Friday, April 27, 2012

Anastasius of Rome

Today we commemorate Anastasius. According to Orthodox Wiki:

Little is known of Anastasius' early life. Anastasius was born in Rome, the son of Maximus. His baptismal name may have been Innocentius, which according to the Liber Pontificalis was name of the father of Bp. Innocent I, his successor and of whom St. Jerome said Bp. Anastasius I was his father.

Anastasius was elected in 399 to the see of Rome as the successor to Bp. Siricius. During his short episcopate, Bp. Anastasius took action on two doctrinal issues. Rufinus, a friend of St. Jerome, produced a Latin translation of Origen's Peri Archon, making Origen's philosophy more widely available. As Jerome found fault with the orthodoxy of Origen's work, he and Rufinus came to dispute each other. The dispute elevated into an appeal to the then Bishop of Rome, Siricius, which in turn fell to Anastasius upon his succession. In 400, Anastasius called a council which found Origen's work heterodox. Anastasius acted, condemning Origen and deprecating Rufinus' translation.

Bp. Anastasius also supported the bishops in North Africa in their fight against the Donatist heretics. He also established a rule that any priest arriving from overseas must have a letter signed by five bishops before he could be received by the church in Rome.

Bp. Anastasius reposed on December 19, 401 and was succeeded by his son Innocent I. He was buried in the Catacomb of Pontian.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cletus of Rome, Bishop, Martyr

Today we commemorate Cletus. Cletus served as the third bishop of Rome after Peter and Linus and was martyred under the persecution of Domitian.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

St. Mark, Evangelist

Ezekiel 1:10-14 As for the likeness of their faces, they had the face of a man; and the four of them had the face of a lion on the right side; and the four of them had the face of an ox on the left side; the four of them also had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above. Two wings of each one touched another, and two covered their bodies. Each one went straight forward: where the spirit was to go, they went; they didn’t turn when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches: the fire went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning.

Luke 10:1-9 Now after these things, the Lord also appointed seventy others, and sent them two by two ahead of him into every city and place, where he was about to come. Then he said to them, “The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send out laborers into his harvest. Go your ways. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, nor wallet, nor sandals. Greet no one on the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in that same house, eating and drinking the things they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Don’t go from house to house. Into whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat the things that are set before you. Heal the sick who are therein, and tell them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you.’

Today, we commemorate St. Mark the Evangelist. Aardvark Alley has helpful summary of his life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Egbert, Pastor and Johann Walter, Kantor, Saint

Today we commemorate Egbert and Johann Walter. According to dailysaint:

St. Egbert was Benedictine monk born in Nuthumbria, England to a noble family. He unsuccessfully worked to stop King Egfrith from invading Ireland in 684. Studied at Rathmelsigi monastery, (modern Mellifont, County Louth) Ireland, and then served as a teacher to newer brothers. Once, near death from plague, he prayed for a longer life to have time to do penance; he vowed to live in exile, and never returned to England. He wanted to go to the foreign missions himself, but was instructed in 688 by a vision of Saint Boisil to work for reform of monastic life. In 716 he finally accepted the assignment, and travelled to Iona to the houses following the Rule of Saint Columba. There he spent 13 years gently, prayerfully convincing the monks to accept Roman ways, especially in the method of computing Easter. Died immediately following the celebration of Easter Mass.

According to Wikipedia:

Walter was born in Kahla, Thuringia in 1496. According to a document filed with his will, he was born with the surname of Blanckenmüller, but adopted out of poverty by a citizen of Kahla, and given an education at Kahla and Rochlitz under his new name, Johann Walter. He began his career as a composer and bass cantor in the chapel of Frederick the Wise at the age of 21. It was a position he would hold until Frederick’s death in 1525. By this time, he was the director of the chapel and had become an outspoken musical spokesman for Lutherans. Walter edited the first Protestant hymnal, Geystliches gesangk buchleyn, published in 1524, with a foreword by Martin Luther himself and for the German-language Deutsche Messe produced in 1527.

