Mother Hubbard's Cupboard

A look into the mind of one of the most random, crazy people in all the land.

My Photo
Location: East Peoria, Illinois, United States

A Lutheran seminarian eagerly awaiting the return of Our Lord. Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Confessional Evangelism

Hey everyone...I had a monumental thought! Since the Ablaze!(tm) counter does not count baptisms or adult conversions....let's help them out! On top of the "sharing the Gospel," let's report the other two aspects and keep a tally. Nothing says "critical event" like being born again by water and the Word! What do you think?

Let me start with who I've done:
1. A really confused Oneness Pentecostal heard the Gospel.
2. My Jewish friend heard the meaning of the Gospel over a pint of beer at Granite City.
3. My Indian friend (;-x) heard the meaning of the Gospel the same time as 2.
4. An atheist in two of my philosophy classes heard the true meaning of the Gospel.

That's just off the top of my head! Seriously, I think we can demonstrate that the non-Ablaze! method works just as good, if not better!

P.S. The point of this post is that evangelism can happen, even if one does not count what are seen as "critical events." To deny baptism or teaching in Lutheran grade schools as "critical events" and still call yourself Lutheran tells me you haven't read the Scriptures or the Confessions very closely.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Actions > Words

While surfing the internet and Lutheran blogosphere, I have come across several statements from those defending the Synod's decision to discontinue Issues, Etc. and fire its host and producer. Many of these statements describe those who attack the Synod as those akin to hunting for witches, conspiracy theorists, etc. They say that we should put the best construction on this event as the 8th Commandment says. I say they're correct with the last sentence.

Here is what we have:
1. Synod fires Rev. Todd Wilken and Mr. Gary Scwartz on Holy Tuesday with no explanation, citing "business" and "stewardship (programmatic)" reasons.
2. Supporters and listeners of Issues, Etc. decry the action and take up collections, offer prayers for, and generally support the displaced men......the Synod does nothing.
3. The Synod shares more information, some individuals believe is not too accurate or is somewhat doctored......many in the Lutheran blogosphere accept Rev. Wilken's suggestion to focus on the Passion and Resurrection of Our Lord and eat and drink His body and blood on Easter Weekend...many of us do so.
4. Those in the Lutheran blogosphere ask for a real answer as to why these men were fired in an unChristian manner.....the Synod keeps its mouth shut and does nothing.

Therefore: Those who are supporting Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwartz are acting in a Christian manner towards their brothers who are suffering. These supporters are also indignant (though some unjust anger and words has been experienced and shared) at the response (or lack thereof) from the Synod and her leadership on this matter. Even the "Epistle of Straw" hints that action speak louder than words....what if there are not even words let alone actions?

Perhaps in the future of the LCMS, it will be found that Rev. Wilken and Mr. Schwartz simply did not speak enough faith into their situation. Perhaps it will be found that they have their shortcomings as well. Perhaps they should have shared the Gospel with others rather than focus on dogma and theology. Perhaps I'll sprout wings and fly with the pigs. The decision of the Synod cannot be interpreted as anything BUT a political move....there's your "best construction."

Why the move was most likely political:
1. It occurred the same day (March 18th) the SP spoke regarding the future direction of the Synod. The direction is to communicate the message of that people get to church. Sorry, the church has traditionally confronted other religions and situations head on in her apologetic writings and preachment...but the church was not altered so that it appealed more to them. "Packing the pews" is important....whether most of the bodies are alive or corpses seem to be inconsequential. Sorry, that's a rant.
2. The individuals who were fired were quite vocal in their criticism of modern church growth methods and trends in main-line evangelicalism...some of which our leadership is partial to. Thus with all the debt I asked why, for example, Don Baker was not asked to leave (don't take this wrong, I love Don Baker and his is merely to prove a point).
3. Any criticism of this decision or Ablaze!(tm) is met with criticism and questions regarding our focus and committment to missions. Return fire questions are of course, what Scriptural promise are we given for following modern church growth methods?

