Friday, September 30, 2011

Fills You Up, Not Out

It's hard to beat Andy and Barney.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Charles Porterfield Krauth on “Take, Eat: This Is My Body”

Today is the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels, hence the white liturgical banner. It might also be appropriate to display a black banner, since it was revealed yesterday that the University Lutheran Chapel is definitely being sold.

The following quote of Lutheran theologian Charles Porterfield Krauth comes from his book The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, first published in 1872.  Krauth explains the simple and plain, yet profound, meaning of Christ's words of institution of His Supper:
From the words: “This is My body,” she [the Church] only gathers this: “This is Christ’s body;” and neither on the one hand that the bread is not His body, nor on the other that His body is given in, with, and under it. She acknowledges that the ecclesiastical (not Biblical) phrase “This bread is Christ’s body,” sets forth a truth, as the Church uses and understands it; and from a comparison of text with text, she knows that the bread is the medium by which, in which, with which, under which the body is imparted, but she reaches this by no reading out of the text what is in it, nor reading into it, what is no part of it; but by interpreting every word in that natural and proper sense, which is fixed by the laws of language. Our Saviour says, Take, and we take; He says, Eat, and we eat; He says: This (which He has just told us to take, eat) is My body, and we believe it. The affirmation is as literal as the command, and we believe the one as we obey the other, to the letter, no more understanding His affirmation to be, This is not My body, than we understand His command to be Do not take, Do not eat.

Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, (St. Louis: CPH, 2007) 610.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

University Lutheran Chapel: A Lifeline

A Stand Firm reader emailed his thoughts on University Lutheran Chapel. For him, University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis was a lifeline when he was at the end of his rope. I'm hopeful that the Minnesota South District Board of Directors will reconsider their decision to sell ULC, so that ULC will continue to save the lives of those foundering in spiritual darkness:
I was a member of an interdenominational charismatic community from about 1977 to 1989. My attraction to it was due to their (perceived) "fervor", commitment to one another, and a desire to be accepted by others. The relationships tended to be intense, weekly mens and womens group meetings, focused on growing in holiness, mostly centered on our own efforts. As one could imagine, legalism flourished. One interesting thing (though not surprising) was that it was supposed to be a unifying group, bringing various denominational backgrounds together to worship Christ. But in the short time I was in the group, it splintered numerous times, often over disagreements on governing structure. There are still significant numbers in the original group, but its focus has changed much (I've viewed its web site).

I'm very grateful that when I was reaching the end of my rope, God saw fit to throw me a lifeline of ULC Minneapolis and then Pastor John Pless. Pastor Pless guided me through his Didache class to return to my roots and see the historic Lutheran confession as the way to go. I now look at the charismatic worship and wonder how I ever put up with it. That and evangelicalism largely follow the one groups error in the book of Acts in that they were looking for "every new thing" (Acts 17:21). It's definitely an evolutionary process and the reliance on extra-Biblical revelation leaves it open for slipping into heresy easily.
You can help save University Lutheran Chapel by visiting their website here.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What We Can Learn from the “Save University Lutheran Chapel!” Edition of Super True Stories

A brief interpretation of the video's conclusions:

1) Informing the pastor via email that you’re going to sell the church property is inconsiderate.

2) Districts are not accountable to the wails and sackcloth and ashes of God’s people.

3) Claiming that the way to increase X is by getting rid of X is irrational.

4) The unfaithful stewards, after being put out on the street, may not meet with the warm reception they are expecting.

5) The best way to prove your wrongheaded hypothesis that liturgical congregations can’t survive in today’s world is to close down all the ones that have survived or thrived.

6) Answer your email when you’re on the road. You’ve heard of Hotmail haven’t you?

7) Help save University Lutheran Chapel:

I’d encourage you to view the Minnesota South District’s “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS #2” three page document dated September 22, 2011, annotated by ULC, available here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What We Can Learn from the Confessions of a Stephanite

In 1838 five Saxon ships set sail for America, filled with the hopes of a new life and a new land where they could practice their Lutheran faith free from secular interference. (Among them was C.F.W. Walther, the future president of what would become the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod). While still at sea, Pastor Martin Stephan was elected Bishop of these 500 Saxons. Not long after settling in America their peace was shattered, as Bishop Stephan was deposed in disgrace in 1839 due to financial and sexual misconduct. The chaos which followed led this small band of Lutherans to question whether they could rightfully call themselves “church.” From the rubble arose what would eventually become the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Pastor Ernst Gerhard Wilhelm Keyl was one of those immigrants. He, like the others, was caught up in the aura of Bishop Stephan, a mistake that would later become known as Stephanism. In August of 1841 Pastor Keyl made a public confession of the sins he had committed by following Bishop Stephan. The manuscript of his confession has been translated by Pastor Joel R. Basely of Mark V Publications, and is titled “Public Confessions of a Stephanite.” There are several things we can learn from Pastor Keyl’s confession.

