Archive for the ‘Nestorianism’ Tag

Feast of St. Sixtus III (August 19)   1 comment

Above:  St. Sixtus III

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT SIXTUS III (DIED AUGUST 19, 440)

Bishop of Rome

Alternative feast day = March 28

Five Supreme Pontiffs of the Roman Catholic Church have borne the name “Sixtus.”  Extant information about St. Sixtus I (in office circa 116-circa 125) has proven to be unreliable.  St. Sixtus II (in office 257-258) died as a martyr.  Sixtus IV (in office 1471-1484) founded the Spanish Inquisition and practiced simony.  Sixtus V (in office 1585-1590) admired Sixtus IV, encouraged King Philip II of Spain to invade England in 1588, and presided over a repressive regime in the Papal States.

St. Sixtus III is therefore the second of two Sixtuses I choose to add to this, my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.

Xystus, son of Xystus, was a Roman by birth.  Our saint had been a Pelagian, but had changed his mind in 418.

Pelagianism was the heresy named after Pelagius, an English or Irish monk who had moved to Rome circa 400.  He was optimistic about human nature, arguing that it was inherently good.  People could therefore save themselves via free will from damnation, the monk asserted.  His propositions aroused a great controversy in the Church.  St. Augustine of Hippo, for example, replied to those propositions in writing for years.  Eventually the Church declared Semi-Pelagianism (salvation results from the combination of divine grace and human free will) orthodox teaching, but Pope St. Celestine I (in office 422-432) preferred the answer of St. Augustine of Hippo:  we mere mortals are powerless to save ourselves, for Original Sin has corrupted our natures.

St. Sixtus III also opposed NestorianismNestorius, the Archbishop of Constantinople from 428 to 431, made  a distinction between Christ and the Logos.  St. Mary of Nazareth, he argued in his sermon for Easter 428, was the mother of Jesus, but not of God; she was not the Theotokos.  The Patriarch thought that the Logos dwelt within Jesus, as in a temple.  St. Sixtus III, at the Council of Ephesus (431), helped to draft the Formula of Reunion, which asserted the doctrine that, in Christ, there was the union of God and man in one person; that Christ was fully human and fully divine.

St. Sixtus III, elected Pope on July 31, 432, succeeding the late St. Celestine I, contended with the Pelagian and Nestorian heresies as the Supreme Pontiff.  St. Cyril of Alexandria had been engaged in a dispute with John of Antioch (d. 441), a Nestorian.  St. Sixtus III ordered John of Antioch to renounce Nestorianism; he did, and reconciled with St. Cyril.  In 439, with the influence of deacon Leo (the next pope, as St. Leo I “the Great,” in office 440-461), St. Sixtus III refused to permit the Pelagian bishop Julian of Eclanum (d. 454), exiled from the see of Apulia since 418, return.  As St. Sixtus III oversaw rebuilding projects in Rome, to repair damage from and replace structures destroyed in the Visigothic sack of Rome in 410, he had anti-Pelagian and anti-Nestorian inscriptions added to churches and baptistries.

St. Sixtus III asserted his authority against encroachment by St. Proclus of Constantinople, the Archbishop of Constantinople from 434 to 446.  In 434 St. Proclus tried to pry the dioceses in eastern Illyricum (in the Balkans) away from the Bishop of Rome.  St. Sixtus III resolved the situation with a carrot and a stick.  As the Pope requested that St. Proculus not receive any bishops disloyal to Rome, St. Sixtus III ordered all bishops in eastern Illyricum to remain loyal.

St. Sixtus III also founded the oldest known monastery at St. Sebastiano on the Appian Way.

