Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XXV: Whitsunday

Welcome to the 25th installment of the Lutheran Carnival! Compiled below are some fascinating posts from a number of wonderful bloggers, but before we get to the Carnival of Lutheran Blogs, I would first like to bring to your attention that this is Whitsunday, the first Sunday in the church season of Pentecost.

For your benefit, and mine, I have found some information given on the LCMS website that summarizes this season.
The word "Pentecost" is derived from the Greek word for "fifty." The Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2, occurred 50 days after Jesus' resurrection and 10 days after His ascension.

The day celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit to the disciples following Jesus' ascension. On the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover week, the Jews celebrated a festival of thanksgiving for the harvest.

It was known by a number of different names: Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10), Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16), Day of First fruits (Num. 28:26). The "Feast of Weeks" was the second-most important festival for the Jews. (The most important was Passover.) This explains why so many people from all over the Roman empire were in Jerusalem on the day when the Holy Spirit was sent (see Acts 2:8?11).

The Day of Pentecost is seen as the culmination of the Easter season. In many calendars, the day is listed as "Whitsunday." This comes from the phrase "White Sunday," and refers to practice of the newly baptized appearing in their white, baptismal garments on that day.

The color of the day is red, symbolizing the tongues of fire that appeared on the apostles. In the early church, Jesus' ascension and the sending of the Spirit were celebrated together. By the seventh century, Pentecost had become such an important festival that the whole week following was set aside to observe it. Law courts were not in session, and most work was forbidden.

By the 12th century this was limited to only three days. In most European countries the Monday after Pentecost is still observed as a holiday.
Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor adds the following:
Our Pentecost is actually celebrated *49* days *after* Easter (IOW, on the 50th day *of* the Resurrection) but its Jewish counterpart obviously had a different numbering.

Deuteronomy 16:9-10 says, "You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you."
Now that we have introduced Pentecost, it's time to meet our Church Father for this edition of the Carnival: C. F. W. Walther! I searched through all of the previous Carnival editions, and was surprised that no one had highlighted him. Most people have referenced some of his works, but never highlighted him.

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm (C.F.W.) Walther (October 25, 1811 - May 17, 1887), was the first President of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and its most influential theologian.

Born a pastor's son in Langenchursdorf in the Kingdom of Saxony (part of modern-day Germany), Walther enrolled at the University of Leipzig to study theology In October of 1829.

He had to take six months off from the university due to a nearly-fatal lung disease; during the time off he acquainted himself with the works of Martin Luther, and became convinced that Luther's theology clearly taught the doctrines of Holy Scripture.

On January 15, 1837, he was ordained as a pastor in the town of Bräunsdorf, Saxony. He was soon at odds with the government of Saxony, because he believed it departed from the faith and practice of historic Lutheranism and promoted false doctrine.

Controversy over Stephan Walther and many others who opposed the Saxon government's view religious policies came together under the leadership of a Pastor holding similar views, Martin Stephan from Dresden.

In November 1838, eight-hundred Saxon immigrants left for America, hoping for the freedom to practice their religious beliefs. The settlers arrived in New Orleans on January 5, 1839, and the majority of immigrants settled in the area of St. Louis. Stephan served initially as the Bishop of the new settlement, but, having been charged with corruption and sexual misconduct, was swiftly expelled from the settlement, leaving Walther as the one of the most well-respected clergymen remaining.

Following this crisis of leadership, considerable debate filled the settlement over the proper role of the church in the New World: was it a new church, or did it remain within the German Lutheran hierarchy? Walther's position, derived from his reading of Luther during a long convalescence, prevailed: this was a new church, free of prior strictures and structures.

Walther's Ministry

In May 1841 Walther became Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, a position he held until his death. Later that year, on September 21, he married Emilie Buenger; six children issued from this union. On April 26, 1847, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod was founded. Walther served as its first president, a position he held from 1847 to 1850 and again from 1864 to 1878.

