Friday, July 18, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
"Oh, for a Faith That Will Not Shrink," TLH #396, from Luke 17:5; St. Peter; Wiliam H. Bathurst, 1831, alt.; Alexander R. Reinagle, 1836
Oh, for a faith that will not shrinkThis is beautiful as a prayer, asking God to keep our faith strong and steadfast in the midst of tumult in the world. It could just as well be prayed in our current struggle with the changes in our synod.
Tho' pressed by many a foe;
That will not tremble on the brink
Of poverty or woe;
That will not murmur nor complain
Beneath the chast'ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain
Can lean upon its God;
A faith that shines more bright and clear
When tempests rage without;
That, when in danger, knows no fear,
In darkness feels no doubt;
That bears unmoved the world's dread frown
Nor heeds its scornful smile;
That sin's wild ocean cannot drown
Nor Satan's arts beguile;
A faith that keeps the narrow way
Till life's last spark is fled
And with a pure and heavenly ray
Lights up the dying bed.
Lord, give us such a faith as this;
And then, whate'er may come,
We'll taste e'en now the hallowed bliss
Of an eternal home.
President Kieschnick, it appears, is trying to "transition" the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod into a "seeker-sensitive/purpose-driven" church, as opposed to the "Gospel-driven" church it has always and historically been.
No good can come of this. It will turn the LCMS into a denomination that is not unique to any other. The LCMS is quickly becoming a church body that embraces gimmicks and marketing ploys, fads and catch phrases. It is becoming a church body that is more concerned with fitting in with the world than changing it and resisting its wiles.
Remember these words from John 15:18-20... (From Bible Gateway)
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.
If we are so concerned with what the world thinks as to look and act just like the rest of the world, then the world will accept us as its own. But that's not what we are here to do. We are not here to "fit in" with the world, but to let the world know that it is sinful, and that God, Himself, is the cure.
Yes, we will be hated for it, persecuted, spat upon (hopefully not literally, but figuratively). That is what happened to Pr. Wilken and Jeff Schwarz: They preached and helped spread the Word of God without dressing it up in fancy catch phrases, songs that are not hymns, or gimmicks. They, in fact, rejected such nonsense, and I believe (as do many others) that they lost their jobs and their radio program because of it.
Verse 20 ends: "If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." This is why Issues, Etc. had such a large following.
In fact (and I hope President Kieschnick takes note of this), since the program was canceled, people who were not already familiar with Issues, Etc. have been finding and listening to recordings of the show, liking what they hear and signing the petition! In other words, the cancellation of the show has served to only increase its popularity and demand for its return!
Confessional Lutheranism is not going away anytime soon. We may have to hold services apart from the LCMS eventually, but we will not and cannot relinquish or compromise our faith just because our current leader tells us that we have to conform to the world. Doing so would be giving in to the devil.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
For those of us who heard about the show's cancellation and the firing of Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz early on, our tone has changed (somewhat) from outrage to action. We are still demanding answers from the LCMS headquarters, and want to know who pulled the plug and why. We are still angry that this was allowed or forced to happen.
So, what do we do now? We need to continue to spread the word about what has happened. Even at this point, there are a lot of people who don't know, primarily because they don't subscribe to the same e-mail lists as a lot of us do, and don't usually listen to the program online – maybe just on Sunday nights. There was a program on last Sunday night, but unbeknownst to any of us, that was the last Sunday night broadcast. And those who don't have access to the internet or don't use it like many of us do won't likely know anything about this until they talk to others at church tomorrow morning, or try to listen to the program tomorrow night and realize it's not on.
Realize that this program was listened to by not just those in the LCMS, but by other Lutherans and by other Christians not associated with any branch of the LCMS. Talk to your friends about it, even if you think they wouldn't have a connection. The more people who know about it, the better. Maybe they'll sign the petition, too. At the time of this posting, there were about 3,440 signatures. Mine was one of the first 25. (Because I don't publicize my name on my blog, that's the only narrowing you're going to get. Those who know me know which signature is mine.)
What more can we do? Look at my last post and take down the contact information. Write real (paper) letters if you can – e-mail only goes so far, and many of those on the list have programs designed to send back a generalized form letter to the sender. You can call the LCMS headquarters at 1-888-THE LCMS and ask to talk to someone who isn't just taking down notes, but rather someone who has some kind of authority in this position. Don't allow yourself to be transferred to just anyone: ask to whom you are being transferred and why.
