Paul Andersen’s 1850 letter to American Home Missionary Society — ‘ungodly professors’ take warning (!)

Conrad Bergendoff, ed. “Reports to the American Home Missionary Society, 1849-1856,” 35-84. Augustana Historical Society Publications, Vol. 5. Rock Island: Augustana Historical Society, 1935.


[35] In 1848 Paul Andersen, a Norwegian student, succeeded in organizing a number of Chicago Norwegians into a Lutheran congregation. Andersen secured ordination from the Franckean Synod (N.Y.) and for a while belonged to this Synod. the American Home Missionary Society granted him a subsidy and required in return a quarterly and annual report concerning his activities. … [IN AUG SYN ARCHIVES]

… These reports give a graphic picture of conditions during this period in Chicago. The firs Swedish Lutheran immigrants also joined this church and were ministered to by its pastor, prior to the organization of a Swedish congregation and the coming of Erland Carlsson.


Continue reading “Paul Andersen’s 1850 letter to American Home Missionary Society — ‘ungodly professors’ take warning (!)”

Notes — Luther quote on Anabaptists

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Screen shot Aug. 23, 2019. I am unable to find the original, am copying it here from the ELCA discussion group on Facebook, permalink immediately below, for research purposes.

The meme was posted Thursday, Aug. 22. Several commenters asked the source, and at least two of us posted citations and other information. My screen shots from a 19th-century history of the Reformation appear below, along with one in 1957 from the Concordia edition of Luther’s works. Full citation at:

Volume 22, “Sermons on the Gospel of St. John Chapters 1-4” Page 55.

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My comment to the FB thread was as follows: “I tracked it down in Google Books in a 19th-century “History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century” by Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigné. The context seems to be the Peasants’ Revolt of the 1520s. (I’ll attach a screengrab.) But a cite from Luther’s Works would be better.”

[CITE: Jean Henri Merle d’Aubigné, History of the Great Reformation of the Sixteenth Century in Germany, Switzerland, etc. Philadelphia: James M. Campbell & Co., 1844. Google Books.

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Matthew Barrett, “Luther’s neglected sermons on John’s Gospel,” Credo Oct. 4, 2017

A brief word about the history of these sermons (and here I am following Pelikan, who elaborates upon the history more than I will). Johannes Bugenhagen (1485-1558) occupied the pulpit as the parish pastor in Wittenberg (it’s hard for 21st century American readers to understand, but some towns had but one or two pulpits). Luther was called upon to step in and preach in Bugenhagen’s absence. Invited by King Christian III himself, Bugenhagen was off to Denmark in 1537 where he would assist with church reform.

The timing was anything but ideal. Suffering from various illnesses, Luther’s body was flirting with death itself. It was a scary time for Luther’s disciples. Yet Luther was unbelievably resilient, surviving the sickness, only to return to the study to prepare sermons for Saturdays and Sundays. We read in a July 5th, 1537, letter to Bugenhagen: “I have begun to preach and lecture once more; in fact, yesterday I preached in your place. …Christ lives; and we are Christs—with and without the apostrophe (Christi sumus in nominative et genitivo).

The task would prove more challenging than Luther imagined. Not only did each week demand multiple services and sermons but Luther’s body had not recovered entirely. Instead, illness revisited, making preaching a demanding task. “I am so overloaded with tasks and so troubled with sicknesses that I have often been compelled, and still am, to leave my duties unperformed.”

The first portion of Merle d’Aubigné’s Histoire de la Reformation – History of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century – which was devoted to the earlier period of the movement in Germany, i.e., Martin Luther’s time, at once earned a foremost place among modern French ecclesiastical historians, and was translated into most European languages. The second portion, The History of the Reformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin, dealing with reform in the French reformer’s sphere, exhaustively treats the subject with the same scholarship as the earlier work, but the second volume did not meet with the same success.

‘Nuns on the Bus’ leader’s reaction to Bishop Paprocki, denying sacrament to lawmakers

File under keywords: hospitality, means of grace. This fits right in with an article I’m working up (on spec) about the 19th-century Augustana Synod Lutherans’ row with Congregationalists over church membership and access to the sacraments, contrasting Luther’s view of the means of grace with 19th-century American evangelical revivalist practice in a Calvinist gathered community.

