Archive for the ‘Neo-orthodoxy’ Tag

Feast of William Stringfellow (April 28)   1 comment

Above:  William Stringfellow

Fair Use

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

FRANK WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW (APRIL 26, 1928-MARCH 2, 1985)

Episcopal Attorney, Theologian, and Social Activist

+++++++++++++++

I think they need to hear it.

–William Stringfellow, explaining why he read long passages of the Bible to the F.B.I. agents recording his telephone calls

+++++++++++++++

This is the man America should be listening to.

Karl Barth, on Stringfellow, early 1960s

+++++++++++++++

It is profane, as well as grandiose, to manipulate the Bible in order to apologize for America.

–William Stringfellow, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land (1973)

+++++++++++++++

For thousands of us, he became the honored keeper and guardian of the Word of God.

Daniel Berrigan, 1985

+++++++++++++++

William Stringfellow comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via five sources.  He is on the short list of people The Episcopal Church will probably list officially as a saint once the “fifty-year-rule” (to which the denomination has made notable exceptions) ceases to be a barrier.  Stringfellow’s name appears in this context in the back of Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010) and its successor, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016).  Cloud of Witnesses, 2d. ed (2005), edited by Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, contains Wallis’s remembrance of his friend of 14 years.  A Year with American Saints (2006), by G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, features Stringfellow.  So does All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), by Robert Ellsberg.

Stringfellow was a prophet.  He was, by definition, also a controversial figure.  Our saint was the kind of man certain contemporary reactionaries would dismiss cynically as a “social justice warrior.” Stringfellow would, in a counterfactual scenario in which he would have heard that term, probably have considered it a compliment and read the Book of Amos to his critics.  He did, after all, read long Biblical passages to the F.B.I. spooks who recorded this telephone calls.  That was better than what some other spied-upon U.S. citizens did in identical circumstances–frequently insult J. Edgar Hoover profanely.

Stringfellow stood up for what he believed.  He condemned economic injustice, racism, institutionalized segregation, homophobia, misogyny, sexual promiscuity, and other offenses.  Our saint also advocated for the ordination of women within The Episcopal Church long before 1976, when the General Convention approved the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate.  His opposition to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons also made him many enemies on the Right.

Frank William Stringfellow was a man who allowed the Bible to shape him.  He was a radical and a strong social critic who walked the walk.  Our saint, born in Johnston, Rhode Island, on April 26, 1928, was a life-long Episcopalian.  At age fifteen, he matriculated at Bates College, Lewiston, Massachusetts.  When Stringfellow left Bates College, he studied at the London School of Economics.  Our saint served in the Second Armored Division, U.S. Army, during World War II.  Next, he earned his J.D. degree at Harvard Law School.

Stringfellow moved into a slum in Harlem after he graduated from Harvard Law School.  He joined the East Harlem Protestant Parish, taught Biblical studies, and practiced law.  He remained in Harlem until 1967.  Our saint moved for health-related reasons; a metabolism-related disorder that led to diabetes affected him.  Stringfellow and platonic partner, poet Anthony Towne (died in 1980), a Methodist, moved to Block Island, New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

All evidence points to Stringfellow being a celibate, semi-closeted homosexual.  This matter, relevant to his life and activism, does not offend me.  (Stringfellow no more chose to be homosexual than I chose to be heterosexual.)

Theologically, Stringfellow was neo-orthodox.  He read works by Karl Barth (with whom he had a conversation in Harlem in the early 1960s) and Jacques Ellul.  The neo-orthodox theology of original sin pervading neo-orthodoxy was evident in his writings, including many of his books.  The presence of original sin in American culture and social institutions was one of Stringfellow’s most controversial topics.  He objected to reading the Bible through (dominant) American cultural eyes.  Rather, our saint interpreted (dominant) American culture through Biblical lenses.  He concluded that the Bible condemned his culture and his society’s institutions.  That proved to be controversial when

My country, right or wrong

was a popular slogan for many people.

Stringfellow’s views and activism placed him on J. Edgar Hoover’s radar, hence the wire-tapping.  When our saint’s friend, Father Daniel Berrigan (1921-2016) was a fugitive for having destroyed military draft records, Stringfellow and Toyne sheltered him for four months.  F.B.I. agents raided the house on Block Island and arrested all three.  The court eventually dropped the charges (of sheltering a fugitive) against Stringfellow and Towne, though.

Stringfellow, in constant pain during his final years, died at home on March 2, 1985.  He was 56 years old.

Stringfellow defined being holy as

being truly human.

By that standard, of being the best person one can be, our saint was holy.

Stringfellow’s prophetic witness remains relevant, unfortunately.  I write “unfortunately” because the United States of America, my country, has continued collectively and officially down a path contrary to the high moral standards Stringfellow championed.  I wonder what the FOX News Channel (according to which Mister Rogers was evil) would have said about Stringfellow, had it existed when he was alive.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FANNIE LOU HAMER, PROPHET OF FREEDOM

THE FEAST OF ALBERT LISTER PEACE, ORGANIST IN ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND

THE FEAST OF HARRIET KING OSGOOD MUNGER, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF NEHEMIAH GOREH, INDIAN ANGLICAN PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS VINCENZINA CUSMANO, SUPERIOR OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR; AND HER BROTHER, SAINT GIACOMO CUSMANO, FOUNDER OF THE SISTERS SERVANTS OF THE POOR AND THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE POOR

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight,

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer,

who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Georgia Harkness (April 21)   1 comment

Above:  My Copy of Toward Understanding the Bible (1952)

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GEORGIA ELMA HARKNESS (APRIL 21, 1891-AUGUST 21, 1974)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Theologian, Ethicist, and Hymn Writer

Georgia Harkness comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Toward Understanding the Bible (1952) and The Interpreter’s Bible (12 volumes, 1951f), in my library.

Georgia Elma Harkness was a pioneer for women in her Methodist tradition and in the mainstream of Christianity in the United States of America.  She, born in Harkness, New York, on April 21, 1891, was the fourth of four children of Joseph Warren Harkness and Lillie Merrill Harkness.  Our saint, from a progressive and upper middle class family, members of the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939), perceived her vocation when an adolescent.  The institutional church had other ideas, however.

