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“Marriage, Sex, and Gender” 2015 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions

Below, you will find an announcement for….

“….the 2015 Congress on the Lutheran Confessions, to be held in Minneapolis at the Ramada Hall of America on April 15-17, 2015.  The general topic is “Marriage, Sex, and Gender.”  This topic could not be more timely in light of the present legal challenges to gay marriage in the USA and the recent struggles within the Vatican over the same issues to be discussed at our Congress.

The hosts  for the conference are The Luther Academy and The Association of Confessional Lutherans.  Both organizations were founded by, or with the assistance of, the Rev. Dr. Robert Preus.  This is the twenty-sixth year for the ACL National Free Conference, and the 22nd year that the Luther Academy has been involved as a co-host and sponsor.’ — Martin Noland

Here is a link where you can download the announcement which follows as a PDF document.

The Association of Confessional Lutherans and The Luther Academy are in the process of planning the next ACL National Free Conference 26, Luther Academy Lecture Series 22.

April 15 – 17, 2015

Ramada Mall of America

Bloomington (a suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota

The overall theme for this congress is:

MARRIAGE, SEX, AND GENDER

IN THE LUTHERAN CHURCH TODAY

—IN LIGHT OF THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS—

PROPOSED TOPICS FOR THE 2015

CONGRESS ON THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS

1. Same-sex Marriage: The Challenges

of its U.S. Legalization for Pastors

and Congregations

2. Homosexuals in the Congregation:

Pastoral Ministry and Church

Discipline from a Confessional

Lutheran Perspective

3. Cohabiting Couples in the

Congregation: Pastoral Ministry and

Church Discipline from a

Confessional Lutheran Perspective

4. Women’s Ordination and

Congregational Roles Revisited:

Can the Confessional Lutheran

Synods Hold the Line?

5. Have Lutherans Had a Unique View

of Romance and/or Married Life,

when Compared to Other Christian

Traditions?

6. Do the “Orders of Creation” Pertain

Only to the Vocation of Marriage, or

Also to Other Vocations?

7. Canaan or Israel? The Old

Testament’s Doctrine of Marriage in

the Pentateuch and the Prophets

8. Luther: What is Marriage Really?

9. Divorce and Remarriage in the

Parish and the Parsonage

Questions, Information: TheACL@TheACL.org

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Seeing the Clear Difference Between Paul’s Law Preaching in Roman 1-3 and 12 ff

Is Luther really a Baptist in disguise?  See this post for more.

Is Luther really a Baptist in disguise – or does he just distinguish between the second and third use? See this post for more.

In a recent post about “the third use of the law”, I made this claim:

It’s all about Christian’s Spirit-led and default inclination being to coerce and drag old Adam – some other Christian’s or our own – into the presence of God’s means of grace and beyond… i.e. into the straight paths that make life safe and good for straying sheep.

And this is what those who preach the law in it’s third use take into account.  Well… some remain quite unconvinced of this.  Therefore, this is part IV of my ongoing posts about “the third use of the law” (part I, part II. and part III The post that ties them all together however, identifying what I believe are the underlying issues, is this one: Can Confessional Lutherans Live in an “Imputation-Only World”? 

What many modern confessional Lutherans want to say is this:

[The article on the third use of the law in the Lutheran Confessions] indicates that “the preaching of the law is to be urged with diligence, not only among those who have no faith in Christ … but also among those who truly believe in Christ.”  Period.

Note the “Period”.  The desire is that the conversation ends here.  That is all there is to say.

No.

The sixth article of the Lutheran Formula of Concord is indeed about how the law should be urged on Christians. But in what way? What does it mean to urge the law on the Christian here?

I submit that this can be seen by looking closely at the fifth and sixth articles of the Formula of Concord, about “The Law and the Gospel”, which parallels Paul’s use of the law in Romans 1-3, and the “Third Use of God’s Law”, which parallels Paul’s use of the law in Romans 12 ff, respectively.

