Archive

Archive for November, 2006

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

November 11th, 2006 2 comments

Several days ago, I posted  my position on the conversion of a Lutheran pastor to Eastern Orthodoxy. My words were strong and my rhetoric vigorous. I stand by what I said.

I want also to make the following points clear. While the action of embracing Eastern Orthodoxy is a turning away from the Gospel purely preached, and hence a turning away from Christ, I do not want to leave anyone with the impression that I believe the Eastern Orthodox Church is not Church, or that anyone who joins that Church is no longer a Christian, or that the pastor who converted is no longer a lover of, and believer in, Jesus Christ. I believe that his actions were deceitful and sinful, and I entrust him to the mercy of Christ.

Ironically, and tragically, while the Eastern Orthodox Church believes itself alone to be Church, even to the point of declaring that the Eucharist in our churches is not the Lord’s Supper, nor our pastors legitimate or valid servants of Christ, and our salvation in doubt, because our clergy have not receive the so-called "apostolic succession," we Lutherans, who are truly catholic in our confession of the Church, never have, and, as long as we remain true to our confession, never will regard the EO as not being Church. This may appear to some to be a contradiction, a mystery, a puzzlement. But it is only so to the extent that we do not properly understand, and confess, that there exists truly one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As always, Hermann Sasse is profoundly helpful on this point, and offers these poignant remarks:

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Categories: Ecumenism

Luther on Prayers for the Dead

November 10th, 2006 3 comments

As always, it is a delight to explore Dr. Luther’s writings. There has been some interesting conversation here on prayers for the dead, which are, only very briefly and tangentially referred to in the Apology as being "not useless" leading some of my friends to conclude that here the Lutheran Church has as a doctrine that prayers for the dead are appropriate. I’m not so sure about that. Another person wrote to inquire what Dr. Luther has to say, after I quoted the second Martin, Dr. Chemnitz. Well, I did a bit of looking about and came up with, not surprisingly, different opinions at different times from Dr. Luther. I believe the best thing he said was that it is best simply to stick with the clear Word of God and therefore not do it. Elsewhere he was willing to concede that it is ok to say a prayer, once or twice, by way of private devotion, but never in the way of some formal, regular praying for the dead. With apologies for the sloppy formatting of these quotes from Luther. Here you go:

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Categories: Lutheranism

San Francisco Lutheran Churches

November 10th, 2006 2 comments

Note: the title is *not* my title, it is the newspapers’ title, and "queer" in this group’s view is a good thing. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the ELCA to remove from their fellowship any of their clergy or congregations doing this.

Consortium of San Francisco Lutheran Churches to Ordain a Queer Pastor on November 18th

Categories: Liberal Christianity

Introduction to Johann Gerhard’s LOCI

November 10th, 2006 1 comment

The Preuss’ edition of Gerard’s works has not been translated, until now. Preuss was the 19th century Lutheran scholar who assembled editions of Chemnitz’ Examination of the Council of Trent and then proceeded to prepare an edition of Gerhard’s Loci. You’ll find his introduction interesting! Kudos and thanks to Rev. Benjamin Mayes for this.

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Categories: Uncategorized

The Blessed Martins

November 10th, 2006 2 comments

I really enjoy saints’ days and the opportunity to reflect on the mighty warriors of old, the men and women of faith and trust in Christ our Savior. Of course we do not pray to them, but neither must we ever forget them. For in remembering we thank God for the gifts He gave to them, and to us through them. We imitate their faith and their virtues. We learn of the way of the cross through their example and we are encouraged by them as we run the race set out before us. Now, if this is all true, why do I only rarely have something to say on a day set aside to honor and remember one of the saints in particular? Well, because Aardvark Alley always does such a nice job anything I would have to add would be redundant!

Happy Martin Chemnitz’ day, and … happy Martin Luthers’ birthday! Chemnitz was born on November 9 and Luther on November 10.

Categories: Lutheranism

Prayers for the Dead

November 9th, 2006 4 comments

Prayers for the dead have no command, promise, example or form to be found in Sacred Scripture, so…how did it come about that the practice of praying for the dead arose in the Church? Martin Chemnitz explains it well in Examination of the Council of Trent.

After the time of the apostles, human affection for the dead began little by little to bring prayers and offerings for the dead into the church. For since among the heathen a great part of religion served prayers and offerings for the dead, and most Christians had been converted from paganism, and thought that the Christian religion ought not to make men more inhumane, they retained the custom of praying for the dead, as also many other customs, bent slightly, as seemed good to them, in the direction of Christian piety.

