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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

May 6, 2011

THE BISHOP AND THE ANGRY PAMPHLETEER

You’ll have to read last week’s e-gram to get up to speed for this week’s e-gram. And, I will be rather brief this week too.

Last week I wrote about natural disasters and the tendency of some people today to assign a particular hurricane, tornado or tsunami to the wrath or judgment of God who is avenging a sinful people. It is not a new phenomenon.

Currently I am reading God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible by Adam Nicolson. It is the history of King James of England, who in 1611 came to order the new Bible Translation. Suffice it to say that lots and lots of politics went into the birth of that great Bible.

This was an era of the terrible plague which was devastating England. One of the great men of that era, and of the King James Bible translation was the Bishop of Winchester, Lancelot Andrewes. He wrote that the plague was a sign of God’s wrath provoked by men’s own inventions. It was “the very handy-worke of God”. He did write that there was a natural cause involved in the disease but it was also the work of the destroying angel.

Henoch Clapham, the angry pamphleteer of that time took Bishop Andrews to task and “lambasted” him, for suggesting that men had brought this evil on to themselves. Clapham then, himself, suggested that if you (Andrewes) were innocent of sin, you should not have to run away from the plague (as Andrewes had done, by avoiding any contact with his parish where the plague was in full force).

Bishop Andrewes tossed Clapham into prison, and when Clapham would not retract his writings, he was then told to sign a retraction (written by Andrewes). Clapham again refused and stayed in prison for 18 months.

In the end, there was a compromise that the plague consisted of two sorts running concurrently. “One, infectious, was the worldly contagion, against which you could take precautions. The other, not infectious, was the stroke of the Angel’s hand.”

God and science are to explain the plagues. Take your pick. They did in 1611, and we still do today.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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