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Archive for September, 2007

The Lutheran Confessions Are Becoming More Popular

September 29th, 2007 4 comments

I have had, literally, countless numbers of laypeople tell me something similar to these remarks I found on a blog site recently. Pastors who give laypeople a chance to understand and appreciate the Lutheran Confessions are often quite surprised, and delighted, by the response. Of course, if a pastor himself doesn’t care much about the Lutheran Confessions and actually putting them to use in his ministry, the lay people certainly won’t. Now is as good a time as any to mention that the "Concordia" edition of the BOC is now on sale at CPH, at $24.99, and under certain conditions, is available as well with free shipping/handling during our Fall Bible promotion which is running from now until the end of December. What better way to celebrate the Lutheran Reformation than by studying the Lutheran Confessions?

The following is from the Blog: Blonde Moment

So,
I recently started a small group Bible Study for women between 20 and
35 sponsored by my church. I am accountable to a DCE for the content
and that the group grows. As it turns out, most of the women in my
group have spent years of their lives in various evangelical to
non-denominational churches.

To become a new adult member of our
church, one has to go through a several week class that explains
foundational beliefs of the confessional Lutheran Church. The class, by
nature, is a survey class so confirmed Lutherans don’t have to sit
through the same old catechism class again.

Here’s an
observation I made to Pastor, this is not an opinion, rather an
observation. A recent phenomenon in confessional churches is the
migration of Evangelicals back to orthodoxy-with-a-small-o, henceforth
referred to orthodoxy. I don’t think Pastors have been prepared for
this, as such, many new members come from a background where they are
not familiar with the confessions of faith.

Pastor is starting a sermon series on The Apostles Creed (a good excuse to bring my copy of Concordia, reader’s edition , edited by Rev. Paul McCain
, great edition, by the way). So, as I was stopping by church, I
briefly suggested to Pastor that a class on the Augsburg Confessions or
the Large Catechism be made available, as well, explaining how people
from a non-confessional background aren’t used to confessing one
theology.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

New Roundtable Discussion at the Blog of Concord

September 29th, 2007 Comments off

There is a new roundtable conversation underway at the Book of Concord blog and you are invited to join in. It is truly an embarrassment that the practice of private and confession and absolution has fallen into disuse among Lutherans, when our Confessions indicate that we Lutherans cherish it and retain it in the church. The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod adopted a very fine resolution at its last convention calling on its restoration and use among us. C.F.W. Walther was a champion of the practice and insisted that where it has fallen out of use, it needs to be restored.

So, come join the conversation.

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Ezekiel 33:1-9 and Faithless Pastors

September 29th, 2007 2 comments

In light of the two recent posts, I picked up a post from a Roman Catholic blog site this morning that illustrates a faithless pastor and how he operates. Read these sad words and consider Ezekiel 33:1-9. God grant us faithful shepherds and may He ever bless us through those who declare God’s Law and Gospel faithfully to us. May He preserve such men in their ministry. May He protect us from men who fail in their duties. And may God, in His mercy, protect us from ourselves. If and when we, as Lutherans, can not find it in ourselves to explain and defend why it is that we are Lutherans, and nothing else, then it truly is time to turn off the lights and close the doors of our church. If, and when, a congregation no longer wants a faithful shepherd who will speak the truth in love and explain and defend why we are, and must be, Lutherans in order to be as faithful as possible to God’s Word, then they deserve hirelings who will tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

The Unfaithful Shepherd

My husband is a convert from Lutheranism. Nominal Lutheranism. His
parents, wanting him to have some appreciation for religion, would take
him to church on Sunday, drop him off at the church steps and then go
do something else for an hour. This is a real head-shaker for me.
Instead of the old Borg slogan of "Resistance is futile," this was more
along the lines of, "Attempts at religiousizing are futile." I
shouldn’t be flippant, maybe these times in church were what gave him
the grounding to one day become Catholic. The more I hear the
conversion stories of others, the more I see that there is no clear
path to look down from this end, only the trail you see in retrospect.

It’s all amazing.

