Archive for the ‘Saints of the 1890s’ Category

Feast of James Mills Thoburn, Isabella Thoburn, and Clara Swain (November 27)   2 comments

Above:  India Prior to Partition

Map scanned from Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945) and cropped by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Pay close attention to Lucknow and Bareilly, close to Nepal.

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JAMES MILLS THOBURN (MARCH 7, 1836-NOVEMBER 28, 1922)

U.S. Methodist Missionary and Bishop in Asia

brother of

ISABELLA THOBURN (MARCH 29, 1840-SEPTEMBER 1, 1901)

U.S. Methodist Educator, Deaconess, and Missionary to India

traveled with

CLARA A. SWAIN (JULY 18, 1834-DECEMBER 25, 1910)

U.S. Methodist Medical Missionary to India

These three saints come to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).  In that volume each person has a separate date.  One of the purposes of my renovation of my Ecumenical Calendar, however, is to emphasize relationships and influences.  The three saints, therefore, share a feast day here.

James Mills Thoburn and Isabella Thoburn, born in Saint Clairsville, Ohio, were children of Irish immigrants.  James debuted on March 7, 1836.  Isabella followed on March 29, 1840.  James, an 1857 graduate of Allegheny College, became a minister in the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church the following year.  After serving as a pastor, he became a missionary to India in 1859.

Thoburn spent most of 1859-1908 (except for furloughs, mainly) in Asia.  At first he worked with William Butler (1818-1899) and Clementine Rowe Butler (1820-1913) in North India.  The Butlers were the first U.S. Methodist missionaries to India; they had arrived in 1856.  Thoburn found the slow pace of missionary work with them frustrating, though.  Later our saint worked with William Taylor (1821-1902), a Methodist evangelist.  In 1874-1887 Thoburn served as pastor of a church Taylor had planted in Calcutta.

Thoburn, briefly (1861-1862) married to Sarah Minerva Rockwell, who died in childbirth in 1862, was working out of Lucknow in 1866.  That year he wrote to Isabella, his sister, a teacher in the United States.  He asked her to come to Lucknow, to operate a then-hypothetical school for girls.  Isabella accepted the offer, but her denomination did not dispatch unmarried women overseas as missionaries until 1869, when the newly-founded Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church sent her to India.  On November 3, 1869, Isabella Thoburn and Clara A. Swain, M.D., sailed from Boston, Massachusetts.  They arrived at Bombay on January 7, 1870.  Isabella went to Lucknow.  Swain headed for Bareilly.

Clara A. Swain, born in Elmira, New York, on July 18, 1834, became the first U.S. medical missionary overseas.  The youngest daughter of John Swain and Clarissa Seavey Swain joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1842.  She became a teacher then attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1869, shortly before she sailed for India.  Swain, in India, initially worked out of an orphanage.  She identified women’s medical needs, met them, and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Swain founded the Women’s Hospital and Medical School, an institution unique in Asia, in 1870.

Isabella Thoburn, at Lucknow, started the new girls’ school with six pupils in 1870.  The school grew into a boarding school then a high school then, in 1886, Lucknow Woman’s College, the first Christian college for women in Asia.  In 1903, after Isabella’s death, the name of the institution became Isabella Thoburn College.

James Mills Thoburn, founder (in 1871) of the periodical the Lucknow Witness (later the Indian Witness), expanded Methodist missionary work in Asia for decades.  He began work in Rangoon in 1879.  In 1880, while on furlough in the United States, he met and married Anna Jones (d. 1902), a candidate to be a medical missionary.  He sailed for India two days after the wedding.  Anna spent the next two years completing her medical studies before sailing to India, where she served for decades.  In 1885 James started Methodist work in Singapore.  Three years later, he became the Bishop of India and Malaysia.  In that capacity he supervised much missionary work in Asia.  In 1898 he dispatched missionaries to the Philippines.

The Thoburns and Swain, on furlough in the United States in 1888, helped to revive the ancient order of deaconesses in the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Isabella became one of the earliest Methodist deaconesses.  While still in the United States, she helped to found both Christ Hospital and the Deaconess Home and Training School, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Isabella and James spoke separately at the Ecumenical Missionary Conference, New York City, in 1900.  Then Isabella returned to India, where she died of cholera the following year.

James and Clara retired in 1908.  She settled in Castille, New York, where she wrote A Glimpse of India (1909).  She died in Castille the  following year.  Bishop Thoburn retired to Meadville, Pennsylvania.  In 1910 he, at the invitation of John Raleigh Mott (1865-1955), attended the World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh, Scotland.  Thoburn died in Meadville in 1922.

