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Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Johann von Staupitz (ca. 1469–1524), was vicar-general of the Augustinian Order in Germany and friend of Martin Luther, was born in Saxony. He studied at the universities in Leipzig and Cologne and served on the faculty at Cologne. In 1503 he was called by Frederick the Wise to serve as dean of the theological faculty at the newly founded University of Wittenberg. There he encouraged Luther to attain a doctorate in theology and appointed Luther as his successor to professor of Bible. During Luther’s early struggles to understand God’s grace, it was Staupitz who counseled Luther to focus on Christ and not on himself. (The Treasury of Daily Prayer, CPH)

Reflection:  When the publication of the 95 Theses spread throughout Europe, then Luther was in middle of a raging storm.  He corresponded with his father confessor.

On the twenty-fifth of November he sent word to Staupitz:

I am expecting the curses of Rome any day. I have everything in readiness. When they come, I am girded like Abraham to go I know not where, but sure of this, that God is everywhere.

Staupitz wrote Luther from  Austria:

The world hates the truth. By such hate Christ was crucified, and what there is in store for you today if not the cross I do not know. You have few friends, and would that they were not hidden for fear of the adversary. Leave Wittenberg and come to me that we may live and die together. The prince [Frederick] is in accord. Deserted let us follow the deserted Christ. (From Here I Stand by Roland Bainton)

Up until his death, Fr. von Staupitz, wrote to Luther and he to him.  We do not know if Luther’s dear father superior ever accepted the evangelical doctrine but he sure seems to have known them and lived them.  

It is written in Proverbs 17: 17:

A friend loves at all times,
   and a brother is born for adversity.

And from Proverbs, 18: 24:

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
   but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Fr. Staupitz epitomized those Scripture passages.  In The Smalcald Articles, of the Lutheran Confessions, Part III, Article IV, “Of the Gospel”, Father Luther confesses the 4 ways the Lord gives us the Gospel: 1.  the Preaching of the Word;  2. Baptism;  3. the Sacrament of the Altar; 4. “through the power of the keys, and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matt. 18:20: Where two or three are gathered together, etc.” (emphasis added).  The power of the keys, or absolution, are linked with “the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” and rightly so, as the Lord did, recorded in Matthew 18.  I can only opine that Luther was taught this in the school of Holy Spirit, partly at least, because of his Father confessor.  Staupitz was obviously Luther’s mentor and with that Luther’s  friend and brother in Christ.

This is a good commemoration to thank and remember mentors in our lives, who have been closer than a brother and a brother born for adversity and hung in there with you.  A brother who has heard your soul’s confession and offered Christ’s absolution as did von Staupitz. All the Facebook friends in the world do not one dear brother in Christ Jesus make.  Between Martin and Johannes stood Jesus Christ and the dear Father Johannes showed Martin Jesus Christ so that Martin could see Him in the clear Word of Scripture.  “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word”, penned and sang Luther.  He probably knew he was kept steadfast by his dear father confessor as a mentor has so done for you.  Fr. Staupitz knew the Word as he had been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Almighty, everlasting God, for our many sins we justly deserve eternal condemnation.  In Your mercy, You sent Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who won for us forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation.  Grant us a true confession so that dead to sin we may hear  the sweet  words of Absolution from our confessor as Luther heard them from his pastor, Johannes von Staupitz, and be released from all our sin;  through Jesus Christ, our lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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In a 5/31/14 Wall Street Journal book review of new biography of Bonhoeffer, Strange Glory by Charles Marsh, the reviewer spends a sizable portion of his article on Marsh’s assertion, summed up by the reviewer:  “Dietrich  Bonhoeffer was gay”. Even saying that, note, makes the picture above suspect. Now the reviewer says that the author does not quite say that but that something funny was going on between Bonhoeffer and his best friend, confessor, fellow pastor and eventual biographer, Eberhard Bethge.  For instance that Bonhoeffer had an “unanswered longing” for community was an indication of his homosexual bent. So that would mean a man’s desire to shoot firearms must mean he is a murderer?  I do not think so. They wrote tender letters to each other.  Even if one has an inclination does not mean a man will act upon it. In a Lincoln biography, an author said that Lincoln and, I think it was, Herndon, had a homosexual tryst, indicated by sharing beds (which would have been customary on the road in the 19th century) . Anytime two men are close, then they are probably homosexual these days, as liberal theologians  assert in same fashion that since David and Jonathan were close, as Jonathan loved David as “his own soul” (1 Sam. 18: 1), that they also were lovers.  But I will let C. S. Lewis weigh in here.  He is by today’s corrupt standards, political incorrect, but as Lewis wrote, it is we who are out of step.  The following quotes are from his The Four Loves,the chapter on Friendship:

To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false; the wiseacres take refuge in the less palpable charge that it is really – unconsciously, cryptically, in some Pickwickian sense – homosexual. And this, though it cannot be proved, can never of course be refuted. The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two Friends does not disconcert the wiseacres at all: “That”, they say gravely, “is just what we should expect.” The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence; the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden. Yes – if it exists at all. But we must first prove its existence. Otherwise we are arguing like a man, who should say “If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.” A belief in invisible cats cannot perhaps be logically disproved, but it tells us a good deal about those who hold it. Those who cannot conceive Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elaboration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend. The rest of us know that though we can have erotic love and friendship for the same person yet in some ways nothing is less like a Friendship than a love-affair. Lovers are always talking to one another about their love; Friends hardly ever about their Friendship. Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is neccessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best.

Bonhoeffer and Bethge had much in common and were brothers in Christ side by side.  They certainly had a common interest, actually interests:  Christ and faith, and the fight for faith and against Nazism.  Lewis continued:

The homosexual theory therefore seems to me not even plausible. This is not to say that Friendship and abnormal Eros have never been combined. Certain cultures at certain periods seem to have tended to the contamination. In war-like societies it was, I think, especially likely to creep into the relation between the mature Brave and his young armour-bearer or squire. The absence of the women while you were on the warpath had no doubt something to do with it. In deciding, if we think we need or can decide, where it crept in and where it did not, we must surely be guided by the evidence (when there is any) and not by an a priori theory. Kisses, tears and embraces are not in themselves evidence of homosexuality. The implications would be, if nothing else, too comic. Hrathgar embracing Beowulf, Johnson embracing Boswell (a pretty flagrantly heterosexual couple) and all those hairy old toughs of centurions in Tacitus, clinging to one another and begging for last kisses when the legion was broken up… all pansies? If you can believe that you can believe anything. On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some special explanation. We, not they, are out of step.

 

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Proverbs 27: 5-6

Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

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