Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Concupiscence, Gottesdienst, Quaetenus: What Does This Mean?

My daughter Paige and I were running together. We'd gone a ways with each of us drifting off to our own thoughts. The silence was broken by a question from Paige: "Dad, how do you pronounce the word that means we have a tendency to sin?" "Concupiscence," said I. The run then continued in silence for a while.

How did she come up with that random question?

Because she knew what concupiscence was. She'd learned it from adult Bible study at church (I had her come with us instead of going to the kids class when she was in high school - yes, I'm a rebel.) She'd also learned it at home from our home catechesis.

Have you been avoiding the use of "big words?" Here's a quote of Pastor Paul McCain from the October 27th Issues, Etc. show:
I have to give credit to Pastor Peter Bender, who years ago at a seminar I attended said something that's always stuck with me. The argument we often face is we cannot teach children words they don't understand, and he said very simply, "If that was our attitude, then none of us would ever learn to speak, because the words we learn as we're learning to speak we don't understand, we just say them, and then we grow into these words." So learning the words is the foundation for understanding what they mean.
If you don't know what the words concupiscence, quaetenus, or Gottesdienst mean, you're missing out. Ask your pastor to teach them to you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Straddling Heaven and Earth

Quoting from John W. Kleinig's essay "Ministry and Ordination" contained in Women Pastors?: The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective:

As holy priests, all Christians have equal access to the presence of the Triune God. As priests with the privilege of access to God’s heavenly presence, they perform two functions. On the one hand, they offer true sacrifices of themselves to God in Christ with their bodies and offerings, their prayers and praises. These are offered both for themselves and other people. They therefore represent the world and the people of the world sacrificially before God in the divine service. On the other hand, they represent God to the people of the world, communally in their corporate witness and personally in their vocation. As holy priests they bring God’s love and peace and blessing to those who, unlike them, do not yet have assess [sic] by faith to God’s gracious presence. The spiritual priesthood therefore straddles heaven and earth. It brings the needs of other people to God, and it brings God’s blessings back to them.
Kleinig, John W. "Ministry and Ordination." Women Pastors?: The Ordination of Women in Biblical Lutheran Perspective. Ed. Matthew C. Harrison and John T. Pless. St. Louis: CPH, 2008. 323-336. photo credit:

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Emerging Church, Part 5: A Generous Orthodoxy?

The phrase "a generous orthodoxy" comes from the pen of Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren. Some people might call his phrase describing the Emerging Church an oxymoron, positing that while the Emerging Church is generous, you may not want to call it orthodox. That would be a wrong assumption, because it is neither generous, nor orthodox. McLaren states in his book The Church on the Other Side:

We shouldn't take ourselves too seriously. After all, if our perspectives are biased by the groups we belong to, if our understanding is limited by our contexts, if our view is valid only from our subjective standpoint, then each of us is untrustworthy and subjective in knowledge and judgment and none of us can presume to very much authority. (p. 163)

What an odd thing to say - compare McLaren’s words with Paul's words to the Thessalonians:

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter (2 Thess. 2:15 ESV).

Martin Luther's response to Erasmus comes to mind after pondering McLaren's false presuppositions: "What a fulsome speaker you are!-but utterly ignorant of what you are talking about."1

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fear Not...

A Savior is born... fear not.

God grant you and your family a blessed Christmas as we join together, rejoicing in the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

See you in a few days.

photo credit: Martin Beek

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Emerging Church, Part 4: Failing to Unwrap the Gift

Last time, we explored what many in the Emerging Church consider the Gospel, a social gospel mixed with a large dose of liberation theology. This departure from orthodoxy is justified under the pretense of a need to attract postmodern people.

Examining Emerging Church objections to the "institutional" church, many of their objections are based on straw man arguments, yet some of their objections do ring true, especially when compared with Evangelicalism. Many of these objections can and should be answered by placing them squarely into the realm of Lutheranism.