The legacies of these three saints continue, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DOMITIAN OF HUY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

THE FEAST OF HARRIET STARR CANNON, FOUNDRESS OF THE COMMUNITY OF SAINT MARY

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH ARMITAGE ROBINSON, ANGLICAN DEAN, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROSA VENERINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE VENERINI SISTERS; MENTOR OF SAINT LUCIA FILIPPINI, FOUNDRESS OF THE RELIGIOUS TEACHERS FILIPPINI

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servants

James Mills Thoburn, Isabella Thoburn, and Clara Swain,

who made the good news known in Asia.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of H. Baxter Liebler (November 26)   Leave a comment

Above:  Episcopal Flag

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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HAROLD BAXTER LIEBER (NOVEMBER 26, 1889-NOVEMBER 21, 1982)

Episcopal Priest and Missionary to the Navajo Nation

H. Baxter Liebler comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

The Brooklyn-born Liebler spent nearly half of his long life ministering to members of the Navajo nation in Utah.

Liebler, born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 26, 1889, was a son of Mildred Walther Liebler and theater producer Theodore Liebler.  Our saint became a businessman then a second-career priest.  He married his first wife, Frances F. Marks (d. 1978) in 1913.  Liebler, ordained to the priesthood in 1978, served first as Curate of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, New York, New York.  In 1918 he founded St. Saviour’s Church, Old Greenwich, Connecticut.  In 1942 Liebler was the Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Riverside, Connecticut, when he was on vacation in southwestern Utah.  He noticed the poverty of the Navajo there; they lacked even schools and clinics.  He had had a fascination with Native Americans since childhood.  The combination of factors led to Liebler becoming a missionary.

Liebler did something about that poverty; he returned the following year and remained for the rest of his life.  Our saint founded St. Christopher’s Mission, Bluff, Utah, as well as a school and a clinic.  He respected the Navajo culture, mastered the language, and integrated Navajo prayers and tunes into the liturgy.  He rejected culturally destructive assimilation, by which many folkways and languages have gone extinct, and many indigenous people have fallen into a host of severe woes and ills.  Liebler was glad when the State of Utah assumed responsibility for the school and the clinic, for he preferred to focus on evangelism.  He excelled in that; he baptized about 2,000 Navajos.

Liebler remained active in retirement (1962-1982).  He moved to Oljato and founded the St. Mary-of-the-Moonlight Mission, as well as the Hat Creek Retreat Center.  Our saint, a widower, also remarried.  His second wife was Joan Warburton Eskell (1915-2009).  He died in Oljato on November 21, 1982, five days prior to what would have been his ninety-third birthday.

One legacy of Liebler’s work is The Episcopal Church’s Navajoland Area Mission (a.k.a. the Episcopal Church in Navajoland), carved out of the Dioceses of Arizona, Utah, and the Rio Grande (encompassing New Mexico and much of western Texas) in 1977.  Navajoland has three regions and nine congregations in 2019.  Bishop David Bailey emphasizes ordaining indigenous priests and deacons as the mission area nears the presumptive election of its fourth indigenous bishop.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

TUESDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF TOYOHIKO KAGAWA, RENEWER OF SOCIETY AND PROPHETIC WITNESS IN JAPAN

THE FEAST OF JOHANN WALTER, “FIRST CANTOR OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WALTER RUSSELL BOWIE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, SEMINARY PROFESSOR, AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant H. Baxter Liebler,

whom you called to preach the Gospel to the Navajo people.

Raise up in this and every land evangelists and heralds of your kingdom,

that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 96 or 96:1-7

Acts 1:1-9

Luke 10:1-9

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 716

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Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington (November 25)   Leave a comment

Above:  James Otis Sargent Huntington

Image in the Public Domain

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JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON (JULY 23, 1854-JUNE 28, 1935)

Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross

James Otis Sargent Huntington comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Episcopal Church.

Huntington, born a Unitarian and raised an Episcopalian, worked among “the least of these.”  His mother was Hannah Diane Sargent (Huntington).  Our saint’s father was Frederick Dan Huntington (1819-1904), who taught moral ethics at Harvard.  By July 23, 1854, the date of our saint’s birth, the Reverend Huntington was the pastor of a Unitarian church in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts.  The elder Huntington converted to The Episcopal Church in 1855.  He rose through the ranks of Episcopal clergy quickly; he served as the first Bishop of Central New York from 1859 to 1904.  Our saint graduated from Harvard then from St. Andrew’s Divinity School, Syracuse, New York.  His father ordained him to the diaconate (1878) then the priesthood (1880).