My
husband (back then he was just a friend) went and asked the pastor of
the church he attended once in a blue moon, why Lutheranism and not
Catholicism. The pastor, according to my husband, had little to say. He
seemed to be resigned that one of his sheep was leaving the flock. He
almost acted like he, or the church he belonged to, had been seen for
what it was. The emperor had no clothes. The pastor’s only suggestion
to the kindly barrage of questions of my husband’s, was for my husband
to read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into
Values."

Odd. Even my husband thought it was odd and left his
meeting with the pastor feeling very disappointed and even sorry for
the man. The pastor had had no answers to my husband’s questions.

After
a few meetings with my father, a great apologist, discussing
Catholicism, my "friend" was certain that his leanings toward the
Catholic Church were correct and he was ready for RCIA.

Categories: Lutheranism

Because It Must Be Said: Part Two

September 28th, 2007 4 comments

Congregations that refuse to abide by the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and force a pastor out who is carrying out his ministry faithfully but not according to the whims of the wealthy members in the congregation who want him to marry their fornicating children who refuse to stop living together, who demand he commune their relatives who have long ago abandoned their Lutheran confession, who demand that the pastor stop calling on inactive members because he is irritating them, who insist that the pastor accept as baptismal sponsors people who have no interest in seeing the child raised in the Lutheran faith, who do not want their pastor talking about the differences between church bodies, who never want to hear the Law preached too specifically, who want their pastor to be, more or less, their hired hand, do not deserve another pastor and it is a shame when a church official allows them to receive another one!

Categories: Uncategorized

Because It Must Be Said: Part One

September 28th, 2007 Comments off

Over the years I’ve
observed as pastors are put out of office unjustly. I do not deny this happens. And that it happens, when it happens, it is a tragedy and a blight on the church.

I have also observed pastors put out of their
office due to their own foolish behavior and malfeasance in office. What is
particularly upsetting to me is that pastors put of office due to their own fault
will, more often than not, attempt to wrap themselves in the flag of
"confessionalism" or "orthdoxy" and claim they are being persecuted.  Such pastors should not expect any sympathy when they fail to call on the sick,
the shut-in and the dying, but instead think they have more important
things to do. When they are cautioned about such behavior and ignore it and persist in it. Well, it’s their own fault when finally they are asked to leave. A recent example: a pastor was asked by a family to visit mom, whom they had to put in a home. He said he would. He didn’t. He was asked again. He said he would. He didn’t. Foolish!

I’m not making this up. This happens, and is happening.
Pastors simply failing to perform the basic duties of their office. I have experienced this first-hand with a pastor who was asked to leave after
he failed to call on a person who was dying, after many requests, and
this was merely one of many examples of this kind of behavior on his part. And recently another pastor who has been warned repeatedly over a good length of time, continues, defiantly, to persist in neglect of his duties.

So,
pastors…you make it very hard for pastors who do face persecution for
being truly faithful, when you, due to your own dumb fault, are asked
to leave. Enough said. And to all the pastors out there who are being faithful, who are performing the duties of your office. Thank you! God bless.

Categories: Lutheranism

An Observation about Steak

September 28th, 2007 6 comments

Porterhouse
A Porterhouse Steak, grilled rare to medium-rare. Is there anything better? I think not. And if you don’t agree, that’s ok. Just means there is more for me.

Categories: Uncategorized

Labor of the Law, Labor of Love

September 28th, 2007 Comments off

“Under Christ, therefore, the law consists in what is about to be done, not in what is actually done. Believers have need of it that they might be reminded by the law. It will not be an obligation or any demand, but a labor of the law which is the perfect and highest love.”

Martin Luther, WA 39:1.374, 11. Quoted in H. J. Iwand, The Righteousness of Faith According to Luther, Chapter Two “Law and Gospel.” Translated by R.H. Lundell. Reprinted in Lutheran Quarterly, Volume XXI/Number 2, Summer 2007, p. 232.

