Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Veith on Lutheran Invisibility

"Right on" again, Dr. Veith poses some interesting questions about Lutheran Invisibility over at his Cranach blog. Here's the money quote:

Don't they know there is a church that has the best of Catholicism (sacramental spirituality, liturgy, a rigorously worked-out theology), of Calvinism (grace alone), of Arminianism (Christ died for all), of the Baptists (the inerrancy of Scripture), of Charismatics (tangible supernatural manifestations, which we call Sacraments), all with a non-legalistic, non-pietist church culture that emphasizes Christian freedom.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sermon - Advent 1 - 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

1st Sunday in Advent, November 27th, 2005
“Eagerly Waiting ”
1 Corinthians 1:3-9


I can’t believe December is almost here. Thanksgiving is done, and we are finishing up the left-overs. The shopping season has begun, and the malls are packed. Christmas decorations are up or going up soon, and Holiday parties are filling up the calendar. It’s that time of year again. Yes, it’s Advent. While the world celebrates Christmas beginning as early as September (I even saw some displays going up in August), in the Church, it is the season of Advent.

Advent means, “coming”. And you might think that it means “Christmas is coming”. And it does. But it also reminds us that Christ is coming, or returning, as he has promised.

While the world is awash in red and green, the church wears blue – which reminds us of the sky, and the promise that Christ would return the same way he left – he will come “with clouds descending”.

The halls of the world are decked with strings of lights and depictions of Santa. But the church lights a wreath of candles and thinks of the coming babe of Bethlehem.

Yes, Christmas is commercialized. Yes, the secular forces are trying to take the Christ out of Christmas and make it instead a generic “winter festival”. Yes, many forget the true reason for the season.

But the church is not without its problems. And we too get caught up in the de-christianization of it all. And we, the people of Grace Lutheran Church, also need to come to the foot of the cross in repentance. For we are sinners, and we need Christ. We’re not too unlike the Corinthians…

I. Problems in the Church
Paul wrote at least 2 letters to the church he founded in Corinth. Now, the Church of Corinth was what we might call dysfunctional. It was a mess. They had issues. Real problems. There was sexual immorality, yes even in the church. People thought, “It’s my body, I can do what I want with it”. There were divisions in the church, factions. One group against another against another. Unruly individuals were disrupting the worship services, people were getting drunk from too much communion wine, and some even denied basic teachings of the faith, like that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

Now, I think we have a great congregation here at Grace. But we’re fooling ourselves if we think we are perfect. As a church, even we have our own issues. We struggle with budgets and how to spend our resources. We frustrate each other in our various roles and relationships. We have our little cliques and factions too. After all, we are sinful people. And sinners… sin.

But that’s not all we are. And that’s not all the Corinthians were. Paul speaks lovingly of them, and commends them for their faith. And urges that even in spite of all their problems, that they should eagerly look forward to Christ’s coming.

II. Re-Focusing on Christ
Once a young boy was practicing his batting at the baseball diamond. With a bat in one hand and a ball in the other, he was tossing the ball in the air and taking his swings. He said to himself, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world” tossed the ball up, swung his bat, and missed. Again, “I’m the greatest hitter in the world!” Another ball in the air, another missed swing. Strike two. Once more he repeated, “I am the greatest hitter in the world!” and sure enough, strike three. “Wow.” Said the boy, “I’m the greatest pitcher in the world!”

Just as the young boy was able to find the good in the midst of the bad, so too Paul points to the God’s grace in Christ in the midst of our sin. We Christians are not the greatest do-gooders in the world. In fact the Greek word for sin means “missing the mark”. But Jesus Christ is the greatest, and the only, savior of the world.

Paul re-focuses them, and us, on Christ. Look at how many times Jesus Christ is named in this short passage…. 6 times in 6 verses. And what a reminder – that in all things we would focus on Christ.

Christ is always the solution. He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the author and perfector of our faith. He is the

For Jesus Christ brings us God’s grace. By his death on the cross and rising from the tomb he applies the love of God to sinners like you and me.

Jesus enriches us in every way. He confirms the message of his Gospel, so that we speak it and know it well. And Christ sends, through his spirit, gifts to his people.

