Interview with Dr. Scott M. Manetsch

02.25.2020  |  Season 1  |  Episode 4



SHOW NOTES

This episode features an interview with our TEDS colleague Dr. Scott M. Manetsch, Professor of Church History, hosted by Dr. Josh Jipp and Dr. Madison Pierce.

Hear Josh and Madison speak with Scott about his ministry and his interests and expertise in the Protestant Reformation.

This episode showcases Scott’s pastoral heart, which connects with his research in his book Calvin’s Company of Pastors, a project that sits alongside his earlier work on Theodore Beza in particular. We also hear a bit about his work as the Associate General Editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture, to which he contributed the volume on 1 Corinthians.

But before the interview, Josh tries to convince the Texan that Iowa is the “best state of the 50″…

Transcript

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Intro

[00:00:03] You’re listening to Foreword, a podcast from faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, hosted by Michelle Knight, Josh Jipp, Madison Pierce, and James Arcadi. Foreword invites listeners into the mission of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School through conversations with faculty, staff, and guests.

Josh Jipp
[00:00:20] Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. I’m Joshua Jipp.

Madison Pierce
[00:00:24] And I’m Madison Pierce.

Jipp
[00:00:26] Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Scott Manetsch, who’s professor of church history at TEDS. Dr. Manetsch is an ordained minister and is widely known as one of the premier scholars of the Protestant Reformation. Before coming to TEDS, Dr. Manetsch taught for a few years at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, which is just a few miles down the road from where I grew up. So I’m hoping that today, we’ll get a chance to talk about why Iowa is the best state of the 50.

Pierce
[00:00:55] You know, it’s funny that you would say that, because I’m from Texas and there’s a lot of prejudice against Texas—that we supposedly are like, super into ourselves and that we think we’re the best state, but here you are, talking about Iowa like that. I had no idea that there was so much Iowan pride. Is “Iowan” the correct terminology?

Jipp
[00:01:12] “Iowan,” yeah. I think the difference is all of our listeners will know what you’re talking about in terms of “Texan pride” and very few will understand why Iowa is such a great state.

Pierce
[00:01:30] Well, I mean, there are only what, like, 50 people that have ever—

Jipp
[00:01:34] See? See? Right there.

Pierce
[00:01:34] —lived in the state of Iowa?

Jipp
[00:01:35] 50 people?

Pierce
[00:01:36] Yeah. So when you and Scott were living in Iowa, you’re basically, like, 10% of the population.

Jipp
[00:01:41] [SIGHS HEAVILY] Ah, Madison, let me give you a few reasons why Iowa is, if not the greatest, one of the best states in the country.

Pierce
[00:01:49] I’m ready.

Jipp
[00:01:50] Okay. Not only does it excel at health care, not only does it excel in terms of public education and infrastructure, not only are we great at producing pork, corn and beans, but did you know that apart from Iowa—without Iowa—the Internet might not exist?

Pierce
[00:02:09] I had—actually, no, I had no idea.—

Jipp
[00:02:10] We—Iowa has been foundational—I could…I could read this article. I’ve got it up right here.

Pierce
[00:02:16] You know what, I think…please don’t read that article…[JIPP SIGHS]…You could give me the highlights. Give me the highlights.

Jipp
[00:02:22] Okay. Iowa is number one.

Pierce
[00:02:25] [LAUGHS] You needed an article for that!?—

Jipp
[00:02:27] You know…you [LAUGHS]—Do you know where the first computer was invented?—

Pierce
[00:02:31] Um—

Jipp
[00:02:32] Iowa State University.

Pierce
[00:02:33] Ok.

Jipp
[00:02:34] Go Cyclones!

Pierce
[00:02:35] [LAUGHS] I thought that maybe that was going to be, like, a bait and switch. Like, that was actually going to be in, like, Hawaii or something, but—

Jipp
[00:02:40] No.

Pierce
[00:02:40] —it was pretty on brand—

Jipp
[00:02:42] Yeah, it was Iowa—

Pierce
[00:02:43] Okay.

Jipp
[00:02:43] —but maybe we should get into our conversation with Scott.

Pierce
[00:02:46] Please.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Pierce
[00:02:51] Thanks for sitting down with us, Scott. We’re really excited to talk to you today.

Scott Manetsch
[00:02:53] Well, it’s my pleasure. Thank you.

Pierce
[00:02:55] To get us started today, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up back here at TEDS?

Manetsch
[00:03:00] Well, I grew up in Michigan, and really, in the shadow of Michigan State University. My father was a professor at the university. So I ended up going to the Michigan State University. And when I was a student there, I majored in political philosophy—planning to go to law school—and then my senior year at Michigan State, I had a couple of electives to burn and I took one elective in the Reformation, which was offered in the religion department, and the other was an independent study reading John Calvin’s Institutes. And after that experience, I was convinced I no longer wanted to be a lawyer, but I…I had a deep desire to learn more theology in church history. So that really brought me here to Trinity in the early 1980’s, where I pursued both an MDiv and an MA in Christian thought.

Jipp
[00:03:47] So did you go straight into academic history, in terms of getting a PhD or preparing yourself to be a historian, or how did that need for further training work out in your life?