Categories: Uncategorized

Converts to Lutheranism Tell Their Stories

September 27th, 2007 3 comments

I ran across recently an interesting web site that provides the personal accounts of people who have come to Lutheranism from other denominational backgrounds. Very interesting indeed! If you know of other converts to Lutheranism who might like to share their stories, please send them to: people can email their conversion stories to Adam Roe at adamroe@wordandsacrament.com 

Categories: Uncategorized

More on the Finnish Situation

September 27th, 2007 1 comment
Dear Brothers,

 

 

 

Now
has happened what I would not have thought possible in my worst
nightmares just one year ago: One of my brothers in office, Missionary
Ari Norro of the Finnish Lutheran Gospel Association (one of the
official mission organizations of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran
Church) as well as the president of the local branch of this
“evangelical movement” that is rich in tradition (comparable in Germany
with Löhe’s awakening) as well as Tauno Tuominen, the vice-senior
pastor of the Evangelical-Lutheran congregation in Hyvinkää, have been
charged in the county court with discrimination in the worship service.

 

 

 

It
happened more or less like this: The Gospel Association unequivocally
rejects women’s ordination, and Rev. Norro is among those who – like me
and many other brothers – do not officiate with women in the service.
Ms. Ojala, a lay-leader, shares his attitude. This is why she had in
time asked during the preparations for the service last March – and it
is about this service – who would be serving alongside Missionary
Norro, the guest preacher; she was told that it would be all male
pastors (and no female pastor). However, right before the beginning of
the service one female pastor of the congregation, Ms. Petra
Pohjanraito, showed up in the sacristy and said that she was scheduled
to help with communion. Rev. Norro responded that this – officiating
with female pastors – was against his firm conviction, but that he was
ready not to serve. However, the female pastor declined his offer; she
said that she had many other things to do, and then she left the
church. The vice-senior pastor allegedly remained passive during this
exchange.

 

 

 

The
entire conversation was observed by, among others, the head elder of
the congregation; and he, a police officer, then reported the matter to
the secular court. And after a few month, one could read in newspapers
yesterday and today that the secular court really charged the three
individuals: the vice-senior pastor because of “discrimination while in
office” and against the others because of simple discrimination.

 

 

 

We will have to wait and see whether the defendants will be sentenced. The trial is scheduled for November 16.

 

 

 

Generally
speaking, however, I consider it to be outrageous in a country that is
so proud of its modern ways and its democratic tradition, that a
secular court takes steps against the religious convictions expressed
in the day-to-day life of the church without the church’s resisting it;
in fact, the church – at least the bishops – look forward to having the
courts finally decide who is right and who is wrong in this lengthy
churchly dispute. And this is why the lay-activist, Ms. Ojala, is
probably only charged because she asked beforehand who was to serve at
the altar on the Sunday in question! Women can therefore also
discriminate against women! One really wonders when a regular
secular-churchly thought police will be established that reliably finds
out every “discriminating” thought and a “conservative” attitude and
right away drags the suspects into court.

 

 

 

If
I did not believe in the God whose kingdom is everlasting, I really
would be afraid. It is quite possible that I too will be tested in the
future and charged like Brother Norro. When I heard the news, my first,
spontaneous question was whether I really want to continue to live in
this land or whether we should emigrate in spite of everything. Now I
think that this too comes out of God’s hand and that He knows exactly
what He does and permits. This is why we can remain calm, wait, and
pray – and continue to build his congregation.

 

 

 

In a rush, with cordial greetings

 

I am your

 

Dr. Martti Vaahtoranta

 

 

 

Dr. Martti Vaahtoranta is a Finnish Lutheran pastor who, while living in Germany, was a member of the Wiesbaden congregation of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) in Germany. He has just returned to his home country.
Categories: Uncategorized

Women and the Catholic Priesthood

September 26th, 2007 4 comments

A very thought-provoking review article from FIRST THINGS:

Women and the Catholic Priesthood

By Monica Migliorino Miller

Wednesday, September 26, 2007,  6:56 AM

In May 1994, Pope John Paul II issued his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
It is, as far as Vatican documents go, very short. It deals with one
specific issue, namely the Church’s ban on the admission of women to
the ministerial priesthood, a ban first articulated in the 1976 Vatican
declaration Inter Insigniores
and upheld by Pope John Paul II. He clearly stated: “Wherefore, in
order that all doubt be removed regarding a matter of great importance,
a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in
virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk. 22:32) I
declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly
ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held
by all the Church’s faithful.” With these words, the Holy Father
intended to end the debate regarding women priests.

