Arrrgh!

But it’s okay.  We Confessional Lutherans are used to being treated as step-children by those who don’t understand the entire theological landscape.  We are Evangelical Catholics – and while we somehow are forced in the public square to wear only the name of Luther and what he said, and not be judged, rather, by the Book of Concord of 1580, we’re used to it.

Dreher, as did I, came out of the RCC.   I was raised from my Holy Baptism in April of 1953 in the doctrines of the One True Church.  However – a series of events, not the least of them being the very earliest hints of homosexual scandal and pedophilia, as well as a rigidity regarding the communing of the party not to blame for a divorce and re-marriage (my mother – abandoned by my father), led me to some intense decision-making.  Add to that – I married a young woman (I was young, then, too – some days I can even remember being young!), whose family for a number of generations had belonged to Confessional Lutheranism, i.e., what is now called the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  I had heard a sermon by an LCMS pastor that actually featured the unadulterated Gospel of the Christ of the Cross, and the effect was both almost instantaneous and electric.  I talked with her home pastor (very soon to become mine), and he handed me a new copy of the Book of Concord of 1580, as my “Pastor’s Class” – since I already had a couple of years toward my Bachelors under my belt.  He figured (rightly) I could handle it.

I took to it like a fish to water.  In short order – all of what Catholicism was truly about was right before me to know and understand.  Long and the short of it, Pastor told me to think bigger than becoming a history teacher, and with his recommendation (I secured a number of others on the journey as well), I was ordained on June 15th, 1986 – thirty-one years ago plus.  I came out of Seminary with no less of a focus on the Divine Liturgy and the Blessed Mysteries than Rod has in his Orthodox Faith but, I might add, having been to Orthodox Churches myself, I had a far better understanding of the task of preaching in the entire mix of matters.  And he is a bit careless about “music.”  We Confessional Lutherans almost “own” churchly, liturgical music and hymnology.  So – to kind of be ignored, as Dreher has consistently done in his writings, or lumped in with the calvinistic protestants, which we most certainly are not, bugs me a good bit.

Rod – do you have a clue as to the proper relationship between the Law, and the Gospel, and how both should be taught and preached?  Do you have a body of dogmatic, didactic material that states clearly that which the Orthodox believe and confess?  No, you do not, good sir, for I investigated those matters for myself, and what you write seems geared only toward converting those you refer to as “evangelicals” – which are little but modern versions of calvinism.  They might be good prospects, in a way, but you are asking the impossible of them.  They are not sacramental; which is the orthodox and small “c” catholic extension of Biblical teaching and preaching.  They confuse Law and Gospel as often as do you Orthodox, and the RCC and unfortunately any more – those in our midst who have been seduced and converted by the calvinistic mindset.

BenOp was tried before in Nursia, Italy – monasticism.  While it claims a holy goal – it is but withdrawal. Augustine had a far better understanding of matters with his Two Kingdoms, one of the Left and one of the Right. Withdrawal from living in the world is only “accomplished” in death, Brother Dreher, not in either monasticism nor your solution in BenOp.  Our task as Baptized Christians living in, with, and under the bloody Cross of Christ is to make the faithful proclamation, the “witness” – as did the Prophets and the Apostles, in our daily lives, in our various vocations – not by withdrawal – and let the chips fall where they may.  The task of conversion and holiness is NOT ours, dear Sir, but the exclusive domain of the Holy Spirit.  I know “Easterns” disparage the dogmaticism of the West, but some things need to be written in stone, and not left floating out there.  While Jean Cauvin was indeed, an exacting dogmatician (albeit fighting against the catholic reforms of the Lutheran Reformation and in our day undoing much of them), none of his spiritual descendants have been or done so.

The “catholic” faith shall prevail to the end – of that we have the promise of the Χρίστος.

Having said that, hoping for a catholic reform of calvinists does not seem to be what you seek at all, but the legalistic preaching of the Law to effect change – both societally and personally.  We know the first shall be maintained until released by the Lord (First Use of the Law) in the very last of days.  Neither personal holiness nor personal “sanctified” believing or preaching have jack to do with the One True Faith, but only – the right teaching and Liturgical understanding of exactly what was accomplished on the Cross by Christ.  Do not fall into the error of rank legalism by laying the “ability” to effect justification – to whatever degree – upon sinful mankind.

It is a false, misleading dream.  Have you not enough proof on your plate already?

Pax

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Uh, Oh! That “Other” Jesus!

