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The Scriptures are Like Christ: Truly Divine and Truly Human

February 28th, 2010 5 comments

The inerrancy issue remains a problem for many Lutherans, particularly those who have been schooled in higher-criticism. While their sympathies may be with those who hold a high view of Scripture, the term “inerrancy” is a word that makes them uncomfortable. Ironically, inerrant is not nearly as strong a word as infallible. Inerrant just means the Scriptures contain no error. Infallible asserts that the Scriptures are incapable of error. Both terms are rightly used to describe the nature of the Holy Scriptures; however, they are not rightly understood unless they are understood in light of the reality that is Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate. For that reason, I thought it would be interesting to share the Lutheran perspective on the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. When we consider the Incarnation, and the reality that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, we can better understand the nature of the Scriptures as being truly human, though without error. Thanks to Pastor Jay Webber for this collection of quotes on this issue. Source.

The Holy Scripture is God’s Word, written and, so to speak, lettered and put into the form of letters (gebuchstabet und in Buchstaben gebildet), just as Christ, the eternal Word of God, is clothed in humanity. And men regard and treat the written Word of God in this world just as they do Christ. It is a worm and no book compared with other books. (Martin Luther, WA 48, 31 [1541]; quoted in What Luther Says [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959], p. 71)

The Holy Scripture is God’s Word, written and, so to say, spelled out and pictured in alphabetic letters, just as Christ is the eternal Word of God veiled in humanity; and what happened to Christ in the world, happens to the written Word of God also: it is considered a worm and no book over against other books. (Martin Luther, WA 48, 31 [alternate translation]; quoted in Hermann Sasse, “On the Doctrine De Scriptura Sacra,” Scripture and the Church: Selected Essays of Hermann Sasse [Saint Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1995], p. 78)

The word of God is perfectly divine in its contents; but except where the divine form is as necessary as the divine fact, no book is more perfectly human in its form. It is inspired, for it comes from God; it is human, for it comes through man. But remember, we do not say that the human is without the divine. The Spirit is incarnate in the Word, as the Son was incarnate in Christ. There is deep significance in the fact, that the title of “the Word” is given both to Christ, the Revealer, and to the Bible, the revelation of God, so that in some passages great critics differ as to which is meant. As Christ without confusion of natures is truly human as well as divine, so is this Word. As the human in Christ, though distinct from the divine, was never separate from it, and his human acts were never those of a merely human being – his toils, his merits and his blood were those of God – so is the written word, though most human of books – as Christ, “the Son of Man,” was most human of men – truly divine. Its humanities are no accidents; they are divinely planned. It is essential to God’s conception of his Book, that it shall be written by these men and in this way. He created, reared, made and chose these men, and inspired them to do this thing in their way, because their way was his way.
Take up the Bible – read it impartially. You see in it the unity of truth, an agreement in facts, in doctrine and in spirit. It is one book, as “our God is one God.” Just as palpably, however, do you perceive difference in form. You have before you poetry and prose, history, biography, drama, proverb and prophecy. …
It is the great divine-human heart of the Bible, which has made it so varied in eternal freshness. How everything is permitted to shine out in its own light, and the men of all its eras permitted to make their utterances in the spirit of their own time! … These are the contents of the books of the Old Covenant, which their mere names recall.
And what is the New Testament but an unfolding of this same divine humanity? The New Testament is the life of God in human nature. … Through God in Christ, and Christ in man, we are led from the lineage of him in whom the blood royal of the realms of heaven and [of] earth met, to the closing book of broken seals and seals yet to be broken. But with whatever pulse your human heart may beat, God has placed in his book a heart as truly human as your own, to beat with it. …
The great Spirit who lives in the Universe gives it glory and unity; but it is the lower part of it – the material – which gives it variety. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Bible a Perfect Book [Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Henry C. Neinstedt, 1857], pp. 10-13)

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Holy Ground: A Tip o’ the Hat to the Dear Emerald Isle

February 27th, 2010 3 comments

Fare thee well, my lovely Dinah,
A thousand times adieu.
For we’re going away from the Holy Ground
And the girls we all love true.
We will sail the salt seas over
And then return for shore
And still I live in hope to see
The Holy Ground once more.
[Fine Girl You Are]

You’re the girl that I adore,
And still I live in hope to see
the Holy Ground once more.
[Fine Girl You Are]

Now when we’re out a-sailing
And you are far behind
Fine letters will I write to you
With the secrets of my mind,
The secrets of my mind, my girl,
You’re the girl that I adore,
And still I live in hope to see
The Holy Ground once more.
[Fine Girl You Are]

Oh now the storm is raging
And we are far from shore;
The poor old ship she’s sinking fast
And the riggings they are tore.
The night is dark and dreary,
We can scarcely see the moon,
But still I live in hope to see
the Holy Ground once more.
[Fine Girl You Are]

And now the storm is over
And we are safe and well.
We will go into a public house
And we’ll sit and drink like hell.
We will drink strong ale and porter
And we’ll make the rafters roar,
And when our money is all spent
We will go to sea once more.