Sexism remained a barrier for Harkness, who had received a call to ordained ministry.  She, a graduate of Cornell University (B.A. in Philosophy, 1912), could not matriculate at any of the theological seminaries in the United States because of her chromosomes.  Had Georgia Elma Harkness been George Elmo Harkness, such institutional barriers would not have existed.  After teaching high school for six years, Harkness matriculated at Boston University.  Her gender kept her out of the School of Theology, so she went to the School of Religion instead.  She graduate with her doctorate in 1923.  Her dissertation was, “The Relations Between Philosophy of Religion and Ethics in the Thought of Thomas Hill Green.”

Harkness became an academic.  She taught religion and philosophy courses at Elmira College, Elmira, New York, a women’s college, from 1923 to 1938.  She continued her studies during summers.  Our saint was a summer student at Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, and Union Theological Seminary, New York City.  She was Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Mount Holyoke College from 1937 to 1940.  The Methodist Episcopal Church ordained Harkness a deacon in 1926 and an elder in 1939.  However, given that no female could yet join a conference, our saint could not yet function as an ordained minister.  Delegates to the Methodist reuniting conference (1939) voted on a resolution to approve the ordination of women.  The resolution failed by a few votes.  The Methodist Church (1939-1968) finally authorized the ordination of women at the General Conference of 1956.  In the meantime, however, Harkness did make history by becoming the first woman to hold the position of professor at a theological seminary in the United States.  She joined the faculty of Garrett Biblical Institute (a predecessor of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), near Chicago, Illinois, in 1940.  Our saint taught Applied Theology there for a decade then transferred to the Pacific School of Religion, a Congregationalist seminary in Berkeley, California.  Harkness retired in 1960.

Harkness’s liberal tendencies were prominent.  She, a pacifist, wrote materials for the Methodist Board of World Peace.  Economic justice, a major concern of Hebrew prophets, was another priority for our saint.  Harkness, an ecumenist, was active in the World Council of Churches.  She wrote the hymn, “Hope of the World” (1953) for the WCC Assembly of 1954.  Harkness also supported civil rights for African Americans and confronted Karl Barth (1886-1968) to his face (at the first WCC Assembly, in 1948) over his opposition to feminism.

Harkness wrote other hymns, too.  “Hope of the World” has become her most popular hymn.  Other titles were:

  1. “The Earth Thou Givest, Lord, is Thine;”
  2. “Tell it!  Tell it Out with Gladness;”
  3. “Speak Through the Living Silence;”
  4. “Speak Thou, O Lord, Thy Light;” and
  5. “God of the Fertile Fields.”

Harkness also served as one of the Consulting Editors of The Interpreter’s Bible in the 1950s.

Harkness had a practical bent and wrote most often for general audiences.  She preferred to write books many people would read and find useful.  Her publications included the following:

  1. The Church and the Immigrant (1921),
  2. Holy Flame (1935),
  3. The Resources of Religion (1936),
  4. The Recovery of Ideals (1937),
  5. How to Find Prayer More Meaningful (1946),
  6. Prayer and the Common Life (1948),
  7. Conflicts in Religious Thought (1949),
  8. The Gospel and Our World (1949),
  9. Through Christ Our Lord:  A Devotional Manual Based on the Recorded Works of Jesus (1950),
  10. Toward Understanding the Bible (1952),
  11. Christian Ethics:  Emerging Social Trends and the Future of American Christianity (1952),
  12. Eschatology in the Great Poets (1952),
  13. The Sources of Western Culture:  From Primitive Society to the Beginnings of Christian Ethics (1954),
  14. Religious Living (1958),
  15. The Bible Speaks to Daily Needs (1959),
  16. Does God Care? (1960),
  17. The Providence of God (1960),
  18. John Calvin:  The Man and His Ethics (1963),
  19. The Glory of God:  Poems and Prayers for Devotional Use (1963),
  20. The Methodist Church in Social Thought and Action (1964),
  21. The Dark Night of the Soul (1965),
  22. Disciplines of the Christian Life (1967),
  23. A Devotional Treasure from the Early Church (1968),
  24. Grace Abounding (1969),
  25. The Ministry of Reconciliation (1971),
  26. Women in Church and Society:  A Historical and Theological Inquiry (1972), and
  27. Understanding the Kingdom of God (1974).

For the sake of clarity, I make clear what Harkness meant by “liberal” and “liberalism” before I continue.  She described herself as a “chastened liberal,” standing between the overly optimistic Social Gospel of Walter Rauschenbush (1861-1918) and the Neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) and H. Richard Niebuhr (1894-1962).  Harkness, writing in Toward Understanding the Bible (1952), noted the common ground between liberalism and Neo-orthodoxy (acceptance of science, rejection of fundamentalism, et cetera) then argued that the difference was one of emphasis.  She wrote that Neo-orthodoxy emphasized human weakness and sinfulness but that liberal Christianity emphasized that

man is made in the spiritual image of God, and, as God’s supreme creation, is a living soul with a great, God-given responsibility to honor and obey him.

–124

Consistent with Harkness’s stance vis-à-vis Neo-orthodoxy, she stood with the Eastern Orthodox by rejecting original sin.  She told The Christian Century, regarding original sin,

The faster it goes, the better.

Yet Harkness, like Reinhold Niebuhr, recognized the power of sin in people and in social institutions.

By theological position, by the way, is Neo-orthodoxy.   I also describe myself as a theological, social, and political liberal.  I use “liberal” more broadly than Harkness did.

Harkness, 83 years old, died in Claremont, California, on August 21, 1974.