Following the conclusion of his appointment to Frederick’s chapel, Walter became cantor for the Torgau town choir in 1525, a post he would hold until 1554 when he was named court composer for Moritz, Duke of Saxony in Dresden.

While in Dresden, Walter composed a responsorial Passion in German. In earlier musical versions of the Passion story the entire narrative was a succession of polyphonic motets, but Walter used a monophonic reciting tone for the Evangelist and dramatis personae, reserving for the people and disciples simple falsobordone (chordal) polyphony.

Walter did not remain in Dresden very long, and by 1554 he had accepted a pension from the duke and returned to Torgau, where he remained for the rest of his life. He died on 25 March 1570.

Monday, April 23, 2012

George, Martyr and Adalbert of Prague

Today, we commemorate St. George. According to Butler:

All his acts relate that he suffered under Diocletian at Nicomedia. Joseph Assemani6 shows, from the unanimous consent of all churches, that he was crowned on the 23rd of April. According to the account given us by Metaphrastes, he was born in Cappadocia, of noble Christian parents. After the death of his father he went with his mother into Palestine, she being a native of that country, and having there a considerable estate, which fell to her son George. He was strong and robust in body, and having embraced the profession of a soldier, was made a tribune, or colonel, in the army. By his courage and conduct he was soon preferred to higher stations by the Emperor Diocletian. When that prince waged war against the Christian religion, St. George laid aside the marks of his dignity, threw up his commission and posts, and complained to the emperor himself of his severities and bloody edicts. He was immediately cast into prison, and tried, first by promises, and afterwards put to the question and tortured with great cruelty; but nothing could shake his constancy. The next day he was led through the city and beheaded. Some think him to have been the same illustrious young man who tore down the edicts when they were first fixed up at Nicomedia, as Lactantius relates in his book, On the Death of the Persecutors, and Eusebius in his history.

According to EWTN:

Born 939 of a noble Bohemian family; died 997. He assumed the name of the Archbishop Adalbert (his name had been Wojtech), under whom he studied at Magdeburg. He became Bishop of Prague, whence he was obliged to flee on account of the enmity he had aroused by his efforts to reform the clergy of his diocese. He betook himself to Rome, and when released by Pope John XV from his episcopal obligations, withdrew to a monastery and occupied himself in the most humble duties of the house. Recalled by his people, who received him with great demonstrations of joy, he was nevertheless expelled a second time and returned to Rome. The people of Hungary were just then turning towards Christianity. Adalbert went among them as a missionary, and probably baptized King Geysa and his family, and King Stephen. He afterwards evangelized the Poles, and was made Archbishop of Gnesen. But he again relinquished his see, and set out to preach to the idolatrous inhabitants of what is now the Kingdom of Prussia. Success attended his efforts at first, but his imperious manner in commanding them to abandon paganism irritated them, and at the instigation of one of the pagan priests he was killed. This was in the year 997.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Soter and Caius of Rome, Bishops, Martyrs

Today we commemorate Soter and Caius. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Soter was pope for eight years, c. 167 to 175 (Harnack prefers 166-174). We possess a fragment of an interesting letter addressed to him by St. Dionysius of Corinth, who writes: "From the beginning it has been your custom to do good to all the brethren in many ways, and to send alms to many churches in every city, refreshing the poverty of those who sent requests, or giving aid to the brethren in the mines, by the alms which you have had the habit of giving from old, Romans keeping up the traditional custom of the Romans; which your blessed Bishop Soter has not only preserved, but has even increased, by providing the abundance which he has sent to the saints, and by further consoling with blessed words with brethren who came to him, as a loving father his children." "Today, therefore, we have kept the holy Lord's day, on which we have read your letter, which we shall always have to read and be admonished, even as the former letter which was written to us by the ministry of Clement." (Eusebius, Church History IV.24) The letter which Soter had written in the name of his church is lost, though Harnack and others have attempted to identify it with the so-called "Second Epistle of Clement" (see CLEMENT OF ROME). The reverence for the pope's paternal letter is to be noticed. The traditional generosity of the Roman Church is again referred to by St. Dionysius of Alexandria to Pope Dionysius in the middle of the third century, and Eusebius says it still continued in his time. Nothing further is known of this pope.

