Sunday, January 30, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties, continued

To Servants, Hired Men, and Employees

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh,
with fear and trembling,
in singleness of your heart,
as unto Christ;
not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers,
but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men;
knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord,
whether he be bond or free.
(Ephesians 6)

Servis, Ancillis, Mercenariis et Ceteris ad Laborem Conductis

Servi, obedite iis, qui domini sunt secundum carnem,
cum timore ac tremore,
cum simplicitate cordis vestri,
tamquam Christo,
non ad oculum servientes, veluti hominibus placere studentes,
sed tamquam servi Christi, facientes, quae vult Deus,
ex animo cum benevolentia, servientes Domino et non hominibus,
illud scientes, quod unusquisque, quod fecerit bonum, hoc reportaturus sit a Deo,
sive servus fuerit sive liber.
(De Epistola ad Ephesios, et ad Colossenses)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties, continued

To Children

Children, obey your parents in the Lord;
for this is right.
Honor thy father and mother;
which is the first commandment with promise:
that it may be well with thee,
and thou mayest live long on the earth.
(Ephesians 6)


Filii, obedite parenibus vestris in Domino,
nam id est iustum.
Honora patrem tuum et matrem tuam,
quod est praeceptum primum in promissione,
ut bene tibi sit,
et sis longaevus in terra.
(De Epistola ad Ephesios)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Arrogance of the Stephan-Haters

Lutheran minister-turned-bureaucrat Paul McCain takes offense at Concordia Theological Seminary's decision to invite a descendant of Bishop Martin Stephan, Dr. Philip G. Stephan, to speak at its annual symposia series.  You can see his nonsensical rant at this link.  His reaction is only natural. After all, there are whole generations of LC-MS men who have been taught to buy into the official history of Stephan.  One simply isn't a good Lutheran, according to a certain logic, if one does not join in utterly trashing the leader of the Saxon emigration which paved the way for what we today call the Missouri Synod.  Philip Stephan's appearance at Ft. Wayne, and the publication of his book, are not what is making the Stephan issue relevant.  It has been a relevant issue for a long time, as court historians have been perpetuating the synod position on Stephan in the seminary classroom, in print, and even on the speaker circuit, where laymen are influenced by trusted Confessional Lutheran scholars.  A fresh voice on this history is exactly what is needed, assuming that it is a real conversation that is desired, and not merely a position paper by our gracious synodical "servant-leaders."  This is not to say that I would endorse everything that Stephan has to say in his book, or in his paper, neither of which I have yet read.

Whatever real objective history might reveal about Martin Stephan's imperfections, bad decisions, and abuses of power, has its validity.  I do not claim to know empirically that Stephan was always above reproach.  What is most relevant, however, is that he was clearly mistreated, denied due process, vilified, and was the victim (and still is the victim) of vicious violations of the Eighth Commandment, all of which was unleashed, by the way, by a blatant violation of the seal of Confession.  Breaking the seal of Confession should have two results: 1. the priest gets defrocked, and 2. anyone who hears what came out of that confession should refuse to entertain it or give any credence to it.  It is in the realm of the rumor, which Luther discusses in the Large Catechism under the Eighth Commandment.  But apparently the Missouri Synod knows better.  Among us, pastors who break the seal of confession (and it does happen) need never fear any punishment, and the rumors become official history, and the case against those who have fallen out of favor in kangaroo trials. 

As I say, I am not uninterested in real, objective evidence from history.  Ernst Keyl's "Confession" hardly qualifies.  First, it is a remarkable example of a confession which keeps hinting at the sins of the one confessing the confession, but ends up spending more energy confessing the wrongs of someone else.  That calls into question the very purpose of his own "confession."  And speaking of hinting, again we have more hinting of Stephan's improprieties than real evidence of them.  Also, not unimportant is that Keyl's leanings were so Pietist that the Pietists in Germany admired his preaching, which Forster tells us was said to have the congregation "swimming in tears."  He may have truly believed the accusations against Stephan, but his perspective is flawed, and we must not discount the fact that he himself was one of Stephan's antagonists even before the emigration.  I am not unaware that Keyl went on to a respected career of pastorates in the early Missouri Synod, including historic Trinity, Milwaukee, and including the presidency of the Eastern District.  There is no need to deny the good that men like Keyl, and Walther, went on to accomplish.  It's not an either/or business.  I have no interest in vilifying anyone.  At the same time, historical theologians ought to be able to see and confess that Keyl, Walther, and others, were wrong in their treatment of Stephan and of the whole controversy.

On top of the undue value he places on Keyl's confession, I find it interesting that, to drive home his case against Stephan (both Philip and Martin, I suppose), McCain makes a point of informing his readers about the sexual orientation of Dr. Stephan's sister.  Maybe that passes for an argument in the corridors of CPH, but not in the world of rational thought. 

