Archive for the ‘Martin Luther’ Tag

THE ADMINISTRATION IS NOT THE NATION-STATE.   Leave a comment

john-adams

Above:  John Adams, President of the United States from 1797 to 1801

Image in the Public Domain

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The administration is not the nation-state.  This is a simple fact that political dissidents keep having to repeat, even in my native land, the United States of America.  To oppose the presidential administration is not to be disloyal.  The Constitution of the United States even builds debate and dissent into the political system, complete with contested elections.

The failure to acknowledge the fact that the administration is not the nation-state during the Quasi-War with France during the administration of President John Adams (1797-1801) contributed to the abomination that was the Sedition Act of 1798.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a place or office in or under the government of the United States, from undertaking, performing or executing his trust or duty, and if any person or persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and on conviction, before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment during a term not less than six months nor exceeding five years; and further, at the discretion of the court may be ho]den to find sureties for his good behaviour in such sum, and for such time, as the said court may direct.

SEC. 2. And be it farther enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act, for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in Republication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause, shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, that the expiration of the act shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against the law, during the time it shall be in force.

APPROVED, July 14, 1798.

Source = The Avalon Project, Yale University

Adjusting dollar amounts for inflation is crucial.  Know then, O reader, that $2000 (1798) is $39,800 (2015) and that $5000 (1798) is $99,400, according to MeasuringWorth.com.

It was a partisan law applied to opposition newspaper editors and Representative Matthew Lyon of Vermont.  One might also notice that the law permitted (by omission) all manner of negative press and speech regarding the Vice President, who was Thomas Jefferson, a leader of the opposition party.  Newspaper editors went to prison, newspapers closed, and Lyon became a federal inmate.  Lyon was hardly the most polite of Congressmen, but all that he had uttered and published negatively regarding the Adams Administration fell within the bounds of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Federalists who supported the Sedition Act of 1798 mistook partisanship for treason and trampled upon the First Amendment.  Lyon had argued in a letter to Spooner’s Vermont Journal that the allegedly power-hungry president had “swallowed up” “every consideration of public welfare.”  He had written this letter prior to July 14, 1798, so the legal principle of ex post facto protected him prior to the date that Adams signed the Sedition Act into law.  After the law had gone into effect, however, Lyon repeated those charges repeatedly and added more criticisms of Adams and the Federalist majorities in Congress (such as that Adams fostered “ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice” and Congress should send the President to a mad house).  The federal indictment (October 5, 1798) accused Lyon of having “malicious intent to bring the President and the government of the United States into contempt.”  The verdict was guilty.  Lyon went on to win reelection from his prison cell.

Alas, Jefferson was not a paragon of virtue with regard to freedom of the press.  Although he, as Vice President, opposed the Sedition Act of 1798, which expired in 1801, he encouraged partisans to use similar state laws against Federalist critics of himself and of his administration.  There was, for example, People v. Croswell (1804), which targeted Harry Croswell (1778-1858), editor of The Wasp, a Federalist newspaper in Hudson, New York.  Croswell was openly critical of President Jefferson.  Croswell lost that case, in which the prosecution convicted him of having committed both libel and sedition.  The editor kept losing libel lawsuits.  In 1814 he left journalism for the Episcopal priesthood.

The unfortunate tendency to confuse the presidential administration for the nation-state has recurred frequently, drawing support from the “rally around the flag” mentality.  Resurgence of this confusion in the form of jingoism has been especially egregious during times of war, whether declared or otherwise.  During World War I, for example, the federal government sent some antiwar activists to prison not for inciting violence, but for inciting nonviolence.  Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., disappointingly, compared the rhetoric of nonviolence during time of war to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.  “My country, right or wrong” has never impressed me, for as the great Voltaire wrote,

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.

And, as the moralist Samuel Johnson observed,

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Dissent is as American as the First Amendment.  That is a patriotic statement.  Those who enter public life should either have thick political skins already or grow them quickly.  President Harry Truman‘s maxim that those who want a friend in Washington, D.C., should bring a dog remains true much of the time.

I am convinced that another contributing factor to the identification of the administration with the nation-state is fear.  Out of fear individuals and institutions tend to trample people and ideals–even foundational principles.  A time of crisis, however, is properly a time to double down on acting in accordance with those foundational principles, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the fact that dissent is patriotic.  As Tom Dobbs, the character the late, great Robin Williams portrayed in Man of the Year (2006), said,

If dissent were unpatriotic, we would still be British.

I bristle whenever I read or hear someone accuse dissidents of being stupid at best or treasonous at worst.  One reason for my bristling is principled; I affirm that, in the words of The Use of Force in International Affairs (1961),

If what your country is doing seems to you practically and morally wrong, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

What I think of the content of that dissent is irrelevant with regard to my estimate of the patriotism of the dissident.  Another reason is personal; I know the feeling of hearing and reading people question either my intelligence or my patriotism or both because of a political difference.  Dissent, however, is as American as the First Amendment.

Administrations come and go, but the United States of America persists.  The administration is not the nation-state.

As Martin Luther probably did not say,

Here I stand; I can do no other.

I will do no other.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 10, 2017 COMMON ERA

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I derived much material for this post from Geoffrey R. Stone, Perilous Times:  Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (New York, NY:  W. W. Norton and Company, 2004).

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Feast of Yves Congar (March 13)   Leave a comment

yves-congar

Above:  Yves Congar

Image in the Public Domain

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YVES MARIE-JOSEPH CONGAR (MARCH 13, 1904-JUNE 22, 1995)

Roman Catholic Priest and Theologian

Father Yves Congar comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Robert Ellsberg, author of All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997).  Ellsberg lists Congar’s birth month as March and assigns his feast to March 13.  Some other sources, however, list Congar’s birth date as April 13.  Either way, his feast day on my Ecumenical Calendar is March 13.

To add Congar to an ecumenical calendar of saints is appropriate, for he was an ecumenist.  Our saint, the author of more than 15,000 articles and books, entered the world at Sedan, France, in 1904.  At the age of 17 years he decided to become a priest.  Congar went on to join the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans.  He took holy orders in 1930.  From the 1930s forward he was an active ecumenist, presaging Vatican II’s definition of non-Roman Catholic Christians as “separated brethren,” not as heretics.  For his ecumenical activity Congar received much criticism from traditional Roman Catholics.

Congar, a military chaplain in 1939 and a prisoner of war for most of World War II, was ahead of his time theologically prior to Vatican II.  He respected tradition yet was not a traditionalist.  Tradition, for him, was living and flexible, but traditionalism was an inflexible commitment to the past.  Our saint favored returning to the sources of traditions and evaluating traditions in the context of these sources.  Thus he supported ecclesiastical reform, which he understood as both necessary and proper to allow the Church to resist the tendency toward institutionalism.  Congar also opposed hyper-clericism.  He understood the role of the laity not to be to obey, but to help to transform the world into something closer to the Kingdom of God.

The Holy Office (an ironically named institution) had been concerned about Congar since the 1930s.  Another red flag regarding our saint was his involvement in the worker-priest movement, in which priests worked in factories and led the lives of industrial workers.  In the 1950s it forbade him to teach and write.

Congar’s reputation vis-a-vis the Vatican improved in the 1960s.  Pope John XXIII invited him to serve on the committee that planned the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II).  Congar did that and more.  He influenced the proceedings of Vatican II, shaping the documents on ecumenism, mission, revelation, the Church, and the Church in the world.  The definitions of the Church as “the people of God” and of non-Roman Catholic Christians not as heretics but as “separated brethren” owed much to him.  Furthermore, his influence was evident in the statement that the Church was “at once holy and always in need of reformation.”

Pope John Paul II elevated Congar to the College of Cardinals in 1985.

Congar died at Paris, France, on June 22, 1995.  He was 91 years old.  Our saint’s health had been failing since the 1980s.

One can recognize the influence of Congar in modern Roman Catholicism.  Whenever one finds “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in a Roman Catholic hymnal or reads of Pope Francis making positive statements about Martin Luther, one encounters evidence of the thawing of old interdenominational tensions.  Other evidence includes ecumenical dialogues involving the Roman Catholic Church.

