Archive

Archive for April, 2009

Why I believe again: A Former Atheist Tells His Story: Bach Strikes Again

April 14th, 2009 11 comments

A.N. Wilson, an English academic who specialized in skeptical books about famous Christians, like C.S. Lewis, has announced that he has started to believe again, and offers a perceptive and interesting perspective on his “conversion” to atheism. Here is the newspaper article.

The paper also offers a Q/A with Wilson, and I was struck by this exchange, during the Q/A session:

What’s the worst thing about being faithless? The worst thing about being faithless? When I thought I was an atheist I would listen to the music of Bach and realize that his perception of life was deeper, wiser, more rounded than my own. Ditto when I read the lives of great men and women who were religious. Reading Northrop Frye and Blake made me realize that their world-view (above all their ability to see the world in mythological terms) is so much more INTERESTING than some of the alternative ways of looking at life.

Here is an excerpt from the newspaper article:

“Watching a whole cluster of friends, and my own mother, die over quite a short space of time convinced me that purely materialist “explanations” for our mysterious human existence simply won’t do – on an intellectual level. The phenomenon of language alone should give us pause. A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: “It is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names.”

“This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah’s Ark. More so, really.

“Do materialists really think that language just “evolved”, like finches’ beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where’s the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena – of which love and music are the two strongest – which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits.”

Categories: Convert's Stories

The Lutheran Study Bible: Where It Began

April 13th, 2009 Comments off

The Lutheran Study Bible traces its origin back to a man in a remote castle in Thuringia, Germany, in 1521, translating the New Testament into German. National Geographic regularly posts photos from its archives, and this is one they dug up some time back. You can can go here to get various sizes for background images for your computer desktop. It is a shot of the Luther Bible resting a table in the room where Martin Luther stayed in protective custody after he had been condemned as a criminal at the Diet of Worms in 1521. During his stay at the Wartburg Castle, he produced his translation of the New Testament, which was printed in September 1522, hence its name, “The September Testament.” He and his colleagues in Wittenberg continued working on translating the rest of the Bible and they published the first edition of their translation in 1534. It was continually revised and improved, until right before Luther’s death in 1546, the last edition printed in Luther’s lifetime was produced in 1545.

translated-bible-amos-420706-sw3

Whoever believes and holds to Christ’s Word, heaven stands open to him, hell is shut, the devil is imprisoned, sins are forgiven, and he is a child of eternal life. That is what this book teaches you— the Holy Scripture—and no other book on earth.

—Martin Luther

Tempting, but no. Bacon Bible Cover.

April 13th, 2009 3 comments
Categories: Humor

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-12

April 13th, 2009 Comments off
  • “We should form the habit of daily commending ourselves to God, with soul and body, wife, children, servants, and all that we have” — Luther #
  • “Don’t seek anything else, but the Lord Himself, and He will hear you, and while you yet speak, He will say, ‘Lo, here I am’” —Augustine #
  • “God is daily at work in His world and embracing with His fatherly care especially those to whom He has given His Word.” — Chemnitz #
  • ☛ Please RT and invite your friends to receive LutheranBible tweets. ☚ #
  • “Fear not: only do what God commands; and if He delivers you not bodily, He will deliver you spiritually” — Augustine #
  • “A great mystery, brethren. God is above all: you raise yourself, and touch Him not: you humble yourself, and He descends to you” —Augustine #
  • “Whenever men find a Christian, they are prone to insult him…to call him dull, senseless, of no spirit, of no knowledge.” — Augustine #
  • Praying the imprecatory psalms can help God’s people express their anguish before God rather than act out their feelings in an unjust way. #
Categories: Uncategorized

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

April 10th, 2009 Comments off
10crown1

Christ with Crown of Thorns by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1510

1. O sacred Head, now wounded, With grief and shame weighed down, Now scornfully surrounded With thorns, Thine only crown. O sacred Head, what glory, What bliss, till now was Thine! Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

2. Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance, Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee And flee before Thy glance. How art thou pale with anguish, With sore abuse and scorn! How doth Thy visage languish That once was bright as morn!

3. Now from Thy cheeks has vanished Their color, once so fair; From Thy red lips is banished The splendor that was there. Grim Death, with cruel rigor, Hath robbed Thee of Thy life; Thus Thou has lost Thy vigor, Thy strength, in this sad strife.