FC V is about how the law is revealed and taught to people (here we note it is mentioned that the law is unchangeable as well – V:17) so that they (believers to!: see V:2: “unbelief of the converted… is pardoned and forgiven”) may be led to the knowledge of their sins by the Law.  It is all about the Holy Spirit and the Church using the law in its second, or spiritual use: accusing, condemning, convicting, reproving, rebuking, etc. en route to repentance. FC V is about the preaching of repentance using the law of God, not the Gospel (the message of the cross can also convict). In other words, it is related to justification and continual justification. Note again, the second use of the law – its primary use – is to be continually applied to believers (as well as being needed to convert unbelievers), who here are understood to, as they stand before God, always remain totally sinners and totally saints (100% each).

This would be like what Paul is doing in Romans 1-3.

Lutheran saint Kurt Marquart: to not preach the third use of the law is break the bruised reed and snuff out the smoldering wick (see here)

Lutheran saint Kurt Marquart: to not preach the third use of the law is break the bruised reed and snuff out the smoldering wick (see here)

FC VI is, as the sainted Kurt Marquart says, about the laws “practical application to daily life” (think of Luther’s “Table of Duties” and the “Large Catechism”): how the law is used with people born anew by God’s spirit that they might live and walk in it. It is about the preaching not of repentance per se, but of obedience, addressing the old and new natures in the Christian. With the Gospel serving as the ground (“by the mercies of God”)*, the third use of the law encourages the Christian, according to his new man, to walk in the good works that God has appointed for him to do (“good works …encouraged from the law” – VI:2). The new man in the Christian, motivated by this instruction and admonishment / exhortation (VI:6 ; 12: “He encourages them to this”), is eager to live according to God’s law, in which he delights, so much so that sometimes he will wield the law himself, accusing, threatening and even physically punishing the flesh, the old man, within him (I Cor. 9:27). Therefore, the law need not “confuse the regenerate with its coercion” (VI:5).

This would be akin to what Paul is doing in Romans 12ff “by the mercies of God” (based on all the sweet Gospel that comes before it, and including the discussion of the two natures in the Christian, chapters 7 and 8) and Ephesians 4-6.

Of course in discussing the Christian’s new obedience, the second use of the law – the law’s primary use! – cannot be irrelevant to this (neither is it the focus of article VI – as it is not dealt with in the Epitome of the article) but has some significance (see VI: 12 -14, 21-22). The written law continues to reveal to the believer how his good works always fall short, and how the Gospel, in the blood of Christ, covers even the sin that infects our good works. What is important to note here is that the strong believer, ever aware of this Gospel truth, will eagerly join in the rebuking and condemning of the old Adam in him. In sum, while the presence of the second use of the law in the article does address old Adam’s Pharisaical tendencies – showing him how his works are imperfect and impure and cannot stand before God – it also points out to the new man in the Christian how the fruit of obedience can and should become more pure (see VI:17, 18, 24), as sin is driven out and old Adam is “forced to obey Christ” (VI: 24). In other words, all of this serves the primary purpose of the article – the new obedience of the Christian – by addressing and countering old Adam’s Epicurean tendencies. In other words, it is related not just to our passive sanctification, but our active sanctification as well (see the end of Romans 6 in particular here).

"Progressive sanctification?  The horror!" -- Kurt Marquart, sarcastically.  What is holiness?  See more here.

“Progressive sanctification? The horror!” — Kurt Marquart, sarcastically. What is holiness? See more here.

To add more detail: the law in its second use threatens persons with God’s wrath and temporal and eternal punishments (“God’s wrath, death, all temporal calamities, and the punishment of hellfire”- V:20). Here, we note that the law is used specifically to reveal sin and, with the Gospel, to produce repentance unto life.  In the case of the third use of the law, the law is used specifically to address the Christian as partially saint and partially sinner (Romans 6-8 unveils this reality in detail), urging the new man in the Christian on to obedience, as old Adam is driven out more and more. The threats, rewards, and punishments discussed here are more akin to the first use (VI: 19), with its focus on temporal, often immediate, carrots and sticks. As Luther says, the Holy Spirit makes the law enjoyable and gentle to the justified, and therefore, the preacher should not make the law overly harsh among the justified but should change into the gentler tone of exhortation.** Again, we note that here we have Christians taking steps themselves to tame, even through “blows”, the wild and disobedient old Adam within.

