21 February 2009

Elijah was a Lutheran

The thought irreverently came to me during the reading at the closing service today. 2 Kings 2, especially verse 9. "Ask me...BEFORE I am taken from you." Not "pray to me afterwards and I'll do it for you." Go figure.

38 comments:

Jim Huffman said...

" ... the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."

William Weedon said...

Well, of course he did. I didn't say that the dead don't pray! Elijah directed Elisha to ask him for what he should pray BEFORE he died.

William Weedon said...

Said in Latin:

Sancte Maria, Mater Dei, ORAT pro nobis.

She prays for us. As do all the saints.

Omar said...

I hate being picky, but I love being precise :-)

Shouldn't Sancte Maria be Sancta Maria?

I think this is the right Latin ending for an adjective if the subject is female and in the singular.


Thanks.

Christopher Esget said...

When I was contemplating Orthodoxy, I heard a marvelous sermon in an OCA church on the day of commemoration of Elijah. The sermon was brilliant right up to the end, when the priest concluded, "You see what a powerful intercessor Elijah is. Therefore, you should ask Elijah to intercede for you." It was one of my "aha" moments when I realized that something had gone horribly wrong.

William Weedon said...

Omar,

Yup! Sancta. Sorry bout that!

orrologion said...

There you go with sola Scriptura again, as if there isn't any other info to be had on what Elijah meant. :)

Of course, a case could also be made that the repose of the just prior to Christ is different than after the Resurrection. In Orthodox tradition, all the dead prior to Holy Saturday were in Sheol together, it is only after the Resurrection that they stand before the Throne - and only after the Incarnation that human nature was united to the divine nature thus allowing one who has reposed to hear anything on this plane.

William Weedon said...

Christopher,

The interesting thing about Elijah, though, is that he doesn't seem to fit the "sheol" pattern - isn't that the point of the chariots of fire and the horsemen and the fact that he and Moses appear with our Lord on the mount of Transfiguration? I know, I know: "no one has ascended into heaven except he who also descended from heaven, even the Son of Man who is in heaven." But dang it all, Elijah seems to pose a unique problem in that regard. Perhaps also Moses.

When it comes to looking through from this age to that, what? World, place, whatever, our categories just keep coming up short. Every little schema that explains things inevitably seems to bump up against this or that fact of Holy Scripture that cannot be fit into the pattern. It is, perhaps, one way that the Lord reminds us (as we heard in the Quinquagesima epistle) that now "we know in part."

orrologion said...

You caught me. I think I remember now an explanation of the Transfiguration that explains the presence of those two particular OT saints as due to the fact that they had not died, but were 'taken'. Of course, so was Enoch and he wasn't on Tabor, so...

I agree fully about the knowing in part and about Scripture constantly breaking apart our pet schemas.

Jon Townsend said...

Pr. Weedon, I know why you wrote Sancte instead of Sancta.

You were mixing the feminine in German with Latin.

I studied both and I have made the same mistake too :)

Pr. Lehmann said...

Christopher,

That take on the Transfiguration kind of falls apart in the end of Deuteronomy.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I always thought Elisha was the better Lutheran - especially Chapter 2.

He's the true heir of the tradition, but the rest of the people don't listen to him and keep on searching for Elijah. Oh well. >=o)

Then you speak the Word, happily and contentedly, and you get mocked for it by little kids, who make fun of your lack of hair, and so you just sit and wait for she-bears to come out of the forest.

Allogenes said...

Actually, feminine vocatives in -e are perfectly good Sanskrit.

Jim Huffman said...

Reading Mark 15.34-36 ("Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias. And one ran and filled a spunge full of vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink, saying, Let alone; let us see whether Elias will come to take him down") I wonder if this contributes to the conversation: why did the Jews think that Jesus would be praying to Elijah? On the assumption that this didn't come out of the blue, what would have led them to think that He would so do, were it not at least to some degree customary?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

There were apparently a lot of customs and traditions around Elijah in those days - an expectation that Elijah would come before/with the Messiah. You also had the questioning of whether or not John the Baptist was Elijah.