While you couldn’t call the Stephanites a cult in the sense that following Bishop Stephan’s teachings would necessarily lead to the loss of your salvation, it was certainly a cult of personality. Many cult-like marks can be seen in Pastor Keyl’s descriptions of their life in the new land, and should be warning posts for all of us in our own lives. Some of the Stephanite cult characteristics include the dictatorial rule of one man, lip service being paid to Scripture and the Confessions with ultimate authority coming from Stephan, favoritism to those of means, an elitism in which the Stephanites understood themselves as the remnant of the true Lutheran Church, lies cleverly hidden within the truth, derogation of the Church as found outside of the group, the pledging of unconditional obedience to Stephan in every churchly and communal matter, isolationism, a disdain for outsiders, a neglect of vocation in favor of the group, and shunning of those who don’t follow the groups tenets. These types of attributes are signposts, warning that Christian freedom is waning and that the Gospel itself is threatened.

Pastor Keyl notes that he initially came into conflict with then Pastor Stephan while still in Germany over the issue of authority. It is here that the chain of enslavement could have been broken, but wasn’t. Rather than, in good Christian charity, attempting to resolve the issue through brotherly discourse, or establish that Pastor Stephan was a false prophet to be marked and avoided, Pastor Keyl “once again tied the knot to restore my former bond with Stephan without ever coming to clarification over the former point of conflict.” This is a mistake that we sinners all tend to make, letting things fester, or taking the path of least resistance rather than working towards true reconciliation. For the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of our fellow Christians, this should never be done.

Pastor Keyl requested release from the congregation to which he had been called in Germany, as he recalls:
I requested release from my office – not with fear and trembling, not with inner turmoil, oh no, but rather in a steadfast, horrifying delusion that overwhelmed all thinking. I imagined I was thereby doing God a service, convincing myself that this was my own free, well-intentioned decision.
This was a grave error. God calls His servants of the Word to particular locations, where He expects them to serve faithfully until the day He calls them elsewhere. We see the Office of the Holy Ministry today being treated in a similar fashion – as though it were merely a job that can be tossed aside like a used Coke can and recycled for a new one. This happens when pastors leave their parishes for reasons other than another valid call, when congregations view their pastor as an expendable “at will” employee, and when congregations depose pastors for reasons other than those found in Scripture. It also happens when District Presidents obstruct the call process and when they wrongfully place pastors on restricted status. We, like Pastor Keyl, should come to our senses and repent of all such actions.

Lest someone think that only pastors were at fault in the Stephanite debacle, Pastor Keyl relates how his parishioners confessed “how they, for their part, had sinned deeply, primarily by forgoing the necessary testing of their teacher.” All of us laymen need to be thoroughly grounded in the basic articles of faith, and be ready to gently help our pastors should they err.

The sweetest lesson of Pastor Keyl’s confession is the one of repentance and forgiveness. In the midst of what was formerly crushing guilt and shame, Pastor Keyl can yet rejoice:
Thanks and praise be to our faithful, merciful God, that he has born me in such patience and long suffering and has not let me die in my sins. He awakened me out of the deep sleep of my sins and opened my eyes, that I might learn to know the great power of my sins as well as the greater power of his grace. Yes, it is dear to me that he has humbled me that I may learn of his justice. This bitter but salutary remembrance of my sins will, indeed, accompany me until my end. But my comfort shall be the Word of the LORD. “I will forgive you your trespasses and shall remember your sins no more.”
Praise God for His grace. He ever blesses His Church, and restores His undershepherds and His sheep when they fall, for Jesus’ sake.

photo credit: paulwb

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hemp Up!

Due to my  hiatus  from blogging, I regret to inform you that I failed to keep up with my usual helpful public service announcements.  One big one that I missed is this one:

This lack of timeliness is especially distressing since this was was the first annual Hempfest, that you've now all missed.  Think of the possibilities. Not to worry though, since it's an annual thing, your turn at the VIP cannabis smoking area and chance to get your very own cannabis card is less than a year away.  Hey, come on! This is totally legit. Don't all medical treatment modalities have their own annual "fest"?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Undoing the Gospel

Quoting Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller, from his August 17th appearance on Issues, Etc. discussing mystical worship, a segment that you really should listen to:
There are some contemporary songs that bring to us Christ and His mercy, and His love, His blood, His forgiveness, His kindness. There are some out there, and they’re beautiful, and they should be used, because they’re fantastic. But the general thrust, almost 95, 98% of the music that’s coming out of the contemporary worship movement, is not bringing to us Jesus and His forgiveness, but rather impelling us towards a direct union with God - to judge our nearness or farness from God based on our experience and that sort of thing – that internal experience. And that the devil loves, because it undoes the Gospel. It does. It undoes the certainty that your sins are forgiven, because Jesus died for you. It undoes that and pushes us back on a subjective ground where we never can have a solid footing. But Jesus does not want us to be unsure about this thing: That he loves us, that He calls us His own, that He forgives all of our sins, and that He has opened the door to eternal life and that He will have us in the resurrection with Him forever. He does not want any uncertainty about that.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“The Gods Wait to Delight in You”