Engaging with writings of Georgia Harkness will provide one with much food for ethical and theological thoughts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 5, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF KARL RAHNER, JESUIT PRIEST AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE PHILLIPPS DE LISLE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CONVERT, SPIRITUAL WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF SPIRITUAL WRITINGS; FOUNDER OF MOUNT SAINT BERNARD ABBEY

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER MACASSOLI OF VIGEGANO, FRANCSICAN PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT EUSEBIUS OF CREMONA, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT AND HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT ION COSTIST, FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Georgia Harkness,

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), 60

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Orange Scott (February 6)   Leave a comment

Above:  Wesleyan Chapel, Seneca Falls, New York, Site of the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ORANGE SCOTT (FEBRUARY 13, 1800-JULY 31, 1847)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Abolitionist, and first President of the Wesleyan Methodist Connection

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ye are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt have lost his savour, wherefore shall it be salted?

–Matthew 5:13a, Authorised Version

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

One, acting on faith, may retreat from the world, giving up hope of transforming it for the better.  Alternatively, one acting on faith, may act in revolutionary ways that improve one’s society.  One may think of the world as the camp of Satan, therefore, give up on it.  A better attitude is to think of the world as one’s neighborhood, for which one is partially responsible.

Orange Scott acted in revolutionary ways to improve his proverbial neighborhood.

Scott, from a poor family and lacking much formal education, became a prominent abolitionist.  He, born in Brookfield, Vermont, on February 13, 1800, began working full-time at the age of 12 years.  After his conversion experience at a camp meeting in 1820, our saint joined the Methodist Episcopal Church.  Within a year, the Church had licensed Scott to preach.  He traveled the Bernard Circuit (200 miles long with 30 stations) on feet and a horse.  He, admitted to the New England Conference in 1822, became a Presiding Elder (in today’s terms, District Superintendent) in 1830.  At first, Scott was the Presiding Elder of the Springfield District.  By 1834, however, he served in that capacity in the Providence District.  Our saint, an effective evangelist, expanded his work from saving souls to reforming society.  He, a delegate to the General Conferences of 1832, 1836, and 1840, became an abolitionist in the early 1830s.  Despite warnings to be quiet, he remained vocal.  Scott paid the price by losing his Presiding Eldership after speaking out at the General Conference of 1836.

Scott’s final years in the Methodist Episcopal Church were difficult for him.  He was a pastor in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a year (1836-1837) before spending two years as a traveling agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  He, back in the pulpit in 1839, spoke out against slavery again at the General Conference of 1840.  His experience at that gathering convinced him to leave the denomination, which he did on November 8, 1842.  The Wesleyan Methodist Connection organized at Utica, New York, on May 31, 1843.

Scott was active in the new denomination.  He served as its first president (1843-1844) then as its book agent (1844-1847).  Our saint worked himself to death, though.  Scott, aged 47 years, died in Newark, New Jersey, on July 31, 1847.

The Wesleyan Methodist Connection, a predecessor of The Wesleyan Church (formed via merger in 1968), was radical during its earliest decades.  The Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York, hosted the Seneca Falls Convention (1848), about women’s rights.  The denomination attracted social revolutionaries, including feminists (especially suffragettes), temperance activists, pacifists, and abolitionists.  Many Wesleyan Methodist churches were stations of the Underground Railroad.  Early Wesleyan Methodists tended to act on the belief that they could improve society.

As time passed, however, the torch of change passed to the mainline churches, which embraced the Social Gospel then the more sober-minded Neo-orthodoxy.  Wesleyan Methodists opposed these movements, as well as higher Biblical criticism and science; they became fundamentalists preoccupied with personal holiness.  This transition was part of what scholars of religion in the United States call the Great Reversal.

Scott understood the truth, though.  He knew that saving souls was not at odds with being salt and light in the world.  He grasped the importance of leaving the world better than one found it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK J. MURPHY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCISCUS CH’OE KYONG-HWAN, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CATECHIST AND MARTYR, 1839; SAINTS LAWRENCE MARY JOSEPH IMBERT, PIERRE PHILIBERT MAUBANT, AND JACQUES HONORÉ CHASTÁN, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS, MISSIONARIES TO KOREA, AND MARTYRS, 1839; SAINT PAUL CHONG HASANG, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN, AND MARTYR, 1839; AND SAINTS CECILIA YU SOSA AND JUNG HYE, KOREAN ROMAN CATHOLIC MARYTRS, 1839

THE FEAST OF KASPAR BIENEMANN, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM JOSIAH IRONS, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR; AND HIS DAUGHTER, GENEVIEVE MARY IRONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HYMN WRITER

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church.

Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace.

Where it is corrupt, purify it;

where it is in error, direct it;

where in anything it is amiss, reform it.

Where it is is right, strengthen it;

where it is in want, provide for it;

where it is divided, reunite it;

for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior,

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

Ezekiel 34:1-6, 20-22

Psalm 12:1-7

Acts 22:30-23:10

Matthew 21:12-16

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 735

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of James D. Smart (January 23)   Leave a comment

Above:  Logo of the Presbyterian Church in Canada

Fair Use

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

JAMES DICK SMART (MARCH 1, 1906-JANUARY 23, 1982)

Canadian Presbyterian Minister and Biblical Scholar

++++++++++++++++++++++++

In Jesus Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.  Jesus Christ is God with man.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, who became man and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue and complete his mission.  This work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, man, and the world.  Therefore the church calls men to be reconciled to God and to one another.

–The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Confession of 1967

++++++++++++++++++++++++

James D. Smart comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via The Interpreter’s Bible, for which he wrote the introduction to and the exegesis of the Book of Jonah in Volume VI (1956).  He described that story as a postexilic parable, a position I take for granted.  Based on Smart’s academic analysis of the Book of Jonah, I responded with surprise when I read one source describe him as conservative.  I grew up around many self-described conservatives, who considered such talk heretical.  Smart was a Barthian, a position many fundamentalists (especially hardcore Calvinists) consider heretical.  Smart was Neo-orthodox, a position many fundamentalists consider too liberal.

Words such as “liberal” and “conservative” are inherently relative and of limited value.

