Archive for June, 2008

CPH Theological Book Sale — Don’t Miss This Offer

June 30th, 2008 Comments off

Here is a PDF flyer featuring a myriad of theological books and other resource that are presently on sale. Please take a look at these items, featuring remarkable value for the price, and note: those who quality for the professional church worker discount [all those on  church’s body roster as a professional, full-time church worker] are able to take an additional 20% off the listed prices. Please do not miss this opportunity.

Download professional_book_sale.pdf

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Categories: Books

Presbyterian Church USA Proposes Change to All for Gay Clergy

June 30th, 2008 5 comments

Read it and weep. Not surprising, but nonetheless distressing. Another of the ELCA’s ecumenical “partners” has embraced actively homosexual persons as clergy. Not it up to local prebyteries to decided if they will approve this change in the denomination’s constitution. [The photo to the left: The Reverend Dr. Jane Spahr, center, a Presbyterian minister, performs
a same-sex marriage for Sherrie Holmes, left, and Sara Taylor, right,
at the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael, Calif., Friday, June 20, 2008.]

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
30 June 2008

US church votes for change that could permit gay ordination

By Chris Herlinger
New York, 30 June (ENI)–The general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has approved a proposed change in the denomination’s constitution that would, in effect, permit the ordination of openly gay clergy.

However, a majority of the 2.2-million-member denomination’s local districts, known as presbyteries, must now approve the change, and those against gay ordination are likely to heavily oppose it. Similar efforts to change Presbyterian ordination rules in 1997 and 2001 failed.

Read more…

Categories: Liberal Christianity

They Are Back — Issues, Etc. is returning

June 28th, 2008 Comments off

After The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod found it necessary for financial reasons to cancel the Lutheran radio show, Issues, Etc., there were quite a lot of people who were eagerly hopeful that it would come back again. Well, it is coming back, this Monday, June 30, 2008.


Issues, Etc.™ broadcasts live weekdays from 3:05 to 5:00 PM Central. You can listen via webstreaming.

Issues, Etc.™ can also be heard in St. Louis from 4:05 to 5 PM Central on 1320 AM Bott Radio Network.

More details are available at the offficial Issues, etc. web site.

Categories: Uncategorized

Know doctrine, know mission. No doctrine? No mission!

June 27th, 2008 6 comments

Sadly, we still continue to hear, from time to time, comments and statements that would tend to create an unfortunate separation between doctrine and mission, between faithfulness and outreach, and between doctrine and practice. How can we help one another better understand and more fully comprehend these simple realities?

No doctrine? No mission. Know doctrine, know mission. lf you aren’t doctrinal, you aren’t missional and if you aren’t missional, you aren’t doctrinal.

This is precisely why our Lutheran Confessions often repeat the necessary and essential two-fold assertion: “We believe, teach and confess,” and, “we reject and condemn.” Some would have us only be about the first task, not the second. Others would have us spend most of our time on the second part of that phrase, not the first. It is both! It is always a blessed both/and, and never an either/or.

It is no coincidence, at all, that in nearly every single instance in the last twenty years or more where The LCMS has entered into church fellowship with an overseas church body, it has come as a result of intensive doctrinal teaching and outreach. This holds true in Asia, Africa, the Baltics, Russia, etc. In most cases, new mission fields have been opened, and partnerships formed with existing churches as a result of a very vibrant and hearty confessional Lutheran teaching activity in these countries.

Let’s have an end to the “Yes, but…” kind of rhetoric on either side of these kinds of comments. Here’s what one of our pastors had to say in response to those who were lamenting an emphasis on doctrine.

“It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is
common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and
hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead
of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned
with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this
way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As
foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about
sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a
good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first
and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should
rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good
crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must
above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls.”

(C. F. W. Walther, “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872], Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I)

Categories: Mission and Outreach

If You Are Not Interested and Passionate About Pure Doctrine You Are Not Really Missional and if You are Not Passionate About Mission and Outreach You are Not Really Doctrinally Faithful

June 27th, 2008 Comments off

Sadly, we continue to hear and read comments that are basically separating mission and outreach, from doctrine and confession. While these comments may be made with the intention of separating doctrine from practice, or mission from confession, that’s what they lead to. Extremely unwise!

Using the de rigeur terms that have become popular in our circles, let’s be clear on something.