Manetsch
[00:03:58] Yeah. Well, again, I got the MDiv and the MA here at Trinity, and then I went into pastoral ministry for three years.—

Jipp
[00:04:03] Okay.

Manetsch
[00:04:03] —I knew that God had given me gifts of teaching and discipleship, and I was eager to use those gifts, and the doors that he opened were to local parish ministry. So I was an Associate Pastor of Education and Youth Ministry at a church way down in the southern side of Chicago in Frankfurt, Illinois—

Jipp
[00:04:25] Yep.

Manetsch
[00:04:25]—and was there for three years before I went to pursue my doctoral studies at the University of Arizona.

Jipp
[00:04:31] Okay. I think our listeners would love to hear a little bit about how you conceptualize yourself as a historian, right? But you’re also one who is deeply passionate about church and theology, and—can you kind of talk about the relationship between history and theology as it pertains to you?

Manetsch
[00:04:50] Yeah, well, you know, I’ve always loved history. I loved it when I was in elementary school. I still remember having my cherished books that I read three or four times about Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone.—

Jipp
[00:05:00] [LAUGHS] Yep.

Pierce
[00:05:00] That’s great.

Manetsch
[00:05:01] —Um, so I’ve always enjoyed history, but as God in his kindness shaped my sense of both identity and also my calling, it became clear that God had equipped me and was calling me to serve his Church through ministries of teaching and discipleship. And it just so happened that history was the discipline that he called me to pursue. But I could easily have pursued theology or biblical studies, um…

Jipp
[00:05:25] Okay.

Pierce
[00:05:27] That’s really interesting. A kind of follow up to Josh’s question, I know that kind of within your sub-discipline, this distinction between a church historian and a historical theologian is a big thing. Do you, I mean, do you think of yourself more as a church historian and maybe why?

Manetsch
[00:05:42] You know, I was trained as…as a historian at the University of Arizona. I was in a department that was actually within the larger college of Social Science—Social and Behavioral Sciences. So the form of training I received was not…not primarily intellectual history at all, but was social history of ideas—trying to bring together, um, both how people perceive the world and then how they interacted the world…with the world through, um, through praxis and through, the…their social relationships. So I really do see myself not primarily as a theologian, but as a historian, a historian who’s very interested in the intersection between theology and practice. I’m very interested both in how Christians understand their relationship with God, but also then how they practice that in day to day ministry.

Pierce
[00:06:40] That’s wonderful, Scott.

Jipp
[00:06:42] That actually reminds me a little bit of how New Testament scholars would—

Pierce
[00:06:46] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:06:46] —conceptualize their own work. I mean, I think we often are wanting to understand why—what are the ideas that Paul has? What is the theology that’s here?…Sorry for Paul, Madison.—

Pierce
[00:06:54] I was going to say, there are other New Testament authors, but always Paul. [LAUGHS]

Jipp
[00:06:55]—[LAUGHS] It could be Hebrews, it could be the Gospels, I apologize. I just had to go there. [LAUGHS] But we’re also wondering, um, his….his doctrine of the body of Christ, how does that intersect with what’s going on in Corinth, and why would he be using his, you know, drawing upon a particular theological idea to address particular “on the ground” situations that actually concern real people? So—

Pierce
[00:07:20] Yeah, true.

Jipp
[00:07:20]—I’m just trying to make a connection between our fields, Scott, if you don’t mind. [LAUGHS]—

Manetsch
[00:07:25] Oh, what I… no, what I find interesting is so many of our colleagues here at TEDS are historians of a sort.—

Jipp
[00:07:33] Right.

Manetsch
[00:07:33] —You know, they’re thinking about the historical context in which the study of the Bible and ideas about God—

Jipp
[00:07:41] Yep.

Manetsch
[00:07:41]—are shaped and formed.

Jipp
[00:07:44] Yeah, exactly. Yep.

Pierce
[00:07:45] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:07:46] Um, let me just play—it’s not devil’s advocate so much as maybe a provocative question, Scott. Why…why does a seminary need to have a church history department? What would be missing for TEDS or for any seminary that didn’t have the discipline of church history here?

Manetsch
[00:08:01] Okay, so you’re asking me to justify my existence—

[LAUGHTER]

Jipp
[00:08:03] [LAUGHS] I love these kinds of questions, I apologize.—

Manetsch
[00:08:04] Yeah!

Jipp
[00:08:05] —I ask them to everybody.

Pierce
[00:08:05] [LAUGHS] As two New Testament scholars, it’s a little passé.

Manetsch
[00:08:07] And, and you know actually, this is a question I raise in my survey course—

Jipp
[00:08:11] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:08:11] —every…every semester that I teach it—

Jipp
[00:08:12] Okay, great.

Manetsch
[00:08:13] So…so why church history?

Jipp
[00:08:15] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:08:16] And…and I would say I’d answer in a number of different ways. We’ve heard the old adage that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it, and there is a sense in which, through our study of church history, we can gain wisdom as we see how men and women in the past either very faithfully served the Lord or sometimes tragically caused great harm to the Church and to God’s people through their disobedience. So…so history provides us with models, both positive and negative—

Jipp
[00:08:45] Yep…yep.