Smart, a Presbyterian, grew up in a Presbyterian family.  He, born in Alton, Ontario, Canada, on March 1, 1906, was a child of John George Smart and Janet Dick Smart.  The Smarts raised their son firmly in the faith.  Our saint studied at the University of Toronto (B.A., 1926; M.A., 1927) then at Knox College (Class of 1927).  Smart continued his studies, focusing on the Old Testament, at the Universities of Marburg and Berlin (1929-1930) before returning to the University of Toronto to complete his doctorate (1931).

Smart married and had a family.  He married Christine Mckillop on September 24, 1931.  The couple raised three daughters:  Margaret Jean, Mary Eleanor, and Janet Ann.

Smart became a Presbyterian minister.  He, ordained into the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1931, served the Ailsa Craig Presbyterian Church, Ailsa Craig, Ontario, from 1931 to 1934.  Then our saint was pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, Galt, Ontario (1934-1941), and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario (1941-1944).  While pastor in Peterborough, Smart wrote a book, What a Man Can Believe (1943).

That volume earned Smart his next job, Editor-in-Chief of the Christian education curriculum in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., from 1944 to 1950.  Our saint’s ability to communicate theology effectively to lay people proved useful in his new position.  He overhauled the curriculum, shifting it away from progressive, secular, student-centered theories of education, especially learning by doing, and to Bible-centered lessons that presented doctrines and Biblical scholarship.  Sunday School enrollment in the denomination doubled and the curriculum helped to strengthen other practical aspects (such as home visitation and the training of parents) of Christian education.

Smart worked in Canada again from 1950 to 1957. He served as minister of Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario; lecturer in Christian education at Knox College (1951-1957) and at Ewart College; Professor of Hermeneutics, Knox College; and Editor-in-Chief of Curriculum Publications for the Presbyterian Church in Canada.  Our saint also found time to write more books, including The Teaching Ministry of the Church (1954).  He linked the recovery of theology to the revitalization of ministry.

Smart was the Jesup Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, from 1957 to 1970.  He also traveled around the world as a lecturer.  Smart’s theological fingerprints were all over The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’s Confession of 1967, a document to which many self-described conservatives objected strenuously.

Smart spent 1970-1982 in Canada.  He was a collegiate minister at Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto, from 1970 to 1974.  He retired from ministry in 1974, but continued to write.  He died at home on January 23, 1982.  Our saint was 75 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 31, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT NICODEMUS, DISCIPLE OF JESUS

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [James D. Smart and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

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

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Above:  Flag of Sweden

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

teacher and colleague of

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

++++++++++++++++

SWEDISH LUTHERAN BISHOPS AND THEOLOGIANS

++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Peter Taylor Forsyth (November 11)   2 comments

Above:  Peter Taylor Forsyth

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

Also known a P. T. Forsyth

Scottish Congregationalist Minister and Theologian

++++++++++++++++

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

++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Harry Emerson Fosdick (October 5)   6 comments

Above:  Harry Emerson Fosdick

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK (MAY 24, 1878-OCTOBER 5, 1969)

U.S. Northern Baptist Minister and Opponent of Fundamentalism

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

…we cannot harmonize Christ himself with modern culture.  What Christ does to modern culture is to challenge it.

–Harry Emerson Fosdick, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism” (1935); quoted in Dewitte Holland, ed., Sermons in American History:  Selected Issues in the American Pulpit, 1630-1967 (Nashville, TN:  Abingdon Press, 1971), 377

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most influential ministers in the United States of America during the twentieth century.  He, controversial in life, has remained so postmortem.

Fundamentalism is inherently ahistorical.  This is not an idea original to me.  Consider, O reader, Karen Armstrong:

…fundamentalism is ahistorical:  it believes that Abraham, Moses and the later prophets all experienced their God in exactly the same way as people do today.

A History of God:  The 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1994), xx

One might also consider G. E. Mendenhall, author of The Tenth Generation (1973):

Biblical fundamentalism, whether Jewish or Christian, cannot learn from the past because in so many respects the defense of presently accepted ideas about religion is thought to be the only purpose of biblical narrative.  It must, therefore, support ideas of comparatively recent origin–ones that usually have nothing to do with the original meaning or intention of biblical narrative because the context is so radically different.

–Quoted in W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah:  A Modern Commentary, Vol. IV, Numbers (New York:  Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), xiv-xv

Fosdick, born in Buffalo, New York, on May 24, 1878, came from a devout family with a tradition of valuing education.  His father was Frank Sheldon Fosdick.  Our saint’s mother was Amy Inez Weaver.  His brother, Raymond B. Fosdick, grew up to become an esteemed attorney, as well as a friend and associate of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960).  Our saint, baptized at the age of seven years, thought about becoming a missionary before deciding on domestic ministry.  He, having graduated from high school in 1896, matriculated at Colgate University.  He graduated with his A.B. degree four years later, and was the class poet.  Fosdick, ordained a Baptist minister in 1903, graduated from Union Theological Seminary the following year.  He married Florence Allen Whitney (d. 1964) on August 16, 1904.  The couple had two daughters.

Fosdick served in a few congregations and taught at Union Theological Seminary.  He, from 1904 to 1915 the pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, New Jersey, began his 38-year-long stint of teaching practical theology at Union Theological Seminary in 1908.  He was an instructor (1908-1915), a professor (1915-1917, 1919-1934), and a part-time faculty member (1934-1946).  In 1917-1919 our saint worked as a chaplain with the Y.M.C.A. in France.  After World War I he returned to New York City, to begin duties as assistant minister (1919-1925) of First Presbyterian Church.

Fosdick became a central figure in the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a denomination to which he did not belong.  In 1922 he preached a seminal sermon, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”  He condemned the intolerance of fundamentalism and criticized minor theological disputes (such as arguments about the Virgin Birth) as distractions

when the world is perishing for the lack of the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 347

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., liked the sermon so much that he paid for the printing and mailing of the text to every Protestant minister in the United States.  Clarence Macartney (1879-1957), conservative pastor of Arch Street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, replied via a sermon that year.  He asked, “Shall Unbelief Win?” and accused Fosdick of heresy and intolerance.  After much controversy, Fosdick had to resign in 1925.