If you are not doctrinally based and confessionally oriented, you are not being truly missional. And if you are not being missional, you are not being faithful to our doctrine and confession.

Let’s have an end to the “Yes, but…” kind of rhetoric on either side of these kinds of comments. Here’s what one of our pastors had to say in response to those who were lamenting an emphasis on doctine.

“It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is
common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and
hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead
of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned
with souls and with leading them to Christ.” But all who speak in this
way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As
foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about
sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a
good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first
and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should
rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good
crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must
above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls.”

(C. F. W. Walther, “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872], Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I)

Categories: Uncategorized

Dumb Things You See in Church: Goldfish Alert

June 27th, 2008 2 comments

Rev. Ben Harju posted this story on his blog. It is an example of the kind of attitude toward worship and the liturgy that is understandably why some Lutherans let the pendulum swing too far the other direction in their reaction against such inane irreverence and foolishness. And who can possibly blame them? Why, this story is almost enough to make me join the ranks of the Polycarpathian hyper-ritualists [calm down: just teasing guys].

Now, I suppose I could say, “Thankfully, this was not in one of our congregations.” But that would be hypocritical. Over the years I’ve witnessed “clown eucharists” in one of our Synod’s congregations where a guy dressed up like a clown did a “mime” Eucharist at the altar, complete with dipping a crucifix into a chalice of wine. In a few of our congregations, there have been events in which people are re-baptized to remind them of their baptism: yup, the whole nine yards, down to hopping in a backyard swimming pool. In another congregation, we’ve had a bed in the chancel during Lent for a sermon series on sex, advertised by people dressed up as Wookies on street corners. I have had to sit through “worship experiences” while listening to a “worship leader” do a great imitation of a Las Vegas lounge lizard tickling the ivories. Oh, yes—there are plenty of dumb things to go around in our circles too, to be sure. But this particular story struck me as a great example of the kind of dumb things you sometimes see in churches. And this story is precisely why I’ll gladly, any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, genuflect and adore the Blessed Lord Christ during the Most Venerable Holy Sacrament of the Altar. For it is His body and blood that is present under the consecrated elements, than ever feel any affinity for this kind of nonsense. Truly, God is with us.

My questions for all of us is this: Do we, in truth and fact, by the blessing of God, in the power of the Spirit, truly believe, teach and confess that it is Christ’s body and blood that we are receiving in the Eucharist? Do we hold firmly to the blessed reality of what is happening in the Lord’s Supper? It is the Risen, Ascended and Ever-Living Lord who deigns to feed us with His body and blood? Are we fully aware of the majesty of His glory when He is present among us in this way? Do we realize precisely to whom we are singing when we sing the Agnus Dei after the consecration? To the Almighty Lord of Sabbaoth who has lovingly come among us, under the bread and wine? This truth, and this reality, should shape everything we do in the Divine Service. Let other Christian confessions who do not believe, teach and confess the actual presence of our Lord under the bread and wine find their substitutes in emotionalism, irreverence, trite and flippant actions and behaviors in the house of the Lord. Let us however always realize that we are in the presence of the Holy One of Israel and act accordingly.

Here is Pastor Harju’s post.

Some time ago I received word from one of my parishioners about
something strange they had encountered while visiting a relative’s
congregation. Apparently, during the distribution of the Blessed
Sacrament, this congregation was handing out Goldfish crackers to the
children. While the parents were receiving our Lord’s Body, a dish with
Goldfish crackers was distributed to the children at the communion
rail. I suppose this was meant to include the children in the
distribution or something like that.

Upon hearing this, I promptly asked for some details, warned against
receiving the Sacrament at congregations not in our fellowship (this
was at a parish outside the Big Three Lutheran denominations in America
- yet Lutheran), and politely explained that it’s quite devilish to
hand out anything BUT our Lord’s Body and Blood during the
distribution. Certainly, something was *fishy* about this whole thing,
smelled of the Evil One himself, and should be avoided at all costs
(aside: how does he keep getting us with food?!)
In this sort of way I warned the flock entrusted to my care.

