Archive for September, 2006

Kurt Marquart on Eastern Orthodoxy

September 23rd, 2006 Comments off

Here is a transcript of an interview with Kurt Marquart from the radio show Issues, etc. on Eastern Orthodoxy. Professor Marquart was well familiar with Orthodoxy, not merely from books or from converted American Protestants, but from the inside out, having been raised in close proximity to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Download marquart_on_eastern_orthodoxy.doc

Here’s a little snippet:

You’ll find many different spokesmen for Eastern
Orthodoxy and different approaches to that, but on the whole they will say
that- they’ll reject the notion of Scripture alone. They say that Scripture has to be read “through
the eyes of tradition,” namely, ecumenical councils and all that. And there is a de-emphasis- doctrine is not
as important in Eastern Orthodoxy as it is for us. So, for example, a Russian priest, I
remember, didn’t have to preach a sermon. If he didn’t feel like it, he wouldn’t preach that day. So that’s not essential. On the other hand, I remember as a boy one
thing that used to sadden me was to see the contrast: on the one hand, while the
gospel’s being read there’s a gospel procession and there is this wonderful
book, the book of the gospels, and it would be decked with jewels and gold and
there’s incense swinging- they’d go round three times and chanting- there’s all
this beautiful [sic], and so on, and then, when the priest preaches his sermon,
there’s hardly any gospel, but basically moralism. So that there was a sad contrast that I found
at the time.


Categories: Uncategorized

Funeral for Kurt Marquart

September 23rd, 2006 1 comment

You may listen to the funeral of Kurt Marquart at the Concordia Theological Seminary web site.

Categories: Lutheranism

Professor Marquart’s Last Lecture

September 22nd, 2006 Comments off

I’m very pleased to inform you that a seminarian at Fort Wayne had the privilege of being in one of Professor Marquart’s last class lectures, if not the very last, and he recorded it. All of us who sat at Professor Marquart’s feet will enjoy very much hearing our dear professor’s final formal and public theological lecture. His remarks on the Kolb/Wengert translation of the BKS version of the Lutheran Confessions warmed my heart, I must admit.

Categories: Lutheranism

What is to come

September 21st, 2006 3 comments

I’m convinced that the two greatest threats to the Faith in the coming years, from a human point of view, are the pluralistic paganism infecting modern "spiritualities" and Islam. Here is an example of what I expet to be happening more and more.

ACNS 4192     |     NIGERIA     |     21 SEPTEMBER 2006

Cathedral burned and Bishop’s Office attacked in a riot

The Bishop of Dutse (Jigawa State, Nigeria) The Rt Revd Yesufu Lumu, has
told ACNS in a telephone interview that a local conflict between a
Christian and Muslim woman escalated into a full blown riot on the
streets of the city. The end result was St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral
was burned to the ground and the Bishop’s office and car port destroyed.

"It was calm during the night," the bishop said, but was very concerned
as the "police would not respond to the calls for protection from the

According to one report the anger was said to have been "sparked off by
an alleged blasphemous comment on Prophet Muhammed by a Christian woman,
who reportedly spoke in reaction to a similarly irreverent statement
about Jesus Christ by a male Muslim."

The Provincial Communications Officer, the Revd Canon AkinTunde Popoola,
told ACNS, "All vehicles belonging to the Diocese were also burnt as
well as business premises of some church members" during the rioting on
19th September.

The bishop said, "No one was hurt, we are simply praying that the
conflict does not spread."

ACNSlist, published by Anglican Communion News Service, London, is
distributed to more than 8,000 journalists and other readers around
the world.

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Categories: Uncategorized

More Televisions than People

September 21st, 2006 Comments off

More televisions in most American homes than there are human beings. . .anyone ever read Farenheit 451? Remember the future that Bradbury predicted? People staring at huge flat panel screens? That future is quickly becoming now.

Link: BREITBART.COM – More TVs Than People in Average Home.

The average American home now has more television sets than people.

That threshold was crossed within the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research. There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said.

With televisions now on buses, elevators and in airport lobbies, that development may have as much to do with TV’s ubiquity as an appliance as it does conspicuous consumption. The popularity of flat-screen TVs now make it easy to put sets where they haven’t been before.

