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Archive for July, 2007

An Honest Bishop

July 31st, 2007 Comments off

Lithuanian Lutheran bishop praises Pope Benedict’s ‘consistency’
ENI-07-0593

By Ruta Tumenaite
Vilnius,
31 July (ENI)–Although several Protestant churches and organizations
have expressed dismay at a recent Vatican document on the identity of
the Church, the leader of Lithuania’s Lutheran church has said he
believes the statement will not significantly harm ecumenical relations.

"We
think this is an internal Vatican document that has no direct influence
on us. Of course, every church teaches its faithful the basics of
faith, and we are sure that this was teaching of this sort," said
Mindaugas Sabutis, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Lithuania.

On 10 July, the Roman Catholic Church’s Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith published "Responses to Some Questions
Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church". Pope Benedict
XVI approved the document, which reaffirmed the Vatican’s stance that
the Catholic Church is the one, true church of Christ.

Speaking to the Lithuanian online daily news Web site www.lrytas.lt, Bishop Sabutis said the Pope is a highly respected figure because of his openness and consistency in ecumenical matters.

"I think it is always better to express theological opinions openly, without hidden things left," the bishop said.

"The
late Pope John Paul II used to embarrass a little by praying together
with the representatives of almost all religions. For instance, just a
few months after signing a joint Catholic-Lutheran declaration on
justification, there came a papal encyclical, which sort of wiped
everything away," Sabutis added.

Speaking about the possible
impact of the Vatican’s document on Catholic-Lutheran relations, Bishop
Sabutis said everything would depend on the local situations and the
way Catholic bishops and other Christian churches treated the document.

Sabutis
said he believed the document would not harm Catholic-Lutheran
relations in Lithuania, which he described as "the best in the last 450
years".

The Lutheran Church in Lithuania lost almost 90 percent
of its members in the Second World War and during severe persecution
under the Soviet regime. Since the restoration of Lithuania’s
independence in 1990, the church has slowly recovered and now has about
21 000 members in 54 parishes. Protestants make up almost 2 percent of
Lithuania’s 3.5 million people. [362 words]

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Categories: Uncategorized

Changing Currents in Romanism

July 31st, 2007 Comments off

As readers of this blog site know, I’m never hesitant to point when and where the Roman Catholic Church continues to be, and to act, every bit as much as it always has. Most recently the repetition of the claims of the essentialityof Papal supremacy signalled that, on that key issue, Rome has not changed, nor has it changed its tune on justification, even though it has set it in a more pleasing key for modern ears.

But, it is good to see prominent Roman Catholics emphasizing how Rome has changed its manner of claiming the right to govern not only the Church, but also the entire world. If you believe in fact this is not the case, that Rome still asserts its universal authority over the two kingdoms, let me know. But here is Neuhaus’ take on it.

A Respectful Word on Episcopal Competence

By Richard John Neuhaus

Tuesday, July 31, 2007,  5:00 AM

The word competence has several meanings, most of which congregate around ability and authority.
It is not clear which meaning is pertinent to the announcement that the
national bishops conference will be meeting with congressional
Democrats who are Catholics in order to devise a way to withdraw troops
from Iraq in what is described as a “responsible transition.” A week
later, presumably in order to underscore their bipartisanship, it was
announced that the bishops would be meeting also with Catholic
Republicans.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

A Lutheran Priest and the Times of London

July 30th, 2007 1 comment

I have no idea what this means, or of what significance it is, but here you go:

Dear Pastor
McCain,
The readers of The
Times of London blog Faith Central recommended your blog so we’ve listed you
among the favourite blogs here
I hope you enjoy
Faith Central and maybe even list it on your blog

God
bless
joanna

Oh, yes, I should mention that the lady doing the article described me as a Lutheran Priest, here’s the story

A Lutheran blog by a Lutheran priest about Lutheran issues of the day
Representative quote: I truly enjoy watching liberal ecumenists go into fits of apoplexy when Rome acts like Rome.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Gay Old Church of England

July 28th, 2007 1 comment

Here is a disturbing interview with Gene Robinson, the openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, speaking about the Church of England. A snippet follows, and here is the link to the full article:


The Bishop of New Hampshire in the US, the Right Rev Gene Robinson, who is
divorced and lives openly in partnership with a gay man, said he found it
"mystifying" that the mother church of the Anglican Communion was unable to
be honest about the number of gay clergy in its ranks.


He said many of the English church’s clergy lived openly in their rectories
with gay partners, with the full knowledge of their bishops. But he
criticised the stance of bishops who threaten the clergy with emnity should
their relationships become public.