Above:  Park Avenue Baptist Church, New York, New York

Photographer = Irving Underhill

Image Source = Library of Congress

Rockefeller, Jr., offered Fosdick another position, though.  Our saint accepted the pastorate of Park Avenue Baptist Church on four conditions, which he established:

  1. That baptism by immersion cease to be a requirement for membership;
  2. That the congregation become interdenominational, accepting Christians of all creeds;
  3. That the congregation move to a less swanky neighborhood; and
  4. That the initial salary cap for Fosdick be $5000 ($69,900, adjusted for inflation, to 2017 currency).

Above:  Riverside Church and Grant’s Tomb, New York, New York

Image in the Public Domain

Rockefeller, Jr., financed the construction of the Gothic edifice of the renamed Riverside Church, located near Columbia University and Grant’s Tomb.  The congregation’s first Sunday in the new building, dedicated in 1931, was October 5, 1930.  Fosdick wrote the hymn, “God of Grace and God of Glory,” for the occasion.  For 15 years 1931-1946) Fosdick was the most influential Protestant minister in the United States.  For 20 years (1926-1946) he preached on national radio.  He retired from Riverside Church in 1946.

Fosdick was a prolific author of books and articles.  Some of these were volumes of sermons.  Many other books were psychological-theological in nature.  Examples of these included Twelve Tests of Character (1923) and On Being a Real Person (1943).

Fosdick, who preferred modernism to fundamentalism, was critical of modernism, too.  In 1935 he preached a sermon, “The Church Must Go Beyond Modernism.”  Modernism, he said, was a necessary advance.  However, our saint stated, the church needed to move beyond it, for modernism was imperfect.  It was simultaneously preoccupied with intellectualism and too sentimental, according to Fosdick.  He also argued that modernism had

largely eliminated from its faith the God of moral judgment.

–Quoted in Holland, ed., Sermons in American History, 373

Our saint also asserted that modernism had accommodated too much to the world that it (modernism) had placed people at the center and relegated God to an advisory capacity.  Modernism, Fosdick argued, had also surrendered the moral high ground.  Our saint was arguing for Neo-orthodoxy.

Fosdick stood up for a range of controversial positions.  His adopted pacifism, evident in his hymn, “The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930), was more popular at certain times than others.  Our saint also advocated for the civil rights of African Americans when doing so was often unpopular.  The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. (1939-1968) thought of Fosdick as a prophetic figure.  Fosdick, eschewing anti-Semitism, also sympathized with displaced Palestinians.  He, not a Zionist, opposed the creation of the State of Israel.

Fosdick wrote four hymns, all of which have remained germane:

  1. God of Grace and God of Glory” (1930),
  2. The Prince of Peace His Banner Spreads” (1930),
  3. O God, in Restless Living” (1931), and
  4. O God, Who to a Loyal Home” (1956).

Fosdick, aged 91 years, died in Bronxville, New York, on October 5, 1969.

Perhaps the précis of Fodick’s life was the following excerpt from “God of Grace and God of Glory”:

Save us from weak resignation

To the evils we deplore;….

Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE ORDER OF FRIARS MINOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM SCARLETT, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF MISSOURI, AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

O God, by your Holy Spirit you give to some the word of wisdom,

to others the word of knowledge,

and to others the word of faith:

We praise your Name for the gifts of grace manifested in your servant Harry Emerson Fosdick,

and we ray that your Church may never be destitute of such gifts;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 7:7-14

Psalm 119:97-104

1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16

John 17:18-23

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 720

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Lynn Harold Hough (September 9)   Leave a comment

Above:  Lynn Harold Hough

Image Source =  Drew University Library

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

LYNN HAROLD HOUGH (SEPTEMBER 10, 1877-JULY 14, 1971)

U.S. Methodist Minister, Theologian, and Biblical Scholar

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Once more we are reminded that only God is to be met with a bended knee.  Even the high must not be given the place of the highest–even the good must not be given the place of the best.  The tragedy of mistaken loyalties is one of the greatest tragedies of the world.  Too late Wolsey realized that he had given to his king, Henry VIII, what belonged only to God.

–Dr. Hough’s exposition on Revelation 22:9, in The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 12 (1957), 545

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lynn Harold Hough, with his Roman collar, Charlie Chaplin mustache, and keen intellect, comes to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via Volume 12 (1957) of The Interpreter’s Bible.

Hough owed much to Eunice Richey Giles (1856-June 3, 1937), his devoted, single mother.  She had married Franklin M. Hough, father of our saint.  The marriage had ended in divorce in 1877, and Eunice had moved back home, to Cadiz, Ohio, when she gave birth to her only child, Lynn Harold Hough, on September 10, 1877.  Eunice, a devout Methodist, raised her son in the faith.  She also worked hard to provide him with the best education possible.  In 1898 he graduated (with his B.A.) from Scio College, Scio, Ohio, where his mother worked as a cook.  Hough, ordained a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939), served in churches in New Jersey, New York, and Maryland from 1898 to 1914.  He also became the head of the household, which included his mother until 1936, when he married.

Above:  Drew Theological Seminary

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Matthew Simpson, ed., Cyclopedia of Methodism, Embracing Its Rise, Progress, and Present Condition, with Biographical Notices, 6h ed. (1876), 315

Hough continued his education, graduating from Drew Theological Seminary (now Drew Theological School, Drew University), Madison, New Jersey, with his B.D. in 1905.

Above:  Garrett Biblical Institute

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Matthew Simpson, ed., Cyclopedia of Methodism, Embracing Its Rise, Progress, and Present Condition, with Biographical Notices, 6h ed. (1876), 389

Our saint, from 1914 to 1918 Professor of Historical Theology at Garrett Biblical Institute (now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary), Evanston, Illinois, graduated from that institution with his D.Th. in 1918.  Our saint, from 1919 to 1920 the President of Northwestern University, host of Garrett Biblical Institute, established the graduate division of the university’s School of Commerce and laid the foundations, metaphorically speaking, for subsequent improvements at the university.  He resigned for health reasons.

