Those whose knees go weak and hearts start to flutter and eyes grow weepy at the thought of a Latin Mass will love this site. I find it interesting for other reasons. The coolest thing I picked up by looking at some of this was how properly to use a rope cincture. There are videos of everything and you can watch the priest vest himself, while incanting the required Latin prayers for each piece of vestment. Watching him put on the cincture reminded me of how hard I found it trying to do the required knots for the knot tying merit badge in Boy Scouts. It was not a pleasant memory. Note to: FE, WW and BM: knock yourselves out guys! On a more serious note: the site provides the Latin of the Mass in one column and the English in another, offering one of the most instructive glimpses into why, precisely, Luther reformed the Mass. The Canon of the Mass is the heart of the Mass and the heart of the problem and why Lutherans confess that the Roman Mass is truly "the greatest and most horrible abomination" since it conflicts with the chief doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at its Church wide Assembly voted that its bishops should refrain from disciplining rostered workers who are in a "mutual, chaste and faithful same-sex relationship."
After several votes turning down efforts to change the ELCA’s "Visition and Expectations" document that governs the standards required for rostered workers, in order to permit such relationships, this was a substitute motion to ask at least for there to be an end to any disciplinary efforts against such rostered workers, a "cease fire" or a "time out" as it was put on the floor during the debate.
My sense is that many of the voting members of the Assembly simply had been worn out emotionally by the plaintive speeches made by, and for, homosexuals in relationships and this was perhaps regarded as a gesture of conciliation. Upon further reflection perhaps a number who voted for this will realize that they have, effectively, just given a green light to what in Scripture is very much a large, flashing red light and "danger" sign.
The best speech on this matter, in my opinion, was given by a dairy farmer from Wisconsin who rose and said, simply and powerfully:
I’ve listened to the debates over homosexuality all week. This debate is literally breaking my heart. In this post-modern world
which says everyone defines what is right or wrong for himself/herself,
the idea of discipline for violating boundaries is viewed as injustice.
We can not live our lives without boundaries. I’m a dairy farmer and I
work daily around large animals and large pieces of equipment. We
raised five children who always wanted to be with dad. Because I loved them
I built a fence and they had to stay in the boundaries of the fence, even if
they cried or begged. They could climb out. When they did they were
disciplined. It did not matter how much they wanted to be with me, or I
with them. Our Creator has given us boundaries, if we could live within
those boundaries a need for discipline would not exist.
I generally do not engage in non-theological rants, or postings, for that matter, but…I’m sitting here reading Newsweek magazine and I’m once again assaulted/insulted by the latest news on Lindsey Lohan, Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton. And don’t tell me if I spelled their names correctly, or not. I don’t care. And that’s my point.
Why does anyone care about these spoiled degenerate young women? I think we should care about what kind of parenting they did, or, obviously, did not have. These are women whose every move is documented and zipped across the Internet. Why is it that "news" about them makes the headline news at my Yahoo home page? Why this endless fascination in watching these poor young women literally self-destruct before our very eyes?
I can think of few other depressing examples of the deep rot that has set into our culture than the fact that so much time is spent giving attention to these three. What we see here is the tragedy of women whose bank accounts are stuffed full, but whose souls are desperately empty. Perhaps that is the good purpose they serve. Where were their parents? How is that women barely "legal" can already have established criminal records and have spent time in and out of "rehab" for use of illegal drugs and overuse of alcohol. And anyone envies them? What helpless and pointless lives of not-so-quiet desperation they are leading. And this is news? This is worth our public attention? It’s so sad and tragic that it literally makes me sick to my stomach.
We must pray that somehow, in some way, the proclamation of Law and Gospel reaches these young women before it is too late. God have mercy on them, and on us, in a culture that "celebrates" this kind of spectacle. Your reaction? Is it just me?
Address at the Dedication of the Walther Mausoleum
By Francis Pieper
Translated by Matthew Harrison
Yesterday at the Bates St. cemetery of the local Germany Trinity and Holy Cross congregations the sepulcher commemorating the departed Dr. C.F.W. Walther was dedicated. The mausoleum was devoted to the memory of the departed by the local Evangelical Lutheran congregations. The service began about 4:00 p.m. and in brief and impressive fashion lasted three quarters of an hour. Many many members of the local Evangelical Lutheran Congregations came by way of the Oak Hill Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. Also present were many Germans who are not members of the congregations yet hold the memory of the departed in high esteem.
After Pastor Hermann Bartels spoke a few introductory words, the gathering sang the beautiful church hymn “Jesus, meine Zuversicht” [Christ My Sure Defense], after which the aforementioned pastor read the Bible text 1 Corinthians 15:12-23, 55, 57. Another hymn by the congregation, glorifying the eternal life won through Christ, led to the following festival address delivered by Professor F. Pieper.