4. My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me, For it was my transgression Which brought this woe on thee. I cast me down before Thee, Wrath were my rightful lot; Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

5. My Shepherd, now receive me; My Guardian, own me Thine. Great blessings Thou didst give me, O Source of gifts divine! Thy lips have often fed me With words of truth and love, Thy Spirit oft hath led me To heavenly joys above.

6. Here I will stand beside Thee, From Thee I will not part; O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart, When soul and body languish In death’s cold, cruel grasp, Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

7. The joy can ne’er be spoken, Above all joys beside, When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide. O Lord of life, desiring Thy glory now to see, Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

8. What language shall I borrow To thank Thee, dearest Friend, For this, Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end? Oh, make me thine forever! And should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never, Outlive my love for Thee.

9. My Savior, be Thou near me When death is at my door; Then let Thy presence cheer me, Forsake me nevermore! When soul and body languish, Oh, leave me not alone, But take away mine anguish By virtue of Thine own!

10. Be Thou my Consolation, My Shield when I must die; Remind me of Thy Passion When my last hour draws nigh. Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, Upon Thy cross shall dwell, My heart by faith enfold Thee. Who dieth thus dies well!

Notes: Hymn #172 from The Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Is. 50: 6 Author: Paul Gerhardt Based on the Latin poem “Salve caput cruentatum” By Bernard of Clairvaux, 1153, asc. Translated by: composite Titled: O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden Composer: Hans L. Hassier, 1601 Tune: Herzlich tut mich. This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text.

Categories: Uncategorized

Are you a Christ Follower or a Christian?

April 10th, 2009 17 comments

christ_follower_hat-p148982892033891447qws4_210The phrase “Christ follower” has been in use among emergent Christians for several years, and like most things that have been in use for several years among such folks, Lutherans are just now starting to pick up on the phrase. I must admit that a good part of me can’t help but think that Lutherans, wanting to sound like they are in sync with the latest lingo, and suffering from that ever-present condition known as “Lutheran inferiority complex,” are using it to make themselves sound like they too are on the cutting-edge of missional thinking. The phrase, particularly when juxtaposed with the word “Christian” strikes me as pretentious and just plain, silly. I was poking around today trying to find where the phrase “Christ follower” came from and found this interesting article. When I tweeted this link, I received an incredibly profound response from Lewis Polzin, who replied to me: “I’d rather be a Christian (little christ) than be known as Christ-follower. The latter gives me an out, the former a commitment.” What do you make of the “Christ follower” language phenomenon? Are you a Christian, or a Christ follower? What is the intention behind using the phrase “Christ Follower”? What does Acts 11:26 have to offer in this discussion? Here it is, in the Greek, which is kind of cool to look at:

καὶ εὑρὼν ἤγαγεν εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν. ἐγένετο δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐνιαυτὸν ὅλον συναχθῆναι ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ καὶ διδάξαι ὄχλον ἱκανόν, χρηματίσαι τε πρώτως ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ τοὺς μαθητὰς Χριστιανούς. [<— Christians].

Categories: Uncategorized

Lutheran Study Bible Sampler Getting Great Reviews

April 10th, 2009 11 comments

thumbs_upThe just-released sampler for The Lutheran Study Bible is already creating quite the buzz across the Internet as people are downloading and taking a look, for the first time, at precisely what The Lutheran Study Bible is going to look like and the features it offers. Before they headed home for the Good Friday holy-day, the good folks at Concordia Publishing House posted a little Easter gift for all of us to enjoy: the official sampler for The Lutheran Study Bible. It is ready now for you to download, view, and pass along to your various groups and networks. We designed this to make it possible for you to print it out and then make copies to distribute. This forty-eight page document features: a comparison chart of various study bibles; the story of The Lutheran Study Bible; a graphic overview of the Study Bible’s key features; samples from Genesis, the Psalms, John, and the Book of Romans; and finally, the names of the contributors to The Lutheran Study Bible.

Here is what people are saying after taking a look at the sampler. I’m sharing comments that have come in to my blog site and Facebook page. Very encouraging! Please forward this information to others.