Huntington’s ministry entailed working with marginalized people.  He, assistant at Calvary Mission, Syracuse (1875-1881), served at Holy Cross Mission, New York, New York from 1881 to 1889.  In New York City he ministered to working class immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  When our saint discerned his vocation to monastic life, he began to consider how to fulfill that call.  On November 25, 1884, in the Chapel of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, New York, New York, Huntington made his vows as a monk of the new Order of the Holy Cross.  The vow of celibacy was especially controversial in some quarters of The Episcopal Church.  He led that order in 1884-1888, 1897-1907, 1915-1918, and 1921-1930.

Huntington, like many other Anglo-Catholics, combined social progressiveness with liturgical conservatism.  The high church liturgy added much beauty to the otherwise bleak lives of many to whom he and his fellow monks ministered.  Our saint, active in the Knights of Labor (founded in 1869), founded a mission in Liberia, the Kent School (in Kent, Connecticut, in 1906), and St. Andrew’s School (in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1905).

Huntington died at the mother house in West Park, New York, on June 28, 1935.  He was 80 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 19, 2019 COMMON ERA

GOOD FRIDAY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MURIN OF FAHAN, LASERIAN OF LEIGHLIN, GOBAN OF PICARDIE, FOILLAN OF FOSSES, AND ULTAN OF PERONNE, ABBOTS; AND FURSEY OF PERONNE AND BLITHARIUS OF SEGANNE, MONKS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALPHEGE, ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT EMMA OF LESUM, BENEFACTOR

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS PETRI SWEDISH LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN, HISTORIAN, LITURGIST, MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH LITERATURE;” AND HIS BROTHER, LAURENTIUS PETRI, SWEDISH LUTHERAN ARCHBISHOP OF UPPSALA, BIBLE TRANSLATOR, AND “FATHER OF SWEDISH HYMNODY”

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O loving God, by your grace your servant James Huntington gathered a community

dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ:

Send your blessing on all who proclaim Christ crucified,

and move the hearts of many to look upon him and be saved;

who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Nehemiah 5:1-12

Psalm 119:161-168

Galatians 6:14-18

John 6:34-38

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 703

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Feast of John LaFarge, Jr. (November 24)   3 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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JOHN LAFARGE, JR. (DECEMBER 13, 1880-NOVEMBER 25, 1963)

U.S. Roman Catholic Priest and Renewer of Society

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The Negro brings to the Church something that is in danger of disappearing from its life in this country, and thereby putting American Catholicism out of touch with the rest of the great universal suffering world–a keen sense of social justice.

–Father John LaFarge, quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (New York:  The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997), 512

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Father John LaFarge, Jr., comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Ellsberg’s All Saints and G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

LaFarge, from a background of privilege, dedicated most of his adult life to resisting bigotry.  His mother was Margaret Mason Perry (1839-1925).  She, a convert to Roman Catholicism, had Isaiah Hecker (1819-1888) for a spiritual mentor.  Our saint’s father was John LaFarge, Sr. (1835-1910), a prominent painter and stained glass window maker.  Our saint, the youngest of eight children, entered the world at Newport, Rhode Island, on February 13, 1880.  John, Jr., a member of the Harvard University Class of 1901, studied for the priesthood in Europe.  There he joined the Society of Jesus (much to his mother’s dismay) and became a priest (ordained at Innsbruck, Austria) on July 26, 1905.

LaFarge understood the relationship between the gospel of Jesus Christ and social justice.  Early assignments included teaching at Jesuit colleges and assisting in parishes.  One assignment was as chaplain at the prison and hospital on Blackwell Island, New York, New York.  Later, our saint served in a mostly African-American parish in Leonardville, Maryland.  In 1924 he founded an industrial school for African Americans at Ridge, Maryland.  From 1926 to 1963 LaFarge worked at America magazine, a Jesuit publication.  In 1963, he, Dorothy Day, and others founded the Catholic Layman’s Union, which became the first Catholic Interracial Council of New York.  He traveled across the United States, speaking about social justice and encouraging the formation of similar organizations.  In 1938, Pope Pius XI asked LaFarge to draft an encyclical on racism.  Our saint completed the draft document, but Pius XI died in 1939, and Pope Pius XII shelved it, just in time for the Holocaust and World War II.