During his forty years of involvement in the church, Walther held several positions, including that of president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (founded at Perry County, Missouri in 1838), President of Concordia Theological Seminary, now of Fort Wayne, Indiana (1861), and founder of the St. Louis Lutheran Bible Society (1853). He also began and edited several Lutheran periodicals, including Der Lutheraner and Lehre und Wehre. He wrote a number of theological books; perhaps the best known is The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel.

Walther also vigorously opposed the theologies of non-Lutheran denominations in America, the influence of the major secular philosophies and movements upon Lutheran thought and practice and defended the doctrinal and cultural heritage of the Lutheran Church. He died in St. Louis on May 7, 1887, and was buried at Concordia Cemetery, where a mausoleum was later built in his honor.

Now, on with the Carnival!

I'm giving the Golden Journalist's Pen Award to the first person who sent in submissions for the 25th installment of the Lutheran Carnival. This award goes to "Der Bettler" of Hoc Est Verum. He sent in a post entitled, "Real Church Growth." In it, he discuses "A look at an alternative plan for church growth." A more in-depth look is given into how we can achieve growth in our church without sacrificing or diluting our own core teachings.

The runner-up for the Golden Journalist's Pen Award goes to the second person to submit posts, turning them in less than one hour after Hoc Est Verum. That person is Dan of Necessary Roughness with his post entitled "Paying for Consequences, Known and Unknown." He says, "The New York Times, in an article about HPV, puts forth the assumption that Christians oppose mandatory vaccination on religious grounds." Dan refutes this and goes on to attack the logic that we are to avoid sinful behavior simply because of its consequences.

Dan also submitted a post entitled "CEN and Vespers at Memorial in Houston." He describes having the opportunity to visit Memorial Lutheran Church and School on Christian Education Night and reports on the teaching and language skills of the senior pastor.

Dr. CPA of Three Hierarchies submitted a number of good posts: First, he uses two obscure byways of Christian history to illustrate the enduring relevance of Luther's reading of St. Paul's
epistles. In "How Do I Get a Gracious God?" in the Intertestamental Era, he shows that a Jewish apocryphal dialogue exemplifies the kind of temptation and despair that some would like to see as only a personal eccentricity of Luther. In "The Theodicy of Bondage of the Will in Novel Form," CPA illustrates this same movement from despair of God's mercy to reliance on Christ in the novels of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

In an older post, "What is Christian Liberty For?" he argues that multi-culturalism – of a specific kind -- is central to practicing and understanding Christian liberty. In "Is Fermented Mare's Milk Unclean?" he illustrates the theological and pastoral disaster that can strike when Paul is not read as making a general statement about all law in his statement that the Law can never justify, but as only including Jewish law or Mosaic law.

The next submission comes from Outer Rim Territories, who discusses The Baptismal Practice & Theology of the Early Church and Martin Luther. This post was written for a seminary class. If you are confused about certain elements of the baptismal rite (like candle, garment, anointing) or the historicity of the rite, it might be useful. The PDF chart comparing the rites is most useful.

Next is Pastor Klages from A Beggar At The Table, with his post "Pray for your Pastor." On behalf of pastors everywhere, Pastor Klages encourages his readers to pray for their pastors. Mrs. T. Swede's note: This is important. Pastors don't often get to worship on Sundays like the people they minister to; they are too busy working. When you pray for your pastor, you give him spiritual nourishment, too. It's also important to thank God for your pastor.

Frank at Putting Out the Fire submitted "Easter Hymn For Rogate," in which he gives us his thoughts on hymnody being a confession of faith. He continues his series of posts on hymnody with a look at how a hymn should reflect the doctrine of Sola Gratia set forth in Scripture. His hymn for Rogate is used to touch on the subjects of conversion, grace and justification.

And I am pleased to introduce, submitting to the Carnival for the first time, Old School Confessional, and his post, "Plagiarism in the Pulpit." This brief post laments the deplorable practice of preaching sermons that a pastor did not write himself. It invites discussion on this topic with regard to prevalence of the practice; importance of the issue; and pastoral fidelity to the Word of God, the congregation, and the ministry.

