Dear Issues, Etc. Listener:
In the name of Jesus, greetings.
Our listeners keep Issues, Etc. on the air. We believe this more and more every day.
June 30, 2011, marks the three-year anniversary of our return to radio, the Internet, and on-demand. For those three years (and for more than a decade before that) our listeners have kept us on the air. Thank you.
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Thank you for listening and thanks for your support of Issues, Etc., past, present and future especially during the difficult summer months.
Wir sind alle Bettler,
Pastor Todd Wilken, Host
A friend just shared this YouTube video with me. This little guy is three years old. I love how expressive he is. He may not understand every single word he is saying, but he sure does understand the point! Great stuff.
My friend, Aaron Lewis, sent me a photo he took in a museum of a painting, in Munich, depicting Cranach painting Luther, with Melanchthon looking on. Very nice! The painting is by Heinrich Stelzner, who lived from 1833-1910. He painted this painting in 1890. It is in the Alte Pinakothek museum at Munich, which, I’m told, has a general policy against displaying works from the 19th century or earlier, but they made an exception since it is such a unique portrayal of Lucas Cranach at work. I’m trying to figure out how to upload the full size version of the painting as a jpeg to this blog post, but have forgotten how to to that in WordPress. Any suggestions?
Here is a photo a tourist, Jaime Silva, took of Cranach in the painting:
Here is a shot Jamie took of the entire painting. Aaron Lewis tells me it is about four feet by six feet:
Well, at least virtually….check out this great resource, uncovered by Pastor Harrison.
People have suggested that Wilken and McCain have a dance off. I’m game.
Here’s a preview of the routine I’m going to be doing. Yes, this will happen.
I know this is going to make some people angry, but I think it is about time we realize that when some among us say that there is a certain “level” of liturgical activity that marks what is really Lutheran or really liturgical, they are just whistling Dixie. Appealing to older practices is fine, to a point, but I’ve noticed that in reacting to really, really BAD practices among us, such as Lutheran churches dropping the name Lutheran, and ditching the liturgy, the reaction against those errors winds up just causing a problem in the other direction.
In his work documenting liturgical practices in the territory of Braunschweig, Bodo Nischan shared a delightful incident when Luther let the prince in the territory have it with both barrels. For you see, this man was very concerned with making sure they had all the liturgical finery possible and that the preachers were draped in pretty, shiny chasubles. Luther had to remind the good man that there is more to worship, liturgy and the church’s life together than obsessing over rites, rituals and rubrics in the Divine Service. There were calls in the area for continued Roman practices, which Luther rejected, such as consecrating the elements first in church and taking them to communicants, or keeping them stored up in a ciborium. And then, Luther tried to calm the anxiety of a man who was feeling bad about being forced to continue to engage in elaborate rituals:
Provided the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached purely with no human additions and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are observed, with no invocation of the saints, no carrying of the sacrament in procession, no daily masses and vigils for the dead, no holy water and salt, and provided that pure hymns are sung in Latin and German, then it does not matter if there be a cross of gold or silver, whether the cope be of saffron, silk, or linen; and if the Elector is not content to put on one gown, let him have three, the way Aaron wore them, one on top of another; and if doesn’t find one procession enough, let him go around seven times like Joshua with trumpets blowing; and if wants to leap with the harp, psalter, and cymbals, let him dance like David before the ark. Conscience is not to be bound, and if we have given up these practices in Wittenberg, we may have reasons which are not valid in Berlin. Except where God has commanded, let there be freedom. [Nichan, p. 22]
You see, dear reader, much as some among us would like to make you think that there is some certain “best” way to do the liturgy and that the wearing of certain vestments is the “most” or “more” Lutheran way of doing things, they are wrong and while they may want to give you the impression that unless you reach their “level” of liturgical correctness and hold your hands just so, and gesticulate in just the right way, they have no right to do so. They have no right to put themselves in the place of judging the content of the Synod’s hymnals or liturgies, or indicating that such content is not “good enough” or that there is some “better” way. Such things are every bit as damaging to our fellowship as Pastor Bob with his polo shirt and jeans parading around like a non-denominational preacher. And we must be willing to say it is or we have no credibility to criticize the other side of the coin.
Source: Prince, People, and Confession: The Second Reformation in Brandenburg by Bodo Nischan.
It’s Hard to Believe That the WELS is Actually Willing to Endorse the NIV 2011 For Use in Its Congregations
I think I’m on to something here…..what do you think?
First impressions are lasting, so the saying goes. I returned yesterday from ten days in the amazing country that is India. Words that come to mind when I think through all the experiences we had include: Amazing. Incredible. Astounding. Fascinating. Interesting. Perplexing. Frustrating. Dumbfounding. Shocking. Yet, words fail to explain the range of emotions I went through during my time there. We traveled extensively in some of the most rural parts of southern Indian, meeting with Lutheran leaders and people in several different Lutheran churches in India, and wrapping up our trip with several days with our sister church in India: The Indian Evangelical Lutheran Church [IELC]. We were mainly in the provinces of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Before we went, we were told by Lutheran friends who were born in India to expect “sensory overload.” I now understand what they meant: the sights, sounds and smells of India are like nothing you have ever experienced before, unless you’ve been there.
I have seen desperate and dire poverty in various places in the world before, but nothing like what I saw in India. It truly is shocking to see the vast contrast between the rich and the poor in India. The popular TV shows on India show an India defined by its rising and emerging “middle class” and is wealthy elites, but there is little on Indian TV showing the desperate and dire poverty most of the population lives in, every day. All this is why the joyful Christian witness I experienced among the Lutherans with whom we visited is all the more humbling, encouraging and empowering.
I could not help but think to myself that if we could send our pastors over to India to spend some time there among their fellow Lutherans they might come back and work a bit harder, argue a bit less, and focus more keenly on the mission of Christ’s church and stop worrying about issues that are trivial compared to what our Indian brothers go through daily. The bold Lutheran confession that they make is striking and powerful. President Samuel, of the IELC, gave us several excellent theological lectures and sermons in our time together. So much wisdom! So much joy!
I encourage you to visit the IELC’s web site.
I was struck by President Samuel’s comments on why the Lutheran church does not engage in all kinds of silliness in its worship services, like raising hands and screaming out like the Pentecostals do. He reminded us that there were two men who went to the temple, one to draw attention from God and men to himself, and the other who spoke off in a corner, barely heard, and simply praying for mercy and forgiveness. And which one was it that went home justified that day, President Samuel asked us. The sinner—the man who simply asked God for mercy! That’s what we Lutherans are about, President Samuel explained. We are poor, miserable sinners who point others to the Savior and ask them to join us in asking for His mercy in Christ.
I made a new friend while I was there. Pastor Frederick, one of the IELC’s synod’s [district's] presidents. He is the pastor of a congregation in the Kolar Gold Field area, in Tamilnadu. I preached at Pastor Frederick’s church on Trinity Sunday, with Pastor Frederick translating. It was, by far, the best sermon I’ve ever preached in the Tamil language! While I was preaching, the Hindus were celebrating a festival literally across the street, complete with a loud noisy parade and incessant Hindu songs being sung on huge loudspeakers. Pastor Frederic drowned it all out with his loud, cheerful and boisterous singing of the liturgy from the hymnal, which is a Tamil translation of The Lutheran Hymnal’s liturgies.
Pastor Frederick, later that day, grabbed my hand with his and said, “Pastor Paul, isn’t it wonderful what God asks us to do? Tell people about Jesus and spread His Word? I am so excited to do this. I get up every morning and thank God for the grace He gives me every day to do my ministry!” What joy!
President Samuel lives at the Happy Home institution of the IELC, an institution where over 100 children and young people find a home after being cast out of their own homes because of mental or physical infirmity, or whose parents have died. President Samuel said, “People ask us if these are orphan children and I always tell them, ‘No, of course not. Orphans have no families. These children have a Heavenly Father and we are their brothers and sisters.” Joyful!