The 19th Sunday after Pentecost – 101517

Matthew 22:1-14

Title/Theme – That “Other” Jesus

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22And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son,and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business,while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

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I don’t care if it’s just burgers and hot dogs, and not rib-eyes or brisket or prime tuna steaks – I love BBQ’s! There is something about grilled meat or fish – especially over charcoal and/or wood – that just satisfies both body and soul.  Spuds are hard to ruin – and are tasty however made.  I like scalloped potatoes with bacon bits and black pepper.  A fresh veggie platter, and – “Oh, My!”  Add really well-brown-sugared baked beans and cold boiled shrimp with a good cocktail sauce . . . I’m just THERE – plain and simple!

I suspect that since many of us here skipped breakfast in favor of lunch after worship, or maybe a BBQ you will attend, my point is well taken.  Food is essential to our lives.  And really good food is a blessing on top of that.  And the simple fun of the fellowship with friends and a few adult beverages – it sets a mental image beyond the appeal it has for our appetites.

Food.  It is a primary image of the goodness of God, His mercy, and most of all His salvation for all who know the Cross of Jesus and the Supper of that altar.  Our Psalm, our OT reading, and the Gospel of the Day all frame the salvation of the Lord in terms of a meal – the table set in the midst of spiritual enemies in the beloved Psalm 23; Isaiah describing the Heavenly Banquet  with the words “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”  And then Jesus – defining in our Gospel parable what His Heavenly Banquet will be like.

As we see in the parable – most were just full of excuses.  This was being preached to the Pharisees and those in Israel who were rejecting Jesus.  The parable says the King sent troops and destroyed the city of those rejecting his offer.  History shows us Jerusalem and Israel were destroyed in AD 70.  They rejected Christ – they rejected the offer of the King.  They killed those sent out – the Prophets – and most of the Apostles as well.

The King then sent out the invitation to any who would hear – which were the Gentiles, and most every one of us!  Anyone who took the invitation, was welcome at the wedding feast.  Each of us, through our Baptisms, our faith in Jesus, and faithful attendance at that Holy Altar, will be at that feast.  But even at the last moment, there will be, like the man lacking the proper garment, those who are not dressed for the blessed event on the last day.  And, simply put, especially in the blessed month of our 500th Anniversary of the blessed Reformation begun by Father Luther, that garment is – “Justification by faith through grace in Christ and His work on the Cross.”

That means the complete rejection of every single one of our usual excuses for excusing ourselves from the matters of that faith.  Be it not Baptizing or raising our children in the One Holy Faith, absenting ourselves from Divine Worship and the Holy Sacrament – the Holy Meal of that Altar.  Miss that foretaste of the Feast to come, you will miss the Heavenly Banquet.  These are not my words, but those of that “Other Jesus” – Who will host that Heavenly Banquet.  His invitations have come to all of us in every way, shape or form.  I am not speaking of just atheists or agnostics – I am speaking to every “casual,” and supposed Christian who just can’t be bothered to really serve Christ, but whose time is taken up by all manner of earthly matters, or personal interests, or anything other than the One True Faith.  This is not the nice, sweet Jesus of the kiddie hymn “Jesus loves me, this I know.”

No – this is One Who is speaking to us is the One Who suffered the most miserable of  all sufferings and bloody death, with ALL of our sins upon Him, and Who cried out at His death – Tετέλεσται.

“IT IS FINISHED!”

He wants you and me and every human being at that Banquet!  That is what He came for!  To redeem us and break us free of our sinfulness.  But showing up on “That Day” – as Luther called the Last Day, without the garment of faith, which is either a lack of faith or a practiced rejection of what we know to be true and our own Holy Baptisms, will be that which triggers His judgment on that day.  He came loving us and dying for us, and yet again this day, setting before us the table in the midst of our enemies and His, sin, death and the devil, and feeding us the “rich food” of Himself of which Isaiah prophesied.

His Own Self in His Body and Blood here at the Altar.

How can we possibly not receive the invitation and dress ourselves in the blessed garment of true faith?

Amen.

News Junkie

I confess, I am one.

I will wade through the ongoing and growing avalanche of advertisements the internet truly has become, even now interrupting the reading of most articles on sites – to be “up-to-date.”  I have a good number of bookmarks – more or less evenly split between the news and the theological – the latter often being the much bigger news, truth be told.