And Christ promises he will return. Christ is for us, right now. But there is always the forward-looking, anticipatory nature of our faith. Just as the Corinthians looked forward to that day, so do we. When Jesus Christ is revealed. For that, we eagerly wait.

III. Blameless to the End
And the promise here is a beautiful one. That in Christ, we WILL BE kept strong and blameless until the end. What a word of comfort as we look ahead.

Looking ahead isn’t always the easiest thing to do. The future holds many unknowns. We often ponder how life will unfold, what will happen
in our family, our career, with our health and maybe even our faith. Will we be strong enough in our faith, especially if troubles come? Will we be able to continue trusting in him who came and him who is to come?
Sometimes we dread the future, but we need not do so in Christ. For he will keep us strong and blameless to the end!

Eagerly waiting. It’s a good thing to do in the season of Advent. As we eagerly await the celebration of Christmas, we also eagerly await the revelation of Jesus Christ on that great day to come. We look forward in confidence, knowing the promises of God for his people. For though we have problems, and though we sin much, Christ Brings us God’s grace and keeps us blameless to the end. In His Name, Amen.

Paul encourages believers to eagerly wait for Christ’s coming, with a beautiful promise that He will keep us strong and blameless to the end.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Sermon - Luke 17:11-19 - Thanksgiving

Grace Ev. Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin
Thanksgiving (Eve) Day- 2005
Luke 17:11-19
“Thanks – Why and to Whom?”

I. Introduction

A blessed Thanksgiving holiday to you all. Thanksgiving is that national holiday in which we do just that – give thanks.
As I observe the way our culture celebrates this holiday, somehow the thanking seems to get lost in the mix. Behind all the food and family and cooking and cleaning and traveling and planning and shopping and football and whatever else we do… sometimes the thanks-giving is limited, it seems, to a prayer before the big meal. We should be giving thanks more and better.

But “why?” and “to whom?” These are the questions I want to wrestle with today. Why give thanks? And give thanks to whom?

In our country, most holidays, or “holy days”, have their origins in the Christian church. Christmas, Easter, even St. Patrick’s and St. Valentine’s day are church festivals which have been secularized, at least to some extent.

Halloween was a superstitious response to the Christian celebration of All Saints’ day. The thinking being, that the night before we celebrate the “holy people” (the saints), we must also acknowledge somehow what is “unholy”. And so you get All Hallows’ Eve, or, Halloween. But even this corruption of a church festival has become somewhat secularized.

Now, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday. Declared by president Lincoln, it is a “day of national thanksgiving”, peculiar to the U.S.A. So isn’t it ironic that we find ourselves here in church on a secular holiday? Not really.

For only Christians have a true understanding of Thanksgiving. Only Christians can answer the questions, “why” and “to whom?” And while giving-thanks, and being thank-ful are ongoing in the Christian life, it’s not a bad idea to set aside some time to count our blessings.

Let’s consider the appointed Thanksgiving Day Gospel reading, the account of Jesus healing the 10 lepers.

II. A Striking Story

There are many unusual features to this short narrative.
1. Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for the last time, and along the way he is still teaching, and healing and working miracles. Not so unusual.
2. Slightly unusual – Jesus traveled along the border of Samaria and Galilee. As Luther says, he does this to show that he is the Savior of all people – to make himself available to all, Jew and Gentile alike.
3. Some Lepers called out to him – slightly unusual, as lepers were outcast from the community and forbidden to speak. Having to stand far off, their sickly voices might not have been easily heard over the noise of those following Jesus more closely. But their faith in Jesus was strong, and they called to him out of a deep desire to be healed.
4. Jesus speaks to them – not so unusual, if you know Jesus. He continually showed his love for the outcast and disenfranchised, the poor and the sick.
5. Jesus heals them – Miraculous! But…. also pretty standard, if you know Jesus. By this time in his ministry, his reputation had already preceded him. As then ten responded to his command, “go and show yourselves to the priests”, they were healed.
6. Later, one of them comes back, to THANK him – and now JESUS is amazed – “where are the other 9? Didn’t I heal 10 of you guys?” He of course knows the answer. And then he comments that this one that bothered to give thanks was a foreigner, a Samaritan. Your average Jew wouldn’t have expected that. And finally, Jesus encourages the man – commending his faith. That’s the real miracle here.

