Posts from the “Theology” Category

Living documents

Posted on August 16th, 2014

The Lutheran Confessions, John Pless writes, are “not relics of church history confined to their historical context, but living documents which call for either confession or denial.” In Herman Sasse,  Letters to Lutheran Pastors – Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 576-577)

Adapting the local lifestyle

Posted on August 14th, 2014

In a recent interview on Issues, Etc., LCMS President Matthew Harrison encouraged pastors to get to know their people, spend time in their homes, hospital rooms, lives. Only through this will the preacher be able to truly preach to his people. It reminded me of this quotation from Eric Metaxas’s biography of Bonhoeffer about his time spent in Barcelona: The intellectual dullness and the overwhelmingly languorous atmosphere of Barcelona pushed hard against Bonhoeffer’s hyperactive mind and personality. He was amazed at how people of all ages seemed to while away the hours sitting at cafés in the middle of the day, chattering about little of any real substance. He observed that besides coffee, vermouth-and-sodas were particularly popular, usually served with half a dozen oysters.…

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…