Above:  Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Detroit, Michigan

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Matthew Simpson, ed., Cyclopedia of Methodism, Embracing Its Rise, Progress, and Present Condition, with Biographical Notices, 6h ed. (1876), 294

Hough returned to parish work for the period of 1920-1930.  For eight years (1920-1928) Hough served as the pastor of Central Methodist Episcopal Church (now Central United Methodist Church), Detroit, Michigan.  Our saint was, the “preacher to the intelligentsia,” according to his contemporary, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), pastor of Bethel Evangelical Church, Detroit, from 1915 to 1928, and a fellow anti-Ku Klux Klan activist.  The outspoken Hough was not shy about expressing his opinions and opposing bigotry.  Our saint stated that the United States should have joined the League of Nations.  He condemned the Daughters of the American Revolution for being critical of Jane Addams (1860-1935).   In 1923 our saint described the second Ku Klux Klan as

the most diabolical organization this nation ever saw.

(That unequivocal statement was quite different from Donald Trump’s statement about the alleged presence of “very fine people” on both sides in he context of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.  That statement’s most avid fans were white supremacists.  This pattern of giving aid and comfort to unapologetic bigots has not surprised me, given Trump’s public statements and over the years, as well as many of his policies, to the present day.  Nativism, xenophobia, and white nationalism have been present in him for a long time.There were no “very fine people” in the Ku Klux Klan, according to our saint.  In 1925 years later Hough’s assertion that Evolution and the Bible were mutually compatible nearly prompted a heresy trial.  Hough was usually a delegate to the denomination’s General Conference, which met every four years, but he was not a delegate in 1928.  The reason for Hough not being a delegate that year was the backlash against his article, “Why Not a Catholic President?” (Plain Talk magazine, 1927).  The article did lead, however, to an honorary degree from the University of Detroit (Roman Catholic).  Of the eleven honorary degrees Hough received, he was proudest of that one.  From 1928 to 1930 Hough was the pastor of the American Presbyterian Church (amalgamated into the Erskine and American United Church, extant 1934-2011; now amalgamated into the Mountainside United Church), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  During that time he also doubled as the President of the Religious Education Council of Canada.

Hough was active in many organizations, including the Federal Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches, the Society for Biblical Literature, the Masonic Lodge, the Methodist Episcopal Church (1784-1939), The Methodist Church (1939-1968), and The United Methodist Church (1968-).  Furthermore, he traveled across the United States and the world, preaching at prominent churches and, in 1934, addressing the League of Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, on “The Church and Civilization.”

Hough returned to academia for good in 1930.  At Drew Theological Seminary he was Professor of Homiletics (1930-1933), Professor of Homiletics and Comprehensive Scholarship (1933-1937), Professor of Homiletics and Christian Criticism of Life (1937-1947), and Dean (1934-1947).  Our saint, a well-read Anglophile with an expansive vocabulary, as well as a firm grasp of history and literature, founded the Department of Christian Humanism at Drew.  He retired in 1947.

Hough, like any properly functioning human being, changed his mind as time passed.  He, a pacifist, initially opposed U.S. entry into World War II.  Our saint was not naïve, though; he recognized the necessity of Allied victory, for the sake of civilization.  Hough, with his customary tolerance, supported the causes of conscientious objectors while supporting the war effort and ministering to military personnel.  He remained committed to peace as he adjusted to reality.  Hough’s theology also changed.  He settled into what he called a “new orthodoxy” more liberal than Fundamentalism, more conservative than Modernism, and distinct from the Social Gospel and Neo-Orthodoxy.  The Social Gospel, Hough argued correctly, was utopian, therefore not realistic.  Neo-Orthodoxy, he insisted, went too far by emphasizing the human inability to arrive at Christian faith.

I reject Hough’s critique of Neo-Orthodoxy.

Hough, being a staunch Methodist–a thoroughgoing Methodist, not a Baptist masquerading as one, per the old joke that a Methodist is a Baptist who can read–placed a high premium on the power of human free will.  He came very close to putting the Pelagianism in Semi-Pelagianism.  Karl Barth (1886-1968) and Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971), leading Neo-Orthodox theologians, had Reformed backgrounds, however.  Barth, a minister in the Swiss and Reformed Church, emphasized divine actions, not human ones.  Niebuhr, a minister in the Prussian Evangelical (Lutheran-Reformed) tradition, rejected the Social Gospel as placing too little stress on sin and assuming too much human agency.  He emphasized original sin, which he redefined beyond an individual focus to have a strong societal, institutional component.  Barth was probably more optimistic than the sometimes grimly realistic Niebuhr.  Original sin, having corrupted human nature, institutions, and societies, severely hampered one’s ability to act morally, even when one was trying very hard to do so, Niebuhr taught.  My reading of Barth and Niebuhr has convinced me that they were mostly correct.

I am, by the way, an Anglican-Lutheran Single Predestinarian, so my theology makes room for free will to have a role in salvation for those not predestined to Heaven.  My critique of Hough is that he placed too much emphasis on free will.  I hold that nobody finds God, but that God finds people.  Via free will those not destined to Heaven may obey the invitation of the Holy Spirit and say “yes” to God, and therefore find salvation and eternal life, in the Johannine sense of eternal life, which is knowing God via Jesus.

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Hough wrote prolifically.  His catalog included 35 books (about one a year for a while) and many articles.  In retirement he, a visiting professor at various elite institutions off-an-on, wrote for The Interpreter’s Bible in the 1950s.  He wrote the exposition on the Book of Revelation in Volume 12 (of 12), published in 1957.  (I quoted a portion of that exposition at the beginning of this post.)

Image Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Hough also wrote “The Message of the Book of Revelation,” spanning pages 551-613 of Volume 12.