Categories: Current Affairs

Fox Gets Into Religious Movie Market

September 21st, 2006 Comments off

Ecumenical News International 
Daily News Service 
21 September 2006 


New religious movie label to entertain not proselytise, says
media giant 

By Chris Herlinger 
New York, 21 September (ENI)–The US media giant Fox has
announced plans to target the growing market of Christian
movie-goers by establishing a religious-oriented label that will
distribute DVD’s and market a limited number of releases for film

"We’re in the business of entertainment, not proselytising," Jeff
Yordy, a Fox vice-president, said in a statement. Underlining
that point, several current Fox films now in US movie theatres,
such as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "My Super Ex-Girlfriend", are
comedies with the references to sex and other adult themes.   

Still, Yordy said, "We simply recognised that there was a hugely
under-served audience and seized the opportunity to provide them
with high-quality entertainment that reflects their values." He
added: "As a result, we’ve seen explosive growth in this
marketplace over the past few years, which only proves to us that
we’re successfully tapping into our core constituency." 

The creation of the FoxFaith branded distribution label was
announced on 20 September by Twentieth Century Fox Home
Entertainment saying it would distribute "filmed entertainment
with a clear Christian message or based on material by a
Christian author". 

Following the success of such blockbusters as Mel Gibson’s "The
Passion of the Christ," the Fox announcement is being seen as the
clearest indication yet that Hollywood has noted the existence of
a considerable market both within the United States and globally
for Christian-themed entertainment. 

The London-based Guardian newspaper reported that Gibson’s film
about Jesus has grossed US$612 million globally since its 2004
release, while "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe", based on the writings of Christian writer C. S.
Lewis, garnered US$745 million. 

Fox has distributed filmed products to a national chain of
Christian booksellers for several years and has already sold some
30 million religious-themed DVD’s, the studio said. [315 words] 

All articles (c) Ecumenical News International 
Reproduction permitted only by media subscribers and 
provided ENI is acknowledged as the source. 

Ecumenical News International 
PO Box 2100 
CH – 1211 Geneva 2 

Tel: (41-22) 791 6088/6111 
Fax: (41-22) 788 7244 

Categories: Uncategorized

The Chair of Peter Tips Over Backwards Trying to Pacify Muslims

September 20th, 2006 5 comments

The pope’s speech requires no apology, but unfortunately the pope erred in stating that he has great "respect" for "great religions," such as Islam" in which the "one God" is worshiped. Muslims do not worship the one, true God. They worship a god, but it is not the God who reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Here is what Martin Luther said about this point:

Turks and Jews boast a lot about God and claim to have a better faith than we Christians. They say they cannot be wrong. They say that they believe [Glaube] in one God, who created heaven and earth and everything else. This kind of faith certainly can not be wrong, they think. Christ, however, here concludes: ‘He who hates Me, hates my Father.” Now, since Turks and Jews hate Christ and persecute His Word, they certainly also hate the God who has created heaven and earth. They do not believe [Glaube] in Him and they do not honor Him. For Christ is the same one God. (StL 13a, 1285).

If we can’t grasp this most fundamental point then we might as well close the doors of our congregations, shut off the lights, and go home.

If you do not worship Jesus as God, you are not worshiping the one, true God.

Jesus said: "If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” John 8:19.

It is a shame the Pope could not quote the one whom he claims to be the first Pope, St. Peter, who said, "There is no other name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved"!

Link: My Way News.

He expressed his "profound respect for the great religions, particularly for Muslims, who worship the one God and with whom we are committed to defending and promoting together social justice, moral values, peace and freedom for all humanity."

Categories: Roman Catholicism

Professor Marquart: At home with the Lord. Rest in peace, dear father in Christ.

September 19th, 2006 4 comments

I heard this morning from Barbara Marquart, wife of Professor Kurt Marquart, that he contracted a virus on Friday and slowly declined and was called home to be with His Lord early this morning, around 3:00. He had baptized his grandson earlier Monday evening. He was teaching classes still on Friday, from his wheelchair, with a microphone. We rejoice that Kurt is now enjoying eternal rest and peace, awaiting the day of the resurrection of the dead, but we grieve for those who have lost their loved one and we grieve for the church that such a mighty servant of God, a faithful confessor and a true pastor of pastors has been taken from us. The greatest way we can, and will, honor the blessed memory and legacy of Kurt Marquart is by holding fast to the confession and tradition that he passed on to us and redoubling our efforts and even more energetically advancing the cause of authentic, genuine, confessing Lutheranism — the cause of the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God grant it!

Requiescat in pace!

Here is the message that President Dean Wenthe sent to the seminary community.

Dear Members of the Seminary Family:

I wish to inform the seminary family that on the morning of September 19 our distinguished colleague, beloved professor, and brother in Christ, Dr. Kurt Marquart, died.  After suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, he died peacefully at home.  Earlier in the evening he had baptized his new great-grandson, Evan.