Speaking in an interview in London, Bishop Gene said: "I have met so many gay
partnered clergy here and it is so troubling to hear them tell me that their
bishop comes to their house for dinner, knows fully about their
relationship, is wonderfully supportive but has also said if this ever
becomes public then I’m your worst enemy.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Recipe for Disaster

July 26th, 2007 Comments off

The Ninja delivers another gem. This time he describes his recipe for disaster. I’ve been stunned at how many readers of this blog do not know the Ninja. He is the hottest ticket on YouTube delivered do-it-yourself videos. The two guys creating these have inked a seven figure contract for advertising on their site, and a six figure book deal, all from low-budget but high-quality humor. Enjoy.

Categories: Uncategorized

New CPH Web Site

July 26th, 2007 7 comments

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve done a major overhaul to our web site at Concordia Publishing House. Check it out.

Picture_1

Categories: Web/Tech

Does it Matter Where I Worship?

July 26th, 2007 7 comments

How often have we all heard it said: "It doesn’t matter where I worship, or how I worship. All paths lead to the same god." Martin Luther faced this same attitude and here was how he responded to it:

God through Moses had issued a most rigorous prohibition against the impudence of inventing new forms of worship, as when He says: “You shall not offer in every place but at the place which the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name and make His habitation there; thither you shall go, and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices” (cf. Deut. 12:4–6). At that time the place appointed for worship was the temple at Jerusalem. The ark of the covenant was there, and G had promised that He would speak from the mercy seat to draw the people away from the diversity of idols to a united worship of God, to which He wanted to gather all together, if not in bodily presence and external works, at least in heart and prayer, if any were too far away from this place.

But the false prophets used to fight against this viewpoint and say: “God is everywhere; therefore He can be adored and worshiped in every place, both in Bethel as well as on any other mountain.” They did not have regard for the commandment of God. For when God fixes a certain manner and designates a certain place for His worship, it must not be said: “Wherever I will worship God, it will be pleasing to Him if only I do it in a godly and devoted manner,” or, “I shall make offerings to Him wherever it pleases me.” Isaiah, for example, censures this madness very severely, saying (Is. 57:5): “You burn with lust … under every green tree.” The Turks and Jews are accustomed to speak in this manner today, claiming that they are able to serve God outside of the unity of faith and the church of Christ. Mohammed claims that anyone is saved in his own religion if he prays, if he gives alms, if he does other good works. It is not necessary for him to be a Christian or that he should be in the unity of Christ and the church. In the papacy also all corners were occupied with chapels, convents, and idolatry of every kind.

Therefore Hosea cries: “This example of Jacob by no means confirms your idolatry. He did, indeed, struggle with the angel, but you should have remembered that the Lord God of hosts led Israel out of Egypt through the prophet. But where is this God to be [Vol. 6, Page 128] found? Where has He made a memorial for His name? Where is this memorial? Where the ark of the covenant is” (cf. Ex. 20:24).

This is true, indeed, that God is not bound, neither to Jerusalem nor to any other place, and that He is able to save also elsewhere. No one will deny this. But try it and see what you will get! If you invent forms of worship according to your own judgment, you will be in danger of God’s wrath. By His almighty power God could save the human race without Christ, without Baptism, and without the Word of the Gospel. He could have illuminated men’s hearts inwardly through the Holy Spirit and forgiven their sins without the ministry of the Word and of ministers. But it was not His will to do so. And God very strictly prohibited all erring forms of devotion and worship.

When hypocrites say: “Whatever is done with good intention is pleasing to God,” those self-chosen devotions are to be condemned, and men should be reminded that they should direct their eyes where God has revealed Himself. We must not say: “Paul preached at Rome, therefore Christ is there. James is buried at Compostela in Spain, therefore God should be worshiped there by the invocation of Saint James.” By no means! Yet many miracles are performed there? My reply is that God abominates and condemns all erring thoughts outside the one and only revelation made in the Word and sacraments, to which He wished to gather us and in which He wished to include us. For this reason Christ sent His disciples with this command: “Go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20), and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). He wants us to be gathered in connection with the Word and Baptism as by a sure and infallible sign because He wants to save us and help us, just as He promised He would listen at the mercy seat among the people of Israel.

If you want to be absolved from your sins in this manner, go to your pastor, or to your brother and neighbor if your pastor cannot hear you; he has the command to absolve you and comfort you. Do not invent a special absolution for yourself. If you want to receive the Lord’s Supper, go to the assembly of the church and the public congregation and receive it there. Do not devise a special administration and use of the sacraments. For God does not want us to go astray in our own self-chosen works or speculations, and so He gathers us together and encloses us within the limits of the Word so that we are not tossed about by every kind of doctrine (cf. Eph. 4:14).