Manetsch
[00:08:45] —but I’d say…I’d say in a much more profound way, it’s clear from Scripture that it’s spiritually good for us to remember—

Pierce
[00:08:55] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:08:55] —to remember the great deeds of God, to recall how God has been faithful to our ancestors, to our parents—even in our own lives. Historical memory is a gift of God. And as I sometimes tell my students, you know, “Imagine someone who has Alzheimer’s.” You know, an Alzheimer’s patient is someone who has lost touch with their world and they become vulnerable. They become dangerous to themselves. They don’t recognize who their families are. They don’t know what’s safe and what’s…what’s dangerous. And I make the point that in the same way, when the church loses sight of…of its history, it loses sight of its identity in Christ—

Jipp
[00:09:36] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:09:37]—it loses sight of who family members are. The church can easily become very insular, very provincial, uh, so one of the great gifts I think of the study of history to the church is that, um, we as Christians can…can gain wisdom about the larger community of faith that we’re…of which we’re apart, even as we see God’s brilliant and glorious faithfulness to his people through time. So from my vantage point, the study of history is really vital, not…not just for a seminary curriculum, but for us in our own personal, spiritual lives.

Jipp
[00:10:17] Absolutely. Yeah, that’s great.

Pierce
[00:10:20] Yeah, that is really great, and that intersects a little bit—we did have a question from alumnus Rory Tyer about history repeating itself, so we’ll…we’ll—hopefully Rory will count that as a suitable answer to some of what he was getting at there.

Manetsch
[00:10:30] Can I make one other comment too—

Pierce
[00:10:32] Please.

Manetsch
[00:10:33] —with respect to this? On one occasion, C. S. Lewis warned against the danger of what he called “chronological snobbery”—

Jipp
[00:10:36] Right.

Pierce
[00:10:36] Hmm.

Manetsch
[00:10:37] —and I think there is—probably for most of us—the assumption that newer is better, that what’s contemporary is especially gripping or interesting. And there’s a tendency for us to devalue the past, to assume that people in the past didn’t know as much as we—

Jipp
[00:10:58] Right.

Manetsch
[00:10:59] —as we know. And I think that…that kind of hubris is both prideful and is spiritually harmful—

Jipp
[00:11:07] Absolutely.

Pierce
[00:11:08] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:11:09]—and…and this would be my final—I guess my final point is, if you think about it, the study of history is the ultimate cross-cultural engagement. You know, in our curriculum today, we talk a lot about courses that are focused on cross-cultural aptitude and growing and a cross-cultural awareness. And what is history except a kind of “deep dive” into cultures of the past, that in some ways are similar to our own, but in other ways, strangely foreign? So I think we help our students engage in—we might say “cross-cultural sensitivity and maturity” as we study church history.

Jipp
[00:11:56] Absolutely.

Pierce
[00:11:57] Yeah. That’s fantastic.

Jipp
[00:11:59] I would say, “existence justified.” [LAUGHTER] I think I honestly…I feel as though I—my academic career, to some extent, has…came at a time when New Testament scholars were starting to realize that there had been a lot of chronological snobbery—

Pierce
[00:12:15] Mmmhmm.

Jipp
[00:12:15]—in the discipline of New Testament studies and had, in a really unfortunate way, unnecessarily cut them off from—especially a lot of patristic exegesis, but all kinds of exegesis throughout the centuries. And Madison, maybe you feel like you’ve been able to live at a time whether some revitalisation of conversation between…between our discipline and exegesis as it’s been taking place throughout the centuries. I don’t know.

Pierce
[00:12:47] Yeah, I think you’re right. I mean, I…I was outside of North America for…for my doctoral work and working at a, you know, in a department where patristic exegesis was, you know, a given. So, I mean, Francis Watson, John Barclay—they’re…they’re not snobs in that regard, and so there was the assumption that…that those early fathers had a lot to say to us. Um, but along those same lines, I mean, I think that there are still places where we can improve this dialogue.—

Jipp
[00:13:18] Right.

Pierce
[00:13:18]—I mean, one of the things that I do in, like, my NT 5000 class—or Intro to New Testament—is to talk about all of the advances that were available in the first century, that these medical advances—the way that they were engaging in banking and science and all these different things—I mean, reminding them that some of the fundamental concepts in mathematics that we still interact with today were available, you know, to them at that time—

Jipp
[00:13:41] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:13:41]—or, you know, at least foundational ones.—

Jipp
[00:13:44] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:13:45]—So, um, yeah—the first century, and of course the Reformation—they had a lot in place that we’re still utilizing, and I think that’s an important thing to remember.

Jipp
[00:13:52] Yeah. This might be a helpful segue into some of your own work, Scott. We have had now at least a couple of decades of the IVP Ancient Commentary on Scripture. Am I getting that right?—

Manetsch
[00:14:02] —Yeah.

Jipp
[00:14:02]—And now you’ve been a…a part of a more recent movement with that. Can you tell us a little bit about the IVP Commentary on Reformation? I’m not getting the title right. So maybe help me out there.