President Samuel told us how important it is to be and remain a strong confessing Lutheran church that does not compromise on its doctrine and does not embrace things like the ordination of women and homosexuality. He said, “We must be and remain who we are, Lutherans. The missionary who came to us from the Missouri Synod in 1895 sacrificed himself and his children so we could have the truth of God’s Holy Word and be faithful Lutherans.” Joyful!
We toured the wonderful Bethesda hospital which is a large medical facility offering advanced care for a range of serious medical problems. We saw the huge chapel in which the large staff gathers every morning at 8:00 a.m. for a half hour daily worship service. 70% of the staff of doctors and nurses are Lutherans. The director of the institution took us through every ward of the hospital and explained how important it is that the Lutheran Christians reach out and care for those who otherwise would simply be cast aside in Indian society, sharing the love of Christ with them. Joyful!
I asked one of the leaders of the IELC’s institutions what was his most important impression from America. I expected him to talk about our huge highways, or our lavish shopping centers. Instead he looked at me, smiled and said, “Pastor Paul, when I went to America I was shocked at how everyone is so friendly. They all looked at me and said, “Good morning” or “Hello” and they did not even know me. We do not do that here in India. But then I realized that though they were friendly they really did not have the time to get to know me. The gift of time is very important here in India. When we say hello to you or good morning, or “How are you?” We really want to talk to you and we give you our time.” Joyful!
India is a land of great contrast: fascinating and utter beauty, complete and devastating poverty, to name perhaps the greatest contrast, but I found there what I shall never forget and what was the most lasting memory and deepest impression: the reality of true Christian joy in the midst of staggering challenges. Truly, the grace of God in Jesus Christ, in action, is a wonder to behold and because I’m simply so used to it here, going to a new land and meeting new people and seeing the grace of God in Christ there was the most important experience of the trip.
President Matthew Harrison wrote a great book in 2009 titled A Little Book on Joy: The Secret of Living a Good News Life in a Bad News World. It proved extremely popular and after he was elected president of The LCMS, Pastor Harrison asked Concordia Publishing House to pick up the title and reprint. I’m happy to tell you that it is now in stock and available for immediate shipping from Concordia Publishing House. If you are unfamiliar with the book, you can download and take a look at a sample from the book. Simply put, it is a great book. I promise you that if you start reading it, you won’t be able to stop. Here’s the information from our CPH web site about the book. You can order it online, for $12.99, plus shipping and handling. Another book by President Harrison, At Home in the House of My Fathers, will be out in a few months also.
Rediscover the joy of being a Christian! LCMS president Matthew Harrison has produced a well written exploration of the nature of life in the fallen world and the joy that we have in Christ. Read about the joy of life together in community, marriage, and family, or the joys of humor, worship, the sanctity of life, and the wonders of creation.
Study questions at the end of each chapter, perfect for Bible study or small group study.
A Prayer Guide for “The Great Ninety Days of Joy after Joy with texts and prayers from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost.
“Something to Think About” questions are included at the end of each chapter.
What Others are Saying:
Matthew Harrison takes the subject of joy and succinctly brings it into clear view. Something that any “dyed in the wool” Christian—even a staunch German Lutheran—can grasp and embrace. The book provides a fresh and honest look at how and why joy is an integral part of one’s life.”
President—Michigan District LWML
“A singular contribution! Matt Harrison’s A Little Book on Joy is a big book in great need today. In his characteristically incisive manner, Matt has given today’s Christian the keys to real joy—the kind the Savior intended, and the kind he created in his life, death, and resurrection. I commend it to all as a healthy antidote to the travails of modern life. Matt continues to be one of the most interesting, topical, and important authors on today’s theological scene.”
Vice President—Corporate Business Development
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Past Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Washington D.C.
“Let’s face it: serious Lutherans too often come across as dour sourpusses. A Little Book on Joy shatters that caricature. Matt Harrison leads readers on an exuberant romp through the Scriptures and the multiple facets of unbridled Christian joy.”
