Aardvark Alley

Lutheran Aardvark

Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

31 May 2006
  The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
31 May, New Testament

Elizabeth Greets MaryThis day commemorates the joyous visit Mary paid to her cousin Elizabeth, following The Annunciation. Inspired by the amazing news that she was to become the mother of the Christ and in response to the joyous word that her old and previously barren cousin was also pregnant, she joined her older cousin during Elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy (see Luke 1:39-56).

After Mary declared the wondrously good news, Elizabeth responded to the Blessed Virgin, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! ... Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. (vv. 42, 44)" She concluded by giving full credit and glory to God while also commending her young cousin's hearty faith: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. (v. 45)"

Mary responded with the Magnificat, the beautiful song of praise beginning, "My soul magnifies the Lord. (vv. 46-55)" It's not clear whether Mary stayed there until after the birth of John or if she left immediately beforehand; Luke merely said that the Virgin "remained with her about three months and returned to her home. (v. 56)"

And so, as we encounter God sending the Forerunner and the Messiah into the world, we see a study in contrasts. Two women stand before each other. One seemingly too old to bear children now carries the final prophet of the Old Covenant. The other, youthful and as yet unwed — completely unprepared in the eyes of the world — carries the One who brings both the Advent and the Fulfillment of the New Testament. And again we see, in the fullness of time, one age passing away while another age begins — an age that has no end but which lasts unto eternity.

Lection
Psalm 138
Isaiah 11:1-5
Romans 12:9-16
Luke 1:39-56

Collect
Almighty God, as You dealt wonderfully with Your servant, the Blessed Virgin Mary, in choosing her to be the mother of Your dearly beloved Son and thus graciously made known Your regard for the poor and lowly and despised, grant us grace in all humility and meekness to receive Your Word with hearty faith and to rejoice in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

The Magnificat
My soul magnifies the Lord,
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
   for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
   for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
   and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
   to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

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28 May 2006
  Blogroll Updates (Again)

Lateral movements make up three fourths of the current changes. One involves domain and name change, the other two change only their titles (although the focus of each has also shifted somewhat).

Ryan PT (formerly Wretched of the Earth) may now be found enthroned at the Backward Kingdom with new format, features, and feel. Once Josh S went solo at Here We Stand, he must have figured that a singular blog title was appropriate. Let's just not debate how appropriate is the title he finally chose — A Finger for Each Nostril. One that I forgotten to do earlier (the change came on 21 March) is Ranting No More — A Blog in Search of a Title, formerly Rants from a Disgruntled Lutheran in Middle-America.

The final update is new to the roll and fairly new in the blogosphere. It's not Lutheran — since it's written by "Prince Beelzebub," you might even say that it's not Christian — but when you read it, you'll see how neatly it fits the spirit of this blog, especially the previous post. Therefore, I bid you welcome Beelzeblog. He's already familiar with part of the Lutheran blogosphere, having "welcomed" Ask the Pastor to his list of "Links I DESPISE."
 
26 May 2006
  Oh! The Wormwood and the Gall
Screwtape Utilizes Dan Brown's Blasphemy

The pretenders were pretty scarce. Until recently, I don't think I've read else inspired by The Screwtape Letters who stayed to the spirit of C. S. Lewis, except, perhaps Peter Kreeft with his Snakebite Letters. (Actually, my favorite Kreeft books are The Unaborted Socrates and Between Heaven and Hell.)

Eric MetaxasAh, but now I've discovered Eric Metaxas and his 21st century Screwtape still dishing the dirt to nephew Wormwood. This time, it's Screwtape on the DaVinci Code. The senior devil tells his junior that since his "former colleague, the venerable Gallstone" helped Dan Brown pen such a book that purports to tell fiction as fact, it's time to use the Code to start harvesting a bumper crop of the damned.

After you read the essay, you might want to re-read the original Screwtape Letters. Don't have a copy? Follow the link below and order one. I'm also linking to the Kreeft books, in case Socratic arguing against abortion or discussions among three men who died on the same day (JFK, Lewis, and Aldous Huxley) sounds interesting.


The Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters


C. S. Lewis Signature Classics Boxed Set
C. S. Lewis Boxed Set (Screwtape, Mere Christianity, Great Divorce, et al.)


Between Heaven and Hell
Between Heaven and Hell


The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion
The Unaborted Socrates: A Dramatic Debate on the Issues Surrounding Abortion


Snakebite Letters: Devilishly Devious Secrets for Subverting Society as Taught in Tempter's Training School
Snakebite Letters: Devilishly Devious Secrets for Subverting Society as Taught in Tempter's Training School



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25 May 2006
  Attention, American Idolaters

What do you think about Dennis Hitzeman's World Watch Focus: An "Idle" Nation at Worldview?

BTW, I discovered after adding Worldview and Café Diem to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© just yesterday that Dennis and Chris are good friends.
 
  The Ascension of Our Lord
The Fortieth Day of Easter

Lection

†  Psalm 110
†  Isaiah 45:18-25 or Daniel 7:13-14 (1-year Lectionary) or Acts 1:1-11 (3-year)
†  Acts 1:1-11 or Ephesians 4:7-13 (1-year) or Ephesians 1:16-23 (3-year)
†  Matthew 28:16-20 (1-year) or Luke 24:44-53 (3-year)

Collect

Almighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

An Ascension Hymn

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus; His the scepter, His the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion Thunder like a mighty flood:
"Jesus out of every nation Has redeemed us by His blood."

Alleluia! Not as orphans Are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us: Faith believes, nor questions how.
Though the cloud from sight received Him When the forty days were over,
Shall our hearts forget His promise: "I am with you ever-more"?

Alleluia! Bread of heaven, Here on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! Here the sinful Flee to You from day to day.
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, hear our plea
Where the songs of all the sinless Sweep across the crystal sea.