There is talk about protesting the decision on the steps of the "Purple Palace" which is the LCMS headquarters in St. Louis, MO, one of these Saturdays coming up. No specific date has been determined at this point, but consider attending. One commenter on Pr. Weedon's blog suggested making it a vigil instead of a protest, so that the negative connotation of a protest is removed. (His was comment number 70-something.)
Bottom line: As I said in my previous post, we cannot sit by and idly take this kind of abuse by the "powers that be." If they are willing to cut the most confessional and best Christian radio program there is, and fire Pr. Wilken and Mr. Schwarz, it seems they will stop at nothing to take away every trace of real Lutheranism there is. Countless pastors have been thrown out of the LCMS for non-Scriptural reasons; they were thrown out for BEING FAITHFUL to God, to the Lutheran faith, to those they served.
With so many congregations throwing away good Lutheran liturgy and hymns in favor of big praise bands, contemporary music and "feel good" messages (I won't even attempt to call them sermons), the line between what is and is not Lutheran has been blurred to the point that those from Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc. backgrounds can go from their own churches to a so-called LCMS church and find nary a difference.
Those of us who are staying faithful to the confessions and to Scripture are becoming fewer and fewer, and are understandably skiddish about speaking out too loudly for fear that our pastors will be made to join the list of those thrown out for faithfully doing the jobs they were trained to do in the LCMS seminaries!
If we're going to survive these evil trials (yes, they are evil), we need to stick together and fight. We need to stand up for our pastors and for the right to remain Lutheran, and not let the world influence our worship, but rather have our worship and faith influence the world in which we live.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
A reminder: If your post is listed in this Carnival, don't forget to post a link on your blog directing readers to the Carnival.
Now, ON WITH THE LUTHERAN CARNIVAL, edition LXVII!!
Our church father for this edition is Claus Harms, and the following about him was found on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a picture of him, so if you know where I can find one, please let me know by leaving a comment at the end of this post.
And this from Lutheranwiki.org:
Harms was born at Fahrstedt in Schleswig-Holstein, and in his youth worked in his father's mill. At the University of Kiel he repudiated the prevailing rationalism and under the influence of Schleiermacher became a fervent Evangelical preacher, first at Lunden (1806), and then at Kiel (1816).
Harms's trenchant style made him very popular, and he did great service for his cause especially in 1817, when, on the 300th anniversary of the Reformation, he published side by side with Luther's theses, ninety-five of his own, attacking reason as "the pope of our time" who "dismisses Christ from the altar and throws God's word from the pulpit."
As a musician, Harms sought to restore Lutheran hymns back to their original state. To this end, he researched the original texts from people such as Luther, Gerhardt, and others, hoping to find the original texts for the hymns his people were singing. In this he was mostly successful - the textual reforms he made still remain in hymnals today. He was unsuccessful, though, in restoring the tunes to their original states. The Renaissance-style tunes employed by the early Reformers had largely been smoothed out, such that the lively syncopations common to music of that era had been replaced by simple, plodding meters. His attempts met with early resistance, and he abandoned the project.
Besides volumes of sermons Harms published a good book on Pastoraltheologie (1830). He resigned his pastorate on account of blindness in 1849, and died on the 1st of February 1855. See Autobiography (2nd ed., Kiel, 1852); Michael Baumgarten, Ein Denkmal fur C. Harms
Claus Harms was born on 25 May 1778 in Fahrstedt, a small community in modern Dithmarschen County (northwest of Hamburg between North Sea and Elbe River). On the next day he was baptized at the church in neighboring town of Marne and named after his father's father. He was the first child of his parents Christian, a miller, and Margarethe nee Jochims. In the May of 1784 the Harms family moved to neighboring St. Michaelisdonn (30). Having outgrown the local school at age 13, Harms began to be instructed by the local pastor, F. E. C. Oertling (1757-1837), a rationalist (44), in various subjects, including, Latin, high German, geography, history, the classics, and religion. For religious eductation, Harms is told to copy the manuscript of Oertling's rationalistic explanation of Luther's Small Catechism (46). At this time, Harms experiences first-hand the commotion created by rationalistic pastors in the by-and-large traditionally Lutheran congregations (48f.).
