procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the first australian lutherans

enjoy this quick summary of an essay for australian church history. i haven't included any references, please ask if you would like to know how i know all this!
the east coast of Australia was first colonised by the British in 1788. South Australia was first colonised in 1836 (a convict-free zone).
the first Lutherans, fleeing the latitudinary Prussian union church, started arriving in SA in 1838.
they were led by their pastor Augustus Kavel, and named their two main settlements Klemzig, after their home-town, and Hahndorf, after Captain Hahn who piloted many of them to their new home.
the happy environment meant they invited others to join them, including another pastor, Gotthard Fritzsche, and his flock.
these were happy times, but schism was in the air:
  • the group had entered into financial agreements with their sponsor, George Fife Angas (no relation), and some had second thoughts over arrangements to buy such large amounts of land. Kavel saw this reneging as a breach of faith, and considered withholding communion from the offenders.
  • the doctrinal sloppiness in the Prussian union church meant Kavel saw Australia as a chance to start again, to be like the church of the apostles. in this vein he wrote the Apostolical Church Constitution, which among other things, was heavy on discipline. this would be another bone of contention; Lutheran missionaries in the colony refused to sign, and Fritzsche pushed for changes.
  • the religious air in England, where Kavel had stopped over briefly, was one of expectant hope of the return of Jesus. Chiliasm, or millenialism, became an increasing feature of his preaching. one listener recalls him teaching that God would provide them with reeds with which to build an ark with which they could sail to Israel or Egypt! Fritzsche in response preached against chiliasm, forming another fault line for this infant church.
1845 synod - the two pastors thrust into the fore, despite warm feelings to one another, cannot agree. they decide to take the next year to think through their positions.

1846 synod - neither had the time to do what they promised. they both became firmer in their stances, and Kavel, rather than critiquing his views by the Lutheran Confessions he held as regulative, critiqued them, finding them at points decidedly unscriptural.
he brought to the 1846 synod his Protestations for discussion. the synod quickly became a yelling match, Fritzsche tried to restrain Kavel from walking out, but in the end Kavel and his group had to leave.

from 1838 to 1846 there was one Lutheran Church of Australia, which would take 120 years to unite once again.
as an outsider, having only been to a Lutheran church on several occasions, it seems that both Fritzsche and Kavel would be unhappy with the basis for the reunion. the doctrinal latitude of the LCA is probably wider today than even the union church which persecuted them.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hebrews 4.14-5.10 Wordle

i haven't done a wordle for a while. so here is one from my recent Hebrews talk (click to enlarge):
Wordle: Hebrews 4.14-5.10

Labels: ,

Hippolytus on deception

a great story - it'll be worth it - read on!

The Story Of A Maiden Of Corinth, And A Certain Magistrianus

There lived a certain most noble and beautiful maiden in the city of Corinth, in the careful exercise of a virtuous life. At that time some persons falsely charged her before the judge there, who was a Greek, with cursing the times, and the princes, and the images. Now those who trafficked in such things, brought her beauty under the notice of the impious judge, who lusted after women. And he gladly received the accusation with his equine ears and lascivious thoughts. And when she was brought before the bloodstained (judge), he was driven still more frantic with profligate passion. But when, after bringing every device to bear upon her, the profane than could not gain over this woman of God, he subjected the noble maiden to various outrages. And when he failed in these too, and was unable to seduce her from her confession of Christ, the cruel judge became furious against her, and gave her over to a punishment of the following nature: Placing the chaste maiden in a brothel, he charged the manager, saying, Take this woman, and bring me three nummi by her every day. And the man, exacting the money from her by her dishonour, gave her up to any who sought her in the brothel. And when the women-hunters knew that, they came to the brothel, and, paying the price lint upon their iniquity, sought to seduce her. But this most honourable maiden, taking counsel with herself to deceive them, called them to her, and earnestly besought them, saying: I have a certain ulceration of the pudenda, which has an extremely hateful stench; and I am afraid that ye might come to hate me on account of the abominable sore. Grant me therefore a few days, and then ye may have me even for nothing. With these words the blessed maiden gained over the profligates, and dismissed them for a time. And with most fitting prayers she importuned God, and with contrite supplications she sought to turn Him to compassion. God, therefore, who knew her thoughts, and understood how the chaste maiden was distressed in heart for her purity, gave ear to her; and the Guardian of the safety of all men in those days interposed with His arrangements in the following manner:

Of a certain person Magistrianus.

