Friday, June 29, 2007

Link -- Thrivent website on Lutheran music

Just a quick link to documentation of the Thrivent series of CDs on 500 Years of Lutheran Music, mailed to Lutheran churches and now out of print. I'm posting it to the blog so I can find the link later.

Links -- St. Gregory of Nyssa ** UPDATED ** w/ NEW LINK AND FRESH TRANSLATION

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – after 394), along with his brother Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus, was one of Cappadocian Fathers. of the early Christian Church. A bishop in Asia Minor, he was theologian and (mostly neo-Platonic) philosopher who helped set the doctrine of the Trinity in its enduring form. He is also known for an acute observation on the theological debates of the day in the Eastern Roman Empire:
Everywhere, in the public squares, at crossroads, on the streets and lanes, people used to stop you and discourse at random about the Trinity. If you asked something of a moneychanger, he would begin discussing the question of the Begotten and the Unbegotten. If you questioned a baker about the price of bread, he would answer that the Father is greater and the Son is subordinate of Him. If you went to take a bath, the Anomoean (semi-Arian) bath attendant would tell you that in his opinion the Son simply comes from nothing. Must we say these people were out of their heads? At any rate heresy had upset their minds.
The heresies he referred to were offshoots of the Arian heresy, which in its various forms denied the divinity of Christ. St. Gregory's Anomoean bath attendant would have believed a doctrine that was in general agreement with the Arians and semi-Arians on Christology but differed on obscure points of theology.

Good bio of Gregory of Nyssa online in the 1910 edition of Catholic Encyclopedia at

LATER (March 2, 2014): Googled into it, tried the links, found a dead one and went searching for a new one. Found some good ones at Roger Pearse, an epinonymous blog about " Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, freedom of speech, information access, and more." In this post on June 19, 2009, he asked "A famous passage from Gregory of Nyssa … but where from?" Pearse's blog specializes in early Christian texts, and he has some informed responses in the comments section.

Including this one posted by Dioscorus Boles:

I found this in The Orthodox Church – Church History by Kallistos Ware:

Gregory of Nyssa describes the unending theological arguments in Constantinople at the time of the second General Council:

The whole city is full of it, the squares, the market places, the cross-roads, the alleyways; old-clothes men, money changers, food sellers: they are all busy arguing. If you ask someone to give you change, he philosophizes about the Begotten and the Unbegotten; if you inquire about the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Father is greater and the Son inferior; if you ask “Is my bath ready?” the attendant answers that the Son was made out of nothing (On the Deity of the Son [P.G. xlvi, 557b]).
He includes a citation to Ware at, and adds, "I don’t have the reference which Ware gives (On the Deity of the Son [P.G. xlvi, 557b]), but somebody may have it."
[I've changed the indents to make clear that St. Gregory is a quote within a quote.]

Monday, June 11, 2007

Word for the day: Adiaphora

Every so often when I'm reading about Lutheran hymnody, I come across a word that means "matters indifferent" in the sense of things you don't have to believe to be an orthodox Christian (with a lower-case "o"). It's called adiaphora, and it's a useful concept, fuzzy enough around the edges for me to want to be cautious using it but incisive enough to help me sift out the things that really do matter. So I make a note of how it's spelled, and vow to learn it. Then the word slips away from me, and I'm reduced to saying things like, "oh, you know, that word that starts with 'a' that Luther used, and it means stuff that doesn't matter." At that point, I start to notice people are looking at me strangely and waiting for an opportunity to change the subject.

So tonight when I came across the word again, I vowed this time to post a definition to the blog ... so I won't lose it again (that's on the theory so far my computers always stand out above the clutter on my desks). Here is Wikipedia's definition:
Adiaphoron, pl. -a (Greek language αδιάφορα "indifferent things"; German "Mitteldinge" "middle matters") was a concept used in Stoic philosophy. It latter came to refer to matters not regarded as essential to faith, but nevertheless as permissible for Christians or allowed in church.
See how useful it is?

Nelson's and Fevold's history of the Norwegian Evangelical Synod, speaks of "the adiaphora, such as the theater, dancing, and card-playing," and again of "condemnation of such things as dancing, novels, and plays" (1:29, 1:31). A very useful concept for Norwegian pietists who could rail against whatever temptations were available in small-town Minnesota while continuing to split theological hairs about sotierology.

Works Cited

"Adiaphora." Wikipedia. 29 May 2007. 11 June 2007. .

Nelson, E. Clifford, and Eugene L. Fevold. The Lutheran Church Among Norwegian-Americans: A History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. 2 vols. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1960.