Alleluia! King eternal, Lord omnipotent we own;
Alleluia! Born of Mary, Earth Your foot-stool, heaven Your throne.
As within the veil You entered, Robed in flesh, our great high priest,
Here on earth both priest and victim In the eucharistic feast.

Alleluia! Sing to Jesus; His the scepter, His the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion Thunder like a mighty flood:
"Jesus out of every nation Has redeemed us by His blood."
 
  + The Venerable Bede +
25 May AD 735

BedeToday marks the heavenly birthday of Bede. By happy coincidence, the annually moving calendar of Eastertide makes this also the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. You see, among his many contributions to Christendom, Bede wrote this Aardvark's favorite Ascension hymn, "A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing."

Bede (673-735) was the last of the early church fathers and the first to compile the history of the English church. Born in Northumbria, Bede was given by his parents to a monastery in Northern England at the age of seven. He was ordained when he was thirty.

Probably the most learned man of his time, he was a prolific writer of history and his careful use of sources provided a model for historians in the Middle Ages. His skill in both history and theology gave him the ability to complete a synthesis between the older Celtic monasticism and the later Rule of Saint Benedict.

Known best for his book Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People), he was also a profound interpreter of Scripture; his edition of the Vulgate was the standard in Catholicism until 1979 and his commentaries still provide fresh insights for today's readers.

Bede Translating JohnHis most famous disciple, Cuthbert, reported that Bede was working on a translation of John's Gospel into English when death came. He also said that Bede died with the words of the Gloria Patri on his lips.

Bede also popularized the use of Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi ("in the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ") in speaking of the time since our Savior's birth. This is usually shortened to Anno Domini or AD.

Attested hymns include Hymn­um can­en­tes mar­tyr­um ("The Hymn for Con­quer­ing Mar­tyrs Raise"), Hymnum ca­na­mus Do­mi­no (translated variously as "A Hymn of Glo­ry Let Us Sing," "The Hymn of Glory Sing We," and "Sing We Tri­umph­ant Hymns of Praise"), and Praecursor al­tus lu­mi­nis ("The Great Fore­run­ner of the Morn"). He also wrote vernacular poetry.

Bede received the title "Venerable" within two generations of his death and is buried in Durham Cathedral as one of England's greatest saints.

Lection — ESV Except as Noted
Psalm 78:1-4 or 19:7-14
Wisdom 7:15-22 (NRSV)
Matthew 13:47-52

Collect
Heavenly Father, who called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to Your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship, grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring the riches of Your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make You known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
A hymn of glory let us sing New songs throughout the world shall ring
Alleluia, Alleluia.
Christ, by a road before untrod Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

The holy apostolic band Upon the Mount of Olives stand
Alleluia, Alleluia.
And with His followers they see Jesus' resplendent majesty
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

To Whom the angels drawing nigh, "Why stand and gaze upon the sky?"
Alleluia, Alleluia.
"This is the Savior," thus they say. "This is His noble triumph day."
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

"Again ye shall behold Him so, As ye have today seen Him go."
Alleluia, Alleluia.
"In glorious pomp ascending high Up to the portals of the sky."
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

O grant us thitherward to tend And with unwearied hearts ascend,
Alleluia, Alleluia.
Unto Thy kingdom's throne, where Thou As is our faith, art seated now,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Be Thou our Joy and strong Defense, Who art our future Recompense,
Alleluia, Alleluia.
So shall the light that springs from Thee Be ours through all eternity,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

O risen Christ, ascended Lord, All praise to Thee let earth accord,
Alleluia, Alleluia.
Who art, while endless ages run, With Father and with Spirit One,
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

More on Bede's hymns and related information from Cyberhymnal.
 
24 May 2006
  The Blogroll Lurches Ahead

I'm happy to add four new members to the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© — unfortunately, we also seem to be bidding farewell to two worthy blogs. I know that I'll miss Poor Miserable Sinner. Even more so, I'm sorry that What You Do, Do Quickly has vanished, to be replaced by a quick-acting vulture. I pray that both return in due season, although WYDDQ will have to pick a new URL.

Now, let's give a big Aardvarkian welcome to the four new enrollees. For want of a better pattern, I'll list them alphabetically by height.

Leading off is Barb the Evil Genius, who claims to be "a Lutheran wife and mom." Do I know you, Barb? Do you know anyone named Zorba?

Next, a warm round of applause for Café Diem | coffee philosophy, the "caffeinated musings" of WELS member Chris Pluger, "a devotee of the dark god," whom I first discovered at Lutheran Carnival XXIII. Random musing #1: Could he be trying to sober up the regular readers of Purpose Driven Drinking?

Jumping way down the alphabet, we meet our third contestant, Theologically - Incorrect. T-I springs from the fertile mind of LCMS Pastor Richard Cody of Monett, Missouri. Random musing #2: The way he's inviting questions, it looks like he's gunning for disgruntled Ask the Pastor readers. This of course begs the question, does ATP have any gruntled readers?

Finally, plese greet Dennis Hitzeman's Worldview. I found out about his blog by back-tracking a link where he gave a shout-out to the Alley because it was here that he learned about Luther at the Movies, the blog he really cares about.

If you like what you see and want to leave comments for any of these folks, tell 'em the Aardvark sent you.

As always, those wanting to acquire the latest copy of the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© are free to ask me to send one your way.
 
  + Nicolaus Copernicus +
24 May AD 1543

Nicolaus CopernicusMikołaj Kopernik was born in Poland in 1473. His parents died when he was twelve and his uncle Lucas Watzenrode assumed responsibility for him and his three siblings. The uncle, soon to be Bishop of Ermland, sent him to the University of Cracow, where Mikołaj studied astronomy. He then matriculated at Bologna (Greek, mathematics, Plato), Padua (law and medicine), and Ferrara (Doctor of Canon Law). At some point during his studies he Latinized his name to the now familiar Nicolaus Copernicus.