Dear Brethren in the Faith!
It was on May 7 in the year 1887 that God called out of this life the blessed Dr. Walther, professor of theology at the local Concordia College and Pastor of the local Lutheran Gesammtgemeinde. Ten days later, on May 17, we buried his body here. After five years the same death has given us occasion to assemble at the same place and in like numbers. We have not forgotten the departed one, and we do not want to forget him. This finished sepulcher should also be an external support for our remembrance.
Some months ago, in another place, we also had opportunity to think about his great and faithful teacher. We have erected his statue, hewn of marble, in the aula of our theological institution. And justifiably so! Dr. Walther was a great theological instructor. Indeed, he was – and I well know what I am saying – the greatest theologian of this century. It’s not that there were not men in this century who have acquired a greater external knowledge in the disciplines which contribute to the study of theology. But there is no known theologian of our century who had exceeded Walther in that which forms the very essence of theology, namely the clear and certain knowledge of the doctrine revealed in the scriptures, and in the ability to present this doctrine convincingly. God also used Walther to exercise a wide ranging salutary influence upon the church at large. Even those who found themselves opposed to him acknowledge this.
They say the reason we laugh is because we recognize the truth in humor.
Case in point: a new line of motivational posters for the "emerging church" movement. I’ve posted a couple examples below.
HT: Pastor Zip.
I received an electronic copy of the speech that Bishop Walter Obare gave to the LWF Council at a meeting some time ago. He courageously came to the aid of Swedish pastors who are resisting manfully the inroads of corrupt leftist theology in the Church of Sweden. This speech is a wake up call for all of us and is paricularly important for us to read and take to heart. There are some, even in conservative Lutheran churches, who want to turn a blind eye and deaf ear to these realities, and who can not seem to muster the necessary fortitude to call a thing what it is, like Bishop Obare does.
"Calling a thing what it is"
theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the
cross calls the thing what it actually is.” (Martin Luther, Heidelberg
Disputation, Thesis 21)
Rather than following the path
of fidelity to Scripture and to the historic confession of the church,
the Church of Sweden pursues the path of ecclesial tyranny and
oppression through the enforcement of its humanly contrived rules and
regulations. Rather than exercising true Christian love and unity, it
fosters schism and controversy. Like true theologians of glory, the
leadership of the Church of Sweden and other Northern, liberal churches
insist on calling the bad good and the good bad. The LWF is not
innocent of this charge. Let us examine some documents prepared by
such theologians to see if this is the case.
receiving the request from the Mission Province to consecrate Bishop
Olsson, Archbishop Hammar wrote a well-publicized letter to me that
contained this excerpt: “Within the Church of Sweden there are many
inner-church movements with different perspectives. Today, they exist
side-by-side united by a wish to stay together even though there are
different opinions regarding many of these perspectives. We seem to
have reached the painful situation where the wish for some to stay
together is no longer as strong as the need to stress one’s own
Here is a wonderful quote from Martin Luther, from a sermon he preached around the same general time he was working on the Large Catechism, in which we find that phrase (LC II.66) that has been misunderstood to say that Martin Luther taught that Turks, Jews and unbelievers worship and believe in the One, True God. Here is yet another definitive refutation of that error, from Luther himself. Putting it plainly, it is the clear teaching of Holy Scripture: Know Chist, Know God. No Christ, No God.
"We should also note in this text how Christ refers to himself as being the one Man through whom the Father must be glorified. By this he also wants to prevent his people, the Jews—even though they had the Law and the glorious worship of God—from boasting of their holiness, because not one of them had the power to glorify the Father or to bring anyone to the knowledge of righteousness before God. For if the glory and knowledge of God could have been made manifest through the Law, then Christ would not have had to come, preach, suffer, and die to glorify the Father. This should also teach us how we must properly seek and apprehend or deal with God. For (as stated) “to glorify the Father” is nothing else than that we come to recognize and know who he is, what he has in mind, and what our relationship is to him. Only through Christ can man come to such knowledge. For in no other way did he want to reveal himself, for anyone to see his heart and will, than in and through Christ. We see now in Christ nothing but sincere, unfathomable love and grace [gnade]. On the other hand, outside of him there is nothing but wrath and displeasure [ungnade]. In short, whoever seeks or desires to serve God other than in Christ does not find nor does he serve the true God. For this reason I have often said and warned that anyone who wants to be safe ought to beware of all lofty thinking and speculating, where God in His majesty is explored without means and his work, will, and counsel are probed to obtain hidden and specific revelations, etc., since they not only fail and deceive but also lead and plunge men into the abyss. In this way, condemned also are all doctrines and beliefs on earth: of the Jews, Turks, monks, of false saints, or fanatics, and whoever they are who want to serve God, attain grace, and rid themselves of sin through means other than through Christ the Lord, such as through their works, godliness, great devotion, spiritual thoughts, etc. For it is resolved that he will not reveal himself nor let himself be found outside that one Mediator, so that where Christ is not, there likewise is no true God or worship. But more of that later."
