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Asbury, Francis

(1745–1816). Sent 1771 by J. Wesley* as miss. to Am.; first bp. of M. E. Ch. ordained in Am.; Journals reveal his zeal and wide miss. activity. See also Coke, Thomas; McKendree, William; Methodist Churches, 1.


Event in which the risen Christ removed His visible presence from the soc. of men and passed into the heavens. The doctrine of the Ascension is based on Acts 1:1–12; Mk 16:19; Lk 24:49–51 (which narrate the event); Jn 6:62; 20:17 (which look forward to it); Eph 4:8–10; 1 Ti 3:16; 1 Ptr 3:22; Heb 4:14 (which imply it). The Ascension is also implied in the references of Acts and the Epistles to Christ's being “seated at the right hand of God” (Acts 2:34; 5:31 RSV; 7:55, 56; Ro 8:34; Eph 1:20; Cl 3:1; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). Throughout the apostolic age the Ascension is assumed as a fact among the other facts of Christ's life, as consistent with them, and as real.

The Ascension marks, for the Savior, the highest degree of exaltation, as it implies His session at the right hand of God, His entering into the full use, according to His human nature, of the divine attributes, of which He relinquished the full, continued, and unintermittent use and enjoyment during His State of Humiliation.

To the Christian the doctrine of the Ascension has manifold comforts. Faith and hope for the future of God's kingdom rest secure in the knowledge that Christ ascended and now is ever and everywhere present and governs and protects His church on earth. There is to be “a redemption of our body” (Ro 8:23); we shall “bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Co 15:49); “there is a spiritual body” (v. 44); our body shall be changed, “that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body” (Ph 3:21); “our mortal bodies” are to be “quickened” (Ro 8:11). The future life is not to be one of pure spirit; it is to be “clothed upon” (2 Co 5:2). Best of all, we shall “see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2).


(Gk. “exercise,” “practice,” a term used by Gk. philosophers to denote moral discipline). Practiced by Essenes,* (see Pythagoreanism), Therapeutae,* and other religious and philos. cults in pre-Christian times; found in varying degrees in almost all religions.

Outward asceticism was seldom practiced in OT (but cf. Nazarenes: Nm 6:2, 3, 13; Ju 13:5; 1 Sm 1:11; Lm 4:7; Am 2:11). In later Judaism it became a frequent practice (Tob 12:8; Mt 6:16; 9:14; Lk 18:22). The NT opposes work-righteous asceticism (Cl 2:16–23; 1 Ti 4:1–3). On the other hand, the Savior's command to each disciple to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him (Mk 8:34) brings out both aspects of an authentic Christian asceticism, the negative side of self-denial* and the positive side of the imitation of Christ (see Mt 9:15; 10:38, 39; 19:12, 21; 24:42; 25:13; Mk 10:28; Lk 9:57–62; Jn 12:25; Ro 8:13; 1 Co 9:26, 27; Gl 5:24; Col 3:5; 1 Jn 2:15, 16).

Some Gnostics and the Manichaeans practiced ascetic disciplines to free the soul from its entanglement in matter, which they regarded as evil. In varying degrees, these movements as well as others in the surrounding Gk. and Jewish world combined with the NT emphases to shape the ascetic practices of the early ch. and to influence the development of primitive and medieval monasticism.* Thus there were fixed times for fasting, fixed hours for prayer, regulations regarding food, abstinence from marriage, withdrawal from the world and similar practices (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VI, xii). Ascetic disciplines were widely used in the Middle Ages, often in reaction to the laxity and worldliness of both ch. and soc. Their proponents tended to emphasize, among others, the following notions: 1. the body's enjoyment of material things is evil; 2. the individual's duty is to gain his own blessedness; 3. satisfaction is accomplished through ascetic practices; 4. it is a God-pleasing work to imitate the suffering of Christ.

In Freedom of the Christian Man Luther opposed artificial asceticism by showing that works cannot justify and that the Christian can use all God's creatures but must obey the moral law. In addition, Luther often censures monks for work-righteousness (WA 40 I, 608, 609), for considering their mode of life higher than that of others (WA 31 I, 240; 20 I, 8; 33, 101; 46, 25; 40 II, 76), for leaving difficulties and duties of normal life for an invented mode of existence (WA 40 III, 208; 40 I, 342).