Chords: KEY C

verse/chorus:

Background: Irish lyrics to the tune of “Old Swansea Town Once More”. The “Holy Ground” is a quarter of Cobh (once known as Queenstown), which was inhabited mainly by fisherman. The tune is also refered to as The Cobh Sea Shanty. It was popular on the docks of Cork and Cobh as well as on the ships. The tune was originally a capstan shanty – a song sung as sailors turned the capstan to raise the achor.

Categories: Celtic Pride

Believers Should Not Be Idle

February 27th, 2010 1 comment

“Good works are to be done because they are necessary on the basis of the command of God. . . . For the will and command of God is that believers should not be idle, but that they walk and exercise themselves in good works” (Blessed Martin Chemnitz, Enchiridion, p. 96).

Categories: Uncategorized

The Feasts, Festivals and Commemorations on The LCMS Church Year Calendar

February 26th, 2010 4 comments

I don’t know about you, but if you are like me, you have found it a tad frustrating at times trying to piece together the calendar dates on which fall the feasts, festivals and commemorations on The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Church Year calendar. My colleague, Rev. Scot Kinnaman, the MasterMind behind the Treasury of Daily Prayer and other various and sundry helpful Church Year and worship resources, shared with me a file he created to put everything all together in one place. And here you go:  in Word .docx, Word .doc, .txt, .rtf, and PDF. If you want in a different version, you are kindly invited to make it yourself! <g>

Feasts-Festival-Commemorations (Word .docx)

Feasts-Festival-Commemorations (Word .doc)

Feasts-Festival-Commemorations (.txt)

Feasts-Festival-Commemorations (.rtf)

Feasts-Festival-Commemorations (.pdf)

Is Christianity Just About What’s Happening In Your Head?

February 26th, 2010 9 comments

In the recent post on the question of antinomianism and the continuing aversion to conversation about the good works Christians are to be doing, Pastor Fast offered a fascinating quote that I think goes to the heart of a lot of the problems we face. What do you think?

“Stanley Hauerwas has said that modern Protestantism has been the only form of Christianity in history to suppose that one could be a Christian by virtue of things which happen entirely inside one’s head. This supposition is true of modern Protestantism’s conservative and liberal versions alike—here Friedrich Schleiermacher and Dwight L. Moody basically agree.”

David Yeago
Sacramental Lutheranism at the End of the Modern Age

Categories: Uncategorized

Digital Versions of The Lutheran Study Bible Coming Soon

February 25th, 2010 12 comments

Thanks for your continuing interest in The Lutheran Study Bible. I wanted to let you know that we are doing well in the preparation of digital editions of The Lutheran Study Bible. We anticipate that by the end of April/early May we will have several digital options for you. I do not have prices to announce at this point, but here is what I can tell you. TLSB will be released in digital formats allowing it to be used on all desktop and laptop computers, either Mac or PC, and on all iPhones, iTouch and iPads, Blackberries, or other mobile devices if they are able to read ePub or Mobipocket files. TLSB in digital format will be able to be used on the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook or any other e-book reader that can read ePub or Mobipocket files. We will release a LOGOS edition as well, for use as a stand-alone resource, or as part of your larger LOGOS library, if you own more LOGOS resources. LOGOS is software available for PC or Mac computers. LOGOS has an iPhone app as well and no doubt will be releasing Android versions in the future.

The Lutheran Study Bible — Digital Format Chart of Options

For PC Desktop and Laptop Computers:
LOGOS
Amazon Kindle (.azw)
Adobe Digital Editions — e-Pub (.epub) or ePDF
Mobipocket (.prc)
Barnes and Noble e-Reader — e-Pub (.epub)

For Macintosh Desktop and Laptop Computers:
LOGOS edition
Adobe Digital Editions — e-Pub (.epub) or ePDF
Mobipocket (.prc)
Barnes and Noble e-Reader — ePub (.epub)

For E-Readers:
Amazon Kindle
Sony Reader
B&N Nook
Apple iPad
Any E-Reader device that accepts DRM protected e-Pub and/or ePDF files

For Mobile Devices:
LOGOS iPhone App for iPhone, iTouch, iPad
Amazon Kindle App for iPhone, iTouch, iPad
Amazon Kindle App for Blackberry
Barnes and Noble’s e-Reader for iPhone, iTouch, iPad
Barnes and Noble’s e-Reader for Blackberry
Or any mobile device/application that can read DRM protected e-Pub and/or ePDF files

Emergent Church Meets Lutheran Church

February 25th, 2010 5 comments

Dr. Gene Edward Veith posted a remark on his blog site about the fact that his very popular book The Spirituality of the Cross: The Way of the First Evangelicals has been released in a new revised edition. A man, named Dan, posted a very poignant comment on Dr. Veith’s blog about how helpful the book has been to him. I asked Dan if he would be willing to elaborate and he did. He posted his remarks back up on Dr. Veith’s site. They are so good, Dr. Veith featured Dan’s remarks as a separate blog post. Here is what Dr. Veith posted on his blog site recently.