Problems with communicating via language people can understand:
1. Remember, it is the grace of God communicated through means that converts.
2. While communication must be understood, to focus on pure understanding is Protestant in nature and is designed to "convince" someone to join the church. Preaching should speak to people's problems in life so that it seems relevant....death and salvation from it doesn't seem that hard to get across to people who are not in the church.
3. When St. Paul used such a tactic in his preaching at the Areopagus, he convinced few converts...there is no church in Athens (as Fr. Weedon pointed out on IE when he covered that passage...or was it the Bible Study?). When St. Paul got to Corinth he said he would have NOTHING known among them except Christ and Him crucified.
4. Modern methods of speaking in the Ablaze!(tm) movement focus on "shortcomings" (sin is not left out, but it is undermentioned). Death is seemingly not connected with such "shortcomings." Thus Christ, while giving us eternal life (no explanation there) still seems to be a coach helping you to get the touchdown.
5. Affecting the style of worship is a slap in the face to those who have gone before us...such changes to the liturgy are only drastic when needed, other than that they are slow and organic. While my church in Peoria is careful with their selection of contemporary songs....not all are. Thus, some modern songs used in contemporary worship are just plain heretical. A video is circulating of a Houston, TX worship service...where the pastor wore a suit (so much an icon of Christ! shows where our focus is) and it seems as if no one reverenced the altar....yeah, that won't affect the parishioner's long-term theology my tush.
6. As Fr. Beane has said says something about substance. Many people who are against the "Confessionals" (horrors!) seem to dislike the phrase, "lex orandi, lex credendi" even though it is blatantly obvious from general psychology (not marketing which sometimes misses the mark quite wide) and the history of the church.

Butt counting methods for "growth" (thus indicating that churches not undergoing growth are "dead" or "stagnant" - let alone that other nice word, "stable") tend to emphasize "sharing" rather than "sacrament." Of course, in small rural communities where there aren't many people around...God could just create more men from the dust so that the church can be seen as growing....noobs. They will eventually bankrupt the Synod in terms of her membership...those who have grown up in it or have been drawn to it by the beauty of her liturgy and the clarity of her sacramental message will feel alienated and leave. Similarly, those who are drawn by the huggy, touchy, feel goodness of church will eventually leave or look for something deeper, either because the feeling is gone (yay emotions!) or they think, "bored now." So either way, you lose your trees and you'll eventually lose your about a backfire! I fail to see how it is good marketing to offer what everyone else has....that's just dumb! Hmmm...I want to compete with the five other mexican restaurants on this road. Maybe I should offer the Chinese food I've been continuing to offer....nah! Of course, in typical marketing and business style...long term isn't even on the radar. We've set up for ourselves an impossible goal to accurately do.

Problems with the butt counting of Ablaze!(tm):
1. Saying to someone, "Jesus loves you" counts? - Seeker sensitive way
2. Do baptisms count...I've heard they don't? - Lutheran way
3. For those released back into the wild after they've been shared with...are they tagged or do you think since the target is 100,000,000 many will probably be recounted like people revote in Chicago (vote early, vote often).
4. What gets set on fire in a "blaze" typically burns out do you care for your new convert? What if they get tired of your church?

Sorry, while I see potential good from some aspects of Ablaze!(tm), particularly with "small group" Bible Study emphasis so that smaller relationships can build and grow, the rest is just awful. The clear expression of the Gospel should not be entangled in busines-ese, merged with seeker sensitive worship and Joel Osteen/Rick Warren messages that focus on purely me and my "shortcomings." The message of the Gospel is deliverance from sin, death, and Satan because God became man in Jesus, lived a sinless life, and died in my place, rising from the dead 3 days later so that I might have eternal life. Now if you've read this last sentence...let Ablaze!(tm) know so that they can add you to their counter. If you think about it long enough, accept Jesus as your personal saviour and prepare to live your best life now!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

See No Evil - Must Not Be Evil...What is Evil Again?

For Ethics class I am doing a paper regarding abortion. Before today, I didn't have the topic narrowed down. But now I realize that while I could argue for the status of personhood of the embryo, I am instead going to attack the view of Judith Jarvis Thomson wherein she states that just because a zygote is a person, because it must use another person's body, the law cannot force someone to let someone else use their body. She says the analogy is the same as hooking up a violin player to your kidneys without your permission.

In class, I brought up the maternal relationship, which was struck down because our professor didn't think that comes into the law's decision. He cited a recent case where one twin needed the organs of another twin which would not result in either of their deaths, the healthy twin refused, and the sick twin lost a lawsuit against the healthy twin. However, I would still hold that it is this unique relationship where an exception can be made on the basis of the protection of the life of one individual over the right of choice of the other. While not about life and death, the law does recognize relations when it comes to prosecution (I cannot as a lawyer prosecute my father), nor can I get married to my first cousin, even if we were to have abortions any time she became pregnant. Thus, familial relations can and should be taken into account when laws are written, and thus I hold (though I will argue by far more in depth in the paper) that the analogy breaks down by virtue of duty to different people and the state's right and duty to hold others to their duty.

If you disagree, let me know...if you agree, let me know what you think. It seems fundamentally improper for her argument to work when taken to its ultimate end. 1) The government cannot force me to use my body for someone else's benefit. Thus 2) My body which works to get money and a living is an extension of said body (this is Locke's point and is inherent in the amendments interpreted for privacy). Therefore, 3) the government cannot force taxation on me for ANY reason, even the regulation of a militia, let alone helping the poor, etc.

