How the Church Responded to Governmental Intrusion in the Fifth Century
Over the past year and more, a common refrain of churches who willingly and quickly obeyed governmental shutdowns was that they were obliged to keep the fourth commandment and remember St. Paul’s admonition that the governmental power is the servant of God to do you good and “to execute wrath upon him that does evil” (Romans 13:4). Jesus himself, they remind us, said we should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s (St. Mark 12:17). Leaving aside that fact that Biblically speaking the power of the government is restricted to those matters which are legitimately within the government’s domain, it can also be helpful to learn from our ancestors, our fathers in the faith, who had to deal with such matters in the past. As it happens, the church of the fifth century can be our teacher.
The Council of Chalcedon of AD 451 was one of the church’s ecumenical councils, having been given high status and honor in the church around the world to this day for that very reason. At that council, two heretics were condemned for their teachings against the truths of who Jesus is: one Person of the Godhead, with two natures, divine and human. Nestorius had been teaching that the two natures of Jesus were essentially two persons. The Council rejected this with clear and incisive language, saying such things as declaring Mary to be the Mother of God, which Nestorius could not say, so he was condemned. On the other side was Eutyches, who taught that Jesus did not have two natures, but only one, a mixture of the divine and the human. This was also rejected and condemned as false and contrary to the catholic (i.e. universal Christian) faith.
But the followers of Eutyches did not disappear. Instead, they morphed into a movement called Monophysitism, holding that Jesus has only one nature. These began to take over churches around the empire. Within thirty years, a large number of churches and bishops had become openly Monophysite. There were in those days five centers of Christendom (called Sees or Archbishoprics): Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Of these, three—Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem—had become Monophysite. Over 500 bishops were open followers of Eutyches.
When Zeno became emperor in 477, he had great reason to want to heal the breach in his empire. On the one hand he had many friends who were Monophysites; on the other, he had come to power as a champion of the catholics, because he had succeeded in unseating Basiliscus the protector of the Monophysites. Being pulled himself in both directions, as well as wanting to restore peace, he crafted the notorious “Henotikon” (plan of union). It can be seen as a deft and skillful document from a political point of view, but was in fact dreadful from a theological vantage point. The Henotikon reaffirmed Chalcedon’s condemnations of Nestorius and Eutyches, and declared that Jesus
Ah, doesn’t that sound wonderful? So it might seem at first, enough to satisfy both sides. But Eutyches and Nestorius were already dead, and closer inspection of the document leaves one wondering, one what? Person or nature? The document doesn’t say, which is, of course, intentional. While political compromises are often desirable, theological ones can’t be. Christian confessions must be precisely crafted, especially with regard to the very errors they address. Ever since those days, bad theology has often arisen from intentionally imprecise language precisely when it is needed. One thinks, for example, of the altered Augsburg Confession of the sixteenth century, or even more recently the Lutheran-Roman Catholic agreement on the question of grace.
But Acacius the Archbishop of Constantinople was finally pressured into accepting the document after vacillating over it for a few years, whereupon Pope Felix II, to his credit, being utterly unwilling to accept the Henotikon, sent two legates to Constantinople to call Acacius to come to Rome to explain himself. Acacius refused, and Felix excommunicated him, setting in motion the so-called Acacian Schism which lasted until 518.
So much for Zeno’s brilliance.
When Anastasius succeded Zeno in 491, he kept the Henotikon’s policy in place, and again hoped to heal the breach. But when in 492 Gelasius became Pope, he, like his own predecessor Felix, wanted nothing to do with the Henotikon, and in 494 he wrote his famous letter (the ad Anastasium) to the emperor making this clear. In fact, I detect a bit of mockery against the Henotikon in his letter, which declares, “There are two (duo sunt), august Emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled, namely, the sacred authority of the priests and the royal power,” but the priestly power is the greater. Here is a subtle and derogatory reference to the intentional vagary of the Henotikon’s use of the term “one,” but nonetheless in this case the duo sunt, unlike the Henotikon’s uno est, is utterly clear about what these two are: powers; and in any case the simple message of ad Anastasium to the emperor is clear: the Henotikon is dreadfully poor theology and will not be tolerated; you, dear Emperor (he condescendingly calls him “my son”) need to stay out of the Church’s business.
Church leaders in our day will do well to take a lesson from the likes of Felix and Gelasius, and be encouraged speak to the government (and to our own people!) with the same kind of clear and unambiguous language. As we look back at the coronavirus and its draconian lockdowns, pastors and synod officials alike must remember first that the civil government has no business telling churches how to run their affairs; whether to open their doors, or how to operate, or whether to wear masks, or whether to sing aloud, or any such thing. The government has no authority over the church’s churchly matters. If a plague lurks, it is always going to be the tendency of governmental powers to insert themselves where they don’t belong. And they don’t belong in the pew. Except, if they desire, as respectful listeners, sons of the church.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Wednesday Evening Masses
There is no mass scheduled on Wednesday, June 30th. Pastor and Carol will be in Florida visiting her father.
There is no mass scheduled on Wednesday, July 14th. Pastor and Carol will be on family vacation.
Tentatively Wednesday masses are scheduled at 7 pm on all the other Wednesdays.
