Timing

Perfectly innocuous.

So – I have questions of myself.  But even those I dasn’t utter out loud.

The news . . . it has been dominated of late by shooting in Vegas – which has provided hundreds of question for each answer we have, and Paddock’s background is just getting ever more curious in the fact being revealed.  Then cometh the revelations about Weinstein and more Hollywood dirt and perversions.  The only thing surprising there is that the left seems to be outing one of their own.  I can only surmise he broke some unwritten rule.

Another hurricane hits land.  Weather forecasters are in all their glory, and the politicos will all be pointing fingers at someone to blame.  The script is so predictable as to be boring anymore.  Those affected most will be the last considered.  Nawlings never has gone about really fixing things since Katrina, and I doubt, beyond political blatherings and posturing, that Houston will ever do much better about its flooding problems.

Sports.  Baseball has avoided getting stupid, save for one nondescript player on a second-division team.  The NFL?  It shot itself in the foot, and is trying to pretend we can’t see it limp.  And ESPN has descended into the morass of politically correct reportage – which is mental tedium to attempt to absorb.  The MLB playoffs get one away from the “all things are political” mentality – at least for awhile.

The Faith.  It is a source of optimism in that it has Christ’s promise that it will outlive the things of the world, as will those of the Faith, but the Church, too, is beset by many conflicts, and most of them of its own making, sad to say.  The giants of theology and Christian philosophy have all seemed to have died off; the heretics are having their heyday; most have become agnostic toward anything resembling right doctrine; atheism is giving way to rank paganism, and the desire to avoid as much of it all as one can, and retire into some sort of monasticism, is strong.

And yet, in the spirit of optimism born of my own faith in The One Holy Faith, and all the promises of Christ already fulfilled save for the last one – the Final Resurrection – I will motor on.  Be a “little Christ” – as Luther put it – best I can to all I know, or meet; make do the best I can with the blessings of the Lord I do receive, and take care of Da Pug.

 

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Mine!

Yours here.

Sigh.  As you so often sang to me . . .

Wouldn’t trade you for the world . . .

Or all the fishes in the sea

Because . . .

You belong to me.

It’s been over 9 months now, and I miss you by my side every day, and for whatever reason, more now.  In my usual thinking, I never thought about what it would be like without you.  I always figured I would depart for the Heavenlies first.  The Good Lord had a different idea, and so it is me out here, with your Pug now kinda mine (he’ll always be Mama’s Boy!) – just the two of us in the big city, trying to make it.

I’ve got all the pictures of the two of us together right behind me on the table.  Just played your favorite song – I do that every now and then – I don’t know – makes me feel closer to you somehow – not as much as when I am at the Communion Table – but, well, you know what I mean . . .

Welpers, Girl – your Astros are at the top of the heap.  They won 100 games this year, and blew by my beloved Red Sox in the first two games – ritecheer in Houston – 8-2.  Two days running now – same score.  Not even close.  With Big Papi retired, the Sox didn’t have the knockout punch they did all those years when he was there.  The Little Shyte won the batting crown in the American League, and all 5’6″ of him hit three homers yesterday – in Game One.  What a great ballplayer!  I’ve got your Astros hat out – after the inevitable – if the Sox pull this out after down 2-0, it would be like them beating the Yankees 4 straight in ’04.  So I gotta “Go Stros” from here on out.  Yet another reason I wish you were still here with me.  You’d be loving this no end!

Even the Texans are catching on – they scored 50-some points this past Sunday – crushing their old nemesis Tennessee.  That young kid, DeShaun Watson, he’s a great quarterback who will only get better.  And they dang near beat Tom Brady and the Patriots the week before.  They should win their division a 4th year in a row, but this time, go into the playoffs as a serious contender.

Went back to Kirby – need the bucks.  Keith quit the booze – he is quite a bit of a different man.  Seb – wish you could have met him – he and Suz kept me sane after you left – he’s running with me.  Today was our first day – had us some maybe’s, but didn’t get in a door.  Fridays!  They were never good for us, either.  But back at it tomorrow, and then Sunday after Divine Worship.  Pray the Lord I get a sale this weekend.

Just picked up a guy named Steve from the Rosenberg Rodeo carnival.  He owed me for a couple of days – paid in full, and more, tonight.  He’s just like me – just trying to make it here in the Big City.  He’s a character, but he has a kind heart.  You know the type – we met a few like him.  We were like him sometimes.  Da po’ helps da po’.  The unseen economy.  I know you know what I mean . . .

