Apologetics. Faith. Reason.

I rediscovered something today. I wrote it down in my personal journal 4 years ago.

I'm not sure if it's my own original thought or if I just forgot to include the source.

In any event, here's the simple truth of the matter...


According to the world, the Gospel emerges in the context of two "impossibilities." Jesus Christ entered the world through a door marked "No Entry" (a.k.a. a virgin womb). He left through a door marked "No Exit" (a.k.a. a tomb). 
According to Christians, we rest on true wisdom that says "with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26), and "all things are possible for one who believes," and so we cry out, "I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:23-24).


It's interesting to see the stark contrast between human weakness and divine power side-by-side here in the statements listed above, isn't it?

Just as being born of a virgin and defeating death by resurrection is only possible by God Himself, faith and salvation from death and eternal punishment for our sins is only possible through God's power and grace as embodied in His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Despite our fickle feelings, despite reason that wants to war with our spirit, we have been given this thing called faith that is supposed to receive the gifts that God has prepared for us.

Sometimes that's easier said than done it seems.


Worthiness does not depend on the greatness or smallness, the weakness or strength of faith. Instead, it depends on Christ's merit, which the distressed father of little faith (Mark 9:24) enjoyed as well as Abraham, Paul, and others who have a joyful and strong faith. 
-- Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord VII 71


I'll admit, I've felt like "the distressed father of little faith" lately.

Stumbling upon this several year's old note of mine led me on an unexpectedly journey today. It was a journey of introspection and self-reflection.


 
The Afflicted Take Comfort In God's Mercy 
It is not uncommon for the soul to grope for comfort where there is none. As such, it is often said by Christians who are afflicted from the pressures and problems of this fallen world, that “God will not give me more than I can handle.” The text to which that common phrase refers is 1 Corinthians 10:13. Though, in it, the Apostle Paul does not talk about what the Christian can and cannot “handle,” but rather the limits of temptation. 
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor 10:13) 
God has not designed our fall into temptation. He warns against the dangers of complacency and pride calling us to “take heed lest [we] fall” (1 Cor. 10:12), and to “flee from idolatry” (1 Cor 10:14). But God does not strengthen your faith in your own ability to cope, saying “Don’t worry about your suffering, you can handle it.” Rather He teaches us that He has not allowed any temptation that will force us into damnation. 
Yet, regardless of its validity, this phrase that God will not give you more than you can handle is not where the Christian can find comfort. So God knows your ability to deal with stress. What good is that? Such a notion does not promise an end to your suffering, nor does it assure you of forgiveness when you fail to “handle” suffering. No amount of meditation on God’s divine sovereignty can bring solace to the afflicted. 
Therefore, take comfort not in the measure of your pain, nor in your ability to “handle” distress. Take comfort only in Christ. Take comfort that He has born that which brings you despair. Your affliction has already been suffered by the Son of God. That is why you are to seek refuge not in God’s power over your situation, but in His mercy. It was His mercy, for which you cry “kyrie eleison,” that caused Him to send His Son to death in your place. As such, God’s baptized and redeemed children should not lose heart, though not because God will give them more or less affliction according to their ability to handle it, but because their affliction has already been suffered in the flesh of the Son of God. 
Therefore, when you are acutely aware of the sin of this fallen world as you are afflicted by its grip around your neck, look upon your suffering and rest assured that this too has been taken to the cross and laid in the grave. 
"All-loving God, Your mercy has no end, and Your kindness is new each morning. See, I, an afflicted and sorrowful soul, come before Your holy face to pour out the great grief of my heavy heart. My distressful condition and great misery that has overtaken me are well known to you. My soul is sorrowful; my spirit is in anguish; numberless afflictions surround me. I look around me for helpers, but find none. Some people refuse to give me comfort; others do not know my distress and I do not reveal it to them. But to you, O God, I make complaint with a heart full of grief. I know that You are merciful and moved to pity by our distress. You took pity on the stricken widow weeping for her son. You were moved to compassion when You saw the people who had gathered to hear You and had nothing to eat, and Your compassion went hand in hand with Your mercy and comfort. And so I come to You and plead: have mercy on me! O God, I am Your creature; do not forsake the work of Your hands. Yes, I am even more: I am also Your child whom You have taken into the arms of Your mercy in Holy Baptism. And so I say to You: O my Father, have compassion on Your poor and forsaken child. My Jesus, I have been bought with Your holy blood; I am Your portion and inheritance, purchased with Your precious blood! I know You will have compassion on Your own. O precious Holy Spirit, bear witness with my spirit that despite all my suffering I am still a child of God. And when I am faint in praying and can hardly put words together any more, You Yourself cry within me: ‘Abba! Father!’" (Starck's Prayer Book, 186.)


Despair threatens to overwhelm our faith by pointing out how we fail to change or improve, suggesting that God neither cares for us nor has power to help.

However, Jesus graciously descends to a world of despair and doubt so that He might deliver us.

Thankfully, God accepts us by grace through faith in Jesus, not through obedience or status, just as children receive love they do not earn. We are to trust the Lord as a child trusts a parent.


Lord, thank You for Your compassion, which brings You to our world of pain and dismay. Give us faith to overcome our doubts, and help us believe that all things are possible with You. Lord, give us the lasting faith that can persevere through every trial. Empty our hands of anything that competes with You, and let us hold firmly to You eternally. Amen.