But back to our questions about giving thanks – “Why?” and “To Whom?”

III. The Samaritan knew why he was giving thanks.

He had been healed of a terrible disease, which robbed him not only of health but also his place in society. He was also considered ritually unclean. He had lost, basically everything. And now it was restored. He had been to the rock bottom of life, and had been raised from the pit. He knew why he was giving thanks. He had received a great blessing, and he recognized it.

Why did only the one give thanks? Perhaps the others forgot why they should. Perhaps they took their healing for granted. Hard to imagine that something so precious and valuable as a life restored could be treated as such a little thing. But don’t many act this way? Don’t we, at times, wander away from the one who has restored our life? Who has raised us from the pit? Who has snatched us from the very clutches of Hell to bring us to eternal, perfect, life? There’s some of the 9 lepers in all of us, and never enough of the 1.

And yet, we give thanks also because Christ heals us our spiritual leprosy. That disease which infects our very nature. That disease which makes us ungrateful, and unthankful in the first place. That makes us selfish and shallow. All is forgiven when Christ speaks his word to us. And we are made clean.

So much for the “why?”. Now to the “whom?”

IV. Clinging to the Giver

It’s not just enough to count your blessings. We must also count the giver of the blessings. It’s not enough to appreciate what you have. We must also show appreciation to the giver. So often in our world thanksgiving is a direction-less sort of thanks. As sort of inventory of the good things in life, without proper acknowledgment of who makes it all possible. And THAT’s why I say that only the Christian truly understands thanks-giving. We know the gifts, but we also know the giver.

Maybe those 9 lepers were thankful, in a sense. I imagine they were happy to have their health restored. If you asked them, they would probably say they WERE quite thankful. But there’s a difference between liking the gift and thanking the giver.

Luther said of the one leper, that his return, “embraces these two thoughts: not to cling to God's gifts, but only to himself, who gives them.” The leper gave thanks not just in general, but to a person, to his God, who had healed him. He fell at the feet of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, Thanksgiving has a why and a whom. The whom is our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our thanks are always given because of his gifts. Our thanks are always given in His direction.

We thank the Father, especially for the physical blessings of creation. Our life, possessions, relationships, and more. We spoke of those earlier in this service.

We thank the Spirit for bringing us to faith and strengthening us and guiding us and renewing us, and more…

But most especially, we thank the Son for his great work of salvation. For his perfect life lived for us. For his death on the cross. Yes thanksgiving, for the Christian is, like everything else, always about the Cross of Jesus Christ.

No, the leper didn’t heal himself, and he knew it. Nor do we save ourselves, as well we know it. Christ has done it all for us. He is worthy of our praise and thanks. We could never thank him enough, but let us never cease to thank him. He is the “why” and the “whom” of Thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, count your blessings. I hope it takes you a while. Or, you may not think you have much to be thankful for. Maybe you’ve had a bad year. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, been diagnosed with a disease, lost a job, gone through a divorce, failed at some great endeavor or had some other big disappointment. But you still have Christ. And he has you. And no matter what this life brings, we can be, and we Christians are – truly – thankful – for this greatest gift and blessing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Does your church use one of these to decorate for Thanksgiving? We did. Even had one up in the chancel. Not anymore though.

The below from Wikipedia:

The cornucopia, (Latin Cornu Copiae), also known in English as the Horn of Plenty, is a symbol of prosperity and affluence, dating back to the 5th century BC.

In Greek mythology, Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave her the goat's horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia. The original depictions were of the goat's horn filled with fruits and flowers: deities, especially Fortuna, would be depicted with the horn of plenty. More modern images, such as those used in Thanksgiving murals, depict a horn-shaped wicker basket filled with fruits and vegetables.

In modern depiction, the cornucopia is basically a hollow, curved cone with no bottom. The cone is typically filed with various kinds of festive plastic fruit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More 2 Kingdom and Clergy Stuff

Back in July, I posted on, "Lutheran Clergy, Politics, and Blogging".

Since then I have been thinking about my little rule of thumb:

When it comes to moral issues on which the Bible clearly directs a right and wrong (i.e. abortion, capital punishment), the church and the pastor may (must) take a stand.