Hough, a Victorian in terms of morality, resided with his Eunice, mother (or rather, she lived with him) until 1936, when, at the age of 58 or 59, he married.  Our saint’s wife was Blanche Horton Trowbridge, a 57-year-old widow of a Congregationalist minister.  She had also been a missionary in Turkey then Egypt for a quarter of a century.  Sadly, Eunice Hough, who had devoted her life to her only child, died in New York City on June 3, 1937, after an automotive accident.  She was about 81 years old.  The Houghs died less than a year apart; the cause of death in both cases was heart attack.  Blanche, aged about 92 years, died on August 3, 1970.  Lynn, aged 93 years, died on July 14, 1971.

One might justifiably ask why Hough, one of the most famous preachers of his time, has fallen into obscurity.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I also composed the collect and selected the passages of scripture.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Compassionate God, you have created us in your image and endowed us with intellect.

We thank you for your servant Lynn Harold Hough,

who loved you with all his heart, mind, and strength, and who loved his neighbors as he loved himself.

May we likewise recognize your presence in history, literature, and each other,

as well as employ our intellects fully, as we confront forms of bigotry;

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who,

stretching his arms on the hard word of the cross beckoned all the world to himself.

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

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15

Psalm 1

Philippians 2:1-11

Matthew 7:24-27

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 9, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT EDITH STEIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND PHILOSOPHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT HERMAN OF ALASKA, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONK AND MISSIONARY TO THE ALEUT

THE FEAST OF JOHN DRYDEN, ENGLISH PURITAN THEN ANGLICAN THEN ROMAN CATHOLIC POET, PLAYWRIGHT, AND TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF MARY SUMNER, FOUNDRESS OF THE MOTHERS’ UNION

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Feast of Soren Kierkegaard (September 8)   2 comments

Above:  Portrait of Søren Kierkegaard, by Luplau Janssen

Image in the Public Domain

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

SØREN AABYE KIERKEGAARD (MAY 5, 1813-NOVEMBER 11, 1855)

Danish Philosopher and Theologian, and Father of Existentialism

Søren Kierkegaard comes to A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days via the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), and The Episcopal Church.  The Lutheran feast day (since 1978) is November 11.  The Episcopal feast day (since 2009) is September 8, also the Feast of Nikolai Grundtvig in The Episcopal Church.  I suspect that the decision to assign Kierkegaard the feast day of September 8, along with Grundtvig, is related to the rationale for group commemorations, but, in this case, without merging the feasts.

Not all those included in the Calendar need to be commemorated “in isolation.”  Where there are close and natural links between persons to be remembered, a joint commemoration would make excellent sense….

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 744; A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  A Calendar of Commemorations (2016), A74

My father was a United Methodist minister in southern Georgia, U.S.A.  One morning, in Sunday School in one of those congregations, the teacher of an adult class made an assertion (the details of which I cannot recall, and do not matter anyway) then said that he had faith and had proof.  I recognized the elements (faith and proof) of the last part of that statement as being mutually exclusive.  Kierkegaard would have done more than arch an eyebrow, had he heard that Sunday School teacher’s statement.

Kierkegaard:  A Brief Biography

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on May 5, 1813, became more influential after his lifetime than he was during it.  His father was Michael Pederson Kierkegaard (d. 1838), an erstwhile farmer who had moved to the capital city and became a prosperous wool merchant.  Michael was also a melancholy, puritanical who passed his disposition down to his guild-ridden son.  Søren, initially planning to become a minister in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark, studied theology at the University of Copenhagen from 1830 to 1840.  Although our saint never lost his faith in God, he became hostile to the state church, so he never pursued ordination.  He, living off inherited wealth, focused on writing books and articles (often under pseudonyms) in the fields of theology, psychology, ethics, and philosophy.  Our saint never married, for reasons biographers have interpreted in different ways.  He, engaged to Regine Olsen (1822-1904), in 1840-1841, broke off the engagement and never told her his reasons.

As I explained in the post about Bishop Grundtvig, the dominant strain in Danish Lutheranism at the time was Rationalism, which reduced ministers to teachers of morality and Christianity to an idea–a reasonable one, of course.  Grundtvig challenged Rationalism from within the state church, which he transformed.  Kierkegaard, however, condemned the state church as a mockery of Christianity.

In the thought of Kierkegaard proof negated faith.  If one could prove the Incarnation, the existence of God, and the truth of Christianity, one would negate faith and replace it with evidence.  A leap of faith was necessary.  Absolute knowledge was neither rational nor possible, our saint insisted, contradicting Georg Hegel.  Kierkegaard also contradicted a raft of Greek philosophers who taught that people have the truth inside them and need merely to become conscious of that fact.  No, our saint wrote, both the truth and the ability to understand it come from outside–from God, to be precise.

Kierkegaard had another objection to the Danish state church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark:  It made being a Christian too easy.  Challenges were inherent in the Christian pilgrimage of faith, our saint understood.  Did not Jesus command each person to take up his or her cross and follow Him?  The union of church and state in Denmark robbed the Danish state church of its authenticity and power, Kierkegaard argued.

Kierkegaard, aged 42 years, died in Copenhagen on November 11, 1855.  He had been paralyzed since he had collapsed in a street on October 2.  To the end our saint refused offers of ministrations by ministers of the state church.  He said,

Royal functionaries are not related to Christianity.

An Influential Legacy

Kierkegaard, although a prolific and widely read author during his lifetime, was also a frequently ignored one, especially by bishops of the state church.  Yet his influence spread posthumously, due in large part to translations of many of his works.  Oft-cited thinkers who owed much to Kierkegaard’s writings included the existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and the Neo-Orthodox theologians Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) and Karl Barth (1886-1968).

To that list I add another one none of my sources mentioned:  Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998).  He taught that to argue for the truth of the Gospel based on an outside standard of reliability is to make the outside standard more important than the Gospel.  Nothing, Newbigin insisted, was more important than the Gospel, and the sole ground for a Christian’s proper confidence in the truth of the Gospel was Jesus.  Newbigin, like Kierkegaard, opposed efforts to make Christianity”reasonable.”  And Newbigin used gentler rhetoric than Kierkegaard did.