LaFarge, a pioneer for racial justice and opposition to anti-Semitism in U.S. Roman Catholicism prior to the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), understood that one one divine purpose for the human race was unity.  He, therefore, condemned anti-Semitism and racial segregation laws.  That concern for unity also led LaFarge to become a pioneer in the ecumenical movement.  Related to his concern for unity was support for constitutional government; our saint criticized his Church for hostility to constitutional governments and support for dictatorships and therefore for a dubious record on human rights.  He, an advocate for freedom of religion as a human right, lived long enough to learn of the introduction of the draft Declaration on Religious Freedom at Vatican II.

LaFarge, aged 83 years, died in his sleep in New York, New York, early in the morning of November 25, 1963.

Theological orthodoxy and social justice need not be at odds with each other.  Despite the long and shameful record of self-proclaimed orthodox Christians propping up sins such as Jim Crow laws, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, nativism, and the subordination of women, actual orthodoxy, with the Golden Rule as a constituent part, facilitates social justice and confronts institutions and proponents of oppression and hatred.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2019 COMMON ERA

MAUNDY THURSDAY

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND; AND ANNE HUTCHINSON, REBELLIOUS PURITAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT CORNELIA CONNELLY, FOUNDRESS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE HOLY CHILD JESUS

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIA ANNA BLONDIN, FOUNDRESS OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE SISTERS OF SAINT ANNE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN ARCHUTOWSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1943

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John LaFarge, Jr.,

through whom you called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,

and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with

you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen.

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and make no peace with oppression.

Help us, like your servant John LaFarge, Jr., to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Isabelle Alice Hartley Crawford (November 17)   Leave a comment

Above:  Kiowa County, Oklahoma, 1951

Image Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas

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ISABEL ALICE HARTLEY CRAWFORD (MAY 26, 1865-NOVEMBER 18, 1961)

Baptist Missionary to the Kiowa Nation

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I Dwell Among Mine Own People.

–Epitaph of Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford

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Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford comes to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year With American Saints (2006).

Crawford took the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma.  She, like many missionaries in various places and at a range of times, tended to the tangible and intangible needs of those among whom she ministered, and defended their rights.

Crawford, born in Cheltenham, Ontario, on May 26, 1865, seemed like an unlikely missionary to the Kiowa nation.  Her mother was Sarah Louise Hackett (Crawford).  Our saint’s father was the Reverend John Crawford, a minster and a professor of theology who served in North Dakota and Canada.  She wanted to become a missionary overseas.  After Crawford graduated from the Baptist Missionary Training School, Chicago, Illinois, in 1893, went to work for the Board of Women’s American Baptist Home Mission Society (WABHMS).  The Mission Society sent our saint to Oklahoma, to be a missionary to those she initially regarded as “dirty Indians.”

Crawford ministered among the Kiowa people from 1893 to 1906.   After spending three years at the Elk Creek Mission, she transferred thirty miles away to Saddle Mountain, near Mountain View, Oklahoma.  Our saint had to overcome great challenges.  She, nearly deaf, had to read lips and communicate via sign language and interpreters.  Conditions were primitive.  Furthermore, Crawford had to contend with widespread apathy.  She taught subjects ranging from sewing to baking to the Bible, cared for the ill, and sang hymns.  She also defended the interests of the Kiowa people, besieged by white settlers using the Natives’ natural resources and hunting their game.  Finally, on Easter Sunday 1903, the Saddle Mountain Baptist Church held its first worship service.  She resigned under pressure in 1906, during a controversy related to her practice of permitting lay presidency (by Lucius Aitsan) at the Lord’s Supper.

Crawford continued to work for the Mission Society until she retired in 1929.  That organization never permitted her to return to Oklahoma, but our saint labored faithfully, as her employers allowed.

Crawford, who retired to Grimsby, Ontario, Canada, in 1929, died there, aged 96 years, on November 18, 1961.  The resting place of her physical remains, consistent with her request, was the cemetery of Saddle Mountain Baptist Church.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 10, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PIERRE TEILHARD DE CHARDIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, SCIENTIST, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF HENRY VAN DYKE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF HOWARD THURMAN, PROTESTANT THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF MIKAEL AGRICOLA, FINNISH LUTHERAN LITURGIST, BISHOP OF TURKU, AND “FATHER OF FINNISH LITERARY LANGUAGE”

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God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant Isabel Alice Hartley Crawford,

who made the good news known to the Kiowa nation.

Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel,

so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love,

and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 62:1-7

Psalm 48

Romans 10:11-17

Luke 24:44-53

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Feast of Gustaf Aulen and Anders Nygren (November 15)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of Sweden

Image in the Public Domain

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GUSTAF EMMANUEL HILDEBRAND AULÉN (MAY 15, 1879-1977)

teacher and colleague of

ANDERS THEODOR SAMUEL NYGREN (NOVEMBER 15, 1890-OCTOBER 20, 1978)

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SWEDISH LUTHERAN BISHOPS AND THEOLOGIANS

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After World War I, Neo-orthodoxy became a major theological movement in English-speaking Christianity.  A similar movement in Swedish-speaking Christianity at the same time was Lundensian theologyGustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren were architects of that theology.

Aulén, born in Sjungsby on May 15, 1879, became a minister, bishop, theologian, and liturgist.  He, an assistant professor at the University of Uppsala (1907-1913) then Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Lund (1913-1933), founded the Swedish Theological Quarterly in 1925.  He remained on the editorial staff into his retirement.  While at Lund, he wrote influential works (later translated into English):  The Christian Conception of God (1927), Christus Victor (1930), and The Faith of the Christian Church (1932).  Aulén, a student of Nathan Söderblom (1866-1931) at Uppsala, favored the Classic Theory of the Atonement over Penal Substitutionary Atonement, which St. Anselm of Canterbury favored, and the Moral Exemplar Theory, which Peter Abelard favored.  Aulén also taught Nygren at Lund then served with him on the faculty.

Nygren, born in Gothenburg on November 15, 1890, had a lifelong fascination with philosophy that influenced his scholarly and theological work.  He, ordained in The Church of Sweden in 1912, left parish ministry nine years later.  In 1921 he received his doctorate from the University of Lund and became a lecturer there.  Three years later, he became Professor of Systematic Theology, serving until 1948.  Lundensian theology incorporated philosophical methods and perspectives for the purpose of seeking to engage in theology in a scientifically responsible manner.  Lundensian theology was also moderate, avoiding anti-intellectualism on the right and disregard for tradition on the left.  That philosophical background was evident in Nygren’s Agape and Eros (two volumes, 1930 and 1936), which argued that agape and eros are polar opposites.

Both Aulén and Nygren became bishops.  Aulén became the Bishop of Strängäs, serving from 1933 to 1952.  He, as a bishop, contributed tunes to the new hymnal (1927) and helped to shape the new service book (1942).  Aulén also helped to form the World Council of Churches (1948), as did Nygren, the first President of the Lutheran World Federation (1947-1952).  Nygren served as the Bishop of Lund from 1948 to 1958.

Both Aulén and Nygren also continued to write after they retired.  Aulén wrote, for example, Eucharist and Sacrifice (1956) and Reformation and Catholicity (1959).  Nygren, in retirement, wrote Meaning and Method:  Prolegomena to a Scientific Philosophy of Religion and a Scientific Theology (1972).

Above:  The Title Page to Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Both men argued for continuity from Jesus to St. Paul the Apostle.  Nygren made that point in his influential Commentary on Romans (1944), a volume other exegetes of that epistle quote.  According to the Carl C. Rasmussen translation (1944),

Until quite recently it was customary for theology to draw a sharp line between Jesus and Paul.  Jesus preached the coming of the kingdom of God; but Paul, it was said, changed this to the doctrine of justification by faith.  Now there is room for no doubt that this view is false, and that the continuity between Jesus and Paul is essentially unbroken.  When, therefore, we seek to fix the basic thought in Paul’s view of the gospel, it is quite proper to point out how it has both its origin and its anchor in Jesus’ proclamation about the kingdom of God.

–9

Above:  The Spine of Commentary on Romans

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The bishops died within a year of each other.  Aulén, aged 98 years, died on December 16, 1977.  Nygren, aged 87 years, died in Lund on October 20, 1978.

Their contributions to theology have never died, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 28, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THOMAS BINNEY, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND “ARCHBISHOP OF NONCONFORMITY”

THE FEAST OF ANDREW REED, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ANNA JULIA HAYWOOD COOPER AND ELIZABETH EVELYN WRIGHT, AFRICAN-AMERICAN EDUCATORS

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH C. CLEPHANE, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servants Gustaf Aulén and Anders Nygren,

and we pray that by their teaching we may be led to a fuller understanding

of the truth we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Peter Taylor Forsyth (November 11)   2 comments

Above:  Peter Taylor Forsyth

Image in the Public Domain

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PETER TAYLOR FORSYTH (MAY 12, 1848-NOVEMBER 11, 1921)

Also known a P. T. Forsyth

Scottish Congregationalist Minister and Theologian

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Revelation is redemption.