"These words are most forcibly directed against the Arians and all heretics, Jews, and non-Christians, who say and boast that they believe in only one God, who made heaven and earth. And because of this article they condemn us Christians as though we were advancing another God. Thus the Turk says: ‘We believe in God, who created heaven and earth–not the one who spoke in Horeb with Moses, but who spoke with Muhammad."
For He [Christ] wants to show that they do not know the true God, though they think and boast that they do. They do not discover who He is, nor do they know how He must be known: that He is the only true God, who sent Jesus Christ, and so on. This is as much to say: Whoever wants to find the only true God must seek him solely in Christ, for there is no other true God than the one who sent Christ. He no longer wants to be the one who spoke with Moses, but the one who sent Jesus Christ. Whoever does not possess Christ must also be lacking the true God, even if he already knows and believes that there is only one true God. For He does not believe in Him who sent Christ and through Him gives eternal life. For this reason the emphasis is on the word: "You" "That they may know You, who alone are the true God." Which "You?" You who have sent Jesus Christ. It is s though he were saying: "Jews and others also have only one God, as they think, bu they do not know You, You who are the only true God, because they do not know Jesus Christ, the one sent by you. And in the meantime they make a god who conforms to their thoughts, a god who truly is not God, but purely nothing. Thus you see that th word "only" is not used in the sense of setting Himself apart from the Father with respect to the divine essence (since the other words adequately prevent this) but simply because he weaves the two of them together–the Father and himself–yes, firmly links the Father to himself in contrast to all who fashion another God or seek Him elsewhere than in Christ."
Das 16. und 17 Kapitel Joh. von dem Gebet Christi (1530)
St.L 8:744-843; WA 28:70-200
(Aland Hilfsbuch No. 333)
Translated by Erwin W. Koehlinger
"Just as the confession distinguishes the church from strange religions, so also it distinguishes—this its task—truth from error, pure doctrine from heresy, the church from sect within Christianity. Thus rings the definition of confession in the introduction of the Formula of Concord: “Et quia statim post apostolorum tempora, imo etiam cum adhuc superstites essent, falsi doctores et haeretici exorti sunt, contra quos in primitiva ecclesia symbola sunt composita, id est, breves et categoricae confessiones, quae unanimem catholicae christiani fidei consensum et confessionem orthodoxorum et verae ecclesiae complectebantur.” (“And because directly after the times of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose, and symbols, i.e., brief, succinct confessions, were composed against them in the early Church, which were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church.”) This setting of the limit of truth and error belongs to the essence of confession. If the improbant [“they (our churches) reject”] and the damnant [“they condemn”] (by which is designated the impossibility of church fellowship), which sound so harsh to modern ears are silenced, the Augustana ceases to be confession.
If this drawing of boundaries is called “loveless” and “unchristian,” then the same reproach is also directed toward the Apostolicum, every sentence of which was formulated against some heresy, and, above all, this reproach is directed toward the Bible itself. Just as the false prophets stand over against the prophets of God (Jer 23:21 ff.; 29:8–9; Ezekiel 13), [and just as] the false apostles stand over against the apostles of Christ (2 Cor 11:13), so the sect and heresy stand over against the church. And just as the struggle between truth and error rings through all of Holy Scripture, so also it runs through the history of the church, and the church would cease to be the church of Christ, messenger of the redeeming truth of the revelation of God to people, if it would cease to fight this battle. Here lies the greatest and most difficult task of the formation of confession. Here is shown whether or not Christianity still knows what the confession of the church means. The manner in which an age approaches this task shows what of courage and strength of faith, and what of humility and love are alive in Christianity. Here is shown whether the church knows of the reality of the Holy Spirit.