Nothing is more important than retaining the faith unto eternal life.

Let nothing come between you and the Savior.

Though He tests us with fire, He does not consume His own people.

Rejoice, for God graciously gives us the faith in which He preserves us unto eternity!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the simple truth is that through faith in Christ, we receive the Lord's undeserved gifts for us, and God freely gives us the most precious gift of all, which is His Son, and the gift of eternal life.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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Unless I'm way off base with my basic translating skills (and have completely forgotten how to perform an accurate Google search!), I believe the English word "quote" (used as a noun as in "a quote") is translated to "zitat" in German.

That will help to explain the strange "Z" word listed in the title of this post. 
That being said, I'm always keeping my eyes and ears open for good quotes of a distinctly "Lutheran" flavor that encourage prayerful consideration and a deeper study of God's Word, His Sacraments, Christ's Church, and our Lutheran Confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).

Plus, it certainly helps me in my on-going journey from American Evangelicalism to becoming a Confessional Lutheran.

Here's the latest...


 
Jesus Christ is with you and for you in the midst of your deep and dark battle with the world, the devil and your own sinful flesh. He has suffered and died for you and all your sins, without any worthiness or merit within you. You are loved by God in His eternal grace and mercy. Habitual sin attacks and cripples everyone of us, each in our own way as the Fall into sin has affected us. Nevertheless, all sin is equally condemnable in God’s eyes. Therefore the medicine and defense against such pernicious and wicked sin is the same -- Jesus Christ crucified for us for the forgiveness of our sins. So, in faith, we direct our gaze on Him, who saved us all with His precious blood. 
Paul in Romans 7 expresses the struggle every baptized believer endures, who wrestles with habitual sin. "I think I need to go to confession, but I am terrified of telling this to the pastor." You are right! Private Confession & Holy Absolution are exactly what the Lord would have for you. And as a penitent myself, I understand the fear associated with the idea of going to confession. Yet, I would counsel you to look at this Sacrament as the precious gift from God that it is. 
The last thing the world, the devil, and your flesh want you to do is audibly confess your sins to the one sent by God to loose (forgive) your sins. The unholy trinity does not want you to claim your sin as your own so as to have it forgiven. And because they don’t want you to confess your sins, they stir up fear within you. They do this by introducing doubt into the promises of God. "Did God really say?" The unholy trinity appeals to the core of your fallen nature. They arouse unbelief. According to the fallen flesh, no one believes God’s Word & Promises. But all is not lost. To overcome this unbelief God gives you His Spirit & Word. He sends you the beautiful feet of His pastors to remind you of His Gospel promises and to actually deliver everything Jesus is for you. 
The Sacrament of Confession & Holy Absolution is a gift of unimaginable comfort, especially for habitual sins. In the confines of the confessional, all your darkest sins are called what they are before the pastor so that the pastor, in the stead of Christ, can intimately forgive you, by name, with God’s Holy Name -- the very name spoken and given to you at your baptism. 
Does confessing your sins hurt? Yes, but only because the flesh, the old man, the sinner in you is being crucified to death so that a new man may arise to live in God’s grace and love for Jesus’ sake. The comfort that comes from Confession and Holy Absolution is the certainty that God forgives you all your sins, every single one of them, no matter what they may be, even homosexuality. 
The habitual sins of which Luther speaks of in the Smalcald Articles are those sins that are held outside the forgiveness of sins. That is to say, to persist in sin without any concern or care with what you are doing. Faith cannot survive without the reception of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus sake. You are not that man! Consider King David, he committed sin after sin, because sin breeds sin, that is until it is confronted and killed by the Law of God, which says, "You are the man!" Then, repentant faith says, "I have sinned against the Lord." It is that man, who is then absolved with the Gospel, "The Lord also has put away your sin…" You are the man and you know it! More than that, your sins are put away, they are forgiven in the bloody cross of Jesus. Believe it and receive it. The fruit of the cross, the forgiveness of all your sins, is delivered to you superabundantly through the means of your baptism remembered, Holy Absolution heard, and Christ’s body and blood eaten and drunk. None of these are dependent on you, but come from outside of you by grace in the beautiful feet of those who are sent to deliver them to you. 
The thorn you bear is difficult, but the grace of Christ is greater! He is ever for you and so are those pastors sent by Him. There is no greater joy that a pastor has than to forgive sins in Jesus’ name, no matter what they might be. 
-- Rev. Dustin L. Anderson


I just love that!

Unfortunately, even though I know who it's from, I don't know where I saw it and can't link to the source (I'm guessing it was from the Worldview Everlasting website).

Now, since I know that this is a topic that so many of us often struggle to understand even after reading something like that (I know I do!), I thought I'd share a couple of Worldview Everlasting videos from Rev. Jonathan Fisk that should help to answer any remaining questions and fill in the blanks for us.


The Way God Prefers To Kill You (Romans 7:1-13) 

Exposing The Wretch Within (Romans 7:14-25) 


Personally, I think Romans 7 can be summed up by simply stating that our struggle with sin is not a past event; it is a present reality.

We know God's will and desire to serve Him, but we cannot overcome sin.

Even if we try, we fail.

We cry out, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" There is only one answer: "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Jesus rescues us for He is the Savior!

In a Lutheran layman's terms, though we sin daily, He continues to forgive and restore us.
 


NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!
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I'm still in an Apologetics state of mind these days.

So, I was thrilled to find a 2-part series titled "Christianity And Logic" that Issues, Etc. did with Dr. Gregory Schulz of Concordia University Wisconsin last week.

   

 
AUDIO: Christianity And Logic - 3 Acts of The Mind 
AUDIO: Christianity And Logic - 4 Modes of Reasoning


Is Christianity logical? Yes and no (sorry, but I'll let you listen for the answer to how that can be rather than ruin it for you here).

As stated several times throughout this series, in this Post-Modern age we live in, there is no "objective truth" anymore, because "truth is relevant" and the general mindset is that we should be taught a certain set of presuppositions, which includes this notion that no one needs to learn how to to think for themselves anymore.

More specifically, we're being taught that we need to abandon all reason -- even Bible-believing Christians too!

As a result, we're constantly bombarded with messages that proclaim that the Bible is an "illogical" and "unreasonable" book and, therefore, we ought to reject it completely. Worse is when this is being encouraged by others who identify themselves as Christians!

This discussion actually comes at a perfect time for me as I've been focusing more attention on the area of Christian Apologetics, but also because of a recent conversation I had on Twitter a few days ago.













It's certainly not the first conversation along that line of thinking and it won't be the last either.

However, it got me thinking about how we can still reject the truth even despite clear evidence that's presented to us.

Yes, there will be people who choose to ignore that kind of hard evidence and even the hard evidence in the form of an empty tomb.


1 Corinthians 1:18-30 (ESV) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart." Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."


Those who see only foolishness in the crucifixion of Christ upon the cross deny its power to save them from eternal destruction, because Christ's crucifixion upon the cross (His death and resurrection for the sins of all mankind) is the instrument of God's love and free gift of salvation to each and every one of us.

Human wisdom cannot lead anyone to God, Who reveals Himself in the message of the cross. The heart of the Gospel is Jesus' atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Though Jesus' death appears foolish and shameful to some, it is the only basis of our salvation.


The forgiveness of sins ... cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. How would we know about it otherwise? 
-- Large Catechism V 31


Is Christianity logical and reasonable? Again, yes and no.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, we must be ready to explain not just WHAT we believe, but WHY we believe it (2 Timothy 4:2).



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!


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As you know, as a 1st Generation Confessional Lutheran (meaning that even though my entire family is Lutheran, they are "C&E Lutherans" -- "Christmas & Easter Lutherans" -- and I'm the first one in the family to even mention the Book of Concord let alone Martin Luther), I'm still in the process of learning the Church Calendar and all the new words and phrases that come with that.

Today is one of those interesting days for me since today we celebrate what is called "Rogate" or a word that means "Ask!/Pray!" ("Rogate" is the Latin word for "Ask" or "Pray") and that's why this day is often called "Pray/Prayer Sunday" in most Confessional Lutheran churches on this 6th Sunday of Easter.

I'm ashamed and embarrassed to admit that we all overslept this morning and that we never would've made it to church on time even if we had left right away after jumping out of bed and quickly getting dressed.

I mention this to demonstrate that I'm by no means "perfect" (far from it!) or somehow "better" than the rest of my family members simply because I go to church and they don't. I mention it because I'm bummed to have missed our Pastor's faithful preaching of God's Word through his sermon as well as receiving the Lord's Supper, which I now have to wait two more weeks before I can receive it again.

Unfortunately, this is just another sad reality about being a 1st Generation Confessional Lutheran, in my humble opinion -- attempting to establish a new habit for myself and my family when we've been used to many years where going to church on Sundays was "no big deal" one way or another is still a real and on-going challenge!

Obviously, that's still a problem for us from time-to-time. Plus, when you know that the closest and most faithful church you've found in the local area is 30-35 minutes away, it also makes rushing to walk out the door that much harder when you're already getting an extremely late start to begin with.

Excuses, excuses, excuses!
 I know, right? I promise I'm really not trying to make excuses. I just want to be honest about things, especially since I think there will be a connection to today's blog post as we continue here.


It's times like this when I'm so grateful for the Internet. Thankfully, I found not one, but two audio links for this Rogate 2016. The first is a discussion about Rogate from Issues, Etc. and the other is a sermon delivered by an LCMS Pastor in Michigan from earlier this morning.



 
BIBLE STUDY AUDIO: Rev. David Petersen - Looking Forward To Sunday Morning (Rogate 2016) 
SERMON AUDIO: Rev. Kenneth Bomberger - Rogate Sermon 2016


I hope you listened to at least one of those, because both are so good.

The key text for Rogate Sunday is John 16:23-30 where Jesus talks very explicitly about prayer.

Prayer is talking to God in thoughts and words. We don't lecture God, but we want to converse with Him. We want to be in constant communication with Him too.


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV) Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


Joy, prayer, and thanksgiving form a unity.

Even though God has other purposes for us, this triad is certainly His will for us too.

Now, I know that if you're like me, then the words "pray without ceasing" in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 probably presents a problem for you. I mean, after all, how is that even possible?

No, we cannot verbally pray at all times, but it is possible to be in the spirit of prayer and ever ready to pray for sure.