This is what the Holy Spirit encourages, and this is what proclaimers of the Word should encourage, imitating Paul, as he seeks to keep in step with the Spirit.

UPDATE: if you just can’t shake a sense of condemnation, I can identify with youI offer you this from Dr. Eric Phillips, over at the Just and Sinner site.

FIN

 

*A great quote from Dr. Eric Phillips, which helps us think more about this:

“The third use of the Law isn’t just an exhortation to the forgiven. It’s a promise. This is what you will be: like Christ. This is what you have already begun to be: like Christ. “Let the dead man bury its dead, and come follow Me. I have ordained good works for you to do, now and forever.”

The third use isn’t Law-Gospel-LAW. David Scaer is good on this. It’s the Christological use of the Law. It’s the Law we get to do, as fellow-laborers together with Him, haltingly but with increasing power, until we are made His perfect image in the Resurrection. It’s the Law promised in Jeremiah 31: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (v. 33). It is, whether you want to adopt his language or not, the promise St. Peter alludes to in 2 Pet. 1:4, that we have been freed from corruption and made to be like God.

2 Peter 1:5-8: For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Of course the 3rd use will convict us also by implication, just as the 2nd use also exhorts and instructs us, but its purpose is to rouse anticipation, not fear–to enlist the New Man happily to mortify the Old and taste “the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the Age to Come” (Heb. 6:5). The Law always accuses, but when we know we are forgiven, it can also comfort and encourage us.”

**Luther also says that too much condemning law can lead into despair and kill completely – the law “should be reduced through the impossible supposition to a salutary use”

 Note: some changes have been made in the original post for the sake of clarity.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Brief Lesson in Modern Philosophy

Pastor Jonathan Fisk is one of the more gifted popularizers of Lutheran theology and philosophy today.  I thought one of his most recent videos (from yesterday) was worth highlighting:

Good stuff to get younger people thinking about the pedigree of the ideas that they are hearing in the world today.

 

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Holiness. What does this mean? (The Christian’s sanctification as measured by God)

A = justification ; B = sanctification

Note: Due to the lack of explicit “Gospel-in-the-narrow-sense” content – which I acknowledge should pervade our conversation (post is already quite long) – some [Lutheran] theologians reading this may want to supplement this post with a reading of Luther’s Large Catechism (the third part of the Apostle’s Creed)

Note II: In light of some recent posting in the Lutheran blogosphere (here, for example*), I am re-printing this article from a couple years ago. 

Before I jump into my post however, some excellent words of wisdom from tweeting pastor Christopher Jackson.  As he shows, this really this isn’t about pointing at one’s own holiness – it is more about acknowledging and appreciating God’s work in one’s neighbor – in addition to the simple fact of recognizing what the Scriptures say.   

  1. Denying progressive sanctification is a double edged sword. It keeps one from pride in one’s holiness.
  2. But it also keeps one from acknowledging the holiness in others.
  3. It prevents one from exalting oneself, but it also causes one to bring others to ones own level.
  4. Personally, I can’t help but admire and have profound gratitude at the holiness of a persecuted African Christian who remains faithful.
  5. I refuse to say that she is no more sanctified than me, fat, comfortable, western Christian that I am.
  6. Another double edged sword has to do with identity.
  7. Denial of progressive sanctification differentiates one from Methodists and Roman Catholics.
  8. But, denial of progressive sanctification also differentiates one from such as Walther, Gerhard, Chemnitz, Krauth.

cjacksontweetsNow, onto my reprinted article….

We think some people are better than others.  Every kid knows it.