I am very grateful to Dan, who had said that he was influenced by my book The Spirituality of the Cross and, in answer to Paul McCain’s query, explained why. I am posting it here, even though it’s long, because you might have missed it. I offer it to you not because of the kind things he said about my book but because Dan gives some trenchant critiques, born of experience, to the emerging church and other cutting edge movements in American evangelicalism. It’s moving to hear his account of how he moved back into historic Christianity and how my book played a role in that (s.d.g.). It also demonstrates what I have long thought, that Lutheranism is the true emergent church, answering every one of its valid concerns and avoiding every one of its weaknesses. Here is what Dan said:

“I’m comfortable posting here. There are a few prevalent ideas that are very popular in the house church crowd, and I have fallen prey to them for quite some time. In many ways I am still coming out of all this. I’m going to answer your question about Veith’s book in a very round-a-bout way, stay with me.

“It is extremely couth to question authority and to doubt and challenge tradition in my generation. This comes as no surprise to most of you, but it is somehow embedded in my genes. In my personal observation (which may be very limited), it seems that most folks in my parents’ generation take the pastor’s word for it because they trust his authority. My generation doesn’t do that. You need to prove why I should trust you.

“After reading Frank Viola’s “Pagan Christianity,” I had a lot of questions and plenty of ammo. I went to several local pastors (a few of them LCMS) and none of them could give me an intelligible response to the book. One pastor had read the book and was questioning his own tradition as a result – we were practically in the same boat. The book really set me on a path of rejecting the institutional church for a couple of years, and it caused me to really study church history and how our Christian practices came to be. Unfortunately, it set me on the wrong path, but my studies in church history set me straight (largely due to the fact that my wife is earning an M.A. in Theology, so good church history books are abundant in our house). While Viola and Barna make profound points about some church practices, their church history leaves a lot to be desired. Their “analysis” is a mishmash of outdated secondary sources, out-of-context quotations, unsupported hypotheses, and personal prejudices. Even worse, on those occasions where legitimate experts on the field are cited (i.e., Dom Gregory Dix, Paul F. Bradshaw, Alexander Schmeman) their views are taken so out of context as to have them seemingly ally with the authors when in fact their views are quite the opposite. But no pastors were able to tell me that. I had to do my own research. Sadly, I don’t think most folks who read this book will do the same, nor do many know how.

“Despite having sorted through some of the faulty church history in “Pagan Christianity,” a lot of the ideology still stuck. Especially since it has been continually reinforced by books like “unChristian,” “Reimagining Church,” “Blue Like Jazz,” “Revolution,” “The Untold Story of the New Testament,” etc. In many ways, “Blue Like Jazz” got me started on this whole kick back when I attended Concordia Seward (prior to dropping out and leaving the church altogether). The book is still extremely popular in young adult circles, including in the LCMS.

“Only within the last year or so have I begun to deconstruct the deconstruction, so to speak. I began by reading “Why We’re Not Emergent” and “Why We Love the Church,” both by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Those books helped me realize that “so much that passes for spirituality these days is nothing more than middle class, 20-something coffee culture. If you like jazz, soul patches, earth tone furniture, and lattes, that’s cool. But this culture is no holier than the McNugget, Hi-C, Value City, football culture that most people live in. Why does incarnational ministry usually mean hanging out at Starbucks instead of McDonalds?” (Kevin DeYoung, http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2009/01/29/jesus-came-to-save-grimace-and).

“But these books and all my research thus far still only brought me to a point where I essentially could respect the institutional church as a valid form of ministry, but I still thought it was the least effective approach and continued to hold most of my Viola/Barna-inspired prejudices.

“The two prevailing areas of cognitive dissonance that I still retained at that point were:
1. The clergy/laity distinction
2. The sacred/secular dichotomy

“These two areas are widely attacked by house church folks, and they make some pretty good arguments. Let me begin with the clergy/laity distinction. I blog frequently at prayeramedic.com, and you can actually watch my progression of thought on this issue. When first confronted with the idea that there is no hierarchy whatsoever in church leadership, and that church leaders have no authority over church members, I knew it was wrong. It went against Scripture. I immediately pointed this out: http://prayeramedic.com/2008/10/biblical-leadership/

“You’ll see that I used Scripture to demonstrate that church leaders had genuine authority and that this was God-given. But then I read Viola’s book and continued to listen to the house church crowd. I then wrote this post: http://prayeramedic.com/2008/10/secular-job/

“That’s a huge shift in a VERY short period of time. The subtle deception that I didn’t recognize at the time is co-mingling the two issues I listed above into being one and the same. In fact, I probably need to take down this blog post – but I’ll leave it up for now.

“In many ways, I was right. The things I have been griping about in the church are extremely prevalent in mainstream evangelical churches. The pastor is more of a CEO than a spiritual leader and so much of what is being passed off as spirituality is empty emotions, false hope, deception, manipulation, etc. It didn’t help that my wife and I were extremely jaded by the church. I was serving as a young adult minister in a Pentecostal church where things got out of hand and my wife was asked to leave (but I was not). To make a long story short, we left then got mixed up in a United Pentecostal cult (denies Trinity, requires baptism in Jesus’ name only), we left there and got into some wacky charismaniac groups, then we found “mainstream” churches that might as well have called their sermons “motivational speaking” or “lessons in morality.” It was all so shallow and insincere, and so fake. It’s no wonder that the house church message was so appealing.