He returned home after being elected a canon of Frauenberg Cathedral. There he assisted his uncle until Watzenrode's death. After this, he then opened a free medical clinic for the poor.

Nicolaus's varied interests included theology, poetry, and the natural and social sciences. He seems to have been the first person to formulate what is now known as Gresham's Law, "Bad money drives out good." This means that if there are two kinds of coins in circulation having the same legal or face value, but one is more valuable in terms of its content, consumers will tend to hoard the more valuable coins and spend the less valuable. Soon only the cheaper coins will be in circulation. This idea has been proven out many times, including in the United States, as base metal coins chased their silver equivalents from circulation during the 1960s and beyond.

Above all else, we remember Nicolaus Copernicus as an astronomer. In his day, the common view of the world was the geocentric model — the earth was motionless and all the heavenly bodies revolved around it. However, others held a heliocentric view, believing that the earth moved about the sun. Already a century before Galileo's birth, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa wrote, "When we say that the earth does not move, we mean simply that the earth is the point with reference to which man makes his observations of celestial phenomena."

However, this view was much in the minority and most though that the science proved that the earth sat still amidst all Creation. At the same time, the notion that medieval medieval Christians thought the earth flat has been largely disproved. Among those who never held this view were Dante, who referred to the earth as a sphere in the early 1300's and Thomas Aquinas in the opening portion of his Summa Theologica. Other early "round earth" Christians included the Venerable Bede (see the upcoming post on Thursday) and Irenaeus, already in the late 100s AD. At issue was the motion, not the shape, of the earth.

A unified theory of the cosmos remained a major stumbling block. Because he geocentric model was interwoven with related theories in philosophy, chemistry, physics, music, natural theology, and the like, it seemed that rejecting any single part endangered the whole theory. Ever more accurate measurements ot the celestial bodies, however, imposed ever more increasing burdens upon the defenders of geocentrism. The patches applied by astronomers and mathematicians couldn't cover all the old theory's holes

Copernicus: Planetary OrbitsCopernicus proposed an elegantly simple solution — suppose that the sun, not the earth, was at the center. His first summary of this theory came in 1530 in a paper called the Commentariolus ("little commentary") and received papal approval. He spent the next thirteen years revising it and expanding his heliocentric theory to book length, all the while rechecking his calculations. As he continued, he constantly rewrote his arguments and delayed publication until absolutely certain that he'd not overlooked a thing.

When satisfied that he need add or change nothing, Copernicus entrusted the final draft to Georg Rheticus, a former student who became a professor at Leipzig. Rhaeticus published it there. Lutheran pastor Andreas Osiander added an unauthorized preface stating that the heliocentric model was only a device to simplify computations. He said that Copernicus wrote his heliocentric account as a mere mathematical hypothesis, not as anything containing truth or even great probability. Copernicus received delivery of the printed book, De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium ("On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"), only a few hours before his death in 1543.

His work originally found little opposition. Perhaps it would have slowly entrenched itself throughout Western thought, but De Revolutionibus ran into trouble because of Galileo Galilei. When Galileo quarreled with the Italian University establishment and then with the Pope, the whole geocentric model came into question. Because of this, Copernicus's book was placed on the Index donec corrigetur ("until it be corrected") from 1616 to 1758.

Some of Copernicus's ideas didn't stand the test of time. Because the circle was considered a much more elegant — even perfect — form, he resisted the notion of eliptical orbits (as did Galileo), settling instead for a much more cumbersome system of epicycles. Even after Johannes Kepler insisted that the ellipse was the only orbit that made sense of the data, acceptance of his thought took a number of years.

Collect
Almighty God, who made the heavens to tell Your glory and the firmament to proclaim Your handiwork, we thank You for placing us in a universe governed by Your will according the to laws of Your creation and we bless You for giving us mind capable of studying Your creation and spirits capable of wonder at its majesty; today we praise you especially for the gifts of intellect that You pour out upon your servants Nicolas Copernicus and others, by whom our understanding of the nature of Your creation has been advanced, for our good and Your glory, who live and reign, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
23 May 2006
  Issues with Constantine

Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor will be on KFUO radio later this afternoon to talk about Emperor Constantine I. See I've Got "Issues" Today for details.
 
22 May 2006
  + Constantine the Great +
22 May AD 337

Constantine and HelenaConstantine I served as Roman Emperor from AD 306 to 337. During his reign the persecution of Christians was forbidden by the Edict of Milan in 313, and ultimately the faith gained full imperial support.

Constantine took an active interest in the life and teachings of the church and. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325 at which Saint Athanasius and others defended and defined orthodox Christianity. Among the fruits of this council was one of Christendom's major confessions of faith, the Nicene Creed.

His mother, Helena (ca. 255-329), strongly influenced Constantine. Her great interest in locating the holy sites of the Christian faith led her to become one of the first Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Her research led to the identification of Biblical locations in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and beyond, which are still maintained as places of worship today.

Some argue that Constantine may not have been true believer since he wasn't baptized until his death bed. However, he actively supported Christianity in his later life and even preached upon occasion. Other scholars speculate that he delayed baptism for the same reason as did many others during portions of the Church's history, that of a general misunderstanding of Holy Baptism.

Constantine the GreatMany theologians spoke of the need for "satisfaction" — making amends for sins committed during one's life — and warned about time that would be spent in Purgatory by those who didn't make full satisfaction while still living. Indeed, some even taught that unless proper penance was done, one might find himself forever barred from Heaven!

Since Baptism truly washes away all sin — both that of our birth nature and any transgressions committed later — some thought the best way to avoid Purgatory (or Hell) was to be baptized when one was at death's door. In so doing, people believed that there would be no unrepented, unsatisfied sins remaining that would leave one waiting for eternal bliss or forever denied its blessings.

