Archive for September, 2007

Israeli Neo-Nazi

September 15th, 2007 8 comments

I try to follow world events as much as I can. If one uses only American media sources, that makes it difficult to keep up with world news. Americans are notoriously self-absorbed and so we simply don’t get the kind of world news coverage that is commonplace worldwide. I’ve recently begun to receive the superb magazine The Economist, a British publication that delivers an incredible amount of world news in its pages. It blows TIME and NEWSWEEK away, hands down, no questions asked. I take those too, but they pale in comparison to The Economist.

This week’s issue contains a shocking story of a neo-Nazi movement in the country of Israel! Unbelievable, yet true. Apparently a group of Russian immigrants had formed a neo-Nazi group. The Israeli "Law of Return" allows not only Jews themselves, but all relatives, no matter how remote their actual Jewishness. This allowed persons with only the most sketchy of Jewish ties to come to Israel seeking a better life, which did not come about. Their children are not growing up disaffected and what better way to express disdain for Israel than by becoming a neo-Nazi?

The Nazis slaughtered countless millions of Jews and other minorities. And let it be said that they truly did this, in spite of claims by Holocaust revisionists that they in fact did not. [It is profoundly shameful and embarrassing that a certain weekly publication closely associated with The LCMS  will, with some regularity, get on a revisionist tear and deny that the Nazis in fact did slaughter as many as they did. As if outreach to the Jews is not hard enough for Lutherans, who can never remove themselves form the darkest mark on the German soul-Nazi Germany. And anyone who says that the majority of Germans were not supportive of Nazi Germany just does not know what they are talking about.]

Categories: Uncategorized

Get Your John Paul II Relics Here! Why the Reformation Remains Necessary and Essential for the Church

September 15th, 2007 6 comments

Why does the Reformation remain necessary? Here is but the latest example. This is not surprising, actually. It is just a natural extension of the anti-Gospel theology that remains in the Roman Catholic Church. Thanks be to God that in spite of such errors the Gospel is heard in Romanism, but it continues to be deeply obscured by Rome’s errors. What is even more sad is watching Lutherans, who of all people should know better, not understand why Rome is still wrong, deeply wrong. A friend recently observed that there are a certain kind of Lutherans who finally simply can not ever confess the truth and take a stand for the specific doctrinal truths of God’s Word because they have undergone a dogmatic labotomy. It was an interesting comment, a bit harsh to be sure, but interesting nonetheless.

Categories: Roman Catholicism

What More Do I Want?

September 15th, 2007 3 comments

I am to cling to Christ alone; He has taught neither too much nor too little. He has taught me to know God the Father, has revealed Himself to me, and has also acquainted me with the Holy Spirit. He has also taught me how to live and how to die and has told me what to hope for. What more do I want?


Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 22: Luther’s works, vol. 22  : Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Categories: Martin Luther Quotes

If you need them, get them.