You already know that if the right kind of ice cold beer splashes into your glass, you always get the girl, or guy. What you may not know, is that if you wear Levi’s, the gods wait to delight in you. You heard me right. I was half-watching the beginning of the Monday Night Football game last night until this Levi’s commercial came along. The wording grabbed my attention - a poem by Hank, which can be found on The CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective website. [Post-production note: The poem was written by Charles Bukowski - see the comments]

“The CrimethInc. Ex-Workers’ Collective (CWC) is a decentralized anarchist collective composed of many cells which act independently in pursuit of a freer and more joyous world.” (I’ll let you figure it out – their web address is: It’s an interesting site.) (emphasis in original)

Here’s the poem, and the accompanying video:
Your life is your life. Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. Be on the watch. There are ways out. There is light somewhere. It may not be much light, but light beats the darkness. Be on the watch. The gods will offer you chances. Know them. Take them. You can’t beat death, but you can beat death in life, sometimes. And the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. Your life is your life. Know it while you have it. You are marvelous. The gods wait to delight in you.

They’ve certainly got one thing right – you can’t beat death. But your life is not your life, it is God’s, who created you. And light does not come from your own anarchic actions, it comes from a different source:
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV
Real life does not consist in liberation from “executives, politicians, pop stars, economic systems, or deities” (ref.), it comes from liberation from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Real life consists of resting in Christ, living out your life in the certainty that your sins are forgiven and that you are free to live joyfully in that certainty.

In Jesus Christ you can beat death – not sometimes – now and forever. He beat death for you and for me on a cross. He became sin for us. Our sin is forgiven through our faith in Christ and His promise,
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"    John 11:25-26 ESV
Therefore, the one true God does delight in you, because of what God the Son has done for you.

The next time you’re squeezing into that chic pair of distressed Levi’s, you can thank Levi Strauss & Co. that through their rebellion-inclined commercial the Gospel can be preached, and that in Jesus Christ the Light has come into the world.

Monday, September 19, 2011

SynodoBot Says...

For those of you who haven't met SynodoBot before, here's your chance to get acquainted.  SynodoBot takes his orders from Synodocat.  Synodocat does the thinking, SynodoBot does the enforcing.

Feel free to use and distribute the SynodoBot graphic to all of your confessional friends.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Steer on Main Street

Each year at the beginning of September the Puyallup Fair gets rolling for a little over two weeks. During that time, over a million fair goers will snarf down cotton candy and ride the Tilt-n-Hurl. Officially, it's called the Western Washington Fair, though even the officials don't call it that.   The fair kicks off with a cattle drive right down the main street of Puyallup, Washington, (prounounced pew - all - up), followed by a big parade with marching bands, clowns, horses, tractors, and other miscellany.  We can actually hear the fair from our house, and if the wind is just right, we can smell the grease from all those corn dogs too.  Here's a few fair photos I've taken over the years.  Two years ago a couple of the steers got thirsty and dropped into the local MiniMart for a Big Gulp.  A cowboy, on horseback, had to go inside and usher them back to the parade route. It's not every day you can grab that cream-filled Twinkie and pack of Marlboros while two Mexican steer stand next to you in line, staring disdainfully at the beef jerky.

Screaming on the Extreme Scream

Thursday, September 15, 2011

University Lutheran Chapel and the MNS - Money Talks

When school is in session, our daughter attends church at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center in Shorewood, Wisconsin – close to both the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee and Concordia University Wisconsin. Our son has opportunity to attend Concordia Lutheran Church in Pullman, Washington – right on the edge of the campus of Washington State University. Each of these ministries is vital to the spiritual wellbeing of students who otherwise would miss out on the life-giving flow of Word and Sacrament at a time in their lives when they sorely need those means of grace. Up in Minnesota, those same means of grace are endangered for the students of the University of Minnesota, a campus of 51,000 students.

The Board of Directors of the Minnesota South District (MNS) made the decision to sell the property occupied by University Lutheran Chapel (ULC) on Tuesday, which leaves the members of ULC and her attending students “homeless.” ULC has been involved in campus ministry for more than 75 years. Past pastors have included Dr. Oswald Hoffmann and Professor John Pless. Her current pastor is Pastor David Kind. How long, oh Lord?

Since I wasn't blogging, I was unable to draw attention to this sooner, which I regret.  In spite of the actions of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota South District, the Lord will continue to feed His Church.  Please pray for the people who attend ULC, that God would grant them comfort in trying times, serenity in the face of adversity, and a forgiving heart.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hungry for More Lutheran Orthodoxy?

