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Archive for February, 2008

The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel

February 29th, 2008 1 comment

Please be sure to check out the wonderful work this new organization is doing, to help pastors be better curates of souls. Here is their web site. Please pay them a visit and pass the word on your blog site about this organization. You can also download their first newsletter from their web site, or if you prefer, link directly to it here: Download newsletter120081.pdf

Here is an explanation what they are all about:

DOXOLOGY, a new and vital opportunity for pastors,
offers an innovative program of advanced study retreats to strengthen
pastors for the task of faithfully shepherding the souls entrusted to
their care.  DOXOLOGY provides pastors with a unique study and renewal
experience, rooted in the classic art of spiritual care and informed by
the insights of contemporary Christian psychology.

The primary purpose of this organization shall be to
provide training, mentoring and consultation services for pastors who
would like to enhance their ability to provide the spiritual care and
counsel required to address the ever-increasing personal, family and
social complexities with which people currently struggle.  The training
experience, grounded in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,
ensures that pastors will be emotionally and spiritually refreshed and
equipped as a result of their participation. The Center provides a safe
environment for clergy to reflect on their own spiritual and
emotional health and assists them to review and to enhance their
professional competencies and skills.  DOXOLOGY strengthens pastors so
they can more faithfully pastor others.

Categories: Lutheranism

A Presbyterian Comes to Lutheranism: Why?

February 29th, 2008 5 comments

I’ve been in contact recently with a Presbyterian pastor who has shared with me his deeply moving account of coming to a point where he is on the cusp of a decision about his continued membership in the Presbyterian Church. What is it all about for him? Christ! Here is what he has said about why he has come down this path toward Wittenberg. I get these kinds of message at least twice a week. I am convinced that if we Lutherans stopped apologizing for being Lutheran, stopped trying so hard to imitate the big-box non-denoms and E-Frees around us, reached out with sincere love, concern and sympathy for others, extended the mercy of Christ through word and deed, and were clearly and positively and enthusiastically intent on letting people know what Lutheranism is all about, these kinds of situations would be commonplace. Listen to this man’s words:

My interest in Lutheranism is deeply rooted in my sense that Christ
Jesus really is the center of all truth and theological reflection
about God. Over the years I’ve moved from one tradition to the next,
each one stating the centrality of Christ and each one proving, in the
long run, to be not so dependent upon Jesus as the One and only Savior
after all. My wife and I attended a Lutheran Church while we lived in
North Dakota and the one thing I remembered after nearly 20 years of
being away from Our Savior’s Lutheran Church is that there we were
encouraged to entrust ourselves without qualification to God through
Jesus.

Beautiful!  He gets it. Do we??

Categories: Lutheranism

Bach and the Organ: Why the King of Instruments is Still King

February 23rd, 2008 5 comments

Categories: Uncategorized

Full Explanation of Cranach Painting Now Available

February 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Risen_christ_3
A complete explanation of the Cranach Weimar altar painting is now available. Viewers are able to click on various images from the painting and look at them in close-up view. Check it out. Click through and scroll down.

Categories: Uncategorized

Do You Like Bach Cantatas? Here is the site for you

February 20th, 2008 1 comment

There is nothing else like this on the Internet, the most extensive collection of on-line resources concerning the church cantatas of J.S. Bach.

Picture_1_3

Categories: Uncategorized

Hold On!

February 19th, 2008 Comments off

Is His love like a burden or has His yoke become too heavy? Do you want to once again depend on the world and your own righteousness? You say: "Oh no, no, but my heart is weak and doubtful, and sin is mighty!" Do not despair. There will be enough temptations, trials and sin, yeah, you may be overcome by your body’s weakness. But you are not depending on your own heart but on your Jesus who saves you from your sins, gives you renewed mercy in Word and Sacrament; forgiveness of sin surrounds you like the air, yeah it is spread out around you like the sky. He is faithful, the one who has called you. He will do it for you. You just hold on to His Word and Sacrament; do not forsake prayer. Death might meet up with you whenever and wherever it wants, it will only lead you into the eternally new year, into the right peace and bliss. And even while you are in the throes of death, this beautiful name will lighten your way and bring you safely across: J E S U S!

from a sermon by Pastor Friedrich Wyneken based on Luke 2:21
January 1, 1868
Concordia Lutheran Church
Saint Louis, Missouri

Categories: Sermons

The Ordination of Women: A Large Collection of Resources

February 18th, 2008 2 comments

Here is a large collection of resources gathered from across the Internet to help people and churches struggling with the issue of the ordination of women.

