Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education,
and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer
25 April 2007
+ Saint Mark, Evangelist +25 April, New Testament
The book of Acts mentions a Mark, or John Mark, later called a kinsman of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). The house of his mother Mary was a meeting place for Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). When Paul and Barnabas, who had been in Antioch, came to Jerusalem, they brought Mark back to Antioch with them (12:25), and he accompanied them on their first missionary journey (13:5), but left them prematurely and returned to Jerusalem (13:13).
When Paul and Barnabas were about to set out on a second missionary journey, Barnabas proposed to take Mark, but Paul thought him unreliable, so that eventually Barnabas made one journey taking Mark, and Paul another journey taking Silas (15:36-40). Mark is not mentioned again in Acts. However, it appears that he became more reliable, for Paul mentions him as a trusted assistant in Colossians 4:10 and again in 2 Timothy 4:11.
The Apostle Peter had a co-worker whom he refers to as "my son Mark" (1 Peter 5:13). Papias, an early second century writer, in describing the origins of the Gospels, tells us that Mark was the "interpreter" of Peter, and that he wrote down ("but not in order") the stories that he had heard Peter tell in his preaching about the life and teachings of Jesus. Debate continues as to the veracity of some of Papias' records, but this one is considered genuine by many scholars.
The Gospel According to Saint Mark, in describing the arrest of Jesus (14:43-52), speaks of a young man who followed the arresting party, wearing only a linen cloth wrapped around his body, whom the arresting party tried to seize, but who left the cloth in their hands and fled naked. Many think that this young man was the writer himself, since the detail is hardly worth mentioning if he were not.
Tradition holds that after Peter's death, Mark left Rome and went to preach in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was eventually martyred.
It is natural to identify the John Mark of Acts with the Gospel-writer and interpreter of Peter, and this identification is standard in liturgical references to Mark. However, "Mark" is the commonest of Latin first names, and they may well have been separate people.
Mark's symbol in Christian art is a often a lion, usually winged. In Revelation 4 and throughout much of his vision, John sees about the throne of God four winged creatures — a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. (Compare with the beings in Ezekiel 1 and 10.) Custom supposes that these represent the four Gospels or the four Evangelists (Gospel-writers).
One way to match the creatures with the Evangelists is to say that the man stands for Matthew, whose narrative begins with the human genealogy of Jesus and who often quotes Christ speaking of Himself as "the Son of Man"; the lion stands for Mark, whose narrative begins with John the Baptist crying out in the desert (a lion roars in the desert); the ox, a sacrificial animal, stands for Luke, whose narrative begins in the Temple; the eagle, then, stands for John, whose narrative begins in Heaven with the eternal Word and who writes in a lofty style.
O almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Johann Walter (also Johannes Walther) was born in 1496 and began serving at the age of 21 as a composer and bass singer in the court chapel of Frederick the Wise. In 1524, he published a collection of hymns arranged according to the church year. It was well received and served as the model for numerous subsequent hymnals.
In addition to serving for 30 years as kantor (church musician and choir director) in the cities of Torgau and Dresden, he also assisted Martin Luther in the preparation of the Deutsche Messe of 1526, a setting of the Liturgy to hymns in the German language.
NB: Do not confuse this Johann Walter, whose output was largely hymns and other church music with the later Johann Jakob Walther (1650 - 1717), a Baroque composer best known for his violin works, or with Johann Gottfried Walther (1684 - 1748), also from the Baroque Period, who was a church organist and composer.
A brilliant scholar and writer who loved the works and followed in the way of Augustine, Anselm used his political skills with the British kings on behalf of the established Christian Church, affirming that it is the leadership of the Church and not the state which has the responsibility of establishing structure and maintaining order among the clergy.
Anselm's book Cur Deus homo (Why God Became Man) expresses his thoughts on Christ's atonement and taught that the reason for the incarnation was that Jesus, the Son of God, would suffer and die in place of sinners. His Monologium shows the beginnings of his ontological argument for the existence of God. He further developed this philosophical argument in the Proslogion (also spelled Proslogium).
Almighty God, who raised up Your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in Your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy, provide Your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Angels on the HeadboardComing Soon in a Bedroom Near You?
Planned Parenthood Golden Gate released a press release accompanying its newest television commercial (see below). The group's chaplain admits that PP chose to use strong Christian symbolism in order to appeal to young people whose values may be influenced by religion.
Probably none of us is surprised at a media campaign that portrays angels completely differently than does Holy Scripture. It's a Wonderful Life ... Highway to Heaven ... Touched by an Angel ... Constantine ... each of these and many other productions feature angels as wax noses twisted into bizarre, unbiblical shapes by human "artists." If our Creator isn't off limits to video blasphemy (Oh, God, Bruce Almighty, et al. ad nauseum), should we expect better treatment for any of His creatures?
