Poetry and Polemic

February 1, 2008

I suspect that it’s a rather bad reflection on me that I occasionally get a laugh from reading this type of thing. Polemic. Sixteenth and seventeeth-century theologians were good at it. It’s something of a lost art, and some might say perhaps that’s just as well. It could all get a bit too personal. It’s not just that they attacked their opponent, but that they used some of their best metaphorical writing to do so. A recent favourite line comes from Hugh Broughton as he lays into Thomas Bilson on the descensus ad inferos.  

It is great pitie that D. Bilson consulted not with others before such wordes fled through the hedge of his teeth. Higher blasphemies never were uttered.

Hugh Broughton, Declaration of generall corruption of religion, Scripture and all learning; wrought by D. Bilson While he breedeth a new opinion, that our Lord went from Paradiseto [sic] Gehenna, to triumph over the devills. To the most reverend Father in God Iohn Wm. Doct. in Divinitie, and Metropolitan of England (1603). 

Anyone care to post lines that have tickled them?

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2 Responses to “Poetry and Polemic”

  1. Daniel Newman Says:

    Calvin on Romans 2.13:

    “They who pervert this passage for the purpose of building up justification by works, deserve most fully to be laughed at even by children.”

  2. RS Says:

    Thanks Daniel.

    I should mention that I am not saying that no-one should write ‘controversial’ theology, just that it shouldn’t come with the personal barbs.


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