Congar helped to shape his times for the better.  His influence persists, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 14, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MACRINA THE ELDER, HER FAMILY, AND SAINT GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS THE YOUNGER

THE FEAST OF CIVIL RIGHTS MARTYRS AND ACTIVISTS

THE FEAST OF KRISTEN KVAMME, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN HYMN WRITER AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT SAVA I, FOUNDER OF THE SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH AND FIRST ARCHBISHOP OF SERBS

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Yves Congar,

through whom you have 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), page 60

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Feast of Philipp Melanchthon (February 16)   Leave a comment

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Above:  Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

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PHILIPP MELANCHTHON (FEBRUARY 16, 1497-APRIL 19, 1560)

German Lutheran Theologian and Scribe of the Reformation

Philipp Melanchthon was a leader of the Protestant Reformation.  Our saint, born Philipp Schwarzerd at Bretton, Baden, on February 16, 1497, was a son of Georg Schwarzerd (an armorer) and Barbara Reuter (niece of classical and humanist scholar Johann Reuchlin).  Reuchlin supervised our saint’s classical and humanist education, transforming him into a classical and humanist scholar whom other classical and humanist scholars respected.  Reuchlin gave our saint the surname “Melanchthon,” Greek for “Schwarzerd.”  Melanchthon, who earned his B.A. degree at Heiderberg (1512), M.A. degree at Tubingern (1514), and B.D. degree at Wittenberg (1519), translated certain classical Greek works into German.

Melanchthon’s move to Wittengerg in 1518 was crucial.  In August of that year our saint arrived to teach Greek at the university there.  On August 29, 1518, he delivered an influential address, The Improvement of Studies, in which he proposed to renew society and education by bypassing certain secondary sources and returning to primary sources.  The scholarship of Melanchthon influenced the work of Martin Luther, whose ally he became the following year.  In 1520 Melanchthon married Katharine Krapp of Wittenberg.  The couple had four children:  Anna (1522), Philipp (1525), Georg (1527), and Magdalen (1533).  Melanchthon influenced education in Germany.  His educational theories led to the founding of Protestant public schools and the reorganization of universities in much of Germany.  Thus he became the “Preceptor of Germany.”

Melanchthon, the scribe of the Reformation, wrote Biblical commentaries and composed the Augsburg Confession (1530) and a defense of it.  Despite these facts, some Lutherans considered our saint to be insufficiently Lutheran.  Melanchthon was a Lutheran diplomat and spokesman in discussions with representatives of the Reformed and the Roman Catholic Churches.  For him justification by faith was essential; any point not contradicting it was nonessential.  Melanchthon was even willing, for the sake of Christian unity, to accept papal government yet not supremacy.

Our saint, anguished by ecclesiastical schisms, maintained his ecumenical dialogues until he died, aged 63 years, on April 19, 1560.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JOHN OF DAMASCUS AND COSMAS OF MAIUMA, THEOLOGIANS AND HYMNODISTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN CALABRIA, FOUNDER OF THE CONGREGATION OF THE POOR SERVANTS AND THE POOR WOMEN SERVANTS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH MOHR, AUSTRIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF THOMAS COTTERILL, ENGLISH PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND LITURGIST

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Philipp Melanchthon,

through whom you have 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) page 60

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Feast of Menno Simons (January 31)   Leave a comment

menno-simons

Above:  Menno Simons

Image in the Public Domain

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MENNO SIMONS (1496-JANUARY 31, 1561)

Mennonite Leader

Konrad Grebel (circa 1498-1526), an erstwhile disciple of Ulrich Zwingli, founded the Swiss Brethren and the Anabaptist movement on January 21, 1525.  Swiss authorities persecuted and all but eradicated the Swiss Brethren; Zwingli was among the persecutors.  Felix Manz became the first Anabaptist martyr on January 5, 1527, when his punishment for rebaptizing people was drowning.  The Anabaptist movement spread into The Netherlands.  The movement also fragmented into four major sects and lacked coherent theological and ethical standards.  It was coming apart at the seams.

Menno Simons provided the standards and stability the Anabaptist movement needed to survive and thrive.  He had been a Dutch Roman Catholic priest in the village of Pingium, starting in 1524.  He began to experience major theological doubts, though.  Was Transubstantiation true?  And was infant baptism valid?  So the priest studied the Bible and the writings of Martin Luther for answers.  (Luther defended the validity of infant baptism.  If it were invalid, he argued, there had not been any Christians in Europe for about 1000 years.  I find that argument convincing.)  Simons became an Anabaptist in January 1536 and a preacher the following year.  His writings became foundational for the Anabaptist movement.  He was so vital to the movement that many Anabaptists adopted the label “Mennonite.”