The Social Contract Theory is not the only moral theory used for legal ideas, and is in and of itself fundamentally flawed because it ignores duty to family which is meant to be the stable unit of society...for social well-being individuals are not autonomous and always combative as Hobbes suggested with regard to his fictitious history of the development of government from the "state of nature." I would argue that the branch of Virtue Ethics, particularly Feminist Ethics offers the strongest argument against abortion...even legally. What say you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos and the Incarnation of Our Lord

Old Testament: Exodus 15:19-16:12
New Testament: The Epistle to the Hebrews 10:1-18
Psalms: Morning - 98
Evening - 66; 116

"God Our Father, Your Word became Man and was born of the Virgin Mary. May we become more like Jesus Christ, whom we acknowledge as our Redeemer, God and man. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" - New St. Joseph Weekday Missal.

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death." - Hail Mary

"'For He that is mighty hath done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.' (Luke 1:49)
The "great things" are nothing less than that she became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed upon her as pass man's understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among whom she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in Heaven, and such a child. She herself is unable to find a name for this work, it is too exceedingly great; all she can do is break out in the fervent cry: "They are great things," impossible to describe or define. Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, or grass in the fields, or stars in the sky, or sand by the sea. It needs to be pondered in the heart, what it means to be the Mother of God." - Luther's Works, Vol. 21, p. 326, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, Concordia Publishing House, 1956.

Now the Decision is "Programmatic" and "Stewardship" Related....HUH?

According to the website, the reason "Issues, etc." was canceled was due to "programmatic" and "stewardship" related reasons. After those two very vague terms, the promise of "new programming in this time slot" was given.

Now, I'm not taking logic or anything (oh wait, yes I am), but it seems to me that to say "stewardship" and "new programming in this time slot" seems a little bit of a contradictory answer. I also doubt it was programmatic, since it can't be based on the time slot itself, as Fr. Wilken and Mr. Schultz were as surprised to be canned as anyone else.

No, I think this shows that the LCMS is still tight-lipped about the decision, which is growing more and more blatantly political as the vague answers which make absolutely no sense keep coming out. It's okay then....the Synod will either die or will purge that which is grotesque to the nature of Christ's church.

If anyone is from the LCMS hierarchy and is reading's a tip: Don't say "stewardship" and "new program" in the same sentence for different effects. It's like saying, "I sold my reliable and worthwhile car because I couldn't afford it anymore...I instead bought a 2008 car." Yeah...if that makes sense, I want you NOWHERE near my finances thank you very much.

I mean come on, the LCMS hierarchy may not be filled with theologians (which in and of itself is a completely crappy strategy...I don't think that's what "being a fool for Christ" means), but even kindergarteners can reason better than that...please.

Seriously, just be honest and give a full schpiel, "we fired the staff of Issues, etc. because they and the program did not conform to the watered down pseudo-Gospel message we want as our new image." Seriously, if you want to play Seminex all over again with the positions reversed, that's fine...just be prepared to actually have a backbone and STAND UP FOR YOUR DECISION BY FACING THEIR CONSEQUENCES AND BEING TRUTHFUL!

Rant mode off.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Do IT!

I have (2:08)!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

Old Testament: Exodus 14:10-31
New Testament: The Epistle to the Hebrews 7:23-8:13
Psalms: Morning - 93
Evening - 136; 117

"To the chosen Champion Leader risen from the dead, a hymn of victory do we sing unto Thee, O Christ Eternal King, for Thou hast risen from the tomb: and we being delivered from everlasting corruption, bring joyous acclamations unto Thine honorable tomb crying out: Rejoice, life-bearing tomb whence Christ hath risen!" - The Akathist to the Life-Bearing tomb and Resurection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Kontakion 1.

"Now all the vault of heav'n resounds
In praise of love that still abounds:
'Christ has triumphed!
He is living!' Sing, choirs of angels loud and clear!
Repeat their song of glory here:
'Christ has triumphed! Christ has triumphed!'
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!" - LSB 465:1

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday - The Vigil of Easter

Old Testament: Exodus 13:17-14:9
Psalms: Morning - 43
Evening - 31; 143

"Heavenly Father, I am silenced at the grave of Your Son, who knew no sin, yet was made sin for us. You permitted Him to die, exchanging His innocence for our guilt. In love He came to us, but He was rejected by hate. He taught us obedience, but men rebelled against Him. I confess that a great mystery confronts me at this tomb of sin and death. He was buried behind the great seal of my sin and my death. By faith I know also that He who died is the One who unlocked the great secret of Your love. His tomb is my tomb. He carried with Him to the grave my sin and my death, that He might break their hold on me. Trusting in the Lord's promise that He would rise again on the third day, I come not to mourn Him but to confess the sin that He would leave buried. Have mercy on me, O God! Have mercy on me. Amen." - The Lutheran Book of Prayer, p. 135.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday - The Earthly Coronation and Enthronement of Our Lord