This happened to us under the papacy when we despised Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the remission of sins and made pilgrimages meanwhile to Saint James, Borne, and Jerusalem, as though God were not present in all the churches and congregations which have His Word and sacraments. Finally, there was an infinite variety of sects and orders, each of which had its peculiar, segregated ritual in distinction from the ritual and ordinance of God. Nor could those innumerable forms of fornication, as Holy Scripture calls them, be prevented except by casting off our own works. So God wants all these things to be removed, and He sets forth His Word, which says: “Here you shall adore, worship, and make offerings. In the Word, in the Lord’s Supper, and in Baptism you have the remission of sins. With these you will have to be satisfied if you wish to be saved.”
Martin Luther, vol. 6, Luther’s Works, Vol. 6  : Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 6:127 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1970).

Categories: Martin Luther Quotes

Worship of the Saints: A New Conversation

July 25th, 2007 Comments off

A new roundtable conversation is underway at the Blog of Concord, on the topic of prayers to, and worship of, the saints.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

With This Ringing Cash Register, I Thee Wed

July 22nd, 2007 1 comment

Great article by Mollie Ziegler-Hemmingway on the wedding-industrial complex. A must read for every pastor, and an article that might be wise to put into the hands of every couple coming to them for pre-marital counseling.

Categories: Culture

Shut up and Listen to Jesus: One Thing’s Needful

July 22nd, 2007 Comments off

My pastor, Rev. Dr. David Smith, is a great preacher. One of the reasons he is so good is because he is clear, to the point, and blunt. He does not attempt to impress us with big words, complex rhetorical devices or flights of rhetorical fancy. He just preaches, clearly and to the point and is a master of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel. This morning the Gospel lesson was the account of Mary and Martha. Pastor Smith used the opportunity to teach what the primary, and first, definition of worship is all about: receiving from Jesus, being served by the God who serves, just as Mary was doing when she sat at Christ’s feet, hearing him teach the Word of God. Pastor Smith said that one way to boil it all down is to realize that often we just have to "Shut up and listen to Jesus." Terse. Blunt. To the point. Spot on true! I like that advice. It’s one of those "stick to your ribs" type of sermonic observations that you will remember for some time.

One of my favorite hymns features the account of Mary and Martha: One Thing’s Needful: Lord This Treasure by Johann H. Schroeder. Here are the words. I encourage you to prayerfully meditate on these powerful words:

One thing’s needful; Lord this treasure
Teach me highly to regard;
All else, though it first give pleasure,
Is a yoke that presses hard.
Beneath it the heart is still fretting and striving,
No true, lasting happiness ever deriving.
The gain of this one thing all loss can requite
And teach me in all things to find true delight.

Wilt thou find this one thing needful,
Turn from all created things
Unto Jesus and be heedful
Of the blessèd joy He brings.
For where God and Man both in one are united,
With God’s perfect fulness the heart is delighted;
There, there is the worthiest lot and the best,
My One and my All and my Joy and my Rest.

How were Mary’s thoughts devoted,
Her eternal joy to find
As intent each word she noted,
At her Savior’s feet reclined!
How kindled her heart, how devout was its feeling,
While hearing the lessons that Christ was revealing!
For Jesus all earthly concerns she forgot,
And all was repaid in that one happy lot.

Thus my longings, heav’nward tending,
Jesus, rest alone on Thee.
Help me, thus on Thee depending;
Savior, come and dwell in me.
Although all the world should forsake and forget Thee,
In love I will follow Thee, ne’er will I quit Thee.
Lord Jesus, both spirit and life is Thy Word;
And is there a joy which Thou dost not afford?

Wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure,
Jesus, lies concealed in Thee;
Grant that this may still the measure
Of my will and actions be,
Humility there and simplicity reigning,
In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training.
Oh, if I of Christ have this knowledge divine,
The fulness of heavenly wisdom is mine.

Naught have I, O Christ, to offer
Naught but Thee, my highest Good.
Naught have I, O Lord, to proffer
But Thy crimson-colored blood.
Thy death on the cross hath Death wholly defeated
And thereby my righteousness fully completed;
Salvation’s white raiments I there did obtain,
And in them in glory with Thee I shall reign.

Therefore Thou alone, my Savior,
Shalt be All in all to me;
Search my heart and my behavior,
Root out all hypocrisy.
Restrain me from wandering on pathways unholy
And through all life’s pilgrimage keep my heart lowly.
This one thing is needful, all others are vain;
I count all but loss that I Christ may obtain.

