Posts from the “Theology” Category

Sermo Dei: Invocabit 2017

Posted on March 6th, 2017

What would you do if you could do anything? The great basketball coach John Wooden said, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” It’s those moments when no one is watching when our true self emerges. When you can do what you choose, what do you do? And if you could choose anything, what would it be? Among the most common myths is that you can achieve freedom by having more resources and less responsibility. If you had more money and less work, then you’d be free. If you had more time and fewer people making demands, then you’d be free. It’s a lie. Freedom is not found in time or money. And slavery is…

Encouragement for pastors

Posted on January 4th, 2017

From St. Basil: Do not lament over a responsibility transcending your strength. If you had been destined to bear the burden unaided, it would have been not merely heavy; it would have been intolerable. But if the Lord shares the load with you, “cast all your care upon the Lord” and He will Himself act. Only be exhorted ever to give heed lest you be carried away by wicked customs. Rather change all previous evil ways into good by the help of the wisdom given you by God. For Christ has sent you not to follow others, but yourself to take the lead of all who are being saved. He will Himself act!

Little apples for simpletons

Posted on July 19th, 2016

Browsing some commentary on the recently completed LCMS Convention, I came across a thread on the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau forum. An ELCA pastor, Brian Stoffregan (whom I do not know), makes an interesting statement there about Holy Scripture: “The academy is necessary to help us understand the meaning of the texts, which can be different from what they say.” Granted that he’s talking about the importance of understanding Scripture in context, I find this notion deeply troubling, and perhaps the single greatest difference between our church bodies. One of my axioms is if you have to add words to Scripture to explain why it doesn’t mean what it clearly sounds like, you’ve got the wrong interpretation. Today’s reading in the Luther Brevier takes a different approach: the…

Harmony in the Church

Posted on July 5th, 2016

I’m blessed with a singing church. Immanuel gladly tackles any hymn in the book. They sing the hymns well, and can often be heard breaking out into four-part harmony. Singing in this way is an important metaphor for the life of the congregation beyond the liturgy. Harmony—bringing our differently ranged voices together in coordinated song—is also how we live together as Christians. Harmony is how we live together as Christians. In discussing the central article of the Christian Faith—justification—our Lutheran Confessions address the importance of harmony, a life together built by not holding sins against our brothers and sisters: In all families and communities harmony should be nurtured by mutual aid, for it is not possible to preserve tranquility unless men cover and forgive certain…

Faith and Good Works

Posted on April 15th, 2016

A gem from Luther on faith and good works:   Faith is something living, something active…. Faith is not an idle, loose thought…. There is something busy, active, and powerful about Faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do Good Works without ceasing. Faith does not ask if Good Works need to be done. It has already done them and is still doing them before even being asked. Luther Brevier, p122

Talk to each other

Posted on August 31st, 2015

A great place to get BBQ in Alexandria is Sweet Fire Donna’s. They have a sign out front that says, “No Wi-Fi: Talk to each other.” I wish I had seen that before I wrote “The Tyranny of the Present,” my first piece for the LCMS Blog. Here’s a sample: This obsession over the immediate present often renders us incapable of being present with the ordinary people in our ordinary lives. The pictures on the screens easily seem more attractive than unairbrushed reality. Yet intrinsic to our vocation is to be present where God has placed us. There may be a time for an electronic message, but it ought never be our default. What is important is right in front of us, as Lazarus…

Bad preachers are lucky

Posted on June 23rd, 2015

From a letter of Dr. Luther to Phillip Melanchthon: Bad preachers are lucky because every one bears with them and puts up with their stupidity. Even if people immediately sense or see that these preachers are crass fools, it doesn’t bother them in the slightest and people think no worse of them for all that. But the opposite is the case for true teachers, people lie in wait when listening to their words or watching their works as if ready to pounce. And where they can find the smallest splinter (even if it is only an apparent one), they make a huge beam out of it. This is not a case of patience, but vain judgment, detraction and contempt. This is why the lot…

The greatest and most useful work

Posted on June 3rd, 2015

Dr. Luther on child-rearing: Married people should know that there is no greater and more useful work than they might do for God, Christendom, the rest of the world, themselves and their children than to bring up their children correctly. For this is the most direct path to Heaven…. But, likewise, there is no easier way to earn Hell than through your own children. There is no more damaging work that could be done by parents than to neglect their children, to let them curse, swear, learn shameful words and songs and to let them live according to their own will…. There is no greater scandal in Christendom than the neglect of children…. A false love of nature blinds parents, so that they give…