Search This Blog

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Copernicus’s faith; Part 26c

      This continues from Part 26b, a series on Copernicanism and Geocentricity (see Intro & Contents in Part 1) in response to a letter from a young person ("Josh") who asked if I believed Geocentricity ... and did not ridicule me in his question.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
      From the history of Copernicus's epitaph, I move on to the matter of...
Copernicus himself
      Finally we come to Copernicus himself.  One bit of evidence to support Walther's claim is touched on in the current Wikipedia article on Copernicus.  It reports of Copernicus's involvement with the Lutheran Duke Albert in the spring of 1541, spending a month in Lutheran lands on a medical mission.  The article goes on to state that
“Some of Copernicus's close friends turned Protestant...”
So we see that the doctrine of the Reformation was all around him... and Copernicus did not show revulsion to Protestantism, even if he “never showed a tendency in that direction”.
     We also have testimony in a comment by his “Lutheran” associate Rheticus (from Westman, “The Wittenberg Interpretation”, p. 189):
“However, when he [Copernicus] became aware that the phenomena, which control the astronomer, and mathematics compelled him to make certain assumptions even against his wishes …”
“Against his wishes” implies that Copernicus did not want to contradict Holy Scripture, just like Bishop Tiedemann Giese, his closest friend.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      So what do I conclude after all this investigation?  Although Pieper left the matter of authorship to be "unknown" so that the words of the epitaph were given center stage, it is my thought that C.F.W. Walther was so well read in not only all theology, but also the historical research being done in his day, that he made a judgment call [2 Cor. 5:15-17] to assert that it was indeed Copernicus himself who had the major role in determining his own epitaph.  Walther was at his pastoral best when dealing with those who were weak in faith, and he could look past the 19th century historians and see through all the events that surrounded Copernicus .  And so he asserted that it was Copernicus who loved the words of that epitaph...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Catholic World of 1870... on that epitaph
      Ah, that epitaph, so wonderful in its rich Christian confession!  But when in 1870 the journal Catholic World reported about it (page 377)(see also CTM vol. 7, p. 505-508.), it only repeated the words in Latin and did not translate it into English for its readers.  Why?  (Robert Westman, the historian, did not leave it untranslated.)  Could it be that the perfect Christian confession in these words is the antithesis of the pope's Church? ... that this epitaph utterly destroys the Pope's power over troubled consciences? Could it be that since the Council of Trent anathematized the teaching of pure grace that the Catholic World was constrained to withhold its meaning from its English speaking readers?

      Dr. Franz Pieper in 1924 would set aside any talk or controversy of whether Copernicus took part in his own epitaph and just wanted his audience to hear the pure Christian confession!
      To end this blog post on Copernicus, I want to explicitly state the epitaph in Latin for any non-English speaking people who would come across this blog so that they may have it translated directly from the original text:

             Non parem Pauli gratiam requiro,         [2 Cor. 12:9]
             Veniam Petri neque posco, sed quam  [Matt. 26:73-75 ; John 21:15-17]
             In crucis ligno dederas latroni,                 [Luke 23:40-43]
                          Sedulus oro. 

In the next Part 27, I review Pieper's comment regarding Einstein's theory...