The following quotes illustrate the mindset of Emerging Church authors, followed by contrasting observations provided by orthodox Lutheran theology.

Emerging Church author Rob Bell, in his book Velvet Elvis says

When we choose God's vision of who we are, we are living as God made us to live. We are living in the flow of how we are going to live forever. This is the life of heaven, here and now. And as we live this life, in harmony with God's intentions for us, the life of heaven becomes more and more present in our lives. Heaven comes to earth. This is why Jesus taught his disciples to pray, "May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." There is this place, this realm, heaven, where things are as God desires them to be. As we live this way, heaven comes here. To this place, this world, the one we're living in. (p. 147)

Bringing heaven and the kingdom of God to earth are familiar themes in the Emerging Church, themes in which the "followers of Jesus" are the ones who accomplish the "bringing." LCMS seminary professor Arthur Just corrects this oft man-centered Emerging Church view with a proper Christ-centered perspective:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lutheran Theology Doesn't Mix

When you mix Lutheran theology with the theology of other denominations bad things happen, things like contentious counting, women's ordination, silly seeker-sensitive services and more. In an effort to promote Lutheran theology and raise awareness to the threat of foreign theology seeping into Lutheran distinctives and contaminating them like food coloring in water, I created the graphic above. Please feel free to use it, distribute it, paste it to your blog or front door, however you'd like. To get your own copy, just click on the image and save the larger image that pops up.

Thanks for contending for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Not to Teach

If you're looking for something to add to your list of things to avoid, The Alpha Course would be a good candidate. Billed as a "non-threatening introduction to the Christian faith," The Alpha Course is essentially a course taught with a Pentecostal outlook. The course insists that you take your Christian beliefs to the next level by being filled with the Spirit, something that all Christians already possess in totality. Unfortunately, there are a few Lutheran churches that teach the Alpha Course.

Jim Pierce has written a short review of The Alpha Course, available on his blog Confessional's Bytes. I hope you'll check it out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Emerging Church, Part 3: What Gospel?

In Part 2 of our series, we discovered how beliefs in the Emerging Church are often created through a triad of community, experience, and Scripture, as opposed to sola Scriptura. The results of this sort of viewpoint can be seen playing out in the words of Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren:

I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be “saved”? When I read the bible, I don’t see it meaning, “I’m going to heaven after I die.” (online reference)

Other big names in the emerging conversation, such as Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and N. T. Wright, pay lip service to heaven. But their passing nod to heaven (if it occurs at all) is generally more of a disclaimer quickly mentioned, before they move on to what they really want to talk about, redefining the Gospel into a utopian vision of earth now.

So people shouldn’t think of their destiny in relation to heaven or hell, which aren’t the ultimate reality, but in relation to God–God the compassionate Father, God who loves the poor and the weak and the vulnerable and cares when they’re mistreated, God who values both personal morality and public justice, God whose will is peace and justice for all. (Brian McLaren through a character in his book The Last Word and the Word After That, p. 164)

They often speak of God’s dreams for the world and their participation in those dreams, and of love:

Our dream is to join in the activity of God in the world wherever we are able, so that God’s dreams for our world come true. In the process, the world can be healed and changed, and so can we. (Emergent Village, online reference)

We invite you to join with us in pursuing the dreams and love of God for the world in the way of Jesus. (Solomon’s Porch, leader Doug Pagitt, online reference)

God’s dream was for freedom and creativity, kindness and justice, generosity and peace, diversity and harmony. (McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, p. 141)

Repentance is redefined, and original sin is omitted entirely:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessing the Faith

"A Lutheran's attitude toward the confessions will indicate his attitude toward the Gospel itself."

Quoted from Dr. Robert Preus's paper "Confessional Subscription."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ablaze! Is...