Simons, an active missioner, moved around much, starting in 1541.  He died at Wustenfield, Holstein, on January 31, 1561.  He was 64 or 65 years old.

I disagree with our saint on many theological points.  I am, in fact, an Episcopalian with strong Lutheran and Roman Catholic tendencies.  Both Transubstantiation and infant baptism make sense to me.  Furthermore, I recognize no need to rebaptize anyone baptized in the Trinitarian formula.  None of these facts prevents me from honoring Menno Simons, however.  He was, I conclude, a servant of God who had a vital witness to Jesus Christ in the world.  That witness continues via the Anabaptist movement, which he stabilized.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HILEY BATHHURST, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES OTIS SARGENT HUNTINGTON, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF THE HOLY CROSS

THE FEAST OF PETRUS NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN EDUCATOR AND COMPOSER; AND GEORG NIGIDIUS, GERMAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SQUANTO, COMPASSIONATE HUMAN BEING

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Menno Simons,

through whom you have 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 (2016), page 60

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Feast of Paul Speratus (December 13)   1 comment

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Above:  Paul Speratus

Image in the Public Domain

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FEAST OF PAUL SPERATUS (DECEMBER 13, 1484-AUGUST 12, 1551)

German Lutheran Bishop, Liturgist, and Hymn Writer

Also known as Paul Hoffer, Paul Offer, and Paulus Speratus

Paul Speratus was an influential German Lutheran minister and liturgist.

Our saint’s name at birth (at Rothlen Castle, Ellswangen, Swabia, now in the Federal Republic of Germany) was Paul Hoffer or Paul Offer; Paulus Speratus was the Latinized version of his name.  In 1502 Hoffer/Offer matriculated at the University of Freiburg (now in the Federal Republic of Germany).  He studied subsequently at Paris and at various universities in Italy.

Hoffer/Offer/Speratus was a Roman Catholic priest who converted to Lutheranism.  He, ordained a priest prior to 1518, became a preacher at Dinkelsbuhl, Bavaria (now the Federal Republic of Germany) in 1518.  There he began to read early theological works by Martin Luther.  Our saint served at Wurzburg (now in the Federal Republic of Germany) in 1519 and at Salzburg (in Austria) in 1520, but had to leave each place because of his increasingly Lutheran theology and his outspokenness about it.  Speratus left for Vienna in Autumn 1520, to work on a Doctor of Divinity degree.  In 1522 he had become one of the first Roman Catholic priests to marry in the sixteenth century.  His wife was Anna.  On January 15, 1522, our saint preached a sermon in favor of marriage and of justification by faith.  The theological faculty of the University of Vienna forced him to leave and the Church excommunicated him.

Speratus, newly and fully Protestant, began the next phase of his life.  He moved to Ofen (now in Hungary) briefly before relocating to Iglau, Moravia (now Jihlava, Czech Republic), where he preached at the cloister church.  In 1523 King Ludwig II of Bohemia (reigned 1516-1526) incarcerated him for 12 weeks and condemned him to death.  Our saint got to live, however; all he had to do was leave Moravia and never return.  In 1523 Speratus went to Wittenberg (now in the Federal Republic of Germany).  There he helped Luther prepare Etlich Christlich Lider (1524), the first Lutheran hymnal.  Among the hymns was our saint’s text (translated into English in more recent hymnals as “Salvation Unto Us Is Come“), which Speratus wrote either in prison or shortly after his release.  Our saint also translated Luther’s Formula Missae (1523) into German.

Speratus became an important figure beyond Wittenberg.  In May 1525, with Luther’s help, he became the court preacher for Duke Albrecht at Konigsberg, East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia).  Our saint drew up the liturgy and canons of the Prussian Church in 1526, the same year he became the clerical commissioner, charged with ensuring adherence to them in local congregations.  Then, in 1531, Speratus became the bishop of Pomerania, with his headquarters at Marienwerder (now Kwidzyn, Poland).  He served in that capacity for the rest of his life.

Speratus died at Marienwerder on August 12, 1551.  He was 66 years old.