Ambrose

February 18th, 2008 Comments off

Tagging along with Pastor Weedon’s developing catena of quotation from various church fathers, Pastor David Jay Webber sent me a web site he has been working on for some time, mining the writings of St. Ambrose of Milan for the treasures to be found there.

Categories: Uncategorized

Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service

February 18th, 2008 3 comments

Heavenonearth
I’m very happy to let you know about a new book that just hit the CPH warehouse and is ready for immediate purchase. It is Rev. Dr. Arthur J. Just’s Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service. It’s simply wonderful. It is deep, yet clear. For those who have wondered what Lutheran worship is all about, this is the book for them. For pastors who feel they have far too many people in the congregation who are ignorant of why Lutherans worship the way they do, this is the book they will want to use.
 

Many people have enjoyed Dr. Just’s video presentation on these issues. Well, if you liked the movie, you are going to love this book. As you read the deeply moving history of the development, use and meaning of the Lutheran liturgy you will find a renewed sense of purpose, understanding and appreciation for why we do, what we do, in the Lutheran Divine Service. Dr. Just covers the following topics:

  • Preface
    Introduction: The Historic Liturgy
  • The Theology of Worship
  • The Structure of the Historic Liturgy
  • Jewish Origins of Christian Worship
  • The Table Fellowship of Jesus
  • The Historic Liturgy and the New Creation
  • The Psalms in Worship
  • The Christian Concept of Time
  • Baptism: Entrance into the Divine Service
  • The Historic Liturgy as Divine Service: Liturgy of the Word
  • The Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper
  • Conclusion: Lutheran Liturgy in the Postmodern World
  • Appendix: Seasonal Proper Prefaces from Lutheran Service Book.

The book includes extensive notes and a helpful glossary.

If you have been looking for one, single book to put into the hands of people to help them "get" what the liturgy is all about, this is it. It is paperback and is priced at $14.99. It comes with extensive charts, graphs and other helpful illustrations and photos. Rostered church workers receive a 20% discount from that price.

Categories: Books

All of Migne is now on the Internet

February 18th, 2008 Comments off

I had not heard of these sites before. In case you haven’t, and in case you are the kind of person who would care to know, check it out. It is all of Migne, which remains to this day the most extensive and thorough collection of the Greek and Latin Church Fathers. And here is an even easier to use site of just the Greek fathers from Migne.

But wait, there’s more? You want all the Latin volumes in Migne too? Say no more. Here you go. And, here you go.

As the blog site said that posted this information: It’s a great time to be a nerd. Nerd nirvana. I don’t even want to think about how much time I could have saved when I was working on research projects, writing graduate seminar papers, and tracking down obscure footnotes to Migne in various editing projects if I would have had all this, then. Seriously. I’m talking sometimes a couple hours trying to find one bloomin’ quote from an obscure Latin or Greek father.

Categories: Church Fathers

About the Cyberbrethren Blog Site

February 16th, 2008 Comments off

paul_mccain100Welcome to my blog. My name is Paul T. McCain and I’m a pastor in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod serving as the Publisher and Executive Director of the Editorial Department at Concordia Publishing House. Previously, I have served as a seminary instructor in systematic theology, a parish pastor, as assistant to two of the presidents of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Interim Director of Concordia Historical Institute, then for nearly five years as Interim President/CEO of Concordia Publishing House. I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida and am married with three children.

You are welcome to participate in comments on this blog site, but please know that I regard comments to my blog site to be comparable to letters to the editor of a newspaper. They are subject to editing, both for length and content, at my sole discretion.

You may contact me in the following ways:

E-mail

BOC1580@gmail.com

Facebook

facebook.com/paultmccain

Twitter

twitter.com/paultmccain

Categories: Uncategorized

Where was Lutheranism before Luther?

February 15th, 2008 1 comment

Many thanks to my good friend, Pastor William Weedon, for this excellent article.

Many times, Lutherans are challenged with: “Well, where was Lutheranism
before Luther?” The implication is that Rome or the Eastern Orthodox
have some sort of “corner” on the great church Fathers. But Lutherans
have never believed this to be true. The Fathers repeatedly present the
same or quite similar approaches to doctrine as the Lutheran
Confessions do. Here are some citations from the Fathers that may be of
help in dispelling the notion that “Lutheranism” is a
johnny-come-lately to the Church scene:

SOLA SCRIPTURA

“Regarding
the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem
to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so
that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.” St. John Chrysostom
(Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC)

"Let
the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will
be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine
words." St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327).