I'll not argue here the reasons why Lutherans reject the notion of satisfaction or the idea of Purgatory. I'll merely say that if Constantine had such worries, he wasn't alone during his day, and his decision to delay would be understandable in light of such teaching.

Collects
O Lord, our God, King of the universe, who raises up earthly rulers to work Your will in this life, You called Constantine to the imperial throne and ended wide-spread persecution of Your Son's Church; grant that as he served You by fulfilling his vocation, so we would continue to receive from You rulers who allow the Church to proclaim the saving Gospel of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Almighty God, who called your servant Helena to an earthly position of authority so that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, filling her with zeal for your Church and love for Your people, grant that we may be fruitful in good works and steadfast in our faith in Your Son, and finally by your mercy attain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
21 May 2006
  Ascend Thee Unto the Carnival
Lutheran Carnival XXIV Is Open for Business

Thanks to Sam of Nerd Heaven, the latest Carnival, with a theme of the Ascension of Our Lord, is available for your reading and edification.
 
20 May 2006
  Was Jesus Married?
More Da Vinci Code Resources

Some months ago, before the current film was released, Pastor Snyder answered the question, Was Jesus Married? Since that time, other Lutheran resources have appeared. Among them, Pastor Chryst is keeping Da Vinci Code — Online Resources at Preachrblog, which includes several articles from The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. Several good items are linked from this Lutheran Church — Canada page. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod touches on an early Luther quote about Mary Magdalene lamenting Jesus' death and, in the article Martin Luther, covers several of the allegations made about the reformer, including the claim that Luther said Christ committed adultery with Mary.
 
19 May 2006
  Luther, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene
Contra Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, and Time Magazine

When shoddy scholarship intercepts a media frenzy, what else should we expect? A Time article quoted at DVC author Dan Brown's official site, says (without attestation), "Martin Luther believed that Jesus and Magdalene were married, as did Mormon patriarch Brigham Young." A review of the subsequent movie at Entertainment Weekly picked up on the same disinformation, saying, "Surely it can't be proved that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were ever intimate (though Martin Luther believed so)." I'll leave Brigham Young to the Mormons — his beliefs shifted like blowing sand and they're welcome to try figuring out what either Young thought or the current LDS believes about Jesus. [Addendum:Ask the Pastor now has a post on Mormon beliefs about Jesus being married.]

Now back to the comments about Luther. Are they baseless slander? Do they have a germ of truth behind them? Or did Martin Luther actually believe and say such things? Actually, these are not our only choices. I contend that Dan Brown, Time, Entertainment Weekly, et al. (and there are a lot of "al's" involved) misunderstood the Reformer and distorted his words. And as this commemorative post notes, Christendom may have been wrongly maligning Mary Magdalene for centuries before Dan Brown first concocted (or swiped from others) his idea for the novel. It appears from the following quote that Luther never questioned the extrabiblical tradition that Mary had been a prostitute prior to her conversion.

Jesus and Mary Magdalene Luther never said Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married. At first glance, his words sound even worse — he actually said of Jesus, "Again [he was an adulterer] with Magdalene." Sitting by themselves, these words might take the wind out of the sails of the staunchest Lutheran.

There is a bit more — Luther actually invoked several women: "Christ was an adulterer for the first time with the woman at the well, for it was said, 'Nobody knows what he's doing with her' [John 4:27]. Again [he was an adulterer] with Magdalene, and still again with the adulterous woman in John 8 [:2-11], whom he let off so easily. So the good Christ had to become an adulterer before he died."

It's too bad that John Schlaginhaufen didn't provide more context when he recorded this quote back in the spring of 1532. Even though he roomed in the Luther household and ate at the table, he didn't always explain what led the reformer make some of his comments. However, there are a few things that we can know from understanding all of Luther's theology and beliefs.

Luther firmly believed that Jesus was the only-begotten Son of God. While he certainly didn't consider sex, of itself, to be sinful, the notion of Jesus engaged in carnal relations outside of marriage — let alone with all the women just mentioned — would never have entered his mind. Indeed, Luther would never even entertain the idea that Jesus would have married the woman from Magdala or anyone else because he properly understood that Christ came to claim and cleanse the Church as His bride (see Ephesians 5:22-32 and Revelation 21).

So what in the world was he talking about at dinner that day in 1532? The Biblical context, Christian theology, and a knowledge of Luther's way of thinking lead us to one or two possible conclusions — and "stupid drunk" isn't one of them. One thing that's clear when we examine the passages and women of whom he spoke is that someone considered each to be a horrible sinner at some time in her life.

Therefore, Luther may have been examining Jesus from the perspective of His First Century witnesses, who were shocked that He ate and drank with "sinners" and that He'd sit and talk one-on-one and in public with a woman. With Luther's frequent invective against gossips, we can easily imagine him paralleling the suspicious minds and wagging tongues of Christ's time with those he knew in 16th Century Germany.

The other logical conclusion the total evidence allows is that Luther was speaking theologically. Talking with, granting forgiveness to, and allowing anointing by these women was emblematic of Jesus' entire earthly ministry. He was no passive bystander of the human condition, but He lived among us. While sinless, He took our sins upon Himself that He might fully forgive us. Paul summarized this work in 2 Corinthians 5:21, saying, "For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)"

Hanging cursed upon the tree because of our transgressions, Jesus, in the Father's righteous judgment, had become "adulterer" to save sexual sinners. Likewise, He was "murderer" to save the hateful, as well as "oath-breaker," "liar," "sorcerer," and every other type of wicked person, even though He never committed a single one of these sins.

By either of these interpretations — or a combination of both — we may easily allow that Luther connected Jesus and Mary Magdalene through the sin of adultery but not through the blessing of marriage.