I look forward to reading Stephan's book, and seeing for myself what insights might be there to consider.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties, continued

To Parents

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath,
but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
(Ephesians 6)


Parentes, ne provocetis ad iram liberos vestros,
sed educetis eos per eruditionem et correptionem Domini.
(De Epistola ad Ephesios)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

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Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - continued

To Wives

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord.
(Ephesians 5)

Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.     
(1 Peter 3)


Similiter, uxores, subditae sitis vestris viris tamquam Domino, quemadmodum Sara, obedivit Abrahae, dominum illum appellans, cuius factae estis filiae, dum benefacitis, et non terremini ullo pavore.
(De Epistola prima beati Petri, et De Epistola beati Pauli ad Ephesios)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

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Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties, continued

To Husbands

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. And be not bitter against them.
(1st Peter 3, Colossians 3)


Viri cohabitent cum uxoribus secundum scientiam, veluti infirmiori vasi muliebri impertientes honorem, tamquam etiam coheredibus gratiae vitae, ne interrumpantur preces vestrae.
(De Epistola prima beati Petri Apostoli)

Viri, diligite uxores et ne sitis amarulenti adversus illas.
(De Epistola beati Pauli Apostoli ad Colossenses)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - Of Subjects - continued

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
(1st Peter 2)

Subditi estote omni humanae creaturae propter Dominum, sive regi tamquam praecellenti, sive ducibus tamquam ab eo missis, et cetera.
(De Epistola prima beati Petri Apostoli)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - Of Subjects - continued

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers,
to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.
(Titus 3)

Admone illos principibus et potestatibus subditos esse, et cetera.
(De Epistola beati Pauli Apostoli ad Titum)

Stephen Wiest

Stephen Wiest was many things. 

He was a bluesman and harmonica virtuoso (see this video for a nice example of his harp blowing-he is on the second of the three songs in the video, starting at about the 3 minute mark).  He played with Lil Rev, and many others.  He was an invaluable part of the Milwaukee music scene.  And he brought his musical ear, his musical sense, to bear in his ministry.

He was a scholar, whose mastery of ancient Greek combined with his rare grasp of the gospel led him to his doctoral studies at Marquette University, culminating in a PhD in Biblical studies with his voluminous dissertation on the Stephen section of Acts, a masterpiece of christological typology.  For a few short years it was notable that there was precisely one priest on the entire Marquette campus who could be counted on to be dressed in his collar (even soutaned) and to have the ability to see through, rather than buy into, higher criticism.  Exactly one, and it wasn't one of the Jesuits.  It was Stephen Wiest.  And Marquette was blessed to have him.  The terms of his fellowship there allowed him to teach the required introductory theology course to many undergraduates, young Marquette students who got to read much scripture, along with Ratzinger, Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, and many other writers, and sit at the feet of a skilled teacher of the gospel.

He was a husband, a father, and a godfather.  His widow and daughters today are strong Christian women, whose lives bear witness to his influence.

He was also a great preacher, a highly skilled father confessor, and a uniquely qualified university campus pastor, so much so that his LC-MS district overlords were incapable of appreciating him (so incapable that I almost can't blame them, except that I must blame them for their treatment of him and of the ministry of the gospel in the UWM community). 

He was a consummate intellectual, and a consummate friend.  A great combination. For among other things it led to late night conversations (also mid-morning, and late afternoon) on not only cultural issues, and churchly topics, but also his thoughts on Homer's Greek, or Luther's writings, or Augustine's career, or the Oxford Movement, and always on the current mass pericope. 

Why do I have these things on my mind, and why bring them up here today? Why not? Besides, perhaps it is partly because, midway upon the journey of my life, I find myself in a dusky wood, and such a situation brings one to reflect on the good and bad that has come to pass.  Besides that, however, a friend gave me permission to publish here a photo of his, which includes Fr. Wiest. Pictures of him seem so rare. At least to me. In those days I did not own a camera; it was before the facebook age; it was before the cell phone age; it predated the Internet age. (I know that some of these things existed, but you get my meaning.) So I cherish the few mementos I find, of Fr. Wiest's life, and of the period when mine intersected with his. We will let the family behind the baptismal font in the photo remain anonymous to everyone who does not already know them. The taller man in the collar is Father Wiest, his good wife in front of him.  It was prior to his beard days.  Either way, it brings back many memories.  Big thank you to my friend who gave me the use of the picture.  And thank you Stephen, for your continuing influence.  I should assure the reader that Fr. Wiest was an influence also on men who have actually been successful in life.  I am the quirk, the exception, which might simply prove the rule.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - Of Subjects - continued

I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.
(1st Timothy 2)

Adhortor, primum omnium fieri obsecrationes, orationes, interpellationes, gratiarum actiones pro omnibus hominibus, pro regibus et omnibus, qui in subliminate constituti sunt, ut quietam et tranqillam vitam agamus cum omni pietate et gravitate. Hoc enim bonum est, et accéptum coram Salvatóre nostro Deo.    
(De epistola prima beati Pauli Apostoli ad Timotheum)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - Of Subjects - continued

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath,
but also for conscience' sake.
For, for this cause pay ye tribute also;
for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Render therefore to all their dues:
tribute to whom tribute is due;
custom, to whom custom;
fear, to whom fear;
honor, to whom honor.
(Romans 13)

Omnis anima potestatibus sublimioribus subdita sit et cetera.
Ideoque, necessitate subditi estote, non solum propter iram,
sed etiam propter conscientiam.
Ideo enim et tributa praestatis.
Ministri enim Dei sunt, in hoc ipsum servientes.
Reddite ergo omnibus debita:
cui tributum, tributum;
cui vectigal, vectigal;
cui timorem, timorem;
cui honorem, honorem.

(De Epistola beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Catechism of the Day

Table of Duties - continued

Of Subjects

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's.
(Matthew 22)

Quid Subditi Magistratibus Debeant

Reddite, quae sunt Caesaris, Caesari,
(Sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum)