"Habituate your hearts in such a way that your whole life becomes certain and steadfast, according to the statement of Heb. 12:12: “Lift your drooping hands, and strengthen your weak knees.” And in 2 Peter 1:10 we read: “Confirm your call and election.” Remain in your calling. And conclude as follows: “I have been baptized; I have received the body and blood of Christ; I have been absolved; God will not deceive me. Why, then, would I be mistaken or doubt, since I know that the works of God are good and sure?"
Martin Luther, vol. 7, Luther’s Works, Vol. 7 : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 7:155 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1965).
Where can I find God? How do I know He loves me? Where is the light in the darkness? So many questions like this so many answers. I’m sticking with Luther’s profoundly simple, Biblical and faithful response. He was commenting in his lectures on Genesis about why God has his people burn their sacrifices. It was done as a sign for them. Similarly, when Elijah’s sacrifice was accepted by God fire came down from heaven to consume it, as a sign. Where are the signs God gives today?
"The very Word, Baptism, and the Eucharist are our lightbearers today, toward which we look as dependable tokens of the sun of grace. We can state with certainty that where the Eucharist, Baptism, and the Word are, there are Christ, forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. Contrariwise, where these signs of grace are not present, or where they are despised by men, there is not only no grace, but execrable errors follow, and men set up for themselves other forms of worship and other signs. Thus the Greeks worshiped Apollo, and others worshiped other demons; the Egyptians worshiped Anubis, Serapis, crocodiles, garlic, and the onion; the Romans worshiped Jupiter, Quirinus, and those execrable images, Priapus, Venus, etc.” (AE 1:249).
"We, who possess the pure Gospel and the genuine Sacraments, certainly have a great advantage over those who, perhaps from their youth, were victimized by false preaching. But let us not think that our membership in the orthodox Church and our adherence to the pure doctrine will be sufficient for us. To whom much is given, from him much will be demanded. The purer our doctrine, the more firmly we must cling to it and the more carefully we must guard against the invasion of false doctrine. The richer the comfort we receive from the Gospel, the more faithful we must be in the faith. The more numerous the spiritual blessings we receive from God, the more fervent must be our love and the works in which we demonstrate our gratitude. If we walk as children of the kingdom and not as children of this world, we are blessed, for them we will not be cast out. Instead, we will be taken into the kingdom of eternal glory."
–Dr. C.F.W. Walther
from: "God Grant It"
CPH:2006, p. 150.
For decades, Lutherans have been accused of a passivistic response
to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. In this careful analysis of
original documents and the personal reflections of those involved in
the church struggle under Hitler, Green seeks to set history straight.
He identifies how Confessional Lutherans faced Nazi threats and
survived to uphold the faith of Luther in the country of his birth.
Green addresses both the successful statements against Hitler’s regime,
such as the Bethel Confession, and the divisive documents, such as the
Barmen Declaration, that sundered any hope of a coordinated Lutheran,
and indeed Christian, resistance to the Nazis. Readers also will
discover the stories of courageous church leaders who prevented the
Nazis from absorbing Lutheran Churches into the Reich Church.
About the cover: Adolf Hitler was a master of propaganda.
He carefully arranged photo opportunities that would feed the need of
the German people to see the Führer as “one of them.” In this image,
the photographer captured the supposed “heretic” leaving a church in
Wilhelmshaven. The presence of the cross over Hitler’s bowed head
became an essential part of the propoganda to promote Hitler as
sympathetic to the Christian faith.
Hey, four inches of snow is a big deal around these parts. It was really wet and heavy snow, perfect for packing and making our first snowman of the season.
It will be interesting to see how this trial turns out.
Link: US News � Gay Lutheran minister faces church trial (AP).
I was talking to a fellow Macintosh lover and user at CPH, yes, we do have a good number of Macintosh users at CPH, basically the entire design team is using Macs and a number of our book team folks are. We were saying to each other that the truly amazing thing about Apple Inc. [as it is now called] is not really the iPod or iPhone or Macintosh computer. Yes, those are all truly amazing. No, what’s truly the most amazing and impressive thing about Apple is iTunes. It is truly an astounding piece of software and comprehensive on-line intellectual property delivery system. I again appeal to all of you who are in the darkness of the cold, hostile world of the PC, held totally captive to Microsoft, come in to the warmth of Apple. Embrace the light! You will not regret it. [I have attempted in this article to set the world record for most uses of "truly" and "amazing" in a single blog post].
Many years ago when we were living in Chicago and I was finishing up my last year at Concordia College, my wife and I went out with one of her friends from her days at Valparaiso University. This lady’s husband was a seminary student at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. I remember this outing because of the bizarre conversation I had with the man. He was singing the praises of Paul Tillich and I had done a bit of reading in Tillich and for the life of me could not understand why anyone in their right mind, let alone anyone remotely interested in genuine Christianity, not to mention authentic Lutheranism, would want to waste their time studying Tillich and his drivel.
I really enjoy the journal First Things. Like most people, I immediately turn to the back to read Richard John Neuhaus’ always informative "Public Square" editorials and then the "While We Are At It" section which, I’m fairly convinced, is the reason why most people take First Things, the other articles being of course interesting, but the "main attraction" being Neuhaus. From the latest issue I gleaned the following comments:
A friend tells me that the charateristic of a crank is that he has three theories: A theory about the Jews, a theory about the real author of the works of "Shakespearre" and a monetary theory usually related to the gold standard.
Neuhaus points out a new book that might be worth taking a look at it:
In the Catholic Church, the discussion of whether women can be ordained to the ministerial priesthood is closed, writes Sr. Sarah Butler in a remarkable little book, The Catholic Priesthood and Women. "This does not mean, however, that the teaching itself does not need to be expounded and discussed," she quickly adds. On the contrary. Since the Church requires "the full and unconditional assent of the faithful" to the teaching, it needs to be fully and persuasively explained. Which is just what Sr. Sara does in 117 pages of careful response to all the standard arguments in favor of ordaining women–and a few I had never heard of. Published by Hillenbrand Books, The Catholic Priesthood and Women is a must read for anyone who is puzzled to a teaching that is settled but still unsettling for many.
And there is this little gem:
Of the making of new Bible translations there is no end . . . . Nelson publishers for the New Century Version [now has] "Immerse: A Water-Resistant New Testament." [Said to be] the first-ever water resistant Bible…available in lime green and orange, with the pages 100% water-resistant. . . . A wonderful addition to any mission trip, a weekend at the beach, hiking, or even when you get baptized!" The effectual grace of baptism being indiscernible in so many of us, we now have a water resistant Bible for water-resistant Christians. What won’t they think of next? Don’t ask.
OK, am I the only one who takes a great deal of satisfaction from using a fine writing instrument? I know I’m not or else the pen industry would not be as huge as it is. But we penphiles are sometimes ashamed to admit of our particular obsession. It’s ok. You can admit it here. Say it with me: "I love pens, and that’s ok." Well, my fellow pen geeks, I have been using now for a few months a relatively inexpensive pen called the Uniball Signo 207. I prefer it in "Micro" — they are fantastic. They are a roller ball pen and feel great and lay the ink down very nicely on paper. They are refillable, theoretically I guess. The red could be a bit darker for my tastes, but for some reason the red pens feel even more silky smooth than the black. I carry a black and red pen at all times, along with a fountain pen. [See, I told you I was a pen geek, and yes, perhaps a nerd too]. At any rate, if you love pens, and you don’t know about the Uniball Signo 207 series, check them out.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever, don’t you agree? And, I had a thought. Wouldn’t you also agree that nothing says, "I love you" more than a copy of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions as a Valentine’s Day gift? Beat the rush, order now.
In my ongoing conversation with a friend about sanctification, we’ve come to another issue that is important in this discussion. My friend, again, in a well intentioned desire to speak faithfully about sanctification, has unfortunately set up another straw man. She has opined that "some Lutherans" regard sanctification as "synergistic" while other Lutherans view sanctification in terms of monergism because it is worked in us by God’s grace alone by means of Word and Sacrament. Well, of course, no faithful Lutheran that I know of is running about suggesting, much less actually saying, that sanctification is "synergistic." I think where the confusion comes here is, again, a fundamental lack of knowledge of what our Confessions actually teach based on the Scriptures. Our conversation goes back to our discussion of how, or if, Lutherans in their preaching and teaching should spend time talking about the works we are set free in Christ to be doing. Her position is that time spent on talking about good works we can and should be doing is just less time talking about Christ. That’s a false alternative though. Her view helps me understand why some Lutheran preaching these days is lacking in any conversation directed to the regenerate about their lives in Christ beyond saying to the regenerate, "You are sinful and fail to keep God’s law and here is how you fail to keep it" instead of encouraging them to be what they have become in Christ by drawing them to the cruciform life as an expression of thanks and praise, calling them to continue on in the greatest epic journeys any human being is ever called to take, to take joy in the calling and station of life and to see the privilege of living under Christ in His kingdom and serving Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness. Our Confessions wisely note that we need always to keep in mind that there is a difference between the unregenerate and the regenerate. Here is how I responded to her inquiry on this issues, and maybe you might find it interesting, perhaps helpful.
I’ve been following closely, and contributing to, the ongoing discussion in the Lutheran blogosphere concerning sanctification. I’ve been rebuked by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have told me I’ve come across as being harsh and judgmental. For that I truly apologize. That was not my intention, of course, but in the concern I have over this issue I can well imagine my way of expressing myself has struck some as unkind, unloving, harsh and judgmental. I am sorry. I ask you to forgive me.
Let me now offer some thoughts, respectfully and prayerfully. I have come to several conclusions.
This is one of the most odd winters I’ve seen. Temperatures in the upper sixties for many days, fifties, then…wham…ice. There are now nearly 150,000 homes without power here and the number is growing. We have power, thanks to our underground lines throughout the subdivision. Here’s a shot of the Winter wonderland in our backyard.
Since this is the season of Epiphany, in which we are joyfully celebrating the blessed reality of the Incarnation, the manifestation of God in the flesh, I thought it was time to pull out the old "Communication of Attributes" chart, or as Professor Kurt Marquart liked to call it, the "fishbone chart" that he liked to use to help us work our way through the absolutely profound presentation on the Communication of Attributes in the second volume of Francis Pieper’s Christian Dogmatics. I prepared the attached chart, based on his lectures, during the class on Christology I took with him and he liked it so much he kept asking me for copies through the years to share with him. I’m glad it has been helpful. So, in the joy of the Incarnation and the Epiphany, I offer this chart on the Communication of Attributes to you again. Download Attributes.pdf