When I was young, and even to my 50th year (yes, I played that long!), I could always see the stitches on any given pitched baseball – I don’t mean softball, but the real game. curve, rising or sinking fastball, change-up – as a result, I had a pretty good take on the flight of the pitch, and hit for high average. I could field quite well. But I also learned, quite young, that the difference between the pros and anyone lower than that level, is immense. What gifts of eye-sight and coordination I had, they had and have in a super-abundance, which is why I love watching major league baseball.
I said all of that mostly getting carried away about my second favorite topic, the first being the Confessional Lutheran Faith. I wore the weird collar for many years, and still do, but at a much reduced rate, being Emeritus. But the fire still burns! More to that point in a few.
I went to the 3pm Holy Thursday Eucharistic (duh!) Liturgy this afternoon, as I will at the same time tomorrow for the Good Friday requiem. At my age, my eyes don’t work so good. It is both vision, which always diminishes, but I am much more unable to handle the dark and headlights. Not that I cannot do it, I just hate having to expend almost total attention to driving. Those my age get it. I also don’t run to first under 4 seconds, as I once did. The mind is willing, but my legs have a serious protest group and a good lawyer, and they have a specialist in such cases – Dr. Hamstring – who likes to mess with old guys trying to run too fast. So I live within my physical limits contentedly. ANYway . . . (man I can ramble sometimes!)
This present time of the Church’s Liturgical Year, is greatly devoted to our realizing our sinful nature (concupiscence), our actual and willful sins of thought, word and deed, and the wonder of the Incarnation of God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, as the sacrificial lamb whose blood is poured out for us all – the special focus of Good Friday. I have been pulled up short many times down through the years for writing or speaking in strong Confessional tones that some take as confrontational. Be assured, they are not.
In fact, is this time of the Liturgical Year not precisely the time we should most be about apologetics, defending the One Holy Faith against the world, naysayers, and even those supposedly standing with us in the Faith?
But of course. I cannot imagine Luther or Chesterton or Lewis or Marquart telling anyone to “let matters go” this time of year. If not now, when?!?
Always, of course – but especially this time of year the world, as it does at Christmas, peers into the holy things of the Faith, and start declaring itself an expert, and always, as they see it, to the detriment of those who hold and confess the One Holy Faith. So if ever there is a time of year when I am fully “locked and loaded” – it is Holy Week!
My friends would certainly chuckle at that and say “That crazy Irishman is always loaded ‘fer bar’ – not just at this time of year.” True, but I know I am worse each year this week. And Lads and Lassies, I do it wit’ a twinkle in me eye!
Which is why this piece at Vox’s joint caught, and kept my attention today until I could write about it. With both Presbys and North being devotees of Jean Cauvin, I am not overly sympathetic with calvinists going down. They deny the Incarnation, although that is denied by many of them and even our Lutheran corps of “official sympathizers” – you know, the type that had no clue as to the distinction between Jesus’ command not to condemn to hell (judge) anyone (because it is WAY above our pay-grade, and if we do anyway, then that will become our personal measuring stick on the Last Day) – and the task we HAVE been given of discerning the spirits. But since many within the faith, and virtually all critics without, know little if anything about the One Holy Faith, such ignorance is to be expected. Saying so is not “judgment” as they would assert, but merely observation, such as in “the sky is blue and water is wet.” It is what it is.
Machen got undermined – true. Many in our Synod (LCMS) would not listen to him warn us back in the ’60’s, ’70’s and ’80’s – when we were undergoing what has been historically categorized within our own midst as “The Battle for The Bible!” (more on that in a a bit). I was there, and what happened to the presbys was aimed directly at the heart of the most Confessional Lutheran Church in the world. Unlike the Hollywood-esque marquee we use today, it was not directly a battle for the Bible. That was surface cover. It was what happened to the Presbys – a nasty, rank, take-no-prisoners attempt at destroying Confessionalism via amputation, and raiding the treasury. Was Scripture and the Confessions at risk? No, because both stand of their own strength, which is borrowed from the Lord. But the Synod’s connection TO them was almost severed. Ironically, they proved to be the winning “arms” as it were, and the invaders were pushed back. We collectively sighed, and then moved on as if none of it happened. Dumb.
Unfortunately, despite those of us still jumping up and down and shouting and pointing, the bastard spawn of those who had made the attempt against us were not only permitted, but seen as a new and better way to “do Church.” Tolerated as such, it has grown unabated to the degree that it now, and far more successfully than its progenitors had attempted, and often sets the rules Confessionalists are supposed to follow.
We do not, because we despise such aberrational thinking and theology. But as with the Gramscians, they learned to be patient, work their way into the system and then aim for the top positions of power. Most in Missouri are not even conscious of the fact that until Harrison’s election, the other side had by far the upper hand. And, with but a few goofs, we DID have the stalwart Dr.’s of the Church at Ft. Wayne. Of course, the other Sem has had a few with us, but they long ago sold their birthright for the pottage of Church Growth, 5/2ism, and the schlock they try to pawn off on the faithful as Liturgy and theology.
I count myself fortunate to have been at Sem when the war was at its height – where every class was OJT on the Confessional battlefield. Professor Kurt Marquart, in his magnificent little monograph Anatomy of an Explosion, gives us the blood, guts and gore of the battle. Church apologetics is not a dainty task. Consider Jesus – for apologetics of the true faith was WHO He was in Incarnate form, and although he willingly gave Himself because He had a higher agenda, the world and the church of the age wanted to put Him to the most miserable death possible.
So to those who slam the Faith and the Holy Church especially this week (I’ll work with whenever for my part), better know they are moving where angels fear to tread – at least with this Irish Lutheran, and all the weird collars and confessional lay-folk I know. I’d much prefer peace and quiet this week for sure, but as Luther wisely put it in the Large Catechism, let it be known you are a Christian and wish to live as such, and the devil and the world will beat a path to your door to trash you and your faith (my paraphrase).
Yes, to the disdain of all doubters, we will joyously celebrate the blessed Feast of the Resurrection this Sunday. We will do it joyously, but also – with eyes wide open, for on this side of the Divide, the enemy constantly prowls about, seeking whom he can devour. The battle is ongoing and real, and will not end until we ourselves are also given the fullest fruit of Holy Baptism – our own Resurrections.
Until that day, we are Confessionalist and apologists who fear no man, but know and combat the spiritual evil that walks among us. I cannot make a soul believe, but don’t you dare try to make me disbelieve, nor those of our Confessional fellowship. We have been to the Cross, our own tombs await, but our day will be as Easter, too, and all enemies will be destroyed. Rejoice, for your salvation draweth nigh!