I’m’a gonna call it a night, My Love.  I wonder where the ten years we had together went so fast, but they were the best ten years.  I thank you for making me a happy man all that time – even when things were at their worst.  Even Arnel had to admit that – Jeff and Lou were always, always, always a team.  We still are, My Love, but at a bit of a distance.  Whenever my note is hit on Gabriel’s trumpet. I’ll be back by your side.  Till then, it is what it is, Babe.  We lived that credo our whole time together.  Conan and I are carrying on, carrying on.  We both wish you were still with us.

Love you bunches, Babe –

Yours+

Same Old, Same Old

I have made a point of following all of the “news” reports of the abysmal tragedy in Las Vegas.  Just as kind of my own experiment.

My first question, as always in all of such situations is: Cui bono?  Who benefits?  Welpers, the FBI has been under some pretty heavy fire of late – deservedly so, too. Besides the stain on the agency that was Comey – a man with no scruples, it is an agency that is, in general, in shambles.  Vegas gave them an opportunity to shine a bit.  They tried, but the agency has been rendered so dysfunctional, that it cannot extract its own collective head from its own collective rectum.

So what to make of it all in Vegas?  Nothing seems to add up – from whatever direction.  Is it, like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11 and TWA 800 – a gummintal “false flag” – not to mention many others?  I can’t say for sure.

But this makes far more sense than anything else I have read or seen.  Oh, my – a conspiracy theory!  Really?  Perhaps it is time for the average American to quit being a “sheeple” – and see with clear vision for once, how powers above us indeed do manipulate us and public opinion in one direction or another.

As you can read here – the immediate reaction is to call everything a conspiracy theory, before there is even an “official” story – which I trust as much as I do a known thief.  If you cannot think for yourself, or you must depend upon any mainstream media to tell you “what is” – bet on it!

You’re lost.

Read it all, including the links.  Think for yourself.

Forewarned is forearmed.

 

Welpers . . .

With no Divine Call forthcoming, this ole son needs more income than present retirement income versus my rent dictates I need.  So, I’m getting back in the commissioned sales saddle.  Been there, done that, so I have no worries nor any fear and/or trepidation.  I have a friend I will be training up, and that is a good thing.  And it’s fun to do – when another body has the right personality skills and the right attitude.

There is a bit of a compromise involved – I have to also teach my bud Seb how to “knock a door.”  When one is a cold-call salesman, you dang well better have a great product, and be able to sell yourself at a door.  On average – you have 20-30 seconds to do so.

What I love is the challenge – it is not too different from the challenge one faces as a theological apologist.  Having an excellent product, it will sell itself.  I have to sell “me” – and I have to teach Seb how to do the same.  That, I am sure can do.

Having my necessities paid for by my retirement income, takes 90% of the burden I used to face, off my shoulders.  So I can hit doors without a sense of desperation, but a desire to sell, which I do love to do.  And it is hardly displeasing to myself or the Good Lord that I help myself or a fellow brother make an honest living.  It’s kinda cool to be in that position!

Most folks are unaware of the fact that 90% of our economy is driven by salesmen who are honest, have a great product, and know how to sell their product.

All I can say about it all, in the end, is this:

It’s all about attitude – it’s simple, it just ain’t easy. Ya just gotta “git ‘er done,” as we say down here in Texas.

A Conversation

Yes. The hymn, as a metrical paraphrase of the Te Deum, is one of my favorites.

Generally this strikes me as good . . .

One thing that does strike me as problematic, though,  is the language of “nature” as connected with sin. This is an issue I have had for many years, and it has crystallized for me more and more over time. I know that the confession of sins in TLH has the same issue, with the language saying we “are by nature sinful and unclean.” This might be properly understood, but not without a whole bundle of qualifications and classifications being kept actively in mind the whole time (we are speaking not of inherent human nature, we are talking only about human experience after the Fall and outside of the application of Christ’s redemption, before heaven, etc.) – and that almost never happens for the vast majority of the people. And for this reason, I never use such language anymore. It seems to me to be dangerously misleading. I grant the language and idea that sin clings to our fallen nature, and even that we have a “sinful nature” in the sense of an “Old Adam.” But I think that the vast majority of people who process this at all make it into a kind of excuse. I have seen this untold number of times. “Sure, I sin, but that’s just human.”  My reply is: no it isn’t. Human nature, in itself, is not identified with sin, as if sin is inherent to what it means to be human. There are no excuses we can proffer as some kind of defense excuse to God or anyone else. If to be human is to be sinful, then Jesus was and is sinful, and so are the saints in heaven. But, of course, we reject that as false.