“I printed out the section on the Gospel of John to read. It was a whole new experience reading these Bible passages in the ESV translation in conjunction with notes based on Lutheran scholarship throughout. I especially enjoyed reading comments by Luther and others, and the short prayers embedded in the notes were a helpful devotional guide. I don’t quite know how to express the joy and excitement I felt as I read through this scripture passage and the notes–it was almost as if I had a Lutheran pastor there with me, explaining things and helping me to understand my faith. I have seen no other study Bible like it. I have a well-worn copy of the NIV study Bible published by Concordia, but honestly, there is no comparison when it comes to the study helps and notes. I am eager to own a copy of my own! “— Beth

“This looks awesome! I may up my purchase to add a second copy! “— PHW

“A quick once over… looks EXTRAORDINARY! I am very much looking forward to the Reformation release!”— Darryl

“The artwork included on the pages is amazing! I like the features and the chapter introductions. It really gives it a good presentation–makes you want to read everything on the page! :-)” — Jennifer

“This is really awesome, I can’t wait!” — Rick

Here is the link to the sampler.
It is a large PDF file, nearly 13 megabytes, so it will take a few minutes to download, and if you are on dialup, you’ll have time to grab a cup of Joe.  Enjoy! (when you click the link, the document will start to download to your computer.

An Uncomplaining Lamb: The Passion and Death of Our Lord Christ

April 10th, 2009 Comments off
The Crucifixion of Christ by Lucas Cranach, the Elder, 1503

The Crucifixion of Christ by Lucas Cranach, the Elder, 1503

A blessed Good Friday to you. For your meditation on this holy day, here is Pastor Paul Gerhardt’s hymn A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth.

1. A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth, The guilt of all men bearing; And laden with the sins of earth, None else the burden sharing! Goes patient on, grow weak and faint, To slaughter led without complaint, That spotless life to offer; Bears shame and stripes, and wounds and death, Anguish and mockery, and saith, “Willing all this I suffer.”

2. This Lamb is Christ, the soul’s great Friend, The Lamb of God, our Savior; Him God the Father chose to send To gain for us His favor. “Go forth, My Son,” the Father saith, “And free men from the fear of death, From guilt and condemnation. The wrath and stripes are hard to bear, But by Thy Passion men shall share The fruit of Thy salvation.”

3. “Yea, Father, yea, most willingly I’ll bear what Thou commandest; My will conforms to Thy decree, I do what Thou demandest.” O wondrous Love, what hast Thou done! The Father offers up His Son! The Son, content, descendeth! O Love, how strong Thou art to save! Thou beddest Him within the grave Whose word the mountains rendeth.

4. From morn till eve my theme shall be Thy mercy’s wondrous measure; To sacrifice myself for Thee Shall be my aim and pleasure. My stream of life shall ever be A current flowing ceaselessly, Thy constant praise outpouring. I’ll treasure in my memory, O Lord, all Thou hast done for me, Thy gracious love adoring.

5. Of death I am no more afraid, New life from Thee is flowing; Thy cross affords me cooling shade When noonday’s sun is glowing. When by my grief I am opprest, On Thee my weary soul shall rest Serenely as on pillows. Thou art my Anchor when by woe My bark is driven to and fro On trouble’s surging billows.

6. And when Thy glory I shall see And taste Thy kingdom’s pleasure, Thy blood my royal robe shall be, My joy beyond all measure. When I appear before Thy throne, Thy righteousness shall be my crown,- With these I need not hide me. And there, in garments richly wrought As Thine own bride, I shall be brought To stand in joy beside Thee.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Lutheran Study Bible Sampler Is Now Available

April 9th, 2009 3 comments

announcement_clip_artShare it, download it, print it. Spread the word about The Lutheran Study Bible by sharing this sampler. This forty-eight page document features: a comparison chart of various study bibles; the story of The Lutheran Study Bible; a graphic overview of the Study Bible’s key features; samples from Genesis, the Psalms, John, and the Book of Romans; and finally, the names of the contributors to The Lutheran Study Bible. It prints out nicely and can be easily photocopied, or just share the PDF file. NOTE: It is a large file, nearly 13 megs. Download (12.6MB)

Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families

April 7th, 2009 9 comments

In light of the news out today that now Vermont has formally legalized homosexual marriages, and the news last week from Iowa’s Supreme Court overturning a ban on gay marriage, I thought the following resource would be helpful. The Lutheran Church, that is, those Lutheran churches that remain true to the historic Biblical teachings of the Lutheran Church, believes and teaches that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is contrary to God’s Word and will, and seeks to minister to those who are struggling with homosexual inclinations. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod put out an excellent resource a number of years ago: A Plan for Ministry to Homosexuals and Their Families. Here is the Synod’s convention resolution that called for this document.