The Luth. Conf. oppose ascetic disciplines undertaken to merit grace and forgiveness and emphasize obedience to the moral law (e.g., AC XX 9, 10; XXVI 8). Positively, they teach that Christians will bear with patience, repentance, and faith the crosses that God sends them (Ap XV 45) and that they are to discipline themselves with bodily restraints, fasting, voluntary continence,* almsgiving, and similar exercises as the Scriptures direct and for the kingdom of heaven's sake (AC XXVI 33–39; Ap IV 211, 277–284; XII 143; XV 46, 47; XXIII 36–40, 43, 44, 55, 65, 67–69; XXVII 9, 21, 22; SC VI 10; LC V 37). The revival of interest in an ev. and Biblical asceticism in non-RC Christianity is a significant phenomenon of the mid-20th c. EL, ACP

See also Abstinence; Baptist Churches, 2; Celibacy; Communistic Societies, 2; Gautama Buddha; Gnosticism, 5; Jainism; Self-Denial; Woman in Christian Society, I A.

O. Zöckler, Askese und Mönchtum, 2 vols. (Frankfort, 1897); H. C. Lea, History of Sacerdotal Celibacy in the Christian Church, (New York, 1957); O. Hardman, The Ideals of Asceticism (New York, 1924); P. Pourrat, Christian Spirituality, various translators, 4 vols. (Westminster, Maryland, 1953–55); A. Brunner, A New Creation, tr. R. M. Bethell (New York, 1956); Frei für Gott und die Menschen, ed. L. Präger (Stuttgart, 1959); M. Thornton, English Spirituality (London, 1963); O. Wyon, Living Springs (Philadelphia, 1963).

Ashi, Rabbi

(352–427). Jewish scholar; head of rabbinical school at Sura, Babylonia; chief ed. of Talmud.



Area: ca. 17,000,000 sq. mi. The largest continent and the one on which Christianity had its beginning; but large sections are still without knowledge of Christ. Some of the subdivisions and countries are treated separately as indicated by cross references. For current information see CIA World Factor

B. South Asia.

1. See India, Republic of.

2. Pakistan, Islamic Rep. of. Area: ca. 307,400 sq. mi. ca. 85% Muslim. Till 1947 part of India; then dominion in British Commonwealth. Reorganized into E and W Pakistan 1955. Rep. within Brit. Commonwealth 1956. Revolt changed E Pakistan into indep. People's Rep. of Bangladesh (Bangla Desh; “Bengal[i] Nation”) 1971; as a result, W Pakistan became Simply Pakistan. Main languages: Bengali (official), Urdu, and Eng. in Bangladesh; Urdu (official), Eng., Hindi, and Punjabi in Pakistan. See also India, Republic of, 1; Islam

C. W. Forman* of the Am. Presb. Miss. began work at Lahore, W Pakistan, 1848. This miss. emphasized educ. as miss. method, has institutions ranging from primary to coll., est. Gujranwala Theol. Sem. 1877. CMS began work at Karachi 1850. Others: Am. Meth., Brit. Meth., Salv. Army, Associate Ref. Presb. Ch., Woman's Union Miss. Soc., the Ev. Alliance Miss., Conservative Baptists, Pakistan Christian Fellowship, Internat. Miss., Inc. In W Pakistan the Bap. Miss. Soc. began work at Dinajpur 1795. Others: Australian Bap. Miss., S Bap., Assoc. of Bap. for World Evangelism, Ch. of God, Assem. of God, Seventh-day Adv., Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. 500,000 Christians, mostly converts of descendants from outcasts of Hinduism.

Maria Holst, Dan. Luth. doctor, worked among women 1903–17. In 1926 Jens Christensen joined Dan. Pathan Miss. In 1940s the Am. World Miss. Prayer League entered the field. The two formed Pakistani Luth. Ch. 1955. It works chiefly among Muslims. The Bangladesh Northern Ev. Luth. Ch. had 2,210 mems. 1973. See also Norwegian Foreign Missions, 3.