If the people of the Christian West, deep into the rank and file of the church, have forgotten this last sense of the confession of the church, then the reason for the downfall must not be overlooked. It happened because this struggle for the truth of the Gospel—the most difficult struggle which the church in the world has had to carry out—was not always fought with pure hearts and unsullied hands. Nowhere has the church failed so seriously as there where it should have struggled for the pure teaching of the Gospel. In the fight against apostasy from the church, the church has itself only too often forsaken Christ. Thus the confessing church has ever and again become the denying church. The history of Simon Peter, who was the first to express the confession of the church and the first to deny the Lord, has been repeated in the history of the church. But something else is also repeated therein: the tears of repentance and the reinstatement into the office, and this is the office of confession, of bearing witness, of martyrdom."
The Confession of the Church
The Lonely Way, p. 113.
In light of some recent musings out and about on Lutheran lists, blogs, and fora, about the "badness" or "goodness" of a Lutheran episcopate, it would be helpful to give attention to one of our greatest Lutheran teachers from the 20th century, Dr. Hermann Sasse, who offers up a very necessary, and healthy, reality-check.
Lutheranism is the only great Christian confession which knows of no particular external order as being of the essence of the church. All other confessions know of a definite constitution as being of the church’s essence because it has been commanded by God in the NT and must therefore be present where the true church of Christ is supposed to be. Thus for Roman Catholicism the Roman episcopal constitution, with the papacy at its summit, belongs to the essence of the church. Also the Orthodox churches of the East and the non-Roman Catholic churches of the West—to which, among others, we count the Anglican Church—know of a quite definite, divinely willed order of the church. To this belong the threefold office of bishops, presbyters, and deacons, together with the principle of apostolic succession.
Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin of the Siberian Lutheran Church, preached an encouraging and inspiring sermon on the occasion of his consecration as bishop, on May 6, 2007. Apparently some in the Lutheran corner of the Internet find it troubling that there even is such a thing as a Lutheran bishop. I read a particularly absurd comment claiming that one of Bishop Lytkin’s highest priorities must be to establish "supreme voter’s assemblies." Voter’s assemblies are fine and good, if that is how a Lutheran congregation chooses to organize itself, but there is certainly nothing "divinely mandated" about a voter’s assembly, anymore than there is anything "divinely mandated" about the historic episcopate. In Luther’s time there were no such thing as "supreme voter’s assemblies" but fairly quickly there developed consistories made up of clergy and educated lay leaders in the community, under the supervision of a "Superintendent." There were not "voter’s assemblies" such as we have them here in America. This was the common form of church organization throughout the territorial churches in Germany. Scandinavian Lutheran churches choose to retain the episcopate, something our Confessions grants as entirely acceptable, and in fact, assume will continue [it never did in Germany really]. Our Confessions recognize no divinely mandated particular form of church polity, but clearly they do recognize the historic polity in the church by which there are rankings among clergy, though all are equal in office.
A selective reading, and application, of the Lutheran Confessions is a dangerous thing. Article XIV in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession states our Lutheran sensibility that as long as the Gospel is kept pure, polity should never be allowed to be a matter of division in the Church. Note this comment: "We have frequently testified in this assembly that it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests]. For
we know that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers,
in the manner laid down in the ancient canons, with a good and useful intention" and "Furthermore, we wish here again to testify that
we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government,
provided the bishops only cease to rage against our Churches. This our desire will clear us both before God and among all nations to all posterity from the imputation against us that the authority of the bishops is being undermined, when men read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice."
Further affirming that the
rankings in the Church are by human ordering, is not therefore grounds
to renounce such rankings! The Lutheran Confessions assume the
continuation, for the sake of good order, the historic ranking in the
Church between bishop and pastor, but make clear that it is by human
ordering, not divinely instituted, nor absolutely necessary. But the
attempt to reject all such ranking as contrary to our Confession is
just as wrong as insisting such rankings are divinely mandated. See
Tractate par. 63: "Jerome, therefore, teaches that it is by human authority that the grades of bishop and elder or pastor are distinct."
Whatever polity a church chooses to adopt, it does so in Christian
freedom, recognizing that all ministers are equal by divine right and
calling, but some have duties others do not have, depending on their
particular vocation. Asserting that the historic episcopate is of the
essence of the Church’s definition as Church is as wrong as attempting
to define the Church along the lines of American Luthean polity choices.
We American Lutherans must take care that we not confuse decisions
about church polity made, well and legitimately, by immigrants to
America in the 1840s, with the definition of the Church as articulated in our Lutheran
Confessions, which, again, do not "mandate" any form of Church polity,
but support and encourage us all to dwell together in harmony around
agreement in the Gospel rightly preached and the Sacraments rightly
administered. For more on this, see Hermann Sasee’s particularly poignant insights.
This is big news folks, and it was formally announced at the recently concluded Luther Congress in Brazil. Here is a prospectus of a twenty-volume extension of the American Edition of Luther’s works. Enjoy!