Maybe it is my advancing years – I am not yet “old” at 64, but I have buried a brother and a dear wife in the last 18 months (how I did their funerals I leave to the grace and knowledge of God alone, for He knows I had little strength to do them!).  I have just completed final paperwork to assure that my brother or my son are beneficiaries of the small amount that will buy my plot in the ground and pay for my funeral rites.  I did not do so with a sense of foreboding, but with the simple realization that I am a sinful mortal, and these old bones must, one day – sooner or later – meet with the soil of God’s earth for my rest until the Resurrection.

My faith in The One Holy Faith will, most nights, comfort me as I confess my sins to my Heavenly Father. But there are those nights of apprehension – the satan will not let us rest undisturbed.  On those nights I remind myself of C. S. Lewis’ great quote:

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.”

I wince when I think of my failures and failings in sin.   I hate them.  They were never “intended” – but like every sinner who has drawn a breath on this earth – I walked into them willingly, to whatever degree.  I am long past making excuses – excuses are useless inventions of hell.

Rather – I make confession – to my God and Savior – that the Cross and His work might cover me.  Many folks assume they are forgiven – which is hardly the true spirit of confession – but one of self-assurance and self-righteousness.  My ship no longer makes call on those ports.

I wrote the other night of the last word of Christ on the Cross – Tετέλεσται.  In that one word – all Christ was and did, is my only hope.  Of course, the skeptic might speak of such hope as a false refuge, but such a one does not understand “hope in Christ.”  It is not some “wish” as the world uses the word, but an assurance in the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins and one’s eternal Resurrection.

It is to have Philippians 4:7 come literally true even when the satan troubles one’s conscience:

“May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Those are the last words of most every weird collar wearer after a sermon, yours truly included.  They are in my last words before I give into a large leap of faith – sleep.  I cannot know if I will awake above room temperature, or have been translated and conducted over the misty river.  But with St. Paul I confess –

“Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s.”

That is, somehow, of great comfort.  The world will always have it’s “news” – and will until the day when news ceases to be on this plane.  But the “Good News” – “The Gospel of New Life in Christ” – Eὐαγγέλιον . . .

Is eternal news.  I can, and will live with that.

Pax

Okay . . .

A dear friend of mine who, were she of the proper gender, would have already been ordained, long ago, alerted me to this piece.  Since all but WordPress’ comments section suck – especially Disqus, which wants me to submit to an anal examination before I use it, I only comment at sites employing the same, or comment here at home, so to speak.  If Jordan gets links and wishes to copy this, that is his call.

My initial reaction to the quotes my friend sent me from Cooper’s take was that of the need for “best construction.”  Christ’s sacrifice was the single most radical act in all of history.  I understand what commenter RFM was trying to say in Paulson’s defense, but that having been said, CPH publishing it, without further clarification from Paulson, casts severe doubts on the matter.

Do not misunderstand what I said . . . Christ’s sacrifice was the single most radical act in all of history!  As such, it need to be made as clear as is possible – to the simplest believer.  Paulson does nothing of the kind, and with no clarification(s), is left with the naked meaning of his words.  They are not sufficient to dispel rejections of his words as germane to the sacrifice of Christ.

The Lord knows I am often novel in my homiletical approach to a given text, but in my preaching and text(s) I explain exactly why I am being novel – every time.

The sure and certain proclamation of the Gospel – of the Christ “for me” – is far too precious to be left out on a limb of the tree of speculation.

RFM – get your former prof to ‘splain himself.  If he does not, neither his words, nor your “ontological” argument in his defense, hold a drop of theological moisture.

And not to put you on the defensive, but did someone perpetrate the Sacrament of Ordination upon you?  Jes’ asking . . .

Pax – jb

 

Make of It What You Will

“Many of our problems, both at our institutions of higher learning and in the nation at large, stem from the fact that we’ve lost our moral compasses and there’s not a lot of interest in reclaiming them. As a matter of fact, most people don’t see our major problems as having anything to do with morality.”

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Mr. Williams is always a good read.  And his words above are not true just about college campuses or the culture wars – such as they are.  Truth is, most all of that stuff is silly nonsense, were one  permitted to call sheer idiocy nonsense, which no longer appears to be tolerated – leastwise in California, where now it will be rank lawlessness if one uses the wrong pronoun to describe the various freaks insane people are calling normal.

But I had a different tack in mind.  I read much theological stuff, and while I agree with Williams that there is little respect anymore for true morality, and likewise, I acknowledge the two greatest commandments as being paramount:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (St. Luke, 10:25-27)

Mankind’s failure to do the above over the millenia has produced every single FUBAR in history.  No real surprise there.  If one is honest in their own confession at the end of each day, one knows.