As baptism joined Dr. Marquart and Evan to Christ’s death and resurrection, we confess that he now enjoys that full life that Christ gives to those who are joined to Him (John 10:10).

President Wenthe

Here is the note that Professor Marquart’s wife, Barbara sent me this morning:

Kurt has gone to his Heavenly Father.  He was stricken with a virus around Friday
and declined daily.  He passed away about 2:45 am at home.  Funeral
arrangments pending. Dear Paul, please put something on your blog for the brothers. Many thanks, Barbara

Categories: Uncategorized

Proving the Nonviolent Nature of Islam Through Violence

September 18th, 2006 2 comments

So, the Pope delivers a speech in which he speaks about violence in the name of religion and quotes a Byzantine ruler fighting off Islamic armies and the response among the most stridently Islamic nations in the world has been acts of violence. Maybe I don’t understand things as well as I should, but doesn’t this sort of prove the Pope’s point?

Here is the full text of his speech, by the way.

Full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at the University of

Rome, 18 September (ENI)–Here is a Vatican translation of the
address Benedict XVI delivered on 12 September at the University
of Regensburg, where he was a professor and vice rector from 1969
to 1971.   

Faith, Reason and the University   
Memories and Reflections   

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the
university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this
podium. I think back to those years when, after a pleasant period
at the Freisinger Hochschule, I began teaching at the University
of Bonn. That was in 1959, in the days of the old university made
up of ordinary professors. The various chairs had neither
assistants nor secretaries, but in recompense there was much
direct contact with students and in particular among the
professors themselves. We would meet before and after lessons in
the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with
historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between
the two theological faculties. Once a semester there was a dies
academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before
the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine
experience of universitas – something that you too, Magnificent
Rector, just mentioned – the experience, in other words, of the
fact that despite our specializations which at times make it
difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole,
working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with
its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use
of reason – this reality became a lived experience. The
university was also very proud of its two theological faculties.
It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of
faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of
the "whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone
could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with
reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the
universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once
reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about
our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that
did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical
scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the
question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the
context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the
university as a whole, was accepted without question. 

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by
Professor Theodore Khoury (Muenster) of part of the dialogue
carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara -
by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an
educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and
the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set
down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between
1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given
in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The
dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in
the Bible and in the Quran, and deals especially with the image
of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the
relationship between – as they were called – three "Laws" or
"rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the
Quran. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the
present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point -
itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole – which, in the
context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting
and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on
this issue. 

In the seventh conversation (controversy) edited by Professor
Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The
emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no
compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of
the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless
and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the
instructions, developed later and recorded in the Quran,
concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the
difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and
the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling
brusqueness, a brusqueness which leaves us astounded, on the
central question about the relationship between religion and
violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought
that was new, and there you will find things only evil and
inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he
preached". The emperor, after having expressed himself so
forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why
spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable.
Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of
the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood – and not
acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of
the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs
the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without
violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does
not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means
of threatening a person with death…". 

The decisive statement in this argument against violent
conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is
contrary to God’s nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes:
For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this
statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is
absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our
categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work
of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn
Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his
own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth
to us. Were it God’s will, we would even have to practise

At this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the
concrete practice of religion is concerned, we are faced with an
unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably
contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and
intrinsically true? I believe that here we can see the profound
harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and
the biblical understanding of faith in God. Modifying the first
verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible,
John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the
beginning was the logos". This is the very word used by the
emperor: God acts, with logos. Logos means both reason and word -
a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication,
precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the
biblical concept of God, and in this word all the often toilsome
and tortuous threads of biblical faith find their culmination and
synthesis. In the beginning was the logos, and the logos is God,
says the Evangelist. The encounter between the Biblical message
and Greek thought did not happen by chance. The vision of Saint
Paul, who saw the roads to Asia barred and in a dream saw a
Macedonian man plead with him: "Come over to Macedonia and help
us!" (cf. Acts 16:6-10) – this vision can be interpreted as a
"distillation" of the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement
between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry. 