–P. T. Forsyth, quoted in Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman, eds., A Handbook of Christian Theologians, 2nd. ed. (1984), 154

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P. T. Forsyth was, toward the end of his life, especially, too conservative for many liberals and too liberal for many conservatives.  The author of twenty-five books and hundreds of articles did, from 1893, anticipate much of the theology of Karl Barth and of Neo-orthodoxy.  Forsyth alarmed fundamentalist by affirming science and critical (in the highest sense of that word) Biblical scholarship while he rejected much of the theology of his contemporary, Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930).

Forsyth, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, on May 12, 1848, graduated from Aberdeen University then, in 1876, became a Congregationalist minister.  After serving in a few pulpits, he became the President of Hackney College, London, in 1921.  Our saint held that office until he died, on November 11, 1921.  In 1904-1905 he served as the Chairman of the Congregational Union of England and Wales.

Stale orthodoxy has inspired overreactions.  Philipp Spener (1635-1705) reacted and founded Pietism, thereby minimizing the sacraments, the role of the Church, and the importance of doctrine, as well as straying into works-based righteousness.  Adolf von Harnack, another German Lutheran, participated in the post-Enlightenment “flight from dogma,” as James Dunn called it in Jesus Remembered (2003).  Harnack argued that,

…true faith in Jesus is not a matter of creedal orthodoxy but of doing as he did.

–Quoted in Dunn, Jesus Remembered (2003), 38

In Harnack’s dogmaless version of Christianity, as Dunn wrote, the presentation was of

Jesus as a good example, Jesus as more the first Christian than the Christ.

Jesus Remembered (2003), 39

Forsyth had been a Harnackian.  Later in life, however, our saint quoted Harnack only while disagreeing with him.

Forsyth, without rejecting modernity, insisted that the church must define itself according to Christ, whom he referred to as “the Word,” knowable only via the Bible.  Biblical criticism has its place, our saint argued, but it must never be destructive, and must serve “the Word.”  In Forsyth’s Christocentric theology, the objective act of God in Jesus Christ is the origin of Christian faith.  Furthermore, the Gospel is always valid, regardless of whether one believes in it.

Forsyth’s break with Harnack was especially evident in his emphasis on deeds over words.  Our saint insisted that divine revelation was more a matter of deed than word, more a matter of act than declaration.  Forsyth argued that, although the words of Jesus are important, his deeds are more important.  In other words, our saint wrote that Jesus was like what he did, that the work of Christ revealed the person of Christ.  Furthermore, as Forsyth wrote, divine revelation in Jesus is an act that costs God much and restores human fellowship with God.  Forsyth’s focus on divine actions was consistent with his disregard for speculative theology–an attitude that led him to ignore aspects of official Trinitarian doctrine.

(Aside:  I do not criticize Forsyth for that last point.  My attempts to understand the orthodox Trinitarian theology lead me to confusion quickly and tie me into logical knots.  For example, if one holds that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are co-eternal, how can one then say that the Father begat the Son and that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and maybe also from the Son, depending on one’s position vis-à-vis the filioque clause?  I choose to think of the Trinity as a glorious mystery, and to affirm that the truth of the nature of God exceeds human comprehension.)

Forsyth’s theology of the Atonement was collective, not individualistic.  He argued that the Atonement was mainly for the human race, not for individuals.  Furthermore, our saint wrote, the cross represent both reconciliation and judgment upon himself.  Forsyth argued that God has objectively redeemed the world and curtailed the power of evil.  Therefore, our saint wrote, no Christian should ever feel overwhelmed by evil, for the battle between good and evil has ended; Christ has overcome the world.

Forsyth’s Christology was orthodox.  He wrote that Jesus was fully human and fully divine, and that the fully human portion of that reality indicated human limitations–the self-sacrifice of God.  Yet, our saint argued, Christ did not sin, despite moral struggles.

Unlike many Protestants, Forsyth held a high view of the sacraments.  He wrote that they are not merely memorials but actually means of grace.

Forsyth contributed greatly to Christian theology.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 24, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR

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Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of knowledge,

and to another the insight of wisdom,

and to another the steadfastness of faith.

We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Peter Taylor Forsyth,

and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth

we have seen in your Son Jesus, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Proverbs 3:1-7 or Wisdom 7:7-14

Psalm 119:89-104

1 Corinthians 2:1-10, 13-16 or 1 Corinthians 3:5-11

John 17:18-23 or Matthew 13:47-52

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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