Fast forward to not so many weeks ago. This congregation has a new
pastor, and has for a little while now. Some of us have gladly
befriended him. Yet the poor sod made the mistake of inviting me into
his church to have a look around (with a couple of others). For those
of you who have played “Baldur’s Gate,” when I get into a new nave,
chancel, and/or sacristy I become a liturgical version of Noober.
“Heya. What’s that? Why’s that there? What do you use that for? What’s
in there? How long has that been here?” And so on. The poor man didn’t
see it coming. I’m just genuinely curious and interested in broadening
my horizens.

So while in the sacristy the pastor is showing us his communion ware,
and I see a little bag of Goldfish crackers. And so I say, “Oh, that’s
right. This is the church that was handing out the Goldfish crackers
during communion.” And the pastor kind of looks around uncomfortably
and says it is. So I cheerfully and casually explained that I’ve warned
my parishioners to avoid him/them. So
then I say, “But you don’t still do that, do you?” The cleric becomes a
bit squeemish, saying, “Yeahhhh.” So I say, “Oh.” Keep in mind, I am
trying to be polite, not to mention keep my thinking in the boundaries
of “best construction.” So I say, “Well, it’s not like you’re blessing
them, right?” Again the cleric becomes squeemish. “Oh,” I say. “Well,
it’s not like you’re putting them on the altar during the consecration,
right?” Now the poor cleric is really squeemish, and says, “Well….”
Oh, the cloud of disappointment that fell upon that sacristy.

It seems they still have been placing Goldfish crackers on the altar,
blessing them at the consecration, and distributing them to the
children. I’m pretty sure they’re not being blessed with the Verba
(oh please oh please oh please oh please). Truly, I expected the
opposite response to each of those questions I asked. In case this
pastor (who shall remain nameless, and whose congregation and location
shall remain nameless) reads this: PLEASE STOP WITH THE GOLDFISH
practice will be no battle at all for him.

Treasury of Daily Prayer Update

June 26th, 2008 4 comments

Oh, boy. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it: Treasury of Daily Prayer. As I mentioned a month or so ago, this is going to be a tremendous resource. Just today the CPH team working on the project met to talk about a really nice web site devoted to Treasury. We are pulling together a great mailing on it, including the usual sign-up posters, and a great introductory price for this beautiful book.

I was able to take a look at several sections of the book in final layout. Beautiful! This is truly a first in Lutheran publishing, in any language, let-alone in English. It is the most comprehensive single-volume resource for those who are hungering for a deeper life of intentional prayer, anchored in the treasures of the church’s historic orders of morning and evening prayers, with a keen focus on meditation on the Word of God.

Here is yet another “teaser trailer” to whet your appetite for this resource.


In over 1,500 pages, presented in a beautifully designed and
well-presented sturdy volume, Treasury of Daily Prayer provides
everything needed every day, for the entire year in one place:
• psalmody • Scripture readings • hymnody • devotional readings from the church fathers • prayers •
As well as: • the full liturgy for Matins, Vespers, and Compline • the
short orders for Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families • seasonal
Invitatories and Responsories • a selection of daily and occasional
prayers • Luther’s Small Catechism • all 150 Psalms • Old Testament
canticles • and several other resources for daily prayer and piety •

Is Referring to the Lutheran Divine Service as a “Mass” a Wise Thing to Do?

June 25th, 2008 6 comments

Continuing a series of posts on some thoughts and concerns on matters of worship, forms, rites and rituals, I’d like now to address the issue of whether or not the word “Mass” is the best way for us to refer to the Divine Service, or the Service of Holy Communion. It has become, in some circles, nearly a de rigeur mark of a certain commitment to historic Lutheran worship forms to use the word “Mass.” Frankly I’ve noticed the term used in a sort of an “in the know” kind of way. It has become a way to distinguish the “us” from the “them” in certain segments of our Synod. That is unfortunate.

It is my contention that the word “Mass” has a huge amount of theological baggage associated with it that makes its use highly problematic, at best, and, at worst, extremely hazardous to including good and proper understandings of the nature, and purpose, of the Divine Service. Appealing to its use in the Augsburg Confession and Apology, as if that simply settle the question, fails to take into account the nature and context of the AC and Ap.

Rev. Daniel Preus, head of the Luther Academy, and former First Vice-President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod wrote the following article that appeared in LOGIA magazine. I’m reproducing it here because I believe Rev. Preus really goes to the heart and core of the concerns inherent in using the word “Mass” to refer to the service of Holy Communion.