In point of fact, this rapprochement had been going on for some
time. The mysterious name of God, revealed from the burning bush,
a name which separates this God from all other divinities with
their many names and simply declares "I am", already presents a
challenge to the notion of myth, to which Socrates’ attempt to
vanquish and transcend myth stands in close analogy. Within the
Old Testament, the process which started at the burning bush came
to new maturity at the time of the Exile, when the God of Israel,
an Israel now deprived of its land and worship, was proclaimed as
the God of heaven and earth and described in a simple formula
which echoes the words uttered at the burning bush: "I am". This
new understanding of God is accompanied by a kind of
enlightenment, which finds stark expression in the mockery of
gods who are merely the work of human hands (cf. Ps 115). Thus,
despite the bitter conflict with those Hellenistic rulers who
sought to accommodate it forcibly to the customs and idolatrous
cult of the Greeks, biblical faith, in the Hellenistic period,
encountered the best of Greek thought at a deep level, resulting
in a mutual enrichment evident especially in the later wisdom
literature. Today we know that the Greek translation of the Old
Testament produced at Alexandria – the Septuagint – is more than
a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory)
translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual
witness and a distinct and important step in the history of
revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that
was decisive for the birth and spread of Christianity. A profound
encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, an encounter
between genuine enlightenment and religion. From the very heart
of Christian faith and, at the same time, the heart of Greek
thought now joined to faith, Manuel II was able to say: Not to
act "with logos" is contrary to God’s nature. 

In all honesty, one must observe that in the late Middle Ages we
find trends in theology which would sunder this synthesis between
the Greek spirit and the Christian spirit. In contrast with the
so-called intellectualism of Augustine and Thomas, there arose
with Duns Scotus a voluntarism which, in its later developments,
led to the claim that we can only know God’s voluntas ordinata.
Beyond this is the realm of God’s freedom, in virtue of which he
could have done the opposite of everything he has actually done.
This gives rise to positions which clearly approach those of Ibn
Hazm and might even lead to the image of a capricious God, who is
not even bound to truth and goodness. God’s transcendence and
otherness are so exalted that our reason, our sense of the true
and good, are no longer an authentic mirror of God, whose deepest
possibilities remain eternally unattainable and hidden behind his
actual decisions. As opposed to this, the faith of the Church has
always insisted that between God and us, between his eternal
Creator Spirit and our created reason there exists a real
analogy, in which – as the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stated
- unlikeness remains infinitely greater than likeness, yet not to
the point of abolishing analogy and its language. God does not
become more divine when we push him away from us in a sheer,
impenetrable voluntarism; rather, the truly divine God is the God
who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and
continues to act lovingly on our behalf. Certainly, love, as
Saint Paul says, "transcends" knowledge and is thereby capable of
perceiving more than thought alone (cf. Eph 3:19); nonetheless it
continues to be love of the God who is Logos. Consequently,
Christian worship is, again to quote Paul – worship in harmony
with the eternal Word and with our reason (cf. Rom 12:1). 

This inner rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek
philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not
only from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also
from that of world history – it is an event which concerns us
even today. Given this convergence, it is not surprising that
Christianity, despite its origins and some significant
developments in the East, finally took on its historically
decisive character in Europe. We can also express this the other
way around: this convergence, with the subsequent addition of the
Roman heritage, created Europe and remains the foundation of what
can rightly be called Europe. 

The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an
integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call
for a dehellenization of Christianity – a call which has more and
more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the
modern age. Viewed more closely, three stages can be observed in
the programme of dehellenization: although interconnected, they
are clearly distinct from one another in their motivations and

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates
of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the
tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were
confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy,
that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien
system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a
living historical Word but as one element of an overarching
philosophical system. The principle of sola scriptura, on the
other hand, sought faith in its pure, primordial form, as
originally found in the biblical Word. Metaphysics appeared as a
premise derived from another source, from which faith had to be
liberated in order to become once more fully itself. When Kant
stated that he needed to set thinking aside in order to make room
for faith, he carried this programme forward with a radicalism
that the Reformers could never have foreseen. He thus anchored
faith exclusively in practical reason, denying it access to
reality as a whole.   

The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with
Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a
student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme
was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its
point of departure Pascal’s distinction between the God of the
philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In my
inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue,
and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion,
but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about
this second stage of dehellenization. Harnack’s central idea was
to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message,
underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of
hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of
the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put
an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was
presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message.
Fundamentally, Harnack’s goal was to bring Christianity back into
harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from
seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith
in Christ’s divinity and the triune God. In this sense,
historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it,
restored to theology its place within the university: theology,
for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore
strictly scientific. What it is able to say critically about
Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and
consequently it can take its rightful place within the
university. Behind this thinking lies the modern self-limitation
of reason, classically expressed in Kant’s "Critiques", but in
the meantime further radicalised by the impact of the natural
sciences. This modern concept of reason is based, to put it
briefly, on a synthesis between Platonism (Cartesianism) and
empiricism, a synthesis confirmed by the success of technology.
On the one hand it presupposes the mathematical structure of
matter, its intrinsic rationality, which makes it possible to
understand how matter works and use it efficiently: this basic
premise is, so to speak, the Platonic element in the modern
understanding of nature. On the other hand, there is nature’s
capacity to be exploited for our purposes, and here only the
possibility of verification or falsification through
experimentation can yield ultimate certainty. The weight between
the two poles can, depending on the circumstances, shift from one
side to the other. As strongly positivistic a thinker as J. Monod
has declared himself a convinced Platonist/Cartesian. 