"We
are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we
please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every
tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone
which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings."
St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439)

“What
is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full
acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to
reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith
is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing
by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of
faith, is sin.” Basil the Great (The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC).

“For
concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a
casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor
must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech.
Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence,
unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the
Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on
ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.” St.
Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17, in NPNF, Volume VII,
p. 23.)

"It is impossible either to say or fully to understand
anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us,
whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New
Testaments." St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book I,
Chapter 2

"Nevertheless, sacred doctrine makes use of these
authorities as extrinsic and probable arguments; but properly uses the
authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and
the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be
used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation
made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and
not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors.
Hence Augustine says (Epis. ad Hieron. xix, 1): "Only those books of
Scripture which are called canonical have I learned to hold in such
honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing
them. But other authors I so read as not to deem everything in their
works to be true, merely on account of their having so thought and
written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning."–St.
Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia, Part 1, Question 1, Article 8

SOLA FIDE

"Similarly
we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not
justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or
godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but
by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since
the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." – St.
Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)

“To this
end has His Grace and Goodness been formed upon us in Christ Jesus,
that being dead according to works, redeemed through faith and saved by
grace, we might receive the gift
of this great deliverance.”  (Ambrose, Letter 76 to Irenaeus, a layman)

“But
when the Lord Jesus came, He forgave all men that sin which none could
escape, and blotted out the handwriting against us by the shedding of
His own Blood. This then is the Apostle’s meaning; sin abounded by the
Law, but grace abounded by Jesus; for after that the whole world became
guilty, He took away the sin of the whole world, as John bore witness,
saying: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Wherefore let no man glory in works, for by his works no man shall be
justified, for he that is just hath a free gift, for he is justified by
the Bath. It is faith then which delivers by the blood of Christ, for
Blessed is the man to whom sin is remitted, and, pardon granted.”
(Ambrose, Letter 73, to Irenaeus, a layman)

“Human beings can be
saved from the ancient wound of the serpent in no other way than by
believing in him who, when he was raised up from the earth on the tree
of martyrdom in the likeness of sinful flesh, drew all things to
himself and gave life to the dead.” – St. Irenaeus (Against the
Heresies, IV, 2, 7)

"Indeed, this is the perfect and complete
glorification of God, when one does not exult in his own righteousness,
but recognizing oneself as lacking true righteousness to be justified
by faith alone in Christ." – St. Basil the Great (Homily on Humility,
PG 31.532; TFoTC vol. 9, p. 479)

“But we all escape the
condemnation for our sins referred to above, if we believe in the grace
of God through His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who said:
‘This is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many
unto the remission of sins.’” – St. Basil the Great (Concerning
Baptism, TfoTC vol. 9, p. 344)

"They said that he who adhered to
faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to
faith alone is blessed." – St. John Chrysostom (Homily on Galatians 3)

“But
he calls it their ‘own righteousness,’ either because the Law was no
longer of force, or because it was one of trouble and toil. But this he
calls God’s righteousness, that from faith, because it comes entirely
from the grace from above, and because men are justified in this case,
not by labors, but by the gift of God.” – St. John Chrysostom (Homily
17 on Romans 10:3)

“Here he shows God’s power, in that He has
not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and
this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.” Homily 7
on Romans – St. John Chrysostom

"For you believe the faith; why
then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to
justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the
law." – St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

“’To
declare His righteousness.’ What is declaring of righteousness? Like
the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but
also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself
living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not
only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble
powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that
He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are
filled with the putrefying sores (katasapentaj) of sin suddenly
righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he
has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which
believeth in Jesus." Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of
faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in
two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not
abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth
(endeiknutai) Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight
and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy
face at what thy Master glorieth in?” – St. John Chrysostom, Homilies
on Romans 3

“But what is the ‘law of faith?’ It is, being saved
by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but
has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without
needing works, but looking for faith only. St. John Chrysostom,
Homilies on Romans 3