Manetsch
[00:14:14] —Yeah. Sure. About 13 or 14 years ago, I got a phone call out of the blue from Timothy George, who until recently was the Founding Dean at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. And he—I’ll never forget the phone call was—you know, I never met him before. He said, “Dr. Manetsch, I have a big idea I want to share with you.” [JIPP LAUGHS] And at that point they were—he was inviting me to be his Associate General Editor for a new commentary that was really to build off of the Ancient Christian Commentary Series that had been very successful and warmly greeted—

Jipp
[00:14:50] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:14:50] —published by Intervarsity Press—and the vision that the Press had was now to follow up with a kind of companion series, called The Reformation Commentary on Scripture, which would be a project looking at how Protestant reformers during the 16th—and really bleeding into the 17th century—interpreted Scripture, and doing it across the entire canon, both Old Testament and New Testament canons. And so we’ve been working on that for the last 13 years, and now we’re about halfway done with this project.

Jipp
[00:15:22] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:15:22] I believe we’ve…we’ve published 16 out of a projected 28 volumes, and we’ve recruited some of the very top Reformation scholars alive today, who know Latin, to work very closely with this massive collection of 16th century commentaries. What’s sometimes forgotten is that the 16th century was truly a great age of commentary writing. And so, for example, we know of over 50 different Romans commentaries that were published in the 16th and early 17th century—

Jipp
[00:15:55] Amazing.

Pierce
[00:15:55] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:15:56] —or somewhere around 35 commentaries written on 1 and 2 Corinthians.—

Pierce
[00:16:01] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:16:01] —So there’s a wealth of material. The problem is, nearly all of these commentaries were written in Latin, and so are not accessible to most modern readers. So one of the real goals is kind of reclaiming this very rich commentary tradition by providing excerpts from these commentaries to comment on every…every clause of the Bible—

Jipp
[00:16:29] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:16:30]—by means of…of really lively English translations. So it’s been very well received. We’re thankful for the project, and the goal is to ultimately provide resources for the 21st century church—

Jipp
[00:16:42] Absolutely.

Manetsch
[00:16:42] —but drawing upon, again, this ancient wisdom.

Jipp
[00:16:45] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:16:46] You’re certainly doing that. I mean, in the various papers that I assign throughout the semester, I inevitably get several of them that are interacting with those commentaries. And at first, I’m like, “How does this student know what Luther or Calvin said? Are they going to this or that resource?” [MANETSCH LAUGHS] But it really is that the commentaries that y’all are putting together are providing this bridge for them, that they have this really, I mean, not only super helpful, but quick way of, you know, digging in and even comparing the different thinkers and stuff. I just think that’s so valuable, so thank you.

Manetsch
[00:17:11] Well Madison, that is music…music to my ears—

[JIPP LAUGHS]

Pierce
[00:17:12] Oh, good!

Manetsch
[00:17:13] —so thank you for that.

Pierce
[00:17:14] [LAUGHS] Yeah!

Jipp
[00:17:15] Um, I’d love to—you wrote the commentary on—or put together the…the…yeah, what we call “Commentary on 1 Corinthians,” right?

Manetsch
[00:17:20] That’s right, and I’m presently working on 2 Corinthians—

Jipp
[00:17:22] That’s so great. Oh, wow.

Pierce
[00:17:22] Great!

Manetsch
[00:17:22] —so hopefully that will be finished in the next year—year and a half.

Jipp
[00:17:28] Wow. Um, what have been some of the interesting insights, maybe that has surprised…has surprised you as you’ve been working on these?

Manetsch
[00:17:37] Yeah, well one of the things you can’t escape when you’re working through this massive literature is how often the reformers are in conversation with the early church fathers—

Jipp
[00:17:50] Yeah, yeah.

Manetsch
[00:17:51] —and clearly in their minds, good biblical interpretation takes place in community.—

Jipp
[00:17:56] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:17:56] Mmm.

Manetsch
[00:17:57]—You know this…this idea that I think sometimes we have in the 21st century, that the reformers are kind of proposing a very isolated, particularistic, individualistic reading of Scripture, and such really isn’t the case at all.—

Jipp
[00:18:13] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:18:13]—These reformers are reading the Scripture in conversation with…with both their contemporaries, but also with the early church fathers.—

Jipp
[00:18:23] Great, yeah. Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:18:23]—So that’s one really interesting takeaway.

Jipp
[00:18:25] That’s a…that’s a big debunking of a Reformation myth right there, isn’t it?

Pierce
[00:18:30] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:18:30]—It really is. It really is. Another kind of “myth debunked” is the notion of “literal versus allegory.”

Jipp
[00:18:40] Okay.

Manetsch
[00:18:41] Now to be sure, the reformers in the 16th century—almost to a man—are very critical of the Quadriga—

Jipp
[00:18:47] Uh huh.

Manetsch
[00:18:47] —the medieval kind of fourfold interpretation of Scripture—what we sometimes called the “allegorical reading of Scripture.” And yet, someone like Luther, at the same time, frequently employs allegories in his exegesis, although he’s clear that allegories need to be bounded by—or with…or function within the guardrails of the literal sense.

Pierce
[00:19:06] Okay.

Manetsch
[00:19:06] And Luther also says that allegory can never be used to prove a major point of Christian doctrine, so he sees them as kind of “adornment” rather than essential to core theology. On the other hand, someone like Calvin, who remains more consistently critical of allegorical readings of Scripture, nonetheless believes that a faithful, literal reading of Scripture invariably involves spiritual readings—

Pierce
[00:19:31] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:19:32]—what the medievals had described as “allegory” or “anagogical sense,” or the moral sense of the text. For Calvin and for most of the other reformers, there’s a deep spiritual meaning in the literal interpretation of the text. So the…kind of the bipolar, “literal versus allegory” that sometimes we think of in terms of biblical scholarship today, it’s more…a little more complex in terms of the way it really worked in 16th century exegesis.