But where scripture is silent, so too should the pastor remain. Should our taxes be lower, or higher? Should we pass NAFTA or not? Issues like these.

But here's the rub. What about an issue which one sees as clear, but another does not see a scriptural application. Perhaps the whole gun-control debate is one of these. Opponents of gun control might argue that scripture makes no prohibition about the use of guns. Supporters of gun control might uses certain passages to build a case (Jesus commanded Peter, 'Put your sword away!').

Remember, even with the issue of abortion, the Bible never says, "Thou Shalt Not Abort". Rather, we draw conclusions based on how the scriptures speak of life, its beginnings and its Giver. Could the same sort of argument apply to other issues which some might consider "political"?

What's a pastor to do in cases such as this? Are there any further guidelines or rules of thumb you would suggest? I have other thoughts on this but let's get the discussion going...

Gun Control and Two Kingdoms

The State of Wisconsin has been debating a provision to allow citizens to carry concealed guns. The arguments have raged in the local paper here, and my eyes perked up quickly when I saw Lutherans joining the fight.

What follows are two opinion pieces printed recently. The first, but Rev. Sue Moline Larson, a full-time lobbyist for the ELCA. She is for gun control. The second, from Keith Deschler a local Libertarian and an ELCA member, who is against gun control.

Whether you are for or against this particular measure, hopefully you agree with me that Mr. Deschler nails Larson with a wonderful understanding of Lutheran two-kingdom theology, and the proper role of Christian clergy. Particularly good are Mr. Deschler's last three paragraphs.


Can legislators be educated about gun violence in U.S.?

By the Rev. Sue Moline Larson

A generation ago, religious educator Morton Kelsey authored a book, "Can Christians Be Educated?" Thirty years later, Wisconsin residents are asking a similar question about state legislators. Can elected leaders hear sound information and be educated on issues of public safety? We hope a decisive majority of legislators can listen and will not press to overturn 135 years of sound government in order to promote the carrying of concealed weapons.

The argument that legalizing concealed weapons will increase personal protection has not been convincing in Wisconsin. In April 2003, the Public Policy Forum, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization in Milwaukee, found that only 27 percent of Wisconsinites supported allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons. Likewise, the Badger Poll asked if the state should allow "people who can legally own handguns to carry concealed weapons in most public places." Nearly 60 percent of men and a resounding 80 percent of women, who would supposedly benefit from putting a pistol in their purse, said "No!" A Gallup poll last year found that even a majority of gun owners oppose concealed weapons, and this year CNN/Gallup found that just a third of Americans feel safer in a public place where concealed weapons are legal.

Any change in our gun laws that increases ownership endangers us all while providing a false sense of security to many gun owners. The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence released chilling information that three-fourths of people who used a firearm to kill their current or former partner would have passed the test proposed to get a concealed weapons permit. So shouldn't women have guns in their possession to protect themselves?

To the contrary, the Annals of Emergency Medicine journal found that "purchasing a handgun provides no protection against homicide among women and is associated with an increase in their risk for intimate partner homicide." In fact, most battered women in Wisconsin who shoot their partner in self-defense are convicted of homicide or related crimes.So why do concealed carry proponents keep going against the will and common sense of the general public?

The answer is not surprising - there is profit to be made! Despite contracts of $19 million for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, $4 million to supply pistols to our Coast Guard, and $24 million for the Dept. of Homeland Security, gun manufacturers want to boost their business even further. By cleverly creating an ideology of myths and propaganda, they have succeeded in passing pseudo "personal protection" bills throughout the nation to sell more guns.

Their rosy market returns disguise the tragic consequences: more than 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S. Where among 17,000 suicides, and nearly 12,000 homicides are stories of the heroes confronting criminals? Only 300 were legal interventions, many by off-duty police officers carrying their guns.Police officers file reports on the dreadful details of gun violence, but clergy carry the burden of loss with the survivors. Long after tragic experiences become anonymous statistics in a state registry, we minister to the guilt, pain, and anger that linger and haunt.