After a year and a half, Harms quits his instruction with Pastor Oertling, much to the satisfaction of his father; he again spends more time working for his father. In 1793 Harms is confirmed (51). In his autobiography, he only remembers moralistic teachings from confirmation instruction. Unusual for the time -- and against Harms' own later judgment -- he receives communion right after confirmation. Having for now finished his formal schooling, Harms continues to read Pietist and rationalist devotionals (52)...
In the fall of 1799, Harms moves to Kiel to attend the university (68). The Kiel faculty is dominated by rationalistic professors; the one exception, the "biblical supranaturalist" and friend of J. G. Herder, J. F. Kleuker (1749-1827), is shunned by faculty and student body alike. Harms cannot bring himself to attend an entire seminar on the confessions (70f.). In 1800, student Harms preaches his first sermon in Kiel (74). As his rationalism takes on an "aesthetic" bent -- after reading the German writer F. Schiller -- he is censured for this by his strictly Kantian professor (75f.).
As he works his way through the curriculum, neither Schiller nor Kant satisfy the young student any longer. A friend gives him a copy of Schleiermacher's 1799 On Religion: Speeches to the Cultured among Its Despisers. He reads the book several time and is deeply impressed by it (79):... and on this walk it was that I, at once, recognized the vanity and nothingness of all rationalism and all aesthetics and all knowledge and all activity of the self in the work of salvation; as by lightning, I realized the necessity that our salvation has to be of a different origin.
Harms calls this his "higher life's hour of birth, or better yet: the death of my old man according to his knowledge of divine matters" (ibid.). He -- in the words of J. H. Jung-Stilling -- "received from this book the impulse to an eternal movement" (80). However, he soon realizes that Schleiermacher does not help him in his struggle against the old man beyond this first impulse: his sermons, a first selection was published in 1801, turn out to be no bread at all; they are not a popular version of his Speeches Harms expected them to be (ibid.).
Harms instead turns to the territorial catechism explanations in use at the time. He prepares a catechesis on the sentence: "We men are all sinners, in our behavior [actual sins] as well as in our nature [original sin]." He works on the part on original sin "out of and according to my new-found faith according to the churchly confession." His fellow students greet his presentation with utter silence; his professor harshly criticises him "for placing some good pillars under the delapidated building of churchly faith" and admonishes him to stop doing that: "Then the old building collapses which cannot and must not remain upright any longer" (81).
In early October 1802, Harms goes through his written and oral exams before the (orthodox) general superintendent of Holstein, J. L. Callisen (1738-1806), whose son, J. F. L. Callisen (1775-1864) becomes one of the few clergy supporters of Harms during the theses controversy (82-84)...
In 1817, Harms, inspired by Luther's 1517 theses -- he calls them the "diapers of the Lutheran church" (117) -- authors his 95 Theses to draw Luther's work out of oblivion and to do something about a rationalistic bible edition that had been published in 1815. This public appeal was preceded by futile attempts to accomplish something with the church authorities that had approved the publication of said edition (117f.). The theses, published just before the tricentennial of the Reformation, caused St. Nicholas to be overcrowded on Reformation Day and caused a mighty stirr for the next two years, among the citizenry of Kiel (119f.), among the theologians (120-122), and among the church authorities (122f.). Looking back, however, he finds that his theses marked the beginning of many a student's and many a pastor's turn from rationalism to orthodoxy (128, 131-133). Asked by students of the university -- it belonged to St. Nicholas Parish -- Harms agrees to speak informally on various pastoral subjects; his Pastoraltheologie grew out of these weekly evening conversations (132).
In 1834, Harms is asked to become Schleiermacher's successor at Trinity Church in Berlin. He shows some interest but finally declines the call because he is assured to become the next senior pastor and superintendent at St. Nicholas in Kiel. This takes takes place in 1835 (166f.).
Twenty years later, on 1 February 1855, Harms dies peacefully. His burial takes place on 8 February at St. George's Cemetery in Kiel (202).
My husband also posted about Pr. Harms' publishing of the Theses. Unfortunately, most of you would be unable to read this post without joining The Wittenberg Trail (which you are all welcome to do), which is why I am going to post it in its entirety here:
I was delighted to see the completion of the 95 Theses of Claus Harms from German to English. You'll notice they apply today.
The first eight...