But what Jesus said in that exchange with the Pharisees was about the entire inability of mankind to keep the simplest precepts of God’s Law.  Expecting anything better – even of myself – is not what one would call a good bet.  So if we cannot keep God’s Law, our option is?

To that  – in a moment.  Today I read a piece about a weird collared “priestess” – as Lewis would have called her, arguing for the/her “Sacrament.”  Not that of the Blessed Altar in the Eucharist, but the feminist shrine of abortion.  I likewise read the words of men who cannot fathom the essential make-up of the very Ministry to which they have committed themselves.  I read about a pope who has left the rails, evangelicals who bounced a pastor for moral indiscretions, a fundamentalist who, in his efforts to escape his fundamentalism, has become little but a fundamentalist atheist – having shed none of what ails him.  I read the words of a very smart man now passed into glory, about the very survival of the Church in this most hostile of worlds to the faith, and I had a long discussion on faith with a very dear soul – one whose understanding of theology ought to be learned and emulated by any number of the brethren.  All of it came down to the one word Scripture said Christ uttered before giving up His spirit:

Tετέλεσται.

It means “fulfillment in perfection forever” – in actual meaning and translation.  What Christ accomplished on the Cross was the perfect forgiveness that so few seek today.  And even for the few that do, we try to bring our own conditions into the mix.  Not quite the way it works.  I have always loved Christ’s words to the skeptics when he forgave the paralytic his sins, and was chastised for doing so, as we read in St. Matthew 9:4-6:

But Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Why do you harbor evil in your hearts?  Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins a forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

The Man/God Christ is still a mystery, much as He was when He walked among men on the earth.  Atheists hate him and revile Him.  Agnostics, knowing full well they cannot measure up, simply avoid Him.  Many under the banner of Christianity purport to be his disciples, when in truth, few ever understand that He is, indeed, a Mystery.  He who has forgiven all at Calvary, and pronounced it in one word, gives us but the clue of bread and wine that at His word, becomes His Flesh and His Blood – something of which the Jews, who should have had a clue from their own Passover, seemed oblivious (John 6).  Many believing souls revere the Mystery of the Eucharist; just as many or more question it.  It is, as is the case with the Resurrection, an article of Faith – and modern man hates that word most of all.

They hate “faith” faithfully, and never get the irony of doing so.  And yet, all of what Williams and anyone else calls “morality” finds its culmination in . . .

Tετέλεσται.

And in nothing else.  Good night, Sports Fans!

Pax

 

 

Oh, My . . .

Evangelicals.  Gussied-up calvinists.  It was calvinists who derailed the momentum of the Reformation, trying to return what Luther’s promise of the Gospel had freed, back to the Law.

Eminently successful thus far, and now calling for their own “reformation.”  To what end?  Their most recent costume of chiliasm?  Spare me.  Luther addressed it – short and sweet – he called it “that old Jewish fable.”  But that hardly deters the millenialists.

And for Farah to put the following out there, or Noe to write it, bespeaks the complete ignorance of both men regarding the Book of Concord of 1580 (or even, its Table of Contents!):

“Noe says Luther only addressed one of the two great works of the Messiah – that of salvation. Noe suggests there needs to be more emphasis on a nearly forgotten aspect of the gospel.

“The Messiah’s other great work, the kingdom of God – Jesus Christ’s central teaching – wasn’t even touched,” he says. “And today Christ’s kingdom is embedded in a maze of conflict and confusion within his Church. Consequently, it’s rarely mentioned. It’s even been eliminated from the gospel. And we modern-day Christians are paying a huge price for this self-inflicted reductionism. For example, Christianity is now accused of being ‘tamed’ and non-Christians told that they have nothing to fear from we Christians.”

Luther and the Confessors only addressed one aspect of the Gospel?  These men wish to lead a “new” Reformation when they still haven’t learned jack from the first one, or even understand how comprehensive it was – and how it exposed the reductionism of the calvinistic schematic that essentially returned “salvation” back to “work righteousness.”  Now – they wish to school the Confessionalists who returned the Church to the original faith?  Such audacity takes one’s breath away!

But hey!  It sells books and fills cruise ships and makes the real, nuts-and-bolts work of Shepherds caring for their flocks appear demeaning and misguided.  The tares will always grow in and amongst the wheat until harvest.  And then, without all the false theology, and precisely as Jesus said – “The end shall come.”

It will happen His way, and most certainly – not their way.