Wednesday, March 31, 2010
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD,
and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life and loves many days,
that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help,
the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Monday, March 29, 2010
5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,
"What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet."
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
"I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."
"I will put my trust in him."
"Behold, I and the children God has given me."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Take the Test:
Instructions: Read through the list. Write down the abbreviations you know on a piece of paper. Then compare your answers with the correct answers by clicking on "Read More... ." Add up the number of correct answers, and see how you rank. When finished with the test, post answers on refrigerator door for future reference. For extra credit, leave me a list of your abbreviations. This is the hardest test yet. God doesn’t grade on a curve (fortunately), but I do.
Your score indicates:
If you got less than six right: Ignorance is bliss
6-15: A seasoned layperson
16-25: Church worker
26-35: What have you been readin’?
Above 35: You’re a synodocrat
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A confessional study of the liturgy is not easy, because it cannot be presented in soundbites. It requires extensive teaching, more so today than at any time in the recent past, because our laity and ministry are woefully ignorant of their own history (And ignorant pastors are responsible for the ignorant laity - so don't blame the flocks!) But, more than the history, they are ignorant of the doctrine of worship, or even that there is a Biblical doctrine of worship. It is clearly laid out by Christ Himself, and established by the Apostles as the norm for the Church for all time, namely, that we are to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His name, baptize, give the Lord's body and blood, and instruct in all Christian doctrine. These are the things that Jesus specifically bids His Church to do when they assemble together. Because we have a clear prescription from our Lord, however much the precise forms of worship might be adiaphora, no form which does not do the things which Jesus has explicitly bidden us to do can be called true Christian worship! Therefore, unless this is first understood, it will not be possible to instruct our pastors and laity in how the divine liturgy of the Mass fulfills this purpose, whereas all forms of modern contemporary worship do not.
We are quite literally re-fighting the battle for the liturgy that was fought during the Reformation. In both cases, we are dealing with a fanatical spirit which subjectifies the objective. The "sacrifice of the Mass" and the modern contemporary worship / seeker sensitive movement have in common a denial of the means of grace as God's objective imputation of the forgiveness of sins. They replace it with a spiritualistic grasping after God's glory via our own works, whether those works are "fulfilling your obligation" by showing up at the Mass and gaining merit ex opera operato, or by preparing yourself to "enter into the holy of holies" by a progressively ecstatic cycle of mindless or mind-altering psyco-hypnotic praise music (which in itself has much in common with the ascetic mysticism of the past).
And so, while it is certainly useful to demonstrate from the confessions that our churches fully intended to continue the Mass as they had received it (as purified by Luther), it is much more important to demonstrate from those same confessions just what, exactly, Christian worship is, and why the Mass IS true Christian worship, whereas modern contemporary worship is most certainly not.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Here's a quote from yesterday's excellent post by Pastor Larry Peters on his blog Pastoral Meanderings:
Some suggest that the Confessions do not prescribe a liturgical format, and, to a certain extent that is true, since they do not contain the text or form within their documents. However, they describe what is going on among the churches that confess the Augustana. When they say, "this is what we are doing" (or We are falsely accused of having abolished the Mass), they are not saying "This is what we are doing now but that might change soon" or "This is what some of us are doing" or even "This is the first stage in the reform of the Mass which is ongoing among us...." Their descriptive language is in itself prescriptive since nowhere in the Confessions is their any signal of an intent to vary or deviate from this fundamental statement that is put in confessional form.
Monday, March 22, 2010
My friend Daniel Neades lives on the Isle of Man, a small rock in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. He produced the following video, which graphically points out the difference between a social gospel, which is devoid of salvific power, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His accompanying blog post, “The mysterious case of the disappearing gospel,” should be read first at his blog BetterThanSacrifice.org in order to place the video in a proper context.
Friday, March 19, 2010
I shot these photos long before the advent of digital photography, around 1982 in Denver. The cars pictured here were a part of the Rio Grande Zephyr, which originally was a part of the famed California Zephyr until its demise in 1970. The day of the mighty steam locomotive and the E-unit are largely gone, but they live on in the hearts of rail fans and in the pages of cyberspace. If you enjoy railroad photography, head over to dogcaught: a railroad blog, where they've got superb photos of present-day railroading.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The Wild Boar From the Forest has spoken. Here's a little of what he said:
The BRTFSSG has provided a reform and restructuring proposal for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Many are opposed to this proposal, and have, for various reasons recommended rejecting the proposal either in whole or in part. However, no counter proposals have been offered. If it is true that serious cuts will be necessary in the near future if the proposed changes are not adopted, a viable alternative proposal is needed. Therefore I offer the following, which is far more radical, yet requires no changes to the constitution.