Luther quote from Luther's Works, Volume 54: "Table Talk" (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Philadelphia: Fortress Press (© 1967).

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  Luther, Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, a Preface
A Brief Heads-Up for a Coming Post

It's nigh on to feeding time in the Aardvark burrow but I've just discovered CNN quoting the Da Vinci Code review from Entertainment Weekly and spreading the lie that Martin Luther believed that the Christ was "intimate" with Mary Magdalene (see the last paragraph of the linked review).

It appears that Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor already left a brief comment on the EW site. I shall endeavor a more complete response later this evening, here at the Alley.

NB: The response is complete.
 
  Nerd-Hosted Carnival Approaches

I forgot to make an earlier appeal for posts to the next Lutheran Carnival, which will be hosted by Sam of Nerd Heaven. Submissions are due in a few hours, so read what Sam says, check the guidelines, and round up a post or two to help out this first-time host.
 
  No Pat Answers, Please
Especially When Nobody Asked the Question

Pat RobertsonThe Grand Vark has a CD from the Midwestern suburban fathers garage band The Doo - Dads. In a train of convoluted logic, "evangelist" Pat Robertson's latest pronouncement on upcoming U.S. weather &mdash especially his disclaimer &mdash slowly dragged one of the songs on the Dads' CD into my mind.

You see, whenever one of Yahweh's real prophets cut loose with a prediction, you'd always get, "Thus says the Lord," or "declares the Lord," or some such guarantee. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Pat must worry about the warnings against falsely prophesying in His name, because he prefaced his proclamation by saying, "If I heard the Lord right."

"If?" Cannot the One who made the deaf to hear ensure that Pat got the message straight?

Peanut Butter"So," thought I, "what could have impeded the message?" As I considered this conundrum, I loaded the aforementioned Grand Vark into the family carriage and let him choose the tunes for our excursion.

"Play Number Six!" he exclaimed. As soon as the opening line began, I realized a possible source for all of Pat's troubles. Perhaps he's a messy eater and, like the narrator of the song, should be using the excuse, "I got Peanut Butter in My Ear! (M3U audio)"

In order that Pat hear more clearly, we now need to consider treatment and removal options. Some might prefer immersion in boiling water — which would certainly soften the goober goo and allow it to run out. Others may suggest ants (yum) being sent in to carry out the offending substance bit by bit.

Personally, I think that freezing it solid (which would, of course, include inserting the legume - hosting head in the deep freeze for several hours) is the way to start. Once solidified, a few hard whacks should shatter the peanut butter, allowing us to invert our favorite "holy" man and shake the fragments out.

How many whacks? While Lizzie Borden may have preferred forty to forty-one, my personal choice would be a nice, round 700 Clubbings.

Of course, I may be mistaken about all this. Countless other possible diagnoses and treatments are available online. Among them are those of Pastor Disaster, Scottius Maximus, and St. James the Hoosier.

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  Subtitled Da Vinci Code Trailer


 
18 May 2006
  Beef Veggies Locust  — It's What's for Dinner

Looking to do a little meal planning before that big Memorial Day cookout? Check out some of the dietary questions and answers at Ask the Pastor in his Food for Thought series. What is our daily bread? Can it include meat and vegetables? Or should we stick with locusts?

Does a spoonful of wild honey help the locusts go down?
 
  Mere C. S. Lewis

Thanks to Rick Ritchie at Daylight for passing along the news that the BBC is streaming a 14 minute clip of C. S. Lewis narrating what would become "Beyond Personality" in Mere Christianity.

Order the Book
Mere Christianity
Mere Christianity

 
  That's a Wrap

Thanks to Full Throttle & an Empty Gas Tank for passing this on. No extreme cussing is heard but be ready for some major bleeping.



 
  + Erik IX of Sweden +
18 May AD 1160

Stockholm Coat of ArmsErik Jedvardsson (Edward's Son) ruled much of Sweden from 1150 to 1160. He headed a Christian kingdom bordered by various pagan realms, all of which shared an ancient tradition of fighting with each other. During the middle of his reign, about 1155, he led a Swedish expedition into Finland, which was then loosely under Swedish rule. The objects were the consolidation of Swedish authority and the establishment of a protected Christian mission. This latter was headed by the English-born Henry of Uppsala, considered by many the founder of the Church in Finland.

Erik also gained renown for measures designed to to provide Sweden with fair laws and just courts, including steps designed to assist the poor and the infirm. One story of his death goes as follows: On 18 May 1160, the day after Ascension Day, while worshiping in an Uppsala church, word came that a pagan Danish army was approaching to kill him. He replied, "Let us at least finish the sacrifice. The rest of the feast I shall keep elsewhere." As he left the church, the pagans rushed upon him and killed him.

Other accounts claim that he was assassinated by Emund Ulvbane, who worked for the rival house of Sverker. Still another story says that the rival claimant Magnus Henriksson either caused or arranged Erik's death. The history of his recognition and official canonization is somewhat blurred. Regional fervor favored him but church politics seemingly denied him papal recognition. Indeed, Pope Alexander III, using the pretext that Erik was a boozer who died in a drunken brawl, censured his cult in 1172. Although no sources say anything officially, one must wonder if Swedish nationalism following this slight might have helped the Reformation later gain rapid inroads in Sweden.

Erik was honored both as an upholder of the Christian faith and as a national hero, the ancestor of a long line of Swedish kings. His bloodline also spread by marriage into the courts of Norway and Denmark. Within thirty years of his death, he was listed on the Swedish sanctorial calendar. He remains honored as the patron of the city of Stockholm and his likeness is on the city's coat of arms (above). He is also held as the principal patron of Sweden. His silver casket still sits in Uppsala's cathedral.