We may grant, as Luther did, that the Old Adam clings so closely to us in this life that it is often virtually impossible, from the outside, to distinguish the sin which clings to us and our true selves. But that is still different from making human nature itself sinful – which is what most people will suppose the words we use mean. The Old Adam must constantly be put to death, shed, torn off of our true selves so that we are free. And this only happens with the return to Baptism in a Confession of sin which admits that I have sinned not because, well, that’s just the way God made me (a version of Adam’s accusation in the Garden “It was the woman who YOU gave me, God!”), but “by my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault.” The “sure I sin, but since that’s just the way I AM, God, please (wink, wink) forgive me and let me off.” The whole tone is most often understood that way.

Then the whole movement of real repentance is actually cut off or undermined by the very confession that is being made. The kind of corrective we find in Ecclesiasticus 15 is worthwhile:

“Do not say, ‘Because of the Lord I left the right way’; for he will not do what he hates. Do not say, “It was he who led me astray”; for he had no need of a sinful man. The Lord hates all abominations, and they are not loved by those who fear him. It was he who created man in the beginning, and he left him in the power of his own inclination. If you will, you can keep the commandments, and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.  He has placed before you fire and water: stretch out your hand for whichever you wish. Before a man are life and death, and whichever he chooses will be given to him. For great is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power and sees everything; his eyes are on those who fear him, and he knows every deed of man. He has not commanded any one to be ungodly, and he has not given any one permission to sin.”

All fatalism and Calvinist excuses must die. The examination of our souls – the honest. real one which is precisely what you rightly then call for, is, I think, undermined by the way in which the words about our “sinful nature” are heard by virtually everybody in the pews. Even after catechizing people for years at a time, I find this kind of default back to the error that “I just can’t help it – sin is just what I do.” The emphasis on faith, which is not my own independent work, but clinging to Christ, by His Own power, communicated in the Word and Sacraments administered in the Church, which then sets us free to live as His people, and also crushes our sins by joining us to His bearing of them and defeating them, is the heart of this – the very Mystery to which you refer us. The restoration of the centrality of our union with Christ, and so to our Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit through His Means, in which we are moved by His utter goodness and faithfulness, is the core. But people get caught up in the impression of this as a mere abstract transaction which does not really involve daily life. How can we really see and feel this Mystery – its majesty and power – so that we are caught up in it, in Him, and leave sin behind, to be made fully ourselves, genuinely human in His image and likeness? Communicating this is so hard. Fighting against mistaken ideas about concupiscence and human nature just makes this so much harder.

Sorry to go on and on, but this is real major issue for me. This might be judged one of my pet peeves, i suppose. It is, in my mind, bound up with the same root issues involved in the misunderstandings of faith and relationship which come up with the infant Communion issue. The anamnesis of the Gospel for which you call is so centrally important. What gets in the way of that is what I want to push aside, so that all eyes are fixed on Jesus Himself, and on Who we are by union with Him. That response of faith, where we bend the knee to praise and acknowledge Him, then encompasses everything.

Response

It seems, lately, that I am inadvertently finding and pushing your really hot buttons!  I suppose that is a good thing – insofar as it permits you to let loose and fly, and I receive the benefits on my end reading what you write.

There is certainly a whole passel of sermons in what you wrote.  And while I don’t mean to demean the flock – trying to explain sin, and death, as “accidents” with regard to our human natures seems best done homiletically.  Even that word – “accident” – is intensely problematic, in that it can be taken as some sort of excuse.  The “deer in the headlights” looks I would get in teaching Pastor’s Classes or Bible Studies on all of it spoke volumes – as in – None of this is seeming to penetrate!

That is why I am every bit as much an advocate and devotee of the Divine Liturgy as are you, and also why I think having 5 differing versions of the Liturgy in the hymnal seems to be a major impediment to the natural flow or rhythm of our petitions, and the Lord God’s glorious response.  I was/am slavishly devoted to Setting Three in our present hymnal – it is virtually all chanted, especially from the Proper Preface through the Mystery itself.  If I had my druthers in designing a chancel, I would have a stain-glassed version of Michelangelo’s painting wrapping around the entire chancel  –  that of the Father and the Son the King, surrounded by all the archangels and angels, and the whole company of Heaven opening up in worship with us – all of it as though emanating from the Altar and the Divine elements.