Categories: Sermons

Look Inside the Concordia Edition

July 20th, 2007 3 comments

Concordia
This is your last, and final, notice about the special $20 price on Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. At the end of July, only twelve days left, including this one, the price goes to $30 for the book. Plus, you may now use Amazon’s "Search Inside" feature to take a sneak peak of  the book. By hitting "surprise me" you receive pages at random from throughout the book. So, go take a look and if you want to buy it for $20, go to www.cph.org/concordia by clicking on that web address, back there, just a few words ago. You know what to do. To check out the "search inside" feature at Amazon, well, go back and click on those words, "search inside." Right, that’s it, just back there. No, the first one, the blue words. Yes, that’s it. There, you got it.

Categories: Uncategorized

Heavenly Surprise

July 16th, 2007 4 comments

Heavenlysurprise

Disclaimer for the terminally uptight: No, Muslims are not going to heaven. Yes, this is humor. Please, get over it and lighten up! (Necessary for the handful of people who read this blog who are wound so tight a lump of coal put into their palm wil turn into a diamond in short order).

Categories: Uncategorized

Refuting the claims made by the Bishop of Rome

July 13th, 2007 3 comments

Crowns_2 The recent pronouncement by the Bishop of Rome (see post below for the complete text) errs most fundamentally in that it repeats the Bishop’s claim that he, by divine right, is above all bishops and pastors in the Church on earth. And he claims that this understanding of papal primacy and power is of the very essence of the Church, to the point that those churches that do not acknowledge and agree with his claim are either defective or not Church in the proper sense. This claim is nothing new, but has been the claim of the Roman bishop since the time of the early Middle Ages. While the Bishop of Rome was acknowledged from very early on as having a certain sort of "first among equals" status in the Western Church, due to the fact that Rome was the place where both Peter and Paul were martyred, the claim that he has universal primacy was not taught, or accepted, by the Early Church, and has always been rejected by the Church in the East. The single best refutation of the Roman bishop’s claims is the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, which rightly rejects this claim as godless and pernicious. I encourage you to read this Treatise. I’m posting the entire text of the Treatise in the extended entry.

Read more…

Categories: Roman Catholicism

NEWS FLASH: The Pope is Roman Catholic!

July 10th, 2007 12 comments

Papacy I truly enjoy watching liberal ecumenists go into fits of apoplexy when Rome acts like Rome, when the Pope acts like the Pope and when it the "big news" is that the Roman Catholic Church still thinks it is the one, true church on earth and that all other Christian communities are either defective (the East) or not church at all (all us Reformation types). I am not at all bothered by the Pope’s pronouncement, actually quite pleased by such refreshing clarity and integrity in the expression of Rome’s position: open and honest. Too bad liberal Lutherans can’t be as forthcoming at times. It is troubling that there are groups about that stand for one thing, but hide their positions so as to try to deceive and mislead people.

So, big news! The Pope is a Roman Catholic! Here is the official statment from the vatican. Click through to the extended version to read it. And then, when you are finished reading the document, read the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope for a sound, Biblical and Gospel-centered refutation of these false claims.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Amen. Amen. The Sermon for the Funeral of Pastor Paul B. McCain

July 10th, 2007 2 comments

We were served a rich feast of the Word of God and comforted with the powerful Gospel of Christ during my father’s funeral yesterday. Here is the sermon presented by Pastor David Reed. I’ve provided the text below and also supply the Word file here as well:  Download amen_amen_dads_funeral_sermon.doc

Burial of the Christian Dead

Sermon for the funeral of Rev. Paul B. McCain

Tuesday, July 10, 2007 Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Saginaw, Michigan

Amen, Amen (Revelation 7:9-17)

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 

And they cried out in a loud voice:

"Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,  saying:

"Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength

be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes– who are they, and where did they come from?" 

I answered, "Sir, you know."

And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore,

"they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. 

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.

The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;

he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Beloved in Christ; friends, saints of God here in the family of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Pastor Korte, Pastor Buckhahn, colleagues in teaching ministry who have so long been the right hand for the office of the ministry (among whom Pastor McCain served also many years as a Lutheran teacher), and brother pastors in service to Christ as co-workers in the Kingdom —but especially you, dear Jean, and your fine family; Paul Timothy and Lynn with your children, Paul, John, and Mary, and Philip and Brenda and also your children, Jennifer and Philip—all of you, your grandfather’s pride and joy.  Peace to you all in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ, the resurrected One.

“Amen.”  Is it not usually the last word?  Amen.  For Scripture it is equally often the first.  Amen.  Thousands of times we have uttered it: this Amen.  Ten thousands of times it is sung.  The cry "Amen" is pure acclamation.  It’s echoes will surely not end:  because Amen is sheer affirmation.  Amen.  Time and time again it flanks great confessions.  It punctuates and confirms.  In heaven, “Amen” is the couplet which links praise upon praise.  It says; This is sure, settled and steadfast.  Amen and amen.  "Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.  Amen!"

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized