16 October 2011

The Consecration and the Conduct of the Holy Communion: A Bibliography

I've been doing my homework in preparation for a presentation on "Consecrationism vs. Receptionism" at the Indiana District Fall Church Workers' Conference (17-18 October).

The particular significance of this topic came to my attention a couple of years ago, in a conversation with my District President, the Reverend Dr. Daniel May. I am grateful to President May for asking me to address the topic, now, at our Indiana District Conference. Thanks, also, to the various brothers in Christ who have encouraged me in my preparations, to the dear people of my congregation for remembering me in their prayers in the course of these endeavors, and especially to my fellow Blackbirds, Paul Beisel, Gifford Grobien, Alan Ludwig, David Jay Webber, and William Weedon, for their helpful input and suggestions along the way.

The following is not an exhaustive bibliography, but it is a fairly complete list of the resources I have found most interesting, significant, and useful in my preparations. In addition to other comments, I welcome any further resources that readers might recommend; especially because, as the Spirit of Christ enables, I am inclined to write up some manner of article, blog post, or essay on this topic (though obviously not in advance of my presentation).

Beisel, Paul L. To Mix, or Not to Mix: The Sacramental Character of the Reliquiae. Unpublished paper, presented to the Iowa District Fall Pastors’ Conference, 2007.

Burnett, Amy N. “Basel and the Wittenberg Concord.” Archive for Reformation History 96 (2005): 33–56.

Chemnitz, Martin. Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II. Tr. Fred Kramer. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978. (Especially “Concerning the Sacrament of the Eucharist,” 217–332.)

Chemnitz, Martin. The Lord’s Supper: De coena Domini. Tr. J. A. O. Preus. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979.

Chemnitz, Martin. Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: An Enchiridion. Tr. Luther Poellot. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1981. (Especially “The Lord’s Supper,” 120–32.)

Green, Lowell C. “Article VII: The Holy Supper.” A Contemporary Look at the Formula of Concord. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1978.

Hardt, Tom G. A. The Sacrament of the Altar. Tr. Erling T. Teigen, 1998. (Condensed English version of Hardt’s doctoral dissertation, Venerabilis et Adorabilis Eucharistia, 1971.)

Hardt, Tom G. A. “The Saliger Sacramental Controversy.” Lutheran Quarterly IV, No. 4 (Winter 1990): 405–18.

Harris, Paul R. “The Angels Are Aware . . . and We Are Too.” Logia IV, No. 1 (1995): 21–29.

Killinger, Keith. “Domesticating an Untamed Sacramental Rule.” Lutheran Quarterly VII, No. 4 (Winter 1993): 401–24.

Kittelson, James M.; and Ken Schurb. “The Curious Histories of the Wittenberg Concord.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 50, No. 2 (April 1986): 119–37.

Luther, Martin. “The Adoration of the Sacrament (1523),” tr. Abdel Ross Wentz. Luther’s Works, Volume 36, ed. Abdel Ross Wentz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 271–305 (esp. 290–98).

Luther, Martin. “Confession Concerning Christ’s Supper (1528),” tr. Robert H. Fischer. Luther’s Works, Volume 37, ed. Robert H. Fischer (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1961), 151–372 (esp. 180–94, 303–41).

Luther, Martin. “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ—Against the Fanatics (1526),” tr. Frederick C. Ahrens. Luther’s Works, Volume 36, ed. Abdel Ross Wentz (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1959), 331–61 (esp. 341–51).

Murray, Scott R. "The Sacrament of the Altar and Its Relationship to Justification." Logia IX, No. 3 (2000): 11-16.

Peters, Edward Frederick. The Origin and Meaning of the Axiom: “Nothing Has the Character of a Sacrament Outside of the Use,” in Sixteenth-Century and Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Theology. [Th.D. Thesis, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, 1968.] Fort Wayne, Indiana: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1993.

Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics, Volume III. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953. (Especially “What Constitutes the Lord’s Supper,” 365–73.)

Piepkorn, Arthur Carl; and Charles McClean. The Conduct of the Service. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Redeemer Press, 2006. (Especially “The Service of the Sacrament,” 21–35.)

Saar, David P. “Still Another View of Consecration.” Lutheran Quarterly IX, No. 4 (Winter 1995): 473–85.