Those of us who enjoy religious freedom should (A) give thanks to God for that fact and (B) refrain from trivializing the circumstances of those who lack it by confusing our minor frustrations for infringements on religious freedom.  We ought to do more, of course, but we should definitely do those two things.  We have the account of Paul Speratus, incarcerated, nearly executed, and ultimately exiled for being a Protestant in Moravia when the monarch was a Roman Catholic.  Certainly nothing any government with jurisdiction over me does anything like that or threatens to do so, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 25, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HERBERT STANLEY OAKELEY, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PROCLUS, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT RUSTICUS, BISHOP OF NARBONNE

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Paul Speratus)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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Feast of Nathan Soderblom (July 11)   Leave a comment

Nathan Soderblom

Above:  Nathan Soderblom

Image in the Public Domain

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LARS OLOF JONATHAN SODERBLOM (JANUARY 15, 1866-JULY 12, 1931)

Swedish Ecumenist and Archbishop of Uppsala

Archbishop Nathan Soderblom‘s name came to my attention via the calendars of saints of The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), where his feast day is July 12.  I have moved his feast one day, however, for I have booked July 12 fully.  According to my rules for the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, the maximum number of observations for one day is four.

Lars Olof Jonathan “Nathan” Soderblom debuted at Trono, Halsingland, Sweden, on January 15, 1866.  His mother was the Danish-born Sophie Blume Soderblom, daughter of a medical doctor.  Our saint’s father was the Reverend Jonas Soderblom (1823-1901), descended from farmers.  The Lutheran priest was a Pietist.  Young Nathan studied at Hudiksvall then at the University of Uppsala, starting at the latter in 1883.  He graduated with degrees in Oriental languages (1886) and theology (1892).  Soderblom, who had grown up with a strict form of Lutheranism, liberalized during his postsecondary education.  This fact disturbed his father, who feared that our saint was becoming a freethinker.

Soderblom became a Lutheran priest.  He, ordained in 1893, served first as a hospital chaplain in Uppsala.  In 1894 he married Anna Forsell (1870-1955).  The couple had twelve children, eleven whom survived to adulthood.  Each of the three surviving daughters married a future bishop of the Church of Sweden, and one of the eight sons entered the ordained ministry.  From 1894 to 1901 Soderblom was the chaplain to the Swedish legation in Paris and pastor to Swedish seamen at Calais and Dunkirk.  The busy clergyman also earned his doctorate from the Sorbonne in 1901.  The focus of his study was comparative eschatology.  His dissertation was La vie future d’apres le Mazdeisme, about Persian religion.

Soderblom combined support for foreign missions with advocacy for studies in comparative religion.  He was a Christian, of course–a Lutheran, to be specific–and he thought that more people should convert to Christianity.  Our saint also affirmed the proposition that missionaries should understand and not destroy the cultures in which they worked.

This point might seem obvious to you, O reader, but, as many people who train missionaries know well, a host of missionaries (in successive generations) destroyed cultures and functioned as more effective agents of earthly principalities than of the Kingdom of God for centuries.  Thus they harmed the cause for which they professed to labor.

Soderblom, an expert in Oriental religions, became a professor of theology at the University of Uppsala in 1901.  In Gudstrons uppkomst (1914) our saint argued that the fundamental concept of religion is the idea of the holy, not the concept of God.  For Soderblom, a pacifist, religion was properly a means of making peace.  Our saint, a professor at Uppsala until 1914, taught in Leipzig, Germany, in 1912-1914.  Then he received a major promotion.

From 1914 to his death in 1931 Soderblom served as the Archbishop of Uppsala, the primate of the Church of Sweden.  His appointment proved controversial for more than one reason.  For years our saint had to contend with allegations of heresy.  They continued to follow him.  Furthermore, Soderblom was not a bishop prior to becoming archbishop.  That was not unprecedented in Christian history, but, as a matter of practice, most archbishops have been bishops first.  Certain Swedish bishops thought that they were more qualified than Soderblom.  Our saint performed his duties ably and continued his studies, including with regard to the original teaching of Martin Luther, as opposed to subsequent developments in Lutheran theology (such as Pietism).

Soderblom was also an ardent ecumenist.  He had a great interest in liturgy and in burgeoning liturgical renewal in Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Roman Catholicism.  He also favored Christian unity, but not as any cost.  Soderblom coined the term “evangelical Catholicism,” meaning, in his words:

It would be ungodly to sacrifice anything essential in our faith and our divine heritage for the cause of unity.