St. Sixtus III died on August 19, 440.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Saint Sixtus III,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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Feast of Sts. Flavian and Anatolius of Constantiople, St. Agatho, St. Leo II, and St. Benedict II (July 3)   Leave a comment

Above:  Christ Pantocrator

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT FLAVIAN OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED AUGUST 449)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast transferred from February 17

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SAINT ANATOLIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (LATE 300S-458)

Patriarch of Constantinople

His feast = July 3

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SAINT AGATHO (DIED JANUARY 10, 681)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT LEO II (DIED JULY 3, 683)

Bishop of Rome

His feast = July 3

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SAINT BENEDICT II (DIED MAY 8, 685)

Bishop of Rome

His feast transferred from May 7

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DEFENDERS OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ORTHODOXY

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INTRODUCTION

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Sometimes the most effective way to tell the story of a saint’s life or a portion thereof is to include other saints.  This generalization applies to St. Anatolius of Constantinople and St. Leo II, who have separate feasts on this day, according to the Roman Catholic calendar.

These five saints lived in times when theological debates were political.  Christological disputes were matters of imperial policy, frequently with negative consequences for those who opposed the Emperor at Constantinople.

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PATRIARCHS OF CONSTANTINOPLE

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St. Flavian of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople from 446 to 449, opposed monophysitism, the heresy that Jesus had just one nature–divine.  The Patriarch excommunicated Eutyches, the founder of that heresy.  Eutyches had political allies, though.  He managed to turn Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria, to his side.  Thus Dioscorus presided over the “Robber Council,” which acquitted Eutyches, condemned St. Flavian, and ended with Dioscorus and monks physically abusing St. Flavian, binding him in chains, and sending him into exile.  St. Flavian died in August 449.

St. Anatolius of Constantinople presided over the posthumous exoneration of St. Flavian.  St. Anatolius, born in Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 300s, was a man who lived simply and aided the poor.  He also stood on the side of Christological orthodoxy.  In 431 he and his mentor, St. Cyril of Alexandria, who had ordained him to the diaconate, attended the Council of Ephesus, which affirmed that Christ had two natures, called St. Mary of Nazareth the Mother of God (not just the Mother of Christ), and therefore condemned the Nestorian heresy.  As the Patriarch of Constantinople (449-458) St. Anatolius attended the Council of Chalcedon (451), convened by Pope St. Leo I “the Great” (in office 440-461), which refuted the monophysite heresy.  That council also canonized St. Flavian of Constantinople.  St. Anatolius, who also composed liturgical hymns, experienced much political difficulty due to his orthodoxy.  He might even have been a martyr at the hands of heretics.

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BISHOPS OF ROME

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The monothysite heresy remained an issue into the seventh century.  Byzantine Emperor Constantine IV (reigned 668-685) had used the monothelitist heresy (that Jesus had just one will–divine) to maintain peace with the monophysites in his realm.  He decided to abandon that strategy.

Pope Donus (in office November 2, 676-April 11, 678) died.  His successor was St. Agatho, in office from June 27, 678, to January 10, 681.  St. Agatho, once a monk, was a Sicilian who knew Latin and Greek well.  In 678 St. Agatho received a letter (addressed to Donus) proposing a conference to discuss how many wills Jesus had and whether the churches should reunite.  The Pope agreed to the conference, but held synods in the West prior to the Third Council Constantinople (680-681).  The papal delegation carried a condemnation of monothelitism signed by 150 bishops, as well as a document affirming Rome as the custodian of the Christian faith.  The Third Council of Constantinople, with Constantine IV presiding, affirmed that Jesus had two wills and anathematized monothelitist leaders.

St. Agatho, a kind and cheerful man, died on January 10, 681, while the council was in progress.  His successor was St. Leo II, elected in January 681 yet not installed until August 17, 682, due to imperial politics.  Emperor Constantine IV delayed the ratification of St. Leo II’s election due to the process of ratifying the decrees of the council.  St. Leo II, during his brief papacy, ratified the decrees of the council and ordered their translation from Greek into Latin.  He also readmitted repentant former monothelitists to the Church.

St. Leo II, also a Sicilian, like his predecessor, was a cultured and eloquent man with a fine singing voice.  He, a patron of the poor, asserted papal control over the bishops of Ravenna, autonomous since 666.  St. Leo II died on July 3, 683, after less than a year as the Pope.

