| 1632 series |
POD: May, 1631
|Appearance(s):||Grantville Gazette II|
|Type of Appearance:||Direct|
|Date of Birth:||1574|
|Occupation:||Senior pastor of St. Nicholas' Church.|
|Created by:||Gorg Huff|
Steffan Schultheiss was the pastor of the Lutheran St. Nicholas' Church in Badenburg. He owed his position to the political astuteness and connections of his wife Margreth, the youngest daughter of a former mayor of Badenburg.
Schultheiss was born the son of a shoemaker in 1574. He grew up and did well in school, subsequently enrolling at the University of Jena, where he did very well in rhetoric and theology. He returned to Badenburg and became a junior pastor. Then Margreth agreed to marry him, and over the ensuing years, she taught him how to navigate Badenburg's political landscape. In 1625, he was given the post of senior pastor of the largest congregation in Badenburg. When the Ring of Fire happened, Schultheiss was praying for God's help for Badenburg's afflicted condition resulting from the Thirty Years' War, especially over the city's reluctance to hire mercenaries led by Ernst Hoffman for protection. When Margreth informed him of the Ring of Fire, he went to see the result for himself, and to provide spiritual guidance for whatever might result.
He first met the Americans from Grantville during Badenburg's council house. He was disappointed that they were simply people from the 20th century, rather than angels or demons. Schultheiss believed their story, and subsequently confirmed their policy of religious tolerance upon subsequent visits to Grantville itself.
For Schultheiss, the appearance of Grantville and its people was a theological paradox. He could see no plausible explanation for its appearance other than the miraculous, but that was contrary to the doctrine of sola scriptura which held that miracles like that didn't happen anymore. Likewise, the Americans were just as confusing. There were those professing to be Christians who freely blasphemed. And there were kind, decent people who were atheists. Schultheiss concluded that Grantville's ways were "modifying God's work". He urged his flock not to interact with the Americans, but was nonetheless drawn by the enigma the town represented.
Schultheiss witnessed the Americans' successful victory over one of Count Tilly's Catholic army marching on Badenburg. The one-sidedness of the battle made it clear to him that the Americans were willing to bring their progress to his world. He met Pastor "Call me Bart" Campbell at his church in Grantville. Despite their language barrier, Schultheiss established a friendly relationship with Campbell. He was present when Leigh Hunt related the story of Abou Ben Adhen, a non-Christian who was still loved by God. When Schultheiss argued that the tale was not part of the Bible and that it was a betrayal to Christ, Campbell replied that "Christ came into the world to let people into heaven, not as a way of locking them out. I know Christ died for our sins, but let me ask you something. Is the apostle Thomas in hell because he didn't believe in the resurrection before he saw it with his own eyes? If he's not, do you really think the Good Lord will condemn to eternal damnation a good man because he was born, lived his life, and died never having heard the name Jesus Christ? Thomas heard. He was there at the Sermon on the Mount, and at the crucifixion, saw Jesus when he returned, and still didn't believe till he had actually put his hands into the wounds." Schultheiss didn't agree with Campbell's response, recalling the gospel according to Mark, making it clear that those who do not believe are damned. Again, Schultheiss suffered another religious crisis.
Throughout the following months, Schultheiss observed Badenburg's growing bond with Grantville. He grew suspicious of the Americans' acceptance of religious freedom and tried to find any errors in their various religious practices which he could bring before his congregation, to defend them against the creeping corruption of up-timer ideas. But religion was hardly the only factor; politics and economics both made Grantville attractive to Badenburg, and so Schultheiss's religious arguments were not heeded.
While on a visit to Grantville High School, Schultheiss learned of a joke about a conversation between Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr in which Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe" and was immediately told by Bohrs: "Albert, stop telling God what to do." Schultheiss did not find this very amusing. Subsequently, Schultheiss dreamed about God and the many demands from his followers, which Schultheiss related to the physics' joke. He concluded "not because God will refuse entry into heaven for those who don't accept the truth as it has been revealed to [him], but because of the suffering and fear here on earth that it may prevent." However, his revelation was not enough as it needed standards of behavior.
He continued to condemn Grantville's practices, a course of action that infuriated Margreth, who realized that Grantville was growing in power and didn't want any conflict between Grantville and Badenburg. When Margreth expressed her fear that Schultheiss was losing his faith, and possibly his sanity, he insisted that he was only trying to understand the Ring of Fire and keep the congregation that he had worked so hard to shepard from being condemned to hell. In the end, with Margreth's guidance Schultheiss ceased looking for God's message in the Ring of Fire. He softened his stance against up-time corruption and his sermons became gentler, focusing on the Good Samaritan and similar passages, not on doctrine.
During private dinners, he realized how much the Ring of Fire had changed the political landscape on Badenburg. He learned about Karl Schmidt, who now employed more people in his business than anyone else in Badenburg. Schultheiss certainly saw Schmidt as one of the last people he expected to prosper. He also learned about Councilman Claus Junker and his investment in a microwave oven project. Schultheiss found this troubling as Junker had supported Schultheiss's opposition to close relations with the up-timers. He advised Junker of the risk involved in the investment. Junker dismissed his warning, and was eventually ruined.
Schultheiss resumed his sermons and accepted the fact from his conversations with Jew Uriel Abrabanel that Christians are Jewish heretics which also applied to Protestant who are also Catholic heretics. When asked "How long did it take God to create the universe?" Schultheiss answered that it took seven seconds for the current 17th century to diverge away from the original timeline after the Ring of Fire. This was met with awe by his fellow pastors. Schultheiss reasoned that God is not limited in His actions and created infinite universes at His whim, arguing that no one can restrict God's actions. He further concluded that people cannot tell what God to do and that their beliefs need to work when conflicting with God not His actions. This view reflected the Americans' policy of freedom of religion, but in a way that touched the soul, rather than just secular law. In mid-April 1632, Schultheiss gave his sermon which received with satisfaction by his congregation.
Schultheiss remained as senior pastor. He was satisfied to see Badenburg becoming a second state of the New United States. Although, he was labeled by Pastor Jost Duerr for endangering the souls of his congregation with his new religious notion, Schultheiss didn't actually mind this and was sure that God understood.