Pierce
[00:20:06] That’s a really good segue. We did have a question from one of our students, Eric Price, and he was asking how those understandings of a lit…you know, so-called “literal meaning” during the Reformation, and even in earlier eras of church history, how that might intersect with what we would call a “literal reading” today. Can you help us to bridge that gap? I mean, one of the key questions that I often hear on campus is, you know, can we read like the fathers, or certainly, can we read like the reformers?

Manetsch
[00:20:35] Yeah. Well, certainly, the…the reformers are pretty modern exegetes, so they…they don’t employ many of the…the tools…the critical tools that a contemporary New Testament or Old Testament scholar like yourselves would employ. So they’re pre-modern, but they’re not pre-critical.

Pierce
[00:21:00] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:21:01] I think that’s an important distinction to make. The reformers are keenly aware of the need to understand the history, the textual context, the grammar of the…of the text, but a move that they often make—that exegetes today frequently don’t make—is they believe that the literal meaning would include both the mind of the author, but also the Holy Spirit. So we have a kind of “double” mind of the author—the human author and the divine author. And the way in which we understand the mind of the author, or the minds of the author, again is through careful attention to the text, within its context, with history related to the text. We allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, which is just a key…key principle among these reformers, and we…we read this scripture canonically. So the reformers are committed to a kind of…recognizing the unity of the biblical text, and finally, they believe the text is inerrant. They believe the text is authoritative—it’s God-breathed. And so those are the kinds of assumptions that feed what they would call a “literal” reading of the Scripture, where we recognize that Scripture was not only designed or intended for an ancient audience, but it’s God speaking to us today. So there’s a kind of fresh relevance to the reformers’ literal sense—this is a book written by a human author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, which has immediate relevance for today, and in fact, is God addressing his people in every age.

Pierce
[00:22:43] That’s wonderful, Scott. Thank you. That was a really helpful answer.

Jipp
[00:22:48] Scott, I wonder, um—and I apologize, Madison. We’re gonna focus it even more on Paul here in New Testament studies.

Pierce
[00:22:53] Surprise, surprise.

[MANETSCH LAUGHS]

Jipp
[00:22:56] As you can see this is an ongoing conversation.

Pierce
[00:22:59] [LAUGHS] A smidge of animosity.

Manetsch
[00:23:01] An internecine debate here amongst—

Jipp
[00:23:02] Yes, right. How do I ask this? Paul—well, let me put it this way—Paul has, um…scholars of Paul in my field have often had an antagonistic or critical relationship with respect to the reformers—at least it seems to me, especially over the past…maybe 40 years? I don’t know if you can pin it—

Pierce
[00:23:18] Yeah. It’s…“New Perspective” I think is where those like, critics of Lutheran…the Lutheran reading of Paul really emerge—

Jipp
[00:23:24] Right, yeah.—

Pierce
[00:23:25] —or, it’s…Stendahl would be—

Jipp
[00:23:26] —Yeah, Stendahl was a precursor in the 60’s.

Pierce
[00:23:29] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:23:30] 1960’s.

Jipp
[00:23:31] Yeah. And I guess maybe I’ll just, um—although there’s been a…I think a strong pushback also in…amongst New Testament scholars against some of that recently—

Pierce
[00:23:40] Mmhmm.

Jipp
[00:23:40]—but maybe I could just ask you a couple of questions—

Manetsch
[00:23:42] Sure.

Jipp
[00:23:42]—that are very biased towards New Testament studies. Um, sometimes….sometimes there can be a view of the reformers as though they were plagued with guilt, and guilt was the primary driver of their theology, and then that had enormous consequences for their entire reading of Paul. Any thoughts on that?

Manetsch
[00:24:09] Oh, I do. [LAUGHTER] And on one level, that’s universe…universalizing the experience of Martin Luther—

Jipp
[00:24:13] Yeah, right.

Manetsch
[00:24:13]—because certainly, Luther did have that kind of angst, and it was as he carefully studied Paul—well actually, he started with the Psalms—but particularly as he encountered Paul in Romans, that he found a merciful God, a God who is merciful to those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, who are thereby declared righteous. So I think that works in terms of Luther’s experience, although one thing I’d be very quick to point out is that Luther arrives at his so-called kind of original—and it wasn’t that original—but he arrived at this doctrine of justification by grace alone—this doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to the sinner—as he’s carefully working through, lecturing through, the Psalms and the Book of Romans, Hebrews, back to the Psalms.

Jipp
[00:25:10] Okay.

Manetsch
[00:25:11] So, in other words, Luther’s…Luther’s “Reformation Discovery,” as it’s sometimes called, comes as he’s engaging—wrestling—with the biblical text in the original languages, you know, as an exegete. So, um, that’s the first thing I’d say. The other thing I say is, most of the other reformers don’t come out of that same kind of angst-ridden…ridden psychological conditions. Someone like a Calvin, that’s not his story at all—

Jipp
[00:25:43] Uh huh.