July, August Anniversaries
7/1/1951 John and Emilie Ricknell
8/1/2009 Chris and Trista Dooley
Altar Guild Notes
July and August Birthdays
7/2 Dana McReynolds
7/4 Sarah Kraklow
7/5 Sandra Verplaetse
7/7 Stephen Harris
7/9 Michelle Armstrong
7/10 Otis Anderson
7/10 Dale Baker
7/13 Gayle Beauprez
7/14 Father Eckardt
7/14 Elizabeth Dooley
8/11 Sam Fisher
8/11 Judy Thompson
8/13 Donald Murphy
8/16 Trista Dooley
8/21 John Sovanski
Catechism Resumes in August
Junior Catechism will resume on Tuesday, August 17th, at 5:00 in the afternoon.
The council will be meeting on Wednesday, July 21st, which is the usual third Wednesday.
In August, the scheduled meeting is for Wednesday, August 18th. Please make a note of it.
President Harrison Signs Joint Letter to U.S. Secretary of Education
On June 1, the Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, joined a diverse group of U.S. religious and legal leaders in writing to the U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, about the need to preserve federal regulations that protect religious freedom at public universities.
The regulations, 34 C.F.R. §§ 75.500(d) and 76.500(d), state that public universities may not deny faith-based campus organizations any of the benefits given to any other campus student organization. In some cases, even with existing protections, faith-based student groups have been denied the right to require that their leadership share their convictions. Without sanctioned campus leadership, they may not have access to basic privileges such as on-campus meeting space.
“Denying recognition to these groups because of their sincerely held religious beliefs is wrong,” write the signatories of the letter. “We urge you to preserve the legal protections provided in 34 C.F.R. §§ 75.500(d) and 76.500(d) for individual students and religious student organizations so that students of all faiths will continue to feel welcome on their public college campuses.”
I will be away for vacation from July 10th to the 17th. Matins will be held on Sunday the 11th, a service without communion. The subdeacons will lead the service which consists of psalms, hymns, canticles, readings, and the reading of a sermon by pastor. There is no mass on Wednesday the 14th. I return on Saturday the 17th, and normal activities resume.
+ Pastor Eckardt
In Our Prayers
Our list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists below. To update the lists please inform pastor. in our parish:
Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Emmy Wear, Don Murphy, Dick Melchin, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Sovanski, Tara Wagenknecht, Grant Andreson, Dale Baker, and Jewneel Walker, Otis Anderson
and beyond our parish:
Anna, Katy, and Jody Rutowicz [Harris relations]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Elizabeth Godke [Sharon Field’s mother]
Oneida Hendrickson [Ricknell relative]
Janice Hart [Judy Thompson’s sister]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknells’ grandson]
Dennis Hoag, Tim Newman [Shreck relations]
Matthew and Yvette Baker [Dale’s son and wife]
Theresa Moore [Ricknells’ niece]
Kathy Boeger [re Harrises]
Allison Leezer [relative of the Kraklows]
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
Trevor Lindsey [Otis Anderson’s relative]
Lauren Lindstrom [Alissa’s Grandfather]
in the military:
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Eli Wetzel, Traven Wetzel, Shawn Wetzel
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
Jake Mahaffey, Trevor Shimmin, Shad Draminski
James and Ann Lee Armstrong
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Burkina Faso, Iran, Syria, India, Myanmar, North Korea, and elsewhere.
(from Voice of the Martyrs Canada)
MYANMAR (BURMA) (17 June 2021):
A coalition of more than 25 organizations has signed a joint statement expressing deep concerns over the violence committed by security forces in Myanmar against peaceful protesters. The global call to action follows the illegal coup d'état which overthrew the democratically elected government on February 1st. This signed statement especially spotlights how the military has been destroying places of worship in their crackdown. Religious and ethnic minorities have been targeted, resulting in an increasing number of internally displaced persons.
BURKINA FASO: 17 June 2021
More than 130 civilians in Burkina Faso were indiscriminately slaughtered during an overnight raid on Yagha village on June 4th. Although no particular group has claimed responsibility for this most recent attack, government officials believe the devastating invasion was the work of one of several Islamic jihadist groups operating in the area.
IRAN: Christians Ordered to Prison
Date: 17 June 2021
Christian converts Homayoun Zhaveh (62) and his wife Sara Admadi (42) were on holidays with friends when they were arrested by Iranian intelligence officials. As a result of their house church activities, Homayoun was sentenced to two years in prison while Sara received a sentence of eight years. At last report, they were awaiting an order to report to prison.
Jim Hornback, Tom Wells, Steve Kraklow
Jim Hornback, Otis Anderson, Bill Thompson.
July Altar Guild and Elders to meet July 6th, with Tuesday Vespers
First Tuesday events for July are to be held on Tuesday, July 6th, the usual time. Please make a note of it.
Listen at Home
Our website, www.stpaulskewanee.org, has easy-to-find podcasts (recordings of studies) that you can access and listen to on demand. There are podcasts of St. Paul’s on the Air, recordings of sermons, and occasional Bible classes as well. These are also sent to Facebook to make it easy to access the website from there. Have a listen, and spread the word. Our Facebook page, St. Paul's and Friends, also regularly posts live streamed (audio and visual) services you may access at any time. There is also availability at YouTube, at the Burnell Eckardt channel.
Check out Gottesblog
Usually Gottesblog has a several posts per week, of matters pertaining to the church, her liturgy, and of course, the Gospel. You can even get an email notification every time there is a new article posted. Also, if you go to Gottesdienst, you can scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will see an opportunity to put in your email address and sign up to receive news, updates, and our latest blog posts.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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