Caius was pope for twelve years, four months, and seven days, from 17 December, 283, to 22 April, 296, according to the Liberian catalogue (Harnack, Chronol., I, 155, after Lipsius and Lightfoot); Eusebius is wrong in giving him fifteen years. He is mentioned in the fourth-century "Depositio Episcoporum" (therefore not as a martyr): X kl maii Caii in Callisti. He was buried in the chapel of the popes in that cemetary. Nothing whatever is known of his life. He lived in the time of peace before the last great persecution.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anselm of Canterbury, Archbishop, Confessor

Today, we commemorate Anselm. According to Wikipedia:

Anselm of Canterbury (Aosta c. 1033 – Canterbury 21 April 1109), also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. Called the founder of scholasticism, he is famous as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God.

Born into the noble family of Candia, he entered the Benedictine order at the Abbey of Bec at the age of twenty-seven, where he became abbot in 1079. He became Archbishop of Canterbury under William II of England, and was exiled from England from 1097 to 1100, and again from 1105 to 1107 under Henry I of England as a result of the lay investiture dispute.

Here's a quote from Anselm from Lutheran Catholicity:

Qu Dost thou believe that the Lord Jesus died for thee? Answer. I believe it.

Qu. Dost thou thank him for his passion and death? Ans. I do thank him.

Qu. Dost thou believe that thou canst not be saved except by his death? Ans. I believe it”

“Come then, while life remaineth in thee: in his death alone place thy whole trust; in naught else place any trust; to his death commit thyself wholly, with this alone cover thyself wholly; and if the Lord thy God will to judge thee, say, ‘Lord, between thy judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; no otherwise can I contend with thee.’ And if he shall say that thou art a sinner, say thou: ‘Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and thee. ‘If he say that thou hast deserved condemnation, say: ‘Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and thee, and his merits I offer for those which I ought to have and have not.’ If he say that he is wroth with thee, say: ‘Lord, I oppose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thy wrath and me. ‘And when thou hast completed this, say again: ‘Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between thee and me.’

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Opera (Migne), 1:686, 687.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Drunken Noah Prefigures the Passion of Christ

In our day, evangelical preachers will use the example of Noah's drunkenness (Genesis 9:18-29) to speak of the evils of alcohol. Some church fathers used this passage to warn their flocks against drunkenness as well, others looked for various ways to excuse Noah's behavior. But the text itself doesn't seem very concerned with Noah's drunkenness. The text simply states that he was drunk but does not pass judgment on him. The text itself seems unconcerned with whether or not Noah's act was good or evil. Instead, the text focuses in on the different reactions of Noah's sons. Ham makes fun of his father. Shem and Japheth honor their father by covering his nakedness.

Ham's descendants are cursed to be slaves to the descendants of Japheth and Shem. The descendants of Shem and Japheth are blessed. The descendants of Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem. The Israelites come from the line of Shem and Jesus of course is born from the line of Shem as well and becomes the ultimate fulfillment of the promise given to Shem. Japheth became the father of the Indo-European nations. Ham became the father of the Ethiopians, Arabians, and Babylonians. This curse upon Ham has been used to support racism, slavery, racial segregation, and opposition to interracial marriage especially among some of the earlier dispensationalists. But the curse in this text is destroyed in Christ. By faith in Christ people from all nations are united. It's also a rather strange place for the dispensationalist to be poking around since the text says that Japheth will dwell in the tents of Shem, telling us that the salvation of the Gentiles was always part of God's plan and not just some "plan B" that God started because the Jews rejected Jesus.