3. Sri Lanka, Dem. Socialist Rep. of. “Great and beautiful island.” Ceylon till 1972. SE of the S tip of India. Area: 25,332 sq. mi. Sinhalese (Buddhists), Tamil (Hindus), Moors and Malays (Muslim), Burghers. Veddas are aborigines. Under Port. (1505–1658), Dutch (1658–1796) and Brit. (1796 to 1948) control. Dominion, February 4, 1948. Sinhalese is official language. Evangelized in early centuries. Cosmas Indicopleustes reported many Christians in 537. Port. introduced the RC Ch., which has 700,000 members. The Dutch Ref. Ch. was strong at one time, but is now small. The LMS began work 1804. James Chater (d. 1830) began work 1812 (Bap. Miss. Soc.); the Wesleyans 1814; Am. Ceylon Miss. (ABCFM) 1816; CMS 1817. In 1947 the churches of the S India United Miss. and Am. Ceylon Miss. formed the Jaffna Diocese of the Ch. of S India. Others: Ceylon and India Gen. Miss. (1893); Salv. Army (1883); Seventh-day Adv.; Dutch Ref.; Christian Ref. Bd. of Miss.; Assem. of God; Conservative Bap.

Beginning in 1927 missionaries of the Mo. Syn. worked among Tamil-speaking members who had moved from its India missions to Ceylon. After Ceylon became indep., work was begun in Sinhalese. The work, supervised by the India Ev. Luth. Ch., centers in Colombo and Nuwara Eliya.

The total Prot. community is about 100,000.

4. Bhutan, Kingdom of. In the Himalayas, bet. China and India. Area: ca. 17,800 sq. mi. Pop. Under Chinese domination 1720. Turbulent hist. includes condlict with Brit. 1865, when portions were annexed to India; monarchy est. 1907; territorial claims advanced by China 1958. Mem. UN 1971. Ethnic composition: mostly Bhutanese, related to Tibetans; ca. 25% Nepalese; tribal groups (including Lepcha, indigenous; Santal, descendants of migrants from India). Language: Dzongka is official and predominant. Religion: Buddhism ca. 75%; Hinduism ca. 25%. Two Jesuits entered Bhutan 1626 on the way from Bengal to Tibet, but no RC base was est. Evangelistic work has not been allowed. Some Christian miss. bases have been est. near the border.

5. Nepal, Kingdom of. Area: ca. 56,100 sq. mi. mixture of Mongolian and Indian. Ruled by Rana family 1846–1951; constitutional monarchy 1951. Opened to Christian missionaries 1950; United Miss. to Nepal (interdenominational) began educ. and medical work by contract with the govt. (Abode of Peace Hosp. at Katmandu). Later the Miss. to Lepers established a leprosarium at Bhangahan.

6. Tibet (Thibet. Chin.: Sitsang). Area: ca. 471,700 sq. mi. Mongolians, ruled by lamas, Buddhist priests or monks, the supreme ruler being the Dalai Lama until 1951, when the Chinese communists entered. The Dalai Lama fled to India 1959. Autonomous region of People's Rep. of China* 19##

RCs attempted to establish missions in 1845 but were expelled. In 1850s Moravians established a miss. on road leading from Punjab to Tibet. A Tibetan fugitive scholar and son, Joseb Gergan, tr. Bible with help of missionaries; printed 1948. Other border missions: Ev. Alliance; World Miss. Prayer League; Worldwide Evangelization Crusade; Cen. Asia Miss.; Miss. to Lepers; Mar Thoma Ch. of India.

7. Sikkim. Area: ca. 2,800 sq. mi. Buddhist Closed to Christian missions. Became a state of the Rep. of India* 1975.

C. Southeast Asia.

1. Myanmar, Union of (since May 26, 1989; formerly Burma, Socialist Rep. of the Union of). Area: ca. 261,300 sq. mi. Religion is Buddhism (“Land of Pagodas”) mixed with animism. Ruled by Brit. for 120 yrs. Indep. since January 1948. For yrs. the govt. has restricted entrance of missionaries. About 100,000 Karen (mostly Bap.) are Christians. Only about 12,000 Buddhists have been converted. RCm entered in the 17th c.

Adoniram Judson (Am. Bap.) began work in 1814. By 1834 he had tr. Bible into Burmese. George Dana Boardman (Bap.) with the native Ko* Tha Byu opened station among Karen 1828. John E. Marks, a Jewish Christian, entered Burma for the Angl. SPG 1859. Anglicans operate St. John's Coll. and Holy Cross Coll. (sem.) at Rangoon. Others: Am. Meth. (1879); Eng. Meth. (Mandalay, 1887); Bible Churchmen's Miss. Soc. (1924); Salv. Army; Seventh-day Adv.; Pentecostal groups.