We all do it.  Can’t say we don’t.  And there is nothing wrong with this, even as we also assert that all persons, without exception, are loved by God who desires the salvation of all.  And, as many a parent of multiple children knows (and hopefully many a child), to say this is not to say that one is loved more than another.  So our statement stands: we certainly do think some people are better than others.  For example, women might prefer the company of the “bad boy” for a brief season, but the wiser of them, sensibly, end up thinking that when it comes to a long-term prospect, other qualities need to be sought in a man (these are the better women).  Likewise, we will seek out certain persons for particular jobs – when we are having automotive difficulties, we look for a mechanic who knows what he is doing – we trust them regarding that area (perhaps we also think they would overcharge us on their own, but we trust their supervisor!).  On the other hand, when it comes to choosing a roommate, for example, we generally will seek someone who we think is a better person overall according to our standards, which may be more or less in accordance with God’s.  This is not done according to quantitative criteria – although a “pros” and “cons” list may be produced to aid in the decision – but qualitative criteria – we “measure” the whole person.  Can’t say we don’t – and if we do, that is false humility.

Not only this, but God also measures the whole person.

What?  Yes.  Not as it has to do with our justification of course.  That must, as respected Lutheran teacher Dr. Rod Rosenbladt has said, remain in “column A. ” We cannot bring our love born of strong faith, our good works, our holiness, or our conformity to Christ’s image into that column.  We cannot even bring our godly suffering and our “deep” repentance into that column.   All of that belongs in column B, which pertains to our sanctification.  When it comes to our standing before God – when  it comes to the either/or question of truly being His child or not – there are only these things we must look at: Christ, grace, and faith (which also is a gift He provides).  And column A is to remain column A until we breathe our last.

But sanctification?  Different story.

Now it is true that Jesus Himself dwells in our hearts by faith, and He is perfectly righteous before His Father in Heaven.  And it is also true that those with faith are completely new creatures in Christ – with “new desires, attitudes, and dispositions to align [our lives] with God’s design”** – albeit ones that are immature.  Still, when it comes to justification, even these things are all column B stuff (see Hebrews 10:14), for God justifies the wicked when they look to him in desperate, groping, and loveless trust – via the alien, or external righteousness of Jesus Christ given in His Word!  Regarding our being new creatures, it is therefore true that we have a new nature – even if we don’t feel it – who is not Jesus.  In other words, it is we who are new men, not Jesus, and it is we who cooperate with Him – or not – in our sanctification.  As such, God does judge some of us to be more in line with his designs, desires, thoughts, words, and deeds than others (even as each are conformed in distinctive ways) and rewards them as such.  Of course they won’t care about the fact that they will certainly be in charge of many mansions in heaven (note: not on earth!) – but they will be nonetheless.  And of course, those of us with only one mansion or so (I guess) will be nothing but happy for them by that point (I’m guessing there will be some great “commons” areas : ) ).

Of course, all of this sanctification talk makes some persons nervous – especially today.   Some may feel this shows a lack of humility.  Now I am not saying that we should go around saying that one person may be 99.9% saint while another is only 63% % or even 6.3%.  That way of speaking is a bit ridiculous, akin to taking the pros and cons list and blowing it up to all-encompassing proportions.  Quantitative evaluations, those evaluations that measure specific things numerically, are not the best thing here (still, note Luther in the Large Catechism’s explanation of the third part of the Apostle’s Creed: “for now, we are only half pure and holy”), in spite of all that follows.  Let me be clear: before God, in column A (i.e. that which pertains to justification), we are always 100% saints and 100% sinners.