The Lord's Prayer has also been prescribed so that we should see and consider the distress that ought to drive and compel us to pray without ceasing. 
-- Large Catechism III 24

We should ask that through the same Spirit and His grace, by means of the daily exercise of reading and doing God's Word, He would preserve in us faith and His heavenly gifts, strengthen us from day to day, and keep us to the end. 
-- Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord II 16


I find it compelling that St. Paul earlier told the Thessalonians that sanctification is God's will for them (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Here, in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, that truth finds its expression in their joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.

Indeed the beauty of all of this, however, is that we could not call upon the Lord unless He has already called to us first (John 6:44).

Furthermore, to think that we can "ask the Father" anything is mind-blowing, isn't it? Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that our prayers will be answered in the precise way that we want them to be answered, but it does reveal quite of few things that we need to remind ourselves.

Here's a sermon that Rev. Karl Hess delivered earlier this morning...


Asking God The Father. Rogate, Easter 6, 2016 
It's been a long time for most of us since we asked our fathers for anything, but not for all of us. The catechumens who are here today still have to ask their fathers and mothers for help with their homework, or to let them go over to their friends’ house, or to play video games for five more minutes instead of doing their homework. 
What is it like to ask your father for something? It depends on your father, doesn’t it? It also depends what you’re asking for. 
I know with my father, who has now been gone for almost nine years, a lot depended on his mood. Since my dad didn’t talk as much as I do, I had to be able to read his mood before I could ask him for something and expect to receive it. I had to know him. And I did know him. At least I knew how to read his moods and tell whether it was a good time to ask him for something that I wanted. 
Whatever your father was or is like, I am sure it was the same for you. Knowing your father was a big part of being able to ask him for something and getting what you asked for. You had to know when was a good time to approach him. You had to know how to speak to him. You had to know what he wanted in order to frame your request. “Dad, you know how you always tell me I need to be responsible? I really think that buying me this car will help me learn responsibility.” 
Of course, often when we asked our fathers for things, we were tuned into the things they had said only as a means to an end. We weren’t thinking about pleasing them or honoring them when we asked for things. We were mostly thinking about getting something out of them for our own enjoyment. As I get older, I feel sorry about this. I know my dad had many failings as a man, as a father. Yet I owe my life to him. And many of the things in my character that are good I owe to him. And besides this, I know that despite his faults he loved me and wanted me to be blessed. And so, I wish that I had honored my father more, by not selfishly asking him for things that would give me temporary pleasure, but asking him for things that would have pleased him, that I knew he wanted to give me. 
Now, as a father, I have a different perspective than I did as a child. When my son asks me for gifts, I usually want to give him what he asks for. But I don’t always. And the reason is obvious enough. I want my son to be happy now, of course. But I’m even more interested in him being happy later in life—being happy because he is a virtuous man, a good man, who knows how to work hard, manage his money, be a husband to his wife and a father to his children, who can be a blessing to his church and a help to his neighbors. I want him to be able to use the gifts God has given him to the best of his ability and not be held back by laziness, lack of self-control, greed or selfishness. 
And even more than these things, I want my son to be happy for eternity. And because I want these things more than I want his short-term happiness, I frequently say “no” to what he asks me. When we’re at Wal-Mart and he asks me to buy him a toy, I say, “No, you have a thousand toys at home that you need to learn to pick up and put away first.” 
So is it a surprise if you ask your Father in heaven for things and He says “No”? 
If you look back at your life, you can probably remember many prayers in which you asked God for gifts you didn’t deserve and He said “Yes.” 
At the same time, I know many Christians have asked God for things that seemed like they should be the Father’s will, and He said “No.” Or He said, “Not yet,” and that not yet stretched on for years and years. 
And so when we hear Jesus say today, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my Name, He will give to you,” those of us who have struggled in prayer for years may find ourselves feeling depressed at this amazing promise. Or doubtful, or cynical, or perhaps, in spite of ourselves, a little angry. If only being a Christian was as glorious and joyful as Jesus seems to describe it here. 
It’s interesting that Jesus describes praying to God the Father in a similar way to the experience I had with my dad. He says asking God the Father for gifts depends on two things—one is being loved by the Father, the other is knowing the Father. Through faith in Jesus we receive the Father’s love: I do not say that I will ask the Father for you, because the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:26-27) But also through Jesus we receive the knowledge of who the Father is, what He is like, what He desires. Jesus doesn’t promise His disciples will receive everything they ask the Father, but whatever you ask the Father in My Name, He will give to you. (John 16:23) “In Jesus’ Name” means we ask God the Father in the authority of Jesus, believing that God the Father receives us as His children because of Jesus. It also means that we ask what Jesus authorizes us to ask. We can ask the Father for anything, as long as we say, “Your will, not mine, be done.” But only when we ask for the things that Jesus has promised and taught us to pray for can we be certain that the Father will give them. 
Now if we think back on many of the prayers we have prayed in our life, maybe even most, maybe even all, we will probably discover that most of what we asked the Father in heaven has been like what we asked for from our fathers and mothers on earth. We usually asked our earthly parents for things that would please us. We didn’t think, “My father and mother have been given to me by God to raise me, and He commands me to honor them; they gave me life, so I should honor them.” When we asked them for things we often thought only about what would please us in the short-term, not about what would honor and please them. 
In the same way, even when we have prayed to the Father for godly things, often our hearts have been set on ourselves. We may have prayed for our family members, but our hearts were on ourselves instead of on what would glorify God and what would be the highest good for our family members. We were trying to escape pain and to have an easy (or easier) life. 
But even more often we haven’t prayed. And the reason was we didn’t know or believe in the Father that Jesus reveals to us very firmly. We didn’t rightly appreciate His great power and wisdom. Even more, we doubted Jesus’ word that the Father loves us and wants to give us everything that is His. We didn’t know the greatness of God’s love for us, the love that surpasses knowledge that Paul describes in Ephesians chapter 3. 
Christians don’t have a monopoly on the act of praying. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, it wasn’t something totally new. The Jews prayed a lot. They had a custom of praying every morning and every evening, to go along with the morning and evening sacrifices at the temple. 
And today lots of people believe in a God, even though it isn’t the God of the Bible. They think of Him as being a Father, and they pray to Him. 
But Jesus gives a privilege and promise about prayer to those who believe in Him that those who don’t believe in Him don’t have. His promise is that those who believe in Him have God as their Father just as truly as He has God as His Father. The unbelieving world doesn’t have this relationship to God. God is the Father of all people, because He created us all. But those who don’t believe in Jesus don’t have the privileges of being children who are fathered by God and live in His house. They don’t live in God’s house, which means of course that they don’t have to live by the rules of His house. But it also means they don’t have the benefits of dwelling in the house of the Lord. 
As God’s children through faith in Christ, God the Father has an open heart toward us, like a loving father has toward his children, except that God’s heart is full of perfect love, where a human father’s is imperfect. Because of this love, we can make requests of God the Father and expect to be heard. 
But also through Jesus we know God the Father. No one can see God. But in Jesus we have the exact reflection of who God the Father is. Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father, Jesus tells Philip in John 14. 
As we grow to know Jesus by hearing and reading His Word, receiving His absolution and His Supper, we grow to know the Father. We learn to know His grace—that He doesn’t deal with us as our sins deserve, but blesses and honors us as though we had never sinned. We learn to know His mercy and kindness, His gentleness toward sinners—even when our lives are hard and from a human perspective it appears as if He is dealing harshly with us. We learn to know His power to save, deliver, and defend us, which knows no limits. We learn all these things especially from Jesus’ death and resurrection. There we see God deal once and for all with our sins. All of them, including the selfishness that has motivated us to try to use God for our own ends instead of seeking Him for His own sake, He laid on Jesus. All of them He judged and punished on the cross. And all of them He showed to be removed, taken away forever when Jesus rose from the dead. And because we don’t believe this, or doubt it, He continually proclaims it to us as we come to church week in and week out, burdened by our failures, our unbelief, our feelings of alienation from God. He continues to proclaim Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, His testimony that our sins have been erased from His sight. 
Because this is true, Jesus tells the disciples, including us, “In that day you will not ask me for anything. Amen, Amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24) 
When Jesus rises from the dead, we are also alive from the dead. We are dead to sin and alive to God the Father. We are no longer God’s enemies in Adam, but new creatures who live to God in Christ. So when we speak to the Father, we come before Him as little Christs. 
Just as Jesus received everything He asked from the Father, so will we. 
That means that when we pray for the things Jesus promised us and taught us to pray for, we can be certain that we “will receive” those things. When we ask for God’s Word to be taught purely to us, that He will give us the Holy Spirit to believe that Word, be saved by it, and live a holy life, we will surely receive it. When we ask that God preserve us in that word and faith until we die, we will surely receive it. When we ask for God to give us daily bread—what we need to support this life—He will not fail us. Nor will He deny us forgiveness of our sins when we ask for it, nor support and deliverance from the devil’s temptations, and finally be to be brought out of this world of sorrow safely into the eternal joy of everlasting life. 
We don’t pray those things and hope God will give them to us. That’s the way those who don’t know Jesus and His Father pray. Such prayers are not heard. 
Instead we pray to the Father with certainty, not only that He hears us, but that He will give us whatever we ask, as though we were His Son. 
Alleluia! Christ is risen! Soli Deo Gloria