September 15th, 2007 6 comments

In my late thirties I began to notice that I was having some difficulty hearing people when they were talking. Sure, I knew they were talking and could make out what they were saying, well, most of of the time, sort of. Put me in a crowded room of people, or a noisy restaurant, or a conference room? Trouble. I shrugged it off. But then about two years ago I was in a banquet hall at an awards function and I could not make out what the people across the table were saying, at all. I was encouraged to get my hearing tested. I didn’t. Then, about a year ago the significant other, aka my wife, told me she could not take my, "Huh?" and "What was that?" and "What did you say?" anymore. And I was growing increasingly frustrated and embarrassed about not being able to hear people in meetings and in social functions. A friend at work, who has had hearing aids since she was quite young, had given me the name of the Washington University audiology department and urged me to go get tested. So I did, finally, one year later! Trouble indeed. Seems a classic hearing loss pattern for people my age, well, generally a bit older, is in the higher frequency range, which just so happens to be where nearly 80% of speech sounds happen. Seems we make a lot of noises with tongue, lips, etc. that are all at a high frequency. It is those high frequency sounds made when we speak that makes the articulations of the individual letters of or language discernible when we speak. For instance, say "f" and "s." No vocal chords for those really, all mouth sounds, all high frequency, and I could not really tell the difference!
    I’ve been missing a lot of that. So, I got the test, was told I have a significant higher frequency hearing problem, that’s the bad news, the good news? In recent years they have come out with what are called "open ear" digital hearing aids that are very easy to wear, nearly unnoticeable, and deliver excellent sound into your ear through a tiny little tube that inserts a tiny little speaker into each ear OK, fine, I could use hearing aids. But I still put it off, then I realized I was sick and tired of not being able to hear people clearly, of missing what my family was saying. One morning I snapped at my wife when she said something I didn’t hear and I misunderstood her. Enough!
    So, as of about three weeks ago or so, I’ve taken the plunge and invested in the best open ear digital technology I could find. I’m now sporting what are, in effect, two tiny high-end computer audio processors on each ear. And people who don’t know I’m wearing them are shocked when I tell them and then they notice this tiny little plastic tube running into my ear, but that’s really about all they see. The device itself sits up on the top of your ear. If you are a technology geek like me, check out the technology involved. It is amazing. The device takes in all the sound coming at me and boosts the sounds on the frequencies where I have a loss and helps filter out distortion, noise, etc. There are several different programs for various situations, including being in a noisy environment. Just this week they boosted the volume on them and I’m not hearing all the things I had been missing before, and I realize I’m hearing all this for the first time in a very, very long time!
    My case may be a bit unusual since I’ve had this hearing problem
apparently for quite a long time. The best guess as to how I developed
this loss is simply that as you age you lose irreplaceable nerve cells
in your ears that are responsible for processing sound for you. But in my case, when I was a baby I had a lot of severe ear infections, which my caring
parents treated as soon as possible of course, but the repetition of
them knocked out nerve cells then, long before normally happens as a result of age and other environmental factors, and so the cumulative impact of the
natural hearing loss process caught up with me a lot faster than it
does most people.   
    All I can say, now having worn them for nearly three weeks, is wow. I had no idea what I was missing. I’m hearing music like I haven’t heard it in years. I can listen to the TV at a normal volume. Did you know how much noise rustling paper makes?    
    I have several friends who have pretty serious levels of hearing loss and have done nothing
about it. To all of you men out there who have a hearing loss and there
are a LOT of you, believe me, do something about it. If you need
hearing aids, get them.You do not realize how much you are driving your family nuts and how much you are missing out of in life by not having a full range of hearing. Don’t put it off as long as I did. Women, if you suspect that your husband has a hearing loss problem, get him tested. He may just be ignoring you on purpose, but….chances are he does have a hearing loss. Since getting these aids and speaking about it openly I’ve had more men tell me they too suspect they have a hearing loss, but have been unwilling to do anything about.
    There is a stigma attached to hearing aids. Why? I don’t know, but there is. People who would never kid me about wearing glasses, don’t hesitate to make jokes about my hearing aids when they know I have them. It is a weird thing and frankly, kind of ticks me off. But, at least I can hear their stupid remarks clearly!
    And the joy of hearing what I have not been hearing for many more years than I care to admit is well worth the expense, the hassle and the social stigma associated still with hearing aids. Well worth it! I went out to dinner in a typically noise environment tonight for the first time since getting my aids, and, for the first time in years, I could hear each of my children speaking clearly and had no problems! I could hear the waiter talking to me, I could hear him clearly. And nobody had to repeat anything. Amazing.

    Besides, since all those people walking around with iPod earphones
shoved into their ears will soon be joining you and me in wearing
hearing aids because the vast majority of them are destroying their
hearing nerve cells, if you get them now, you will be the trend-setter.
My hearing aids are some of the most advanced computer and audio
technology on the planet. So, hearing aids are really cool, after all.    So, don’t be stupid like I was. Don’t wait to get your hearing checked. If they tell you that you could really benefit from hearing aids, you can. If you think your hearing loss is not bothering anyone, particularly your loved ones, it is, more than you realize. So, if not for yourself, do it for your loved ones. If you need them, get them.