“For the Law requires not only Faith but works also, but grace saves and justifies by Faith. (Eph. ii: 8)
You
see how he proves that they are under the curse who cleave to the Law,
because it is impossible to fulfill it; next, how comes Faith to have
this justifying power? for to this doctrine he already stood pledged,
and now maintains it with great force of argument. The Law being too
weak to lead man to righteousness, an effectual remedy was provided in
Faith, which is the means of rendering that possible which was
"impossible by the Law." (Rom. viii: 3) Now as the Scripture says, "the
just shall live by faith," thus repudiating salvation by the Law, and
moreover as Abraham was justified by Faith, it is evident that its
efficacy is very great. And it is also clear, that he who abides not by
the Law is cursed, and that he who keeps to Faith is just. But, you may
ask me, how I prove that this curse is not still of force? Abraham
lived before the Law, but we, who once were subject to the yoke of
bondage, have made ourselves liable to the curse; and who shall release
us therefrom? Observe his ready answer to this; his former remark was
sufficient; for, if a man be once justified, and has died to the Law
and embraced a novel life, how can such a one be subject to the curse?”
- St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 3

“God does not
wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are
justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy.” – St. John
Chrysostom, Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol.
96.

“Gain for yourself the pardon coming from faith, since he is
his own worst enemy who does not believe that he is given what the very
generous Bestower of mercy promises in all kindness.” St. Peter
Chrysologus – Sermon 58 (On the Creed), par. 13 (TFOTC, Vol. 109, p.
224)

“Give yourself, O man, pardon by believing, since you fell
into all the sins by despairing.” St. Peter Chrysologus – Sermon 62 (On
the Creed), par. 16 (TFOTC, Vol. 109, p. 245)

“We need none of
those legal observances, he says; faith suffices to obtain for us the
Spirit, and by Him righteousness, and many and great benefits.” -
Chrysostom, Homilies on Galatians 4

“And he well said, "a
righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil,
but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is
saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would
say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he
shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I,
who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the
other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God,
i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is
altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good
deeds, which are due to our own diligence.” Chrysostom, Homily on
Philippians 3

Suppose someone should be caught in the act of
adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison.
Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and
that he would be condemned.

Suppose that just at that moment
a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting
or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should
refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to
be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo
punishment,
he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor’s favor.
For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and
sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial
gift.

This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it
is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned,"
says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of
their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to
be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven.
Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an
account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins.

All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift.  But those who wish to find
justification
from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy
the King’s loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation
by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of
the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find
justification.

What does this mean? That he has justified our
race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange,
but by grace alone. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now
the justice of God has been made manifest apart from the Law.” But the
justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any
labor and suffering. Chrysostom on Justification, Discourses Against
Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6-II:1:

"Christ is Master by
virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of His incarnate life.
For He creates man from nothing, and through His own blood redeems him
when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has given His
grace. When Scripture says, ‘He will reward every man according to his
works’ (Matt 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit
either hell or the kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man
according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in
Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but our Creator and
Redeemer." St. Mark the Ascetic (ca. 425), On those who think that they
are made righteous by works.

"Confess Jesus Christ, and believe
that He is risen from the dead, and you will be saved. For indeed
righteousness is only to be believed; but a complete salvation must
also be confessed and knowledge must be added to confidence." – St.
Gregory Nazianzus (On Moderation, PG 36.204)

"While I was sick
in the flesh, the Savior was sent to me in the likeness of sinful
flesh, fulfilling such a dispensation, to redeem me from slavery, from
corruption, and from death. And He became to me righteousness, and
sanctification, and salvation. Righteousness, by setting me free from
sin through faith in Him. Sanctification, in having set me free through
water and the Spirit and His word. And salvation, His blood being the
ransom of the true Lamb, having given Himself on my behalf." – St.
Epiphanios (Against Heresies 3.1,2 PG 42.477)

Where Christ
enters, there necessarily is also salvation. May he therefore also be
in us: and He is in us when we believe; for he dwells in our hearts by
faith, and we are His abode. It would have been better then for the
Jews to have rejoiced because Zaccheus was wonderfully saved, for he
too was counted among the sons of Abraham, to whom God promised
salvation in Christ by the holy prophets, saying, There shall come a
Savior from Zion, and he shall take away iniquities from Jacob, and
this is my covenant with them, when I will bear their sins. Christ,
therefore, arose to deliver the inhabitants of the earth from their
sins, and to seek them that were lost, and to save them that had
perished. For this is His office, and, so to say, the fruit of His
godlike gentleness. Of this will he also count all those worthy who
have believed in him. — St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke,
Homily 127

What is meant by mercy? and what by sacrifice? By
mercy then is signified, Justification and grace in Christ, even that
which is by faith. For we have been justified, not by the works of the
law that we have done, but by His great mercy. And sacrifice means the
law of Moses. – St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 23

Be
not troubled when thou meditatest upon the greatness of thy former
sins; but rather know, that still greater is the grace that justifieth
the sinner and absolveth the wicked. Faith then in Christ is found to
be the pledge to us of these great blessings; for it is the way that
leadeth unto life, that bids us go to the mansions that are above, that
raises us to the inheritance of the saints, that makes us members of
the kingdom of Christ. — St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 40 on St.
Luke.

