I’ve started a new blog. Cyberbrethren will continue, as per the usual, but I felt a need for a different kind of blog. I’ll be brutally honest here. I enjoy Cyberbrethren and because between 600-700 unique visitors pay the site a visit every day it seems others do to0. But…I felt a need to create a blog that focusses on just one thing, and one thing only. The random nature of blogging is part of its attraction, I know, but also a bit frustrating. I want to devote a blog to the one theological topic I love the most. And to the one book that unites Lutherans more than any other book beside the Bible, and can serve as a true resource for genuinely faithful and truly ecumenical theological conversation. And that is the Book of Concord. I consider it a gentle obsession, a happy addiction. So, a new blog is born and it is titled Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions — An ongoing discussion of the Book of Concord. The point of the blog is simply to enjoy talking about theology as that theology is confessed and taught in the Book of Concord. Let me be specific. We are, literally, going to put an article of the Lutheran Confessions on the table, week-by-week, and move our way slowly through the Lutheran Confessions. We are in no hurry. We won’t be discussing the Confessions with a "hidden agenda" — that is, let’s talk about the Book of Concord so we can attack this person, or that issue, or so that we can grind our favorite axes, Synodical or otherwise. Nope, we are just going to be having a virtual theological Tischreden, "Tabletalk" amongst brothers in Confession and Office. There will be comments permitted, but discussion will be moderated to assure that it stays strictly on-topic and within the bounds of Christian charity and decorum. So, stop by and pay the new blog a visit. Pull up a chair and listen in on the ongoing discussion of the Book of Concord.
Many thanks to Dr. Gene Edward Veith for snagging this story from the Washington Post. It is the unknown story of Vince Guaraldi and his timeless jazz piano score for the Charlie Brown Christmas special. You will really enjoy reading this newspaper article. I know there is a messy tangle of blog options out there, but honestly, there really only a handful truly worth checking every single day. Dr. Veith’s is one of them.
A great paper from Dr. Larry Rast, stating the obvious, but….it seems more and more these days the "obvious" is quite far from apparent when we are talking about missions. Highly recommended! As we strive to light the fire of missions, let’s never forget that the spark that keeps that fire going is the glowing coal of pure doctrine!
"The faithful Christian has learned that the whole world, with all its glory, cannot make anyone happy, cannot provide peace and rest, and cannot offer comfort in a time of trouble. God alone, with His grace and His communion, is the highest good of man. Isn’t this an urgent reason for a faithful Christian to wake up from the sleep of sin and to walk in a new life? Certainly! Just as a man cannot remain in his bedclothes when the night is over, the Christian, in whose heart the day has dawned, cannot continue to wear the night clothes of sin. He must, instead, put on the clothing of good works and live a God-pleasing life. Therefore, let all of us who want to be faithful Christians remember three things in this new Church Year: (1) the hour is here to wake up from sleep; (2) our salvation is drawing closer, and (3) the night has passed and the day has dawned. By the grace of Jesus, we will read our beautiful destination."
C.F.W. Walther, God Grant It (St. Louis: CPH), 2006, p. 20-21.
Of late there has been a bit of discussion in the Lutheran blogosphere about the appropriateness of "gore fests." Here is a very thoughful reflection on the issue by Rod Dreher. Well worth your time. An excerpt:
Percy once wrote in a private letter, of his vocation as a writer: What I really want to do is to tell people what they must do and what they must believe if they want to live. Hmm. Do graphic depictions of torture and ritual murder on screen conveys in any sense to people what they must do and what they must believe if they want to live as human beings, not savages? Or do they lead to the kind of enjoyment of sadism and dehumanization that will kill, and is killing, the spirit of our civilization?
A pastor suggested that I post an actual sermon for analysis, in light of our discussion of sanctification. This would be an example I would offer as to how one can “preach good works” or “preach sanctification” and keep Law/Gospel properly distinguished. What do you think? The preacher’s name doesn’t matter, or should not matter.
We are God’s Workmanship
The Scriptures nowhere teach that the reason people go to heaven, or
the reason God loves people is because of what they do for God. There
are many ways to twist and distort verses that talk about good works to
make it seem that way, but it is false and misleading dream that by our
good works we gain heaven! It is also false and misleading to believe
that it is because of something in us, or about us, or because of us,
that God chooses to make us His own.
Bibles Are Booming
These days the Good Book comes in hundreds of varieties.
BY JOANNE KAUFMAN
Wednesday, December 6, 2006 12:01 a.m.
Several weeks ago, Christian book publisher Thomas Nelson Inc. received a curious submission, "sort of an alarmist Bible," recalled Wayne Hastings, a senior vice president of the Nashville, Tenn.-based company. "A lot of it had to do with what recently went on in Israel and Lebanon."
The offering featured headlines that had been snipped from the front pages of USA Today, then pasted below select New Testament verses. Also included was some newspaper boldface about the collapse of the Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachey marriage accompanied by relevant text from Scripture, presumably not Genesis’ 2:24 dictum: "a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife."
Thomas Nelson, which produces 150 different editions of the Bible each year, arguably more than any other publisher in the world, "gets all sorts of interesting proposals," said Mr. Hastings. Some, like the alarmist Bible and a submission featuring 20 iterations of Scripture woven together–"It was confusing and overwhelming," he said–got a thanks but no thanks. The idea of tucking the New Testament between the boldly colored covers of what looked like a teen fashion magazine as a way of appealing to adolescents–Corinthians and Colossians for the Cosmo girl–and the notion of a water-resistant Bible, inspired by a leaf of paper sent to Thomas Nelson by a vendor–well, folks, start the presses.
I was reading the latest issue of Touchstone and ran into a striking observation quote in the opening editorial. The author was writing about Christmas Carols, but said this, and I’ve inserted a couple words to drive the point home:
Like the oldest and best liturgies, these songs are no one’s personal property, time and usage have wiped away nearly all distracting fingerprints of authorship and "originality." Instead, they belong to all of us. They are old friends to us, and like the best old friends, they are comfortable and reassuring, and yet also full of mysteries and surprises and strange, hidden delights. Our Christmas Carols [our historic liturgies] are among the most precious shared possession of our fragmenting, fraying culture [Synod/Church], and for all that we abuse them and demean them, they seem to remain imperishable.
"God Rest Ye Merry: On Celebrating the Darker Meaning of Christmas"
by Wilfred McClay
I had to say a very sad farewell to Firefox on my work computer. It was hanging up and driving me bonkers. I checked the Firefox support forum for help and … wow, lots of problems! Apparently the latest version of Firefox has really gummed things up. Anyone else having problems? I’m back to Apple’s Safari browser. Tis a pity!
A bit more searching this morning revealed that in fact there are fourteen verses in "Salvation Unto Us Has Come." Edited versions are not bad, by any stretch, but it is great to have all fourteen verses. I checked the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, the ELS hymnal, and found that they include all fourteen verses, in an archaic translation, but they are all there and as I was all set to type them all in to a post, lo and behold, a kind reader sent me a link to the Bach Cantata web site that has the entire hymn, in both German and in an English translation that is a bit more readable, though not lyrical for a hymn, in other words, you can’t sing it, but it makes the literal German come a bit more clear. And, I believe some will find interesting the German text and the more literal English, which gives some different nuances to the hymn that we’ve not seen before. So, if you click through to the extended post you will find all fourteen verses in German and in more of a literal English translation. If some kind soul happens to have all fourteen verses as provided in Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary, I would certainly appreciate receiving them and will gladly post them. Following the hymn verses is commentary on the hymn and tune and a very brief biographical sketch of the hymn writer, Paul Speratus. I’m struck once again by the moving story of Paul Speratus’ life and work.
Lutheran chorales are unique in Christian hymody for their powerful focus on singing the truths of God’s Word. I won’t use the "d" word, since it makes some people oh-so-uncomfortable [doctrine!]. I read a comment by a Lutheran university professor on Facebook the other day delivering himself of the opinion, "You don’t have to know, or like, Lutheran chorales to be a good Lutheran!" And I thought, "Duh, if you don’t know about them at all, of course not, but if you are a Lutheran how would you not love the Lutheran chorales?" Think of a Methodist saying "You don’t have to like Methodist hymns to be a Methodist." Huh? See my point?
Bob Waters has mined another golden nugget. Kudos Bob. This is a fascinating article on a very important question: Who is the one, true God? Is Allah merely the Muslim version of the Blessed Trinity? Do Muslims actually worship, believe in, and pray to the one, true God when they address their prayers to Allah? Sadly, there have been some in The LCMS who have succombed to the popular misconceptions surrounding these questions. Read on for more on this subject, from National Review Online.
Which One God?
Comparing the Muslim and Christian conceptions of God.
By Bat Yeor
the passing of time, hidden challenges, which for a long time had been
growing unnoticed and unaddressed, can suddenly emerge into the
full-blown light of current events with a force which seems quite
overwhelming. Today the Western world, or Judeo-Christian civilization,
shaken by jihadist terror, is being rudely awakened to theological
realities blurred for decades. From clashes of civilizations to the
jihad that is declaring to the planet its genocidal intentions,
rational discourse concerning faith is becoming increasingly fraught.
PIcked up this news story just now on my lunch break. Prepare for another opportunity to explain to people what confessional Lutherans believe, teach and confess on these issues as, once again, we are lumped into the "general" Lutheran bucket on this stuff. No doubt homosexuality will be a major part of this latest "study" and so a short, to the point treatment of the subject will prove helpful. I would recommend What About Homosexuality.
CHICAGO (AP) “Lutherans talk about human sexuality."
That’s the subject of a study being released today by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has lost members amid
divisions over homosexuality.
Last year, delegates to the denomination’s national meeting split
almost evenly on whether to let gays and lesbians in long-term
relationships serve as clergy. The proposal, which needed a two-thirds
majority, failed but a church task force was told to keep studying
issues of sexuality and prepare the report that’s being issued today.
E-L-C-A officials say the new study will invite Lutherans “to
consider human sexuality through the lens of Scripture and Lutheran