In October 1995, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect for the
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made a response to a
question that was submitted to the Vatican on the doctrinal status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.
The official Vatican response, given through Ratzinger, was that the
ban on women priests was “taught infallibly by the Church.” While the
doctrine is settled, much debate, misunderstanding, and, in some
quarters, deep resentment continues over the Church’s insistence upon
an all-male priesthood. As a Catholic, theologian, and university
professor, I know that many Catholics continue to reject Catholic
teaching on the all-male priesthood and certainly cannot articulate the
Church’s reasons for the teaching, much less defend it.

The Catholic Priesthood and Women
is a defense and an interpretation of the Church’s doctrine. It
attempts to provide a new generation of young Catholics and, most
especially, seminarians with an understanding of the Church’s teaching
and give them a “theological orientation to the topic that engages the
chief objections.” It’s author, Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, is a
well-respected theologian who taught at Mundelein Seminary and
currently holds a position at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, New
York. She openly confesses in the book’s introduction that for many
years she supported the ordination of women. She credits John Paul II’s
“theology of the body” and “his response to the feminist critique in
the apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988)” for her change of heart on this matter.

Read more…

Lutheran Worship: Old School … Too Roman Catholic? Thoughts on Lutheranism and Liturgy

September 24th, 2007 23 comments

The first president of the Missouri Synod worked long and
hard to restore a common historic liturgy to the church when so many churches
were following their own devices. C. F. W. Walther’s efforts received some
negative feedback. He responded in a publication that he edited for many years:
Der Lutheraner, as in this example,
translated from the July 19, 1853, issue, volume 9, number 24, page 163.

Whenever the divine service once again follows the old
Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books), it seems that many raise a
great cry that it is "Roman Catholic": "Roman Catholic"
when the pastor chants "The Lord be with you" and the congregation
responds by chanting "and with thy spirit"; "Roman
Catholic" when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the
people respond with a chanted "Amen." Even the simplest Christian can respond to this outcry:
"Prove to me that this chanting is contrary to the Word of God, then I too
will call it `Roman Catholic’ and have nothing more to do with it. However, you
cannot prove this to me." If you insist upon calling every element in the divine
service "Romish" that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, it
must follow that the reading of the Epistle and Gospel is also
"Romish." Indeed, it is mischief to sing or preach in church, for the
Roman Church has done this also . . .Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic
Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox church. The chants
and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false
teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in
the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting… For more than 1700
years orthodox Christians have participated joyfully in the divine service.
Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful participation is
"Roman Catholic"? God forbid! Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our
wonderful divine services in places where they have been forgotten, let us
boldly confess that our worship forms do not tie us with the modern sects or
with the church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian Church
that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and
prophets.

Here are a number of pictures of paintings of the historic Lutheran worship service, also known as the Gottesdienst, Divine Service, following the pictures are comments on Lutheranism and liturgy. Here is the page where I found them. Here are the images. Sorry for the poor quality, but it just the best I could do given the originals provided at the web site in Germany.