This gives rise to two principles which are crucial for the issue
we have raised. First, only the kind of certainty resulting from
the interplay of mathematical and empirical elements can be
considered scientific. Anything that would claim to be science
must be measured against this criterion. Hence the human
sciences, such as history, psychology, sociology and philosophy,
attempt to conform themselves to this canon of scientificity. A
second point, which is important for our reflections, is that by
its very nature this method excludes the question of God, making
it appear an unscientific or pre-scientific question.
Consequently, we are faced with a reduction of the radius of
science and reason, one which needs to be questioned. 

I will return to this problem later. In the meantime, it must be
observed that from this standpoint any attempt to maintain
theology’s claim to be "scientific" would end up reducing
Christianity to a mere fragment of its former self. But we must
say more: if science as a whole is this and this alone, then it
is man himself who ends up being reduced, for the specifically
human questions about our origin and destiny, the questions
raised by religion and ethics, then have no place within the
purview of collective reason as defined by "science", so
understood, and must thus be relegated to the realm of the
subjective. The subject then decides, on the basis of his
experiences, what he considers tenable in matters of religion,
and the subjective "conscience" becomes the sole arbiter of what
is ethical. In this way, though, ethics and religion lose their
power to create a community and become a completely personal
matter. This is a dangerous state of affairs for humanity, as we
see from the disturbing pathologies of religion and reason which
necessarily erupt when reason is so reduced that questions of
religion and ethics no longer concern it. Attempts to construct
an ethic from the rules of evolution or from psychology and
sociology, end up being simply inadequate.   

Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading,
I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which
is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural
pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with
Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary
inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures.
The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple
message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in
order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieus.
This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in
precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the
imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity
as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the
evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated
into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made
about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason
are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant
with the nature of faith itself.   

And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad
strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing
to do with putting the clock back to the time before the
Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age. The
positive aspects of modernity are to be acknowledged
unreservedly: we are all grateful for the marvellous
possibilities that it has opened up for mankind and for the
progress in humanity that has been granted to us. The scientific
ethos, moreover, is – as you yourself mentioned, Magnificent
Rector – the will to be obedient to the truth, and, as such, it
embodies an attitude which belongs to the essential decisions of
the Christian spirit. The intention here is not one of
retrenchment or negative criticism, but of broadening our concept
of reason and its application. While we rejoice in the new
possibilities open to humanity, we also see the dangers arising
from these possibilities and we must ask ourselves how we can
overcome them. We will succeed in doing so only if reason and
faith come together in a new way, if we overcome the self-imposed
limitation of reason to the empirically verifiable, and if we
once more disclose its vast horizons. In this sense theology
rightly belongs in the university and within the wide-ranging
dialogue of sciences, not merely as a historical discipline and
one of the human sciences, but precisely as theology, as inquiry
into the rationality of faith. 
Only thus do we become capable of that genuine dialogue of
cultures and religions so urgently needed today. In the Western
world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the
forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the
world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the
divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most
profound convictions. A reason which is deaf to the divine and
which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is
incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures. At the same
time, as I have attempted to show, modern scientific reason with
its intrinsically Platonic element bears within itself a question
which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its
methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept
the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between
our spirit and the prevailing rational structures of nature as a
given, on which its methodology has to be based. Yet the question
why this has to be so is a real question, and one which has to be
remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of
thought – to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, albeit
in a different way, for theology, listening to the great
experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity,
and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of
knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction
of our listening and responding. Here I am reminded of something
Socrates said to Phaedo. In their earlier conversations, many
false philosophical opinions had been raised, and so Socrates
says: "It would be easily understandable if someone became so
annoyed at all these false notions that for the rest of his life
he despised and mocked all talk about being – but in this way he
would be deprived of the truth of existence and would suffer a
great loss". The West has long been endangered by this aversion
to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only
suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the whole
breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur – this is
the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith
enters into the debates of our time. "Not to act reasonably, not
to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God", said Manuel
II, according to his Christian understanding of God, in response
to his Persian interlocutor. It is to this great logos, to this
breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of
cultures. To rediscover it constantly is the great task of the


The Holy Father intends to supply a subsequent version of this
text, complete with footnotes. The present text must therefore be
considered provisional.


