Posts tagged “John Kleinig

Sacramental Meditation on the Gospels

Posted on December 25th, 2012

All the words and stories of the gospels are sacraments of a kind, sacred signs by which God works in believers what the histories signify. Just as baptism is the sacrament by which God restores us; just as absolution is the sacrament by which God forgives sins, so the words of Christ are sacraments through which he works salvation. Hence the gospel is to be taken sacramentally, that is, the words of Christ need to be meditated on as symbols through which that righteousness, power, and salvation is given which these words themselves portray…. We meditate properly on the gospel, when we do so sacramentally, for through faith the words produce what they portray. Christ was born; believe that he was born for you…

When I fail as a pastor…

Posted on December 10th, 2012

As I resume the tasks of my pastoral vocation after sabbatical, I make these words my own, and their appeal to my congregation: When I fail as a pastor, I don’t need your condemnation or your indulgence. What I need is your support, and you can give it best through your prayers. -John Kleinig, Grace upon Grace

Brief Review: Grace upon Grace

Posted on November 13th, 2012

After picking up John Kleinig’s Grace upon Grace: Spirituality for Today (CPH, 2008) shortly after it was published, my sabbatical has finally afforded me the time to read it. Kleinig is Australian, recently retired as a professor at the Lutheran seminary in Adelaide. I’ve had the privilege of taking two intensive classes with him; one in 1998 on 1-2 Chronicles (the focus of his doctoral thesis, published as The Lord’s Song), and one just this past September on Exodus. I’ve also heard him speak at three conferences, one several years ago at the Paul Gerhardt symposium at St. Catherine’s seminary (near Niagara Falls) and twice at Doxology “Spotlight on Ministry” conferences. I will travel far and put everything else on hold to hear him, because Kleinig points…

Fighting the real enemy

Posted on November 7th, 2012

We need to fight against our real spiritual enemy. The danger that we all face is that we all too easily mistake our enemies. We imagine that the people who do evil in the Church and in the world are our enemies. But that is not so! Spiritually speaking, we have no human enemies. St. Paul stresses that fact. Our struggle is not against human flesh and blood. No political, social, ethnic, or religious group is our enemy. Our struggle is against Satan and his cosmic cronies who pretend that they were the masters of the universe. They are our only spiritual enemies, even though they may use misguided human beings to attacks us, and even though they may trick us into attacking our…

Resentment sabotages prayer

Posted on November 5th, 2012

Prayer requires faith. But strong faith is not willpower. In Grace upon Grace, John Kleinig highlights one of our primary weaknesses in our prayer life: Hesitant and uncertain prayer is the mark of a troubled conscience. It usually stems from resentment against those who have hurt us, and our reluctance to forgive them. Resentment and anger sabotage faith and prayer (see also 1 Timothy 2:8) and must therefore be rectified. So the power of prayer rests not only on our confidence in the grace of God but also on our graciousness to those who have hurt us. Wisdom. Let us attend.

Commentaries are (mostly) worthless

Posted on November 1st, 2012

This observation by T. Desmond Alexander succinctly explains the problem with most modern commentaries: Studying the biblical texts by means of commentaries can be compared to looking at the separate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Though we may find something of interest in each piece, it is only when all the pieces are put together that we get the complete picture…. By atomizing the text and considering each unit independently, there is ever present the danger of misinterpreting these shorter passages. While I was in seminary, I overheard a pastor saying, “If I could go through seminary again, I’d buy fewer commentaries and more theological works.” I now understand what he meant. Commentaries don’t really help you preach, or teach. If you want a…

Tweeting John Kleinig

Posted on September 24th, 2012

I just returned from a wonderful week at CTSFW studying at the feet of John Kleinig, the Australian scholar who is an expert in Old Testament theology, Hebrew ritual, and Lutheran liturgy and spirituality. It was a joy to stay with good friends and catch up with others while at the seminary. I started tweeting some of the pithy sayings and insights of Dr Kleinig last week, while I have quite a few more yet to come over the next week or so. You can view them under the hashtag Kleinig.

Kleinig on conscience

Posted on March 28th, 2012

These are brilliant insights from Dr. Kleinig. The times in my life when I have most felt fearful, upset by disapproval, anxious over “enemies,” have been the times when I’ve been least in touch with the Gospel. He is spot on, and as usual, delivers the Goods: The cloud that comes from God’s accusation and condemnation affects our whole behavior. When we have a bad conscience, we cover up our shortcomings and trumpet our achievements before others. A bad conscience distorts the way we react to approval and disapproval. Both are personalized and exaggerated, misinterpreted and magnified. Our friends are those who affirm us, while our enemies are those who criticize us. Life becomes an ongoing exercise in self-promotion and self-justification before others. Most…