The Meaning of Words, a Man’s Word, the Word of God — Part II

One of the things which saddens me most about the present state of the Lutheran Church is the basic lack of integrity among those called to proclaim and teach God’s Word and rightly administer the sacraments. By this I do not mean the human weakness and sinfulness in which we all find ourselves. We all are tempted. Only Christ was and is without sin. My concern is more focused and is basic to the health of the Church and the proclamation of the Word. Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll get to the point. If a pastor is going to be a faithful servant of the Word, he has to be a man of his word. Pastor’s make solemn vows when they are ordained. Those vows are not coerced, but freely spoken. They are not based on some fine print which the pastor has overlooked, but on years of hopefully careful study and acquaintance with the teachings of the Church, especially Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Studying the ancient languages, learning to listen to God’s Word through careful and faithful exegesis, being immersed in the witness of the consensus of the church catholic in general, and the Lutheran Church specifically — these are not mere hurdles to be jumped, but preparation for ministry and a part of the informed consent involved in the ordination vows and subscription to the Confessions. The Church, including the average person sitting in the pews, should be able to trust that the pastor before them did not cross his fingers when saying his vows. The hearers of the Word should be able to trust that the man in the pulpit did not engage in some Lutheran form of the Jesuits’ reservatio mentis when he promised fidelity to God’s Word as witnessed in the Lutheran Confessions. Continue reading

The Meaning of Words, a Man’s Word, the Word of God–Part I

We live in a paradox in the world of blogs. On the one hand, the importance and power of words underlies the whole blogging enterprise. On the other hand, post-modern thought tends to downplay the meaning of words per se and centers meaning in the hearer. The former is the underlying assumption of this post. The latter is a malignancy which threatens not just language, but faith, trust, integrity, and any sense of Truth. As Lutherans, we are very aware of the centrality of God’s Word not only in theology, but in the very existence of the Church and the genesis of faith. As Christians, especially as theologians, we have a decided interest in words and meanings. We also trust that no matter how much men may try to empty words of their meaning, no matter how worthless a man’s word may be, VDMA.
From my perspective, the whole post-modern enterprise is a matter of deception. It is a matter of deconstruction and reconstruction. What this entails in regard to words is to render words meaningless or to at least raise doubts as to the meaning of words. Continue reading

Accomodations to the Culture Are Not Universally Benign

One often hears so called progressives calling for accommodations to contemporary culture in order to “reach out with the Gospel.” The same appeal was made in Germany in the 1930s. It was hotly debated, even among those who were not sympathetic with National Socialism. A rift among students studying under Bonhoeffer even developed and led to a parting of ways. Accommodations are not necessarily innocuous nor are outward things necessarily “adiaphora.” This link to a Spiegel article from last year (in English) brings this home. If hip hop music is used in worship or sage brush burned before the altar, are those simply “adiaphora” or steps in the direction of paganism and slips away from a sense of the holiness and majesty of God? When does a blurring of boundaries signal their erasure?

Luther Memorial Church

Posted by pomeranus.

Was heißt lutherisch?

An article from ten years ago is even more relevant than when it was written. It deals with the dangers of mistaking conservativism for a genuine Lutheran confessional stance. It raises questions we need to face:

  • Have we become a mere sect which needs to die?
  • Are questions of theology more important than institutional survival?
  • Are we captives of the Word or just people with opinions about it?
  • Are we willing to stand against forces from many sides which would snatch the Truth from us by stealth or force?
  • Is there enough confessional understanding left for the Church to remain a creature of the Word and resist the slide into becoming a human institution which promotes convenience?

These are times which call for introspection, courage, and trust in the power of the Word.

Posted by pomeranus.

The Church Needs A Constant Reformation

One of our brethren has shared these reflections on the relationship of the LCMS and ELCA. It is thoughtful and timely.

The Church Needs A Constant Reformation

Each year at the end of October we celebrate Reformation Sunday. This year it will take place on October 28, just three days before the actual anniversary of that great event. On October 31st, 1517, the eve of All Saints’ Day, Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the castle church in Wittenburg Germany. These were 95 points that he found wrong with the church of his day. By posting these 95 Theses it was Luther’s intent to debate these statements and to show where the church had erred. Luther never intended to break from the Roman Church – he simply wanted them to correct the false teachings that were not in accordance with the Bible.
Refusing to consider Luther’s claims the church excommunicated him and referred to him as a heretic. All of this is brought out very clearly in the movie called “Luther.” I suggest if you haven’t watched this movie that you either purchase it or rent it from the library and that you view it for yourself. It presents the struggles that Luther endured as he tried to bring the truth of the Gospel back to light. I especially like the part where he is asked to recant (to take back) his teachings. In that scene Luther makes his famous statement. “Unless convinced by Scripture or plain reason, – for I believe neither the Pope nor the councils alone, since it is certain they have often erred and contradicted one another, – I am overcome by the Scriptures quoted and my conscience is bound to the Word of God, I cannot and will not revoke anything, for it is unsafe and dishonest to act against conscience.” Continue reading

Immoral Equivalence

Andrew Bostom coins the phrase “immoral equivalence” in his review of Robert Spencer’s latest book. It takes on the leftist apologists for Islam in the West who have made Christianity the source of all evil and misery in the world. The self-loathing among intellectuals is a puzzling phenomenon. This review and Spencer’s book are great resources in addressing the misinformation which permeates academia and the mainstream media. Sometimes it seems as if our government also has bought into the myths which keep us from addressing the challenges of Islam in a realistic way.

Posted by pomeranus.