Luther and the Mass

Justification and the Joint

Daniel Preus

APPEARS, [this article appeared in 2001], about two years will have passed since the signing by Rome and various
Lutherans of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. Few
ecumenical events in recent church history have received the attention that the
adoption of this document has produced. Supporters continue to laud the
Joint Declaration as a major ecumenical break-through. Detractors remain
no less adamant that the Joint Declaration represents no progress at
all, indeed, that it is a compromise or even a concession of the worst kind.
Perhaps one of the most compelling arguments supporting the latter view is that
made by the Department of Systematic Theology of Concordia Theological
Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana in the April 1998 issue of the Concordia
Theological Quarterly
. In response to a preliminary form of the Joint
, it quotes from the Evangelical-Roman Catholic Gift of
n paper, another document produced through the dialogue process,

spells out “diverse understandings of merit, reward,
purgatory, and indulgences, Marian devotion and the assistance of the saints in
the life of salvation, and the possibility of salvation for those who have not
been evangelized” .For Lutherans it is nonsense to speak of consensus on
justification if these issues remain unsettled.1

Read more…

“That Upon Which Our Happiness Rests” Thoughts on the Anniversary of the Publication of the Book of Concord

June 25th, 2008 Comments off

A Brief Essay for the Observance of the 428th Anniversary of the Publication of the Book of Concord and the 478th Anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

In concluding his discussion of the second article of the Apostles’ Creed in the Large Catechism, Martin Luther can hardly contain his joy and so declares:

The entire Gospel that we preach is based on this point, that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rests. It is so rich and complete that we can never learn it fully. (LC II.ii.33; Concordia, pg. 402).

A while back a pastor said to me:  “The Lutheran Church is the Catholic, Orthodox, and Evangelical Church. These realities—all three—only meet in her. That is why Lutheranism is worth defending and advancing—because it is the combination of these three essential characteristics.” He is absolutely correct.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Holger Sonntag, wrote something a couple years ago that I was very impressed with and I share it here as way to think about the Book of Concord, on this day of its anniversary:

“A point almost always overlooked when we talk about the Book of Concord is this: “Lutheran” confessions really aren’t (just) “Lutheran!” It is important to highlight this in our relativistic, subjectivistic culture where everybody seems to have their truth — and so, why shouldn’t (some in) the Lutheran church have their Lutheran confessions (so long as the Reformed get to have their confessions and the Catholics their Council of Trent — and non-denominational groups their bible)? But that understates the ecumenical claim of the “Lutheran” Confessions. The “Lutheran” confessions are not interested in formulating some particular truths (really then: “truths”); they’re interested in reasserting the catholic, universal, Christian truths of Scripture. In other words, on the one hand, it does make sense to call the Book of Concord the “Lutheran Confessions” to distinguish them from the, say, Anglican Confession or the Reformed Confessions. Yet that only touches on one aspect. Even though it historically emerged out of inner-Lutheran arguments after Luther’s death in 1546, the 1580 Book of Concord was not originally entitled: Lutheran Book of Concord (then the Catholics would have won: “Ha! See? You Lutherans only run after Luther’s private opinions — the “ecumenical councils” are us!”). It is entitled: Christian Book of Concord (as can be seen on the beautiful title page of the German Book of Concord that graces this blog post: the German word “Christliche” (Christian) is the biggest, most ornate word on that page — and that is so for a very good reason!). It gave an account of correct Christian, catholic, universal teaching of the Church precisely because it was drawn from the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures. Building on the three “ecumenical creeds,” the Book of Concord now formulates the standard of what is considered Christian in the Christian church. That is, at least, the assertion of the churches bearing Luther’s name. This claim is indeed controversial, as everybody can easily understand. But since we are now in the time of the church militant — which truth / interpretation of Scripture is really uncontroversial? In fact, if there’s any reason for there being a distinct Lutheran church, then it can only be found in the catholicity of this church’s doctrine, once confessed in the Christian Book of Concord of 1580. So we’re really saying: even though it sounds very parochial and particular, this one confession defines what is Christian to this day because it correctly expounds Scripture, God’s word. Many, no doubt, will call this “sectarianism” (as opposed to the “ecumenical” denominationalism where every “denomination” is just a different, but equally valid denomination, kind of like different dollar bills in your wallet). But in the church of the Crucified, truth is not found in generalizations and abstractions many can agree on “by their own reason or strength”. It is found in offensive details, in agreeing on what God’s word actually means.”