St. Benedict II was a gentle and humble man who cared for the poor also.  He, elected Pope in July 683, did not enter into that office until June 26, 684, due to Constantine IV delaying the ratification of the election.  St. Benedict II, a Roman, not a Sicilian, secured an agreement by which the Exarch of Ravenna ratified papal elections, thereby preventing such long delays between papal elections and installations.  The Pope died on May 8, 685, after less than a year in office.

The spirit of cooperation with Constantinople broke down during the reign of Emperor Justinian II (reigned 685-695, 705-711).

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CONCLUSION

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The challenges faithful Christians face vary, depending on who, when, and where one is.  One can study the lives of one’s ancient predecessors in the faith, ponder the challenges they confronted, and take comfort in the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds one.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 25, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARK THE EVANGELIST, MARTYR

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Almighty God, you have raise up faithful bishops of your church, including

Saint Flavian of Constantinople,

Saint Anatolius of Constantinople,

Saint Agatho,

Saint Leo II, and

Saint Benedict II,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

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

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

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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This is post #1500 of SUNDRY THOUGHTS.

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Feast of Sts. Proclus of Constantinople and Rusticus of Narbonne (October 25)   1 comment

Above:  Orthodox Cross

SAINT PROCLUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE (DIED 446)

Archbishop of Constantinople

His feast transferred from October 24

contemporary of

SAINT RUSTICUS OF NARBONNE (DIED CIRCA 461)

Bishop of Narbonne

His feast transferred from October 26

This is my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’s Days and Holy Days, so I get to assign feast days.  Usually I follow the leads of ecclesiastical calendars.  Yet today I follow another pattern:  moving and merging feasts.  These two saints opposed the same heresy:  Nestorianism.  And, since their feast days are so close to each other on the Roman Catholic calendar, I have decided to combine them and place them on the day which separates them on that calendar.

Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 428 to 431.  His theology led to his ouster from that position.  His great heresy was to make a distinction between the human Jesus and the divine Christ, claiming that the two natures were separate and conjoined.  Thus, he argued, one ought to call St. Mary of Nazareth  the Christotokos (‘Christ-bearer”), not the Theotokos (“God-bearer”), for a mere mortal could not have given birth to the Logos of God.  In other words, according to Nestorius, Mary gave birth to the human nature of Jesus only.

Official Church teaching, developed more fully to refute Nestorianism, argues a different position.  Historical accounts tell us of the Council of Ephesus (431) and the more detailed repudiation of Nestorianism which the Council of Chalecedon (451) issued.  According to Chalecedon, the human and divine natures of Jesus Christ are

…without confusion, without change, without division, without separation….

–quoted in Linwood Urban, A Short History of Christian Thought, Revised and Expanded Edition (New York:  Oxford University Press, 1995), page 74

Most of us who call ourselves Christians in 2012 are heirs of the formulas of Ephesus and Chalcedon, even if we do not know it.  Theology did not fall from Heaven or grow on trees so that people saw it, recognized it immediately, and accepted it universally; no, theological doctrines which many of us (including the author of this post) accept as truth emerged from debates, synods, and councils. And today’s saints were present at creation and enunciation.  They also did their share of enunciating.

St. Proclus (died 446), a native of Constantinople, studied under St. John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople.  Archbishop Atticus, whose secretary St. Proclus was, ordained him to the priesthood.  The saint opposed Archbishop Nestorius and succeeded the heretic’s immediate successor, Archbishop Maximian, in 434.  St. Proclus, the author of theological treatises, maintained his opposition to perceived heresies while retaining tact, something many other defenders of orthodoxy have failed to do.  He also functioned as a humanitarian and a good pastor, ministering to the people of Constantinople after an earthquake.