Sasse, Hermann. “Consecration and Real Presence (1957).” Scripture and the Church: Selected Essays of Hermann Sasse, ed. Jeffrey J. Kloha and Ronald R. Feuerhahn (St. Louis: Concordia Seminary, 1995), 272–317.

Sasse, Hermann. “The Lutheran Understanding of the Consecration (1952).” We Confess the Sacraments, tr. Norman Nagel (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1985), 113–38.

Sasse, Hermann. This Is My Body: Luther’s Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar, Revised Edition. Adelaide, Australia: Lutheran Publishing House, 1977.

Schmeling, Gaylin R. “Review Essay: The Lord’s Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz.” Lutheran Quarterly VIII, No. 3 (Autumn 1994): 321–7.

Stephenson, John R. The Lord’s Supper. St. Louis: The Luther Academy, 2003. (Esp. Ch. 5, “In His Person and Name,” 83–109.)

Stephenson, John R. “Reflections on the Appropriate Vessels for Consecrating and Distributing the Precious Blood of Christ.” Logia IV, No. 1 (1995): 11–19.

Teigen, Bjarne W. “The 1959 St. Louis–Springfield Faculty Statement in the Light of the Saliger Controversy.” Logia XIV, No. 1 (2005): 11–18.

Teigen, Bjarne W. “The Case of the Lost Luther Reference.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 43:2 (October 1979): 295–309.

Teigen, Bjarne W. The Lord’s Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz. Brewster, MA: Trinity Lutheran Press, 1986.

Teigen, Bjarne W. “Martin Chemnitz and SD VII, 126.” A Lively Legacy: Essays in Honor of Robert Preus (Lake Mills, Iowa: Graphic Publishing Co., Inc., 1985), 164-172.

Teigen, Bjarne W. “The Nihil Rule Revisited.” Lutheran Quarterly VIII, No. 3 (Autumn 1994): 269–85.

Teigen, Bjarne W. “Views on Reviews.” Confessional Lutheran Research Society Newsletter, No. 10 (Easter 1988).

Teigen, Erling T. “Luther and the Consecration” Mysteria Dei: Essays in Honor of Kurt Marquart. Fort Wayne, Indiana: Concordia Theological Seminary Press, 1999.

Walther, C. F. W. Pastoral Theology. Translated and abridged by John M. Drickamer. New Haven, Missouri: Lutheran News, Inc. (Esp. Chapter 17, “The Administration of Holy Communion,” 130–145.)

Wengert, Timothy J. “Luther and Melanchthon on Consecrated Communion Wine.” Lutheran Quarterly XV (2001): 24–42.

Ziegler, Roland F. “Should Lutherans Reserve the Consecrated Elements for the Communion of the Sick?” Concordia Theological Quarterly 67, No. 2 (April 2003): 131–47.

20 September 2011

The State of Illinois and Cook Co., IL., V. Sophia M. Ball

We just got back from ACE Hardware where I had to pick a few things up for husbandry duties - three children in tow.

Sophia had brought along $1. She had earned this money by pulling weeds from her mother's garden. She found that $1 doesn't really buy $1 worth of goods.

I had to explain to her that even though the price said $1 she would have to pay taxes to the State of Illinois and the County of Cook totalling 10cents and that she would not have enough money to make her purchase.

This was worth a total tantrum - tears aplenty in the van ride home and the need of a hug from mom.

Big government ruining the day of a child.

Her mom did tell her though that if she lived in Montana she would not have to pay sales tax.

To kiss or to refrain

As a vicar I had an off site supervisor who aided me in things such as weddings as I was not ordained. He taught me and the couple to be married that they were not to kiss at the altar but rather to wait until they had crossed from the nave into the Narthex. His reason for this was good order and to not change the decorum of the worship service from one of reverence to one more like that of the reception with whoops and hollers at the newly married kissing.

There were two weddings during my time as vicar and that was the practice established by him through me. Over the past seven years there have been other weddings and I have continued with this policy and there has been little friction in that regard. (I serve at the same congregation where I was vicar.)

I have been asked however, to rethink or reconsider this. I do not have a problem with rethinking things and in the process of such rethinking asking my brothers in the Lord's service for their input and opinions and practices and the why's of those things. Of course if the conventional wisdom is that this policy is not good or salutary, I will have to work through the complaints of those who have had it other wise. To my knowledge no one has been divorced because they either did or did not kiss at the altar.

So dear brothers, I humbly ask your input. What do you do and why? Is there an historical point that I am missing? There is nothing in TLH, LW, or LSB agenda's that call for a kiss or have words to that effect. In fact what it says in the general notes of the LSB agenda is, "5. As in all worship in the house of God, the rite of Holy Matrimony invokes the presence and blessing of God. Therefore, it should avoid triteness and empty sentimentality." In this light "Here comes the Bride" is never played as well as various other selections. The bride and groom do not write their own vows. And thus, I was taught that kissing was also not done.

I eagerly await you wise and thoughtful inputs.

11 August 2011

Evaluating a Lutheran Sermon

I am privileged to be a part of the education of young men for admission to the pastoral office of the Lutheran Church of Haiti. I just returned from teaching a class on the first part of the Book of Concord. In the class one question repeatedly asked in various ways, I answered in this way:

God established the preaching office for not only the announcement but also the conveyance of the benefits of the Holy Gospel's proclamation of God's grace through Christ's sacrifice on the cross. In evaluating a Lutheran sermon one must ask one question for each of the fingers and the thumb of the hand. I share them with you.

1. Where is the cross, specifically?
(we preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified)

2. Where is the blood?
(without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness)

3. How does it describe sinners?
(every inclination was only evil all the time)

4. Does it clearly identify the means of grace to which the sinner is directed?
(i.e. arise and be baptized; taste and see His goodness; confess your faults that ye may be healed; the Gospel is the power unto salvation)

5. Does it point you all the way to a glorious heaven?
(if we believed in Jesus only for this world...)

A good sermon covers all five. Emphasis may be placed on any but to eliminate any one turns the sermon into a lecture.

I offer this five fingered evaluative tool.

Pasteur Georges Williams

12 June 2011

Truth and Practice

On this Pentecost Day, our hymnody teaches us to pray to the Spirit that our Doctrine and Practice would be one.

Plenteous of grace, descend from high
Rich in Thy sev'n-fold energy;
Make us eternal truths receive
And practice all that we believe.
Give us Thyself that we may see
The Father and the Son by Thee.
The Lutheran Hymnal 236 stanza 3

08 June 2011

Baptism in Divine Service

I have been having a marvelous discussion about the concept that we would never let the sin of sinful parents (semper peccator) prevent Christ's administration of the life giving Sacrament of Baptism.

But this discussion has brought into clearer focus a question that I have become aware of in the past years. For many faithful Lutheran pastors Baptism is viewed as an ecclesial action emphasizing the congregational aspect of the act and requiring or at least effecting the administration of Baptism during some type of corporate worship. For some it is Divine Service but for others it can be a daily chapel service at a parochial school.

Others of us have grown to realize that the shift from the immediacy of Baptism to the "public" ceremony occurred in the Reformed/Pietistic era. I was taught that Baptism should be done ASAP because of Augustana II. There should be no delay in the administration of the appropriated means of grace because apart from the church's use of the means of grace there can be no salvation (extra ecclesiam nulla salus).

The emergency of the complete poison of original sin mandates the urgency of Baptism. Given my preference I will and have done several, not all, baptisms in the hospital taking the waters of deathly mother and making them the waters of life-giving mother. I teach this, instruct my pregnant mothers of the protocol of baptism in the absence of a Pastor when death is imminent.

Where the called man of God is and while performing his sacerdotal actions the entire church of God is mystically present. Even in a hospital setting, the baptism is in ecclesiam.

I always function with the question "what hinders baptism". If it's to wait for a ceremony on Sunday morning or the convenience of Grandma and Grandpa to come or the conjoining of the Baptism with another family activity to increase attendance at the Baptism or to use it as a catechetical show and tell, I cringe. I want to as fast as I can have Christ rip out of that dead child its dead heart, cold and rotten, and replace it with a living, beating, loving God-given heart.

The Augustana II Georg

26 May 2011

When should the funeral not be in the Church?

I am writing as I would like a bit of help to clarify when or who should be buried from the Church and who or when the funeral should take place in a funeral home.

To make things a bit easier, I would always bury a person who was a regular attendee of the Divine service from the Church. The same would hold true for that person who was at least fairly regular i.e. several times per month or at least every month.

But at what point would you say to the family of the deceased that the funeral for their loved one will not be in the Church but rather at the funeral home and then graveside? Do you make such a distinction? How do you or have you expressed that distinction? Have you written about it before hand in the monthly news letter or specifically to those who are inactive so that they will be aware that when they die, if they have remained away from the Church that they will not be buried from the Church?

As all things teach and all things are to be done in an orderly way and as all should be done such that the Gospel is not confused, I presume that there is some point of consistent non-attendance after which one is not granted a funeral from the Church.

A member of Christ's body (Baptized and a communicant) who has, for whatever reasons (provided they are not medical and not unable to come) left the body, refused the calling of the Spirit to repentance and rejoining the worshiping and communing body, are they to be denied a church funeral? What does such denial tell the worshiping congregation, the family of the deceased, the community at large?

I do not want to be legalistic nor do I wish to "kick" people our or exclude them however, I desire to know what is faithful practice regarding those who have by choice absented themselves from the means of grace and the body of believers. I do not in this presume to know hearts or to be able to definitively speak of faith or unbelief on the part of such a person.

Thank you in advance for your help, guidance and insight in this matter. I do hope that some of you brothers who have served a long time will weigh in as well :)

24 May 2011

Natural Law as a Theology of Glory

(As no one has posted in a while, and I'm in a bit of a tissy, it's time to play the dissatisfied grouser again)

Let me say at the beginning - there is much in Natural Law that is true -- there are points that some people claim as Natural Law that I would quibble with, there are applications I would object to - but there is a Natural Law.

However, I fear that it's current upswing in popularity is coming from a Theology of Glory point of view (a point of view I think it can be attached to quite easily... pre-reformation Catholicism was the domain of the theology of Glory).

Now, why do I say this? Because Natural Law is being viewed as a means of changing the world, of improving this world, of making this place a better place, as though this world isn't being prepared for destruction and renewal. Natural Law is being viewed as the last, best hope we have for keeping society from spiraling off into chaos, for making people moral.

Here's the problem.

Natural Law is God's Law.

What is the first commandment? Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

If one is an unbeliever, who by definition neither fears God nor trusts Him, why in the world would you give a (insert euphemism of your choice) about God's Law?

Seriously. Why? Will someone who denies that we were designed by God care about our arguments that stem from God's design? Will someone who thinks that we choose to be whatever we wish to be care about the "laws" of nature that he, as a fallen creature, delights in ignoring anyway?

But, but, but if we just show the Law, and show it well... then they will be better.

"It was a false, misleading dream, that God, His Law had given. That sinners could themselves redeem and by their works gain heaven" -- even a heaven on earth. "The Law is but a mirror bright, that brings the inbred sin to light, that lurks within our nature." Natural law does nothing to deal with *our* fallen nature.

But, but, but if we just get good laws passed.... then they will be better.

"Trust not in princes, they are but mortal. Earth-born they are, and soon decay. Naught are their counsels at life's last portal, when the dark grave doth claim its prey. Since, then, no man can help afford, trust ye in Christ our Lord!" This world is sinful, through and through. All around us we see nothing but death. The Law will not change that - the Law does not give life.

But, but, but the law works as a curb! That will make them better.

Eh... perhaps. If they listened. But how does a curb work? Only with threats of punishment - that things will be bad if you transgress. And arguing from a perspective of "natural law" doesn't do that. Natural Law appeals to what is right... not to punishment.

The lost must be shown that they are lost - that by giving into their sinful desires they receive no peace, no comfort, no joy. That sin offers nothing but false promises that do not deliver. The thing about sin is that, while it sounds good, it is bad. Show the consequences... not the back story behind, the reasons why. Sinful, selfish man doesn't care about nature, what should be... he cares only for what he wants to happen to him.

And even then... apart from Christ, that only leads to a slightly more gentle crushing, a slower, slightly less painful death. Apart from Christ, we only give people moral morphine, dulling the pain as they remain dying people in a dying world.

"My own good works all came to naught, No grace or merit gaining; Free will against God's judgment fought, dead to all good remaining." Apart from Christ, people are dead. Even if they play nicely, even if they bother me less and less, they are still dead. And all their works, however nice, however moral, however seemingly in accord with natural law they are, come to naught.

Of course, this was the point of Luther's Heidelburg Disputation - point number one:

"The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him."

Or as the hymnist sings - "From sin our flesh could not abstain, Sin held its sway unceasing. The task was useless and in vain, Our guilt was e'er increasing. None can remove sin's poisoned dart Or purify our guileful heart - So deep is our corruption."

Law will not save the world. It might curb some things... but only when people are convinced that what they want is actually bad for them (at least when we have people voting on laws). Otherwise, it all comes crashing down.

30 March 2011

Life in the Sacrament of the Altar

In the Holy Supper of our Lord He gives us life and salvation. His life. The salvation that He has earned by the shedding of His holy and innocent blood and His bitter suffering and death.

Avoiding all secular arguments about precious metals, alcohol content of the wine and even medical studies, the question is this: Can or would Jesus as He is pouring His very medicine of immortality into our bodies also give or allow us to receive human sickness or even death?

Can the Blood of Him who died to all sin, death, devil and hell even contain or be contaminated by these things of man's illnesses as the Chalice is moved from one forgiven sinner to the next?

Are the concerns about being infected or passing infections concerns because of either unbelief or weak faith or are they legitimate concerns that can be born out in historic example?

Although individual cups have crept into the Church because of unbelief first on the part of those who do not believe in Christ's true physical presence in the bread and the wine, they have also made their way into the churches of confessing congregations. Must they remain for the sake of the weaker brethren or may they be removed after appropriate teaching, visitations, and example?

As Celebrant, I always consume all the relique and although there are those who drink who are ill, have sores on or in their mouths, I have never gotten ill. Does it not truly come down to the truth of what it is that we are receiving? The very blood of Jesus, Son of God and son of Mary! I do not believe that He can or would give me illness or even death in the eating and the drinking of Him. Yes, because of sin in the world and my own sin I will sometimes be ill and I will die unless He returns in glory first. But to believe, teach or confess that in the Holy Supper of the Lord one could or would be made or allowed to become ill or die is not something I am able to fathom because of what it is that we receive.

Please, speak to me if I am wrong, correct my teaching if it is in error. Thank you brothers. Blessed Lent to you all.

25 February 2011

Liturgical Chaos in Catholicism

If you want to see a bit of the cooky stuff that happens in the Roman Church (and some Episcopals), check out the video. I do not in anyway subscribe to the thank you given to the pope at rome at the end of the show.

HT: Bad Vestments

16 February 2011

A Question for one of Better Hebrew than I


So, I have been doing some studying, and I've come across a few sources who seem to think that in Genesis 34 that Dinah is not raped, but rather that when she is "taken" by Shechem it is a willing thing - that it is not "seized" her but, takes her as a wife, but they aren't married yet. Thus the dishonor and humiliation isn't rape but rather pre-marital sex.

Now, here I must admit - my Hebrew is... well, let's just say I've learned to hate the BDB with a passion. The Greek just has "labOn" - which is take. What nuances come out in the Hebrew - וַיִּקַּ

Anyone know? Okay, I'm sure one of you know - could you lend any insight this way?

09 February 2011

Music and Hymnody as Catechesis, Confession and Pastoral Care (Audio & Video Recordings)

For those who may be interested in checking it out, there are audio and video recordings from the Faith Lutheran Church, Plano, Texas, Free Conference on Music and Hymnody now available on their website. In addition to my presentation, Dr. Christopher Boyd Brown gave an excellent and edifying paper on the role of hymnody in the 16th Century Lutheran Reformation. Check it out.

07 February 2011

Because I said so

How much do principles of parenting apply to the pastoral office? This is a question that I have pondered much. Luther does say that those who teach the Word are a "third kind of father," i.e. spiritual fathers in the Large Catechism. Elsewhere I have written about the value of learning to understand ourselves as such "spiritual fathers" in relation to our congregations. But how does this look in practice?

For example, as a parent, there are times (many, in fact!) when the children want to know why we say "yea" or "nay" to something. It is not always beneficial to them to explain everything, especially if they are younger. Sometimes it is best to tell them, "Because I said so." Because I am the parent. That is why. Because this is the way I want it. It does boil down to personal preference. The reason you are to be home by 9:00 even though your friends can stay out until 10:00 is because this is what I prefer.

Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn't save ourselves a lot of headaches when it comes to matters of adiaphora (true adiaphora, that is) to simply appeal to our pastoral authority. Why do I only allow boys to be acolytes? Because I said so. Because I am the pastor. I can give you several reasons explaining my preference, but none of these would likely matter in the long run.

Of course, I realize what people will say: "Herr Pastor!" "Grabauite!" "Domineering in the Office!" "Lording it over his flock!" But is it? Where in the Scriptures does it say that all matters not commanded or forbidden by a Word of the Lord must be decided by a vote of the people, or simply by the preference of the congregation, without the input of the pastor? What would be so wrong with pastors exercising some of that fatherly authority and saying, "Because I said so. This is how I want it. I am the pastor," particularly in cases where the people have become unruly? Is this a violation of the pastor/sheep relationship?

This is the way most questions on the S.E.T. are asked: "What is your preference regarding ___________?" Mostly they don't want reasons or explanations, just to know what your preference is. Why would there be anything wrong with a pastor explaining to the congregation that this is just his preference, offer explanation as to why it is, and ask that they would honor that preference? Maybe I am just an idealist.

How Does the Conservative Reformation Guide Us Today

Pastor Weedon gives and excellent look at Lutheran Cathedral services in 1613 at his blog - something well worth looking at. Weedon essentially points out that the services listed shows "the catholic principle of the Lutheran Reformation, that they rejected in the tradition that which CONFLICTED with the Gospel, but accepted that which could be harmonized with it."

I think that is an excellent summation of the catholic principle.

Now, how is that principal to be applied today? How do we who are in the Lutheran Church almost five centuries after the Reformation, on a completely different continent, apply this idea?

I see two, I don't know if I want to call them streams of thoughts, but maybe concerns or responses to that principal. I'll call one the restorative approach and the other the "harmonizing" approach.

1. The Restorative approach. I find that many Lutherans, when finally studying the Reformation in detail, are amazed at how much was retained... and upon seeing how much has been lost among us seek to restore the richness and fullness of that which we had generations ago. (I'm going to assume that to a greater or middling extent, the Blackbirds will have strong leanings this way). That when the the Lutheran Church of the Reformation (historically speaking, not the little modern synod) is viewed, that it ends up being the "ideal" that is striven for, that is aimed for.

Now, of course, different folks will latch on to different aspects to strive for. The Churches in different places had different "flavors" if you will... some might strive more for Magdeburg, some might strive more for Luther -- and on occasion those who strive for slightly varying ideals might bludgeon each other repeatedly in brotherly debates.

But what remains is a principal that there needs to be change - that what we are doing now is lacking and that what was lost needs to be restored.

2. The Harmonizing approach. There is another aspect or approach that can play in very well with this principal - and that is the harmonizing approach... that we retain what can be retained as long as it harmonizes with the Gospel. Here, rather than seeking to restore some lost ideal of the past, the present is observed - and what can be maintained, even if it isn't necessarily classic or traditional.

For example, take the pastor who arrives at a congregation that has individual cups. Are they ideal... probably not. However, can they be maintained without conflicting with the Gospel. One can most definitely argue yes... and so one taking more of the harmonizing approach could thrust that issue to a back burner and not worry too much about it, or even feel a need to try to change the practice.

I'd argue that this is taking that catholic principal and applying it not to the time of the Reformation but to the current, modern day. The reformers were willing to live with much for the sake of the Gospel, so shall I.

3. The Licentious Changers Now, keep in mind, I am making a distinction between those who *introduce* new things to the Church in an attempt to... whatever they are attempting, and those who simply come upon what they have received. We do have those who are much more radical in their efforts for change and who will attempt to introduce anything they think they can put a Lutheran sheen on.

This is how we have much of what we have received. We put a Lutheran spin on things - which is why the lifelong Lutheran can say, "I love the hymn Just as I am" while the convert from 7th Day Adventism has his eyes bulge out. Historical, at least in America, there has been, especially in the 20th Century, a tendency to Lutheranize things... sure, we'll sing Amazing Grace, but we'll just drop that verse out about grace teaching the heart to fear. Sure, the schools will have the "Christian Flag" even though it was created to assert that people who held to distinctive doctrines (i.e. Lutherans) were stupid troublemakers.

Time tends to sanitize.

We see today many who aren't even waiting for time to sanitize but are rather aggressively introducing enthusiast-style practices into the Church willy-nilly, and of course, all for the sake of reaching people with the Gospel (note: there is a vast different between "for the sake of the Gospel" and "for the sake of reaching people with the Gospel." One sees the Gospel as truth to be proclaimed, the other sees it as a product to be trussed up and sold).

+ + + + + + + + +

Now, what does this mean? I think it is clear that I think the 3rd option is right out and un-faithful. It's the radical reformation, it's the worst parts of pietism and rationalism, it's the New Measures. 2nd verse, same as the first. Let me be clear that I am not advocating the random introduction of an "anything goes" approach... so please, no slippery slope arguments, no "two has to lead to three" because, for one, it doesn't, and two, if it does then you have to concede to anyone who says that the first approach automatically means you want to become a Roman Catholic. If one side of the hill is slippery, there's a good chance the other side is as well.

But, to what extent are the restorative desires balanced with harmonizing desires? I think that sometimes it seems as though we will put up with things until we can restore them to the reformation ideal we tend to like... a 1 automatically trumps 2 approach. Are there some things that we should simply let be, that have been introduced, and while they aren't necessarily good or idea, it's okay that they were introduced?

(But... don't you know why that was introduced! Individual cups were brought in to parrot protestants... and Latin was introduced in lands where people didn't understand it simply to maintain institutional power - yet Magdeburg was able to maintain an awful lot of it. Not every practice that has become cherished was introduced for lily pure reasons. And even if *I* know... how many people know, and is that what they are thinking of when they see the practice. The Christian flag annoys the tar out of me because I know it's history... but when little Aunt Bertha sees it, I doubt she's thinking "Let's start having open communion" - or if she is, it ain't because of the flag.)

The second seems to me to be more of what the reformers did in their own day -- should that also be the guide for our actions, or should we seek more to restore things unto what the reformers had? (Shoot, now I'm going to have that power ballad "Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone" running through my head... perhaps in mentioning it I can at least let Pastor Stuckwisch share my misery.) Have we started doing things the Reformers, in their conservative approach, wouldn't have done, and if so is that necessarily a bad thing? And does the "catholic" part of the principal really mean that you try to do things like other people do... did Wittenburg really care what Magdeburg did in her cathedral... as long as it wasn't in gross error.

Just things to ponder whilest humming a 20+ year old song this morning.

31 January 2011


If you just received two posts with Ball children in them, sorry about that. One of the dangers of being on a few blogs is that you can post erroneously. I just sent you two posts intended for our family blog. Hope you enjoyed them anyway.

23 January 2011

Who said that?

 "Who said that?....  Was it you?"  ~ Gunny Hartman (heavily edited)

Here is a counter-cultural quote from a Lutheran theologian (the name mentioned in the quote has been removed to increase the difficulty factor).  So, who said it?

"We should stop stabbing at pietism.  It is always misunderstood, so that one would think that we disdain conversion and lack a sense of the factor of personal responsibility in Christianity....  Personally, I am convinced that the portion of pietism, which is found in *****, is useful for salvation, not to mention necessary."

13 January 2011

Or else...?

Over the last year or so I have had a few couples approach me to be married within the church. We set up a time to have a meeting, so we might be able to work out some of the details. This initial meeting also gives me the chance to ask questions of the couple and have them ask me anything. At all these meetings I discover that each couple is living together in a cohabitation relationship. When this is brought up I ask if they see that this act is wrong and against God’s Word and Will. All of them have said yes. Since they answer that they see what they are doing is in fact sinful, I walk them through what is laid out in the Lutheran Study Bible “God Blessed Marriage”.
1) Separate with no plans for marriage.
2) Separate until marriage.
3) If at any time during the process they wish to marry, the pastor will do so via a private ceremony (A concession by the congregation and pastor).
4) Get married by a justice of the peace immediately and have a consecration of the marriage in church at a later time.
I have yet to have one of these couples take me up on any of these options or come up with a viable one on their own. At the end of our meeting they leave and thank me for my time and then simply find another church/pastor who will marry them. I have to confess that it is disheartening that none of the couples return, they do not ask for more instruction/information, nor do they try to argue with me or ask why what they are doing is wrong and when I try to follow up I get the polite brush off or simply no response. As I said it is a little disheartening when God’s Word is spoken, and it is ignored first of all by the couple, but then it is reinforced by whatever church or pastor ends up performing the marriage rite. I will openly admit that I do not know where the couples who have come to me end up going to get married, or who performs the marriage rite and the pastor may have been able to do what I was not, convince, and show the need for repentance and only after catechesis of God’s Word were these couples able to marry. Again I do not know and do not want to paint the picture that I am the only Pastor in this area holding to the truths of Scripture concerning God’s Blessings and Desire for marriage.
What practices do the congregations in which you serve or worship have concerning cohabiting couples who seek to marry? Do you have any who have heard the word of God, repented and then lived chaste lives until their wedding night? What are we to do when other congregations will openly marry those who do not repent of their sins?

05 January 2011

Reading the Junk E-mail can be interesting

So, I got the following in a junk e-mail -- it's 10 things I can do to transform my congregation (from "Group" - I have no idea how I got on there).

I just thought I would see what, if any reaction or amusement or insight is taken from this (or social commentary). And for some reason I don't think 10 is suggesting adopting the Eastern Orthodox practice, but hey, I could be wrong.

+ + + + +
1. Banish the "stand and greet your neighbor" time in the worship service. I know your intentions are good, but it's forced, fruitless and goofy.
2. Forget everything they taught you about three-point sermons. You're wildly successful if you can get across one point. Just one point. Then sit down.
3. Get out and spend time with real people. Schedule lunches at your members' workplaces and schools. Listen. Get a feel for how real people live.
4. Encourage regular evaluation. Use comment cards. Ask us what we remember from last week's sermon. Then take us seriously, and adjust.
5. Crank down the volume of the band. Allow us to actually hear the voices of the flock.
6. Burn the fill-in-the-blank sermon guides. They're insulting, distracting and ineffective. (Can you imagine Jesus using them? Let's see, "Feed my _______.")
7. Show hospitality. Encourage people to enjoy a cup of coffee-during the service.
8. Let us participate. Entertain our questions-during the service. Let the real people around us tell how God is working in their lives.
9. Relax. Make some real friends. Spend more time with your family. Don't schedule every evening with church meetings.
10. Get rid of the pews. Really.

03 January 2011

Liturgical interuption, innovation, and the classic form of idolatry

So, I have been involved in a good discussion at the Gottesdienst Blog concerning, depending upon who you ask, the Confessions, Children's Sermons, Liturgical Innovation, and other various and sundry things. However, it has gotten me thinking on something.

Two frequent complaints leveled against children's sermons are that they are unnecessary innovations that don't fit in the service and that they disrupt the service.

Now, the point that they aren't "necessary" doesn't sway me much -- I'm more concerned with whether or not something may be freely done, not whether it *must* be done. However, it is a common concern for many, and I have been pondering it. Also, the idea that the 3 or 4 minutes a children's sermon takes also causes some consternation. Again, I'm not sold -- once any rite becomes established in a place, it becomes part of the flow of the service. I don't think my predecessor used the Gradual with regularity - I do. This was disruptive for a bit; now omitting the gradual would be disruptive. However, many people view the service as having a specific movement and flow that can be easily disrupted.

Offhandedly I had made a comment that, if we must eliminate anything that disrupts the service, we should remove the Offering, as this is an innovation that also disrupts the service. It was meant to be an argument... not of absurdity, but of comparison. There is no furor raised over the offering - it is accepted. Hence, something that is likewise disruptive could be accepted.

Then I saw a news promo this night. A Roman Catholic Parish in Oklahoma City was robbed -- and what does the promo show? Not offering plates, not a safe - but collection boxes.

Think about it. No break in the middle of the service. No pony show. No paying attention to what someone else might give - is it an envelop or just a few bucks from the wallet. No parade of cash to the front of the Church. Rather, when people give, quietly, out of the way, in the back of the Church, on their own time, with no one the wiser. No trumpets, no musical fanfare - when you give, let your giving be in secret.

And this is a new innovation - A Christianity Today article puts it really coming into vogue in the 19th Century. And mainly a protestant innovation (another bugaboo).

Why do we allow this? How is it beneficial? How does taking a collection in the middle of service support the idea that this is Divine Service, that worship is about the gifts that God gives us? We stop the service so everyone can see the money brought forward.

Now, I'm not going to say that have a collection for home mission work is wrong (although, when we have had special collections, we do just put a plate or basket in the back of the Church... and I don't do the LWML mite blessing - I think many would say that is uncouth). It really, though, when we think about it, seem odd. It seems much more odd to stop the flow of the service to focus on that old idol of cash than it does to pause to devote time to teaching children.

Yet the later raises fervor and fury among some as one of the signs of the utter decay of the Lutheran faith -- yet in nothing do we seem to borrow more from the reformed than when it comes to offering, tithing, and "stewardship" drives.

Just something to make one ponder.

Any thoughts from the Blackbirds? Have any of you had any qualms with our practice of the Offering?