Lutheran Divine Service in Hamburg

Hamburg

Lutheran Divine Service in Muhlberg/Elbe
Mulberg_elbe_2

Lutheran Divine Service in Gorlitz

Gorlitz

Lutheran Divine Service in Salzhemmendorf
Salzhemmendorf_2

Lutheran Divine Service. Location not known.
From the book: Historische Bilder zum Evangelisch-Lutherischen Gottensdienst

Lutherische_messe

More thoughts from C.F.W. Walther:

"We know and firmly hold that the character, the soul of Lutheranism,
is not found in outward observances but in the pure doctrine. If a
congregation had the most beautiful ceremonies in the very best
order, but did not have the pure doctrine, it would be anything but
Lutheran. We have from the beginning spoken earnestly of good
ceremonies, not as though the important thing were outward forms, but
rather to make use of our liberty in these things. For true Lutherans
know that although one does not have to have these things (because
there is no divine command to have them), one may nevertheless have
them because good ceremonies are lovely and beautiful and are not
forbidden in the Word of God. Therefore the Lutheran church has not
abolished "outward ornaments, candles, altar cloths, statues and
similar ornaments," [AP XXIV] but has left them free. The sects
proceeded differently because they did not know how to distinguish
between what is commanded, forbidden, and left free in the Word of
God. We remind only of the mad actions of Carlstadt and of his
adherents and followers in Germany and in Switzerland. We on our part
have retained the ceremonies and church ornaments in order to prove
by our actions that we have a correct understanding of Christian
liberty, and know how to conduct ourselves in things which are
neither commanded nor forbidden by God.

We refuse to be guided by those who are offended by our church
customs. We adhere to them all the more firmly when someone wants to
cause us to have a guilty conscience on account of them. The Roman
antichristendom enslaves poor consciences by imposing human
ordinances on them with the command: "You must keep such and such a
thing!"; the sects enslave consciences by forbidding and branding as
sin what God has left free. Unfortunately, also many of our Lutheran
Christians are still without a true understanding of their liberty.
This is demonstrated by their aversion to ceremonies.

It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the
difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward
things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices
the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American
denominations just so they won’t accuse us of being Roman Catholic!
Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving
Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather
rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do  not belong to
them?

  It is too bad that such entirely different ceremonies prevail in our
Synod, and that no liturgy at all has yet been introduced in many
congregations. The prejudice especially against the responsive
chanting of pastor and congregations is of course still very great
with many people — this does not, however, alter the fact that it is
very foolish. The pious church father Augustine said, "Qui cantat,
bis orat–he who sings prays twice."

This finds its application also in the matter of the liturgy. Why
should congregations or individuals in the congregation want to
retain their prejudices? How foolish that would be! For first of all
it is clear from the words of St. Paul (1 Cor. 14:16) that the
congregations of his time had a similar custom. It has been the
custom in the Lutheran Church for 250 years. It creates a solemn
impression on the Christian mind when one is reminded by the
solemnity of the divine service that one is in the house of God, in
childlike love to their heavenly Father, also give expression to
their joy in such a lovely manner.

We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or
feeling or taste among all believing Christians-neither dare anyone
demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless, it remains true that
the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship
of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the
latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely
addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of
prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the
world.

Uniformity of ceremonies (perhaps according to the Saxon Church order
published by the Synod, which is the simplest among the many Lutheran
church orders) would be highly desirable because of its usefulness. A
poor slave of the pope finds one and same form of service, no matter
where he goes, by which he at once recognizes his church.

With us it is different. Whoever comes from Germany without a true
understanding of the doctrine often has to look for his church for a
long time, and many have already been lost to our church because of
this search. How different it would be if the entire Lutheran church
had a uniform form of worship! This would, of course, first of all
yield only an external advantage, however, one which is by no means
unimportant. Has not many a Lutheran  already kept his distance from
the sects because he saw at the Lord’s Supper they broke the bread
instead of distributing wafters?

The objection:  "What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?"
was answered with the counter question, "What is the use of a flag on
the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with
it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs. We ought not
to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers. They were so far
removed from being ashamed of the good ceremonies that they publicly
confess in the passage quoted: "It is not true that we do away with
all such external ornaments"

(C.F.W. Walther, Explanation of Thesis XVIII, D, Adiaphora, of the book The
True Visible Church, delivered at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in
Indianapolis, Indiana, Beginning August 9, 1871, at the 16th Central
District Convention, translated by Fred Kramer, printed in Essays for
the Church [CPH: 1992], I:193-194).

