Posts from the “Theology” Category

A given righteousness

Posted on July 11th, 2014

The Lutheran Symbols presuppose that the righteousness which God has a right to expect of man is something which man, because he lacks insight and power, is unable to produce. Left to himself, man can achieve civil righteousness, but he lacks the ability to do the same with the only righteousness that is valid before God. As a result, iustitia Dei receives the completely new meaning that it is a given righteousness, not a demanded one. What man is unable to accomplish by himself is given him by a gracious God. Holsten Fagerberg, A New Look at the Lutheran Confessions (1529-1537) (Kindle Locations 2141-2145)

Ritual and true worship

Posted on July 8th, 2014

Bonhoeffer’s journey to Rome as a young man opened his eyes to ritual’s possibility. Ritual helps express the catholicity of the Church, as many different languages, ethnicities, and cultures join in a common ritual. And ritual helps us forget ourselves and enter deep into the mystery of the Faith. Here is Bonhoeffer on the church’s catholicity: The occasion for his epiphany that day was a Mass at St. Peter’s performed by a cardinal, with a boys’ choir whose singing took his breath away. A host of other clergy, including seminarians and monks, was at the altar: “The universality of the church was illustrated in a marvelously effective manner. White, black, yellow members of religious orders— everyone was in clerical robes united under the church. It…

Granting error equal rights

Posted on June 26th, 2014

Lutheran dogmatician Francis Pieper on error and truth: The Christian Church can and should have patience with the erring and seek through instruction to remove the error. But never can or should the Church grant error equal right with the truth. If it does, it renounces the truth itself. It is the very nature of truth to antagonize error. Truth which no longer excludes error, but grants it domicile, is eo ipso resigning as truth. Pertinently Luther remarks: “Whoever really regards his doctrine, faith, and confession as true, right, and certain cannot remain in the same stall with such as teach or adhere to false doctrine.” Unionism in principle abolishes the difference between truth and error.

Luther on suicide

Posted on June 24th, 2014

Luther had very little to say about suicide. This is from the Table Talk (AE 54, p29): I don’t share the opinion that suicides are certainly to be damned. My reason is that they do not wish to kill themselves but are overcome by the power of the devil. They are like a man who is murdered in the woods by a robber. However, this ought not be taught to the common people, lest Satan be given an opportunity to cause slaughter, and I recommend that the popular custom be strictly adhered to according to which it [the suicide’s corpse] is not carried over the threshold, etc. Such persons do not die by free choice or by law, but our Lord God will dispatch…

Heaven is not for real

Posted on May 20th, 2014

I haven’t read the book, and I don’t have to when the title itself is in error. Heaven is not for real. The kingdom of God is. The Bible doesn’t promise heaven. It promise the resurrection of the dead, new creation, “new heavens and new earth.” Heaven is not for real.

Exterminating ourselves

Posted on May 9th, 2014

In a discussion related to the LCMS group OWN (Ordain Women Now), LCMS pastor Matthew Becker calls for the full embracing of “modern western egalitarianism.” Peter Speckhard (who I think is also an LCMS pastor) is spot-on in his reply: Churches that embrace Western egalitarianism for the sake of the Gospel have typically not served the Gospel well, either in terms of evangelism to America or in term of bringing a Christian witness to the social problems of the day. Western egalitarianism is busy exterminating itself with pills and abortions, and churches that seek to blend in with it will have to keep shrinking to find cover. Read Jonathan Last’s What To Expect When No One’s Expecting, and you will find statistical confirmation of this. Church leaders…

Shameful deceivers

Posted on May 8th, 2014

Dr. Luther, in a 1531 sermon on Jubilate Sunday, reminds us that we are always to trust in the Word of God and not human writings. Those are shameful deceivers who, putting their confidence in pope, emperor, councils, and church fathers, declare that the Christian church cannot err; what the church has decreed, we must accept. Instead you should remember the saying: To err is human! Right here, in this Gospel lesson [for Jubilate, John 16:16-23], the apostles have drifted into wrong thinking about the greatest of all truths: the passion and resurrection of Christ. That’s why i cannot trust the fathers, councils, or churchdoms, unless they can show that they really do have God’s Word. What the church speaks apart from and beyond…

Is there a Patristic Consensus?

Posted on April 30th, 2014

I’ve been enjoying reading Jordan Cooper’s The Righteousness of One: An Evaluation of Early Patristic Soteriology in Light of the New Perspective on Paul. In discussing Thomas Oden, Cooper critiques his view that the first four centuries of Christian teachers produced unanimity on the doctrine of justification: Oden’s proposal that there is an “orthodox consensus” at all in the first four centuries is highly debatable. There are few issues in which one would find agreement among such varied fathers as Jerome, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Theodoret, Augustine, and Chrysostom. Even the nature of the Trinity and the nuances of the two natures of Christ have no unanimous approval by the fathers Oden chooses to cite. Much less would there be any consensus on an issue that…