Here's a list of quotes on the Ablaze! program, all taken from the synod's website:

Ablaze!™ is not a program. It's a movement.
Ablaze! is not an answer…it's an invitation!
"Ablaze!" is a vision...
Ablaze! is the name of an initiative...
Ablaze! is taking hold...
Ablaze! is all about burning hearts...
Ablaze! is a movement to effect a culture change in our church...
Ablaze! is about re-engineering instead of downsizing.
Ablaze! is a mission movement...
Ablaze! is taking hold, kindling a renewed zeal for the mission...
Ablaze!” is an effort...
Ablaze! is a grassroots movement.
Ablaze! is the spark that will bring renewed focus and passion for mission!
Ablaze! is a bold vision...
Ablaze! is all about every Lutheran Christian...
Ablaze! is what we are doing...

The question is, what do you think Ablaze! is?

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Will Never Thirst

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
John 4:13-14

photo credit: Darwin Bell

Friday, December 12, 2008

Runnin' in Boston

Went for a run on my layover in Boston today.

Ran through Boston Common. There was a nativity scene with one thing missing, the baby Jesus. I’m assuming they’ll put him in His manger on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

Ran past the bar front of the old Cheers TV show.

Circumnavigated Fenway Park, home of the Green Monster.

Multitasked by having a phone conversation with Pastor Kurt Onken along the way. He didn’t seem to object to my heavy breathing.

Ran through the Christian Scientist headquarters campus – a good example of how you get soaked monetarily if you’re a cult member.

Back in time for a quick bite to eat at Yankee Lobster, and then hop on the jet for the six hour flight back to Seattle. Life is good!

photo credit: posotum74, Caitlinator

Diligently Joined

From Dr. Martin Luther:

"The Church can never be better governed and preserved than if we all live under one head, Christ. All the bishops should be equal in office (although they may be unequal in gifts). They should be diligently joined in unity of doctrine, faith, sacraments, prayer, works of love, and such."

The Smalcald Articles, IV, 9. Quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis: CPH, 2006) 269.

photo credit: Lawrence OP

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Emerging Church, Part 2: A “Chastened Hermeneutic”

In Part 1, we closed with Emerging Church leader Brian McLaren waxing of the need for something radically new, a new church, a new spirituality, a new framework for our theology, and an new Christian. That new Christian will be one with a “chastened hermeneutic,” according to the Emerging Church. The old methods of objective Biblical exegesis and universal propositional truth just won’t cut it in a postmodern world.

According to the postmodern way of thinking, to quote Gene Edward Veith, “Postmodernist theories begin with the assumption that language cannot render truths about the world in an objective way. Language, by its very nature, shapes what we think. Since language is a cultural creation, meaning is ultimately (again) a social construction. (Postmodern Times, p. 51)

In postmodern parlance, words apart from a cultural context cannot be understood or transmit meaning. If you live in Sri Lanka, I won’t be able to effectively communicate with you because of our differing cultural perspectives. This is one of the reasons why the Emerging Church places such a heavy emphasis on community. “One cannot understand the truths of Christianity as an outside observer. One needs first to experience the embodied truth of the community.” (Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures, p. 125) “As we had said before, we cannot simply ‘go to the book.’ Truth cannot properly reside as a mere proposition of a page. Truth lives in persons and relationship.” (Emergent author Neil Livingstone; online reference)

Truth is thus “made” through the interaction of the specific local community. By now you may be picking up on the obvious – if truth is manufactured locally, then there can be multiple versions of “truth.” While this thought sounds absurd, it is wholeheartedly embraced by the postmodern mind, and some members of the Emerging Church as well.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are We Confirming Errors?

The following quotes are taken from Dr. Cameron MacKenzie's paper "Uses and Abuses of Power In the Church," which was presented at the Rocky Mountain District Pastors Conference in 2000.