2. Malaya, Federation of. Area: perhaps ca. 51,000 sq. mi. Religion: Islam (predominant), animism, Buddhism. Controlled successively by Port., Dutch, English, Domin. 1957. Joined Fed. of Malaysia 1963. Francis Xavier (RC) did miss. work middle of 15th c. There are about 86,000 RCs in Malaya.

The LMS sent W. Milne* to Malaya 1815 as the 1st Prot. miss. Other Brit. Societies: SPG (1848); Presb. Ch. (1851); Soc. for the Promotion of Female Educ. in the E (1843); Christian Miss. in Many Lands; Salv. Army.

The Am. Meth. began work at Singapore 1885; branched out to Malaya and Indonesia. 62 primary and secondary schools enrolled 53,000 students (1960).

China was officially closed to for. miss. 1951; many workers moved to Malaya. The largest group belonged to the Overseas Miss. Fellowship. Many of these entered the New Villages Established 1950 to 1953 to hinder communist infiltration. 14 missions worked in the New Villages 1960. The ULC on invitation by an E Asia Luth. Conf. in 1952 est. missions in some of the New Villages in the vicinity of Kuala Lumpur. The Tamil Luth. Ch. in India Established Tamil-speaking congregations in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore. The Batak church has a diaspora parish in and near Singapore.

In 1948 the Malayan Christian Council was organized with headquarters at Singapore.

Became part of Fed. of Malaysia* 1963.

3. Singapore, Rep. of. See Malaysia, 1, 3.

4. Thailand, Kingdom of (Thai: Muang Thai. Formerly Siam). Area: ca. 198,500 sq. mi. Thai (originally Chinese), of which the Siamese are a subdivision; Shan Laos; Chinese. Buddhism is the state religion. People easygoing, yet advanced in civilization.

Thailand had an absolute monarchy until 1932, when a bloodless revolution introduced the Supreme Council of State which acts for the king.

Ann Hasseltine Judson (1789–1826) tr. Matthew, the Burman Cat., and a tract into Siamese with the help of Siamese prisoners at Rangoon (1815–20). Karl F. A. Gützlaff* (Neth. Miss. Soc.) landed in Bangkok, August 23, 1828. He and his wife tr. Bible into Siamese and parts into Lao and Cambodian. The ABCFM sent David Abeel* in 1831. In 1833 John Taylor Jones, who tr. NT into Thai, was sent by the Am. Bap. Bd., and William Dean (organized first Prot. ch. in Far E at Bangkok, 1837) 2 yrs. later. In 1837 the Presb. Bd. of For. Miss. began work and developed the largest Prot. miss. In 1934 its churches organized the Ch. of Christ in Thailand. Their largest station is at Chiang Mai, where they have Prince's Royal Coll., Dara Academy, McGilvary Theol. Sem., McCormick Hosp. and McKean Leprosy Colony. After China was closed, many of its missionaries went to Thailand. Some of the societies in Thailand are: Seventh-day Adv. (1918); Christian and Miss. Alliance (1929); Overseas Miss. Fellowship (CIM); Am. Bap.; S. Bap.; Pent. Miss.; New Tribes Miss.; Worldwide Evangelization Crusade; Oriental Boat Miss.; Internat. Child Evangelism Fellowship; Jeh. wit. The ABS (Thailand Bible House) has been active since 1837.

5. Cambodia. See Kampuchea, Democratic.

6. Laos (official name: Lao People's Democrat Rep.). Area: 91,428 sq. mi. chiefly Laotians (originally from China) and aborigines. Buddhism is state religion but many are animists. Laos came under Fr. control (1893, 1904); free state in the Fr. Union 1946; indep. 1949; constitutional monarchy was replaced 1975 by a People's Dem. Rep. See also French Indochina.

Swiss mems. of Christian Miss. in Mary Lands began work in S Laos, 1902. Workers of this miss. tr. Bible into Lao (1926, NT; 1932, whole Bible). Presb. from Thailand worked among the Kha tribes. The Christian and Miss. Alliance has worked with success in N Laos. Overseas Miss. Fellowship (CIM) entered Laos 1958.