St. Rusticus of Narbonne (died circa 461) was a Gallic contemporary of St. Proclus.  The Bishop of Narbonne was the son of a bishop, one Bonosus.  The former monk became Bishop of Narbonne in 427.  During his tenure he resisted the spread of Arianism through his diocese, built a cathedral, and approved Pope St. Leo I (“the Great”)‘s  denunciation of Nestorianism.

We Christians of today stand on the shoulders of giants–foundational figures–such as these.  May we give them the attention they deserve.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 10, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN LEONARDI, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF THE MOTHER OF GOD OF LUCCA; AND SAINT JOSEPH CALASANCTIUS, FOUNDER OF THE CLERKS REGULAR OF RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK

THE FEAST OF VIDA DUTTON SCUDDER, WRITER

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Heavenly Father, shepherd of your people,

we thank you for your servants

Saint Proclus of Constantinople and Saint Rusticus of Narbonne,

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock;

and we pray that, following their examples and the teaching of their holy lives,

we may by your grace grow into the full stature of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.

or

Almighty God, you have raised up faithful bishops and leaders of your church.

May the memory of their lives be a source of joy for us

and a bulwark of our faith,

so that we may serve you and confess your name before the world;

through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

Lutheran Book of Worship (1978), page 38

Feast of Sts. Flavian II of Antioch and Elias of Jerusalem (July 20)   1 comment

Above:  Europe in 526 Common Era

SAINT FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH (DIED 512)

Roman Catholic Patriarch

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SAINT ELIAS OF JERUSALEM (DIED 518)

Roman Catholic Patriarch

His feast transferred from July 4

Before I write about these saints I must provide background information.

Nestorianism is a heresy derived from Nestorius (died circa 451), Bishop of Constantinople (428-431).  He refused to accept St. Mary of Nazareth as Mother of God.  (If Jesus was God incarnate and Mary was his mother, she was the Mother of God.  It is simple logic.)  In the mind of Nestorius the human Jesus and the divine Christ–two natures–coexisted in the same person but were conjoined.  In other words, they were both there but were independent of each other.  This was the “Siamese twins” understanding of how Jesus was both human and divine.  (I have simplified a profound theological statement, I know.)  The Council of Ephesus (431) condemned Nestorianism, the legacy of which persists in the (Assyrian) Church of the East, the (Indian) Christians of Saint Thomas, and offshoots.  The Chaldean Rite of the Roman Catholic Church formed when former Nestorians reunited with Rome.

Twenty years after the Council of Ephesus the Council of Chalcedon (451) declared that Jesus Christ had two natures–human and divine–which shared with each other.  (I know, I have simplified a profound theological doctrine again.)  This Definition of Chalcedon became part of the standard of Christological orthodoxy in Christianity.  Roman Catholics, Old Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Protestants accept it.  Yet the Nestorians and Monophysites do not.

After the Council of Chalcedon there arose Monophysitism, a heresy which holds that Jesus Christ had just one nature–a divine one.  Eutyches (circa 375-circa 454), early spokesman for Monophysitism, explained that Christ’s divine nature had absorbed his human one.

The Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire was a place where Christological disputes led to political discord and had the potential to lead to insurrections.  If a bishop’s Christology differed from that of the emperor, there might be trouble for that bishop.  The religious-political realities of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire make me grateful for the separation of church and state.

In 482 Emperor Zeno (reigned 474-491), as part of an effort to bring peace to his realm, issued the Henotican (Decree of Union) on his authority.  The document condemned Nestorius and Eutyches, affirmed the Incarnation, avoided saying how many natures Jesus had, and condemned any heresy

whether advanced at Chalcedon or any synod whatever.

The eastern bishops signed, but the Monophysites were not satisfied.  And, in 484, the Pope excommunicated Zeno.  The next emperor, Anastasius I (reigned 491-518), also supported the Henotican.  Only in 518, with the accession of Justin I (reigned 518-527), of whose religious policies Rome agreed, did the rift between and Constantinople and Rome end.

Now for the saints….