The author of Christian Fellowship (1923) emphasized Christian unity as a method for working toward global peace.  He organized the first World Council on Life and Work in 1925, inviting leaders of Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican/Episcopal churches to attend.  This gathering began the process that culminated in the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948.  For his ecumenical work Soderblom, who had officiated at the state funeral of Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1930.

In 1931 the ailing Soderblom delivered the Gifford Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The published version of these lectures was The Living God:  Basal Forms of Personal Religion (1933).  Our saint died at Uppsala on July 12, 1931.  He was 65 years old.

The article on Soderblom in the 1968 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica concluded:

A saintly man, a scholar, and a great ecclesiastical statesman, he had a remarkable personal influence on those who knew him.

–Volume 20, page 825

His influence continues to this day.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 15, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS OLGA OF KIEV, REGENT OF KIEVAN RUSSIA; ADALBERT OF MAGDEBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; ADALBERT OF PRAGUE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP AND MARTYR; AND BENEDICT AND GAUDENTIUS OF POMERANIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF DAMIEN DE VEUSTER, A.K.A. DAMIEN OF MOLOKAI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINTS EGBERT OF LINDISFARNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK; AND ADALBERT OF EGMONT, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY

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Almighty God, we bless your Name for the life and work of Nathan Soderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala,

who helped to inspire the modern liturgical revival and worked tirelessly for cooperation among Christians.

Inspire us by his example, that we may ever strive for the renewal of your Church in life and worship,

for the glory of your Name; who with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Kings 22:3-13

Psalm 133

1 Corinthians 1:10-18

John 13:31-35

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 159

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Feast of Luther D. Reed (April 3)   2 comments

Lutheran Books February 13, 2016

Above:  Some of Luther Reed’s Major Works and Immediate Successors Thereto

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor, February 13, 2016

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LUTHER DOTTERER REED (MARCH 21, 1873-APRIL 3, 1972)

U.S. Lutheran Minister and Liturgist

Luther Dotterer Reed was an influential Lutheran liturgist in the United States.  He was chiefly responsible for the creation of the Common Service Book (1917) and the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), two of the major Lutheran service-books of the twentieth century.

Reed was a son of the Church.  He entered the world at North Wales, Pennsylvania, on March 21, 1873.  His parents were Annie Linley Reed and Ezra L. Reed, a Lutheran minister of the old Ministerium of Pennsylvania and its umbrella organization, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America (1867-1918).  From his father our saint learned much, including music and the Mercersburg Theology (high church Calvinism) of the Reformed Church in the United States (1793-1934).  Reed came under the direct influence of the Mercersburg Theology at his father’s alma mater, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1892.  Next our saint matriculated at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (hereafter LTS Mt. Airy), from which he graduated in 1895.

Reed was a parish minister for just a few years.  Upon graduating from LTS Mt. Airy he entered the liturgical boondocks of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania.  Western Pennsylvania was an unlikely place for a Lutheran minister with a strong liturgical bent.  In 1895 our saint became the pastor of Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, Allegheny, across the river from Pittsburgh.  As Reed described the facility, it was a chapel with a central pulpit and a lunch table for an altar.  Traditionally the pastor wore street clothes to church on Sundays.  In 1903, when our saint left for his next posting, there was a choir (which he had directed), he wore a Geneva robe to church on Sundays, and the use of vestments and paraments had begun.  Reed studied at the University of Leipzig in 1902.  He served as pastor in Jeannette, Pennsylvania, briefly before returning to his alma mater, LTS Mt. Airy, in 1906.  There he remained in one capacity or another until 1950.

Luther D. Reed

Above:  An Item in the Lebanon Courier and Semi-Weekly Report, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, May 24, 1905, Page 2

Accessed via newspapers.com

Reed worked beyond the parish and seminary levels, frequently in the cause of liturgical renewal.  He understood worship as occupying the center of Christian life.  The beauty of worship matters, he insisted, for it can inspire one to commit good works–lead one into the world.  From 1898 to 1906 our saint led the Lutheran Liturgical Association, the goal of which was to convince U.S. Lutherans to accept the Common Service (1888) as something simple yet dignified and Lutheran yet catholic.  Reed edited the Memoirs of the Lutheran Liturgical Association (1906).  From 1907 to 1936 he served as the President of the Church Music and Liturgical Art Society.  And, from 1930 to 1940, he was the President of the Associated Bureaus of Church Architecture of the United States and Canada, devoted to encouraging architecture suitable for proper liturgy.