“The postmodern mantra seems to be “authenticity,” “community,” “experiential,” “participatory,” etc. and that appeals to someone who has only seen fake, inauthentic expressions of faith that have more to do with making people feel good about themselves. I also was struggling with some major sin issues and so were many other folks I knew, but the church was not a place we felt free to confess these things. Nor was it a place where we felt welcome to be ourselves. To most folks Church is just a cultural thing, something they do, not something they are. The house church mantra cries out that the church is an organism, not an organization. This still appeals to me in many ways.

“And we can learn a lot from house church folks. But their fatal flaw is dismissing the institutional church, altogether. Both are valid ministry models that can coexist – and each has its unique strengths and weaknesses.

“Enter Veith’s book. I started looking for books on spirituality, and I found “Grace Upon Grace” by Kleinig. I started reading it and enjoyed it, but I found his writing style difficult to stick with for lengthy periods of time, kind of like reading Kierkegaard or ancient church literature. I then found “Spirituality of the Cross.” Remember that my main two issues were clergy/laity and sacred/secular.

“Veith’s writing style was so easy to read and approachable that I read the book in only a few sittings (similar to Viola/Barna books). Veith really threw me off guard by building a comprehensive model of spirituality and avoiding intellectual quibbles. The answer to the sacred/secular problem is the doctrine of the two kingdoms, and the answer to clergy/laity is the doctrine of the vocation. People had told me this before, but only in theological terms. Veith explained these doctrines in an authentic way, explaining them in a way that actually made me consider how I should live in light of these truths – not just how I should think.

“He immediately tore down the false approaches to God from Koberle: moral, intellectual and mystical. Even though I had heard Koberle’s ideas before, the way Veith explained it made me go “aha!” I got it. His talk about the presence and hiddenness of God was profound as well. I always viewed the Lutheran view of the Sacraments as being only slightly removed from Catholicism. I basically figured that Catholicism was so ingrained in Luther that he didn’t want to stray far in the means of grace doctrines. But Veith clearly explained the mystery and beauty of these means in a practical way.

“I was so confused after all of my experience with charismatic churches and the general teachings of the prosperity gospel and positive confession that are so prevalent in American Christianity. Veith really helped draw the big picture for me, what spirituality really looks like. It isn’t so much about “doing big things for God,” as it is about yielding to God in the small things and recognizing how many big things God IS DOING that we neglect, like what He accomplishes through His means of grace and regular worship.

“I felt as though I had been lied to and deceived by Christianity, as though I had fallen prey to a “bait and switch” tactic. But God had been working all along, I had simply been taught to seek Him according to my own will, not His.

“Also Veith, citing C.S. Lewis, helped me realize that by spending all my time in limbo I was missing out on true community. The entire time I thought that the traditions and customs were the culprit, but I came to realize that sin and human depravity was the real issue. I had been imposing impossible ideals on the people of God, looking for a perfect church in many ways. I didn’t think this was the case, I would claim I wanted an authentic church, not a perfect church. Veith showed me that as a child of God, I often don’t even want the right things. What I need most is often not what I desire. There’s far more authenticity in bad coffee, hard pews, and people of all generations who aren’t very cool and often aren’t very intellectual than there is in coffee shops, smartly-dressed people, and haughty lounges with only folks from one generation who think they know everything. When you think about it, the emergent church is really only a white, suburban, 18-35 yr old movement. That is very limited and is not cross-generational and interracial (issues the emergent church often critique mainstream evangelicals for). Jesus died for all people of all nations, races, and languages – not just for a select group of haughty young adults.

“All in all, Veith challenged me to think critically about my presuppositions. He showed me that I was simply chasing after another fad, setting myself up for another disappointment and further disillusionment. All the while I was seeking authenticity, truth, community, experiences with God, and to be used by God. Veith made it clear that I have been misdiagnosing the issue altogether. The problem isn’t a lack of these things, the problem is sin. The answer is the cross. This is the only true spirituality. This is the only true contentment. I must seek Christ, all these other things flow only from that. When we put the cart before the horse we end up with another man-made institution, even if it meets in homes.