Having said this now, even if we were to speak in a quantitative way in regards to our sanctification as a whole, would this necessarily be wrong?  After all, we can’t deny that we will all be “measured” in some way, though as I have argued, more of a qualitative measurement is in mind (see II Cor. 5:10).  Think about this: none of us will make it to 100% saint before we die.   If we are at .1% sinner we will still need the blood and righteousness of Christ just as much as the next person, for whoever breaks one part of the Law breaks the whole Law.  Walther said that the Christian is the one who fears to commit even a single sin (“didn’t he also say something about not attributing beliefs and attitudes to the average Christian he does not have?”, we say today without much reflection…)  Yes, even one particular sin is serious – even as we also acknowledge that our good designs, thoughts, words, and deeds are tainted by the sinful infection that affects and clings to the godly desires the Spirit gives.  Of course, God’s promise to provide a way out of temptation is only for sinner-saints, and stronger believers will recognize temptation to sin more, not less.

Further, these hypothetical 99.9% persons will always see their sin!  They would not be the proud ones, but humble ones.  And that .1% will seem all-encompassing to them, and given that God means for us to be perfectly loving like Him, it is right for that sin to bother them.  They will, in all honesty, feel like they are, really and truly, the chief of sinners before God – and they will constantly be looking to Christ for forgiveness that they may be renewed.  In addition, these persons are well aware that they could take a terrible fall, a la Chutes and Ladders, or even lose their faith altogether (i.e. justification) through faith-destroying and doubt-inducing sin.  Finally, if a person is at 99.9%, you can rest assured they did not get to that point primarily because of fear of punishment and hope of reward, but because of the love of God from God that they allowed to shape them and flow through them.  They certainly knew the passage about laying up treasure in heaven and not on earth – but the Treasure they were longing for more than anything was to know the love of God more – to simply dwell in His house and (not their own mansions).  For He was always was their sanctification (I Cor. 1:30), by whom their faith and love grew (for without faith in Him, there is no beginning of sanctification, much less continued progress in the same). “Keeping track” of any good they did was never on their mind, although pleasing Him (not to be saved) certainly was.  Maybe you would contend these persons don’t exist, but I’d say Scripture – not to say, some of our experiences – says otherwise.

Again, Jesus did come for sinners – and that means all of us all the time.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  Since John says so we all clearly qualify here.  If we need more evidence, we should ask why all believers in Christ physically die, when in the Garden death is only ever said to be a consequence for sin.

All of this is not meant to promote worry in us, but awareness – of all we have been given in Christ amidst our enemies of the flesh, the world, and the devil.

I don’t know about you, but I think I have a long way to go.  But spurred on by the fact that my salvation is secure in my Lord Jesus by grace through faith, how can I not be eager to “catch up to myself in Christ”?

FIN

*My pastor comments: “…a number of non-sequiturs. Just because we are justified by faith through Christ does not mean we do not grow in sanctification. Just because we grow in sanctification does not mean we become less and less dependent upon Christ, nor not justified completely through Him. Just because our sanctification can both increase and decrease does not mean we do not wish it to increase, nor strive for it to increase.

And questions: What ultimately is an increase of faith if not a growth in sanctification? How can the “breaking out” of the new man not be considered a growth in sanctification? How can the Christian be a “completely new creature” and yet die?”

**Kolb and Arand, “The Genius of Luther’s Theology”, 126 – note that their view seems a bit different than the one expounded on here.

 

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Worldly Progress (“It Works”) vs. Progress in the Word (“He Works”)

"It works" ("techne" is God) vs. "He works" (God is love)

“It works” (“techne” is God) vs. “He works” (God is love)

.

The prolific Eastern Orthodox priest and blogger again has posted some thought-provoking material, this time decrying the notion of any progress in the Christian life (see “You;re Not Doing Better” and the follow-up post, “Why Sin is Not a Moral Problem” to read his pieces and the interesting conversations that follow).

It seems that there is almost a notion of original – and not just “ancestral” – sin in what Father Freeman talks about.  Also, what about this common view that the Eastern Orthodox believe that certain saints do, in fact, attain perfection in this life?

But I digress.  Let me get to the things that I want to talk about.

Among other things, Father Freeman said:

“My reward is not my “not doing x.” My reward is Christ.”