A Call to Repentance from Man-Centered Religion and Ethics, A.D. 1817 (Theses 1-8)
1. When our Master and Lord Jesus Christ says: "Repent!", he wants that men conform to his doctrine; he, however, does not conform his doctrine to men, as is done now, according to the changed spirit of the times, 2 Tim. 4:3.
2. Doctrine in relation to faith and life is now construed in such a way so as to accomodate men. This is why now protest and reform have to be repeated.
3. With the idea of a progressive reformation -- as this idea is defined and how it is brought up -- one reforms Lutheranism into paganism and Christianity out of the world.
4. Since the doctrine of faith has been construed according to the doctrine of life which has been construed according to the life of men, one has to start again and again with this: Repent!
5. In a time of reformation, this sermon addresses all, without distinguishing between the good and the bad; for also those who have conformed to the wrong doctrine are considered bad.
6. The Christian doctrine as well as the Christian life is to be built according to one draft.
7. If men were on the right way as to their actions, one could say: In doctrine go backward and in life go forward, then you will arrive at true Christianity.
8. Repentance shows itself first of all in falling away from him who has placed himself, or has been placed, in God's place; at Luther's time this was, in a certain sense, the pope, for him the antichrist.
The remaining here: http://www.lutheranwiki.org/The_95_Theses_of_Claus_Harms#The_95_Theses_of_1817
The following was a comment from "Michael Zamzow" on that post, listed here because it adds history and relevance:
The idea of progressive Reformation (semper reformanda) is a Reformed concept which is at the root of many of our current struggles in the Lutheran Church. Continuous repentance would be more in line with the Biblical witness and catechetical foundations of our faith. As Harms points out, it is not adapting the Gospel which is true reformation, but repentance. It is important to note the historical context of Harms' theses. The Reformation was being hijacked by the Prussian Union and Schleiermacher & Co.Now, on with the rest of the Carnival:
The first post comes from Bill of The Covenant Blessing. He has submitted a post entitled, "God's Word is Alive." In it, he states, "I find that I have to constantly be on guard so that my favorite passages of scripture do not become familiar to me. This verse is one of the reasons that we must be careful to look at God's Word with an open spirit. If we allow it, His Word will change our hearts." Thank you, Bill. That is a good reminder for all of us.
Ritewinger of TheoCon, a Canadian seminarian, entered the Carnival with the post, "Because That's What We Do". In this thought-provoking post, he talks about having attended a midnight Mass with his father-in-law and his wife's grandma. He says that he spotted people kneeling for a time, but just to look around to see who was there, and then sitting back in their pew. Although he is thankful that these people have actually taken the time to go to church and sit in the pew to listen to the Word being presented to them, he says that it's also very important to know why we do the things we do in church, and not just follow the crowd "because that's what we do."
Excellent point, Ritewinger. I would love to see a follow-up on this post from you or another clergyman that goes into more depth to explain why we kneel, stand and (for some) cross ourselves in church, and why these actions are important and practiced. Maybe you can use that good seminary training you're getting to draw from as a follow-up post. :)
The last person to enter a submission was Dan at Necessary Roughness, with his post about "A Child's Brush with Sin and Forgiveness". Now, this is something everyone needs to know about Dan: He is very proud of his daughters, and it shows in every post he publishes about them. He spends the time it takes to teach them not just about God and what Jesus did for us, but what it all means. In this post, one of his daughters puts that knowledge to good use, surprising her parents in the meantime. Both of Dan's daughters are under 5 years old, but that doesn't mean they don't know what sin is, or the true meaning of repentance.
In his words, "Kids, I told her [one of his daughters], aren’t the only ones who mess up and don’t mean to. 'We daily sin much' and are in need of forgiveness ourselves. When these things happen, we pray, and we practice. We pray God to forgive us, and we practice doing things the right way. The absolution that we receive from the pastor in church is as real as our forgiving of our daughter."
The posts that follow are some that have been drafted from people who have submitted posts to former editions of The Lutheran Carnival, and whom I'm assuming (hoping, really) just forgot that there was another Carnival to submit to. ;)
My first drafted post comes from Pastor Snyder of Ask the Pastor. Pastor Snyder is a very talented and knowledgeable pastor from Missouri, and of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, and shows his talent in the form of an Epiphany Hymn that he wrote. If you decide to use this hymn at your church, or reproduce it in any way, please contact Pastor Snyder to ask his permission to do so, and DO NOT change any of the wording. It's his creation, after all, and he retains the copyright.