Categories: Uncategorized

Eagerly On Our Way

September 11th, 2007 1 comment

"A great multitude of dear ones is there expecting us: a vast and mighty crowd of parents, brothers, and children. Secure now of their own safety, anxious yet of our salvation, they long that we may come to their sight and embrace — to that joy which will be common to us and to them — to that pleasure expected by our celestial fellow-servants, as well as ourselves — to that full and perpetual joy. If it be a pleasure to go to them, let us eagerly and covetously hasten on our way, that we may soon be with them, and soon be with Christ; that we may have Him as our guide in this journey, Who is the Author of Salvation, the Prince of Life, the Giver of Gladness, and who lives and reigns with God the Father almighty, and with the Holy Spirit."

(Bede, quoted in The Lord Will Answer, p. 439)

Categories: Uncategorized

Electronic Edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions

September 11th, 2007 5 comments

I have good news. By early next year we will have an electronic edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. It will be in the LOGOS format, as areLibronix_2
CPH’s other electronic book editions. My request to yo is this. As soon as possible, send me any typos and mistakes you have noticed in the second edition. We only want to hear about the second edition, which is copyrighted 2006 and as a dark blue cover with burgundy.

So, any typos, mistakes, little things wrong that you have noticed in Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, the second edition, please send them to me ASAP.

Send them to:

Many thanks!

Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Roundtable 24: The Mass — New Conversation

September 11th, 2007 Comments off

There is a new roundtable conversation underway at the Blog of Concord. Check it out.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Danger of Gospel Reductionism

September 10th, 2007 4 comments

Here is a very thought-provoking essay which sheds light on any number of significant issues facing Lutheranism worldwide today.


On the Road to Emmaus, two sad-faced disciples met another traveller
who turned their sadness into joy. The risen Lord Jesus opened their
eyes and they recognised him. In the process he also opened their minds
to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:31,32,45).

These two things go hand in hand: coming to know Christ and coming
to understand the Scriptures. What a Bible lesson those two disciples
received that afternoon as Jesus, “beginning with Moses and all the
prophets, interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things
concerning himself” (Luke 24:27)! That evening he told the eleven and
those with them: “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was
still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses
and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). To
know Christ is to know the Scriptures; to know the Scriptures is to
know Christ.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Neglect the Catechism? Pay a fine and do the time!

September 8th, 2007 11 comments

DungeonMany pastors have begun a new year of catechism instruction in their congregations. One of the crosses our faithful pastors have to bear is putting up with the whining and complaining they get from parents who just don’t understand why their little ones have to memorize the catechism or go to instruction classes at all. "Oh, pastor, we are so busy and have so much to do and school is so hard for our children." And on and on and on the complaints go. A big thank you to all parents who do not so burden their pastors with these complaints. And to all parents: please support your pastor as he carries out his holy preaching office and helps you do what it is your duty: teaching your children God’s Word.

Consider how things used to be in some parts of the Lutheran Church. I’ve been reading the Church Order prepared by Martin Chemnitz for Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, published in 1569. Fascinating! I was struck by these regulations concerning how city officials were to deal with parents who did not make sure to send their children to catechism instructions.

"When children are caught in the streets or in the meadows during the time when the catechism is preached, their parents will be punished. The money from the fines levelled against the parents as punishment shall go into the treasury for the poor, because the children have not been disciplined seriously as is fitting."

But what if fines against the parents did not correct the situation?

"The officials and city council is authorized to punish them with confinement in the dungeon, according to each situation, so that the children are not despicably and stiff-neckedly hindered by their parents regarding the correct pure doctrine and honorable Christian discipline in their blossoming youth."*

We may well regard such measures today as extreme, but such historic practices underscore just how seriously instruction in God’s Word is. What a blessing these opportunities are. Thanks for supporting your pastors.