I won’t pull a “Bill Clinton” on you and tell you “I feel your pain” – I don’t have to – been there, done that, still doing it.  It can be soul-numbing at times, and so very wearying, and also, the perfect opportunity for the satan to zing us with one of his many arrows.

And yet . . .

“Although Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still did not believe in Him.  This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the Prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?'”

I have on the wall just above my line of sight of this screen, a small tapestry of the Last Supper.  Hanging directly above Christ is my brass pastoral crucifix.  It is my “holy visual” as it were – to remember but one word:

Τετέλεσται.

That is sufficient.

The Forgotten Gospel

Reformation Sunday – 101517

Theme: The Forgotten Gospel

Text: Jude 1:3

Hymn of the Day: Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

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Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.  (KJV)

+++

Sπουδήν – is an interesting Greek word – one that is pregnant with meaning – earnestness, diligence, earnestness in desire of accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything.

I can speak for myself, and also pray that every Pastor holding to his Divine Vows is doing just that – with all due diligence, an ardent striving in earnestness to promote and share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His bloody work on the Cross to defeat sin, death and the devil!  One would have to think that those of us willing to go through the intense rigors of a full theological education, only to end up with this weird collar we wear, and a few vestments; and likewise putting ourselves on the firing line for something most of the world rejects, are either about their task with all due diligence, or they are insane.  It is hard to imagine, for me, at least, to imagine going through all we must to wear this collar, to then NOT do what we were called to do with all diligence and earnestness!

I would like to think, especially today, as we commemorate Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Church, was possessed of a like sense of due diligence and earnestness.  Of course, his critics would maintain that he was insane.  But as evidenced by his voluminous writings, his enormous contributions that comprise the Book of Concord – our Lutheran Confessions, and his countless, heartfelt sermons epitomizing exactly the words of St. Jude in our text, one could only say he was “nuts” in terms of loving his Savior beyond measure, and trying to share that joy far and wide.  In my mind, I agree with the one writer who called Luther’s meaning to the Second Article of the Creed the most beautiful words ever written by a mere mortal (I will read the words of the Creed first):

+++

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Plate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

+++

Luther was a man who, despite all of his own self-confessed failings, believed in salvation was firmly anchored and assured by faith in the Lord Christ Jesus – alone!   He was never wishy-washy about his faith, nor did he compromise with error or heresy.  His biggest problem, truth be known, was that he was TOO Catholic for the Roman Catholic Church.  To say they were not pleased is an understatement – one of their rising young superstars suddenly goes berserk, as they saw it, and began to make waves higher than any seen since the Egyptians tried to follow the Israelites through the Red Sea!

But this sermon is not about the man Luther, nor is it to condemn anyone of anything – but sin.  It was to that task Luther devoted his life.  And sad to say, as it must be said of St. Jude and his tiny Epistle – both men preached and taught what I have to call – surveying both they theological and cultural landscape – the Forgotten Gospel.

+++

And that, beyond all else, IS the Reformation.  Christ and him crucified, received by faith in preaching and the Sacraments.  I spent ten long years in academic study to learn the full meaning of that last sentence, and I must confessed – I haven’t got the fullest understanding even now.  I am still in the learning stage, and will be until the last trumpet sounds.

But what will make the collar tighten like a vise around my neck is when I hear others who share the privilege of wearing this collar, dismiss the due diligence of preaching and teaching the “faith once delivered to all the saints.”  It makes me crazy!

Yet – over the last 100 years, that is what has happened, both theologically and culturally.  The denials and semi-denials and “almost” denials of the One Holy Faith began immediately after Luther’s actions set the Reformation into being a reality.  There is now such a proliferation of different faiths, sects, groups – you name it – all calling themselves Christian who, when called to defend their “Christianity” – refuse to do so in clear, unmistakable terms.

