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Reformation flame war


Apr 10, 2009
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Salve Regina
La Virgin de Cobre
From here.

in which Hans the cobbler and Peter the baker amuse themselves by trolling an unsuspecting Franciscan friar who just wants some candles. These dialog pamphlets dramatizing theological disputes were very popular in the 16th century. Here the Franciscan friar attempts to defend traditional Catholic religious orders against Protestant objections. Like most Reformation dialogs, this one contains lengthy passages where the speakers just sling competing Bible verses at each other. I’ve cut most of that out and kept the fun stuff. Although this is a loose translation, it’s still fairly accurate. Enjoy!


Aug 17, 2006
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Orthodox Church in America
Yeah, the title goes " A dialog on the hypocrisy of the religious and their vows, through which, despising the blood of Christ, they presume to become holy. "
Saying straight out that Catholics "despise the blood of Christ" is hard flaming.

The first dialogue begins:

Peace be with you, dear brethren! Of your charity please give me some alms for the poor barefoot Franciscans, we need candles for singing and reading.

Peter: I don’t give to strong beggars like you and begging is forbidden. In Deut. XV God says, “There shall be no beggars among you.” I give candles to my poor neighbors who use them for WORKING. Get a job!
This is actually a debate or quandary that applies generally to anyone religious asking for charity. Protestant churches and ministers and church staff need supplies to function too. And so it's natural for them to ask for what they need. Let's say that there is a Protestant church and it needs candles or money for them. They are practically going to have to ask someone for it.

Let's say that they just limit it to asking their congregation members. Even then, it is still asking people (the congregation members in this case) for material support. Sure, it's not the same as a monk walking into a shop and asking for help, but it's still asking someone for material help, so the same challenge applies, broadly speaking. The only way to make sense out of Shopkeeper Peter's replies is to put limits on asking for material help so that some requests (eg. a monk visiting a shop) count as unpermitted begging and some requests (eg. a minister asking his congregants to pay tithes) do not.

This brings up a related, broader issue: Protestants understandably have complained about medieval churches pressuring people into paying tithes. And Shopkeeper Peter would tend to be the kind of person to object. But de facto, Protestant churches need donations to function.

So alot of what we are seeing in the Reformation polemics are complaints against the kinds of things that priests sometimes abused but which even Protestants de facto have to do to some extent. Even the word "priest" is one example. Luther did not like the word "priest" for Church clergy, but functionally Lutheran ministers meet the definition of priests as Luther admitted at one point. It's like using the word "congregation" instead of parish. There are alot of things that Protestants seemed to do in a phobia kind of way to get away from Catholicism.