This is not just some moralistic story. The point of the story isn't "Be nice to your drunk father or your grandkids will have lots of problems." Many of the church fathers (including Augustine, Jerome, Hilary, and Cyprian) interpreted the story of Noah's drunkenness as a typological reference to Christ. Jesus referred to His death as the drinking of a cup and was stripped naked for His crucifixion. Noah planted a vineyard, Christ planted the church. Ham responded in mockery to Noah's nakedness and humiliation. The unbelieving world responded in mockery to Christ's nakedness and humiliation. Shem and Japheth show honor to Noah in his humiliation. The church honors Christ in His humiliation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Dweam Within a Dweam Chapter 2: The Late, Great, Bacon Deception

Please read the Introduction and Chapter 1 first.


The Late, Great, Bacon Deception

Around 8, Marty hears a knock on his door and the voice on the other side yells, “HEEEEEEEEEEEERE’S JOHNNY!”


Johnny: “YES.”


Johnny: “NO THANKS.”

Marty found Johnny’s reply to be suspicious but he opened the door anyhow. The frying began and Marty’s plan had worked. Marty had known all along that Hormel® Black Label® bacon was better than the store brand but he couldn’t bring himself to spend the extra couple bucks. Now he could eat like a king without having to spend like one. After the double blind taste test, Marty admitted that he was wrong about the superiority of the store brand and the two discussed what they should do next.

Johnny: “We could always carry out our plan to set Ablaze™ Lutheran Church Ablaze™.

Marty: “Ablaze™ Lutheran Church is no more. Didn’t your parents tell you what happened?

Johnny: “My parents haven’t been to church in years.”

Marty: “When the older people started dying off and the money stopped coming in, Pastor Freddy left and opened up a floral shop. The congregational demographics have changed quite a bit and they changed the name to Flaming™ Community Church.”

Johnny: “Are your parents still there?”

Marty: “No. Around the time of the name change they left and joined the Congregation of No Creed But Christ Non-Denominational Supporters of Israel™.”

Johnny: “What about you? Have you gone back to church at all?”

Marty: “Yeah, I’ve been going to Evangelical Catholic Orthodox Church of the 1580 Augsburg Confession.”

Johnny: “Wow! What kind of church is that?”

Marty: “It’s a Lutheran church.”

Johnny: “I thought we both agreed the Lutheran church was a silly place.”

Marty: “A guy at college told me about all these different podcasts on Pirate Christian Radio. I started listening to Issues Etc, The God Whisperers, and Tabletalk Radio. I started watching these Worldview Everlasting, and Lutheran Satire YouTube videos. Then I started reading some Hermann Sasse and Francis Pieper. All of Pastor Freddy’s attempts at being relevant were certainly ridiculous, but Pastor Freddy’s silliness didn’t really have anything to do with historic Lutheranism. How about you? Did you ever go back to church?”

Johnny: “You’re going to laugh, but I’m a Baptist now.”

Marty: “Making fun of someone for being a Baptist and having the last name Baptist is too obvious to be funny. Don’ you know me? Did I call you Barf when we were growing up? Anyhow, how did you end up becoming a Baptist?”

Johnny: “My roommate in college was a Baptist and we both started talking about our backgrounds and he showed me that there is no infant baptism in the Bible. He invited me to church with him and I ended up getting baptized there. Now, I’m a member of STRAIGHT AWAY Baptist Church. There’s so much more Bible study than there was at Ablaze™ and I’ve been studying theology more. I’ve been reading Augustus Strong, Thomas Schreiner, and Charles Ryrie.”

Marty: “It’s getting late but I think we should meet again to discuss these matters. Why don’t we start tomorrow night? I find it’s difficult sometimes to have a coherent conversation about these things. People want to jump all over the place but from what I remember of you, you’ll be up to the task. Tomorrow, let’s discuss the proper subjects of baptism.”

Johnny: “Okay, sounds good.”

Marty: “That is all.”