Thus, Sonntag.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized

Full Report on Religion in America

June 24th, 2008 Comments off
Categories: Uncategorized

Christians: No One Path to Salvation

June 24th, 2008 3 comments

From TIME magazine today, with thanks to Dr. Veith for more details, provided below. This is a very significant report, perhaps nothing new in it, per se, but a lot of details and documentation. Let's just say we continue to more than have our work cut out for us.

Americans of every religious stripe are considerably more
tolerant of the beliefs of others than most of us might have assumed,
according to a new poll released Monday. The Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life last year surveyed 35,000 Americans, and found that 70% of
respondents agreed with the statement "Many religions can lead to
eternal life." Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians
were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to
salvation, since most Christians historically have embraced the words
of Jesus, in the Gospel of John, that "no one comes to the Father
except through me." Even as mainline churches had become more tolerant,
the exclusivity of Christianity's path to heaven has long been one of
the Evangelicals' fundamental tenets. The new poll suggests a major
shift, at least in the pews.

The Religious Landscape Survey's findings appear to signal that
religion may actually be a less divisive factor in American political
life than had been suggested by the national conversation over the last
few decades. Peter Berger, University Professor of Sociology and
Theology at Boston University, said that the poll confirms that "the
so-called culture war, in its more aggressive form, is mainly waged
between rather small groups of people." The combination of such
tolerance with high levels of religious participation and intensity in
the U.S., says Berger, "is distinctively American — and rather
cheering. "

Read the rest of the story here.

From Dr. Veith's Cranach blog:

There is a new Pew survey of Americans’ religious beliefs. For the full report go here.

Much of it confirms what other polls have noted: 92% of Americans
believe in “God or universal spirit”; 40% of Americans say they attend
a religious service every week.

There are some additional facts I had not known before: 20% of
Americans speak in tongues. 60% pray daily. 63% believe their holy book
is the word of God. 79% believe in miracles.

The biggest revelation, as it were, is that for all of Americans’
religiosity, some 70% believe that people who hold to other religions
can find salvation.

My favorite fact of the study: One out of five ATHEISTS believe in
God or a universal spirit. And nearly half of all AGNOSTICS (defined as
someone who does not know whether or not God exists) report believing
in God or a universal spirit.

The non-believing community, like other religious groups, needs to
better teach and enforce their doctrinal orthodoxy. Or at least stop
calling their adherents “brights.”

Terrific Book of Thoughts and Reflections by Dr. Karl Barth

June 23rd, 2008 1 comment

Please check out this book of personal reflections and thoughts by Dr. Karl Barth.

President Emeritus Karl Barth
publishes "blog" book

Reprinted from the South Wisconsin District News
Used with permission
By Jan Brunow (Immanuel, Brookfield)

blog is a personal online journal that is frequently updated and
intended for the general public. When Rev. Dr. Karl L. Barth began his
musings, blogs were just gaining popularity.

fall he decided it was time to fine tune the many short commentaries he
had written over the years and put them together in a volume to be
published for others to read. He decided on the contemporary title
“Just a Chip Off the Old Blog.”

know it isn’t a blog in the true sense of the word,” Barth said, “but I
wanted the Christian community and other readers to gain a nugget or
two that would be helpful for their spiritual journey.”

months of editing, proofreading, seeking and finding a
printer/publisher, the book has been published and is for sale. It can
be purchased at the bookstore at Concordia University Wisconsin in
Mequon and at Northwestern Publishing’s retail store in Wauwatosa. The
cost is $14.95.

The book contains short essays on people, places and events written from 1998-2006.

people mentioned are as diverse as President Theodore Roosevelt and NBA
Hall of Famer George Mikan. Sophia Lauren is discussed, as are the
members of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Some pages will give
the reader a look at life in a Cincinnati parochial grade school;
others tell about what goes on in a small village in the Alps above
Montreux, Switzerland.

of the pieces, especially the earlier ones, have to do with Christian
doctrine, worship and life; and some are directed primarily to the
Christian pastor and his office.

also includes a few family references to his father's ministry and also
to both sets of his grandparents. “But,” he says, ”central to all we
do, say or think is the mercy of the triune God, our Creator, Redeemer
and Sanctifier.”