What's sad is that Christ is quoting Psalms and people don't pick up that He's quoting Scripture.

Fr John W Fenton said...

If Elijah was a Lutheran, then Elisha was Orthodox. For "it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet." (2 Kg 13.21)

Or, to say it another way, if not prayers to the dead, then why the miracle of relics?

Double spirit, and all that... :)

William Weedon said...

Fr. John,

Somehow Orthodox gentleness is not my picture of Elisha... thinking of him still breathing terrestrial air and the bare pate and the bears and the dead children and all... :)

Seriously, though, Elisha's bones still working miracles ought not be a problem to ANY Christian who believes in the resurrection. Elisha was in so many ways a type of our miracle working Lord, whose death brings life to the dead!

Fr John W Fenton said...

...Elisha's bones still working miracles ought not be a problem to ANY Christian who believes in the resurrection.

It seems not only logical, but necessary, then, to venerate the relics of all those who are "little Christs," whose bodies have borne more than Elisha's, namely, the body and blood of Christ.

(Oops, have I stepped into the usus quagmire again? :)

Lucian said...

Elijah plays a very important part in Jewish Tradition (a chair is left free for him/his presence at Circumcision & at the Seder table) So does Enoch-Metatron. So do the Holy Angels. And the reason for that is that they are alive. When Christ came, He said something unexpected, which no-one before Him ever thought or taught: that our God is a God of the living, not of the dead; and that those Who lose their lives for the Gospel gain them.

So Judeo-Christian tradition contradicts You in a very consistent manner, namely that the living ones of the Living One were indeed prayed to and asked for (Elijah: Matthew 27:47 & Mark 15:35; Metatron [the Angelic being into which Enoch was transformed at ascension]; and Angels generally).

Then, furthermore, when Christ revealed us that the holy ones of the Holy One were alive in Him Who is the Giver of Life, the practice logically spread to them as well.

Lucian said...

Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Gospel, whose fulfillment is in Christ.

[And Your Scripture interpretation goes against that of the Fathers: if You don't believe them, them why all those Patristic quotes of the day then?]

Lucian said...

...the Law and the Prophets, whose fulfillment is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ... sorry!

P.S.: word-verif. = "gator" :-)

William Weedon said...

Lucian,

That Elijah goes on praying for the Church in pilgrimage is not a matter of dispute. He lives in Him who is our Life. But that we should therefore invoke him does not follow. "Call upon ME in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you will glorify me." Pax!

Lucian said...

It follows from the afore-mentioned Judeo-Christian Tradition, and I think the continuity (both temporal, as well as ideatic) between the two succesive traditions is clear for everyone. And since the Scriptures can hardly be said to lack examples of asking live ones for intercession, the conclusion is inescapable.

William Weedon said...

Lucian,

I've never encountered a Jew who would defend invoking Elijah.

orrologion said...

Well, not any of the ones that didn't become Christians... :)

The same error that keeps you chained to the post-Christian recension of the Hebrew Bible. :)

Pr. Lehmann said...

A Jew who becomes a Christian and advocates prayer to the dead is not doing so because he's a Christian. He's doing it because he's an idolater.

William Weedon said...

Alright, show me a Jew who became a Christian who invokes the saints in those early years that would show some continuity with a previous Jewish practice?

orrologion said...

Right after you show me someone at the same time who teaches that justification by grace alone through faith alone known by Scripture alone is the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls.

Saying Paul is simply defaulting to theology in the eye of the beholder.

If the only real, surviving proof on who I am was from things I had written 15 years ago, well, I'd be a Lutheran to scholars of the future. Arguments from silence based on a small number of surviving texts is dangerous. Ignoring the testimony and witness of the universal Church as it exited the catacombs and could speak, write and live freely is also dangerous - and rather like The DaVinci Code and its ilk.

I think both you and Pr. Lehman may have skipped your morning coffee and forgotten that :) means 'smile'. It was simply a friendly poke and not meant as a shot across the bow.

Pr. Lehmann said...

You can only endure so many "friendly pokes" from the heterodox before the accumulation is (I think rightly) perceived as less than friendly.