Looking for a nice juicy piece of thick theological steak to sink your teeth into (or eggplant for you vegetarians)? Here it is, a new blog by the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes titled Lutheran Orthodoxy.

Dr. Mayes, Managing Editor of the Luther’s Works series over at Concordia Publishing House, is serving up a slice of theology on his new blog, which is subtitled “Translations, summaries, and conversations of the great writings of Lutheran Orthodoxy (1580–1700).”  Also joining him as a contributor is Mr. Matthew Carver, author of the Hymnoglypt blog, and translator of Valerius Herberger's devotional commentary on Genesis, "The Great Works of God" (CPH).

Their initial posts have covered Johann Gerhard, Valerius Herberger, and the 1671 anthology the Treasury of Counsels and Decisions, which was edited by Georg Dedekenn and Johann Ernst Gerhard. If you’re like me and feeling that your hard drive could use a little more data on the Age of Orthodoxy, this looks like a promising place to start your download.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wooden Beauty – Churches of the Russian North

Every now and then you come across something that enlivens the mind’s eye, and the photographs that follow certainly do that for me.

Inspired by the work of an artist from a previous century, photographer Richard Davies, along with Matilda Moreton, have traveled the provinces of Northern Russia capturing on “film” the beauty of Russian churches of old. Their work not only documents the architecture of these wondrous buildings, it also tells the tale of the people who remain, and the tale of those who previously worshipped there.

Like the previous Russian commoners that suffered under the heavy hand of Communism, many of these churches have little that remains, ravaged by time, abandonment, and the unforgiving Russian winter, yet some of them are being restored. Like a remnant of the Israelites returning from the diaspora, decrepit wooden church buildings are returning from the brink.

The onion domes, three-barred crosses, and icons bear witness to the uniqueness of the Russian Orthodox Church, and for those who understand their meaning, they bear witness to the proclamation of an eternal Gospel.

Later this year Richard Davies and Matilda Moreton will be publishing a book titled Wooden Churches – Travelling in the Russian North, where they’ll be sharing what they’ve seen. In the mean time, enjoy these photographs, used with the permission of Richard Davies. You can view more of Mr. Davies work at his website Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North 100 years after Bilibin. His photos have been exhibited in Russia, England, and Finland.

Church of St Alexander Svirsky, Kosmozero

Church of the Resurrection, Rakuly

Church of the Assumption, Kondopoga

Church of the Virgin Hodigitria, Kimzha

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Have You Been Doing?

Surely there must be world famous apologists and LCMS haut monde clamoring to see what the return of Stand Firm will look like, but I just don’t go in for all the hoopla. Sorry – there’ll be none of that here. It’s business as usual [must keep a stiff (German) upper lip]. Plus, really, how many of the LCMS upper crust actually read this blog? Although, if any of you are reading this and are looking for something extra to do, I do take submissions, but the editorial board is rather picky.

Where have I been and what’s happened in the past eleven months?


     • I devoted more time to some of my other vocations.

     • I read a tall stack of books.

     • I bought a bunch more books, even though I don’t have room for the ones I’ve already got.

     • I discovered a great used bookstore, Brused Books, in Pullman, Washington.

     • The local Borders is going out of business.

     • We took our other kid, Zach, off to college. I miss him.

     • Father Hollywood went to Siberia.

     • Pastor Hans Fiene went viral.

     • I’m still simul iustus et peccator – otherwise I definitely wouldn’t be here writing this.

     • The LCMS website got a much-needed facelift.

     • Jeff Schwarz had a baby. Or was it his wife? I can’t remember which.

    • Oh yeah. I added a “RECENT COMMENTS” gizmo over on the right sidebar so you can         see what people are thinkin’ — and you too if you dare to leave a comment!

That’s pretty much all the stuff that comes to mind. Too bad I don’t keep a diary. I’m sure things will creep up as we go along, so it might seem like I’m having flashbacks for a while.

It’s a cat-eat-cat world out here in the Lutheran blogosphere. Trying to come up with original stuff is tough, especially with seasoned bloggers like Pastors McCain and Weedon putting out quality material. So if you come up with any good ideas, let me know. In the mean time I intend to keep up the familiar mix of dubious humor, dusty old quotes from dead guys who spoke German and wrote the book on catholic theology, an occasional post written by someone else, and as much Confessional material as I can come up with.

If you feel like talking, leave a comment or shoot me an email – click on that “Email Scott” button over there on the right. In the mean time, thanks for reading, and stop by tomorrow for some great eye candy.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Stand Firm will return tomorrow!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Stand Firm will return in 2 days.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Stand Firm will return in 3 days.


Stand Firm will return in 4 days.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Stand Firm will return in 5 days.