Here is the question I asked:

“Father – on the one hand I like the way you put this. Mary over Martha! That said, with Christ as our reward is it not our joy to not only hurt our neighbors less, but to genuinely love* them more – is this not the kind of love that Paul urges us to strive for? Is that not true morality and progress?”

That truly spiritual notion of progress (“How am I doing?” you ask?  Maybe you can identify with the transformation failure I often feel**) can be contrasted with a more worldly notion of progress.

With the worldly notion of progress, it is all about discovering “what works” in the world and putting it into practice.  And as the Lutheran layperson Beverly Yanke put it, life is all about “what I do for myself by myself to enrich myself”.  Not just so that we can pleasure and serve myself of course (though some persons ultimately do end up doing this), but so that I can work towards a “common good” that I imagine and construct with other like-minded “souls”, as opposed to the good being something we somehow discover is real.  This, it seems to me, is more the notion of progress that Father Freeman is attacking – and of course some promoting this notion have tried desperately to leave the divine out of the picture (even as this is inevitably impossible)

For more thoughts about this highly secularized form of worldliness (where secular means leaving a personal God out of the picture, not just “pertaining to the world”), you can see my post, The “upside” of being a gadget, or, we are all acting like atheists now.

FIN

 

*There is a “first article” (of the Apostle’s Creed, which can be broken up into three articles) kind of love in all human beings – i.e. love that is a residue or continual fallout from creation itself, by the Creator who is love.  This kind of love for neighbor, although something you certainly would like to have in a neighbor (as opposed to the alternatives!), is severely deficient because a) it is not bolstered and informed by an underlying love for the Triune God, and hence its ultimate hope and expression is not the salvation of the whole world – i.e. people’s rescue and growth in eternal life, that is, knowing God through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 17:3), and b) a lack of purity or holiness in fulfilling this love – which of course is supposed to flow through us unhindered from God and for our neighbor.

The believer in Christ, on the other hand, lacks the love they should have in the sense of b) above (not a)  But they know God as He reveals Himself to us in Christ, that is, as the friend of sinners who do not love as they ought.

**Yes, there are times in my life when I do feel – against my better judgment – that what one Lutheran Pastor recently tweeted is the only thing that can be said about God’s law: “When the Law is held up to us like a mirror, it doesn’t compel us to do more better. It simply says, ‘Shut up. You’ve done enough damage.'”

 

Picture of Robot hand and human hand created taken from the cover of this book: http://www.amazon.com/Robot-Builder-Beginners-Building-Robots/dp/0789751496/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1418218259&sr=1-1&keywords=Robot+builder

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

“When [sin] reigns in one’s nature, not yet fully purged, then assuredly the true doctrine is soon lost”

Is synergism necessary to keep doctrine pure?

Is a proper kind of synergism necessary to keep doctrine pure?

Martin Luther was not one to mince words. 

In one his last sermons, on Rom. 12:3, Luther stated about a month before his death (AE 51:376-377):

“Therefore, see to it that you hold reason in check and do not follow her beautiful cogitations. Throw dirt in her face and make her ugly. Don’t you remember the mystery of the holy Trinity and the blood of Jesus Christ with which you have been washed of your sins? Again, concerning the sacrament, the fanatical antisacramentalists say, ‘What’s the use of bread and wine? How can God the Almighty give his body in bread?’ I wish they had to eat their own dirt. They are so smart that nobody can fool them. If you had one in a mortar and crushed him with seven pestles his foolishness still would not depart from him. Reason is and should be drowned in baptism, and this foolish wisdom will not harm you, if you hear the beloved Son of God saying, ‘Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you; this bread which is administered to you, I say, is my body.’ If I hear and accept this, then I trample reason and its wisdom under foot and say, ‘You cursed whore, shut up! Are you trying to seduce me into committing fornication with the devil?’ That’s the way reason is purged and made free through the Word of the Son of God.

