Friday, January 7, 2011

January 7, 2011

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures
from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men
who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

Francis of Assisi


The vet and just about everybody else wanted to euthanize - euphemism for kill - Kopper; especially after he bit a friend's nose.

I'm 99% against abortion and capital punishment; and if you don't understand why, you and I are not reading the same Bible.

I wouldn't consider killing Kopper and remember asking the vet, "Is this what we do instead of trying a little harder to get along?"

My mind raced at the time: "Yep! We kill each other in so many ways so often in church and society; so why not kill Kopper?"

The friend recovered with nose unscarred and without any pieces missing.

Kopper and I still start every day around 4:30 a.m.

First words: "Well, Kopper, this looks like another good day to praise Jesus!"

But Kopper came close to last rites.

Except for Jesus, nobody treats me better than Kopper.



If you haven't read the latest biography on Bonhoeffer that came out last year - Eric Metaxas' Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy - you gotta get it.

Of course, the way left won't like it because Bonhoeffer was really into Jesus and Holy Scripture and the way right won't like it because he didn't pretend to know Jesus and Holy Scripture better than anybody else; though, psst, I think he did when compared to most pewsitters/pulpiteers.

While I studied all about Bonhoeffer while doing my academic thing in Germany and visited most of the sites related to his story back in the early 70s and devoured Bethge's biography, Metaxas, the prize-winning author of bestseller Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery, revisits the saint in a most compelling, convicting, and converting way.

One story from his first years as a pastor in Barcelona caught my attention within the context of this KD.

A ten-year-old boy "came into my room with something I had requested from his parents. I noticed something was amiss with the boy, who is usually cheerfulness personified. And soon it came out: he broke down in tears...'Herr Wolf ist tod' (Mr. Wolf is dead)...and then he cried and cried..."

Continuing, "Mr. Wolf is a young German Shepherd dog that was sick for eight days and had just died a half-hour ago. So the boy, inconsolable, sat down on my knee and could hardly regain his composure...He played only with the dog, each morning the dog came to the boy's bed and awakened him - and now the dog was dead. What could I say?"

"Then suddenly," Bonhoeffer recalled, "his wrenching crying became very quiet and he said: 'But I know he's not dead at all...His spirit is now in heaven, where it is happy...Will I see Herr Wolf again? He's certainly in heaven.'"

Bonhoeffer: "Look, God created human beings and also animals, and I'm sure he also loves animals. And I believe that with God it is such that all who loved each other on earth - genuinely loved each other - will remain together with God, for to love is part of God. Just how that happens, though, we admittedly don't know."

Reaction: "You should have seen the happy face on this boy; he had completely stopped crying. 'So then I'll see Herr Wolf again when I am dead, then we can play together again.'"

Bonhoeffer: "I repeated to him a couple of times that we don't really know how this happens. He, however, knew, and knew it quite definitely."

One the greatest theologians of all time who walked the talk concluded: "This whole affair was as important to the young boy as things are for one of us when something really bad happens. But I am almost surprised - moved, by the naiveté of the piety that awakens at such a moment in an otherwise completely wild young boy who is thinking of nothing. And there I stood - I who was supposed to 'know the answer' - feeling quite small next to him; and I cannot forget the confident expression he had on his face when he left."

Out of the mouth of...



Not long after being ordained and just two months past my 25th birthday, octogenarian shut-in Viola Hawk asked me to visit her because she wanted me to do something for her that no pastor had ever done for her despite repeated requests.

She asked me to baptize her dog.

I didn't.

As I look back on that, I confess I'm not sure if I did the right thing when I didn't do it.

Yo! Anal theologians who know more about Jesus than Jesus Himself and pretend to know more than guys who really knew Him better than me maybe you will ever know Him like Bonhoeffer who actually sacrificed himself like Jesus to love Jesus! Yeah, yeah, yeah! Save your dogmatics! Jesus gets you in! Nothing more! No one else!

O.K., I feel much better.

Let me put it another way - the ultimately right way when it comes to any question of faith and morality.

Would Jesus have been upset if I baptized the dog of an octogenarian shut-in?



I'm learning new things about Jesus who never changes every day: "Behold, I make all things new...even you!"

I've missed some lessons.

But, come to think of it, I'm learning more about love from Kopper than...



Blessings and Love!


Reformed Catholic said...

Back in seminary, my wife "the Pastor" had a pastoral studies course with Dr. Craig Barnes at Pittsburgh Seminary.

One of the things she said she learned was that while some requests are not theologically sound, the performance of the request is pastorally sound. (is pastorally a word ??) A lot depends on the circumstances. I think she would agree that the baptizing of the dog while not theologically sound, would be a pastoral thing to do.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

I agree, friend; though I am sure some will want us to be toasted together for it. Isn't it amazing how folks are consistently more exclusive than Jesus! I assume Viola has forgiven me; and maybe even her Scottish Terrier!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Kopp,
About 25 years ago I was sitting in the pew, listening to our associate pastor chastise the congregation for frivolous things in our lives. Pet food was one of the items he decided was a waste, and the money could be better spent on the poor, rather than feeding an animal. I did not particularly agree with much this pastor supported as he was definitely on the liberal side of things, but I had never felt compelled to address it with him. After that sermon, I came home and wrestled with the completely ignorant things he had said. During the night, I arose because I coul d not sleep. I wrote him a long letter, describing to him the lessons I had learned about the love of Jesus Christ through the experience of unconditional love from my dogs. I felt these lessons had immense value. It was clear in his response to my letter, with another letter, that he and I were talking past each other, and not communicating.
I like Bonhoeffer's explanation to the young boy, and I like even more the young boy's assessment of the situation. Love is what it is all about in this world. We need every example we can get if we have a prayer of approaching this world as Jesus would have us do. My dogs always take me back when I have been a disappointment, and they forgive and forget as easily and as many times as I imagine Jesus must do for me. - NW