About this blog

This Blog is named after an ancient gnoseological riddle which hints hidden, disseminated, omnipresent wisdom.
I invite you to search, listen and observe with me for "the word of tree, whisper of stone, and humming together of the abyss and stars."


“Ambrose Bishop!”

In the year 374 a north Italian city of Milan entered the Church History books.
     After bishop Auxentius died, Milanese people gathered in their cathedral and elected their new bishop. Nothing special about it, bishops were still elected by the laity at that time. But this time their newly elected bishop was not a priest, neither had he any formal theological training, and at the time of his election, their new bishop was not even baptized! His name was Aurelius Ambrosius and he was a lawyer and secular administrator of the province of Liguria and Emilia with the capital in Milan.
     As a responsible and caring civil servant, Ambrose came to the cathedral just to make sure that the contested election of a new bishop did not turn into any uproar or fracas. He gave a speech appealing for civility and calm. In the midst of his remarks, we are told, a child in audience loudly exclaimed “Ambrose Bishop!”, and thus, Ambrose became bishop. He was baptized, started to learn theology and never stopped. He became an influential church leader and teacher and is counted among the big Fathers and Doctors of the Church Universal and spiritual father and teacher of another church great - Augustin of Hippo.
     The unique way in which Ambrosius became a bishop did not mean that Church started to elect unbaptized bishops or from that moment on tasked children with their nominations. This unique election only demonstrated a gracious openness of that church at that time towards the freedom of the Holy Spirit.
     This Sunday we will celebrate the ordination and installation of our new church officers. We will take a moment to consider our administrative structures, their strengths but also their limits. As much as we Presbyterians trust our democratic process, we need to remind ourselves constantly that democracy together with any of our human rules and customs are not the ultimate goal but only a way towards Theocracy - a state when church is open enough to be governed by God godself.

This column was written about an interesting event in the church history and not as an unqualified praise of Aurelius Ambrosius. His faith and theology had clear streaks of fanaticism, superstition (veneration of relics), dark intolerance and persecution of other confessions (Arians) and faiths (especially Jews). Even his election as bishop highlighted the emerging danger of the unholy union between political power and imperial Church. To discuss these darker aspects would require a different approach and genre.

For those curious - at the top of the picture is written Urim & Thummim in old Hebrew script.
Urim & Thummim were old Hebrew priestly divination lots - traditionally perceived as white and black small pebbles.

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