I know that was a little long, but I just had to share it here in this piece. See, this is why I love being a Lutheran as opposed to an Evangelical. No "Moral Therapeutic, Pop Christianity, Self-Help Sermon" here!

Finally, here's something for us to consider about prayer that's also very important. It relates to praying for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.


"In that day you will ask in My Name." 
It is impossible to mention in the intercessions of corporate worship all the persons who are committed to our care, or at any rate to do so in the way that is required of us. Every Christian has his own circle who have requested him to make intercession for them or for whom he knows he has been called upon especially to pray. These will be, first of all, those with whom he must live day by day. This brings us to a point at which we hear the pulsing heart of all Christian life in unison. A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others. There is no dislike, no personal tension, no estrangement that cannot be overcome by intercession as far as our side of it is concerned. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the fellowship must enter every day. The struggle we undergo with our brother in intercession may be a hard one, but that struggle has the promise that it will gain its goal.   
-- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (Harper San Francisco, 1954) pp. 85-86.


After reading that, I'm reminded that to live in community with other sinners always requires forgiveness and mercy as difficult as that might be at times.

One final word on prayer.

I also learned that it doesn't matter Who we pray to meaning prayer is not "formulaic" in the sense that we should doubt the "effectiveness of prayer" depending on whether we pray to the Father, to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit.

As Rev. Petersen commented in the above audio link...