Old Testament: Exodus 12:29-32; 13:1-16
New Testament: The Epistle to the Hebrews 6:1-20
Psalms: Morning - 22
Evening - 107; 130

Holy And Great Friday

Last Seven Sayings of Our Lord Jesus (ESV):
1. "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
2. "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
3. "Woman, behold, your son....Behold, your mother."
4. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
5. "I thirst."
6. "It is finished."
7. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

Orthodox Daily Office (Troparion): 6th Hour/Noon - "O You who on the sixth day and hour nailed to the cross the sin which rebellious Adam committed in Paradise, tear assunder also the bond of our iniquities, O Christ our God, and save us."

9th Hour/3pm - "O Christ God, Who at the ninth hour tasted death in the flesh for our sake, put to death the arrogance of our flesh and save us."

Concluding Prayer of the Noon Daily Office (according to pg. 296 LSB): "Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, at this hour You hung upon the cross, stretching out Your loving arms to embrace the world in Your death. Grant that all people of the earth may look to You and see their salvation: for Your mercy's sake we pray. Amen."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maunday Thursday - The Institution of the Eucharist and the Betrayal in Gethsemane

Old Testament: Exodus 12:1-28
Psalms: Morning - 38
Evening - 126; 102
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the Night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: 'Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.' In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: 'Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.'" - Words of Institution
"How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Answer: Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: 'Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.' These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: 'forgiveness of sins.'" - The Small Catechism of St. Martin Luther
"O Lord and Master of my Life, take from me the spirit of slot, despondency, lust for power and idle talk. But grant unto me, Thy servant, a spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love. Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see mine own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. For blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen." - St. Ephraim the Syrian

The Moratorium Has Begun...No More Posts On Issues, Etc. Till After Easter Sunday

This letter is a copy of what I sent to David Strand. After this post I will resume purely religious and evangelical posts related to the Passion of Our Lord (as per Fr. Weedon's suggestion on a moratorium).

Mr. Strand,

I would like to express my deepest condolences for the loss of the Synod on Tuesday. The decision to cancel Issues, Etc. and replace it with an "alternative" program (whatever that means in political jargon) is I hope a deeply misguided mistake. Many people outside of our denomination (Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Reformed Baptist, Presbyterian), not to mention within, are saddened by the loss of (in some cases the only) Lutheran program they listened to. As one of the most popular programs, I cannot believe it is a result of lack of funds or popularity.

I sincerely urge an HONEST answer as to why this decision was made and why Fr. Wilken and Mr. Schwartz were unceremoniously removed without any warning (they have families and loved ones for God's sake!). Such is the Christian duty of those whom the church herself by the authority of God has placed as her leaders. The Synod is now in more turmoil then I think anyone realized...many are considering leaving the Synod, and as a result many outside the Synod are looking at her leadership in disgust and this decision in disgust.

I pray this decision was not a politically motivated decision to stab fellow Christians in the back because they weren't onboard with a completely outdated and ineffective plan for evangelism that makes Martin Luther spin in his grave. We are to be unified...and I realize that this political debate goes back and forth, with un-Christian attitudes on BOTH sides. But I strongly urge that this decision is repealed, or else this Synod could very well be dead. No one wants to go to a Synod that claims to be Lutheran yet acts very similar to the Papacy in its authority and infallibility.

This program and its ministry brought me back to the fold of Lutheranism and the Gospel when I would have otherwise left. Do not let this slide by making enemies of brothers. Please do not make me regret my decision to remain in the LCMS. I like to think I am in a denomination of Christ's love, charity, and respect for one another.

Blessings on you and your family's Holy Week. Soli Deo Gloria,

Mr. Christopher Heren
B.S. Geology, B.A. Integrative Biology - U of IL 2005
A.A. Philosophy - I.C.C. in progress

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Others Added it...I'm a Copy Cat

Pray for them.


R.I.P. Issues Etc...You Will Be Missed.

Holy Tuesday - Old Testament: Exodus 9:29-10:20
New Testament: Hebrews 3:1-19
Psalms: Morning - 34
Evening - 25; 91

Issues, Etc. - 9 year life is done. Thanks to the faithful proclomation of God's Word and message of salvation which has helped many renew their faith in Lutheranism and the historic doctrines of the church (I am one such example), Fr. Todd Wilken and the other hard workers in the program have done Our Lord a tremendously effective service. Through his program I heard Fr. Weedon give a 10 part series on the historic liturgy that completely changed my outlook on worship, heard Dr. Scaer talk about the sacraments, heard Dr. James White talk about Sola Scriptura, etc.