Then, we have the founder of our Lutheran Carnival, Random Dan (or, as my husband calls him, Dan the Geologist) from Random Thoughts of a Confessional Lutheran. In his post called "Tough Love," Dan explains why he is harder on LCMSers who go wrong than on others outside the LCMS. Mrs. T. Swede's note: In my opinion, it's easier to see where people are going wrong when you are firmly planted in the correct theology, and at the same time, harder to understand why they would stray.

Kelly of Kelly's Blog submitted "Mensa"-styled Bible puzzles. Kelly tries her hand at creating some Bible puzzles styled after a certain Mensa game format. Give it a whirl and see how you do. (This particular game plays a little like reverse "Outburst.")

Next, our organist friend Sean of Hot Lutheran On Lutheran Action submitted "The Confessional Lutheran Church: A Church That's All About You." Sean makes an unusual statement in his pitch for why the Confessional Lutheran Church has the most to offer: It's all about you! Mrs. T. Swede's note: Thank you, Sean, for telling us about how God serves us by His Word. I think this is something we should all take note of.

Aardvark Alley had its usual complement of church festivals and commemorations. Among them, he shined the spotlight on early Church historian and theologian The Venerable Bede. He also introduced his readers to clever continuations of C. S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters in Oh! The Wormwood and the Gall.

Some people, like Pastor Snyder (Thanks again, Pastor, for your help with the Pentecost info!), are a part of more than one successful blog, each with wonderful information and thought-provoking wisdom to share.

1.) Luther Library continues to review books on a wide range of topics. This week, Dcs. Emily Carder gave a glowing report, highly recommending Women Who Make the World Worse by Kate O'Bierne.

2.) Should there be Prayer in Public Schools? Yes and no, opines Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor. He gives his reasons why he wouldn't want to return to the "good old days" of his youth in the 60s. Among a wide variety of other questions with which he dealt, he dealt with issues of pastoral confidentiality as he discussed The Seal of the Confessional. He also discusses The Da Vinci Code: Mormons and the Marriage of Jesus, in which he explains what the Mormons believe and teach regarding the life of Jesus, and whether He was married.

TK of Be Strong in the Grace submitted a post which deals with a topic close to my heart. I always enjoy reading what she has to post, and this one is no different: Beauty of Private Confession and Absolution. This is something I find particularly comforting and wonderful, and I pray that everyone has the opportunity to read this. (I have also posted about private confession in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.) In TK's post, she talks about her family's first, but not last, experience with private confession and absolution.

And now, the very latest entry to the Carnival: Terrible Swede and his post Conflict of Interest. In this post, he asks for answers to the question of what pastors do when he and the local congregation that supports the him differ on theological issues (women elders, abortion, open communion, etc.). If you have an idea of how these issues can be solved or mediated, let him know.

Finally, a draft to the Carnival, recommended by Dan of Necessary Roughness. Pastor Borghardt of Bloghardt's Reflector brings us Gospel Freedom and Its Limits. In his post, Pastor Borghardt says "To prescribe an end to Gospel freedom is to put a Law on the Gospel. You don't wanna do that. Why? Well, if there is a limit on the Gospel, then we are lost. For, there would be a limit to Christ's all availing sacrifice FOR ALL men." To learn more on this topic, go to his site and read on!

Just as a reminder, the next Carnival will be hosted by A Beggar at the Table. Submissions are due June 16, and the Carnival should be up by June 18.

Also, more hosts are needed! If you would be willing to host Carnivals XXVII through XXIX, please send an e-mail to daniel dot sellers at gmail dot com, and put the words Carnival Host in the subject line.


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

And you were skeered there wasn't going to be any posts. :)

Thanks for the excellent job.

Pr. Alex Klages said...

OK folks... I'm antsy to get my carnival rolling... so start submitting early and often! I'll have my rules up soon.

The Terrible Swede said...

Thanks, babe, for putting a fine Lutheran Carnival together.