faith.
[Many song stanzas omitted. Apologies for my poor translation of these – Pastor Joel Baseley and Matthew Carver are vastly superior in translating hymn verses.]
Some highlighting added; hyperlinks added for reference.
------------------------------------------------------------
by C.J. Hermann Fick
(tr. by BackToLuther)
XVI.
"Your holy suffering!
I'm not worthy of you;
The world I will gladly avoid,
Lord, to thy name."
(Waibel under the tree on which he was to be hanged)
The Holy Spirit foretold by the prophet Daniel 11:44: "But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many."  This prophecy is fulfilled at the time of the Reformation.  For a long time the blessed voice of the Gospel had in fact died away and ceased, and the Roman Antichrist tyrannized the Church of God with incredible cruelty. But then God raised his faithful witness, Dr. Martin Luther, the Swan, of which the dying John Huss had predicted at the stake.  Through him rang again the joyful sound of the gospel, which is adopted by countless people, preaching, praise and became known.  That was the cry, which resounded from midnight, from the North of Europe in Germany, startled the Pope and like unto Jericho's trombones, crashed down the walls of his reign.  And if also the Pope succeeded in destroying many faithful Lutherans, yet he could not destroy God's Word and Luther's doctrine.  This cry frightens him and will frighten him up to the dear Day of Judgement.
Of it a poet who described the martyrdom of our Waibel sings with the words:
"From midnight here flew
A swan with his singing,
Through Europe moved,
Delivering by constraint [page 118]
They who sat in darkness,
Kindled to the bright light:
The Antichrist without masses
He did bring down to the ground.

 "When at the same times
the Gospel
Be even spread out far
In Germany, over and over.
There was falling to the ground
The anti-Christian Empire,
The Pope's indulgence and bulls
Were likewise destroyed.