No reason was given as to why the show was canceled at the last minute. Calling the Synod and KFUOAM would possibly bring this issue to the forefront of their attention. Pray for Fr. Wilken and the families (his included) of those affected by this turn of events. If it is money, pray that the LCMS will be able front some cash to keep a radio program going which could have been an effective tool of Ablaze(tm)!, bringing many into the fold of salvation. In all things, God's Will be done. As St. Patrick of Ireland did, so must we in proclaiming the Gospel...let us pray some miracles happen here.

Many faithful Lutherans (and others) are grieved by this loss...I pray this isn't the start of something bigger.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Augustana Ministerium on Eastern Orthodoxy - and Ecumenical Dialogue With McG

Old Testament: Exodus 4:19-31
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. Mark 15:16-32
Psalms: Morning - 38
Evening - 126; 102

WARNING: The discussion you will read about is true. The names have been referenced in case I get everything wrong. Cue: Dragnet music.

At McG's blog, he and I have begun a series of discussions (3 as of this date: 1, 2, 3) regarding Eastern Orthodoxy and Lutheranism. I am arguing that there is much more in common than either of us realize, and he is listening and thoughtfully digesting what is said. I am hoping to do the same.

He references a series of talks given by the Augustana Ministerium. While I have not listened to all three, I have listened once to the talk of Fr. Rutowicz, and twice to the talk of Fr. Juhl. In both talks, one could hear Fr. Weedon chime in (and timely I might add) to clarify a point or to give a suggestion. The problem was (at least in these two talks), I think Fr. Weedon was largely ignored or not fully understood (and indeed, if I have done the same here Fr. Weedon I beg forgiveness). He seemed to have suggested several times, particularly within Fr. Juhl's talk, that we in the Lutheran church are thinking too often in terms of "either/or," when the answer could potentially be "both/and" (I would argue that it does seem that Eastern apologists can seem to talk this way as well, thus perhaps showing a certain "infection" of Western philosophy and rhetoric gained during the period of "Catholic captivity" or simply due to the large impact the Western world had on the East even if they choose to ignore it or treat it negatively).

I would highly recommend one listen to the talks.....SEVERAL times. Listen carefully to the questions and comments as well. The comment in Fr. Rutowicz's talk that really aggrivated McG was, "Irenaeus could sure use a Pelagian controversy because the way he talks about free will, I think, is at the root of the Eastern view of original sin.....the way he [St. Irenaeus of Lyons] talks about free will, I think, is at the root of the Eastern view of original sin." McG went on to say that such a comment shows the pre-reflective committment to St. Augustine which the Lutheran father brought into the statement (McG's comments of free will and Augustine's arguments not-withstanding, which I disagree with).

To an extent, McG is right. Even though I understand what this Lutheran priest said, for he is echoing an opinion regarding heresy and the growth of doctrinal elloquence Fr. Burnell Eckardt had mentioned (the exact context of the quote escapse I apologize), I would agree that the statement is somewhat irresponsible. However, I don't think either group is fully appreciating the differences (or similarities) of free will and original sin that both groups possess.

Here is what I have taken from the talks so far:
Lutherans - 1. Need to realize that the inversion of the "catholic principle" found in the Lutheran Confessions (not defined by that name, but present particularly in the Formula on "Adiaphora") is hurting us in terms of both ecumenical dialogue and internal issues regarding worship and ecumenism with those who use Scripture WITHOUT tradition. Here is an essay by two former LCMS priests who joined the Orthodox Church. Here is a response from CAT 41.
2. Need to stop always thinking in terms of "either/or" and begin using "both/and." The East's theology focuses on making "things" persons or energies (Fr. Weedon aptly pointed out that because grace is uncreated, the Orthodox have the propensity to effectively treat grace as the Holy Spirit...a point emphasized in a podcast of "Faith and Philosophy" - though I cannot remember what the podcast was), relationships, and eschatological goals with a focus on the process of getting there.
3. Begin to look into the fact that we actually do have a tradition that makes use of BOTH Greek and Latin fathers. I swear when I heard who Patriarch Jeremiah II cited against the Lutheran scholars of Tubingen I about laughed....with the exception of Augustine, most were GREEK fathers. Such shows a fundamental thought process of looking primarily to the Greek/Eastern fathers in the Eastern church.
4. Study the issue better and REALLY look at Orthodoxy on their terms, THEN come to the Lutheran Confessions and the Western tradition to see if there is a true contradiction or disagreement.
5. Continue to use Scripture, but also stress patristics as a source of our own authority. The Confessions don't make the statement that we have not deviated from the church catholic because it sounded cool at the time!