We can pray directly to the Father, we can pray directly to the Holy Spirit, and, of course, we can pray directly to the Son, to Jesus. But the kind of normal, natural, mode of Christian prayer is that which we find embodied in the Collect so often, the prayers that we hear in the Church on Sunday, and that is prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. But we don't have to be formulaic, we have great freedom. It doesn't matter really to which Person of the Holy Trinity we address our prayers, because God hears them. The Holy Trinity hears the prayers regardless of how we phrase it, because we are in Christ, and we belong to Him, and we have been baptized into His name. But all of our prayers must be offered through the cross.


Thus, prayers come out of us "In Jesus' Name!" whether we offer those specific words or not.

With so much confusion in Christianity today when it comes to prayer, I hope that this brief primer on prayer deriving from a Rogate Sunday study was helpful to you as it was to me.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the Lord has commanded us to pray, and so we desire His help in teaching us to pray, we pray as we're instructed to, we ask for His forgiveness when we don't, and we thank God that we have both an Advocate Who helps us to pray while we're here on earth, and a Savior Who intercedes on our behalf with the Father in heaven at all times.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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A couple of tweets from yesterday got me thinking this morning.





Having been a "Spiritual Island Unto Myself" who believed that any and all denominations were "bad" no matter what, I think I now have a unique perspective than most who are perhaps the "Cradle To Grave" types of Lutherans.

No, not that I think I'm somehow "better" than them (not at all!), but just that I almost caused "shipwreck" to my faith (1 Timothy 1:19) due to the incorrect confessions, beliefs, and teachings I held onto, and so now I can appreciate the clear Biblical truth I have been exposed to and given, thanks be to God (Jude 1:3).

To put it another way, I can identify the "Trojan Horses" we've allowed to infect the pulpits and pews. I know the dangers present in inviting everyone to embrace and pet the wolves we've allowed into the narthex.

Unfortunately, I also know far too many lifelong Lutherans who tend to underestimate the importance of pure, sound doctrine and who could honestly care less about any and all attempts to discuss the very serious confessional differences between Christian denominations.

To them, I'm just a "judgmental" and "unloving" jerk who always has to complicate things by pointing out how a current belief and/or practice has no basis due to God's Word let alone our Lutheran Confessions.

An early 20th Century Lutheran once wrote: "The teachings of the Word of God are not a vague, luminous mist, but a clear, steady light. We re-examine the Scriptures and confess that in all its teachings the Bible is indeed, as Luther called it, 'The clearest book ever written.'"

Why should doctrine always matter to us? Because doctrine deals with matters of life and death! That's why we should always refute and resist any errors being taught as truth and being done in the name of God (1 Peter 3:15).

An acquaintance of mine on Facebook who writes for the From Geneva To Wittenberg blog shared his story recently and I recalled it this morning in light of the above truths, because it succinctly summarizes my own sentiments about being a Lutheran right now.


LUTHERANISM Or Bust 
I am to the point where I have little patience, if any, for other branches of Christianity besides Lutheranism. And this not in a "cage stage" sort of way. (I converted to Lutheranism almost two years ago.) Instead, I am to this point because the more I grow in my Lutheranism, and in being so thankful for the pure Gospel found within Lutheranism, the more I see how *every single other branch* in some way, form, or fashion, turns a person within themselves, toward their own efforts. I absolutely abhor this. It is absolutely dangerous pastorally and practically speaking. Even those branches that have the full Sacraments -- such as Rome, the East, and some Anglicans -- even they end up turning the Sacraments into law, and turn them into our efforts toward God. To me, this is no different than the other branches which focus on "what am I doing for God?" Anyhoo, that's the point I am at. Honestly, I think it is a *good* point to be at. Why? Because it makes me impatient toward anything that obscures the Gospel. This sinner needs the pure, unadulterated, 200-proof Gospel of God's declaration external and outside of me, delivered in Words spoken and Sacraments given as Gifts. This sinner needs Lutheranism, and Lutheranism alone. God coming down to me. God speaking objective, gracious Words to me. God giving objective, gracious Sacraments to me. God continually forgiving my sins. Thank You Jesus! 
-- Josh Brisby


This is most certainly true.

I feel absolutely the same way too. What about you? Can you relate to that as well?

Now, this is not to say that "only Lutherans" are Christians. Still, there's a great spiritual danger that's inherent to "Get Alongism" in Christ's Church and it seems as though a majority of Christians (regardless of the denomination they belong to) have lost the ability to discern that truth.


Galatians 5:9 (ESV) A little leaven leavens the whole lump.


And yet, Unionism continues to rule the hearts and minds of many believers today!

What is Unionism? In short, it's church fellowship without unity in doctrine and practice. Worse, Unionism is a spiritual cancer within Christ's Church, and even though we know that His Church will always prevail (Matthew 16:18), that doesn't mean that we should ever become indifferent to His doctrines and the practices that are derived from them simply for the sake of "peace and unity" with our brothers and sisters.


Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.


I found a fitting critique of this predisposition to Unionism that was written by a Lutheran way back in 1918. It was written by a man named Dr. Theodore Graebner who was, for many years, a Professor at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and considered one of Lutheranism's theological giants.

He was a prolific writer and the author of many excellent books and treatises in which he clearly and boldly set forth the truth of Scripture on a variety of subjects. He proved himself a staunch defender of sound, conservative Lutheranism. This is evident also from essays that also appeared in the Lutheran Witness or what was the official publication of the LCMS back in 1918 that I would like to share with you at this time (along with an appropriate quote from our current Synod President).