Committed, Biblically aware Christians know full well that "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)" However, as profaning instances pile one upon another, our senses dull and our reactions diminish. Are there any teachable moments that parents might find with their teens who happen across this commercial? (Although, since it's only scheduled to run on MTV, VH1 and FX, I could think of one sure-fire way to limit exposure.)
There are times during motion pictures, TV shows, or commercials that I'm watching with Little Aard when I'll turn to her and ask, "Which of the Commandments does this invite or encourage you to break?" If we're at home and not worried about disturbing folks seated around us, I also may ask her, "Can you recast what you've witnessed in a positive, Christian light?" If we view this commercial together, I wonder if the second question won't render her speechless.
Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558), from Pomerania in northern Germany. Because of his ancestral region, he took the Latin name Pomeranus and Martin Luther often called him "Doctor Pommer."
He was appointed pastor of Wittenberg in 1523 through the efforts of Luther and thus served as the reformer's pastor and confessor. One of the greatest scholars of the Reformation era, he helped translate the New Testament into Low German and wrote a commentary on the Psalms. He also worked to organize the Lutheran Church in northern Germany and Denmark, journeying to Copenhagen where he crowned both King and Queen and consecrated seven men to the offices of superintendent and bishop.
For those who think that their pastors preach too long, you share that complaint with Luther, who described Pomeranus' preaching as "whatever comes to mind," much like a maidservant chatting with another at the market. One story says that Luther recommended Bugenhagen cut his sermons in half and preach no more than an hour, lest all minds wander.
O Lord God, heavenly Father, who called Johannes Bugenhagen as pastor and confessor of the Faith, grant us faithful pastors in our time; pour our Your Holy Spirit on Your faithful people, keep them steadfast in Your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, 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.
And They Call Me Crazy!A "Pro-Choice" Response to the VT Shootings
I was thinking about writing a brief comment concerning the killings at Virginia Tech, something along the lines of a recommendation that Americans be better trained in firearms safety and handling (i.e., real "gun control") and then allowed to carry weapons on their persons in nearly all places. After all, many of the places where armed criminal actions take place are currently off-limits to law-abiding gun carriers (e.g., schools and banks).
However, I got sidetracked when a link at Pro-Life Blogs led me from My Choice, His Life to a place called abortionclinicdays, wherein a self-proclaimed "abortion provider" quoted a rambling and senseless diatribe pinning a large amount of blame for current American violence upon "the anti abortion movement."
If this misguided killer of unborn babies truly wants to know how to stop the killings, perhaps s/he should examine all the blood upon the hands of American abortionists and then stare into the mirror and ask the person in the glass if maybe, just maybe the callousness of abortion rights people such as him/her hasn't desensitized the public against other hateful acts of violence beyond the slaughter of the unborn.
NB: I normally hate to link to places I find so reprehensible but thought that in this case, readers needed to view the entire text for themselves.
Supremes Singing on the Babies' SideHigh Court Upholds "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban
After Nebraska's ban was overturned by the Supreme Court, the U. S. Congress passed a 2003 law prohibiting this procedure. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of the nation's ban on so-called "partial birth" abortions. The court published its opinion, written by Justice Kennedy (joined by Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito), with a separate concurring opinion by Justice Thomas (joined by Justice Scalia) and a dissent by Justice Ginsberg (joined by Justices Souter, Stevens, and Breyer).
Opponents (and supporters — should any ever read this blog) of abortion would do well to read not only the majority opinion but also Thomas's brief but wider ranging concurrence and Ginsberg's lengthy diatribe against the rule of the court's majority.
Each of these buttons measures 80x15 pixels. Should you choose to use one, please link back to either the main Aardvark Alley URL or else to the post What Is the BBOV.
Finally, if you own or know of a Lutheran blog demonstrating a quia confessional subscription and would like me to consider it for inclusion, please leave a comment. And again, for more information about why this stuff benefits confessional Lutheran blogging, morality, and other worthwhile endeavors, please check out the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar.
First, Do No Harm The following essay is reprinted by permission from CAT 41 News.
"I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous."
So reads the ancient oath of Hippocrates, perhaps an enfleshment of what he advocated in his Epidemics, (Bk. I, Sect. XI): "As to diseases, make a habit of two things — to help, or at least to do no harm." To this end, all were made to "swear by Apollo the physician and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses" to "keep this Oath and this stipulation."
One must wonder, "Why?" Why would such an oath be necessary when, surely, such is but common sense? Perhaps because, while it was more than two millennia later before Lord Acton would utter his famous dictum in a letter to Bishop Creighton, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," Hippocrates already understood this truth and sought to legislate against it among those who would hold such power over the human body as those would be trained in the art and science of medicine.