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Categories: Uncategorized

A Warning Against the High Church Danger

November 8th, 2006 10 comments

“I once heard from the mouth of a leader of the Berneuchener Movement that the forensic doctrine of justification of the Formula of Concord was an absolute blasphemy. This man came form the city of Andreas Osiander. It is certainly no accident that one finds precisely in America, among Lutherans who are close to the Liturgical Movement or working in it, a doctrine of justification which is reminiscent of Osiander, as though the Christ dwelling in us is our righteousness. How correct were the Lutherans of the 16th century, and even Calvin, when they aw that Osiander had returned to the medieval Catholic and Tridentine doctrine of justification! The deeper reason that High Churchism has brought down so many appears to me to be that we modern Lutherans no longer correctly understand justification. . . . Thus, we lack the compass which directs our course with certainty. For this reason, we no longer have Luther’s keen sense for what of the liturgical heritage of the older church is evangelical and for that which has been brought from strange fires and placed upon the Christian altar. This is the reason that now the Catholic concept of priesthood and the idea of so-called apostolic succession—which is neither biblical nor Christian—are quickly appearing. And this is the reason why a man like Professor Piepkorn himself can take over the prayer for the dead from the Roman Canon of the Mass. It is absolutely clear that when the sacrifice of the Mass is renewed, it means apostasy from the Gospel.”

Source:

Hermann Sasse, “A Brotherly Warning Against the ‘High Church’ Danger,” translated by M.C. Harrison in The Lonely Way: Selected Letters and Essays (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2002), pgs. 304-305.

True and False Church. True and False Liturgy.

November 8th, 2006 Comments off

“There is true and false church. There is correct and false liturgy. The great Gnostic sects of the second century—to which a great portion of Christianity of the day, perhaps the greater part, fell sacrifice—won men by means of their liturgies, so far as the sources allow us to determine. The great mystery religions of the ancient world did the same before the Gnostics. The ancient Christian liturgies arose out of the language of prophecy. Here lies the beauty and force of the language of the liturgy. But there is true and false prophecy. Wherever true prophecy appears, there also false prophecy arises. This is so in the time of the OT and the NT, and in the history of the church. It belongs to the greatness of Luther that he had the gift of discernment. He was brought up in the liturgy and lived in it. He desired to maintain whatever of it could be retained. And he never gave up any of it frivolously, and he often hesitated long before he finally made a decision. Luther had the gift of discernment. He had this great gift of the Holy Spirit, without which the church cannot exist, because he had the Word and Sacrament, to which the Spirit of God has bound himself in the church. He could judge liturgy because he possessed the measure on which it along can be judged: the holy Gospel, the saving message of the justification of the sinner by faith alone, the article from which nothing can be granted even if heaven and earth should fall and nothing remain. On this article depends not only our salvation, but also the church and the liturgy of the true church. “Where this article remains pure, so too Christianity remains pure and in beautiful harmony and without any divisions. [… ]But where is toes not remain pure, there it is not possible to repel any errors or heretical spirit.” [cited in FC SD III.6]. In this sense we ought all begin and end our work in the realm of liturgy with this prayer: “Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word.”

Source: Hermann Sasse, “A Brotherly Warning Against the ‘High Church’ Danger,” translated by M.C. Harrison in The Lonely Way: Selected Letters and Essays (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2002), pgs. 314-315.

Worth a Thousand Words

November 6th, 2006 3 comments

Stem_cells

Categories: Sanctity of Life

An Act of Treason, Dishonesty and Sin

November 4th, 2006 16 comments

The resignation of John Fenton in the Detroit area from his call, and his announcement that he is joining an Eastern Orthodox church has elicited interesting responses across the Lutheran blogosphere. Some have expressed their "admiration" for his "honesty" and lauded his great leadership on liturgical issues in The LCMS. I have a far different perspective.

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Categories: Current Affairs

O Lord of the Whole Universe! Praise Songs vs. the Gospel

November 4th, 2006 27 comments

Jesus_krishna_1
What do you think of this contemporary praise song? Read the lyrics and compare them to the ones posted a few days ago. Be sure to read the continued post so the picture will make sense to you. Thanks to Dr. Holger Sonntag for this fascinating contribution.