The Council of Presidents is disbanded. The District Presidents may meet to discuss theology and practice at their discretion, but may not adopt position papers or policy directives. That is the task of the synod in convention. They may produce study documents with no binding power.
First, the District Presidents may meet to discuss theology and practice at their discretion, and at their own expense.
Second, they can discuss theology and practice all they want, the can produce mountains of study documents if they'd like, they just can't release them. We've already got too many sources of unofficial and official "doctrine," we don't need 35 more sources, or one more "unified" source.
The Boar's proposals may be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but they have a large degree of common sense about them. Maybe some of it will rub off.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Cogitating here. Give me a minute.
I think I’ll start where far too few Lutherans start out, with Augsburg Confession Article V:
1 So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. 2 Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given [John 20:22]. He works faith, when and where it pleases God [John 3:8], in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. 3 This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.
Back to AC V. Notice it specifically says “the ministry of teaching the Gospel.” One LCMS pastor taught me that all theology is Christology. This means that whenever your pastor is preaching Christ and Him crucified, whether he’s preaching from the pulpit or talking to you about Jesus while you’re waiting in line at that delicious pot luck, you’re learning theology. How about that! I guess laymen can be taught theology, without them even knowing it. You’re smarter than you thought! The next time you see your pastor you can thank him for stealthily filling your head with good Lutheran theology. And if you feel like you’re not getting enough, ask for seconds. We should all be fed by our pastor through Word and Sacrament so that we can be filled to the brim with theology. We can then march into the world to serve our neighbors and share the Gospel with them. Next time you hear someone say that laymen can’t be taught theology, just mention to them that all theology is Christology. If they get a confused look on their face, it’ll be your turn to teach them a little theology.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Why [should we see the blood of Christ in Baptism]?
Because this holy baptism was purchased for us through this same blood, which he shed for us and with which he paid for sin. This blood and its merit and power he put into baptism, in order that in Baptism we might receive it. For whenever a person receives baptism in faith this is the same as if he were visibly washed and cleansed of sin with the blood of Christ. For we do not attain the forgiveness of sins through our work, but rather through the death and the shedding of the blood of the Son of God. But he takes this forgiveness of sin and tucks it into baptism.
This is what St. John was looking to when he mingled water and blood together, for, after all, it has in it that which was gained through the blood. And thus St. John deems the person who is baptized as having been washed in the blood of Christ. His blood is not that of a sinful man or the blood of a dead goat or ox; it is innocent, just, and holy, it is a blood of life. Therefore it also contains such strong salt and soap that, wherever it touches sin and uncleanness, it bites and washes it all away, eats and destroys both sin and death in an instant.
Thus St. John pictures our dear baptism for us in this way, so that we shall not regard and look only at the clear water, for, he says, Christ comes "not with water only" (as the Anabaptists blaspheme, saying it is nothing but water) "but with the water and the blood" [I John 5:6]. Through such words he desires to admonish us to see with spiritual eyes and see in baptism the beautiful, rosy-red blood of Christ, which flowed and poured from his holy side. And therefore he calls those who have been baptized none other than those who have been bathed and cleansed in this same rosy-red blood of Christ.
Treasury of Daily Prayer, ed. Scot A. Kinnaman, (St. Louis: CPH, 2008) 92-93.
photo credit: Nick in exsilio
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This video is on the front page of the new Wittenberg Trail, which has now been restored so that all of the old posts and groups are once again available. I hope you'll jump onto my friends list on the WT if you're not already there. Your old password still works.
Martin Luther's Evening Prayer from Dave Lassanske on Vimeo.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
There’s plenty of god’s to choose from in the United States. There’s the Mormon god, there’s everybody’s favorite punching bag god - money. There’s even Joel Osteen’s god. But none of them can top the environmental god right now – he tops the charts.
Think about it. The environment is America’s new god. You don’t see Mormon President Thomas S. Monson’s or Joel Osteen’s mug plastered on everything. But everywhere you go there’s signs of America’s newest god. Movie stars fawn over him; actually, let’s say “her.” She’s on Coke cans (please recycle), on the radio (I heard somebody talking about flushing less). There’s even a Green Bible. Ditch the disposable diapers. Reuse the towels in your hotel room. I really love that one because there’s always a little notice hanging there about saving water by reusing your towels, yet the sink won’t hold water. There’s even advice on how to go green if you’re getting engaged:
…Alongside the smaller decisions—like whether your guests would prefer pigs in a blanket or stuffed mushrooms at the cocktail hour—you'll be making bigger decisions, too, that impact the environment long after you've wrapped up the extra cake and preserved your dress. Keeping your guest list small, sending engagement announcements on recycled paper, choosing an eco-friendly ring, and adding green items to your registry all help you keep the after-effects of your big day under control—but there's also no better time to sit down with your fiance and discuss your green goals for the future.