"The devil and his rotting
Raged very cruel.
Therewith he would break in misery
The evangelical teaching.
He actively cleaves that you
Were terribly murdered
With fire, swords and rods
And much plagues me hard."
Among these martyrs was our Waigel, who will be forever dear and unforgettable to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. For he was a holy man, as our fathers by him boast, and a faithful confessors and martyrs of Jesus Christ. And the poet sings of him:
"Whoever acts ashamed of,.
He has no Christian blood."
Matthias Waibel was born in Allgau, about two miles from Kempten in the village Martinszell, which lies between Immenstadt, and Kempten in the Swabian Neuburg districts of Bavaria and belonged to the territory of the Abbot of Kempten. His parents were honest, pious peasants. His father, Hans Waibel, took him by shepherd’s staff to Kempten to board with a citizen, where he spent two years studying at the local monastery school.  There he excelled in discipline and teaching so before the others that the abbot took him to the monastery, and had him studying at his expense.  And because he stayed devout in doctrine and life, keeping diligent and collected, so the abbot entrusted him with the office of supervisor over some young monks, and sent him with them to the high school at Vienna in Austria.  There, he studied with earnestness and zeal, and held an honorable and [page 119] chastise lifestyle, as is attested by many truly pious divines.
After his return from the Vienna University, the abbot appointed him first as a teacher of the monastic school.  He let the priest consecrate him and give him, as a circumspect, godly man, a congregation of his own called the Parish on the Mountains, which lay beyond the city near Kempten at the cloister and stood under the rule of the abbot.  He managed this parish about six years and behaved so blameless in doctrine and life, that he was beloved by everyone in town and country. He also gained a great following of devout Christians who were tired of the yoke of the papal Antichrist, and listened with the highest desire and devotion to the pure doctrine of the Gospel of grace from him.  Already early had God brought our Waibel to the knowledge of His Holy Word.  At first he still held the Mass according to papal habit; but when it had more clearly recognized however the atrocities of the Antichrist, he gave up the Mass reading completely.  His chief concern was to preach the Word of God pure and unadulterated to his listeners, and to decorate it with a chaste lifestyle as befits a righteous shepherd and pastor.
The epitome of his teaching was notably the following: That the forgiveness of sins, God's grace and eternal, blessed life will not be attained by our merit or doing, but by a right, true faith in the living, the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and for our justification is risen from the dead again.  But that also from such a faith, as a witness that he was righteous and true, was a right Christian and founded in God's Word, must follow good fruits and works of love toward God and neighbor.
And when at that time occurred the terrible peasant revolt making difficult the righteous of God, the dear Waibel disagreed in his sermons with the revolts in all earnestness, and publicly warned his audience before all of the outrage.  He also showed them how such sin greatly angers the eternal, almighty God and thus would give the cause, that the pure doctrine of the grace-rich Gospel, that nevertheless urges all Christians to give everyone what is owed him, the enemy to blaspheme and reproach the name of God [page 120], and thus will be prevented the running of the divine Word.
But the faithful witness knew well by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that he would not glorify the Lord Jesus merely with his lips, but should also with his blood praise and confess.  That is why he exhorted his listeners often when a day would come for the scandal of the cross and death, and they should see that he was caught for the sake of his preaching, reviled, mocked, would even be killed and slain, so they would want to be angry neither for his person, nor in his teaching, but keep in mind that such happened not only for him, but also for the holy prophets and apostles, even the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself.  According to the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul all those who will live godly in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecution in the world. 2 Tim. 3:12.
Such a doctrine would Satan no longer tolerate, because they were doing great harm to his kingdom.  Wherefore he sought means and opportunity in every way to kill this dear man of God and zealous promoter of Christ's kingdom. The opportunity came to him soon.
It was a Popish habit of Kempten that on the Lord's day, as they called it, namely on the day of Gordiani and Epimachi [English wiki here], the saints (the relics) were brought out from the monastery into a meadow called the Schweickwiese, and showed them to the poor people, whereby great Indulgences were doled out.  Against this pagan idolatry and immorality, Waibel preached as a true zealot for the glory of God and the welfare of the poor souls somewhat seriously, yes even violently and with great enthusiasm from God's Word.  This exasperated the heart of the ecclesiastics falsely so called.
Soon afterwards, so that one came before the other, the abbot Sebastian Praitensteiner read his first mass in which many prelates, nobles and other lords were present.  Here also Waibel delivered a sermon in which he punished severely the clergy’s glory, pride, arrogance, insolence and pomp, together with the whole papacy rejected, so that the abbot's brother after the sermon would have stabbed him if one had not interfered.  Now hatred knew no bounds.  Day and night the priests sought unceasingly how to destroy him. They turned therefore to the Swabian League which was still prepared against the rebellious peasants [page 121] and gladly helped where it was valid to kill evangelical Lutheran preachers.  Soon also a council found, approved and decided how they would catch him at the first opportunity and kill him.  For Herod, the Pharisees, and Pontius Pilate will very soon agree what is to be done against Christ and his members.
One morning — it was Sunday after St. Bartholomew's 1525 — came the sacrist to Waibel at the rectory of the imperial city of Kempten, where it was located then.  He probably had not thought himself safe in his home before the town under the abbot's rule and therefore moved to the protection of the imperial city, which was devoted to the Gospel.  The sacrist announced to him that he was to baptize a child in his church and then the assembled people expected that he would preach to them.  So they sought to lure him out of the city and its secure protection to the land of his enraged enemy, the abbot.  The friends of Waibel suspected nothing good, warned and asked him urgently that he should stay with them in the city, for they all knew well that the clergy only sought revenge.  But the martyr answered them: because his office and calling demands such and he will now also be required to do pastoral work, he would go out and wait to see what God the Lord will send him over this.  So he made his way in God's name.  Only hardly he had come out before the town and just in the thought to go to his house when armed horsemen and mercenaries of the Swabian League attacked him, captured and wounded with a stab.  His mother, who was still living, was persuaded and also did not believe otherwise than that he had died from these stab wounds.
How it fared for the blessed Waibel, his beautiful end, as well as his whole story, this is described in the following old guileless true-hearted folk song.  The author was perhaps one of Waibel’s congregation members and an eye-witness of his death. It reads thus:
A Song
from the teaching, life, imprisonment and death of the dear martyr Matthias Waibel, to sing in the Bentzenauer’s way.
The truth does force me
From the bottom of my heart
That I have to sing a song,
Thus I make known to you, [page 122]
As recently delivered,
Of which I sing and say:
A shepherd was caught quickly.
The sheep greatly complained.

The shepherd do I call:
Mr. Matthias Waibel well.
Whoever is ashamed of,
He has no Christian blood.
He drove his sheep
On the meadow to good fruit:
At the Word of God he is stayed
In God's honor and discipline.

 When you right question me
What I want to sing to you:
To Kempten before the gates
Did he have his sheepfold.
Therein had he drawn
The sheep with true voice;
His teaching has no one cheated,
This testifies the Scripture of.

 The Word of God actively resounded
From this shepherd mouth,
Until he all of sheep
Understood was in the heart.
There began to increase
The sheep all right now,
Just to hear his Word of God
Out of sheer grace and happiness.

 Speak against it actively
The Wölf in sheep dress:
"We follow him to get revenge;
It must become him suffering.
He does even lead
The people with heresy,
That we could try
With our fantasies.

 He is a murderer of souls,
He will do no good works;
Yet all our forefront
Much the same to be.
It was to be for pious people,
Their faithful still seem to us well;
We do read in book of souls,
That he does reject.,, [page 123]

skipped stanzas from pages 123-128
So has ended
That Christian life is.
The provost actively contact
At other places one;
There he has let go
The Barrabams family tree,
The Christians does he punish,
And right wants to be.

So it has been issued.
Yet I shall remember more:
On Sunday, he was taken prisoner
Next to St. Barthlome;
At our lady’s eve
Of Mary’s birth
He was robbed of his life,
By rope he was murdered.