From 1970-82, Barth was president of the South
Wisconsin District. In 1975 he was awarded an honorary doctor of
divinity degree by Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill.
He served as president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., from

Categories: Uncategorized

Leaving Lutheranism: A Decision to be Rejected and Condemned

June 23rd, 2008 12 comments

We have heard recently of yet another pastor defecting from the purely confessed, preached and taught Gospel, and the rightfully administered Sacraments, with his announcement that he is converting to Roman Catholicism. A tragedy, indeed! It is a tragedy precisely because it is a sin. Have we forgotten this?

What saddens me nearly as much in these recent cases is the reaction I receive from some Lutheran pastors. Rather than making it very clear that leaving Lutheranism for Romanism is a sin against God’s most Holy Word, instead they are more quick to chastise and criticize anyone who makes such an assertion. I hear comments that are in the best tradition of the Lutheran pietists who eschewed polemics: "We can't fault anyone who leaves. Rather we should focus on our own problems."

Lutheran blog sites lament the, real or imagined, wrongs, ills, problems and such in the Lutheran Church. That there are real wrongs, ills and problems is true; however, attempts to affix blame on them for a pastor’s decision to abandon his ordination vows is inappropriate. The only one to blame when a pastor violates his ordination vows and abandons them is the pastor involved.

We should expect more watchmen on the walls of our Lutheran Zion than angst-ridden hand-wringing and a kind of excuse-making for the one who leaves his post among us. We need to call a thing what it is. In this case, as in the rest, it is a defection from the truth of God’s Word and the public embrace of error.

When I read an account of a man headed across the Tiber, or the Bosporus, to Rome or Constantinople, my reaction is one of sadness and disappointment. If the man simply leaves quietly, I am not of a mind that much more should be said. But when a man leaves and then proceeds to use the occasion to propagandize his former church body with tales of his departure and a whole host of attacks on it, and his former confession, no matter how “politely” they are offered, here is where I personally draw the line and recognize that there is required a public word of Law: to depart from the Lutheran Confession is to sin and err. Why? Because the Lutheran Church has exclusive claim on the truth, and all aspects of it? No. Rather, because it is the Lutheran Church, and in the Lutheran Church alone, that we do find the public confession of the Gospel purely preached and the Sacraments rightly administered. Is the Gospel heard in other churches? Yes, of course. That's not the point though.

Simply put, if there are pastors or persons out there who do not comprehend this point, then to that extent they do not comprehend what it means to be Lutheran, and to remain Lutheran. In spite of the blemishes and errors and mistakes that are made within the congregations or administrative structures of various Lutheran denominations, it remains the truth that the Church of the Augsburg Confession is where we find the Gospel purely confessed. If it were not so, or if I believed that one finds the pure confession of the Gospel as part-and-parcel of another church’s public confession, I would be the first to advocate a visible, public expression of that unity in doctrine.

When a pastor leaves his former confession, and when he turns his back on his public confession of the truth of the Gospel, concretely located and anchored in the Lutheran Confessions, there is nothing here to “admire” or “praise” or otherwise laud as admirable. If he left out of conviction, yes, we can acknowledge that he has taken a principled position, but we must make it very clear that such a decision is sin and error since it is a violation of the Word of God.

Enough of the hand-wringing and excuse-making and finger-pointing in such cases. When a pastor abandons the Lutheran Confession and becomes a public advocate of an erring confession, this must be rejected and condemned, not coddled and commiserated with.

Such a firm response will be met with accusations of being “judgmental” or being “unkind” or “judging hearts.” No, there is no judging of hearts, only judging of public confession, which is what the teachers of the church are called to do. It is sad to read on other blog sites such an evident confusion over the nature of the Lutheran Church and its confession.

The one good thing I will say about the most recent departure is that, apparently, as has been the case in other recent and notorious defections from Lutheranism, this pastor did not accept a call to a Lutheran congregation under false pretenses, did not linger in his congregation while all the while recruiting people for his new “start up” parish in another communion and, did not have his parish pay for him to take D.Min. classes at an erring church body’s seminary and so forth. Further, he has not engaged in sheep-stealing from his former Lutheran parish. This much I do commend him for.