Pierce
[00:25:43] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:25:44] —and yet again, as he engaged the biblical text as an exegete—a very gifted exegete—um, with a supreme command of Greek and Hebrew, he comes to a very similar conclusion, both in his interpretation of how Paul presents Second Temple Judaism and how Paul engages with what he sees as a kind of “merit theology,” or “works righteousness,” within…within the biblical text. I guess the one footnote I’d add to this is I think we underestimate the massive erudition of these 16 century biblical exegetes.

Pierce
[00:26:27] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:26:28] That doesn’t mean that all their exegetical conclusions are right and certainly, um, equipped. The two of you who’ve received modern training in New Testament studies have all sorts of…of tools that the reformers in the 16th century didn’t have, but people like Bullinger in Zurich and Peter Martyr Vermigli in Zurich, Calvin in Geneva, Martin Bucer in Strasbourg—these men were supremely gifted and knowledgeable of the biblical languages, and they brought it to bear in their exegesis. And they happen to agree with Luther’s overall assessment, both of…to whom was Paul addressing his…his concerns regarding justification and what the Pauline doctrine was.

Jipp
[00:27:23] Yeah. At minimum, it seems like those that want to, in our circles, take shot at Luther—other of the reformers—need to prove probably that they’ve read them as well. [LAUGHS] I often think—

Pierce
[00:27:34] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:27:35] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:27:36] —there can be these popular caricatures that you’re not sure how much reading has gone into the scholar who’s making that critique.

Manetsch
[00:27:43] I…I think that’s true.

Pierce
[00:27:44] Yeah. I think we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about a particular reformer, which is Theodore Beza. So I know that you did your dissertation on Beza, um, and that you’re starting to turn your attention back to him. Could you give us just a brief overview of who Beza is, and then maybe one really interesting, fantastic story. [JIPP LAUGHS] I heard some of these the other day, and I’m really excited. I was telling Josh that there are just so many good stories—

Manetsch
[00:28:04] Yeah.

Pierce
[00:28:04] —so I’m interested to see which one you…you tell us today.

Manetsch
[00:28:06] Well let’s begin with a more contemporary story. My interest in Beza actually arose in a…in a…in the classroom here at Trinity. I was in a church history class and Dr. Woodbridge was lecturing, and as just kind of a throwaway comment, he said, “You know, if anyone wants to do work on Theodore Beza, there’s lots of room and it’s an important topic—

Pierce
[00:28:25] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:28:25]—as we understand the relationship between the 16th century reformers and what’s known later as ‘Protestant Scholastic Christianity.’” And that…that offhand comment really stuck with me, and so when I decided to pursue doctoral studies, um, at that point I decided I wanted to do more with…with Theodore Beza and understanding his significance, both for the development of French Protestantism in the 16th century, but understand his role in translating Calvin’s theology for a later so-called “Protestant Scholastic” tradition of reformed theology. So that’s how I became interested, really, in the person of Theodore Beza. Beza was born in 1519, so he was born 10 years after Calvin was born. He grew up in a…in a noble family in France—kind of born with a silver spoon in his mouth—received an outstanding humanist education and was trained at law—received his license in law. Um, his…his upbringing was complicated by the fact that as a young man, he clandestinely married a young woman, even though he was technically preparing for the priesthood.—

Jipp
[00:29:46] [LAUGHS] Wow.

Pierce
[00:29:46] Yeah!

Manetsch
[00:29:46] —So he was…he was kind of living out of bounds in terms of the expectations of the Catholic Church in which he had been raised. And that moral—the moral crisis, I think in part, as well as having read some of the writings of Heinrich Bullinger, led him to a 10 year long crisis of faith that was finally resolved in 1548. He had a deathly…deathly ill and narrowly escaped death and promised on the death…on his deathbed—or what he thought was his deathbed—that if he got well, he would…he would renounce idolatry. He would announce—

Pierce
[00:30:17] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:30:17] —his…the Catholic faith of his upbringing and, uh…and proclaim himself a follower of…of the Gospel as taught by the reformers.

Pierce
[00:30:27] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:30:27] And so he flees Paris with his clandestine wife, and they go to Geneva, where their marriage is consecrated publicly by Calvin, no less. And then for the next 10 years, Beza will be a professor at the University of Lausanne, teaching Greek. He was an expert Hellenist. In fact, he will, in his more mature years, he’ll publish what’s considered to be the gold standard of New Testament exegesis in the 16th century—his annotations, which will go through five editions. And after 10 years of teaching Greek in Lausanne, Calvin kind of invites him to come down the Lake to become a colleague in Geneva—a pastor and the first rector of the Genevan Academy, which today we know as the University of Geneva, and as it will turn out, he’ll also become Calvin’s primary successor in Geneva after Calvin’s death in 1564. That’s a little history—

Pierce
[00:31:26] That’s great!

Manetsch
[00:31:26] —but my dissertation begins by one of the most hero…horrific events in the 16th century, and that’s the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, when somewhere around between five and ten thousand French Protestants were slaughtered over a period of several weeks following the marriage of one of the most important Protestant princes, Henry of Navarre—who becomes King Henry IV—and a sister to the, uh—he’s married…he’s married in a wedding in…in Paris to the sister of the French King. And the massacres then follow. And thousands of refugees will flee France, many of them arriving in Geneva, and since Beza himself is a French exile, he welcomes these…these refugees and does everything he can do to try to provide for their immediate needs. And that’s then the starting point for my dissertation, which examines how over the next 30 years during the French wars of religion, Theodore Beza and other French exiles in Geneva are attempting to help preserve and support the embattled French Protestants back in their homeland, both politically and religiously. And as it turns out, Beza has extensive contact with some of the chief Protestant nobles, including Henry of Navarre. He becomes a close friend and confidante of the man who will ultimately convert back to Catholicism and become Henry IV.