Oh Lord of the whole Universe
Mighty Lord of the whole Universe
All Thy devotees’ agonies
All Thy devotees’ sorrows
Instantly Thou banisheth
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

He who’s immersed in devotion
He reaps the fruits of Thy love
Lord, he reaps the fruits of Thy love
Floating in a cloud of comforts
Floating in a cloud of comforts
Free from all the worldly problems
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Thou art Mother and Father
At Thy feet I seek eternal truth
Lord, at Thy feet I seek eternal truth
There’s none other than Thee, Lord
There’s none other than Thee, Lord
Guardian of all our hopes
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Thou art Godly perfection
Omnipotent Master of all
Lord, omnipotent Master of all
My destiny’s in Thy Hand
My destiny’s in Thy Hand
Supreme Soul of all Creation
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Thou art an ocean of mercy
Gracious protector of all
Lord, gracious protector of all
I’m Thy humble devotee
I’m Thy humble devotee
Grant me Thy divine grace
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Thou art beyond all perception
Formless and yet multiform
Lord, formless and yet multiform
Grant me a glimpse of Thyself
Grant me a glimpse of Thyself
Guide me along the path to Thee
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Friend of the helpless and feeble
Benevolent saviour of all
Lord, benevolent saviour of all
Offer me Thy hand of compassion
Offer me Thy hand of compassion
I seek refuge at Thy feet
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Surmounting the earthly desires
Free from the sins of this life
Lord, free from the sins of this life
Undivided faith and devotion
Undivided faith and devotion
In eternal service unto Thee
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

Oh Lord of the whole Universe
Mighty Lord of the whole Universe
All Thy devotees’ agonies
All Thy devotees’ sorrows
Instantly Thou banisheth
Oh Lord of the whole Universe

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Categories: Uncategorized

Cwirla’s Sermons

November 4th, 2006 Comments off

Pastor William Cwirla is a good preacher, so at the risk of offending all those other good preachers out there who graciously post their sermons to their blog sites, whom I’m not mentioning, I invite you to check out Cwirla’s sermons, featured regularly at his blog site.

Categories: Sermons

Just in Time for the Reformation: A Heretical Bible Translation!

November 4th, 2006 Comments off

Such a "joy" … a new Bible translation in Germany that distorts the original languages of God’s Word to accomodate all a host of contemporary mythologies about language, about "gender" and about sexuality and race, etc. etc. etc.

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Categories: Lutheranism

The Presence of Christ

November 2nd, 2006 1 comment

Eucharist
The "second Martin," Martin Chemnitz, one of the chief architects of the Formula of Concord and Book of Concord, wrote what remains to this day the definitive Orthdodox Lutheran discussion of Christology in his masterful work The Two Natures in Christ. I was particularly struck today by the powerful comfort that is ours because of the blessed Incarnation of our Lord and the Personal Union of the Divine and human nature. When we speak of the presence of Christ among us today, we are not playing a word game, or make- believe. His presence among us is a reality, in the Word and Sacraments. Chemnitz had this to say in response to those who try to throw up road blocks to His presence in the Supper.

"When in opposition to the presence of Christ in the Supper they raise
the matter of locations, distances, intervals, and separations of
places, we correctly reply that since all things have been placed in
subjection under Christ’s feet, also according to His assumed human
nature, so that He has all things in His hands and under His dominion
and rules all things with authority, and since there is no exception
made for intervals or spatial interruptions, with the exception only of
the One who has all things in subjection to Himself, how then can we
say with a clear conscience that intervals of space prevent or impede
the Son of God from being able to be present with His body in the
Supper, as the words of His testament declare, since He has both space,
time, and all things powerfully in His hands and under His feet, also
according to His human nature?

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Categories: Lutheranism

We in Christ, Christ in Us

November 1st, 2006 Comments off

A pastor friend of mine likes to remind me and anyone who will listen to him that Lutherans too have a high regard for the unio mystica, that is, the "mystical union." This is the Biblical truth that there is for believers the blessed reality that Christ actually does dwell within us. The Eastern Orthodox have distorted this reality and with it have crowded out the Apostolic teaching that we are saved by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, aka, justification by grace, through faith. A blessed fruit and blessing of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is the mystical union. Here’s what Dr. Luther, of blessed memory, had to say about the subject when he was preaching on the Gospel of John, Chapter Six.

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Categories: Lutheranism