Johnny: “Good day!”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Dweam Within a Dweam Chapter 1: There's Still Bacon. It still comes from the Bacon Tree.

This is chapter 1 of a book I'm working on. If you have not done so, I recommend reading the Introduction first.

There’s Still Bacon. It still comes from the Bacon Tree.

Years later, while heading towards the bacon section of Portland Marketplace, Marty saw Johnny with a package of Hormel® Black Label® bacon in his hands.

Marty: “Hey, you Son of a Baptist! You really ought to buy the store brand, it’s much better.”

Johnny: “That’s insane! Hormel® Black Label® bacon is awesome. It’s way better than the store brand! How have you been Marty?”

Marty: “I’m doing pretty good but stop trying to change the subject! The store brand is much better.”

Johnny: “Marty, I’m glad you like the store brand so much. But, I’m buying the Hormel® Black Label® bacon.”

Marty: “Listen! It is an objective fact that the store brand is better! I demand that you come to my apartment tonight. I will fry up some of the store brand and some of your wretched Hormel® Black Label® bacon and we will subject one another to double blind taste tests. That is the only way to settle this dispute!”

Johnny: “Alright. I have to stop at my parent’s house but I’ll be over about 8.”

Marty: ”Very well then, I look forward to proving you wrong!”


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Infant Faith is the Logical Conclusion of Baptist Theology

Baptist theology teaches that baptism is a good work that we do.
The Scriptures teach that good works are the result of faith.
Therefore, baptized infants have faith.

Of course, the Scriptures teach that baptism is God's work that He does to us. The Scriptures never use the vocabulary of the Baptist when speaking of baptism. The Baptist is always saying it is a testimony of our faith or an outward sign of an inner reality. The Scriptures say that Baptism is "for the remission of sins" and "now saves us." The Baptists would never use this kind of language because their tradition forbids it. They teach that it is heretical to use that Scriptural language. The Scriptural teaching is that baptism works faith in a person. The Baptist teaching is that baptism is a what a person is commanded to do when they have faith. They say baptism does nothing. The Scriptures speak of baptism in terms of Gospel, but the Baptists speak of it as a work of the Law. But if baptism is truly our work, then infants must have faith in order to be able to do that work.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Can't Have Your Sola Fide Without Baptismal Regeneration and the Real Presence

I just posted on this very topic but I think it's worth repeating. The method of Biblical interpretation that led Martin Luther to confess that we are justified by faith alone is the same method that led him to confess that we are regenerated in baptism and that we receive Christ's actual body and blood in the Lord's Supper. It's not that Luther didn't go far enough or just couldn't abandon the traditions he was surrounded by. Luther's conscience was captive to the Word of God. Paul said we are justified through faith apart from works, therefore we are justified through faith apart from works. The Scriptures say "baptism now saves us" and "baptism is for the remission of sin," therefore baptism now saves us and is for the remission of sins. Jesus said "This is my body" and "This is my blood," therefore the bread is His body and the wine is His blood. If Luther's goal had simply been to teach the opposite of whatever Rome teaches then things would have turned out differently. He may have embraced modalism and taught that the material world is evil. But instead, Luther's conscience was captive to the Word of God and that's why he taught justification through faith alone, baptismal regeneration, and the real presence in the Lord's Supper.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Luther's doctrines of Justification by Faith Alone and the Lord's Supper

The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology by C.P. Krauth contains a lengthy critique of Dr. Shedd's History of Christian Doctrine. Krauth points out a number of errors in Shedd's work but one of the sections I found most interesting was Krauth's response to Shedd's accusation that there are certain "Romanizing elements" in the Lutheran Confessions. This is a common accusation. People will often simply say that Luther just didn't go far enough. Here is a small portion of Krauth's response:

It was not the power of education, not the influence of Romanistic leaven, but the might of the Word of God, interpreted in regard to the Lord's Supper by the very laws by which Luther was controlled in reaching the doctrine of justification by faith, and every other cardinal doctrine, it was this, and this only, which fixed his conviction. After the lapse of centuries, whose thoughts in this sphere we have striven to weigh, whether for, or against, the doctrine of our Church, with everything in the character of our times and of our land unfavorable to a community in the faith of our fathers, after a conscientious, prayerful examination of the whole ground, we confess, and if need were, through shame and suffering, God helping us, would continue to confess, our profound conviction that this doctrine which Dr. Shedd considers a relic of Romanism is Scriptural to its core, and that no process can dislodge it, which will not, carried logically through, bring the whole temple of Evangelical truth to the ground. No man can defend the doctrine of the Trinity, and assail the Lutheran doctrine of the Eucharist on the same principles of interpretation.same principles of interpretation.
Nevertheless, he who is persuaded that the Romish doctrine of Transubstantiation is unscriptural, is not thereby in the remotest degree logically arrayed against the Scriptural character of the doctrine of our Church. They are not, in such sense, of one kind as to warrant this species of suspicion. They are the results of greatly different modes of interpreting Scripture, Romanism and Zwinglianism, being of one kind in this, that they depart from the letter of God's Word, interpreted by just rules of language. The Lutheran and Romish views differ most vitally in their internal character and position, the one taking its harmonious place in Evangelical doctrine, the other marring its grace and moral consistency; Romanism and Zwinglianism being of one kind in this, that both, in different ways, exhibit dogmatic superficiality and inconsequence. The Lutheran and Romish views are differently related to the doctrinal history of the Church, the one having its witnesses in the earliest and purest ages, the other being unknown to the ancient Church and generated in its decline; Romanism and Zwinglianism here being of one kind, in that both are unhistorical. The Lutheran and Romish views differ in their devotional and practical working; Romanism and Zwinglianism here being of one kind, in that both generate the common result of a feeble faith--the one, indeed, by reaction, the other by development. Nothing could be more remote from a just representation of the fact than the charge that, in any undesirable sense, the Romish and Lutheran views of the Lord's Supper are one in kind.
Luther took the position that he did on the doctrine of the Lord's Supper for the same reason he took the position he did on justification by faith alone. We must cling to Christ and His Words and not make our reason a higher authority than the Scriptures. Luther took a bold stand on both doctrines but the Scriptures clearly teach both. When Paul says we are justified by faith apart from works, Paul means we are justified by faith apart from works. When Jesus says the bread is His body and the wine is His blood, He means that the bread is His body and the wine is His blood.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

For the "Lutheran Curious"

Last year around this time I issued a challenge for those curious about Lutheranism and I thought I might as well again this year. You can certainly visit a confessional Lutheran church anytime of the year and get a pretty good understanding of what Lutheranism is all about but Thursday through Saturday those who attend churches which do not observe the liturgical calendar have an opportunity to experience 100 proof Lutheranism without missing the Sunday service at the church they currently attend. I'm speaking of what is known as the Holy Triduum. It's basically a single service that lasts for three days beginning on Maundy Thursday. Technically it ends on Sunday evening but you can get a good idea of what it's all about if you go to the services Thursday through Saturday. Some churches offer more services than others but if you can find one that has Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil service on Saturday you'll get a good understanding of what it's all about. The stripped down Good Friday service also gives you a good idea of what worship in the early church was like. The Maundy Thursday and Good Friday sections of the service are likely to be under an hour and a half each. Historically the Easter Vigil service lasted from sunset on Saturday until sunrise on Sunday but in most churches it's under two hours. The Easter Vigil service is perhaps the most beautiful service of the entire liturgical year and contains lots and lots of Scripture reading.

So anyhow, my suggestion for those who are trying to figure out what Lutheranism is all about, would be to try to find a church on this list that has Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and an Easter Vigil service. Then go to your own church on Easter morning. You probably have a pretty good idea of what your church is all about but going to your church and the Lutheran church in such a short time period will allow you to observe the similarities and differences more clearly.