So let us deal with the fanatics as the prophets dealt with the spiritual harlots, the idolaters, the wiseacres, who want to do things better than God does. We should say to them, ‘I have a Bridegroom, I will listen to him. Your wisdom is utter foolishness. I destroy your wisdom and trample it under foot.’ This struggle will go on till the last day. This is what Paul [in Rom. 12:3] wants; we are to quench not only the low desires but also the high desires, reason and its high wisdom. When whoredom invades you, strike it dead, but do this far more when spiritual whoredom tempts you. Nothing pleases a man so much as self-love, when he has a passion for his own wisdom. The cupidity of a greedy man is as nothing compared with a man’s hearty pleasure in his own ideas. He then brings these fine ideas into the Scriptures, and this is devilishness pure and simple. This sin is forgiven, but when it reigns in one’s nature, not yet fully purged, then assuredly the true doctrine is soon lost, however willingly one preaches and willingly one listens. Then Christ is gone. Then they fall down before the devil on the mountain and worship him (Matt. 4 [:8–10]).”

Also note this quote:

AE 24:246: “It does not require such great skill to begin to love; but, as Christ says here, remaining in love takes real skill and virtue. In matrimony many people are initially filled with such ardent affection and passion that they would fairly eat each other; later they become bitter foes. The same thing happens among Christian brethren. A trivial cause may dispel love and separate those who should really be bound with the firmest ties; it turns them into the worst and bitterest enemies. That is what happened in Christendom after the days of the apostles, when the devil raised up his schismatic spirits and heretics, so that bishops and pastors became inflamed with hatred against one another and then also divided the people into many kinds of sects and schisms from which Christendom suffered terrible harm. That is the devil’s joy and delight. He strives for nothing else than to destroy love among Christians and to create utter hatred and envy. For he knows very well that Christendom is built and preserved by love. In Col. 3:14 Paul speaks of love as ‘binding everything together in perfect harmony.’ And in 1 Cor. 13:13 he calls love the greatest virtue, which accomplishes and achieves most in the Christian realm. For in the absence of love doctrine cannot remain pure; nor can hearts be held together in unity.”

-Quotes obtained from the materials given out at the 27th Annual Lutheran Free Conference: “The Character of Christian Worship: It May Not Be What You Think” – Saturday, October 25th, 2014 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, MN.  Full audio available here.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Transformation Failure

Came across this today.  Forgotten I had written it years ago.  Not much has changed in five years, it seems.

But the Lord is in the process of making us – whom He has made perfect forever in Christ – holy.  (Hebrews 10:14)

Transformation failure

Sins long forgiven, consequences remain
Oh, to be innocent of what he now knows
Echoes of past choices revertibrate, suffocate
Temptation lingers, no end in sight
Desire for God and desire for evil?
Romans 7 so real, so prescient

The kitten Sin, so small, so harmless
A million justifications arise
Malformed passions explained, caressed
Conflict waging – who wins out?
The lion Sin, larger, so vicious
Consuming his life and his kin

Fear and love of God subsiding
Divine plans and purposes, stillborn
Faith, lives, innocent children destroyed
“Fraud.  Hypocrite.  Liar”, he says
He calls himself Christian?
He hates his life

Faith in Christ saves, he rejoices!
How much repentance? – irrelevant!
But is there any true faith?
For is there any true repentance?
To the empty well he ever returns
How can he not be lost, cut off?

The devil delights
Faith so unlike a child!
Yes, nations blaspheme because of him!
Yes, God knows he deserves death!
Servant of the Word – go!
Draw him outside himself again!

70×7 says, does the Christ-child
“Room in the inn” – even for him.
Leave him not to his own judgment
Draw the truth from him
Absorb his sin, his guilt
You carry Christ in your body

Sins forgiven, but consequences remain
His love grows cold
Transformation eludes, fails
So will he transform God?
Will he desire forgiveness for this, for that?
Come Lord Jesus – and save him from himself.

*Note – I got the idea of the title for this post from here.  Any readers will have to tell me if they think this to, is a “theology fail”.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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