SOLA GRATIA

“Why then are you afraid of drawing
nigh, since you have no works demanded of you? Why are you bickering
and quarrelsome, when grace is before you, and why keep putting me the
Law forward to no purpose whatsoever? For you will not be saved by
that, and will mar this gift also; since if you pertinaciously insist
on being saved by it, you do away with this grace of God.” – St. John
Chrysostom, Homily 18 on Romans 10,11

“After speaking of the
wages of sin, in the case of blessings, he has not kept to the same
order: for he does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift
of God: to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed,
nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense
of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was
superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or
change their condition for the better, but that He did it without any
labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but
also gave them more than before, and that through His Son.” – St. John
Chrysostom (Epistle to the Romans, Homily 12, Rom 6:23)

“And if
any were to cast in prison a person who owed ten mites, and not the man
himself only, but wife and children and servants for his sake; and
another were to come and not to pay down the ten mites only, but to
give also ten thousand talents of gold, and to lead the prisoner into
the king’s courts, and to the throne of the highest power, and were to
make him partaker of the highest honour and every kind of magnificence,
the creditor would not be able to remember the ten mites; so hath our
case been. For Christ hath paid down far more than we owe, yea as much
more as the illimitable ocean is than a little drop.” – St. John
Chrysostom, Epistle to the Romans, Homily X, Rom 5:17

“Is it
possible, Scripture says, for one to repent and be saved? It is
absolutely and most certainly the case. What, though, if I have wasted
my life in sins and then repent: will I be saved? Yes, indeed! What
source indicates this? The philanthropy of your Master. Can I take
courage from your repentance? Could it be that your repentance has the
power to wipe clean so many evils? If it were only up to repentance,
then assuredly be afraid. However, since repentance is mixed together
with the philanthropy of God, take courage. For God’s philanthropy is
immeasurable, nor can any word provide the measure of his goodness.
Your wickedness is measurable, but the medicine is immeasurable. Your
wickedness, whatever it may be, is human wickedness; but God’s
philanthropy is ineffable. Have courage because it surpasses your
wickedness. Just think of one spark that fell into the sea; could it
stand or be seen? What one spark is in comparison to the sea, so
wickedness is before the philanthropy of God; not even this much, but
much more so. For the sea, even though it is vast, has limits; but
God’s philanthropy is unlimited.” – St. John Chrysostom, Homily 8 On
Repentance and the Church FOTC: vol 96, p. 112,113

“Well done, O
Christ, O Wisdom and Power and Word of God, and God almighty! What
should we resourceless people give Thee in return for all things? For
all things are Thine and Thou askest nothing of us but that we be
saved. Even this Thou hast given us, and by Thy ineffable goodness Thou
art grateful to those who accept it. Thanks be to Thee who hast given
being and grace of well-being and who by Thy ineffable condescension
hast brought back to this state those who fell from it!” – St. John of
Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, Chapter 4

“And so the
power is conquered in the name of him who assumed human nature and
whose life was without sin, so that in him, who was both priest and
sacrifice, remission of sins might be effected, that is, through the
‘mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus’, through whom
we are purified from our sins and reconciled to God. For it is only
sins that separate men from God; and in this life purification from
sins is not effected by our merit, but by the compassion of God,
through his indulgence, not through our power; for even that poor
little virtue which we call ours has itself been granted to us by his
bounty.”– St. Augustine, City of God, X, Chapter 22

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH IN CHRIST THE KEY TO UNLOCK THE SCRIPTURES

Of
faults thus grievous, Christ proved them guilty who professed to be
skilled in the law; the scribes, I mean, and lawyers; and for this
reason he said unto them, Also to you lawyers, woe! who have taken away
the key of knowledge. By the key of knowledge we consider that the law
itself is meant, and justification in Christ, by faith I mean in Him.
For though the law was in shadow and type, yet those types shape out to
us the truth and those shadows depict to us in manifold ways the
mystery of Christ. — St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 86 on St. Luke