Collect
O God, who called Your servant Erik of Sweden to an earthly throne and allowed him to advance Your heavenly kingdom, giving him zeal for Your Church and love for Your people, mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of Your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
16 May 2006
  Which Nigerian Spammer Am I?

You are GODFREY UGO. You are the Chairman of the Contract Debt Investigation and Payment Commission for the government of Nigeria. You have $200 Million that you wish to give away 25%. Your business is 100% risk free.
Which Nigerian Spammer Are You?

After you take the quiz, you can also see all the possible responses.
 
15 May 2006
  Newbies
The Latest Changes to the Big Blogroll O' Vark

Four blogs join the existing list. St. Charles Place got an Aardie before he got on the blogroll. Die Heilige Kirche, a year old but one I just found, is the product of an obviously talented student. Hoping to encourage the singing of pure doctrine, Lutheran Hymn Revival keeps plugging away. The final entry I discovered at Scottius Maximus; this is only right, since Lutheran Lucy is Mrs. Maximus.

Meanwhile, following my arbitrary 3 months without posting or making excuses policy, I'm deleting Luther Kvetch. If they get regular posting going again, I'll be happy to re-add them. I was going to delete Writ in Water for the same reason, then she up and posted Compressed Thoughts on Charisms today. Such timing!

Remember that you can always write me to request a copy of the blogroll. And, of course, I invite those listed here to add the Alley (and any other blogs listing your site) to your own blog.
 
  Sorry, Mom
A Mother's Day Recap

Yesterday was Mother's Day here in the United States. From its origins in 19th Century feminism and pacifism, the second Sunday in May grew into a general celebration of motherhood — and a bonanza for greeting card companies, florists, and others looking to make a few bucks on others' holiday zeal (or guilt). I won't belabor any of these points, although if you and Mom are somehow estranged, you still have today to start getting in touch with her.

No, the "Mom" in the apologetic title is another mother — the Mother of all Believers. And every Monday is chock-full of kids who should be sorry about their neglect of her the day before. Yeah, that Mother ... Holy Mother Church, the Bride of Christ, the woman of Revelation 12 whose offspring are borne in her womb and birthed in her font.

Mother and ChildMom doesn't want the kids just to visit at Christmas and Easter. She'd like to have every one of us around all the time. All the good our Father brings home — reconciliation, protection, guidance, and direction — she's ready to share with the family. She sets the table with the wonderful meal provided by her Firstborn Son and invites the rest of us to eat and drink. She misses the kids when they're too busy with other stuff to even drop by for a couple hours each week.

Like any good parent, Mother wants us to grow up. Unlike most parents, she doesn't want us to move out. Instead, she wants us to bring up our own families within the family the she's been raising with our Father. Another mouth to feed? No problem! Huge loads of soiled linens? Bring 'em on! Like Father, like Mother: She insists you behave yourself, yet she's always ready to forgive you when you don't.

So, how are you and Mom getting along? Even if it's been a while, she's always glad to see you. Just don't try to fool yourself into thinking that as long as you and Father are on good terms, you can forget about her. You see, they go together. Disrespect and neglect of Mother is disrespect and neglect of Father.

Our Mother's place is our Father's house, and He warns us not to be "neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some" but rather to cherish and seek out every opportunity to join the rest of the family in encouraging "one another to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24-25)" Unlike our American secular holiday, the Lord's Day comes around every week and each new Lord's Day also brings a fresh Mother's Day. With it comes a fresh opportunity to join with our Mother — and all our brothers and sisters — to celebrate our family, to have our dirty clothes replaced with the clean robes of righteousness, to have our spiritual hunger nourished and our need for communion and community met.

One last thing to consider — I remember asking my dad, "If you get Father's Day and Mom gets Mother's Day, why isn't there a Kids' Day?" Echoing who knows how many parents before him, Dad said, "Every day is Kids' Day." For the Christian, this is especially true. Every day we live in God's grace is a blessed day for us. And the days are extra special when we spend them with our Heavenly Father, our Holy Mother, and all the rest of the family.

So next Mother's Day — next Sunday — don't forget Mother. You don't have to bring a gift, just bring yourself. Come back home and rediscover how much she and Father love you.

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13 May 2006
  Another Cup of Life

Christians know and rejoice in the "cup of life" that is ours in the Lord's Supper. Like the elders on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:11), God invites us to eat and drink in His presence — and live to tell the story. This cup of blessing is an earthly foretaste of eternal life.

While we live in these self-centered, health-centered times of earthly worry, you'll not go long without someone telling you what you need to eat and drink in order to extend and enhance your mortal days. People also are not shy about telling you what's bad for you, warning about countless foods and beverages that will land you in an early grave.

Bach Coffee CupSome months ago, I posted Bach Was Right ... Again! There, to the accompaniment of the Kaffe Kantate, I disclosed a study extolling the benefits of drinking coffee.

Now David Yow is Enabling the Habit — sharing yet another item about the good things coming from coffee drinking. As well as citing a recent scientific survey, the article also notes a Scottish survey finding "that coffee drinking was associated with a reduction in deaths from all causes."

Of course, too much of anything can have harmful effects, but if your nerves aren't jangled or your stomach tied in knots, it's nice to read the closing words of the article from Britain's Telegraph: "Dr Sarah Jarvis, a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: 'This is a message about moderation. Too much exercise, too much coffee or too much alcohol are bad. In moderation they are beneficial.'"

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11 May 2006
  Saints Cyril and Methodius
826-869 (Cyril) — c. 815-885 (Methodius)

Methodius and CyrilSaint Cyril and Saint Methodius were missionaries to the Slavs. The brothers Cyril and Methodius came from a Greek family in Thessalonica. The younger brother took the name "Cyril" when he became a monk in 868. After ordination, Cyril became librarian at the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople.