(c) Copyright 2006 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana [3965 words] 


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Categories: Roman Catholicism

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

September 16th, 2006 3 comments
It has been some time since you’ve heard me talk about
"Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions." I have very good news. All work has been completed on the second
edition and we are, at this point, telling folks that we expect to
have it here at CPH in time to be able to fill the thousands and
thousands…and thousands!… of standing orders for it by the
beginning of January 2007. The complexities of getting press
time and adequate paper supplies make it impossible to promise it any
sooner than very, very early in the new year and even that date is not
100% sure, due simply to the details of the actual printing and
binding process.
Thanks for your patience. They say that
patience is a virtue. I am pleased to tell you that the Commission on Doctrinal
Review’s report about the book was addressed very thoroughly and all
issues and solutions were mutually agreed to in a spirit of true
"concordia" and fraternal conversation. I wish the entire
church could have been in on our meetings to hear the careful
discussions about points of translation, theology, doctrine, church
history and so forth. I am very pleased with the results of our
numerous meetings, conversations and negotiations. A supplement of clarifications and explanations about the first
edition, per the Commission’s request, is being sent out early in
October so that folks may continue to use the first edition of
"Concordia," as the Commission indicated. A copy of the
supplement will be mailed to every LCMS congregation, with the offer
to them to request as many additional copies as they may wish to have,
a copy will be mailed to every customer whom we can identify in our
data base who ordered one directly. The supplement will be posted to
the Internet for downloading as well. It has been a real blessing to me to be able to spend so much
time with our Lutheran Confessions and every time I do I come away
from the experience profoundly moved by the rich depth of faithful,
Biblical, pastoral theology and confession that we are blessed to have
as Lutheran Christians. When I have more details to share, I will, but I thought you
might appreciate this update. Thanks for your patience, support,
understanding and encouragement. A situation that was less than good
has become, by God’s grace, a true blessing for this edition of the
Book of Concord.
Categories: Lutheran Confessions

The Wisdom and Benefit of Retaining Traditional Lutheran Worship Practices

September 8th, 2006 5 comments

Some time back I think I heard somebody say that it is no longer our grandfather’s Synod anymore, but it seems, when it comes to issues like this, more’s the pity! I’ve also heard it said that the problem with common sense is that it is so uncommon, but I really don’t understand why it is so hard to put the pieces together when it comes to these kinds of issues. A Lutheran Church that no longer looks, sounds, or acts Lutheran in worship practices won’t long remain a Lutheran Church. Here is an interesting quotation from one of the earliest theological journals published in the Missouri Synod, in English:

It appears to be our duty to aid in spreading a knowledge of the rich treasures of our Lutheran Church among those in our country who are unacquainted with German. A good liturgy, the beautiful Lutheran service form part of those treasures [of the Lutheran Church]. Church usages, except in the case when the confession of a divine truth is required, are indeed adiaphora. But they are nevertheless not without an importance of their own. Congregations that adopt the church usages of the sects that surround them, will be more likely to conform to their doctrines more easily and quickly than in those that retain their Lutheran ceremonies. We should in Lutheran services, also when held in the English language, as much as possible use the old Lutheran forms, even if they are said to be antiquated and not suitable in this country. We will mention here the words of a pious Lutheran duchess, Elisabeth Magdalena of Brunswick-Luneburg. Her court-chaplain Prunner relates as follows: ‘Although her ladyship well knew that the ceremonies and purposes of this chapter (at which Prunner officiated) must have appeared to some to be, and was even said by some people to be, “Popery,” she still remembered the instructions which the dear, venerable man, Luther, had once given to her father concerning such ceremonies. I remember in particular that her ladyship several times told me that she did not desire at these present times to begin discontinuing any of these church usages, since she hoped that so long as such ceremonies continued, Calvinistic temerity would be held back from the public office of the church.

August Graebner, "Review of Church Liturgy for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession." in The Saint Louis Theological Quarterly August 1881 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House), pages 77-78.

Categories: Uncategorized

Manly-Man’s Christianity? Iron Jesus?