Let’s go back to our text.  I want to focus in on St. Jude, the diligent one – in his specific words used.  Because it is in these words one may find the heart of the Reformation, Luther’s enormous efforts, and those of the truly faithful down through the ages.  And it is there, each of us should – daily – begin a new Reformation in our own hearts, minds and souls.  For if we do not begin with ourselves, how then can we “contend earnest FOR the faith?”  Without our own internal Reformation, none of us can possible contend and fight for and be willing to die for the work of the Lord Jesus on that cross!  We would then be like the Church of Laodicea in Revelation – neither hot nor cold – and vomited out of the mouth of the Son of God Himself!

Again – the entire Reformation, its celebration, our acknowledgment as Confessional Lutherans willing to suffer whatever – is totally and completely based on those blessed words Luther wrote about the Second Article of the Creed.  I had them printed in the bulletin, and I want all of you to read out loud along with me:

What does this mean? I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

And I want to focus on these particular words:

Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil . . .

In those words we have the entire Reformation of the Church, of the world, and of our own, individual souls.  Do we get it?!!

The words of our very confession of sins before the official beginning of the liturgy capture it all:

“I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto Thee that I have sinned against Thee in thought, word and deed . . .”

That’s our situation, and also, and more specifically – WHO WE AR BY NATURE!  Those are not kind, loving words – they are pure Law – condemning us and very unforgiving.  Do we mean those words in heart, mind and soul when we speak them?  Do we see what our frail sinfulness has permitted the devil to over-run and dominate?  Have we really peered into our own souls, without excusing ourselves as “good” or “kind” or “trusting” individuals, but stripping all our own self-compliments and those of others away – and really examined our own souls???

There is where the “rubber meets the road” – so to speak!  Modern man is rarely honest with himself, because when he is, he hates what he sees.  I hate what I see in me – that is not some special credit or brownie points – that is a simple statement of fact – I am a sinner, and I have dissed God in most every way possible . . .

And yet – remarkably yet – He call us to Himself – to embrace the bloody corpse of His dearly beloved Son – not merely in the words I preach, but most especially at that Holy Altar, where every sense – even our sixth sense – which I call faith! – is then embraced in totality by Jesus as all that is Heavenly and good and eternally righteous, is fed to our hearts, minds and souls, so that, faith has no doubt, as Revelation puts it in Jesus’ own words, and knows its fulfillment in the Author and Finisher of us all!

Knowing all of this – being completely forgiven and “Reformed” by all of this – seeing the manifold blessings that have come to us and the Church – how can we not “bend the knee, while we own the Mystery” and give adoration to the Lamb of God, and contend, with all due diligence for the faith, as did the forgotten Apostle, St. Jude, and all the saints down through the ages, including St. Martin Luther, and including each of us as saints and all of us as members of the whole company of Heaven at that Sacramental Table.  Reformation is renewal!  The “forgotten Gospel” is again remembered!

Odd thing – when one bends the knee in faith, the whole of Heaven opens before oneself.  And we then realize – we really do get to –

“Own the Mystery!”

Amen

 

“Is”

Anyone not caught in the grip of the horror known as Alzheimer’s Disease, remembers Bill Clinton desperately trying to put a new twist on an old grammar lesson – the meaning of the verb to be (is).  He had literally been caught with his trousers down, or, unzipped, to be more precise.  And he was trying to weasel his way out of getting disbarred and impeached.  Both happened anyway, but the Commie dems in Congress refused to remove him from office.  Be that as it may . . .

Billy Boy tried to do the impossible – redefining is as something other than the grammatical equal sign between the subject and its essence.  Anyone with a modicum of historical and theological knowledge knows that Zwingli tried to pull the same old switcheroo on Luther in their discussion about the Lord’s Supper.  Luther schooled him on the verb to be – which always points to, or defines – essence.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be!  My now late English teacher, Mrs. Cantrell (funny how you remember the teachers that made you really work, and in the process, taught you things you didn’t know after you were sure you knew it all!) – was herself an impeccable grammarian.  Long before I hit my first Greek class in my pre-Sem days at Ann Arbor, I had a good grasp on tense and moods and especially, the conjugation of verbs.

I prefaced this with the above because I am furrily aware of the garbage peddled as “news” – and the abysmal results of the tinkering with human nature (gender dysphoria) and the almost universal re-introduction of rank gnosticism within our midst.  When facts are jettisoned for “I think” or “I feel” – gnosticism has taken tight hold.