Orthodox - 1. Need to realize that post-modernism has demonstrated that no one, including the "traditionless Lutherans" brings no tradition into their reading/interpretation of anything. Our tradition is based on the Lutheran Reformers who were in turn trained as Scholastics and well versed in the Latin (and I'm sure not too shabby in the Greek fathers as well)...thus, we operate with a Western tradition which views most things theologically in terms of objects, deffinite beginnings and systematics.
2. Need to look into the Latin fathers critically and not just accept what you have been taught regarding the unanimity of the church based on Theologoumena. If the west are still Christians, why has the Holy Spirit not worked through them as well? It seems to me like the West has the better grasp of the true nature of the theologoumena, even though we don't always emphasize the Greek fathers (sometimes to our loss, but often just because they don't speak to our heresies and issues per se).
3. Appreciate our having to deal with heresies. Lutherans respect the 7th ecumenical council even though our use of icons is somewhat stagnant. We don't say, "we don't see what all the fuss was about." Please don't do the same to justification and divine monergism, particularly after you look at our theological and historical baggage. The presentation of the Augsburg Confession to Emperor Charles V is our version of the "triumph of Orthodoxy."
4. Need to come to grips with the fact that the West deals with theological topics that "you don't like to mention." Fr. Juhl pointed out that Bishop Kalistos Ware in "How are We Saved" says that the Orthodox repudiate Augustinian original guilt (which he means as "imputation of guilt," something that is anti-Scriptural [Ezekiel 18:20, Christ does not answer directly the question about the blind man sinning or his parents sinning being the cause of his malady - John 9:2], the "guilt" is our own but is still dependent on the presence of original sin..or our "inborn corruption" and spiritual death)...yet later Bishop Ware says that to an extent we did have a part in Adam's sin....huh??? Similarly Bishop Ware says that the Orthodox "do not feel at home" with "imputation" nor do you like talking about "substitution." Sorry, but not liking something doesn't give you an excuse to deny the work other theologians and church fathers have done. Scripture is still clear that Christ's righteousness is imputed to us (Ezekiel 18:20) and that a substitution is necessary for the forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22). In essence, I'm saying not to simply dismiss the Lutheran theological positions because the Greek fathers don't get into much detail with it or don't feel comfortable discussing it....that is not a strong argument at all!
5. The fathers' interpretation of Scripture is still seen as almost irreproachable, and their closeness to the Apostles is almost seen as a trump card, yet if this were such a strong argument, WHY did Irenaeus need to write his whole book explaining why the heretics were wrong...he could have said all that paper and just said, "I heard Polycarp who was taught by John the didn't, therefore, you suck and I win." That also might work 200 years after the fact but it gets a little hard to believe 2000 years after the fact, particularly when the blemishless church has its own internal issues (on both sides). Christ and His church may be infallible, but I'm willing to bet that to say the church is one visible ecclesial communion on church today is a bit naive. We have Scripture interpreting Scripture....200 years between Irenaeus and the apostles is a long time for the same words to change meaning (i.e. gay now and gay 50 years ago)....thus you are left to explain why the same criteria of hermeneutics we use to interpret and understand Scripture doesn't seem to be used on the fathers. Thus the church becomes solely the consensus opinion of the fathers....I recall a certain Second Council of Ephesus that acted the same way, before it was recalled.

Both sides need to stop the "pissing match" (yes, one of the pastors said it in the audience...and I was thinking it too), realize this is primarily about "East vs. West" and ask whether or not we are in different communions makes a whole Hell of a lot of difference when we are talking about fathers and doctrine that fundamentally developed prior to the Schism in 1054...thus they were part of the same ecclesial communion. I think if both sides swallowed their pride, pulled the 4x4 beam out of their eyes that reaches the moon, be nice to one another and not get super-pissed when one priest goes from the Missouri Synod to the East (or vice-versa), and MAYBE we can start to act like the spotless bride of Christ.

Bored at Work....Grab a Snickers "Christian Denominator Selector"
My results from most similar to least.
1. Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
2. Eastern Orthodox Church
3. Evangelical Lutheran Church
4. Roman Catholic Church
5. Church of Christ
6. Episcopal/Anglican Church
7. Methodist/Weslyan Churches
8. International Church of Christ
9. Assemblies of God
10. Free Will Baptist
11. Menonite Bretheren
12. United Pentecostal Church
13. Orthodox Quakerism
14. Presbyterian Church in America/Orthodox Presbyterian Church
15. Reformed Churches
16. Seventh-Day Adventists
17. Southern Baptist
18. Mormonism
19. Presbyterian Church, USA
20. Reformed Baptist
21. Jehovah's Witnesses
22. Liberal Quakerism
23. Unity Church
24. Unitarian Universalism

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Why Do I Hang Around Youtube Again?