September 7th, 2006 2 comments

I decry the feminization of the church as much as the next manly-man, and recognize much validity in it. You want evidence? Just look at the Episcopalian Church USA and their ecumenical partners, all of whom are headed hell-bent down the road feminist-homosexual agenda [the two are inextricably linked]. I think that much of mainline Christianity and even good portions of conservative Protestantism is being overrun by a sort of Hallmark greeting card approach to the Faith. However, on the flip side of this situation, I do not agree that the "antidote" to these problems is to be found in some sort of "hyper-masculinity." And, I’ve said it before, but it must continue to be said, the solution to Pietism is not impiety! My general observation is that men who seem to need to try to prove their masculinity have some problematic self-doubts about it. Real men do not behave like swine or try to prove their masculinity by being impious: acting like drunken sailers on shore leave.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a big believer in courtesy, quiet
strength, patient resolve, personal integrity, honor, chivalry and courage as the defining
aspects of masculinity: not behaving like gutter-rats. Here is a good response to the overreaction to the feminization of the Church, by Joe Carter, blogmaster for World magazine, a man with the curriculum vitae for us to say, "Yes, he’s a manly-man."

Iron Jesus and the “Masculinization” of the Church

First, my bona fides.

I’m a former Gunnery Sergeant in the Marine Corps. I’ve spent
fifteen years in the Corps and fifteen seconds (cumulatively) riding
bulls. I’ve spent my summers in 100 degree weather baling hay, shoeing
horses, castrating hogs, and running laps for sadistic football
coaches. I’ve fixed pump jacks in Texas oil fields and made auto parts
in a Missouri factory. I’ve changed engines on F-18s, tires on Humvees,
and a carburetor on a ’76 Gremlin.

I’ve hunted snipe and fished for shark. I’ve eaten rattlesnake, alligator, and the pork pattie from an MRE. I’ve lived through tornados, typhoons, and a divorce.

I own a .40 caliber Glock. My hero is John Wayne.

In other words, there is some evidence that I am—or at least once
was—a fairly “manly man.” I’m also a devout Bible-believing Christian.
But for the life of me, I can’t discern how the two are connected, much
less why one is necessary for the other. Yet that is the impression I
often get when I read about the “feminization of the church” and the
move to provide young Christian men with “masculine” role models.

At the risk of taking his light-hearted remarks too seriously, I
have to say that I find pastor Mark Driscoll, founder of Mars Hill
Church in Seattle, to be particularly caught up in this type of
thinking. For example, in a recent post he gave a “Manly Missionary Award (MMA)” to Dog the Bounty Hunter:

Jesus was a carpenter who walked a lot of miles and was
therefore a fit, blue-collar type of guy who would never drive a
Cabriolet, rock out to Mariah Carey, or wear lemon-yellow. Fortunately,
as Dog becomes more popular among non-Christians who watch his
television show, a more biblical view of Christian masculinity is
getting out, for which I say, “WWJD – We Welcome Jesus’ Dog.”

I agree that Dog does seems to be a dedicated (though perhaps
immature) believer and is worthy of commendation. But I fail to see how
he presents a “biblical view of Christian masculinity.”

In fact, the type of men that Driscoll seems to admire most –
wrestlers, “ultimate fighters” – are the very antithesis of Biblical
masculinity. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus praised the “meek” a
word that in the Greek is used in reference to a “tame” wild animal.
The lion, for instance, is able to lay down with the lamb precisely
because he is not given over to his hyper-aggressive nature.

Indeed, when Jesus talks about his followers he often refers to them
as “sheep” – creatures that aren’t known for their ferocity. And when
he gave the nickname “Sons of Thunder” to two of his disciplies, it
wasn’t exactly high praise for their obnoxious brand of masculinity. It
is difficult to square the Jesus of the Gospels with the
hyper-masculine ideal that Driscoll and many others seem to hold. It
takes an incredible leap of logic to conclude that since Jesus was a
carpenter he would have enjoyed ‘Rassling.*

(Perhaps a case could be made that the church has become overly
feminized, causing young men to turn away. The criticisms, for example,
of “Jesus is my boyfriend” style worships songs may have some merit.
But then what do such critics think of Christ referring to the church
as his “Bride”?)

During the early ‘90s, “wildman” retreats were all the rage as a way
for men to get in touch with their mannishness. Men would head to the
wilderness take off their shirts, beat on West African drums, and bond
with each other. While we may laugh at such goofy behavior, this
neo-testosterone movement within Christian circles isn’t all that
different. We’ve simply replaced the mythopoetic “Iron John”
with a mythic “Iron Jesus.” But young men don’t need a Jesus who
strolls like the Duke, squints like Eastwood, and snarls like Rumsfeld.
They don’t need Jesus the wrestler or Jesus the warrior. They just need
Jesus the Savior.