7. Socialist Rep. of Vietnam (formerly the Fr. Indochina states of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China). Area: ca. 127,200 sq. mi. chiefly Annamese, a Mongolian people long influenced by Chinese, whose religion is Buddhism altered by Confucianism and Taoism. A new cult is that of Cao Dai; Caodaism combines elements from Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, RCm, and Islam. Fr. gained control ca. 1760. Indochina indep. at end of WW; II. Vietnam divided at 17th parallel 1954. N Vietnam a communist “People's Republic”; S Vietnam a republic. See also French Indochina.

The RC Ch. gained a firm foothold during yrs. of Fr. control and has over 1,000,000 members The Christian and Miss. Alliance began work 1911. It operates the John Olsen Mem. Studio, the Alliance Press, and Cen. Bible School. Parts of Bible tr. into several tribal languages. Other miss.: Seventh-day Adv.; Worldwide Evangelization Crusade; Wycliffe Bible Translators.

8. See Indonesia.

9. See Philippines, Republic of the.

D. Far East.

See China; Japan; Korea; Mongolia; Taiwan.

E. Middle East.

See Middle East. EL


(RC). The ceremony of sprinkling people with holy water before mass.


(Arab. hashashin, “hashish eaters”). Secret politico-religious Muslim sect of the Shi'ites*; founded 1090; flourished in Syria and Persia until suppressed in 13th c. Became terror by practicing “assassination.” Head, “Old Man of the Mountain,” had “assassins” drugged with hashish, intoxicating extract of hemp, before sending them on their murderous missions.

Assemblies of God.

Originated in the revival movement that began in the 20th c. Organized 1914 according to a combination of Cong. and Presb. principles, the movement emerged as the largest “Pentecostal” denomination in the US. Distinctive doctrines in addition to a core of ev. theol. are: (1) baptism in the Holy Spirit accompanied by the sign of speaking in other tongues; (2) divine healing of the body as a provision of the atonement; (3) the imminent premillennial coming of Christ. While not teaching the eradication of the old nature as do the “Holiness” bodies, high standards of practical holiness are practiced. Kindred groups united 1935 to form the Independ Assemblies of God, Internat.

I. Winehouse, The Assemblies of God (New York. 1959); C. Brumback, Suddenly, from Heaven (Springfield, Missouri, 1961); K. Kendrick, The Promise Fulfilled (Springfield, Missouri, 1961). WGM

Assig, Hans von

(1650–94). Silesian nobleman, high official at Schwiebus in the Electorate of Brandenburg; hymnist.

Associated Gospel Churches.

Founded 1922 in Hamilton and Toronto, Can.

Associated Lutheran Charities.

Founded 1901 in Chicago by 3 pioneers in city or institutional miss. work: F. W. Herzberger* of St. Louis, August Schlechte (July 9, 1868–April 17, 1920) of Chicago, and F. C. T. Ruhland* of Buffalo. Men prominent in the movement in later yrs. included Carl Eissfeldt (November 29, 1854–March 14, 1935) of Milwaukee, a worker in the field of child welfare; Philipp Wambsganss Jr. (February 16, 1857–April 21, 1933) of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, whose interests centered in hospitals and child welfare agencies; and Enno Duemling,* long-time institutional miss. in Milwaukee.

In the early days of the organization an annual conf. for mutual instruction and encouragement was the sole objective. Later other aims were added.

Assoc. Luth. Charities was instrumental in est. Bethesda Luth. Home for mentally retarded and epileptic children, Watertown, Wisconsin, 1903. It also provided the impetus for founding the Deaconess Soc. 1919 and for est. undergrad, soc. work courses at Valparaiso U. Assoc. Luth. Charities took the leading role in sensitizing LCMS to its need for a Dept. of Soc. Welfare.

In recent years new and experimental forms of soc. ministry have emerged. LCMS experiments involve “Ministers of Social Service,” Luth. soc. workers with theol. training besides grad. soc. work educ., on staffs of inner city parishes. They engage in a generic ministry, sharing professional insights with other parish staff members. JCC

See also Social Work.

Associate Reformed Church.