“I still have unanswered questions, but these are not as important as the central issues: Jesus Christ, sin and forgiveness, the cross. I had been struggling a lot with daily prayer prior to reading Veith’s book. After reading it I came to see that in many ways, tradition keeps me safe. Tradition is not always bad. I traditionally wash every morning, and that keeps me from smelling like a farm animal. I now use “Treasury of Daily Prayer” to get in the Word and pray daily, and it works for me. Before I would have never done this, claiming it would be “quenching the Spirit” and binding me in traditions. But you know what? For all my complaints, I wasn’t praying. Now I am. The simple format makes it harder for my flesh to get distracted. I’m a lot weaker than I used to think I was. I am far more dependent on Christ than I realized. This is humbling. This is almost humiliating. But I was wrong. I NEED Jesus. I NEED His grace. I NEED structure. I NEED accountability. I NEED fellowship. And the house church movement made me doubt and mistrust the very things that could have brought me freedom. All relationships are guarded and preserved by structure. Try telling your wife after you’ve had an affair, “Come on, I thought our marriage was about the relationship, not all these do’s and don’ts.” I’ve learned to embrace the structure, rather than fight it and “deconstruct” it.

“So I am probably rambling now. The bottom line is that through reading Veith’s book, the Holy Spirit has taught me some important things (and He continues to do so). I have learned that Jesus Christ is the focal point of Christianity, not authenticity, community or anything else. This fact requires that we live differently, not simply pay lip service to this fact intellectually while practically pursuing other things. If Jesus Christ is at the center of our spirituality then a lot of things are different. I still agree with many of my gripes about mainstream churches, but the Lutheran faith offers something more stable than the changing winds of most of these groups (in most cases), it simply points me to Jesus.”

The Preparation and Printing of the First Edition of the Book of Concord

February 24th, 2010 3 comments

My colleagues here at Concordia Publishing House, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes and Rev. Charles Schaum, prepared a translation of several pages from the Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, the critical edition of the Lutheran Confessions, which deal with the preparation and printing of the first edition of the Book of Concord. I thought you might enjoy reading it, assuming you are a BOC geek like us.

The Text History of the First Edition of the Book of Concord

Translated by Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes and Rev. Charles Schaum from the Introduction to the Formula of Concord in the BSLK

The German Book of Concord (Konkordienbuch; abbreviated Konk.) was typeset probably starting in the summer of 1578 in the Dresden printing works of Matthes Stöckel and Gimel Bergen in the extent determined by the introduction to the FC [Formula of Concord].[i] They began with the FC. Andreae had the chief supervision and committed the proof-reading to Master Peter Glaser and Caspar Fuger from the Ministerium of Holy Cross Church [in Dresden] (Kreuzkirche). Glaser also prepared the index.[ii] On April 12, 1579 the printing was completed except for the title page, Preface, Catalog of Testimonies, and the list of signatories. A copy was immediately furnished for Chemnitz. On August 19, Secretary Elias Vogel permitted three copies to be bound by Jakob Krause, probably for the Electors.

Andreae had pushed on May 22 for an expedited printing of the Preface[iii] together with the title page, but only after the Heidelberg Recess[iv] did [Chancellor] Haubold von Einsiedel give the command for them to be typeset (August 9) and order 140 copies from Vögelin,[v] i.e., in Leipzig (August 13). Presumably the order was adhered to, since on August 23 the Elector commanded the printing of twenty copies that were to be sent with the same number of manuscript copies for the purposes of subscribing to them. This was carried out on September 26.

The list of signatories was not yet completed toward the end of March 1580. “Through the mercy of God” Andreae pleaded for the submission of subscriptions from Wolfenbüttel.[vi] Already in April incomplete copies (according to Andreae) were brought to the book fair in Leipzig. According to others, they were without the title and perhaps sold in small quantity. They were then subsequently withdrawn from circulation, but a Magdeburg paper salesman, Thomas Frantz, had already initiated a private reprint at the beginning of May.

After Elector Ludwig of the Palatinate made his final decision to join (June 13, 1580), the title page (see below), Preface, and Catalog of Testimonies[vii] had to be reprinted. The same occurred during the printing of at least two other signatures[viii] at the instigation of Chemnitz and Andreae. Nevertheless the printer reintroduced in haphazard[ix] fashion the signatures that had been excluded, and even the old title page, which was first noticed by Elector Ludwig. Aside from other aberrations, even in the list of the signatories, this was also observed with embarrassment (and the printer was fined 200 Gulden) when the three originalia, that is, the “authentica,” [the authoritative copies] were set aside in the electoral chanceries according to a suggestion of Elector Ludwig on June 13, 1580.

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A Hymn Paraphrase of the Augsburg Confession

February 23rd, 2010 8 comments

Matt Carver, Lutheran hymn translator-extraordinaire, posted on his blog site a fascinating translation of a hymn offering a paraphrase of the entire Augsburg Confession.

Here is my translation of Gott Vater, Sohn, und Geist (J. [Jakob] Fabricius, †1654) a paraphrase of the Augsburg Confession which Rev. B. Mayes found in said author’s Predigten über die Augspurgische Confession (Nur.: W. Endter, 1652) and kindly brought to my attention. The poetic quality is a bit more detectable in the German, though in that version as in this, the odd lines are not rhymed. Especially if the artful Verzage nicht, du Häuflein klein [O Little Flock, Fear Not the Foe] is the work of the same author, you will see that it is not a lack of poetic feeling, but a commitment to deliver the confessional language accurately and succinctly, that has directed the tenor of this paraphrase. The lyric may be sung, as Rev. Mayes points out, to Nun danket alle Gott. Please advise of corrections to the sense, or improvements on the theological implications of my English translation where it deviates unhappily from the meaning of the German (or from the Augsburg Confession itself).