Pierce
[00:33:03] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:33:04] So my dissertation kind of explores his strategies—the various ways in which he is attempting to preserve what he sees as authentic Christianity back in his homeland during arguably—certainly—one of the most difficult periods in the history of French Protestantism.

Jipp
[00:33:21] Hearing you say that makes me wonder, then, about—is there a con—I’ll ask it as a question, but I’m wondering, is there a connection between your dissertation and your book, Calvin’s Company of Pastors? Maybe I’m just discerning a connection that’s not there, but would you say they’re motivated out of…out of some similar…? Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:33:39] Yeah! Right, right. My book, Calvin’s Company of Pastors, is an attempt to understand how Calvin and also his successors, including Beza, both understand pastoral ministry and then how they try to put it into practice. So again, trying to bring together their…their theology of pastoral ministry as well as their practical activities—pastoral activities. So the book looks extensively both at how Calvin establishes the Protestant church in Geneva, beginning in 1536, the institutions that he establishes, and then how Beza and other church leaders after him will attempt to preserve what they see is this biblical foundation established by Calvin. But along the way, in various ways, Beza and his colleagues will depart from Calvin—certain emphases of Calvin—sometimes by necessity, sometimes by choice—

Pierce
[00:34:32] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:34:32] —by conviction. So…so that book is…in a sense, it goes in a slightly different direction. Rather than looking at how Calvinists are attempting to provide support for the French church, it’s more looking at how pastors in Geneva over some 65 year period are understanding their pastoral work and doing it.

Jipp
[00:34:56] Yeah. And can you tell us just a little bit about what…what were some of the things that struck you, or surprised you, about pastoral ministry in Geneva in the 16th century?

Manetsch
[00:35:07] Yeah. Well first, a little background—in Calvin’s Geneva, the city included…the city proper, surrounded by…by the city walls, and there were three churches—three parish churches within the urban space of the Genevan church. And then, there were about 10 to 12 small parish churches in the surrounding countryside. So the church in Geneva included—again, these three city churches, and then these 12 rural parishes. And there were pastors, then, assigned to all of these churches. So Calvin’s “company of pastors” included at any given time somewhere around 16 to 18 men who meet…who met weekly to do the work of the church. So the “company of pastors” met, um, and was responsible for interviewing and hiring new pastors, corresponding with foreign churches, deciding difficult theological questions, and on some occasions, reprimanding their colleagues whose either theology or pastoral actions were deemed to be inappropriate. So one of the interesting takeaways as I was looking at this “company of pastors,” not just Calvin and not just Beza, but this group of men working together, is the degree to which accountability and collegiality were really important. These were men who held each other accountable, and there were…there were both institutions in places and regulations in place so that these ministers were subject to one another, even as they served the larger church. And they…they did ministry together. This…the collegial aspect is remarkable, not only as these men wet met weekly to do the business of the church, but they also met quarterly—before each of the quarter communion services—they met behind closed doors for what was known as the “ordinary censure,” where the ministers behind closed doors could confront their colleagues, challenge their colleagues, or…or address issues within the company…the company of pastors that were causing hard feelings or conflicts or concern. And then, at the end of this quarterly censure, they would…they would have a potluck together, they would have soup and bread together—

Jipp
[00:37:29] Ah, great!

Manetsch
[00:37:29] —to celebrate their unity. So, uh, you know, as I thought about that and as I saw how how collegial and also how accountable these ministers were, it seemed like there was some important lessons for the church today, where so often pastors are…are quite lonely, and they’re not in life-giving relationships with other pastors who could both encourage them, but on occasion, also hold them accountable.

Jipp
[00:37:55] Right.

Pierce
[00:37:56] Yeah. I think that relates—we did get a question on Twitter from Carlos Lollett. He asked how your work on the Reformation has actually shaped your pastoral practice. So are there some ways that you’ve kind of taken what you’ve learned from this “company,” and have started to kind of, you know, make or take these kind of concrete steps?

Manetsch
[00:38:14] Yeah. Well, first of all, I need to say “hello” to Carlos. Carlos—

Jipp
[00:38:17] Hi, Carlos!

Manetsch
[00:38:17] —thank you for that good question. [PIERCE LAUGHS] And, uh, I miss you desperately around here. You are…you are missed.

Jipp
[00:38:23] I…I think I’ve seen Scott and Carlos multiple times in Waybright meeting, so I assume—

Manetsch
[00:38:28] Yeah.

Jipp
[00:38:27] —Carlos probably had a—

Manetsch
[00:38:30] Carlos and I like to—

Jipp
[00:38:30] —knows the answer to the question a little bit, right? So—

Pierce
[00:38:31] I didn’t know that connection!—

Manetsch
[00:38:32] —Yeah.—

Pierce
[00:38:32] —I’m sorry, Carlos!