Has roots in the Ref. Presbytery (later called Ref. Presb. Ch.) organized Scot. 1743 under leadership of J. Macmillan* and Thomas Nairn(e) (ca. 1680–1764) by Ref. Presbyterians who traced their origin to 1733, when E. Erskine,* William Wilson (1690–1741), Alexander Moncrieff (1695–1761), and James Fisher (1697–1775) left the Est. Ch. and founded the Associate Presbytery (first called Assoc. Syn.; at times called Society People). Many emigrated to US. The 1st organization in the US was the Assoc. Presbytery of Pennsylvania, founded 1753. In 1774 the first Ref. Presbytery of Am. was organized. The Assoc. Presbytery of New York was founded 1776. These 3 (except for a minority that continued till 1858 as the Assoc. Presb. Ch.) united 1782 as the Assoc. Ref. Presb. Ch., a syn. in polity. In 1802 it reorganized as 4 syns. (New York, Pennsylvania, Scioto, and the Carolinas) subordinate to a gen. syn. convened 1804. The syn. of Scioto withdrew to form indep. Assoc. Ref. Syn. of the West 1820. In 1821 the syn. of the Carolinas was released to form Assoc. Ref. Syn. of the South 1822. After the disputed 1822 gen. syn. resolution to unite with the Presb. Ch. in the USA, the syn. of New York continued indep. and reunited 1855 with syn. of the West as Gen. Syn. of the Assoc. Ref. Ch. This Gen. Syn. and the Assoc. Syn. (formed 1801; indep. of the Gen. Syn. of Scot. 1818) formed The United Presb. Ch. of N. Am. 1858. The Assoc. Ref. Syn. of the South continued indep. and became the Assoc. Ref. Presb. Ch. (Gen. Syn.). See also Gordon, Andrew; Presbyterian Churches, 1, 4. EL

Association of Canadian Bible Colleges.

Est. 1968 (29 charter mems.) by resolution of the Canadian Conf. of Christian Educs. (which met annually since 1959); 38 mems. in 1981.

Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches.

Formed by dissident mems. of LCMS. Founding conv. met in Chicago, Illinois, December 3–4, 1976. Regional syns.: East Coast (R. Ressmeyer, pres.-bp.), English (primarily upper Midwest; H. Hecht, pres.). Great Rivers (H. Neunaber, pres.), Pacific (P. Jacobs, pres.), Southwest (R. Studtmann, pres.). Pres.: W. Kohn. Merged 1987 with The American* Lutheran Church and the Lutheran* Church in America to form the Evangelical* Lutheran Church in America. See also Christ Seminary—Seminex; Evangelical Lutherans in Mission; Fellowship, B; Interim Eucharistic Sharing.

Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, The.

Organized October 1962 at Thief River Falls, Minnesota, by a group of congs. of the former Lutheran* Free Ch. that chose not to merge with The ALC, a few congs. from other ch. groups of Norw. background, and some congs. earlier affiliated with the Suomi Syn. The assoc. started a sem. 1964 and a Bible School 1966 at 3110 E Medicine Lake Blvd., Minneapolis, Minnesota Miss fields have included Sao Pualo, Brazil, and Nogales, Arizona Summer Bible Camps are stressed. Official pub.: The Ambassador. See also American Lutheran Church, The, I. IO

Association of Pentecostal Assemblies.

Founded 1921 by Elizabeth A. Sexton, Hattie M. Barth, and Paul T. Barth. See also International Pentecostal Assemblies.

Assumption, Feast of the.

Feasts celebrating the Falling Asleep, that is, the death, of Mary have been celebrated in the E since the 4th or 5th c. Emp. Maurice (582–603) fixed the date for such celebrations on August 15. The feast entered the W Ch. in the late 7th c. and became universal by the end of the 8th. Though the doctrine of Mary's bodily assumption seems first to have been upheld in the 8th or 9th c., it was officially declared a probable opinion in the RC Ch. only in the pontificate of Benedict XIV (see Popes, 24) and it was only in 1950 that Pius XII (see Popes, 33) in the bull Munificentissimus Deus defined it as a dogma that RCs must believe (but left open the question whether or not Mary died before being taken bodily into heaven). It has long been a RC holy day of obligation in many countries. The 1572 Luth. Ch. Order for Brandenburg still retained the feast by its traditional name; elsewhere in the 16th and 17th c. some Luth. Ch. Orders kept August 15 as a festival, but commemorated the Visitation (otherwise kept on July 2) on it. ACP