THREE PERSONS, yet one God,
Are Father, Son, and Spirit,
Who dwell in Light divine,
And as one Godhead share it,
Co-mighty, co-eterne,
Co-glorious, fully wise;
All teachings here opposed
Are heresies and lies.

2. By nature, we are born
Poor slaves to our transgression,
Since Adam’s grievous fall,
And we are death’s possession,
Till in baptismal floods
God gives us life again:
What lies Pelagius taught
On this we must disdain.

3. God, of true God begot,
And ever God remaining,
True Man of man was born,
Yet never thereby staining
His mother’s virgin state,
And by His death doth save
Us wretches from our sins,
From torment, and the grave.

4. No human since the fall,
Thus dead in sin unsightly,
Can trust his worthless works.
By faith he must cling tightly
To what Christ Jesus did,
Who reconciled our race
To God, and by His death
Earned us both life and grace.

5. God ever by His Word
To living faith doth win us,
And by His Sacraments
Sustains that faith within us.
By these to work in us
God’s Spirit is resigned;
The Anabaptists make
But idols of their mind.

6. As trees adorned with fruit,
And vines their clusters giving,
So are good works produced
By faith divine and living,
Such works are dear to God.
So see His pleasures through,
Yet be it all by grace,
And not by works we do.

7. One church there is alone,
yet many congregations,
One body, many limbs,
Throughout all generations,
As long as sun doth shine.
Though customs may abound,
Where the one truth is taught,
The church is ever found.

8. Not every soul is saved
Which in the church is sitting,
For often are her doors
Deceitful wolves admitting.
Nor are her Sacraments
Negated, in despite
Of what the priest believes,
Who fills his task aright.

9. The washing with the Word
Is needed to deliver
Salvation to the soul,
And join to God forever
By covenantal bond
All persons, young and old,
Both infant and adult,
In heaven’s holy fold.

10. Christ’s very Body_and Blood
Are in the Supper taken,
Which on the cross He gave
And shed, by God forsaken,
His Body with the bread,
And His Blood with the wine:
All doctrines otherwise
Deny the Word divine.

11. Confession of our sins
Is also kept among us,
Yet not that doubts and griefs
May burden, hound, or throng us.
But rather to release
Those sins that we feel most
For we can scarcely know
Nor number all their host.

12. If one who is baptized,
And, sin anew committing,
Yet afterwards repents,
His former sins regretting
With penitence and faith—
Then let him not despair
Of God’s free gift of grace,
But fruits of sorrow share.

13. The Sacraments are not
Mere tokens of profession,
But are the pledge whereby
God makes us His possession:
So let those who partake
This promise rightly own.
Salvation comes by faith,
And not by use alone.

14. None ever shall presume
To fill the pastor’s station
Unless he first be called
By orderly vocation,
He who would serve the church
Must rightly be ordained,
By Him who hath the right,
From Whom all rights are gained.

15. We justly do retain
Those feasts and observations
By which the ancient church
Enriches our traditions,
Those only we reject
Which hinder true belief,
Or load the conscience down
With human laws and grief.

16. All due authority
Should be respected ever;
From God it hath the pow’r,
Just verdicts to deliver,
And, waging righteous war,
To keep the common peace;
It is our earthly rule,
Until the earth shall cease.

17. When Jesus shall return
And this world meets destruction,
The dead shall all be raised
In one great resurrection:
One part to heav’nly joy,
And one to agony
No temp’ral reign of Christ
Shall earthly kingdoms see.

18. Although we grant mankind
Use of his free volition
For judgment in the things
Of reason and cognition,
Despite his fall in sin:
Yet that which serves the soul,
To save it, is not found
In nature as a whole.

19. All things in heav’n and earth
And everything created,
And which conceived can be,
In God originated:
The devil and man’s will
Are yet the cause of sin
(which is the lack of good)
And so it long hath been.

20. Although no merit can
To works be reckoned ever,
Yet neither is it good
That man pursue them never,
Yet not those works devised
By what man’s feeling saith,
But those from God’s own Word,—
These are the fruits of faith.

21. We honor all the saints,
Their deeds, and their confession,
Esteeming them as good,
Yet not for intercession:
No saints can we invoke
To help us in our need
For only God our Lord
True help and aid can speed.

22. Since Christ did so ordain,
And Paul this word defended,
That in the Sacrament
Both Kinds should be extended,—
Nor did the priests withhold
The Blood from laity,
In early Christendom—
So let it ever be.

23. God willed that men should be
From lust by marriage turning,
For in their weak’ning state,
They often heeds its burning.
So pastors, too, should use
This ordinance divine,
Since they no less belong
To Adam’s fallen line.

24. The Mass we have retained,
Yet one thing is not suffered:
That it be wrongly thought
Christ’s sacrifice re-offered,
In truth, and without blood,
And have that force within,
As that which once for all
Did blot out all our sin.