Manetsch
[00:38:33] —Yeah. I think he’s throwing me a soft pitch here. [JIPP LAUGHS] Um, Well, I think the issue of…of accountability and collegiality was one take away.

Pierce
[00:38:42] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:38:43] Another one that I found really interesting is sometimes today, when we talk about the ministry of the Word, we think of the ministry of preaching. And to be sure, the ministry of preaching was of vital importance and was a…was a centerpiece in Calvin’s vision for reformation and pastoral ministry in Geneva, I mean, to the extent that there were some 33 or 34 sermons preached within the city walls of Geneva each week, including sermons beginning at 4:30 in the morning for servants and butlers and maids for the servant class. So the ministry of the Word included preaching, to be sure. But from Calvin’s vision, the ministry of the Word includes much more, and pastors are called to bring the Word of God to bear—really on every aspect of their work. In baptism, we bring the word of God to…to the infant children; in catechesis, we train children in the Word of God—

Pierce
[00:39:43] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:39:44] —Uh…uh…the Lord’s Supper—again, we’re proclaiming the Gospel and enacting it visually, but again, this is a ministry of the Word. Church discipline is a ministry of the Word as…as pastors and elders together apply God’s Word to those who are in unrepentant sin or are engaged in sinful behavior. Calvin establishes a plan of visitation in Geneva, and Geneva is a city of some 12 to 16—18,000 people. It varies during the 16th century, but beginning in 1551 in Geneva, pastors and elders visit every single household within the city walls each year.

Pierce
[00:40:34] Wow.

Manetsch
[00:40:35] And again, this is a ministry of the Word, where we’re bringing God’s Word to God’s people.

Jipp
[00:40:38] Yep. yep.

Manetsch
[00:40:39] And then finally—the visitation of the sick and the dying. In Geneva, it was a city law that if a member of your family was sick for three days, you were required to summon the pastor—

Pierce
[00:40:50] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:40:51] —so that someone would not die without having words of consolation and words of the Gospel brought to them. And so again, from Calvin’s…Calvin’s vision of pastoral ministries, pastors are bringing the Word of God to God’s people in all these different walks of life, stages of life, in all these different human situations. So it’s a kind of Gospel-saturated view of ministry that’s not simply preaching a few sermons a week—

Pierce
[00:41:22] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:41:23] —but, uh, active pastoral care, which involves bringing God’s Word to God’s people. And I think that’s a vision, frankly, that in some of our churches needs to be recovered today, where we may have a vision for pastoral ministry, or ministry of the Word, which is simply preaching maybe one, maybe two sermons a week. And then pastors do a lot of administrative things and maybe lead small groups and perform the ordinances. But again, sometimes those other roles I think are…are severed from a—

Jipp
[00:41:54] Yeah.

Manetsch
[00:41:54] —really robust understanding of the ministry of the Word, which is what pastors are called to do.

Jipp
[00:42:00] And maybe can feel extraneous—necessary—

Manetsch
[00:42:02] Right.

Jipp
[00:42:02] —but not really what I’m passionate about—

Manetsch
[00:42:05] Yeah, yeah.

Jipp
[00:42:05] —or what I need to be doing, whereas this vision sounds much more powerful.

Manetsch
[00:42:09] Yeah. It really is a powerful vision, I think.

Pierce
[00:42:12] Thank you so much, Scott. This has been such a wonderful conversation. I’ve certainly learned so much about the Reformation, and I’m looking forward to learning all the more from you over the years. Thank you.

Manetsch
[00:42:21] You’re welcome. It’s been my pleasure.

Jipp
[00:42:23] Thanks, Scott.

[THEME MUSIC BEGINS]

Jipp
[00:42:29] But that’s just the Forward. If you enjoyed our conversation today, why not treat yourself to Scott’s Calvin’s Company of Pastors, or maybe one of the Reformation Commentaries on Scripture, with InterVarsity Press? Or, better yet, come take a class with the man himself. Thanks very much to Dr. Scott Manetsch for being with us today. And thanks to our incredible producer, the man from Texas with the silky smooth voice, Curtis Pierce, and thanks to all of you for listening along with us. I’m Joshua Jipp.

Pierce
[00:42:58] And I’m Madison Pierce, and by the way, I’m the one that’s actually married to Curtis Pierce, so I don’t know what that was about.

Outro

[00:43:07] Foreword is a podcast hosted by faculty at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. You can subscribe to our newest episodes on your preferred podcast app or at forewordpodcast.com. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook @forewordpodcast to get updates and additional links to content. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is located 25 miles north of Chicago, with extension sites across the country and online. Trinity educates men and women to engage in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian faithfulness, and lifelong learning. You can find more information at teds.edu.

[THEME MUSIC ENDS]

Jipp
[00:43:45] Welcome to Foreword, a TEDS…pa…facul…pick…podcast.

[PIERCE LAUGHS]

[JIPP CONTINUES] Welcome to Foreword: A TEDS Faculty Podcast. [LAUGHS]

Pierce
[00:44:00] [LAUGHS] One more time.—

Jipp
[00:44:01] I know I need to get it together or I’m going to just, like, start laughing for no reason.

Pierce
[00:44:04] Okay, yeah, ‘cause you’ve had lots of good reasons up until this point.

Jipp
[00:44:08] Yeah.

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