WHEREAS, Many voices in our society as well as in various church bodies are expressing the view today that homophile behavior is an acceptable alternative lifestyle; and

WHEREAS, The Word of God clearly condemns homophile behavior in Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, and 1 Cor. 6:9; and

WHEREAS, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in convention in 1973 stated: “That the Synod recognize homophile behavior as intrinsically sinful”; and

WHEREAS, The Commission on Theology and Church Relations document on Human Sexuality, A Theological Perspective, states, “Whatever the causes of such a condition may be, . . . homosexual orientation is profoundly ‘unnatural’ without implying that such a person’s sexual orientation is a matter of conscious, deliberate choice. However, this fact cannot be used by the homosexual as an excuse to justify homosexual behavior. As a sinful human being, the homosexual is accountable to God for homosexual thoughts, words and deeds.” (Human Sexuality, A Theological Perspective, p. 35); and

WHEREAS, The redeeming love of Christ, which rescues humanity from sin, death, and the power of Satan, is offered to all through repentance and faith in Christ, regardless of the nature of their sinfulness; and

WHEREAS, The need exists to make available a carefully developed Law/Gospel ministry plan to congregations and other institutions in order to minister to those who are troubled by their homosexuality; and

WHEREAS, It is necessary for the church to expose and resist the sexual idolatry of our society; therefore be it

Resolved, That The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, in convention, reaffirm the position it stated in 1973, “That the Synod recognize homophile behavior as intrinsically sinful”; and be it further

Resolved, That the President of the Synod direct the appropriate boards and commissions to develop a plan for ministry usable by congregations, campus ministries, institutions, and agencies in the Synod, for the purpose of providing biblical and Gospel-oriented ministry to persons troubled by being homophile in their sexual orientations and to their families; and be it finally

Resolved, That the goals to be pursued by such a plan for ministry be

  1. to offer to our world biblically alternative models of sexual celibacy outside of a committed, permanent heterosexual marriage and same-gender social, but not genitally sexual, deep friendships;
  2. to confront the individual with his/her sinfulness, and call him/her to repentance;
  3. to help the individual recognize that God can rescue individuals from homosexual orientation and practice;
  4. to assure him/her of forgiveness in Christ, contingent upon sincere repentance and faith in Christ, and to assure him/her of the love and acceptance of the church;
  5. to assist the individual to rely on Christ’s love and strength to abstain from homophile behavior;
  6. to help the individual to bear his/her burden without fear of recrimination and rejection by his/her sisters and brothers in Christ;
  7. to find ways of ministering to families which include persons of homophile orientation;
  8. to do all this patiently, persistently, and compassionately in the love and Spirit of Christ, who says, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Categories: Homosexuality

I was wrong. Twitter is terrific. Here’s why.

April 6th, 2009 33 comments

twitter-bird-wallpaperSome months ago I declared Twitter to be a total, complete waste of bandwidth. I was wrong. Twitter can be a bane, or a blessing, depending on how you use it. The trick to it, as I’ve discovered, is managing and using it efficiently. Here are my two favorite tools: TweetDeck and Pingfm.com. You will find this beginner’s guide to Twitter helpful. This is from Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson, a leader in the general Christian community when it comes to Tweeting, Twittering, etc.

With TweetDeck I’m able to sort, slice and dice all my incoming Tweets, and organize whom I following into logical groupings. If you do not do this you will go insane trying to read Tweets, and since some people like to tell you what they are doing every fifteen minutes, if you pick up even a few dozen twitter feeds, yes, you will go nuts. Ping.fm is a wonderful way to update as many social network sites as you want, all at once. So, enjoy.

Pastors: we have to be where the folks are. And, they are on Twitter, and Facebook, and the Internet, and blogging, and so forth, and so on. A mantra I picked up from a co-worker recently is true: Communication is key and the Internet is free. Need I say more?

Oh, yes, you can Tweet this blog post, or send it on to Ping.fm. Just click the links below.

For Your Sake…

April 6th, 2009 Comments off

the-crucifixion-1500-x-900cm-2005As our hearts, souls and minds are focused keenly on our Lord’s passion and death during these days of Holy Week, we ponder the enormity of the love of Christ in that the One who was so rich, became so poor. The One who knew no sin, became sin for us. Here is how Johann Gerhard describes the practical use of the doctrine of our Lord’s humiliation.