ORIGINAL SIN

And
so the human race was lying under a just condemnation, and all men were
the children of wrath. Of which wrath it is written: "All our days are
passed away in Your wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told."
Of which wrath also Job says: "Man that is born of a woman is of few
days, and full of trouble." Of which wrath also the Lord Jesus says:
"He that believes in the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes
not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." He
does not say it will come, but it "abides on him." For every man is
born with it; wherefore the apostle says: "We were by nature the
children of wrath, even as others." Now, as men were lying under this
wrath by reason of their original sin, and as this original sin was the
more heavy and deadly in proportion to the number and magnitude of the
actual sins which were added to it, there was need for a Mediator, that
is, for a reconciler, who, by the offering of one sacrifice, of which
all the sacrifices of the law and the prophets were types, should take
away this wrath. Wherefore the apostle says: "For if, when we were
enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more,
being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Now when God is said
to be angry, we do not attribute to Him such a disturbed feeling as
exists in the mind of an angry man; but we call His just displeasure
against sin by the name "anger," a word transferred by analogy from
human emotions. But our being reconciled to God through a Mediator, and
receiving the Holy Spirit, so that we who were enemies are made sons
("For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God"): this is the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. – St.
Augustine, Enchiridion 33

“The psalmist does not suppose that he
is living this life, for he had said, See, I was conceived in
iniquities and my mother bore me in sins. He know that he was born from
a sinful origin and under the law of sin.” – St. Hilary (Commentary on
Psalm 118, 22)

“The words ‘the Jordan turned backward’ (Ps
114:3), signified the future mysteries of the bath of salvation through
which the little ones who have been baptized are changed from
wickedness back to their original state.” – St. Ambrose (Commentary on
Luke 1, 37)

"We then say, that in many things we all of us
offend, and that no man is pure from uncleanness, even though his life
upon earth be but one day. Let us ask then of God mercy; which if we
do, Christ will justify us; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father,
be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen."
- Homily 120 on Luke 18 – St. Cyril of Alexandria

And if you
like to hear what other saints also have felt in regard to physical
birth, listen to David when he says, I was conceived, so it runs, in
iniquity and in sin my mother hath borne me, proving that every soul
which is born in the flesh is tainted with the stain of iniquity and
sin.  This is the reason for that saying which we have already quoted
above, No man is clean from sin, not even if his life be one day long.
To these, as a further point, may be added an enquiry into the reason
for which, while the church’s baptism is given for the remission of
sin, it is the custom of the church that baptism be administered even
to infants. Certainly, if there were nothing in infants that required
remission and called for lenient treatment, the grace of baptism would
seem unnecessary.  (R.B. Tollinton, Selections From The Commentaries
And Homilies of Origen, 1929, p. 211)

Brethren, the selection
(rom 5:12-14) from the Apostle for today tells us that through one man
the whole world received its sentence… The downfall of one man has
flowed out to become a punishment of all, and the vice of the parent
has brought a sad catastrophe upon the whole race. (Chrysologus, Sermon
111, Original Sin, p. 175 vol. 17 FOTC)

Through a man sin came
and clearly through this sin we are seen to have come under the control
of death. O sin, you cruel beast – and a beast not content to vent your
fury against the human race from merely one head. We have seen this
beast, brethren, devouring with a triple head all the highly precious
sprouts of the human family. Yes, brethren, with a mouth that is
triple: as sin this beast captures, as death it devours, as hell it
swallows down. (ibid, p. 176, 177)

For the whole nature of man
became guilty in the person of him who was first formed; but now it is
wholly justified again in Christ. — St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 42
on St. Luke

ON DIVINE JUSTICE

If Phinees, when he waxed
zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the wrath of God, shall not
Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself for a ransom, put away
the wrath which is against mankind?…Further; if the lamb under Moses
drove the destroyer far away, did not much rather the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world, deliver us from our sins? The
blood of a silly sheep gave salvation; and shall not the Blood of the
Only-begotten much rather save?…Jesus then really suffered for all men;
for the Cross was no illusion, otherwise our redemption is an illusion
also…These things the Saviour endured, and made peace through the Blood
of His Cross, for things in heaven, and things in earth. For we were
enemies of God through sin, and God had appointed the sinner to die.
There must needs therefore have happened one of two things; either that
God, in His truth, should destroy all men, or that in His
loving-kindness He should cancel the sentence. But behold the wisdom of
God; He preserved both the truth of His sentence, and the exercise of
His loving-kindness. Christ took our sins in His body on the tree, that
we by His death might die to sin, and live unto righteousness.–St.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XIII