 
The Leprosy of Unionism 
In all the catalog of diseases there is no more awful scourge than leprosy. True leprosy is incurable. In Bible-times the lepers were considered, in a special sense, unclean. They were shut out from the temple, the synagogues, and to a large extent from the social life of their fellow-beings. Their lot was truly pitiable. The tubercular blotches on the skin, soon covering the cheeks, the nose, the lips, and the forehead; then the ulcers in the mouth, followed soon by the tubercles on the face, encrusted with discharge; the falling out of the eyebrows, the ulceration of feet and hands, the progressive loss of fingers and toes, then of arms and limbs made leprosy the most dreaded of all diseases. It ended usually by the onset of tuberculosis, or led to mental decay, idiocy, coma, and death. There is a spiritual leprosy. We commonly call it unionism. Unionism is a diseased condition of the church. And it is a fatal disease. It ends in spiritual tuberculosis or a state of coma, the precursor of spiritual death. . . Moreover, and this makes the present subject so vital -- we all have within us the germs of unionism. (NOTE: Unionism is church fellowship without unity in doctrine and practice.)

I. THE GERMS 
". . . In my flesh dwelleth no good thing," (Romans 7:18) is the confession of Paul and of every Christian who knows his own heart. Pride, love of applause, and their counterparts, unwillingness to bear shame and reproach, these are the germs of unionism. And they are found in every human heart. When we confess Christ, we must bear reproach. And we can confess Christ in no other way than by confessing the truth as He taught it. But confession of the truth by word of mouth is inseparable from confession by deed and practice. Even if there were no single text in Scripture which commands us to separate ourselves from those who deny any part of the truth, we should still, by inner necessity, if we are faithful disciples, bear witness against error through the testimony of withdrawal from false teachers and their followers. Jesus says that He has come not to bring peace, but division. (Luke 12:51) The Word divides those who are faithful from those who are unfaithful. And when Scripture says: "Be ye separate," (2 Corinthians 6:17), "Avoid them," (Romans 16:17), these commands find a ready response in the attitude of the believer's heart. The Christian knows that false doctrine is sin. But here our spirit is put to a sore test. Separation from those who teach falsely will inevitably expose us to slurs and bitter reproach: "Pharisees!" "Holier - than - thou Christians!" is hurled at us. "A loveless Christianity!" "Proud aloofness!" "Unchristian intolerance!" These are bitter words, and our flesh is weak; we are tempted to look for some means of escape from such reproach. And that is the entering wedge of unionism! Satan sees his opportunity. "Yea, hath God said?" (Genesis 3:1) Doubts arise: "Is it really necessary to stand so uncompromisingly on details of doctrine? Are not some doctrines difficult to understand? Is it not reasonable to suppose that Christians may 'honestly differ,' because the Word of God 'has left some things obscure?' Why then be separate from those who at least hold the 'great essentials' of Christianity in common with us?" We recognize the serpent's hiss and strike down the tempter with the Sword of the Spirit: "It is written!" (Matthew 4) The teachings of the Word of God are not a vague, luminous mist, but a clear, steady light. We re-examine the Scriptures and confess that in all its teachings the Bible is indeed, as Luther called it, "The clearest book ever written." No, we cannot yield. The simple words of Scripture are too powerful; the Truth is ours, and those who deny it depart from the evident sense of the inspired Word. There can be no compromise. "Get thee behind me, Satan!" (Matthew 16:23) Thus we can escape the infection.

II. THE EPIDEMIC 
Without question, there is an epidemic of unionism raging in the body of Protestantism. There is an impatient demand: "Away with creeds; away with doctrine!" "The denominational wall must fall." "Christianity has no room for sects." This is the cry of so-called Christianity of our day. Our Synodical Conference, of which the Missouri Synod is part, has so far stood four-square against unionism. Will it continue to stand? Will it resist the tremendous pressure exerted by those who plead for unity, regardless of doctrinal agreement. . . (Will it continue) to offset the inroads of unbelief, and to oppose aggression of Romanism? Will it remain 100% Lutheran? . . . (COMMENTARY: This article was written in 1918. Unfortunately, the questions must be answered in the negative. The Synodical Conference officially dissolved in 1967. It had succumbed to unionism!)

III. THE RAVAGES OF UNIONISM 
Once we admit that the Word of God has not clearly spoken on points of Christian doctrine, and "the lid is off," faith disintegrates, and rationalism rules. . . Unionism works just like leprosy. First the disfigurement -- the entrance of unscriptural views and practices, then the decay of doctrinal preaching, followed by the sloughing off of one teaching after another, until the church-body is a walking death. Behold the final state of such a church: Because they tolerated error in their midst and permitted their faithful churches and pastors to remain in fellowship with unfaithful churches and pastors, the representatives of the so-called conservative element of the Reformed Churches round about are helpless over against the inroads of unbelief. The official publishing house of the Methodists is publishing Sunday School literature which is absolutely unchristian. . . . Everywhere sectarian preachers are openly denying the very fundamentals of Christian doctrine. Churches are rapidly degenerating into agencies of political reform, and in many cases have given up even the pretense to a spiritual mission. Such churches are dying of spiritual tuberculosis, the final stage of spiritual leprosy -- unionism.