Church Order of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
Unpublished translation by A. Smith and M. Harrison

Categories: Lutheranism

The Spiritual Growth of the Christian

September 7th, 2007 1 comment

"There is time when a person’s body ceases to grow. This is not so in
spiritual things. If a person has become a Christian, a new spiritual
being (or, as our text says, a new "inner being" – Eph. 3:13-17), is
created in him by faith and the growth of this being never ceases until
death. In Christianity, there is no standing still. Whoever does not go
forward, goes backward. The life of a Christian is not marked by being,
but by growing. The goal toward which he strives is so high that he can
never say he has reached it and can rest from his efforts. Even Saint
Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already
perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has
made me His own" (Phi. 3:12). Of what does the strengthening "in your
inner being," the spiritual growth of the Christian consist? Paul shows
us in today’s text when he says, "That Christ may dwell in your heart
through faith" (Eph. 3:17). An ever growing and stronger faith, through
which Christ dwells in our hearts, is above all else, necessary for the
strengthening of the inner being. A person becomes a Christian through
faith. Once he vividly recognizes that he is a sinner, it is obvious to
him that he cannot stand before God with his own righteousness and
cannot atone for his sins himself. . . . Paul says he often prayed to
God that He would make the Ephesians stronger. By this he meant that
Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith and that they might be
"rooted and grounded in love" (Eph. 3:17). We see here that, through
love, Christianity becomes akin to a firmly rooted tree and a house on
a solid foundation. Should this really be attributed to love? According
to Holy Scripture, isn’t it faith alone that makes one just? Isn’t it
faith alone that gives life, light, comfort and power? Isn’t it, then,
faith alone that rightly roots and grounds the Christian? This is of
course true, but Scriptures says that faith without works is dead, a
mere empty picture of faith. True, living faith is active through love.
Therefore, as there is warmth and light in the presence of fire, there
are love and good works in the person whose heart has been warmed by
the sun of faith. As the tree is recognized by its fruit, faith is
recognized in love. The person who is weak or lacking in love cannot be
a strong firm Christian. He may call himself a Christian, but where is
the proof that he stands firm in the faith? Therefore, in the hour of
death, woe to the Christian who boasts of faith but did not show any
love. It will probably be difficult for him to show that he comforted
himself with Christ and id not doubt because, although faith alone
avails before God, we owe love to our neighbor and need love ourselves
so we are strong. The individual who wants to become inwardly strong
must always become more zealous in love. He must also extend the scope
of his love. . . A Christian must also become purer and more unselfish
in his love. He must not ask, "What’s in it for me?" He must not do
good for the sake of the thanks he hopes to receive, the reward he
expects, or the praise that might result. His left hand must not know
what his right hand is doing. He must learn to endure ingratitude and
not allow his love to grow cold on account of it. He must keep a heart
full of love toward those who offend and provoke him-even those who
have done flagrant wrong to him, hated him, and persecuted him. He must
always become more tender, holy, and godly in his love. He must have
patience with his neighbor’s weakness, sins and defects. He must also
not be ashamed of the greatest sinner, but have mercy on him. . . . He
must, finally, arrive at the point where he strives to let his entire
life be a life of service to his neighbor, being ready to give up his
possessions and even his life for his brothers. Oh, it is well for such
Christians! They have become "through faith, rooted and grounded in

CFW Walther
God Grant It
pp. 745ff

Categories: Christian Life

Pressing On

September 6th, 2007 2 comments

"In the battle of flesh and spirit, in
which true Christians stand, they not only overcome sins, they carry off all
kinds of precious virtues as their loot of their combat. The longer they
battle, the more universal, comforting, and untiring their love becomes. Their
joy becomes purer, their peace becomes firmer, their patience becomes stronger,
their kindness becomes more sincere, their goodness becomes richer, their faith
and faithfulness become more constant, their gentleness becomes more
unconquerable and their self-control becomes more immaculate. In short, the end
of the true battle of the flesh and spirit is an advance in sanctification.
This resulting sanctification is as far from perfect as the victory of the
spirit over the flesh is complete. Indeed, every Christian must confess, with
Paul, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect"
(Phil. 3:12). Nevertheless, where that battle truly exists, a fighter must be
able to add truthfully, as Paul does, "I press on to make it my own,
because Christ Jesus has made me his own" (Phil. 3:12). Oh may God grant that
we all become and remain true fighters against the flesh and sin. May Jesus
Christ, our eternal Prince of victory, help us all for the sake of His battle
with death."