There was a certain young man, Magistrianus, comely in his personal appearance, and of a pious mind, whom God had inspired with such a burning spiritual zeal, that he despised even death itself. He, coming under the guise of profligacy, goes in, when the evening was far gone, to the fellow who kept the women, and pays him five nummi, and says to him, Permit me to spend this night with this damsel. Entering then with her into the private apartment, he says to her, Rise, save thyself. And taking off her garments, and dressing her in his own attire, his night-gown, his cloak, and all the habiliments of a man, he says to her, Wrap yourself up with the top of your cloak, and go out; and doing so, and signing herself entirely with the mystery of the cross, she went forth uncorrupted from that place, and was preserved perfectly stainless by the grace of Christ, and by the instrumentality of the young man, who by his own blood delivered her from dishonour. And on the following day the matter became known, and Magistrianus was brought before the infuriated judge. And when the cruel tyrant had examined the noble champion of Christ, and had learned all, he ordered him to be thrown to the wild beasts, — that in this, too, the honour-hating demon might be put to shame. For, whereas he thought to involve the noble youth in an unhallowed punishment, he exhibited him as a double martyr for Christ, inasmuch as he had both striven nobly for his own immortal soul, and persevered manfully in labours also in behalf of that noble and blessed maiden. Wherefore also he was deemed worthy of double honour with Christ, and of the illustrious and blessed crowns by His goodness.


The conduct of Father Abraham, although not approved of by Inspiration, but simply recorded (Genesis 26:7), gave early Christians an opinion that the wicked may be justly foiled, by equivocation and deception, for the preservation of innocence or the life of the innocent. In such case the person deceived, they might argue, is not injured, but benefited (Genesis 26:10), being saved from committing violence and murder. The Corinthian maiden was accustomed to be veiled, and was taught alike to cherish her own purity and to have no share in affording occasion of sin to others.
from Schaff's ANF, vol V

Hippolytus was i think the first anti-pope - a rival bishop of Rome. some of his stuff is appropriately wacky for ~200AD, but other stuff is genius - his creed likely was the foundation for the apostle's creed.

apart from this being a great yarn, it's interesting to note his ethic - acting for the good of the other person. it's obviously not easy to work out the good for all involved, but the old question of lying about the Jews in the basement could be answered by Hippolytus - it's for the good of them, and it prevents the Nazis at the door from committing a great evil also. a win-win.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

scripture sanctifies - stephen fowl

i'm still trying to work out what my project is about. it's still something to do with Paul Ricœur. and how we read the bible.

along the way i thought i'd share this gem from Stephen E. Fowl, who is obviously a fan of John Webster's 2003 Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch.

The Spirit's work in the operation of God's providential ordering of things sanctifies the means and processes that lead to the production of Scripture, turning them to God's holy purposes without diminishing their human, historical character. Thus, in calling Scripture "holy," Christians are not making a comprehensive claim about the purity of the motives of the writers and editors of Scripture. These may well have been decidedly unholy. Even in the face of such unholy motives and actions, Christians are committed to the belief that the triune God has revealed a passionate desire to have fellowship with them, even in the light of their manifest sin. Scripture is chief among God's providentially ordered gifts directed to bringing about reconciliation and fellowship with God despite human sin. Thus, Scripture is holy because of its divinely wiled role in making believers holy. [p12]
Stephen Fowl, Theological Interpretation of Scripture, Paternoster 2009.

i think i like the way the acknowledges potential historical-critical issues yet the importance of the Spirit. i'm not sure how far i'd agree with his 'decidedly unholy', but he could just be suggesting people didn't sit down with a view to writing 'Scripture'. which is surely true. but maybe (hopefully?) they did think they were writing true things about God?

Labels: , , , , ,

work on the web

my article from my post from my sermon on work last year is up at websalt. check it. comment there or here or at my original post. love to hear your thoughts.

Labels: , ,

Friday, June 03, 2011

temporality and baptism

reading Ricœur on temporality in narrative, who says with reference to Genesis 1 & 2-3 (and even the Abraham narrative) that we don't need to see there being a relative temporality. that is, the story of Abraham isn't necessarily a succession from Genesis 1-11; in a sense they could be co-terminus. they are stitched together in the narrative not to imply succession but so we might 'superpose' them on one another.
Colossians 2.12-14 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
i wonder if there is a sense in which, at baptism, when there is a sense that as you close your eyes to go into the water, you are to picture yourself as grasping on to Jesus as he descended to the place of the dead, and as you continue to grasp, you are raised with him in his resurrection, being recreated. so while it is true that Jesus' death and resurrection 2000 years ago brings about my salvation, is it not also true that he dies and is resurrected when you are baptised, that it is 'as if' that great salvation event were happening then and there.

i've been reading Ricœur's book 'Thinking Biblically' and the chapter 'Thinking Creation' and have obviously some thinking to go!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hebrews 4.14-5.10 Chiasm

what do you think:
A 4.14 – Because he’s ascended to heaven let us hold fast
    B 4.15 – Jesus an empathetic human priest.
        C 5.5 – Jesus a Son-priest
            D 5.6 – Jesus a Melchizedek-priest
    B’ 5.7 – Jesus lived an earthly life
        C’ 5.7 – Jesus learnt obedience despite being the Son
A’ 5.9-10 – Source of eternal salvation for those who believe.
            D’ 5.10 – Jesus the Melchizedek-priest
i was hoping it could be a little prettier.
maybe can't even call it properly chiastic. more recursive.
but i'm preaching on it tomorrow morning, important as the chiasm is it might have to wait...

Labels: ,