Among the most tragic deaths are youth. Recently my husband sat with middle school students from his summer Bible Camp discussion group at the funeral of their 14-year-old friend who, in a moment of despondency, used a handgun to kill himself. This fall, a grandmother shared with him the anguish a neighbor, a dairy farmer, who was not able to wrest the handgun from his honor student daughter's hands before she shot and killed herself. Earlier in the year, he conducted the funeral of a father of three teenagers who used a handgun to take his life.

Even though thirty years have passed since my brother committed suicide, the stories are still compelling. I am drawn to read obituary columns and pray for the survivors of family members whose cause of death (`died unexpectedly at home') infers another suicide.

Guided by Lutheran doctrine and its Biblical foundations, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has affirmed that "Government is responsible under God for the protection of its citizens and the maintenance of justice and public order." Too many legislators are committed to cutting the resources of government, including police, courts, and prevention programs, and replacing them with licensed self-appointed vigilantes who supposedly would maintain the peace. The ELCA National Church Council's 1994 "Message on Community Violence" directs that "As citizens in a democracy, we have the responsibility to join with others to hold government accountable for protecting society and ensuring justice for all."

We must all send a stronger signal to legislators pushing for legalizing concealed weapons that this ludicrous proposal is bad public policy.

The Rev. Sue Moline Larson is director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin, ELCA., Madison.


Radical church activism

As a Libertarian and as an ELCA Lutheran, I am quite dismayed that my church benevolence, along with that of 750 ELCA churches statewide, pays or the blatantly partisan, left-liberal political activism of Rev. Sue Moline Larson and her agency, the Lutheran Office of Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW).They not only support federal licensing of all firearms, and oppose concealed carry.

They also favor full federal/state funding of social services (instead of more private charity); an "efficient, singly administered state health plan (socialized medicine, with its bureaucracy, rationed care, and higher prices); tax reform with "targeted revenue increases" ( tax hikes on small businesses and average-income citizens); increasing the minimum wage (raise business costs, and reduce jobs for entry-level workers); and the defeat of a Colorado-style Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR, a modest limit on the growth of state government).

This radical socialist agenda is impractical, and has been proven a failure over the years. I deeply resent the fact that my religious denomination wishes to act as a partisan political entity.

If Rev. Larson and the LOPPW want to be involved in such activities, fine. However, they should be independent of any formal affiliation with a Christian church denomination, since the purpose of Christ's church is to nurture the spiritual life of its members, without regard to their political views and affiliations.

As for Rev. Larson, she should remember why she was ordained into the holy ministry in the first place - to preach the Gospel of Christ, to teach God's Word, to administer the sacraments, and to nurture spiritual growth in the lives of Christian believers.

If she doesn't see that as her primary purpose, then she should resign her ordination, and instead work full-time as a lobbyist for the Howard Dean/Ted Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party.Christians of whatever denomination should trust that the money placed in the collection plate is used to further God's Kingdom, and not Caesar's.

Keith R. Deschler,
3224½ Meachem Road, Racine

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"The Ugly Fundamentalist"

Just ran across an interesting blog by a retired ELCA pastor.

I enjoyed his latest post, "The Ugly Fundamentalist". Hope you do too.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thaddeus and "Irresistable Grace in Baptism"?

Wow. Good question, Thaddeus. Might I ask what faith tradition you are coming FROM? Just curious...

I think you have a pretty good handle on what Lutherans actually teach. Probably better than most Lutherans. Your question is also very articluate and multi-faceted.

I will do my best to answer, but I am perhaps not the most authoritative source for an answer. I would also suggest posting your question to a forum such as, or asking the LCMS information center (go to and look for FAQs).

ANyway... here goes (my responses in italics)

TJ G wrote:

Hi Rev. Chryst,

Thank you for writing back. I wanted to start our
conversation by asking about the relation of faith and
baptism. I don't fully understand the Lutheran
teaching in this area. Do Lutherans hold that all
Trinitarian baptisms (due to God's promise attached to
the water) automatically bring about regeneration, and
saving faith in the person baptized?

We speak of baptism as a "means of grace", which is a way in which God has promised his gifts may be received. I don't know that I have ever heard a Lutheran phrase it as "automatically", but in general, yes, we teach that baptism gives the gift of faith, the holy spirit, forgives sins, regenerates, and brings one into the church, the New Israel.