The thousand and five hundred
Five and twentieth year,
Since God has him particularly
Appointed for others.
So it is decided
From this holy man;
His teaching has enjoyed many,
The same Word has taken on.
So this zealous preacher joyfully shed his blood on September 6, 1525 for the sake of the Evangelical Lutheran doctrine, for which he had so powerfully preached in life and won so many. [page 129]  Let us now hear the terrible judgments upon Waibel’s persecutors and murderers, and the great signs by which God has declared himself before all world for His martyr.  An old poet describes it so:
He was hanged on a beautiful beech.
Which is still at the time,
Remains through the whole year green.
Situated on the way to Waldsee;
Then shall keep its essence,
At this beautiful boundary,
Von Waldburg the Stewards
Long their residence here.

And because he is hung
On this tree branch,
Enveloped his face did grow
With a red glow.
Three days after his death
Went over a man
Saw how he was so red,
Had great turn of wonderment.

Took a knife nimbly,
And cut a little wound
In the saint’s hands
At the small little finger,
There flowed with great amount
Hereout his worthy blood,
That yet the murder and weapons
In the heavens do cry.

skipped stanzas from pages 129-134

O God! do us receive
By your Holy Word.
Let us not depart from it
The devil's deceit and murder.
Do teach us your righteousness,
That we do praise thee,
In the Holy Spirit honor
Through Christ, your Son.

 Herewith I decidedly do
This true history,
I without all annoyance
With diligence have managed
God, the Lord, to honor
And His Hon, Jesus Christ,
For pious people’s desire
This is given in print.

As distressing as these judgments are which God inflicted upon Waibel's murderers, so they give us a great consolation. For God revealed thereby his holy wrath against the atrocities of the papacy and the bloodthirsty defenders of the same, and testified to the fact that the dear Waibel was a witness to the truth and that the evangelical Lutheran doctrine Waibel proclaimed was His divine Word.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
16. Matthias Waibel. Sources: Rabus, Thl. 2, p. 151. Crocius, p. 178.  Fortgesetzte Sammlung von Alten und Neuen theologischen Sachen 2c., Jahrgg. 1728, p. 206.  Ev. Märtyrerbuch von Volkert und Brock, p, 153.  In the oldest writings in which his name appears, in the Fortges. Samml. vom Jahre 1728, S. 117, there is the same Waibel; otherwise it is also written Weybel or Weybell.  He died on September 6, 1525 as Andreas Hondorff reported in his Calendarium Sanctorum et Historiarum p. 511. Later writers, Crocius and Messrs. Pf. Volkert and Brock, give September 7 as his death.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
      As with the martyrs Voes & Esch, an abridged version of this account appeared in the Der Luthereraner magazine, June 1, 1882, volume 38, page 85-86.  But this appeared almost 30 years after, not before, Fick's book was published.  The author of the magazine article was not identified... it could have been either Walther or Fick, so close were these two in their faith.  —  This abridged version of the murderer's end was this:
The old narrator by whom this atrocity has been handed down to us adds that all those who by word and deed have contributed to the innocent death of this martyr subsequently died an unnatural death, indeed, that one, the chief of all, had his body eaten alive by lice [Läusen].
    A False Account
          As I returned again to the German Wikipedia article to compare it with Fick's account, I noticed that it claims that Waibel "was punished for his role in the peasant war".  This is a false statement, for Waibel preached against the violence of the peasants, and was rather put to death because of the message he preached, the pure and simple Gospel.  Matthias Waibel is a true martyr of the Church according to St. Augustine's definition.  The German Wikipedia article attempts to tone down the murderous Catholic intention to destroy the preaching of the pure Gospel.  This is the same thinking that comes from the CPH general editor of the book The Lutheran Difference who thinks Vatican II made "substantive changes" in the Pope's Church.  So, dear reader, the better record of Waibel comes from an American, from a German Lutheran on the "American frontier" (as Robert Kolb calls him), from an old (German) Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor.
    Matthias Waibel – 
    Ecumenical Holy Encyclopedia

          There is a listing for Waibel in the Ecumenical Holy Encyclopedia listing on the web.  It lists the date to celebrate Waibel's martyrdom to be September 6 – celebrated by the "Evangelical Church in Germany".  Unfortunately this church body has substituted  for "Evangelical" the word "wissenschaftlich" (scientific, academic) and so can no longer take comfort in the message that Waibel preached to the people from his prison cell window.  It was not a message of ecology, or the message of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (for most of his life)... it was rather the Evangel, the pure Gospel as uncovered again by Martin Luther.

          The German Wiki notes the following:
    His outstanding significance for the Reformation in the Allgäu region threatens to fall into oblivion, because it was obviously hushed up since the Counter-Reformation. 
    Waibel's story continues to be "hushed up", but this blog post is dedicated to renew the memory of the dear Waibel and his message of the pure Gospel. —  In the next Part 17 is the account of 2 little know men.

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