Steven Spearie of the State Journal-Register covered Sister Simone Campbell’s appearance at the Springfield Dominican Sisters’ Jubilee Farm yesterday (July 19). Executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice group and the leader of the Nuns on the Bus campaign, she had a few choice words for President Trump — “it was ‘sinful’ how Trump addressed over the weekend four U.S. congresswomen of color, saying they should all go back to their ‘broken and crime-infested’ countries” — and Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki as well. Steve said:

Campbell told The State Journal-Register the church needs more leaders that model Pope Francis’ “pastoral and engaging” style of leadership rather than the heavy-handedness of Paprocki.

“Pope Francis says that sacraments should not be a tollhouse, a gatekeeper where you deny people access,” Campbell said before the roundtable discussion, which included about 20 community and religious leaders.

In June Paprocki barred Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton from receiving communion in Springfield-area churches because of their roles in the passage of the Reproductive Health Act. Paprocki said they shouldn’t present themselves for communion because they “cooperated in evil and committed grave sin” by backing the measure.

(Cardinal Blase Cupich and the archdiocese of Chicago threw serious shade on this gambit, saying the archdiocese has no plans for any such bar and noting that “Cardinal Cupich has had a longstanding position over his 20-plus years as a bishop that it is important to place the emphasis on teaching what the Church believes about important issues of the day, all the while maintaining an unshakable confidence that the Eucharist is an opportunity of grace and conversion to bring people to the truth.”)

Campbell’s response was withering:

“The sacraments are to support people on a struggling journey,” Campbell said, “and so one would think that those who are struggling the most should come to the sacraments most often and to be denied them because a bishop disagrees with a thoughtful stance?

“That’s just plain wrong.

“In our beloved church that’s so tarnished by this sexual abuse (scandal) and the incapacity to atone for past sins, the work we need to be about is the spiritual work of repentance, of public weeping and finding a new way forward together as a people of God.”

Steven Spearie, “‘Nun on the Bus’ criticizes Paprocki, Trump,” State Journal-Register, July 19, 2019

“Now We Remain” by David Haas: Full, conscious particpation from Lent into Easter

University of Notre Dame Folk Choir singing David Haas’ “Now We Remain” at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Jan. 23, 2013.

During Lent we’ve been singing one of those songs at Peace Lutheran Church that came out of Vatican II and have helped spark a liturgical renewal in Protestant churches as well as Catholic parishes. It’s a communion hymn, and it has a refrain — “We hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. / Living, now we remain with Jesus, the Christ ” — that, to me, sums up the Christian faith in 25 words or less. In perhaps a different way, it sums up my experience of the faith as well.

According to David Haas, a Catholic liturgist from Minnesota who wrote Continue reading ““Now We Remain” by David Haas: Full, conscious particpation from Lent into Easter”

Salvation? More like chopping wood, cooking and frying than pie in the sky …

Utah Phillips sings “Pie in the Sky” [aka “The Preacher and the Slave”] at the Rose Wagner Theater, Salt Lake City, February 2005. The song begins at 1:30, but Phillips was an old union organizer and born storyteller, and his intros were always worth listening to.

So back in August, my spiritual director prefaced what she was about to say with, “Now I don’t want you to take this as an assignment …” So of course, I took that as a sign it would be a very good idea get out my legal pad and start writing:

Behind every resistance there’s grace waiting to be revealed … What does your T-shirt say about salvation? …

I’d better translate that one.
Continue reading “Salvation? More like chopping wood, cooking and frying than pie in the sky …”

The dear angels’ song at Bethlehem and the presence of God in a lovingly annotated 1871 edition of Luther’s House Sermons

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Luther’s Sermons, annotated by seminary student ca. 1908.

Everyone has an inner child. But mine took a double major in English and history, so my inner life can get pretty odd sometimes — I guess that’s to be expected when you spend part of your day in another century.

And sometimes it gets really, really odd, like it has this week when I’ve been reading an 1871 translation of Martin Luther’s Hauspostille (house postils, or sermons), first published in 1544, for a project I’m researching on what Swedish immigrants in Chicago thought about theological issues. So I spend at least part of my day ping-ponging back and forth from the 21st Continue reading “The dear angels’ song at Bethlehem and the presence of God in a lovingly annotated 1871 edition of Luther’s House Sermons”