The firm persuasion of being in a state of grace. The Council of Trent* anathematized the doctrine that a Christian may be sure of his salvation, but the Church of the Reformation upheld it. The Christian during his entire life will be cast about with many a doubt; he is to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. Yet he knows, being made divinely sure by the Holy Spirit, that “He which hath begun a good work in him will perform it” (Ph 1:6), the gift of the Spirit through the means of grace being an earnest of the inheritance laid up in heaven. By this assurance the Christian is upheld in tribulation and often rescued from utter despair. As Christians we have “full assurance of understanding” (Cl 2:2), that is, a perfect knowledge and entire persuasion of the truth of the doctrine of Christ. The “assurance of faith,” Heb 10:22, is trust in the sacrifice and priestly office of Christ. The “assurance of hope,” Heb 6:11, relates to the heavenly inheritance and implies a full persuasion that believers are the children of God and therefore heirs of His glory; from this passage it follows that such an assurance is what every Christian ought to aim at, and that it is attainable.

In a sense, assurance is the very essence of Christian faith. It expresses itself in such Scriptural terms as: “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1); “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Ro 5:1); “Ye have received … the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Ro 8:15). Compare the many passages expressing the confidence and joy of Christians, their union with God, and their assurance that sins are forgiven and the ground of fear of future punishment taken away.

The Luth. Conf. throughout agree with FC SD IV 12: “[Justifying] faith is a living bold [firm] trust in God's grace, so certain that a man would die a thousand times for it [rather than suffer this trust to be wrested from him].”

See also Certainty, Religious.

Asterius the Sophist

(d. after 341). Rhetorician and exegete; exponent of Arianism.*


Cult in which celestial bodies are objects of, or assoc. with, worship.


Semi-religious discipline claims to forecast events by observation of stars, sun, moon, planets. Probably was practiced in Mesopotamia ca. 3000 BC, in China ca. 2000 BC, spread to India, (6th c. BC) and Greece (3d c. BC). In Mesopotamia omens were drawn from celestial phenomena. This led to systematic observance of celestial bodies, thus combining religion (astrology) and science (astronomy). In Mesopotamia, and later Egypt, astrology was connected with the ruling family and its predictions concerned the kingdom. When astrology came to the Greeks their world gods were changed to astral deities (catasterism); astrology was made personal, i. e., made prognostications for every person. Such prognostications were based on the zodiacal belt, probably a development of Greeks. In early Christianity astronomy and astrology were distinguished and the latter rejected by various councils. Astrology revived with Charlemagne and was given new impetus by Arab and Jewish scholars in the 12th c. In the 14th c. many univs. had chairs in astrology (e.g., Paris, Florence). Astrology is still a popular pastime but is rejected by the intelligentsia as a serious science.

Astruc, Jean

(1684–1766). Fr. physician and Biblical scholar; called father of documentary hypothesis because he was first to hold that use of Jahweh and Elohim in Pent. reveals different writers or sources. Works include Conjectures sur les mémoires originaux dont il parait que Moyse s'est servi pour composer le Livre de la Genèse. See also Higher Criticism, 12.


1. Hans Jörgen S. (August 30, 1852–May 18, 1939). ELC miss. to Africa. B. Grue, Solör, Norw.; son of Nicolai Astrup; educ. Christiania U. (1870 to 76); Leipzig U. 1875–76, 1883–84, 1892–93; ordained 1878; pastor S Aurdal 1878–80; Jevnaker 1880; S Land 1881–84; miss. (originally of Schreuder Miss.) to Zulu at Entumeni, S Afr., 1884–1914; Entumeni and Eshowe 1914–39. Wrote many books, including Zulu school books and some on the Bible. 2. Johannes (December 3, 1872–June 8, 1955). B. Christiania, Norw.; son of bp. Nils Astrup; to Natal 1883; USA 1890; educ. Luther Coll., Decorah, Iowa, 1890–93, Luther Sem., Robbinsdale (later at St. Paul), Minnesota, 1893–96. Miss. Untunjambili, Natal, S Afr. 1900–31; Supt. Schreuder Miss. 1918 to 1927; Supt. Am. Luth. Miss. in S Afr. 1927–47; wrote several pamphlets in Eng. and Zulu. Ed. paper in Zulu language. D. S Afr.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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