Luther's Small Catechsim puts it this way: (From, which is a site you may wish to research further - the historical confessions of the Lutheran Church)

"What does Baptism give or profit?--Answer:
It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare."


"Where is this written?--Answer:
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death,
that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so
we also should walk in newness of life."

(Of course, I
understand that for some it only strenghtens their
faith, which was already formed on the basis of
hearing the gospel).

This would be true of those who had come to faith first, via the word of God (another means of grace). In this case, while baptism does not create faith, it is still considered necessary because of the command of Christ in Matthew 28. Sometimes we say, "baptism is necessary, but not necessary for salvation". See also Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch as an example of this.

Wouldn't that be simillar to ex opere operato, as the
Roman Catholics have it?

I understand ex opere operato to be, "out of the doing of the doing". Lutherans would have a problem saying that it is the act or ritual or performance of the thing itself that holds efficacy, but instead we focus on the saving work of the word, which really is the "thing" in baptism (or, either sacrament). But I can understand how someone might accuse us of ex opere operato. Frankly, I don't know that I understand the Roman teaching well enough to completely deliniate the difference.

Is there hypothetically such
a thing as a non-regenerative Trinitarian baptism?

I know what scripture says, and that is that "Baptism now saves you" (I Peter 3:21). I don't know that it speaks directly to "non-regenerative" baptism.

the infant actually resist the grace of God "in the
water" of baptism?

Good question. I suppose one could, but how would we know? Jesus does commend the faith of children, and I have to say that in my experience children simply believe what they receive. However, on the other hand, every Lutheran I know is quick to point out that God alone judges the heart.

It confuses me, becouse Lutherans
tend to reject the Reformed teaching on "irresistable
grace". Yet here it almost sounds like grace is
irresistable in baptism.

From what I heard from other Lutherans, it appears as
if you teach that faith is necessary to receive the
benefits of baptism. However, it is likewise true that
every baptized infant receives saving faith anyways.
So that there is actually no such a case in which
someone does not have the necessary faith to receive
the benefits of baptism. Now, he or she may loose the
"baptismal svaing faith," if it is not nourished. But
everyone receives saving faith (and eternal life)
initially in baptism. There are no exceptions to that
rule. Is that what you actually teach?

I may be treading on thin ice here, but I suppose by analogy we could say, take the faith that comes by hearing. Does one receive the blessings of the word only when he puts his faith in the word? Yes. But does that word itself also create the faith which receives the blessings? Yes. Can it be rejected? Yes, either before or after the faith seems to be there. I think part of the problem here is also trying to nail down in a neat and tidy box when faith begins.

Now with baptism, you have that moment, it would seem. But then again, Baptism is also powered by - the word! So really, we could leave baptism completely out of the picture and simply talk about the saving nature of the word of God, and how it brings faith. And before you say that infants can't respond to the word, because they don't understand, remember John the Baptist (in utero) who leapt for joy at the sound of Mary's greeting (the word?). Maybe that just muddies the waters, I don't know.

Oh, another question that may help clarify. Was the OT act of circumcision "ex opere operato"? Paul says baptism is the circumcision of the heart. I think we can learn a lot about NT baptism via study of OT circumcision.

Could you clarify all this for me? I'd appreciate it.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my
Later, Thaddeus writes:

Thanks so much for your helpful response. Yes, you may
post it on your blog. :) You also asked about the
tradition that I am coming FROM -- It's conservative

I will continue to visit your blog. I'll try to keep
in contact with you. I am certainly very much open to
becoming a Lutheran. There are still various obstacles
on the way for me. It's possible that they will
disapear with time, as I immerse myself in Lutheran
theology in an in-depth way.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Solas - time to update?

Christ alone, Scripture alone, Grace alone, Faith alone, through the Means alone!

This has been rolling around in my brain since a recent frustrating conversation I had with a Baptist. What do you think?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reformation Quiz

Thanks to Amor et Labor for this interesting quiz. What follows are my answers...

Put an E next to those issues (whatever your position) for which you would Die.
Put a BE next to those items for which you would Divide.
Put an A next to those items that are okay to disagree about.
Add other issues to the list as necessary. Post on your blog and let me know.