The practical use is: (1) Consoling, for pondering Christ’s love for mankind and His kindness. The apostle shows this use in 2 Cor. 8:9: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” Christ was rich because of the true and real communication of the divine properties to the flesh, because “the whole fullness of the deity dwells in Him bodily” (Col. 2:9). He was rich because He was given a name that is above every name (Heb. 1:4). He was rich because of the communicated power to govern heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). He was rich because He shared infinite and divine knowledge, because “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were hidden in Him” (Col. 2:3). He was rich because of the subjection of all things (Matt. 11:[27]; John 3:35).

Christ had been enriched with these treasures from the very first moment of His incarnation, as we see from the personal union, from His working of miracles, and from a special demonstration of this power and majesty. But He became poor with His emptying, humiliation, and assumption of the form of a servant. For that reason, He was born poor in a stable, He rested in the lap of a poor mother, He lay down in a poor hut. The Wise Men gave Him a gift of gold. He was presented to the Lord with a pair of turtledoves, which was the gift of poor people. As a poor boy, He was reared in the home of His parents. He was considered the son of a poor carpenter. He felt poverty in His fasting. He did not have His own dwelling place. He was stripped of His clothing on the cross and finally was laid in a grave that belonged to someone else. All of these have to do with Christ’s poverty and emptying. But with this poverty He made us rich. Just as He earned life for us with His death, so He restored heavenly riches to us with His poverty. For this reason His poverty is set before us as material for our happiness (Zech. 9:9). Christ’s poverty is our patrimony, our savings in life, our traveling allowance [viaticum] in death, because with His poverty He acquired for us heavenly riches.

(2) Instructing us to imitate Christ. The apostle shows this use in Phil. 2:5: “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” He sets before us: (a) The example of Christ, worthy of imitation. “Let human weakness be ashamed to show pride, because divine majesty humbled itself so.” Augustine, Sermon 39 de verb. Dom.: “Deign to be humble for God’s sake, because God deigned to be humble for your sake.” Christ emptied Himself so that He, without whom nothing was made, appeared to be almost nothing, but you boast immensely and think that you are something when you are nothing. How absurd and preposterous is it for the highest heights to be humbled and for the lowest lowliness to wish to extol itself? (b) The consequent reward for humility. Christ humbled Himself; therefore God exalted Him. In the same way, you will not reach the heights except through a life of humility. Bernard, Sermon 2 adscens.: “The best road to exaltation is humility.” Because Christ through the nature of His divinity did not have anything by means of which He could increase, He found how to increase through descending. In the same way, there is no way for you to come to the heights except through the depths.

Source: Johann Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces, Exegesis 4, On the Person and Office of Christ (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, in production). Thanks to the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes for sharing this quote with us. This volume will be available October 2009.

Next big thing: Flutter

April 5th, 2009 7 comments

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeLZCy-_m3s

Categories: Social Networking

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-04-05

April 5th, 2009 Comments off
  • “The new life must be guided so that it continually increases and progresses.” — Luther #
  • Sheep cannot safely drink from swift streams; they need quiet pools. God gives us what we need…in the best possible way. — TLSB on Ps. 23 #
  • A new sample from The Lutheran Study Bible is ready for you. http://www.cph.org/cphstore/pages/resources/tlsb/lookinside.asp #
  • Even in life’s most frightening situations, we can be confident of God’s guiding presence. — TLSB on Psalm 23 #
  • In Christ, God gives us not only ordinary food but also the gift of Christ’s body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. —TLSB on Psalm 23 #
  • Good Shepherd, open our eyes to see Your blessing. Open our ears to hear Your voice. Open our hearts that we may love You. Amen. —TLSB #
  • Lord, I will not hide Your blessing from those whom You have called; for next to the love of You I join the love of my neighbor. — Augustine #
  • “You have the Word of God in church, in books, in your home; and this is as certainly God’s Word as if God Himself were speaking.” — Luther #
Categories: Uncategorized

Mass Kit for Kids

April 4th, 2009 6 comments

I certainly admire the intention behind this kind of thing, but I think there are better ways to help children understand the Mass. I must admit though my first thought when I saw this was, “Well, looks like Lutherans and Protestants aren’t the only ones with well-intentioned but bad ideas.” Here’s a photo of it, and then the description:

picture-4The pieces of My Mass Kit are child-friendly replicas of the items used by the priest during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Created for early childhood education, My Mass Kit is a powerful vocational tool for children. Available NOW!

Categories: Odd and unusual