On My Name

If you don’t know, this is a post that helps you the reader to become more acquainted with where I – the author of this site – stand on various topics and theological points. Keep reading to see where I stand on today’s topic.


I go by One_Monk on here and I have called it a sort of “pen name” but that is about as far as I have gone in explaining it.

You may be thinking right now, “really? You’re going to write an entire article on this?”

That is exactly what I am going to do!

I could have as easily called this article “On Ascetics” as it is for ascetic reasons I picked the name that I did, but not nearly as many people are familiar with that topic. So, I’m going to fixate on my chosen online pen name and knock on my angle on ascetics as well as describe my name in one go!

Let’s start the explanation.

One_Monk

“One” should be fairly straight-forward here as it is simply counting the individual that is me. I am singular. The name is not shared. I am one lone monk.

Monk. These days in the US all sorts of images come to mind. From my experiences, I first came into contact with Roman Catholic monks and therefore these are the first images I think of but they are not the only as I have had many students in my past who would admit that they first thought of Buddhist monks.

However, I would not want to emulate either one. So, why would I chose “monk” as part of my name?

In Christian monasticism, it has not always been the same. The earliest monks or ascetics (as they were also called) would separate themselves from the world in order to dedicate themselves fully to the study of God’s Word and to prayer and to meditation. They often did this alone in the wilderness but in time communities came to be formed and it also became a practice in the early Christian church that Church leaders would come out of these ascetics. In other words, they didn’t stay in isolation forever – unlike many of the later and even modern ones.

I have found the most redeeming value in the practices of these earliest monks/ascetics over any of the others. Even so, that does not mean I am standing here today agreeing with everything any of them ever said or did that we have recorded.

One_Monk was created with these early monks in mind and the ideal I aim to embody is to be separate from the ways of the world but to fully recognize that I am but one individual. I am to be separate from the world but not isolated from it. I am but one individual of an entire humanity. If I lock myself away, how can I be salt and light unto the rest?

I do not think we should be afraid of terms like “monk” or “ascetic” but should reclaim them. In fact, we are all trying to aim for a particular asceticism in our lives as Christians as we aim to simplify our lives from the things that distract us from Him. This means making a conscious effort to abstain from various things of this world and activities.

Now, let’s get a few other things clear.

Many of the ascetics did take their lives to a point of extreme denial as you would typically find in other ascetic life-styles in other religions. This includes abstaining from sex. I can certainly agree with them in doing so (to a point) but the Christian ascetics often took it to their graves – Not something I agree with!

They would take personal vows of chastity to set themselves aside for service to Christ. This was an individual choice and not all of them did this (most did though). In addition, I can remember some that took such a vow for a time but later after coming out of their isolation, renounced it upon marrying. In other words, not all of these early ascetics followed the same pattern.

I may not be married as of this writing but I would like to think that one of these days I will be and start my own family. I certainly do not take things to the extent that some of the earliest Christian ascetics did.

Several ascetics I have read about also took on extreme diets. Also, not something I do as I am currently eating pizza as I write this. Even so, I am conscious about my diet and between my own health concerns and what I have found is best for my overall health, I do abstain from sodas, many other sweets, pastas, citrus, and a few other things. (Note: Please do not take this as any sort of directive from me as to what you should stay away from. For example, I stay away from citrus because of inflammatory responses my body gives me when I consume any citrus)

I do very much think we should live simplified life styles – especially as Christians. Getting swept up in the drivings to accumulate material items and wealth ultimately puts more stresses on you as such things tend to demand more of you.

Of course, I do have a real name. If you do a little bit of digging you are going to find it. I go by the name of Eli but on here and in my role with this only ministry, I go by my pen name One_Monk.


Note: I do these posts not because I think I’m somehow superior in my views or anything absurd like that but out of a desire to be up-front and honest with my readers as to where I stand. Otherwise, you’d be left to figure things out by reading between the lines and/or guessing.

Along Martin Luther and Beyond

Now we go to some of Martin Luther’s counterparts and those who came after.