In 862, Emperor Michael III and the Patriarch Photius sent the brothers as to what is now the Czech republic, where they taught in the native Slavic tongue. While the fact of their sending may have included the emperor's political designs, the brothers seem to have focused only upon the spiritual aspect of their task.

Cyril is said to have invented the alphabet today know today as "Cyrillic," which provided a written language for the liturgy and Scriptures for the Slavic peoples. Slavic alphabets include characters from Greek with extra symbols devised for sounds not expressed in Greek.

Their use of the vernacular established an important principle for evangelical missions. People could be taught directly without needing to first instruct them in the language of the Bible before teaching them what it said about their salvation.

Collect
Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people, overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Note: Cyril is traditionally celebrated in many places on 14 February, his date of death, and Methodius is often combined with him. I'm following the lectionary from the new Lutheran Service Book, which moved the brothers' commemoration to 11 May, evidently because so much of the Western Church associates 14 February with Saint Valentine.
 
09 May 2006
  New TTLB Display

Users and viewers of the Ecosystem from The Truth Laid Bear should enjoy the new graphical display. For example, check out Aardvark Alley's statistics.

Nicely done, NZ Bear.

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  Job, Patriarch
9 May, Old Testament

My Redeemer LivesJob was a blameless and upright man who came from Uz (Job 1:1), a land northeast of Canaan. The Book of Job examines the depths of his faith, which was severely tested through the sufferings God permitted.

Despite the sudden death of his ten children and the loss of all his wealth and his health, Job refused to curse God: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (1:21)"

In the midst of his tribulations, Job questioned the meaning and purpose of suffering to the point of asserting his own righteousness (34:5-6). Finally, the Lord revealed that a man cannot know the mysteries of God (chapters 38-41). Still, Job's faith in his Redeemer and the resurrection prevailed even in the midst of horrible testing and he made a beautiful confession of faith (19:25-27). In the end, the Lord restored his wealth and blessed him with another seven sons and three daughters.

Lection
Psalm 18:1-6
Job 19:23-27
2 Corinthians 11:16-33
Matthew 27:33-50

Collect
O Lord, our Rock and our Salvation, the rejected Stone who became Cornerstone, as the hope of seeing Your Day sustained Job in his trials and gave voice to his confession, we pray that You would engrave Yourself in our hearts and minds and sustain all who trust in You. Let not our troubles in this life cast us down from our secure position in You but keep us steadfast in faith unto life everlasting; for You live and reign with Your Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Notes on the Art
The Meditation on the Passion, c. 1510, by Vittore Carpaccio, depicts Job (right) and Saint Jerome meditating upon the body of the dead Christ. The marble block upon which Job sits bears the inscription, "I know that my Redeemer lives" and the chair holding the Savior's body includes other Old Testament references to Him. Many details underscore the themes of death and resurrection. Note how the bones next to Job, the crown of thorns propped up against Christ's broken throne, the desolate scenery and wild animals on the left all show death and decay. Meanwhile, the small bird flying upward from Jesus, the engraved words, and the lush landscape to the right give witness to the resurrection and new life in Christ. Painting digtized by the Web Gallery of Art.
 
08 May 2006
  Luther and Flight 93

If I believed in spiritism, ghosts, or channeling the dead, I'd think that Brother Martin might actually still be alive. Luther at the Movies, already an Aardvark favorite, should convince you through Courage vs. Crusades to surf to your local cinema's online ordering page and get tickets immediately for United 93.
 
  A New Month of Aardies

Small Golden Aardvark AawardWelcome to the "winners" of the AARDIE (Aardvark Aaward for Raillery, Doctrine, or Intellect in Exposition) — a personal response to the glut of "honors" bestowed by the rest of the world and the dearth of similar commendations with which I agree.

Most come from within the confessional Lutheran blogosphere, other winners are elsewhere in my blogroll, links I followed, or just fortunate finds. While others make an occasional suggestion concerning the inclusion of meritorious posts, the final decision (and blame) rests upon yours truly.

Aardie: The Golden Aardvark AawardAs noted in the inaugural post, honorees "are invited to display the coveted (but not in a 10th Commandment manner, please) Golden Aardvark on their own blogs.... [T]wo sizes are available, discreet (above) and "loud and proud" (right)." I leave it to you to decide whether and which to use and whether to place it in the body of the honored post, in a separate post, or in your blog's sidebar. If you do mention receipt of the Aardie, you may certainly link back to this post or to the Alley.

But enough of me, let's get on to you — you the honored blogger and you the welcome reader as we meet a dozen bloggers who've made my day sometime during the past month:

‡ Pastor Joe Fremer, the Grateful Christian, visits one of literature's most misunderstood works in Frankenstein: Preliminaries. Whether or not you've read the book before, even if you're a bit of an "expert" on it, his interpretation of the work as a "charge against God" bears serious consideration.

‡ Some people put their theology on bumper stickers. Father Hollywood uses his theological acumen to examine what's really being said. Straight talk, solid theology, and skewed sense of humor — Father Larry's a triple threat, but he only gets one Aardie for these three posts: Real Men Love Jesus and Other Balderdash, Speaking of Bumper Stickers, and More-on Bumper Stickers (pun intentional, I believe).

‡ In Sacramentally Backwards, Ryan Schroeder of WDJD takes much of modern Evangelical Christianity to task for setting limits on who may be baptized while opening up communion to almost anyone.

‡ Bad taste or bad theology? Why not have both! I happened upon Clash of the Skin-Tite Gospels at Phreaky Phriday and figured that the clothing catalogued here was perfect fodder for the Aardies. Come for the pix, stay for the comments.

Die Schreiben von Schreiber includes Scott's Ablaze Comments. In it, he studies and debunks material from the LCMS's most recent evangelism program disguised as a movement.

‡ So I'm a little slow ... St. Charles Place will be added to the Big Blogroll o'Vark the next time I do an update. In the meantime, you can read My Jesus, I Bought Thee to see why I'm high on this wannabe pastor from Macon, Georgia.