Luther writes in the Large Catechism that all must feel temptation, "although not all in the same manner, but some in a greater degree and more severely than others; as, the young suffer especially from the flesh, afterwards, they that attain to middle life and old age, from the world, but others who are occupied with spiritual matters, that is, strong Christians, from the devil." From this we see that those who are concerned with the health of the soul may well be more tempted — as they are more able — to do the greatest of harm by following things that 'seem right' to them without giving them (and their source) due consideration.
It is for this reason that we advocate a very reasoned approach be taken by all convention delegates ... that no issue be allowed to be a 'slam dunk', but all things be looked at thoroughly. It is unfortunate that the LCMS has remained with the antiquated system of circuit representation for its conventions (a system that was adopted because the synod grew too large to fit all the delegates into a church; with the use of convention centers, the LCMS could easily go back to the better representation of one pastor and one layman for each parish), and it is even more unfortunate that there are many things to be considered at the convention that aren't even released to the delegates until two months before the convention — and then, in a phonebook-sized volume. Slow and steady is the tone that such a convention must take, if it wishes to be faithful to God's Word and God's people.
Those who have succumbed to the demonic temptation of which Luther warns will call such a considerate process of dealing with resolutions "stalling," no doubt, or "obstructionism." When one considers the rapid decline of the LCMS in both membership and funding since the beginning of the Kieschnick presidency — a decline that is tied directly to the lack of fidelity to Holy Scripture seen in the Kieschnick administration and its approval of everything from gerrymandering to syncretism to continued violations of Romans 10 and Article XIV of the Augsburg Confession and the continued state of denial regarding that unfaithful Communion practices of an amazing number of LCMS pastors and parishes — shouldn't a faithful delegate's first obligation be to keep harm from being done by the rushing through of new error-ridden resolutions?
Since the Kieschnick administration has refused to "abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous," it is the duty of the delegates to 'put on the brakes' and enforce such abstinence for them. "The Synod" is not whatever the synodical president, the district presidents, and whomever else 'out there' or in St. Louis wants; it is the congregations and their pastors walking the same path together, the path of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions (not the demonic and worldly path of least resistance).
By naming a few of my favorites, the RPW took away a tiny bit of the turmoil I feel in paring down a rather long "short list" to a mere five blogs. There are several fine candidates just on the BBOV, as well as many others I read at least occasionally. I hope that as this meme spreads, others of these will get their just desserts. Now here are my five nominations, in no particular order:
1. watersblogged! Bob Waters writes one of the first blogs I started reading regularly. Bright, well-read, and outspoken, I imagine there are very few topics about which Bob is uninformed.
2. Horn+Swoggled Music may be the food of love, but humor often rivals it as a tool for apologetics and polemics. David Brazeal's keen wit dissects many an offbeat religious story or trend, pushing ill-formed theology to its (il-) logical end.
3. Get Religion This collaborative effort manages to examine most of the breadth of American religious reporting by the mainstream media while still keeping its focus as watchdog and advocate for accurate portrayals of people and events in various religious vocations and organizations.
5. Cranach Gene Edward Veith is one of the smartest people I know. He's so smart that he knows how to keep the rest of us from feeling dumb while educating us on any number of topics, especially vocation, religion, and associated societal issues.
After earlier English efforts stalled, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi slipped out of Washington to negotiate with members of a radical extremist Lutheran faction. This group was holding sailors from the destroyer HMS Chamberlain hostage.
While news releases vary as to the legitimacy of the seizure, we know with a high degree of certitude that the sailors and marines had been facing a barbaric conditions during their imprisonment. Video previously released by the captors showed the plucky troops being forced to play pinball and consume pickled eggs and cold Pabst Blue Ribbon.
The report from Iowahawk includes a complete account of the hostage release. It also follows up on post-release British policy changes, pointing out how England will integrate a Midwest Studies module into its national multicultural education program.
Dan @ Necessary Roughness broke an internal tie by suggesting that I feature "unknown" Lutheran Rosa Young. She's one of a couple people I'd been wavering among and Dan was so kind as to include an excerpt from Wallace Schulz that I reproduce here in lieu of doing any more original research with a brain still reeling from Holy Week and Paschal preparations and preaching.
What our LCMS so desperately needs at the moment, both pastors and people, is a decisive dose of humility as shown by the pioneer black woman, Rosa Young. A century ago, in Alabama, Rosa Young sought help from a variety of church and secular groups to establish schools. After being repeatedly turned down, Rosa finally wrote to Booker T. Washington. Washington told Rosa to contact the Lutherans. She wrote to the LCMS mission board. They in turn sent a pastor who instructed Rosa Young in the historic, Bible-based, Christ-centered Lutheran faith.