The next drafted post is from Orycteropus Afer, otherwise known as Aardvark Alley. This pastor of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is known for helping us all to remember the saints who have gone before us, and what they did, as well as why they are to be remembered. In his recent post about Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa + Basil the Great of Caesarea, 1 January AD 379 with Gregory of Nazianzus, 9 May AD 389 and Gregory of Nyssa, 9 March AD 395, the Pastor tells us that, "Their defense of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Trinity, together with their contributions to the liturgy of the Eastern Church, make them among the most influential Christian teachers and theologians of their time. Their knowledge and wisdom continues to be heard and known in the Christian Church today."
Included at the end of his post is a collect to be prayed.
A post of political and religious importance comes from Timotheos of Balaam's Ass. In his post from Friday, he talks about why it's important to ask questions and know what you're talking about when comparing religions, such as Christianity to Mormonism, in "Mere Jesus Syndrome: Case in Point". He takes an excerpt from an interview of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney with Joel Osteen. Osteen doesn't ask questions when Romney says that Jesus is his savior, or that he believes in God, but it's important to do so, and Timotheos tells of a few things he learned by doing a quick 5-minute search of Mormon beliefs on their website. Do some comparing of your own before you cast your vote for President.
The last blog I am going to highlight is written by TKls2myhrt on Be Strong in the Grace. This lovely lady has recently posted the third installment of a series on "Koehler's A Summary of Christian Doctrine: The Holy Scriptures." In this post, Koehler is quoted as saying, "It is not our business to sit in judgment on what we have learned to be the plain sense of the Bible text, accepting what agrees, and rejecting what does not agree with our personal views and rationalizations." TKls2myhrt gives the example of her former Lutheran synod trying to twist the Scriptures into something that justified the ordaining of women, and how she doesn't question God's intentions that come from His Word.
I'm going to call that good for this edition of The Lutheran Carnival. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope to see you all back again, since I'm hoping to be a more active blogger this year. I also encourage those of you who belong to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod to join The Wittenberg Trail, so you can have an even larger community of LCMSers to chat and share with.
Friday, January 11, 2008
- Title of Your Blog
- Link to Your Blog
- Title of Your Blog Post
- Link to Your Blog Post
- Summary of Your Blog Post
Thursday, January 10, 2008
So far, I have received four entries. That's not gonna cut it, folks. I know many of you are used to waiting until Friday or Saturday to submit your posts, but I'm going to challenge you to get them in at a time that's not "just under the wire."
I've put in a request on The Wittenberg Trail, but I'm not sure very many people are listening.
So, put your thoughts together and get typing! Let's get ready for a great carnival!
Thursday, January 03, 2008
I won't tell you what my resolutions are, but I can tell you that I, like many others, plan to keep my resolutions. What makes me think I have any shot at keeping them? I am praying for help and guidance. Not that that means I'll actually achieve my goals, but it does give me a fighting chance.
Praying. Now there's something that a lot of people could do more of. I know I could. Can we ever pray too much? Is there such a thing? No, I don't believe so. I mean, sure, some people could spend hours on end praying. Luther did, and he still felt that he was inadequate.
But the great thing about our Lutheran faith is that we know that there is nothing that says we have to do anything, or how we have to do it, or when or how many times. Some Christian denominations do give those regulations. They are, as my husband would label them, "pietistic."
Lutherans believe in a cross-centered theology, as opposed to a theology of glory or works-righteousness. That means that we recognize that there is nothing at all that we can do to get us closer to God or to get us into Heaven. Jesus did all of that for us.
So, how does that tie in to New Year's resolutions, you ask? Well, there are also some people who strive to be closer to God, who want to do everything they can to make it more likely that they'll get into Heaven when they die. Now, of course, eventually, they're going to mess up. And I'm guessing that it won't be more than a few days, if that long, before they do. Then, how are they going to feel? Are they going to be depressed? Will they be filled with despair?
The truth is that making a New Year's resolution to do better and try to get closer to God is good, but that's not what saves you: Jesus did all of the work for all of us. He is there to catch us when we fall. He picks up the pieces of our broken hearts, minds and bodies, and carries us home to Him.
So, when we fail to meet the goals we set out for ourselves in our New Year's resolutions, we may be frustrated and disappointed with ourselves, but God is there for us, and will be there to help us get back on track or realize more realistic goals. With His help, we can achieve many things.