CFW Walther

God Grant It

p. 717


Categories: Uncategorized


September 4th, 2007 5 comments

Why is that a raging head cold/upper respiratory infection feels worse on the last long-weekend/Summer holiday than it does when it comes in the middle of Winter? And why does it make one feel just a little better to whine and feel sorry for oneself about it? A forced "stay at home and do nothing but read and listen to Bach" day is a nice side-benefit from it. And that’s good.

Categories: Uncategorized

Liturgical Referee

September 4th, 2007 7 comments

One of my Roman Catholic readers sent in this humorous proposal for sending liturgical referees at random to visit parishes to make sure they are conducting the Mass properly. You might enjoy the thought of a Lutheran version of a "ref" visiting parishes at random. Here is a guide to the liturgical referee’s signals. The idea is that he stands quietly to the side and only throws a flag when appropriate.







































































Example Liturgical Signals
No Crucifix in sanctuary.
Liturgical dance detected.
Member of laity giving homily – to be evicted from lectern.
or no consecration. Occurs when illicit matter is used, wrong formula
used, only one of the two elements of bread or wine is not properly
consecrated, or no validly ordained male priest/bishop is not present.
In case where only one element is consecrated a replay is called for.
Illegal use of hands. Normally called when the celebrant has left the sanctuary to shake everybody’s hands.
or just downright heretical theology used in homily. When detected the
Liturgical Ref pulls on his lips in a downward direction.
"What the heck am my hearing" signal is one of the most common signals
and indicates syrupy banal liturgical music or the inappropriate use of
secular music such as show tunes and popular music (especially from the
the prescribed text of the Order of Mass. This is another common
liturgical penalty despite the fact that no other person, even if he be
a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own
authority. (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
Posture. Usually called when you are being asked to stand instead of
kneel or any other poster adaptation not specified by the GIRM or set
by your bishop’s conference or licitly specified by your local ordinary.
purification of sacred vessels. This is called when the purification of
the sacred vessels is done by an Extraordinary Minister of Holy
Communion despite the fact the the Pope revoked the indult in the U.S.
for this permission.
Participation. Called when too many people are in the sanctuary. For
example occurs when EMHC arrive before the fraction rite or when some
members of the congregation are invited into the sanctuary to pray with
the priest during the consecration.
Like Conduct. Can be called when elements of other religions contrary
to Christianity are introduced such as new age beliefs. Un-Christian
Like Conduct is also often called in the parking lot after Mass.
Illegal Pass. The celebrant is simply not allowed to make a pass at anybody.
Infraction. Normally occurs when the celebrant wears his stole on top
of the chasuble. Another penalty can be added if the celebrant does
this and the stole is also horrendously ugly or has an seventies themes.
Receiver of Holy Communion. Those who are excommunicated or interdicted
after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others who
obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to
Holy Communion.
Clowns in the sanctuary – run for your life.
use of inclusive language. Penalty is thrown when grammatical
awkwardness is detected in avoiding male pronouns and every other
sentence begins brothers and sisters.

