quod pro nobis traditum est

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

the Spirit's work

Although not surprising, in many ways the origin of the ministry has been lost among Lutherans. This may be due to emphasis on auxiliary offices and ministries, doubt in the pastoral ministry, or surprise expressed when it is discovered that the confessional writings grant that ordination may be called a sacrament. In short it may simply be the adoption of a general culturally influenced view which sees the ministry merely in functional terms. Hence, the related erroneous supposition that the ministry arises from a vote of a local assembly, that is the authority of ministry is man-made.

For pastors who are put on the defensive because of the confusion caused by these views and/or by those who clearly hold these types of views in a dogmatic fashion against their pastors, there is encouragement that the pastoral ministry is neither man-made nor apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. First, it may be added that the pastor still has the Holy Spirit given him in Holy Baptism. However, in terms of the peculiarity of the ministry, among the many God-given vocations, there is the peace which the risen Lord gave to the Apostles and the gift of the Holy Spirit he gave them for the retention and the forgiveness of sins (John 20). Also, there are Paul's words of encouragement to Timothy where the young pastor is reminded of the "gift of God" he received when the Apostle put his hands upon him (2 Timothy 1; i.e., ordination). The Holy Spirit of the risen Lord is passed on through the laying on of the Apostle's hands. Indeed, this is a Scriptural phenomenon that may not be easily discounted.

Although Lutheranism is weakened by the loss of the knowledge of the origin of the ministry among us it is encouraging for pastors to know that we need not look to others for assurance when the origin is from the Lord himself and the ministry itself is the Spirit's work. Considering that this gift involves the retention and forgiveness of sins then it is no wonder the reformers said it may also be called a sacrament.

Monday, August 19, 2013

when news is now news

For years Christians have been and are being killed overseas because of their religious beliefs. Since this is not broadcast on the major networks it is not news. In the last week or so, major news networks have drawn attention to the killing of Christians, the burning of churches and the burning of sacred texts. The Coptic Christians, or "Copts," are of one of the oldest church bodies of Christianity. In the last week or so, this has become a news story. We look beyond our coexistent reality and our emphasis on the religion of peace and see what is really going on.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

liturgical caveat

For some involved in liturgical renewal among Lutherans there is held a symbolic interpretation of the Sacrament. I write this as a caveat to those who value the liturgy. If indeed the Sacrament is but a symbol then the liturgy is made a show. On this issue Lutheranism does not fit neatly in a protestant picture of things. Nor does this bode well in terms of the Gospel.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


It is true that there will always be people who misperceive what one says and does. In many ways, this is just a fact of life. Social media does not necessarily clarify things. Sometimes it can make things cloudier. I find that there is nothing one can do when what one says and does is misperceived. One learns to live with contentment, even when that itself may be misperceived.

For example, my last post cannot be taken to mean that I do not drink beer or wine, although it may give that impression. My last post is more a response to an undue focus on sin (usually other people's sin) that excludes the possibility of God doing his work in people, whether seen or unseen or the possibility of God having any power over sin. As I write, maybe too often, there is a natural (or super-natural) follow-up to sin at the altar. Call it God's mercy, forgiveness, life, etc.

Misperceptions are real, whether the topic may be liberalism-conservativism (I am both) or that of legalism-antinomianism (I am both). Misperceptions, whether of external or internal origin, want it to be focused on me. Perception, although with dim sight, seeks the face of God.

There is more to life than being caught up in a world of misperceptions. The good news for us is God does reveal His face.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

God is in His holy place

As there is nothing new under the sun so there are daily attempts to revise or dumb down the faith and lighten the church's presence in the world. These are simply ongoing attempts to undermine the whole.

In recent years these attempts became more apparent to me with efforts to secularize the message and approach of the church on the local level. So it is that I was kindly offered advice that words like "church", "holiness", "reverence", and some other words ought not be mentioned in the church. Surely intentions are good. Though the idea also spurs the somewhat unruly thought of taking the scissors to the Scripture, the liturgy and any theological books or confessional writings where these words occur. There is precedence for this. However, that could take a long time. What's the use?

It is not helpful to dwell on such obvious affronts to the faith so why argue with them? The liturgy continues to speaks for itself, that is, the word of God is there for those who will hear. While normally there is not much thought dedicated to responding to obvious attempts at undermining our daily work, I was reminded once again of these things last Sunday in the words of the Psalmist:

God is in His holy place; God who maketh men of one mind to dwell in a house; He shall give power and strength to His people.

How about the appointed reading where the Apostle mentions the "Church"?

Throughout the year words like "holy" and "Church" will come up when they will and the thought of omitting or revising them might be entertained by some. On the other hand, for those who do not want to bother with so much work, faith comes from hearing.

As the psalmist says . . .