Thereafter follows the most incredible story ever told in domestic LCMS missions. Rosa's story can be found, in her own words, in the 200-page paperback, Light in the Dark Belt, published first in 1930 and reprinted by CPH in 1950. God led Rosa Young to follow Jesus' Great Commission command to teach, and she built school after school. Through this first step via education, God used Rosa to establish church after church, all across Alabama, and even into other areas of the South. Her work was very, very hard, much harder than mission work is today. In addition to the physical hardships, she was bitterly opposed by other denominational leaders. She was always out of money. Yet, she soldiered on.
The devil might tempt us to believe that Rosa Young had greater and easier opportunity than we do today. This is not the case. Since historic LCMS's middle name is "education," anyone aware of the current desire many U.S. parents—black, white, Asian, and Hispanic—have for good schools knows our church's great potential. We don't have to look for a new missiology. Like Poe's purloined letter, it sits under our nose! Our history reveals effective missiology! We in the LCMS have a long tradition of responding to Jesus' words to go and "teach" as a way of reaching people with His Gospel.
And now, let us proceed with Lutheran Carnival XLVII. This edition's posts are divided into two categories. The first pertains to Lenten, Holy Week, or Easter related blogging, the second incorporates everything else.
Dan takes note of the hymn Lamb of God Pure and Holy, as found in the Lutheran Service Book's Good Friday Chief Service. He compares the text to the TLH version and suggests it over "Were You There" for a Good Friday hymn.
I tried to do my part during the busy days of Holy Week. I didn't write something for each day but did do a bit on Palm Sunday and then meditated on Holy Saturday with God Rested.
Ranging from pre-Lenten flesh-fests to the Feast of the Lamb at Easter, Pastor Snyder produced a number of posts on feasting, fasting, and practicing the Faith from Ash Wednesday through the Resurrection of Our Lord. We'll note Shrove Tuesday and Jesus' Death for inclusion here but encourage you to read the entire series of articles posted this Holy Week at Ask the Pastor.
Besides her seasonal thoughts, Weekend Fisher contributes another piece. Marius Victorinus and the Teachings of James introduces someone who was a respected figure in the early church who openly suggested that James' teachings on works might be heretical.
Deus Absconditus in Employment has Dan @ Necessary Roughness refuting Chuck Colson's argument that layoffs are non-Christian. He goes on to suggest that employment fluctuations can be the hidden God at work. He also discusses this proposition: Violence Exacerbated by "God Said So." Here, he takes to task a University of Michigan psychology study trying to prove Christians are more violent than non-Christians.
Ritewinger, the Canadian owner of TheoCon, casts a jaundiced eye on Internet Rhetoric, decrying the degeneration of dialogue into religious flame wars when posters and commenters pile on the pejorative buzzwords.
What do you do when your imaginary flight is pretend delayed for 4 hours? If you're the chaplain at Living Sermons, you seize the opportunity to discuss the practical application of Prayer Cards in ministry. In a much more lighthearted vein, he plugs the Lutheran Devotional Corner, discusses Flash video for sermons, and then introduces us to Mr. Soapy commercials.
How well Motivational Speaker Craig Harper sums up modern Excess: "When will we realise that we don't need 1,200 TV channels ... perhaps 600 is enough."
We're not sure of the confession to which she belongs, but Weekend Fisher suggested and I concurred that Melinda's musings from Intellectuelle belong in the carnival. A Practical Guide to Prayer emphasizes Martin Luther's message to Peter the Barber on A Simple Way to Pray.
Some time ago, I took it upon myself to start regular commemorations of noted believers here at the Alley, paying special attention to the sanctorial calendar of the LCMS. Occasionally I step outside the boundaries of this rather exclusive list but never have I ranged farther than in my special April 1st pseudohagiography of Saint Fere Verus.
Ask the Pastor's only recent post not involving Holy Week concerns a basic question on Bible interpretation and exegetical theology. See how he responds to the query Old Testament: Mythical or Literal?
At Balaam's Ass, Timotheos discusses The Issue, Part II, an essay on the Law-Gospel polarity and the degraded and devalued use of the Law in current theological discussions.
God Rested "On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. (Genesis 2:2 ESV)"
Ask the Pastor posted last year on Christ's Sabbath in the tomb as He moved from His state of humiliation into His eternal exaltation at the right hand of the Father. We anticipate with quiet joy the first celebration of His resurrection during tonight's Vigil and, should God allow us the morrow, the fullness of the Feast of the Resurrection in Scripture, sermon, psalms, prayers, and hymns of gladness.
The Holy Gospel
"When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
"Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, 'Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, "After three days I will rise." Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, "He has risen from the dead," and the last fraud will be worse than the first.' Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.' So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard. (Matthew 27:57-66 ESV)"
Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.