And another commentary on historic Lutheran worship (source):

A notion of the extent to which the Lutheran Church retained and purified
olden ceremonies may be got from the following description of its usages
so late as the eighteenth century ([Rudolf] Rocholl, Gesch. d. ev.
Kirche in Deutschland
, 300):

According to the Brunswick Agenda of Duke Augustus,
1657, the pastors went to the altar clad in alb, chasuble, and mass
vestments. Sacristans and elders held a fair cloth before the altar
during the administration, that no particle of the consecrated Elements
should fall to the ground. The altar was adorned with costly stuffs,
with lights and fresh flowers. “I would,” cries [Christian] Scriver,
“that one could make the whole church, and especially the altar, look
like a little Heaven.” Until the nineteenth century the ministers at
St. Sebald in Nuremberg wore chasubles at the administration of the
Holy Supper. The alb was generally worn over the Talar, even in the
sermon. [Valerius] Herberger calls it his natural Säetuch [seed-cloth],
from which he scatters the seed of the Divine Word. The alb was worn
also in the Westphalian cities. At Closter-Lüne in 1608 the minister
wore a garment of yellow gauze, and over it a chasuble on which was
worked in needlework a “Passion.” The inmates and abbesses, like
Dorothea von Medine, were seen in the costume of the Benedictines. The
“Lutheran monks” of Laccuna until 1631 wore the white gown and black
scapular of the Cistercian order. Still later they sang the Latin
Hours. The beneficiaries of the Augustinian Stift at Tübingen wore the
black cowl until 1750. The churches stood open all day. When the
Nuremberg Council ordered that they should be closed except at the
hours of service, it aroused such an uproar in the city that the
council had to yield. In 1619 all the churches in the Archbishopric of
Magdeburg were strictly charged to pray the Litany. In Magdeburg itself
there were in 1692 four Readers, two for
  the Epistle, two for the Gospel. The Nicene Creed was intoned by a Deacon in Latin.
  Then the sermon and general prayer having been said, the Deacon with two
  Readers and two Vicars, clad in Mass garment and gowns, went in procession
  to the altar, bearing the Cup, the Bread, and what pertained to the preparation
  for the Holy Supper, and the Cüster [Verger] took a silver censer
  with glowing coals and incense, and incensed them, while another (the    Citharmeister?)
  clothed and arranged the altar, lit two wax candles, and placed on it two
  books bound in red velvet and silver containing the Latin Epistles and Gospels
  set to notes, and on festivals set on the altar also a silver or golden
  crucifix, according to the order of George of Anhalt in 1542. The Preface and    Sanctus were in Latin. After
  the Preface the communicants were summoned into the choir by a bell hanging
  there. The Nuremberg Officium Sacrum (1664) bids all the ministers
  be present in their stalls, in white chorrocken, standing or sitting, to
  sing after the Frühmesse [Morning Mass], “Lord, keep us steadfast.”
  The minister said his prayer kneeling with his face to the altar, with
  a deacon kneeling on either side. He arranged the wafers on the paten in
  piles of ten, like the shewbread, while the Introit and Kyrie
were sung. The responses by the choir were in Latin. Up to 1690 the
Latin service was still said at St. Sebald’s and St. Lawrence’s.
Throughout this (eighteenth) century we find daily Matins and Vespers,
with the singing of German psalms. There were sermons on weekdays.
There were no churches in which they did not kneel in confession and at
the Consecration of the Elements.

These ceremonies yielded finally to the attacks of the Reformed and the
influence of Rationalism. In our own age we feel an increased respect
for the dignified worship of the Reformers.

(Edward T. Horn, “Ceremonies in the Lutheran Church,” in The
Lutheran Cyclopedia
[Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1899], p. 83.)

Confession Makes a Comeback

September 22nd, 2007 2 comments

The recently concluded convention of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod is referred to favorably in this article that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, along with a quote from one of our pastors, on the subject of private confession and absolution.

Confession Makes a Comeback

Churches are encouraging sinners to repent by modernizing an ancient rite. Alexandra Alter reports.
By ALEXANDRA ALTER
Wall Street Journal
September 21, 2007; Page W1

Sin never goes out of style, but confession is undergoing a revival.