Of course, the question immediately arises that if, as Walther says, the sacraments are the bonds between Christians and not just Lutherans, how is that we refuse to commune any except those in our fellowship? The answer lies, as I indicated earlier, in Walther's understanding of the true visible church, since to commune those who do not belong to that church is to confirm them in the errors of the churches to which they do belong. Against those Lutherans who in his own day did not practice closed communion, Walther writes:

If the leaders of the Church Council [i.e., General Council] would accept [these Scripture passages], they would have to give up their false principles and practices; but they will not accept them until they have recognized that there actually is a true, visible church of God in an unqualified sense. They do not say to their heterodox communicants that through partaking of Communion with us they hold to our doctrine and our church. They allow them to remain stuck in error and plunge them and themselves into the sin of hypocrisy.
Since in Walther's view, it is a grievous sin to belong to a non-Lutheran church, we should not comfort the non-Lutheran or even the unionistic Lutheran in his error by communing him at our altars. For Walther, it is a grave misuse of church power to practice open communion.

But doesn't this mean that we are withholding the consolations of the gospel from such persons who might be visiting our churches? Walther answers no, because, of course, he can still hear the preaching. Furthermore, Walther reminds us that the eucharist is not an evangelistic tool to convert the unbeliever but was instead "instituted to strengthen the faith of those who are already are true Christians. Therefore Communion should be administered to no one who has been revealed as a false [i.e., erring] Christian."

Far from being a loveless approach to members of other churches, Walther contends that closed communion is actually an act of love. Referring to Lev. 19:17, "Do not hate your brother in you heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt," Walther writes, "Rebuking is so often presented as lovelessness; but unjustly, for we hear here: If you do not love someone you will not rebuke him. So then, to warn your fellowman against a false and destructive way is certainly true love."

...Walther's final thesis in his 1870 essay is also an important one for our purposes because it too reminds us that the purpose of closed communion is to preserve the purity of the marks of the church. Walther writes:

The more unionism and syncretism are the sin and corruption of our time, the more the loyalty of the orthodox church now demands that the Lord's Supper not be misused as a means of external union without the internal unity of faith.
Once again, and it bears repeating, we can know of no internal unity of faith apart from one's confession of faith. That confession includes one's church membership. We simply cannot say that a member is in no way responsible for the teachings and practices of his church. After all, this is America. If he does not like what his church does, he can leave it. And should, according to Walther, if his church is heterodox. Then - and only then - can we express our unity in the sacrament - when there is also unity of confession.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My Rock and My Fortress

I thank God for all of my brothers and sisters who stand firm in the faith, on whom I can lean, and who stand ready to defend that which we hold dear. Though we may fall in battle, there is One who is our rock, our refuge. On Him, we fix our hope. On the last day, He will raise us up. On that day, and evermore, we will sing with one voice our praise to the Lamb at the center of the throne.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the LORD was my support.

Psalms 18:1-18 ESV

photo credit: OneEighteen

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fewer Spaghetti Suppers

Dr. John Warwick Montgomery on the October 24th Issues, Etc. show:

I would like to see pastors conduct classes in their congregations, in their churches, that would bring people up to speed on this. Indeed, this gives me an opportunity for ranting and raving. The fact of the matter is that very few churches do anything in apologetics, in the defense of the faith. And this is one of the reasons why our young people go off to college without any real understanding of how to refute the critics of Christianity and they are blown right out of the water by secular professors. ...We should have fewer spaghetti suppers and more serious work on the defense of the faith in our churches.

photo credit: ambery

Friday, December 5, 2008

Know that the Lord Is God Indeed

All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
Him serve with mirth, His praise forthtell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

Know that the Lord is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make.
We are His folk, He doth us feed,
And for His sheep He doth us take.

O enter then His gates with praise;
Appproach with joy His courts unto.
Praise, laud, and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

For Why? The Lord our God is good:
His mercy is forever sure.
His truth at all times firmly stood
And shall from age to age endure.

To Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
The God whom heav'n and earth adore,
From us and from the angel host
Be praise and glory evermore.

LSB, 791

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Emerging Church, Part 1: What’s Emerging?