Sometimes “Hollywood” does get it right. Here’s a video from a 2010 Super Bowl commercial that serves to illustrate the “excess” of environmentalism gone astray. Enjoy!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The patristic and scholastic ages shared a conviction that there can be no real contradiction between the statements of revelation and those of reason when working in a truly responsible way, except that reason is inherently inadequate for grasping the eternal truth without the aid of faith. And even in this case we are looking in a mirror darkly and seeing enigmatic forms (1 Cor. 13:12).Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard, The Doctrine of Man in the Writings of Martin Chemnitz and Johann Gerhard, ed. Herman A. Preus and Edmund Smits, (St. Louis: CPH, 2005) xvi-xvii.
In this respect Lutheran Orthodoxy agrees firmly with the patristic and scholastic traditions. It is persuaded that there is an ultimate harmony between faith and right reasoning. In spite of the heresies which these theologians see to have arisen out of the philosophical schools, they show a broad appreciation of philosophy both as a method of systematic thinking and as the ceaseless quest of an inquiring mind.
Yet, the members of the Orthodox tradition do not claim that even the best possible human theology will attain to the formal perfection of a “closed system.” Our theology at its best is not “archetypal,” that is, the wisdom of God himself; it can only be “ectypal,” a reflection of God’s revelation within the limited human mind. What we possess is the theologia viatorum, the theology of travelers, who are not yet at their heavenly home and lack the comprehensive knowledge given to the blessed after the resurrection.
photo credit: VisualAge
Monday, March 8, 2010
One of the things he covers in several areas of the book is division within the Synod. Give him credit for admitting that there is division within the Synod. At the same time, he would have us believe that the majority of this division should be attributed to things other than doctrinal controversy, and instead are the result of disagreements about practice and the result of a “party spirit.” He asks a series of rhetorical questions in which he obviously wants you to select the later of the two suggested responses:
Do the points of disagreement and division in our Synod deal with doctrinal matters or with matters of implementation of doctrinal principles?
Are the divisions or disagreements that exist among us primarily matters of faith and practice, or are they for the most part differences of opinion in matters of adiaphora—matters neither commanded nor forbidden by Holy Scripture?
Is the LCMS deeply divided theologically, or are our disagreements primarily related to the fact that for a variety of reasons some members of the Synod, prompted by the presence of a pesky political penchant and party spirit, have grown to dislike or distrust one another? (37-38)
Friday, March 5, 2010
photo credit: Brent Nelson
Thursday, March 4, 2010
So that I don’t have to think too hard, I’ve stolen Andrew’s info from the Take the Stand website and quote it here:
Take The Stand has three themes: First, it refers to taking the witness stand in trial. Second, it refers to the duty of the Christian to take a stand for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Third, it refers to Luther's famous 'Here I Stand'. This show aims to take a stand and put other ideas on the stand, by examining facts, presenting evidence, and reaching a verdict.
You can hear Take The Stand on Pirate Christian Radio every Tuesday from 9-10 a.m. [Pacific time]. Listen live via streaming audio, or download the podcast and listen anywhere you want!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel, (St. Louis: CPH, 1986) 226.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
“Formulated to soothe guilty conscience and kill sins on contact. And smell divine! Blue Q is the World Leader in Sin Removal Products, and whether your salvation comes in a pump, spray or tube, Wash Away Your Sins lets you commune with confidence. Save yourself, save others! Features terrific Easter Lily fragrance plus Rosemary, Aloe and other restorative botanicals.”
With a bottle of WASH AWAY YOUR SINS in the pew, you can be confident that the stray unrepentant sinner or the occasional Mormon will be good to go – they can “commune with confidence.”
…Or, you could take a more loving approach for your neighbor, and limit Communion to those who truly share our Confession, knowing full well that those who eat and drink of the very body and blood of our Lord in an unworthy manner are guilty of a grave sin, that could lead to their illness or even death (1 Cor. 11:23-30). It’s not a joke. It’s deadly serious. What would seem to be a loving approach, to have a weak, inclusive statement about Communion in your bulletin, the practical result of which is that anybody can commune, isn’t loving at all.
photo credit: elkit