Fr. Heath Curtis Describes and Explains the Vestments for the Divine Service

Lenten Hymn: From Depths of Woe

Many thanks to Fr. Weedon who posted several videos from the Transfiguration Matins service of Concordia Mequon (making use of the LSB Matins liturgy with Russian Orthodox chanting and icons).

This is from the same of my favorite hymns I've had the pleasure to play with Trinity brass last year.

Alright...I can't resist: The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Tie-Breaker Was Not Fair!

Which theologian are you?
created with
You scored as Karl Barth

The daddy of 20th Century theology. You perceive liberal theology to be a disaster and so you insist that the revelation of Christ, not human experience, should be the starting point for all theology.

Karl Barth


Martin Luther




J├╝rgen Moltmann


John Calvin




Friedrich Schleiermacher


Jonathan Edwards


Paul Tillich


Charles Finney


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Quae Facta Sunt A Me Omnia Ob Te

Old Testament: Job 38:1-18
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 12:20-36a
Psalms: Morning - 38
Evening - 126; 102

A gentleman need not know Latin, but he should at least have forgotten it. ~Brander Matthews

I'm happy to say I can sympathize with Brander :-(. The loose Bryan Adam's quote in the title is somewhat a fun poke at classical education. Now don't get me wrong....I'm not bashing it. In fact, I'm going to make the case for classical education....well, okay, that's too broad and it's way to late for me to do that.

At our Student Philosophical Association meeting on Wednesday, the topic was "Should all American students be required to learn Spanish." Some said, "yes," and others were vociferously against it. I had a third idea...require at least one secondary language starting when the child is in early elementary school. Teach grammer more often and earlier, and stay off the cutesy crap that causes their minds to jump from one subject to another with such rapidity that they aren't forced to develop patience. Also, synthesize what they learn in one class by bringing it up in another class. For example, if you teach science, bring math into the mix more often. If you teach history, bring up theology or philosophy or art. If you teach literature, bring up history and political science.

What langauge should they learn? I don't know...I suggested three and for two good reasons:
1. English is the primary language as it is what is spoken in the home...this fact as well as the fact that our laws are in English means...we should just stop fooling ourselves by acting dumb and say English is our official language.
2. Mandarin Chinese - It stands to reason that this will be the next Lingua Franca, and it would behoove us to learn it for that reason, as well as the fact that it uses a vastly different alphabet and rules from Western would really help our children's brains to develop useful skills.
3. Latin and Ancient Greek - The past Lingua Francae will enable the students to read anything from the past with at least some competence, and when they get to high school, they could decide if they want to continue in those languages, or move on to other Romance languages like French and Spanish, or begin to engage German...or even Russian, making use of some of their Greek skills.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we shouldn't do math and science either. Our problem is that other nations think (and rightly so) that we're lazy. Two guys who were in the meeting are from foreign countries, and both speak three languages fluently. One guy was from Latvia and spoke Latvian, Russian, and English. The other guy, Fred, whose father was an ambassador, spoke French, English, and Swahili. Yet another guy in the room had a father who was Lebanese and a mother who was he could partially speak Arabic and Spanish on top of English!

Couple this with the fact that our writing ability in schools is a joke, it means we are falling dangerously behind in our ability to use the portion of the brain involved in languages. I have an idea...and I know it sounds crazy, but bring back classical education and stop focusing so much on sports. Sports are important for discipline, friendship, fitness, and physical development, but we focus so much time on it.

Can someone think of a potentially non-demanding schedule for Junior High and High School students that would allow them to have some free time, but would cover:
1. The classical languages
2. Religious education and theology
3. Philosophy and reasoning
4. Mathematics
5. Both the life and physical sciences with fundamental distinction in education
6. Art and drama (including music)
7. Literature and grammer (as separate courses...why high school just had "English" which only did literature I'll never know).
8. Mandatory sport

Such a school I think would be demanding on young kids, but well worth it in the long run, as the more you have to do when you are younger with regards to learning and education, the less hard you'll have to work when you get older.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Connecting to God With All the Senses

March 3rd - Old Testament: Job 34:10-33
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 11:17-37
Psalms: Morning - 119:73-80
Evening - 121; 6

March 4th - Old Testament: Job 36:1-21
New Testament: The Holy Gospel According to St. John 11:38-57
Psalms: Morning - 34
Evening - 25; 91

"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." - John 11:25-26 ESV

The title is somewhat ridiculous isn't it? We are connected to God through faith! Alas, such a simple answer, so complicated and wonderful a topic. We are connected through Word and Sacrament, yet what is that Word? The Word is the proclomation of the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus. So how is this Word transmitted to us? Ah, now there's the interesting part!