This February at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI
instructed priests to make confession a top priority. U.S. bishops have
begun promoting it in diocesan newspapers, mass mailings and even
billboard ads. And in a dramatic turnaround, some Protestant churches
are following suit. This summer, the second-largest North American
branch of the Lutheran Church passed a resolution supporting the rite,
which it had all but ignored for more than 100 years.

Read more…

Categories: Lutheranism

A Romantic Affair? Jesus and His Disciples

September 21st, 2007 4 comments

An interesting article. HT: Esget.

Excerpt:

One of the blights upon the hymnological landscape today is the
continued presence of what we can fairly call the “love song to Jesus”
genre. It’s been around as long as there has been Christian pop
music–and even earlier, depending on what you make of sentimental
gospel songs in the nineteenth century, eighteenth-century revivalist
hymns, and especially a lot of the mystical poetry-cum-lyrics of
certain medieval saints.

Today our congregation was asked to sing, “Jesus, I’m in love with
you”–a line that shows up, in one permutation or another, in several
songs that occur frequently in our worship leaders’ rotation.

Well, I didn’t sing it. It’s wrong, and I try not to sing wrong lyrics.

First, I’m not in love with
Jesus. The locution “in love with” is one I reserve for one person
only: my wife. I love my sons, I love my siblings and parents, I love
my friends, I love my country, I love my brothers and sisters in
Christ, and I love God. But I’m not “in love” with any of them. And I
daresay most of the rest of us use this phrase in exactly the same,
highly-restrictive way.

Second, it gives me the homoerotic creeps to declare that I am “in
love with” another man. And I don’t apologize for saying so. A gender
lens is interesting here, for a lot of men feel as I do (many have told
me so), while many (not all) women seem to love telling Jesus
that they are in love with him. I saw them, swaying with closed eyes
and waving hands in the air this morning, singing exactly that. Maybe,
indeed, they are in love with Jesus. But they shouldn’t be.

Categories: Uncategorized

Evolution Proved False Once and For All

September 20th, 2007 4 comments

OK, so…we are supposed to be evolving and we are also supposed to be the superior specie on the planet, having reached this pinnacle of perfection after millions of years of evolution. I think this one story disproves evolution.

Categories: Uncategorized

Latest from Finland

September 18th, 2007 Comments off

Here is the latest information on the situation in Finland I’ve mentioned here before, the case involving the pastor who refused to conduct a communion service with a woman pastor. The local prosecutor has decided to move ahead with legal charges.

In the spring of this year, a Finnish missionary pastor hit the
headlines for his refusal to serve at the altar with an ordained woman.
He was a visiting preacher at a congregation near Helsinki, having been
invited on the initiative of the local branch of the Lutheran
Evangelical Association of Finland. He and the local LEAF
representatives had been given the impression that there would be a male
pastor assisting at communion. However, a few minutes before the service
began, a local female pastor turned up at the vestry, expecting to
assist. Pastor Norro made clear his position and offered to stand down,
at which point the lady in question decided to leave. The Senior Pastor
stood by and did not interfere in the discussion. Within days, the
matter was reported to the police who decided to investigate whether
this was a case of sexual discrimination against the female pastor
(despite churches being excluded from the Sexual Discrimination Act).
Thus far history.

The case has now taken a new turn. It was reported yesterday that the
local District Attorney/Prosecutor has decided to charge pastor Norro,
the chair of the local LEAF branch and the acting Senior Pastor with
sexual discrimination. He stated, "No exceptions have been stipulated in
the law concerning discrimination. On the other hand, juridically this
may be a tricky case for a magistrates’ court to handle since it
concerns matters of conscience." The nature of the charge is such that
the maximum penalty is a fine.

The case will be heard on 16 November this year.

Source:
http://www.kotimaa.fi/kotimaa/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3100&Itemid=38
[17 Sep 2007]

Sent by:
Tapani Simojoki

Categories: Liberal Christianity