‡ One reason I like The Burr in the Burgh so much is that Scott and I often independently form the same thoughts and come to the same conclusions. What he says about Liberal Conservatives in the Lutheran Church is what I've been saying for years. Then, in God Does, in Fact, Reject People, he takes those horrible UCC ejector seat commercials to task.

‡ David Bowie and the LCMS, together at last! Well, sort of. Living Like a Lutheran rips into the shrubberies of a "Lutheran" labyrinth in Walkersville, Maryland. Wasting Your Witness then goes cross-country to prune back similar goofiness in San Francisco.

Wait ... odd advice from What You Do, Do Quickly, eh? Brickle muses upon the mortality of the liberal wing of the LCMS. Festina lente, Brickle.

I Took the Job, says Dr. Gene Edward Veith of Cranach. What job? Read the post, find out, and extend the good doctor your congratulations.

‡ Pastors, teachers, and congregations of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod pledge to renounce unionism and syncretism of all types. Paul McCain of Cyberbrethren does just that with Somebody Forgot to Invite Jesus to the National Day of Prayer.

How Cool Is THIS?! Pretty cool, thinks the Aardvark with the Arts degree. Check out for yourself this nifty interactive literary map that the Tarheel Lutheran found.

See you on the flip side.
 
07 May 2006
  New Lutheran Carnival

Lutheran Carnival XXIII is hot off the presses and ready for your enjoyment and edification.

Thanks for hosting, Dan.
 
  + C. F. W. Walther, Doctor and Confessor +
7 May AD 1887

CFW WaltherCarl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther was a founding father of The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. He served as its first president from 1847 to 1850 and again from 1864 to 1878. Others who worked with him in the Synod's early days included Friedrich Wyneken and Wilhelm Sihler.

The son of a pastor, he was born in Langenchursdorf, Saxony on 25 October 1811. Walther's studies at the University of Leipzig and the influences of older Lutherans helped convince him that Lutheran teachings were correct expositions of Holy Scripture. However, some of his mentors were staunch Pietists, relying heavily on experience and emotion as part of conversion and sanctification. Walther rejected Pietism but seemed to always struggle against its encroachment in his theology.

Fearing a "union church" with the Reformed — as had been happening in Prussia — Walther joined with several other younger pastors under the leadership of Martin Stephan, who encouraged emigration to the United States in order to maintain confessional purity by avoiding imposed unionism. In 1839 he left Germany with other Lutherans. After a series of trials, the party settled along the Mississippi River south of Saint Louis, Missouri. Circumstances still clouded in a certain degree of ambiguity led the Saxons to depose Stephan as their leader and they finally settled upon Walther as his replacement.

Old CFW WaltherHe served as pastor of several congregations in St. Louis, founded Concordia Seminary, and in 1847 was instrumental in the formation of the LCMS (then called the Deutsche Evangelisch-Lutherische Synode von Missouri, Ohio und anderen Staaten — the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States). Walther worked tirelessly to promote confessional Lutheran teaching and doctrinal agreement among all Lutherans in the United States.

Walther was a prolific writer and speaker. Among his most influential works are Church and Office (aka Church and Ministry) and The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel. He also published Der Lutheraner, the LCMS's official news magazine for most of the time the Synod spoke and understood German.

Walther was one of many who stood steadfast in confession of the Evangelical, Orthodox, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. For a sampling of some of the others in Lutheranism, please see The Meanies of Grace.

Lection
Psalm 46
Isaiah 55:6-11
Romans 10:5-17
John 15:1-11

Collect
O Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that, as You raised up C. F. W. Walther to lead the Lutherans in American into a renewed appreciation of their confessional heritage and trust in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, so You would continue to provide them with faithful pastors and leaders, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, defend them against all enemies of Your Word, and bestow on Christ's Church Militant Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Order Law and Gospel from Barnes & Noble.com.

 
05 May 2006
  + Frederick III, Elector of Saxony +
5 May AD 1525

Frederick the WiseFrederick the Wise, elector of Saxony from 1486 to 1525, was Martin Luther's sovereign in the early years of the Reformation. Indeed, were it not for Frederick, there might not have been a Lutheran Reformation. Born in Torgau in 1463, he became so well known for his skill in political diplomacy and his sense of justice and fairness that he was called "the Wise" by his subjects.

Though he probably never met Luther face-to-face, Frederick repeatedly protected and provided for him. In all likelihood he saved the reformer from a martyr's fate. Even in earlier days, Frederick unknowingly contributed to the Reformation, for in 1512, Vicar-General Johann von Staupitz of the Augustinian Order came to the Elector, asking him to subsidize the expenses of the promising but poor scholar-monk as a means of strengthening Frederick's prized university in Wittenberg.

While he never made public renunciation of Roman Catholicism, Frederick refused the pope's demand to extradite Luther to Rome for a heresy trial in 1518. When Emperor Charles V declared Luther an outlaw in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Frederick provided sanctuary for Luther at the Wartburg castle.

John the SteadfastFinally, at the end of his life, the elector gave the clearest indication of his beliefs and sympathies. On his deathbed, Frederick received the Lord's Supper in both kinds — a clear confession of the Evangelical faith.

Frederick received great encouragement in his support of Luther and the Evangelical Reformation from his brother John, who wholeheartedly embraced the Reformation in its early years. Upon Frederick's death, Duke John became Elector of Saxony. John's nickname was "the Steadfast" — indicating how he continued his brother's protection and encouragement of the Reformation.

Frederick's life illustrates many of the rapid changes sweeping across Europe during the Renaissance and Reformation. He went from being a collector and venerator of relics — and a believer in meritorious human works — to one who trusted in God's salvation given by grace through faith in Christ.
 
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