Reed married Catharine S. Ashbridge (1878-1942) in 1906.  They remained married until by her death they did part.

Book Dedication

Above:  The Dedication to The Lutheran Liturgy (1947)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

In 1906 Reed went to work at LTS Mt. Airy, where he would have preferred to remain since his graduation 11 years earlier.  Until 1950 he served as the Director of the Krauth Memorial Library.  From 1911 to 1945 our saint was Professor of Liturgics and Church Art.  He was the first such professor at any Protestant theological seminary in North America.  And, from 1938 to 1945 Reed was also the president of the seminary.  If that were not enough, the served as the Archivist of the Ministerium of Pennsylvania from 1909 to 1939, and, starting in 1919, of the new United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), which he had helped to form via merger.

Reed served as the chairman of the joint commissions that created the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) and its successor, the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He also wrote two editions (1947 and 1959) of The Lutheran Liturgy, both classic works of Christian liturgical history and commentary on the then-current Lutheran services.  [Aside:  The best way to enjoy Reed’s depth of knowledge in liturgy is to read these two books.]  Reed favored restoring the Eucharistic canon, or prayer of thanksgiving, which Martin Luther had excised in the 1500s.  He included a proposed text for one on pages 336 and 337 of the first edition (1947) of The Lutheran Liturgy.  Variations on that canon graced the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), the Worship Supplement (1969), the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), and the Lutheran Service Book (2006).  Reed’s restoration of the Eucharistic canon took hold in North American Lutheranism beyond the lineages of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), The Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC), and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).  In 2008, for example, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) added an original Eucharistic canon in Christian Worship:  Supplement.  Other conservative Lutheran denominations have not restored the canon, however.

Reed, who received honorary degrees (including a Doctor of Divinity degree from Thiel College, Greenville, Pennsylvania, in 1912), was a gentle, kind, unassuming, and gracious gentleman.  Although our saint was not physically imposing he was intellectually masterful.  He wrote and contributed to volumes, mostly related to liturgics:

  1. The Psalter and Canticles; Pointed for Chanting to the Gregorian Psalm Tunes; with a Plain Song Setting for the Order of Matins and Vespers, Accompanying Harmonies, and Tables of Proper Psalms; for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations (1897);
  2. The Choral Service Book; Containing the Authentic Plain Song Intonations and Responses for the Order of Morning Service, the Order of Matins and Vespers, the Litany and the Suffrages of the Common Service for the Use of Evangelical Lutheran Congregations; with Accompanying Harmonies for Organ (1901);
  3. The Responsories:  Musical Setting (1914);
  4. Luther and Congregational Song (1947);
  5. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America (1947);
  6. The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study of the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America (1959);
  7. Worship:  A Corporate Devotion (1959); and
  8. The Mind of the Church (1962).

Reed wrote a hymn and at least two hymn tunes also.  The hymn was “O God of Wondrous Grace and Glory” and the accompanying original tune was MOUNT AIRY.  He also composed the tune SURSUM CORDA.

Reed pondered what might and should follow the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).  He favored the inclusion of a provision for the procession of the bread and wine to the altar at the end of the offering.  This development became reality in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978).

Our saint died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 3, 1972.  He was 99 years old.  The  process of forging the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) was well underway.

Reed’s liturgical legacy thrives, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 14, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF SAINT ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS, MISSIONARIES TO THE SLAVS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN MICHAEL ALTENBURG, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR, COMPOSER, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VICTOR OLOF PETERSEN, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN HYMN TRANSLATOR

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Holy God, whose majesty surpasses all human definitions and capacity to grasp,

thank you for those (especially Luther Dotterer Reed)

who have nurtured and encouraged the reverent worship of you.

May their work inspire us to worship you in knowledge, truth, and beauty.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 25:1-8

Psalm 145

Revelation 15:1-4

John 4:19-26

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR

THE FEAST OF HENRY SLOANE COFFIN, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN THEOLOGIAN

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