Over the past couple of years Emerging Church leaders such as Dan Kimball and Leonard Sweet have been offered the podium at various speaking engagements in the LCMS, and aspects of “emerging” thought are making their way onto the whiteboards of Lutheran classrooms, conference agendas, and pastors’ sermon texts, inviting the obvious question, “What’s emerging?”

The Emerging Church cannot actually be called a “church” in the denominational sense, but is rather a loose affiliation of individuals, churches, and organizations that discuss and share similar ideas. The beginnings of this movement or “conversation” grew out of a need to “effectively” reach the younger generation with the Gospel, who often hold to a more postmodern viewpoint. Members of the Emerging community include people from all points along the theological sliding scale, ranging from those who want to remain within their current “tradition” and are just looking for a few “tips,” to those who want to totally reinvent Christianity (yes, they actually use the word reinvent).

There are those leaders in the conversation whose theology is fairly conservative and generally orthodox (although sometimes with notable aberrations in certain areas), such as Mark Driscoll and Dan Kimball. There are also leaders whose theology is more than a little questionable, cast somewhere near the heretical nether regions, including Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, and Doug Pagitt. Finally, there are those people who didn’t necessarily set out to be an Emerging Church type, but are admired far and wide for their emergent ideas. This category would include people like Walter Brueggemann, Leonard Sweet, and N. T. Wright (because of his justification-jettisoning consort with the New Perspective on Paul).


After much arm twisting on Pastor Rossow's part, and fear and trembling on my part, I've decided to write an occasional article for The Brothers of John the Steadfast. Some of those articles I'll also post here, so if you frequent the BJS site, (which wouldn't be a bad idea), you may get double vision.

photo credit: jenny downing

The Magnificat

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)

photo credit: Niali McAuley

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Fundraising Gone Awry

Host Todd Wilken, on the October 27th Issues, Etc. show:

I was speaking at a congregation yesterday, on a Reformation Sunday, about the efforts to raise money by selling of indulgences, and it struck me as I was speaking, that the Church even today, not even going back to the 16th century, the Church even today is very deft at finding ways to turn even the most sacred doctrines, or it's worst errors, into a fundraising opportunity. Not much has changed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Get Ready

My family can attest that I’m not a big drinker. When we host the neighborhood Bunco party, I’ll run out and grab some beer. If there’s any left over, it’ll sit on the garage shelf ‘til the next neighborhood Bunco party, eight or nine months later. Not that I’m a teetotaler. I’ll have an occasional beer when I’m out on the road or over at my neighbor Gary’s house. But I’m thinking I’m going to have to raise my personal one-beer limit to a two-beer limit by incrementally increasing my weekly consumption a bit. Why? Because the first annual Brothers of John the Steadfast National Conference is coming up – “No pietists allowed.”

If you’re not familiar with The Brothers of John the Steadfast, their mission statement reads

The Brothers of John the Steadfast, brings together Lutheran laymen to defend and promote the orthodox Christian faith which is taught in the Lutheran Confessions, provide financial support for Christian new media (e.g. Issues, Etc.), and to support other endeavors selected by its membership that defend and promote the cause of confessional Lutheranism.

The conference is slated for February 13th and 14th at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL. The guest speakers include Pastor Todd Wilken and all-around good guy Chris Rosebrough, host of the Fighting for the Faith radio program. I’d encourage all of you to check out the Brothers of John the Steadfast, including the ladies, and you teetotalers out there, and join us in Naperville in February.

The weekend will include a Vespers Service, the Divine Service, a trip to a chocolate bar, a wine tasting hosted by Chris Rosebrough, breakfast, a workout in the gym, and “other piety-stretching outings” as well (I’ll leave those to your imagination).