Trinity E
Divinity of Jesus E
Literal Resurrection E
Full Humanity of Jesus E
Nature of the Lords Supper E
Common Cup A
Justification E
Sanctification E
Intinction A
Disposable Cups at Communion A
Nature of Baptism E
Age of Baptism E
Mode of Baptism (sprinkling or dunking) A
Necessity of Holy Spirit Baptism E
Ordination of Women E
Ordination of Homosexual people E
Sacramental Marriage E (DEFINE)
Virgin birth E
Perpetual virginity of Mary A
Authority of Scripture E
Authority of Tradition E
Inerrancy of Scripture E
Use of Images in worship BE (HOW?)
Contemporary music in worship A (DEFINE)
Specific translation of Scripture A (DEPENDS)
Baptismal Regeneration E
Decisional Regeneration E
Supralapsarianism/Infralapsariansim (order of decrees) ???
Human nature after the Fall E
Nature of the Atonement E
One Person, two Natures E
The Filioque BE
Church Membership for Practicing Homosexual people E
Rapture E
Millennium E
Primacy of the Word E
Beer BE
Dancing BE
Playing Cards BE
Swearing BE (DEFINE)
Premarital Sex E
Postmarital Sex E (?)
Healing continues E
Tongues continue E
Literal Hell E
Literal Devil E
Apocrypha (inclusion in Canon) BE
James (inclusion in Canon) BE
Revelation (inclusion in Canon) BE
Private Confession E (DEPENDS)
Burial versus Cremation A
Divorce E
Entire Sanctification E (WE CAN'T)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

LCMS E-NEWS: Good News, Bad News

The LCMS E-NEWS communique' I received today states the following:

'Headcount' at Synod colleges hits new record...

Total enrollment at the Synod's 10 Concordia University System (CUS) schools continues to climb, and this fall's 18,569 for both undergraduate and graduate programs sets a new record high, with nearly 1,000 more students than last fall.

Sounds great, right? Now for the bad news (much later in the email):

* The number of students studying for church careers is down by 137, or 5 percent, since fall 2004, continuing a four-year trend. This year's 2,613 church-work students include 1,439 teachers, 426 pre-seminary, 404 directors of Christian education, 182 lay ministers, 57 directors of family life ministry, 38 directors of parish music, 34 directors of Christian outreach, and 33 deaconesses.

Meyer cites the shrinking pool of high-school students in general, combined with a reluctance on the part of today's young people to choose what are typically low-paying careers in a "church body that is divided by conflict."

"Students are perceptive," he said. "When there's conflict in the church, they're not about to gamble with something as vital in their life as their future."

What is particularly interesting here are the reasons given for the church-work student decline.
1) Demographics
2) We don't pay enough
3) Conflict in the "church" (did you mean Synod?)

I might concede the first reason (excuse). Maybe even the second (though, hasn't it always been that way - in fact, hasn't it been much worse?)

But the final reason does not sound realistic to me. Really, in one sense has there not always been conflict in the LCMS (as in every church body)? What's really so different now?

Oh, are we talking about the post-911-Yankee Stadium era? I can agree that the conflict has been greater lately, but is there REALLY a direct correspondance between the last 4 years of tusseling and the longer trend of church-work-student decline? It seems to me the Concordias have been going this way since long before 2001.

Maybe the angst over current politics is coloring our thinking here a little.

All Saints Day Stuff

While digging around for some information on All Saints' Day, I ran across this post from fellow Lutheran Blogger, Rev. Borghardt:

"Precious in the Lord's sight is the death of His Saints" (Ps. 116:15)
He mentions that the RC church declared John Paul II a martyr, which is, after all, kind of strange.

He also mentions some of the saints (martyrs) who are also remembered for how they died. Which got me to thinking....

Isn't there something a little morbid about the fascination with various methods of death for the martyrs? It almost reminds me of The Ghastlycrumb Tinies (which is morbidly funny - but means to be).

Then there's the whole "patron saint" thing, which to me, is just another permutation of poly-theism. Check out THIS ridiculous list. My answer to such nonsense is that I have only one patron - the LORD.

Call upon HIM in the day of trouble.... where did I read that... oh yeah...
Psalm 50:15