God continues to speak through the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 7, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF COLBERT S. CARTWRIGHT, U.S. DISCIPLES OF CHRIST MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND WITNESS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUGLIELMO MASSAIA, ITALIAN CARDINAL, MISSIONARY, AND CAPUCHIN FRIAR

THE FEAST OF JOHN SCRIMGER, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, ECUMENIST, AND LITURGIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT VICTRICIUS OF ROUEN, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR AND ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Heavenly Father, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ felt sorrow and dread in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Help us to remember that though we walk through the valley of the shadow, you are always with us,

that with your philosopher Søren Kierkegaard,

we may believe what we have not seen and trust where we cannot test,

and so come at length to the eternal joy which you have prepared for those who love you;

through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Exodus 33:14-23

Psalm 22:1-11

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Matthew 9:20-22

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 569

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Feast of Walter Rauschenbusch (July 24)   4 comments

Above:  Walter Rauschenbusch

Image in the Public Domain

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH (OCTOBER 4, 1861-JULY 25, 1918)

U.S. Baptist Theologian of the Social Gospel

Episcopal feast day (since 2009) = July 2

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

To concentrate our efforts on personal salvation, as orthodoxy has done, comes close to refined selfishness.

–Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianizing the Social Order (1912)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

God commands us to care actively for the poor.  Moses understood this, as did Hebrew prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, and Walter Rauschenbusch.  “Us” is plural and, in this case, includes religious institutions.

Walter Rauschenbusch, born in Rochester, New York, on October 4, 1861, shifted from his conservative upbringing.  His father, Karl August Rauschenbusch, and his mother, Caroline Rhomps Rauschenbusch, were German immigrants.  Karl had arrived in the United States as a pietistic Lutheran missionary.  He became a Baptist eventually and, from 1858 to 1890, taught at Rochester Theological Seminary, Rochester, New York, specializing in Anabaptist history.  Unfortunately, the Rauschenbusch marriage was unhealthy, filled with verbal abuse from Karl.

Our saint grew up a conservative, individualistic Baptist, mostly in Rochester.  He spent 1865-1869 in Germany, and the summers of 1869-1879 working on a farm in Pennsylvania, however.  In 1879 Rauschenbusch reported a conversion experience and made a profession of faith.  For the next four years he studied in Westphalia (and briefly in Berlin), graduating with honors in classical studies, having become expert in German, Hebrew, French, Greek, and Latin.  Rauschenbusch returned to Rochester in 1883, to prepare for ordained ministry.  He graduated from the seminary’s German department in 1885 and from the seminary the following year.

In 1886, however, Rauschenbusch, influenced by critical scholarship, had begun to question the orthodoxy of his youth.  His time as pastor of Second German Baptist Church, in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City, led our saint further to the left.  Rauschenbusch, confronted by crime, poverty, unemployment, disease, and malnutrition, first addressed those problems with warm-hearted and individualistic pietism, which he came to conclude was insufficient.  The crucible of Hell’s Kitchen led Rauschenbusch to reject the distinction between social work and “Christian work” favored by many on the Right then, as now.  In Rauschenbusch’s mind the bridge between social work and “Christian work” was the Kingdom of God, which he defined as the “reign of love.”  The church, he argued, is “the social factor in salvation.”

Rauschenbusch, who went deaf in 1888, left his parish in 1891.  For the next few years he traveled in Europe, studying Fabian Socialism in England and the New Testament in Germany.  He came to identify as an “evangelical liberal.”  Our saint, back in New York City, married teacher Pauline E. Rother of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The couple had five children.

In 1897 Rauschenbusch joined the faculty of Rochester Theological Seminary, teaching New Testament interpretation in the German department as well as civics and natural sciences in the college.  He became the Professor of Church History five years later.  Rauschenbusch was obscure when we went overseas on a sabbatical in 1907.  When he returned, however, he was famous, for Christianity and the Social Crisis (1907) had sold well, going into six editions in two years.  Rauschenbusch fit in well with the Progressive Era.

Rauschenbusch, not a dogmatic theologian, was a practical one instead.  He, influenced by Frederick Denison Maurice and Charles Kingsley, pondered institutional and societal sins more than individual ones.  Therefore Rauschenbusch emphasized the need for societal and institutional revolution–the spirit of Christ transforming all human affairs–while recognizing economics as part of the Kingdom of God, or “the reign of love.”  For our saint war was inconsistent with the Kingdom of God, Christianity, and human progress.

Rauschenbusch’s theology was optimistic.  In this respect it was a product of its time, La Belle Époque, destroyed by World War I.  His theology had much to recommend it, as subsequent critics Reinhold Niebuhr and H. Richard Niebuhr noted while disagreeing with its optimism.  Rauschenbusch, who published his Taylor Lectures at Yale University as A Theology of the Social Gospel (1917), lived long enough to witness the Great War and grieve over it.  He died of cancer at Rochester on July 25, 1918.  Rauschenbusch was 56 years old.

The Neo-orthodox critique of Rauschenbusch’s theology is correct; only God can usher in the Kingdom of God.  Nevertheless, one can learn much of value from our saint, for institutionalized sin does exist, and individual good deeds are insufficient to correct it.  We need for Christ to transform culture, as Rauschenbusch and H. Richard Niebuhr agreed.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 27, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE WASHINGTON DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF NEW JERSEY; AND HIS SON, WILLIAM CROSWELL DOANE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ALBANY; HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANTONY AND THEODOSIUS OF KIEV, FOUNDERS OF RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MONASTICISM; SAINT BARLAAM OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT; AND SAINT STEPHEN OF KIEV, RUSSIAN ORTHODOX ABBOT AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF CHRISTINA ROSSETTI, POET AND RELIGIOUS WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS REMACLUS OF MAASTRICHT, THEODORE OF MAASTRICHT, LAMBERT OF MAASTRICHT, HUBERT OF MAASTRICHT AND LIEGE, AND FLORBERT OF LIEGE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT LANDRADA OF MUNSTERBILSEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND SAINTS OTGER OF UTRECHT, PLECHELM OF GUELDERLAND, AND WIRO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARIES

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++