Your point was consistent with your sect's false theology and our responses were consistent with the clear truth of Scripture.

Friendly poke or not, our responses were appropriate.

orrologion said...

Duly noted, valiant warrior.

Pr. Lehmann said...

Christopher,

A simple question: How many Lutheran pastors go to the blogs of Orthodox pastors and laity, tell them they are not in the church, and try to convince them that if they want to be certain that they are in the church that they have to abandon Orthodoxy and come to Lutheranism?

You need to understand that some of us have been putting up with the converse of that for a lot of years and are fairly fed up with it.

I, for one, get rather annoyed when people continue to do this to my friends.

Lucian said...

I've never encountered a Jew who would defend invoking Elijah.

I haven't encountered a painted Jewish Synagogue either. And not only that, but ANY decent Jew will tell You that prayers addressed to ANY intermediaries (e.g. Angels), as well as the use of images in worship, are not quite cusher: since they equate -or at least border- [the 1st] polytheism and [the 2nd] idolatry. And they will also warn You about believing in any sort of Trinity. As for Philo's allegories and the Second-Temple typological interpretation, guess what?, they don't believe in those either: not anymore: they are as literal as the Protestants.

But, history shows that arond the time of Christ [inter-testamentary period & early rabbinic/talmudic times] their views were quite diverse: Metatron & Philo's Logos; the painted 2nd/3rd-century Church & Synagogue at DuraEuropos; Angels & ArchAngels; Enoch & Elijah; typology & allegory; the Spirit of Genesis 1:2 as a manifestation of God, and not 'just some wind'; etc.

They've changed some of their views in time; but Christinaity still preserves the flavor of that 'old time [Jewish] religion'.

I guess the problem is that on one hand we have people who either don't know, or don't believe, or even don't WANT to believe that Christianity came out of Judaism: they think it came out of paganism.

On the other hand, the people who DO believe that it came out of Judaism don't quite realise that it came out of the Second Temple Judaism ... not out of present-day Judaism. [The Church is 2,000 yrs old].

Lucian said...

How many Lutheran pastors go to the blogs of Orthodox pastors and laity, tell them they are not in the church, and try to convince them that they have to abandon Orthodoxy and come to Lutheranism

None.

Not only that, but, as a small child living with my granny, we were terrorized by Neo-Protestants who constantly proselytised us, and I found that to be disgusting. I have made up my mind not to do that to anyone, because "don't do to others what you don't like them to do unto you"... and because it was so ... un-manly. I don't like to strong-arm people, co-opt them, seal the deal, or whatever. (That again, I can't 'hit' on girls either: for the same reason: it's un-manly and un-sportly and simply disgusting). I know that by this means our whole species will be extinct in a single generation, and that this goes against the words of Christ about the Great Comission and all that, and that it goes against the expectations of zealous converts ... but it doesn't have anything to do with the Turks or the Communists ... just with my gut-reaction to stuff that has rubbed me the wrong way ever-since I'm able to remember.

And no, niether Prots generally, nor poor little German Lutherans ever tried to maneuver us in any way, or try to sell us something hard, or try to push and shove their religion down our Orthodox throats... only the NeoProtestants [I think what You Americans call them Evangelicals] that tried to do that.

some of us have been putting up with the converse of that for a lot of years and are fairly fed up with it.

Same here. -- And sorry for taking it out on You guys... You don't deserve this. But I guess that at this point I'm just like the guy in Tolstoy's fable, who twisted the stork's neck together with that of the rest of the other cranes, when he caught them on his field.. I'm basically just running amok here.. shooting at everything that moves...

Pr. Lehmann said...

Lucian,

Maybe you should remember your childhood and stop doing to us what was done to you.

Lucian said...

Oh, how art thou fallen from thy child-like estate, oh Lucifer, err, uhm, I mean... oh Lucian! :-)

It's a Freudian thing, really.. :-)

Lucian said...

Thought I'll share this with You as well... :-)

William Weedon said...

Poor little German Lutherans? Lucian, do you think such scornful speaking accords with the Spirit of God? It sounds like another spirit, my friend.

Lucian said...

scornful speaking

???

[word-verif. = dicit]