25. Who goes his sins to own
And to the priest confesses,
Receives God’s kindly Word,—
Forgiveness he possesses:
And Christ’s true body_and blood
Are given in the Meal,
Though he recount alone
Those sins which he doth feel.

26. To chasten our own flesh
By fast and self-demotion,
If for God’s glory done,
With heart of true devotion,—
Then it is done aright;
But if one seek aught else,
Self-merit, grace, or fame,
Then it is vain and false.

27. Monastic lives and vows
Are but a useless prison,
For in them great abuse
Has woefully arisen:
Men join their ranks by force,
Unthinking, and deceived,
To merit righteousness,
And work but villainy

28. The Spirit’s pow’r God gave
The priesthood of the Spirit,
Wherefore they must not seek
Earth’s kingdoms to inherit,
Or, like a prince, to rule
In judgment-seats mundane:
Not for the priest did God
The civil rule ordain.

(29.) Still many things there are
That need examination
Which, due to such abuse,
Cannot have validation:
Yet, let this do for now:
All those desiring more,
For their request shall find
Of answers, ample store.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2010.

The German original follows in the extended entry.

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Categories: Lutheran Confessions

Stop Kidding Around: Thoughts on Christian Maturity

February 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Thoughts from Pastor Larry Peters.

When I became a man, I gave up childish ways – oh, did you think that was me talking?? If you knew me, you would laugh at the audacity of me saying “I’m all grown up.” My family would laugh, for sure. I wish I could say them with some shred of truth but St. Paul is the one who spoke these words in the midst of the familiar chapter on love. Me? I have not grown up. When I look in my heart and I see staring back at me a childish person – and that is not flattery. I am immature, immodest, self-centered, judgmental, and weak willed. Every day is a battle for control of my heart, reigning in those childish ways and attempting under the guidance of the Spirit to become the mature son of God our Lord desires of me… does that sound familiar to you, too??

St. Paul writes “when I became a man…” Now when was that? How old were you? But St. Paul is not speaking in the context of the maturity that manifests itself in worldly wisdom or the esteem of others. What Paul has in mind is becoming whole, complete, fully human… This is not the result of experience or lessons learned from the world. What St. Paul speaks about here is the maturing love of Christ who leads us from sin’s childish ways to becoming a true child of God.

The goal is not earthly maturity but becoming this whole and complete person in Jesus Christ. It was His incarnation into my flesh and blood that made it possible for me to become the son of God He has declared me to be. It is His incarnation that reveals to me what my humanity was supposed to be. From my Incarnate Lord I have been given the call to be made anew, made complete, in baptism. In baptism the rebellious, self-willed, self-centered, self-serving child of sin died with Christ, into His death, so that the new person might arise. A mature son in Christ.

This is no call from the Apostle to learn the wisdom of the world or to control yourself to maturity. What Paul is speaking about is the wisdom of faith and the maturity, the fruit of the love planted in us by the Holy Spirit, which gave birth and direction to a new person, a new child of God – no longer carried about by every wind of change but anchored in the cross of Christ and secure in the arms of His love enfolded around us.

This love planted within us teaches us not to seek our own way, but the way of Christ, the way of His love. This is a voice alien to our sinful natures and this is the love that must be taught to our rebellious hearts. In this still, more excellent way, we give up the clanging gong that shouts out ME for the still quiet voice of love and service, to God and neighbor. In this maturity, prophetic utterance and knowledge over all the mysteries of this life give way to Christ and His love. In this adulthood, He grants us the power to give up our captivity to the childishness of sin to become the true child born of the Father’s love for us in Christ and the power to renounce our old sinful, childish ways.

In this call to grow up, we leave behind all boasts of pride, possessions and accomplishment in order to live within the contented peace of Christ, where sins are forgiven, lives reborn, and love is the greatest of all. In this life from God, patience and kindness do not get in our way but become the pathway to live out our faith. In this humility of heart and life, arrogance and rudeness flow from weakness and insecurity but not from the strength and safety of being the Lord’s own child by baptism and faith. This love does not resent or resist the hand of God in Christ but rejoices in how He leads us to restrain what has become the natural way of our sinful lives. What was natural to us has been revealed as unnatural and now He grants us a new nature to live the fully human lives only our Incarnate Lord can impart.

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Categories: Christian Life

He Accepted Your Evil

February 21st, 2010 1 comment

He accepted your evil; will He not give you His good? Certainly He will. He promised His life to us; but what He has done is more unbelievable. He offered His own life to us, as if to say: ‘I invite you to My life where no one dies, where life is truly blessed, where food is not corrupted, where it refreshes and does not fail. Behold the place to which I invite you, to the abode of the angels, to the friendship of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal banquet, to My companionship, finally, to Me Myself and to My life do I invite you. Do you not wish to believe that I will give you My life? Take My death as a pledge.’

— St. Augustine, Homily 231

What is the Chief Purpose of the Christian Worship Service?