St. Flavian II of Antioch (died 512) had been a Syrian monk who represented the Patriarch of Antioch at the imperial court at Constantinople.  Then he had become the Patriarch of that see in 498.  As Patriarch St. Flavian II objected to the Henotican.  Thus Anastasius I arranged for Flavian II’s deposition and exile in 512.  The saint died at Petra, Arabia, that year.

St. Elias of Jerusalem (died 518) was a monastery-educated Arab.  Timothy the Cat, the (Monophysite) Patriarch of Alexandria, had exiled him from that see.  So the saint moved to Palestine, where he became a priest.  In 494 he became Patriarch of Jerusalem.  He also opposed the Henotican, hence his exile in 513.  The saint died at Aila, on the Red Sea, in 518.

I hear certain analogies used much too casually.  Some people (including many pundits and politicans) have what comedian Lewis Black calls “Nazi Tourette’s Syndrome.”  My own Congressman (for whom I have never voted, I am glad to admit) has Nazi-Hitler-Stalin Tourett’e’s Syndrome.  I have written him and told him so.  The problem with comparing anyone to the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, or Joseph Stalin–or, ironically, both at once, for Hitler was an anti-Communist–is that this trivializes the crimes of the Nazis, Hitler, and Stalin.  There is an old joke about food:

It tastes like chicken.

Then chicken must taste like everything.  Likewise, to use the Nazi, Hitler, or Stalin analogies causally reduces monsters to punchlines.

Likewise, one should use the label “religious persecution” carefully.  When a potentate exiles bishops over doctrinal differences, that is religious persecution.  When a person in authority orders the deaths and/or imprisonments of people based on religious differences, that is religious persecution.  When a government outlaws a religion, that is religious persecution. In my nation, the United States, during World War I (1917-1918 for us), the federal government imprisoned Amish and Mennonite conscientious objectors.  That was religious persecution.  It was also a betrayal of founding principles.  James Madison, one of the Founding Fathers, went further than many of his generation (and those after it).  Madison, the author of the First Amendment, argued for a strict separation of church and state.  The state should know nothing of the church, he said.  This was for the protection of the church from the state.  I agree with his standard, one never observed in this nation, so far as I can tell.  But I do live in a land with freedom of worship.  No government is closing down churches, and neither is there a state church.  I see no federal persecution of religion in 2012. I recognize policy disagreements between the federal government and some denominations, but that is not persecution.  In society we all have to pay for things we find objectionable.  If this were not so, we might not pay for much of anything.  In the early 1980s, staffers at the headquarters of the Church of the Brethren, a historically pacifistic denomination, pooled money from their Reagan tax cuts, bought thirty pieces of silver, and mailed them to the White House with a note protesting cuts in domestic programs to help the poor.  They received only a patronizing note in return.  But they did not  face persecution at any point, even though they did have to pay for wars to which they objected.

Here ends the lesson.

Incarnated God, whose glory we see in Jesus of Nazareth,

fully human and fully divine,

we thank you for the holy examples of your servants

Saint Flavian II of Antioch and Saint Elias of Jerusalem.

And we mourn them and all others who have suffered

(and who continue to suffer today)

because of religious intolerance.

May all who claim you as Savior, Lord, and God

follow you in spirit and in truth.

And, if persecution comes, may they cling to you tenaciously.

Furthermore, may those who persecute cease to do so,

and may persecution not arise where it does not exist.

In the Name of Jesus Christ,

who suffered, died, and rose again, the first-fruits from the dead.  Amen.

Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9 or Jeremiah 20:7-18

Psalm 26

Revelation 5:1-14

Matthew 5:1-16 or John 1:1-5

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DELPHINUS OF BORDEAUX, AMANDUS OF BORDEAUX, SEVERINUS OF BORDEAUX, VENERIUS OF MILAN, AND CHROMATIUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF ANSON DODGE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF BERNARD MIZEKI, ANGLICAN CATECHIST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF VERNARD ELLER, CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN THEOLOGIAN

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