But his decision to leave was wrong and sinful and I pray God lead him to repent of this sin, and if that repentance does not happen, I pray God safeguard him and keep him in the true faith, protecting him from the dangerous errors which he has claimed now to be his own. May God in His mercy, defend and guard him from error, and preserve him until life everlasting, according to His grace.

Categories: Lutheranism

Taste of Chicago! The joys of finding Gyros and Chicago Dogs

June 21st, 2008 3 comments

A little place opened up a mile or so away from my house here in West County, Saint Louis, called "Taste of Chicago." I stopped by today because I've noticed driving past it several times they offer Gyros. Those who know the joys of a good Chicago-style Gyros know what I've been missing, until today.

I went into the place, which was rather crowded, and was greeted in a surly tone by the lady working the counter. That was a good sign that this might be an authentic place. The framed photo of Al Capone? Another good sign. 

I asked for a Gyros, with fries and a drink. She barked at me, "You want a meal then!" Sheepishly, I said, "Sure." She: "That will be $7.00" Me: "OK, here." She: "OK, have a seat, We are backed up, so you have to wait." Definitely has the ambiance of an authentic Chicago gyros place.

So I sat down. Yes, this was shaping up to be good. Apparently a large order had come in moments earlier and they were swamped. The guy next to me said he had come in to see if they really have
authentic Chicago dogs, with the works as advertised. Yes, he said, after tasting his, they do. He
and I both laughed a knowing, haughty kind of laugh at the thought of putting ketchup on
a hot dog. Good grief. What a barbarism. But that's a post for another time, after I personally sample their dogs.

Finally, fifteen minutes later, the lady at the counter looks at me: "Gyros, with fries!" fairly snarling it out. I picked up my bag and retreated to my car on this beautiful day. And then….yes, the moment of truth. A huge Gyros, piled high with that wonderful meat and white onions, slathered with cucumber sauce. No tomatoes though: "Sorry, we don't have tomatoes today" she had said.  It was enough to feed two people. I'll be back again. My wife is going to be thrilled.

A bit of history on the Gyros. They were introduced to the Chicago area in 1968 and have since spread throughout the country, though they are fairly hard to find. The meat is generally made from sliced lamb and minced beef, combined together.

Hint: if you do not want to embarass yourself, never pronounce the word "Gyros" like "Gi-roze" — oh, no, please do not do that. If you want to impress, be sure to pronounce it with your best Greek accent: γύρος or "Year-awhs" – accent on "year." But at least just say: "'Year-Oh'"

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Historic Lutheran Worship v. Medieval Roman Masses

June 20th, 2008 Comments off

An observation: my post on the whole "hold your fingers just so" thing, and the hyper-ritualization going on in some circles when it comes to Lutheran worship, caused a bit of a stir among those who, apparently, have a difficult time understanding that working to preserve, and restore, sound understandings of Lutheran worship is quite another thing from pining after Medieval Roman Catholic mass forms. Dare we forget that in our circles of late, those who have been the most obsessive over such things have also been the same men who have run back into the arms of Rome, or swum the Bosporus? I again, respectfully, would assert that the antidote to abandoning historic liturgical Lutheran worship is not to be found in layering additional rituals and rubrics on to the Divine Service, but rather striving to do all we can simply to use the approved worship forms and rubrics as we have them.

The Reformation was a reformation not only in doctrine, but also in the manner in which the Western mass was conducted. By and large, Lutheran church orders eschewed and spurned the liturgical pretensions and errors that had accumulated, serving more to focus attention on "going the liturgy just so," instead of viewing the liturgy as the means of delivering Christ and His means of grace. In my opinion, we would do well to focus on understanding the liturgical reforms of Martin Luther in Wittenberg and his faithful followers in territories like Braunschweig, etc.

I'm concerned by what I'm reading on some blog sites that are interested, it seems to me, more in trying to repristinate the Roman Catholic Mass of the High Middle Ages than in preserving and advancing sound Lutheran understandings of the Divine Service. They seem to forget that it is precisely this Mass that is labeled as an "abomination" in our Lutheran Confessions. Imitating the intricate rubrics of that particular Mass is a big mistake. A reverent Mass is not one in which those rubrics are slavishly adhered to. Let's take our cues from Luther's Wittenberg reformation, in both doctrine and worship, not from the 13th century.

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