Don’t think it to be a natural occurrence, for it is not.  It is manufactured in every case. Theologians have been doing it since whenever, but at a particularly frenetic pace over the last two hundred years – when the articles of faith so clearly re-introduced and upheld by Luther in the Reformation of the Church Catholic (which we celebrate is 16 days!), were whitewashed in favor first of the false ideals of liberalism birthed in the bloody nonsense of the French Revolution, and ironically, undone with the rise of Hegelianism, which is, essentially:

“. . . the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel which can be summed up by the dictum that “the rational alone is real”, which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce reality to a more synthetic unity within the system of absolute idealism.”  (Wikipedia)

One will find a fuller explanation here.

(As an aside, I am growing to prefer Infogalactic far more than I am Wikipedia.  Far less politicizing of issues and topics!)

It seems rather simple enough on the surface, but as in all things contrived contrary to Holy Scriptures’ clear teachings, the devil is in the details.  Although the quote above is rather general in nature, delving into Hegel is where one finds the details.  He and Marx, whose dialectic has been all the rage since he wrote about it, were not quite contemporaries, Hegel having died while Marx was still young, but not surprisingly, both shared the same disdain for Scriptural Revelation, and are now the twin-co-saints of contemporary thinking.  Hegel was the more metaphysical, whereas  Marx rejected the metaphysical in favor of his materialistic dialectic, although he remained a disciple of Hegel.  The bottom line in all of it is, both tried to re-define “is” – the verb to be, as they thought it best fit the human condition.  As is clear now – at least to those who can think through matters – both were wrong, as have been all who have opposed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Of course, that is described by outsiders as “me trying to re-imprison us into late medieval thought” by my theological fundamentalism.  Gee – like I can stop those who think that way.  I don’t bother.  Rather, I use the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified as the antidote it truly is for such thinking.  That is a blessing I enjoy, although my critics call it retreating into some sort of shield or escape.  I am not.  I am quite up front about it, which makes any critics even goofier in their responses.  Not to a degree that is patently sinful, I do enjoy their writhing trying to prove me to be some sort of heretic.  Ah . . . the irony of that!

Where was I?  Oh, yeah – gnosticism and the verb “to be.”  I wrote a friend today and described “gnosticism” in one sentence – I wrote:

“Gnosticism is the replacing the objective reality of what Christ has done for me and all sinners on the Cross and delivered through preaching and the Holy Sacraments, with the thoughts of the inner “me” supplanting the Christ and over-ruling Him.”

Confessional theologians recognize it in the historical critical method of understanding and translating Scripture – a process whereby Holy Writ is accorded no more respect than mere man-penned literature, and has resulted in severe modifications to the simple words of the forgotten Apostle, St Jude:

“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.  (Jude 1:3)

Which, in turn, has turned all theological studies upside down, and resulted in the re-birth of the rank atheism of so many in our midst today.

But gnosticism has also penetrated culture, and no better example exists (no, not the NFL not standing for the anthem, although the case could be made easily enough!) than the newest and worst condition of mankind – gender dysphoria.  It has runs circles around the previous owner of deviancy – feminism – although feminism contributed mightily to its rise.  As I always say “It is what it is” – and again – “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be!”

Or as I would say bluntly in a sermon – which this is becoming:

“What you think or feel is not necessarily the truth by any means!  The truth simply ‘is.’  It is reality, not whatever you have conjured up in your mind as a result of those who have taught you contrary to the One Who called Himself ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life.’  We need to get over ourselves and our emotions and our all-too-familiar and all-too-wrong ways of thinking, and re-approach God and the Christ in their economy of thinking.”

And that, I motion, is why so many have left church rolls the last 5-6 decades.  They worship their own way of thinking, which is yet another way of defining gnosticism.  And it is, as it was in its early heyday centuries ago, out in the open for all to see.

For the fortunate few who see that, and act contrary to their thoughts and feelings and return to the faith once delivered to the saints, they have come to understand the grand deception perpetrated upon them by the satan, the author of evil, who when he failed in the temptation at the Mount with the Christ, has been since unrelenting with those holding to the Christ.  Not only so with those who are mere unbelievers, since they are the proverbial “low-hanging fruit.”  They already belong to his devilish ways.  But ever moreso with those whose faith in  Χριστός is firm.  The satan’s attacks are relentless – designed to wear us down and make us give up what truly “is” – for his hellish imitations.  Read Lewis’ The Letters to Screwtape.  Follow that with several readings of his The Abolition of Man.  Then – go read this.

It is what it is.  And we ignore it, at our own eternal peril!

Jes’ saying . . .