IV. THE CURE 
Unionism is a disease which is 100% fatal. The outward organization sometimes continued to exist after the spiritual life had flown, but Christ, the Life of the Church, was no longer there. His Spirit had fled the polluted sanctuary. In the days of Isaiah, the Jews had arrived at this stage. . . True Christians there will always be where there are Bible-readers; but the organism dies. A church may be re-born, reformed, built up anew out of the debris of its former self, but that has ever been the case only after unionism had worked its final result, spiritual death. The place for unionistic Christianity is not the sanitarium, but the morgue.

V. PREVENTION 
The Lutheran Church in the United States has not been immune to unionism in the past, and it is not immune today. No one believes that any Missouri Synod man would dare to propose at this time (1918) official synodical collaboration with the Reformed sects in church-work. That is a late development at which one does not arrive at a jump. On the other hand, the danger is ever present that on the specious plea of advancing the cause of "Lutheranism," we be tempted to enter into fellowship with members of synods Lutheran in name, but only partly Lutheran in doctrine and practice. There is danger that we get a taste of applause and flattery; that we become eager for "recognition" as a great church-body; that we compromise our doctrinal stand for the purpose of meeting emergencies. And the time to become aware of that danger is NOW. It is a bad sign when hearers become angry at their pastor for "preaching against other churches." It is a worse sign when pastors, bowing to such disapproval, begin to withhold instructions concerning the errors of the sects. It is a most alarming symptom when pastors and parishoners fraternize. . . with those who represent a different conception of Lutheranism. It becomes denial of the Truth when they associate with such for the purpose of "making church-work more effective" or "keeping the Lutheran Church on the map." As we love our church, let us so teach our people so that they will fear the contagion of error as they would fear to breathe the air of a small-pox hospital. Let us exhibit to them the damnableness of false doctrine. Let us preach Luther on this point, who saw only the work of Satan in every deviation from the truth of Scripture. If our people learn to recognize every false doctrine as a snare of the devil, spread to catch victims for hell, they will not need to be held with a rein lest they stampede into unionism. . . Let it be understood that any undertaking or activity which is, in effect, the doing of religious work jointly with those from whom we ought, according to Scripture to separate, is unionism. Here, if ever, the old sayings must apply: "Nip the evil in the bud." Our first duty is that of watchfulness. There is no higher duty now because there is no greater danger. 
[This article was originally reproduced by the now sainted Rev. Waldemar Schuetze, Pastor at the time in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The undersigned retyped it and has added the Scripture references.] 
-- Daniel Fleischer (1995)


I hope you were nodding your head in agreement as you read that article from start to finish.

How spot on was that though? To think it was written almost 100 years ago, and yet, it reads as if a Lutheran Pastor had just written today speaks volumes I think, and demonstrates the importance as to why each and every generation needs to be on guard against the false teachers in the church, their apologists, and their damnable lies.

Ironically, and quite tragically, I have since learned that Dr. Graebner did not continue in this same firm position in the later years of his life. Can you believe it!?! In fact, he became quite the apostate or wolf in "sheep's clothing" (Matthew 7:14-15) within the LCMS by many accounts!

This, however, does not affect the soundness of his former confession of faith (as on full display in the above commentary on Unionism), because it clearly demonstrates the very real dangers present in making concessions when it comes to our Confessions. Even so, I wanted you to be aware of the fact that Graebner did not heed his very own warnings, which further illustrates why it's absolutely essential that we take this topic seriously ourselves.

Like Graebner wrote, "Unionism is a disease which is 100% fatal." To reiterate, what was true nearly 100 years ago was true from the very beginning, and it's still true today...


The Lutheran Church in the United States has not been immune to unionism in the past, and it is not immune today. ... It is a bad sign when hearers become angry at their pastor for "preaching against other churches." It is a worse sign when pastors, bowing to such disapproval, begin to withhold instructions concerning the errors of the sects. It is a most alarming symptom when pastors and parishoners fraternize. . . with those who represent a different conception of Lutheranism. It becomes denial of the Truth when they associate with such for the purpose of "making church-work more effective" or "keeping the Lutheran Church on the map." As we love our church, let us so teach our people so that they will fear the contagion of error as they would fear to breathe the air of a small-pox hospital. Let us exhibit to them the damnableness of false doctrine.


Today, it seems as if we have made Unionism an idol within our churches and local/regional communities of faith. Personally, I'm seeing it more and more here in the Eastern District-LCMS with each and every year that goes by.

Our false understandings of Christology, Ecclesiology, and Missiology (our false understandings of both doctrine and practice) as well as our sinful nature are continuing to fuel this trend as our congregations and schools are losing their distinct Lutheran identity (if they haven't already lost it) by becoming a unionistic melting pot of all brands of Christianity where "anything goes" as long as we can all agree on the truth of John 3:16 at the end of the day.

It's "Gospel Reductionism" and it's not a good thing at all.

My dear friends, whatever the reasons we use to justify such practices, it's never "good" and never "wise" at all to jettison one's historical and orthodox confession of the faith, and it will eventually only lead to disastrous results (1 Timothy 1:18-19).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the leprosy of Unionism is a very real threat to the Christian and to Christ's Church (always has been, always will be), which is precisely why it's "Lutheranism or bust!" for me and my family.



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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