February 20th, 2010 5 comments

Debates across all Christian church bodies of which I’m aware, for quite a long time, have been going on over the question of what the Sunday morning worship service is really all about. I should qualify that last statement. This discussion is going on across those churches that actually still do regard the Sunday morning worship service as, first and foremost, the occasion when the Holy and Almighty God serves His people through Word and Sacrament and they respond with prayer, praise and thanksgiving, giving their adoration and worship to the All Holy and Glorious Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

A growing trend in such churches is to view the Sunday morning service as a tool to be used to attract non-believers to the Christian faith. Such a fundamental shift in understanding of what the purpose of the Sunday morning worship service is all about has extremely serious consequences for how worship is conducted, what goes on during the service, and so forth. Consider the following observations:

Worship is either an encounter with the reality of God, or it is some kind of attempt by man to raise himself by his own bootstraps. It then becomes an occasion for moralizing, a theatrical show, or a sort of pep rally. On the contrary, in the ancient church, the reading of the Gospel was surrounded with festive splendor because here Christ addresses His faithful followers. As the exalted Lord of the Church He today still exercises His prophetic function through His preachers and teachers. We still bear witness to His presence in the acclamations before and after the Gospel. We sing: “Glory be to Thee, O Lord!” and “Praise be to Thee, O Christ!”

- Earnest Koenker, Worship in Word and Sacrament, p. 47 HT: Weedon.

Cyberbrethren on Kindle? Yup, that too.

February 19th, 2010 Comments off

Kindle owners can subscribe to Cyberbrethren and have it delivered wirelessly.

Categories: Blogging

Cyberbrethren on iPhone? Yup, there’s a (free!) App for that

February 19th, 2010 8 comments

A month or so ago, Justin Taylor mentioned that Rainsong Media does a nice job making iPhone Apps out of a blog, so I asked them to do an iPhone App for my blog, and they did. It’s now available on iTunes. I’m sure it is worth every penny you have to pay for it. Which is to say, it’s free. Check it out. If you don’t have an iPhone you can’t use it on an iPhone. Just wanted to point that out. Here’s a screen shot of the iTunes App Store page for Cyberbrethren:

Categories: Blogging

Not Saying Alleluia During Lent is Stupid (Sure to Cause Apoplexy Among High Church Purists)

February 18th, 2010 54 comments

Not saying Alleluia during Lent is stupid!

There I said it, and I’m glad I did. While pastors might think that we in the pews view the fact that we don’t say Alleluia with any degree of attention or interest, they are wrong. It is stupid, silly, ridiculous and entirely fabricated out of whole cloth. But I am not the only one who thought it silly, so did Martin Luther. It’s a shame those obsessed with liturgical-trivia were able to foist the “no alleluia” rule on the Lutheran church.

Dr. Luther, in an Invocavit sermon in his House Postil wrote:

“The general duties and works of love need no new command; they are already laid down and ordered in the Ten Commandments.  We are all enjoined of God to hear His Word, to love Him, to pray to Him, to be obedient to our parents, to love our neighbor, to shun all lasciviousness and to hold matrimony in high esteem.  All this is God’s will and institution; therefore no especial call of the Holy Spirit to enter matrimony, to become father or mother, is needed.  Such matters have all been arranged and commanded of God.  But we nowhere find a command or word of God, which would demand of us to run into cloisters for the purpose of serving God, or to avoid eating meat, eggs or butter during the Lenten season, or to sing no Hallelujah in that time; and therefore all such observances are no true service of God.”

He expresses the same thought in Formula Missae (AE 53:24):

“For the alleluia is the perpetual voice of the Church, just as the memorial of His passion and victory is perpetual.”

My good friend Pastor Weedon feels strongly there is deep meaning in all the liturgical trimming during Lent. He takes his cue from O.P. Kretzmann who, in my view, indulges in rhetorical and romanticized puffery, not substance. I can’t agree, but he makes his point well.

OK, now that I have a few people thoroughly exercised, please note that I am not saying we should ignore this rubric and that we should not follow it, I’m simply saying why I think it is stupid. But since it is adiaphora, I am happy to give up a bit of my freedom and personal opinion for the sake of unity. We’d all be better off if we did that.

For instance, some might think throwing themselves on the chancel floor is a great way to observe Good Friday, but we don’t do it, that is, if we care about unity. Some think putting the Lord’s Supper away in a Tabernacle on the altar and claiming it is perpetually the Lord’s body and blood and adoring it is a good thing, but we don’t do that. We know better. Some think that ignoring the rubrics and the liturgy and swapping out for it something that looks like the local non-denominational church is ok, but it is not. As much as possible, we must all give up our freedom and our right to exercise that freedom, for the sake of unity. The wisdom of the adage “Say the black, do the red” is still very much holds, and I wish it were everywhere observed.

So, you are free to disagree with a rubric, but in love, you follow it. If we follow rubrics for the sake of rubrics, then that is a problem. When doing the liturgy “just so” becomes an end in itself, we have a problem. Rubrics are a means, to an end, not the end itself. There’s something more important here than rubrics. And this is precisely why we follow them!

Now you know the point of this blog post.