*In a culture that assumes close male relationships are evidence of
repressed homosexuality, it’s not surprising that so many Christian men
are infatuated by displays of simulated male violence. In ancient
Israel David and Jonathan were able to express their love for each
other without anyone assuming they were “gay.” Today, give a guy a hug
and you’re considered to be “acting queer.” Don spandex and wrap your
arms around another male, though, and they’ll call it “wrestling” –
and think it’s completely hetero behavior.

Categories: Christian Life

Purpose Driven Problems

September 6th, 2006 10 comments

RickwarrenHow do congregations and pastors deal with change? This is a good case study, provided in a new Wall Street Journal article. It’s a "must read."

Rick Warren states that the divisions in congregations using his "Purpose Driven" materials are to be expected, for "There is no growth without change and there is no
change without loss and there is no loss without pain." Interesting attitude. Apparently it is "ok" for "change agents" to come across with this attitude, with the "ends justifies the means" thinking that I’ve noticed among  so-called "missional-minded" pastors. And, I have heard the same thing coming from the mouths of "confessional" pastors. But in either case, I don’t find much "pastoral" about it. I recall how many years Martin Luther patiently introduced change in Wittenberg, never trying to push through significant changes, but doing so only after *years* of patient teaching and instruction. The man didn’t even stop dressing like a monk until nearly eight years after he posted the 95 theses and several years after he got booted from the Roman Catholic Church!

I’ve watched "confessional"
pastors and "church growth" pastors tear congregations apart when they try to railroad and ramrod changes through, so this is not a liberal/conservative phenomenon. Labels also fail at this point, as they so often do. Are "confessional" pastors not interested in the expansion of Christ’s kingdom? Some may give that impression with how they react in knee-jerk fashion to anyting that might be new or different or how they seem to think the future of the church lies in what seems to be nearly a repristination of some "golden era" from the 1580s or 1930s. Are "church growth" pastors not really too interested in doctrine and our Lutheran Confessions? It may seem so when one notices how quickly they speak of mission and doctrine as if they are two different things and how they seem unconcerned to maintain a genuine Lutheran identity in both doctrine *and* practice. Again, this is not a liberal/conservative or confessional/missional issue. I’ve seen guys swoop into parishes that may not have as fully developed a liturgical life as they may think is optimal and institute changes in months and then wonder why people are not too keen on the idea? I’ve seen pastors who believe the key to church growth are PowerPoint screens slap them up with little warning and then wonder why they have a hostile congregation on their hands.

What is interesting, however, is the response that such inept, unpastoral bungling receives. I’ve seen guys wrap themselves in the flag of "orthodoxy" and get buried with it. I’ve seen guys appeal to "mission" and get a free pass. Of course, there are always exceptions to all generalities, but this is what I’ve noticed over the years. Why is this? What does it mean?

Also, it is continually puzzling to me how it is  that some non-Lutherans understand the problem with the whole "Purpose Driven" fad while some Lutherans have a hard time coming to grips with these truths. As one pastor puts it in the article: "The Bible’s theme is about
redemption and atonement, not finding meaning and solving problems."

Read the article. You’ll find it interesting.

Over 100,000 Served

September 4th, 2006 1 comment

I don’t know what this means, but I hope it means something good. My web site: has passed 100,000 visitors to the site since it went up on the Internet … ah, let me see. When was it? Four years ago? Five? I don’t remember. I have a very kind person helping me maintain it and wouldn’t you know it, I even don’t remember who they are. The web site just is there. I don’t fuss with it, or muss with it. In fact, whenever I’ve tried to do that since that point in time that I actually did know just a bit about web design, I end up messing up something. Then my friend comes to the rescue. In fact, if you are that person, would you please send me an e-mail? I’ve got a couple questions. It’s an interesting thing really, to think that around 200 people a day visit the site every single day. They read the Book of Concord, on line, or download the public domain copy of it, or the historical introductions to the Book of Concord by Bente, or they search it with the search functionality there, or they read one of the articles there offering a very brief introduction to the what it is all about. If a person searches on "Google" for "Book of Concord" or "Lutheran Confessions" it pops up at the top of the list, or near the top.  So, if you have never taken a look at it, check out  The home on the Internet for the Book of Concord.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Luther and the iPod

September 1st, 2006 Comments off

Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is available as a MP3 download, perfect for the iPod people in your life! Check it out. The text is that of the LCMS translation of the Small Catechism.Catechism_1


Categories: Uncategorized