Rev. Harold L. Senkbeil, STM, DD
Executive Director, DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center
for Spiritual Care and Counsel
I have been in India since last Tuesday, and will be headed home today. It will be very good to be home, but given the time zone differences, I have to go back in time to get there.
I will have more to say about my trip, but the most important thing I learned is what it means to be a joyful Christian.
I am traveling to India to explore publishing opportunities. I have shut down commenting on the blog and will reopen it when I return later in June. God bless.
“…there is in the church one particularly sweet piece of fruit on the broad canopy of the tree of lies… the greatest ethicist of our church (August Vilmar –MH) once spoke, warning the theologians of his and our time about the most grievous sin, the lie to God. The most fearful thing about the pious lie is that it will lie not only to men, but also to God in prayer, in confession, in the Holy Supper, in the sermon and in theology. The pious lie always has the propensity to become the edifying lie. It was once expelled from the church when it existed in the form of legends of the saints and the fraud of relics. Then in the full view of pious eyes, it returned in a new form, such as in the Luther legends, or in pietistic times in the form of almanacs and tracts containing the accounts of miraculous responses to prayer and equally miraculous conversions, which either never happened, or in which the kernel of historical truth was no longer discernible. This “edifying” lie even forces its way into the sphere of the church, which teaches revealed truths of revelation. After sufficient preparation it can obtain the status of “doctrinal maturity”. Thus it becomes the dogmatic lie.
We ask our Roman Catholic fellow Christians to believe that it is very difficult for us to use the word “lie” here, and we do not do so to offend them. We know that they affirm a dogma such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary out of deep conviction of faith, and they will accept the yet-awaited extension of Marian dogma from the hand of the ecclesiastical teaching office with the same sincerity. But this changes nothing of the fact that in these dogmas false doctrines are established, and that the Roman Church thus finds itself in a guilt-laden error…
When we speak of the dogmatic lie, we do not, however, have in mind only the celebrated dogmas pronounced by the Catholic Church, through which theories are elevated to the level of ecclesiastical dogma, and have no basis in Holy Scripture, and are not true. We include here also precisely the dogmas with which modern Protestantism has been at pains to correct, to complete, or to replace the doctrine of the evangelical church, such as the false doctrine of Pietism concerning the church, or of rationalism concerning the person of Jesus Christ. What a fearful thing it is indeed that things are taught in the church which are not true, under the guise of the eternal truth entrusted to her. No atheism, no Bolshevism can do as much damage and destruction as the pious lie, the lie in the church. In this lie the power of one is made evident whom Christ Himself calls a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).”
Extracted from Sasse’s essay ‘Union and Confession’ (written in Germany in 1936), trans. by Matthew C. Harrison, published by the Office of the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 1997.
Sasse reminds us of something that must never be forgotten if we are to remain true Evangelical Christians. As much as we are in conscience bound to protest the pious lies behind the false dogmas promulgated by the papacy, we must remain aware that no church body is above succumbing to a ‘pious lie’ and thus falling into the most grievous sin of lying to God in prayer and worship. Today, among the churches descended from the magisterial Reformation, we witness church body after church body succumbing to the great pious lie of our time: the ‘Gospel of radical inclusion’, which in practice calls evil ‘good’ and good ‘evil’, and does so with an air of superior piety that must sicken God’s heart, if not raise his ire. See previous posts on the ‘Church of Scotland’ and the ‘Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’. May God preserve us and our churches from such a sin and may he safely guide the faithful remnant in such church bodies to green pastures and still waters. ”
From Union and Confession (1936) [trans. Matthew.C. Harrison; published by the Office of the President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 1997]
I really enjoy the Bad Vestments blog and it is always humorous, in a “if I do not laugh, I can only but cry” sort of way…they feature the world’s worst vestments. They devote their site, in their words, to “to subjecting particularly awful Christian liturgical vestments or church decorations to the ridicule they so richly deserve.”
Sometimes one rises above (below?) the rest. I present: the parrot chausuable. No, I’m not making this up. Here you go, and no, I have no idea what it means.