Very often in the West we tend to think of the Word simply as the Bible...but alas, while the Sacred Scriptures can convey that grace of forgiveness, this is not necessarily always the case. If one reads the Scriptures with the eye of "what must I do," then you will see only law, and will ultimately be condemned. If you know what to look for, or you happen to read a blatant section of Gospel, then the story is different. We treasure and guard the Scriptures because they are a testimony of salvation through Christ that God has given to the church. Such a blessing is worthy of study, daily reading, and is the source for our dogma and preachment. This Word of forgiveness however has different means that may transmit the message of forgiveness....ways that make use of more than just our ability to read. These are:

1. The preaching of the law and Gospel (aural) - That which the priest proclaims in the service to the congregation based upon the readings of the day or the festival of the day.
2. The music & hymns which worship the Triune God and focus upon the Godman Jesus (aural and vocal).
3. The incense which reminds us of the sweetness of salvation and the promise of our prayers ascending to God - a thanks is due to Fr. Beane, whose story of the dead rat catalyzed this thought somewhat (olfactory).
4. The symbolism of the architecture and geometry of the church - this includes the shape of the traditional sanctuary as a cross with the altar at the head with the dome at the top for the incense to rise to God and return to us in answered prayer (visual and olfactory).
5. The icons and statuary of the church (visual) - these rich and full images can convey the Gospel and point us to those who have gone before us, to even the smallest child as well as remind the oldest Christian what the Gospel is about.....that St. Luther himself used a crucifix and an image of the Theotokos in his daily devotions speaks volumes of this form of transmission of the Word that is sadly lacking in many of our Lutheran churches.
6. Liturgical action and words (visual, physical, responsive, vocal) - Responding to God by praying the Psalms or another action as a church is the congregation's ultimate confession of unity and community. To cross one's self or bow, to genuflect and follow the processional cross, etc. is a way of reminding ourselves that our life in Christ is total and that we are to become living sacrifices to God as we are made into the image and likeness of His Son. The Christian life is one of worship and is therefore not a spectator sport! Making the sign of the cross as is suggested in the Small Catechism (a matter of adiaphora pushed by Luther!)'s not just for Roman Catholics anymore ;-).
Finally there are the Sacraments: 1. Holy Absolution (aural) - the speaking of the Words, "you are forgiven," with the faith that while the priest is saying these words, Christ is speaking directly to you.
2. Holy Baptism (touch, aural) - Burried with Chist and risen to life! A rite that is done once but a sacrament that lasts and is returned to until the day you join the Church Triumphant!
3. The Holy Eucharist (taste, touch) - "Take eat, this is My body which is given for you....take drink, this is My blood shed for you." You don't get a higher connection to the Gospel than union with Christ Himself!

I point this out here because at times, many Lutherans and Lutheran churches to some extent or another, neglect all of these things. Many times it is because they are too Roman Catholic looking, yet in reality what is being done is that ways of communicating the Gospel are rejected. Now, it is not that these need be at every service, but one should begin to emphasize these in the lives of Christians so that they are surrounded and immersed in the message of Christ....I know I need more than just a ten minute devotion daily to remain in the Word....I can see the crucifix in my room every time I get up from my desk. If I'm reading and my screensaver comes on, I see icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the saints. If I am driving to school or work, I listen to my ipod which has classes from the Seminary or programs from Issues Etc., WOTMR, and Ancient Faith Radio. The more I see simply a cross or hear someone talk about God, the more I realize how much MORE I need it. In times of boredom or if I don't need to use too much brainpower at work I can silently pray the Jesus Prayer, Lord's Prayer, or Hail Mary and instantly realize that I am a part of God's family in Christ who never leaves me and who draws me closer to Him.

Quick News: What I find utterly amazing is how God works through my fears of public speaking to allow me to talk to many people about Christ. I have shared the Gospel with at least three people at school, two of whom were already Christians, the third an agnostic/atheist. For some reason they are open to it, and I am glad for that. Pray for them.

Secondly, my friend Pat has bought quite a bit of pricey computer, audio, and video equipment with a vision of an online radio and blog ministry (that's what "Average Joes with Bibles" is). We'll basically be an evangelism/doctrinal discussion/apologetics ministry....I'm there as the "Lutheran/tradition guy"....probably to keep the Catholic bashing at acceptable levels :-D.

Also, I meet Fr. Braaten on Monday at University Lutheran in Champaign...I don't know exactly what we'll be talking about....but the Sem. days are coming!...yay.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Certainly....One of the Best Things to Hit Reality

The guys who did Mystery Science Theatre 3000 have what are called "rifftrax." You pay a couple of bucks (if that) and you can watch your favorite movie and listen to how they make fun of it. McG, Tagge, and I watched the "Maxtrix" this last New Years with the rifftrax on....quite entertaining. Here are some free samples:




Raiders of the Lost Ark

Jurassic Park

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Sorry I got carried away...but these are GREAT!