If you really want to get ready for the conference, I suggest you develop a liking for Pastor Wilken’s favorite beverage, Budweiser & Clamato Chelada, ¡La CombinaciĆ³n Perfecta!, or Chelada for short. Now that you’re totally off balance, I’ll let you in on the bad news, i.e., what’s in it. This stuff is actually made by Anheuser Busch, and is a mixture of Budweiser (or Bud Light) and clamato juice. For the uninitiated, clamato juice is secret code for tomato juice mixed with clam juice. I know. Exactly how do you get juice from a clam, and which end does it come out of, assuming a clam has got an “end?” At any rate, hopefully I’ll track Pastor Wilken down at the conference and we can hoist a frosty cold Chelada together.

But seriously folks! Come to the conference, where we can, together, celebrate our oneness in Christ, our oneness in our Confession, and build each other up. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

photo credit: Caveman 92223

Synodical Restructuring? Whoa!

In other words, the congregations need to speak now or forever hold their peace. I am lovingly asking you to consider taking the following steps toward assisting your congregations in avoiding what could be a mistake of absolutely stunning proportions on the part of the national church body.

Quoted above are the words of Pastor Daniel Torkelson regarding the proposed Synodical restructuring that is now on the table. Pastor Torkelson was a delegate to the August convocation on restructuring, and offers some good advice on what can be done to stop the bad parts of the proposed restructuring from becoming a reality. You can view his entire letter to the South Wisconsin District at Pastor Tom Chryst's blog Preachrblog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Havin' Fun In the Emerald City

Who are those guys? They're three of the Brothers of John the Steadfast, hanging out in Seattle. That's Jim Pierce on the left, yours truly in the center, and Pastor Tim Rossow on the right. We got together, along with Pastor Rossow's wife Phyllis (who took the photo), for a little fellowship and to compare notes across from the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle.

Jim Pierce is a good friend of mine, author of the blog Confessional's Bytes, and a frequent denizen of The Wittenberg Trail. He lives in the Seattle area along with his wife and two kids.

Pastor Rossow serves as senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran in Naperville, Illinois, and is the man behind The Brothers of John the Steadfast website. You might also recognize his voice from his appearances on Issues, Etc.

I met up with Pastor Rossow and Phyllis a week ago, with Pastor Rossow buying me lunch. Today, he also bought me a pastry and drink. After that, Jim bought me lunch at a fancy French restaurant, plus paid for my parking. With friends like these, who needs a job! Anybody else coming out to Seattle? I'm available.

Times spent with fellow Christians who share a common Confession are a treasure and a gift from God. I'm looking forward to spending more time with other like-minded Lutherans at the Brothers of John the Steadfast National Conference in February, which will be the topic of tomorrow's post.

P.S. Both Jim and Pastor Rossow also blogged about our get together - it's what bloggers do! Since Jim is also a chef, he was able to name off the names of the places we frequented and the names of my entree and appetizer - none of which I could relate to my wife once I returned home. Here's Jim's post, and here's Pastor Rossow's post.

What Must We Do?

Quoting C.F.W. Walther, from Pastor John Moe's essay "What Makes a Christian?: A Look at the Great Commission."

When our synod, the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States, thirty-six years ago met for the first time in the God-blessed city of Chicago, it was a small, despised little band of only twelve poor congregations. The church which in this country still called itself evangelical-Lutheran lay in utter ruin. The teaching of our church was unknown territory for it. The small number of preachers who still knew something about it and wanted to stick to it were considered people with limited mental capacities, and the hope was that they would soon die out. The Lutheran Confessions were hardly known even by name anymore, and they were considered documents of earlier unenlightened times, now long obsolete. Instead of Luther's doctrine in the church that called itself Lutheran, the teaching of Zwingli and obvious rationalism was in vogue, coupled with fanatic methods of conversion. ... To want to transplant the Old Lutheran church, which submitted to every letter of the Word of God, to this land of untamed love for liberty seemed in real fact to be a completely hopeless, worse than foolish undertaking. But far from letting itself be made to falter, our synod did not ask: What must we do to become large and numerous? But it only asked: What must we do to be found faithful before the Lord of the church ? Our synod knew that success was not in its hands. Success is therefore left to God. (C.F.W. Walther, CJ, 15:3, p.226-7)