They are:

Desiderus Erasmus (~1467 to 1536), born in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Christian Humanist

John Calvin (1509 to 1564), born in France – didn’t stay there, considered Martin’s successor by many

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1484 to 1530), Swiss Reformer

As you can see, all three of these mean were technically contemporaries of Martin Luther though John Calvin was certainly one that came in the later.

All three were writers and influential in their own right. What’s more, they were not in isolation as there are more men that could be listed from these times but I am only focusing on these.

Desiderus Erasmus was primarily an influence through his writings and there is evidence his work influenced Zwingli who had interactions with Luther.

Martin Luther and Zwingli’s most notable interaction involved mass. Zwingli advocated the removal of the Catholic mass and replaced it with a simply communion as well as changed a few other liturgical traditions. However, this wasn’t the key point of their interaction. Luther and Zwingli sparred over their interpretation of the elements in the Eucharist (communion). You can find more details on this particular debate here in the section titled “Relations with Luther”.

Despite a disagreement, Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther agreed quite a bit in the focus of the Protestant Reformation  – Scripture has the highest authority. A few things of note from Zwingli that we see in much of Protestantism today include the simple communion, the removal of images in the church & other liturgical changes, put forth some theses of his own, as well as completed some influential writings of his own.

In order to have them for comparison later, here is a summation of Zwingli’s main theses:

  1. The Church is born of the Word of God. Also, Christ is the only head of the Church.
  2. Church “laws” are only binding so long as they agree with Scripture.
  3. Christ alone is man’s righteousness.
  4. Mass is a gross offense to the sacrifice and death of Christ.
  5. There is no biblical argument for mediation for the dead involving purgatory. This would include the use of images in this.
  6. That marriage is lawful for all.

With the above theses, you can imagine then the church changes he then sought to bring about in Switzerland. These are changes still widely observed in churches today across the world that stand in the Protestant tradition.

What about John Calvin?

Ok. We’re getting to him now.

John Calvin came into all this with the other men and their influence as the backdrop. As can be seen at the start by the time-frames of each of their lives, John was a young man when the others began to pass away.

Born in France, John would later end up in Geneva, Switzerland where he would later die. John started his career as a law student – much as Martin was supposed to have become originally – and during his studies he was influenced by the humanist Desiderus Erasmus as well as others. Key components from this drove John to seek to understand the Scriptures in their original languages (something continued to this very day). As such, he went on to study Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Among Calvin’s first essays there was an emphasis on salvation by grace alone (one of the 5 Solas) rather than to focus on works and ceremonies.

I don’t intend to get into every detail here as there are great resources for further reading in the links below. Even so, key contributions made by Calvin were in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, commentaries, and influence that gave direction to Protestants elsewhere in Europe including those who would later go to America and start the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. There are many churches today that would consider John Calvin to be their founding father.

Hope this proved informative to you! I challenge you to read more on each of these influential men of the Protestant Reformation period and would suggest the links below are a great place to start.

 

Resources for further reading:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Huldrych-Zwingli

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/erasmus/

https://www.biography.com/people/john-calvin-9235788?_escaped_fragment_=

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Calvin

 

Submission

Biblical submission is not the same in every use of the term you see. What do I mean?

I mean that submission we see described in the Scriptures, while it may look like the same English word, can actually be entirely different words in the Greek our English translations come from.

Why didn’t translators choose an English equivalent? Simple – because English lacks the word. Instead, we’d have to write out the meaning.

An area some get touchy about when it comes to submission is on the topic of marriage. People read the term “submit” in regards to a wife submitting to her husband and suddenly think that women/wives are being called to be subservient to their husbands.

Wrong! Let’s look at this more closely and with what it is related:

First of all – this is a submission calling for wives and wives only. Not married? Well, then you have absolutely ZERO calling to submit to a man! This calling we find in Ephesians 5 is for the wife.

Second – this does not mean that the wife is being called to be some sort of unquestioning servant. The Greek verb here (hu-po-ta’s-so) carries the meaning, “to submit to; to put under, or to relinquish one’s rights, or to arrange yourself in rank under.” Now, some will say – now that looks like slavery! Don’t be dim! Look again! This is a verb directed toward the wife to carry out. This isn’t meant as a heavy-handed command from her husband. “to arrange yourself in rank under” – the wife is called to choose to do this. This is in stark contrast to the submission described of children which is a different Greek term that describes a call to obey their parents’ commands. So, a wife is called to willingly submit to her husband’s lead (not unquestioning) and the kids are commanded to an intense “servitude” to submit to both of their parents (more or less unquestioning).

Third – both wife and husband have equal worth before God as image bearers and are both called to submit to the authority of God. Submitting to God is where they can find their greatest joy and fulfillment in Him.

Fourth – much of the marriage layout goes back to the fall in the Garden of Eden. As a result of the curse upon humanity, wives would now become inclined to usurp and dominate their husbands. Husbands, again because of the curse, would be inclined to retaliate with force and what we would call today as an oppressive, heavy-handed, chauvinistic manner. The calls to submit we see in Ephesians are designed to counteract these sin-cursed tendencies within men and women who enter into marriage.

Fifth – husbands are called to also submit! They are called to submit to God (as are all) but they are also called to submit to God’s direction in leading their families. How is this done? In love! A husband is not ever meant to respond to his wife with neglect, verbal/physical abuse, &/or abandonment of his family. He is called to lovingly direct his family in a self-sacrificing manner that seeks the well-being of his wife and children. A husband should be the exemplary image of what it means to be a servant-leader.

Sixth – I realize these points may seem like they’re going well beyond the original questions; however, they are all interrelated and one particular element helps to unite much of the submission described – service. All those in Christ are called to be servant-leaders. Husbands are supposed to be the prime example but each believer is still called to lead by example and to outdo each other in serving one another. Romans 12:10 is an example that shows this calling. Couple this with the unique roles found within marriage and you are left with an image that parallels Christ and the Church. Christ – lovingly leading & the Church – respectively submitting to that lead.

Entire books can be (and have been) written on this subject (though I’ll admit most are sermons). I don’t intend on getting into every use of submission there is in the Scriptures in this article. However, I do want to leave off with a few points that all too commonly get overlooked when people open their Bibles and sadly have been neglected on this very topic:

  1. Read carefully. Too often people simply go off of what their first impression is after reading a passage. This too easily leads to errant thinking and belief.
  2. Read in context. All portions of Scripture are part of a larger whole. If you try to derive meaning from one piece without reading it in its context (the surrounding text), you become quite capable of making it say something that it, in actuality, does not say. Such an error can occur with any text read.
  3. If a particular word is proving troubling to you and your understanding, look up the word from which it was translated and its meaning. New Testament books will be in Greek originally and those of the Old Testament will be in Hebrew.
  4. Cultivate a desire for the truth. Don’t simply settle for a quick explanation; seek to understand the explanation and why that explanation is correct.

 

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.”  – Psalm 145:5

Marriage

Marriage was instituted by God and designed by God. (See Genesis 2:18-25)

At the heart of the relationship is companionship and intimacy, which BOTH husband and wife must promote by their actions.

These things about marriage are not typically missed by Christians but this next point is missed in some circles.

The relationship seen between husband and wife is similar to that between Christ and the church and this has profound implications about our marriage relationships that entire books could (and have been) be written on.

Read: Ephesians 5:23, 31-32    Ephesians 5:25    Colossians 3:19    1 Peter 3:7

As Christ is head of the church, husbands are head of the family and wife, but this is NOT a domination sort of thing. As Christ models, we are to lead by serving. Furthermore, God makes clear there is no such thing as a “lesser” sex in 1 Peter 3:7 as it is pointed out that wives are “heirs with you of the gracious gift of life,”. There is a call here to respect wives and be considerate of them which lines up perfectly with the idea of leading by serving.

Don’t confuse the point made in 1 Peter about wives being “weaker” with “lesser”. This statement is merely pointing to the typical biology that makes it easy for men to be physically strong and women not as much (its a muscle density thing, women can still be quite physically strong). This is NOT to say that women are somehow weak in ability as they prove time and again otherwise. Instead, when taken in context of the surrounding scriptures, we see here a call to be considerate of women (especially wives) such that we (as men) avoid being physically harsh or abusive.


As I’ve said, there’s is much to this topic, but I’ll leave it there – for now.


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