“And the Lamb
of God not only did this, but was chastised on our behalf, and suffered
a penalty He did not owe, but which we owed because of the multitude of
our sins; and so He became the cause of the forgiveness of our sins,
because He received death for us, and transferred to Himself the
scourging, the insults, and the dishonour, which were due to us, and
drew down on Himself the apportioned curse, being made a curse for us.
And what is that but the price of our souls? And so the oracle says in
our person: “By his stripes we were healed,” and “The Lord delivered
him for our sins,” with the result that uniting Himself to us and us to
Himself, and appropriating our sufferings, He can say, “I said, Lord,
have mercy on me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.” -
Eusebius of Caesarea, Demonstratio Evangelica, X.1

“A
sacrifice was needed to reconcile the Father on high with us and to
sanctify us, since we had been soiled by fellowship with the evil one.
There had to be a sacrifice which both cleansed and was clean, and a
purified, sinless priest…. God overturned the devil through suffering
and His Flesh which He offered as a sacrifice to God the Father, as a
pure and altogether holy victim – how great is His gift! – and
reconciled God to the human race…Since He gave His Blood, which was
sinless and therefore guiltless, as a ransom for us who were liable to
punishment because of our sins, He redeemed us from our guilt. He
forgave us our sins, tore up the record of them on the Cross and
delivered us from the devil’s tyranny." –St. Gregory Palamas, Homily
16, 21, 24, 31

For the wrath of man reaches at most the body,
and the death of the flesh is the utmost that they can contrive against
us, but when God punishes, the loss reaches not to the flesh alone –
how could it – but the wretched soul also is cast along with it into
torments. — St. Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 87 on Luke

For it
was by reason of Adam’s transgression of the commandment that we,
having our faces turned away from God, returned to our dust; for the
sentence of God upon human nature was, Dust thou art and unto dust thou
shalt return; but at the time of the consummation of this world, the
face of the earth shall be renewed; for God the Father by the Son in
the Spirit will give life to all those who are laid within it.–St.
Cyril of Alexandria, Homily 36 on St. Luke

Categories: Lutheranism

A Theory About Best Places for American Breakfasts

February 15th, 2008 1 comment

Big_breakfast
I took the day off to spend some time with my sons who were also off from school today. Took son #2 to famous Saint Louis pancake house: Uncle Bills. I came away with a fairly well formed hypothesis that I’ll be happy to test going forward. Places that serve a good, hot cup of coffee, refilled often, and that have waitresses that call you "hon" and that proudly display an award from Oscar Meyer for serving three million slices of their bacon, serve a very good breakfast. Your thoughts?

Yes, I fasted, from fasting, just to poke a stick in the devil’s eye and say, "Hey, you old snake, you can’t use something good, to make me feel bad." Fasting is great, not fasting is ok too, so there!

My son and I both ordered the Super 2x2x2x2 which brings you: Two huge pancakes, two eggs (any style), two slices of bacon and two links of sausage, with hash browns, along with bottomless coffee. Ah, delicious!

Categories: Uncategorized

The Future Lies in the Past

February 13th, 2008 3 comments

Let those who have ears to hear, hear! Very interesting/informative article on worship trends in mainstream American evangelicalism. Might the church that was first called "evangelical" learn a thing or two from this report also?

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A New Blog Site: “A Painting That Preaches Christ”

February 10th, 2008 1 comment

Picture_1
As if the Lutheran blogosphere needed a new blog site, I’ve started one anyway. It is not really a "blog" in the traditional sense of that term. It is devoted to one thing, and one thing only: the Cranach altar painting in Weimar, Germany. I’ve gathered a number of resources on this painting, and on the art of Lucas Cranach and the subject of Lutheran Reformation art in general, and I’ll be sharing what my research has turned up, as well as offering specific comments on this painting. If you find it useful, feel free to mention this new blog site on your blogs. I wanted a place on the Internet to showcase this magnificent painting precisely for the sake of what it is all about: Christ and His Gospel. So, come on over and pay a visit to this new blog site.

Categories: Blogging