Three Reasons We Are To Be Concerned About Doing Good Works

September 3rd, 2007 1 comment

The way to avoid giving people the impression that they are saved by works is
most certainly not to avoid talking to Christians about the good works they are to be doing. There are some who believe that
when they condemn sins and point out where people are failing to live
in perfect accord with God’s Law they are thereby also covering the
topic of how, and why, Christians are to be doing good works. But this is not the way the doctrine of sanctification if presented in Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions or in our orthodox Lutheran teachers.

have become so cloudy for some on this point that I was told by a pious
Christian woman that she can never read her Bible, read about a virtue
commended, and say to herself, "I am, by God’s grace, going to try to
do this." She said that in saying that she would be taking her eyes of

In the Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel Church Order, in the
doctrinal statement (corpus doctrinae) that accompanies it, Martin
Chemnitz makes these points about how properly to teach good works, which I found very helpful. I’ve provided links for the Bible passages so you can read them as you go along.

"Luther used to present this doctrine in a fine way in three points:

good works should be done for the sake of God’s will, because to do
them is his command and will (John 15:1); because He is our Father, that
we show ourselves to be as obedient children toward Him, 1 Pet. 1:13f; 1 Jn
, that we be God’s disciples, Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn 2:6, as he loves us
and has forgiven us, Col. 3:13; 1 John 4:9, because Christ has given himself
to us, in order that we not serve sin, but walk in the new life, Rom.
; Titus 2:11; 1 Peter 1:3 and 2; Eph. 2:15-17; 2 Cor. 5:9ff, and in summary, that God
be praised through our good works, Mat. 5:16; Phil. 1:11, 1 Pet. 4:11

we are to do good works for the sake of our neighbor that he thereby be
helped and served in his need, 1 John 3:1ff, that we give no one offense, 2
Cor. 6:3
; Phil. 2:14, and the doctrine not be ridiculed, 1 Tim. 6:1; Titus 2:5,
rather the mouth of the gainsayers be stopped, 1 Pet. 2:15 and 3:16, Titus 2:3,
and that others may be won through our good conduct, Mat. 5:16; 1 Peter 3:1.

we are to do good works, for the sake of our own need, so that through
them we may have a certain testimony that our faith is true, and that
we are truly righteous and saved by faith, 1 John 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:8-11; Gal. 5:22;
Phil. 1:9f;, that we not perchance deceive ourselves with a false and dead
faith, 1 John 2:4 and 3:7-10; 1 Tim. 5; 2 Pet. 1:8f; Js. 2:8, so that faith, the
Holy Spirit, righteousness and salvation not again be lost, if we live
according to the flesh, 1 Tim. 1:19; 5:8 and 6:10; 1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Pet. 1:4 and 2:18;
Rom. 8:6-8; Col. 3:5; Eph. 4:22; 1 Thess. 4:4, rather that faith be exercised and
the calling made sure, Gal. 5:6; 2 Pet. 1:3, also for this reason, because
God threatens severe punishment temporally and eternally for sin
against conscience and promises forgiveness of sins and blessedness,
they do otherwise, however, really have rich and glorious reward in
this and in the future life, not on account of the worthiness of the
works, but rather on account of grace, 1 Tim. 4:8; Gal. 6; Eph. 6; 2
Tim. 4
, Mat. 5:2; 6:33; 10:33; 25:21; Mark 10:14; Luke 14:11, etc."

Kirchen-Ordnung, wie es mit Lehr und Ceremonien des
Fürstenthums-Braunschweig [Church Order, As to Doctrine and Ceremonies,
of the Duchy of Braunschweig]
. 1569.

The Church Order of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
by Martin Chemnitz

Printed in Wolfenbüttel by Conrad Horn, 1569
Translated by M. Harrison and A. Smith, 2006

Categories: Christian Life

Do You Want to Know a Secret?

September 3rd, 2007 Comments off

Anthony Sacramone, managing editor of FIRST THINGS offers this delightfully poignant editorial. Here is a snippet, follow the link for the whole piece.

Astounded as I was by the phenomenal bestselling success of Rhonda Byrnes’ The Secret—gobsmacked by the sheer weight of its pages, the width of its margins, and the commodious depths of its solipsistic inanities—I wondered: How can I cash in on the gullibility of the average consumer of spiritual bromides and New Age gobbledigook?

Link: FIRST THINGS: On the Square Blog Archive Do You Want to Know a Secret?.

Categories: Uncategorized