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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 4/5/2014)

Remember when Saturday mornings used to be so much fun when you were a kid?

For me, I'd usually stay up as late as I could the night before (after what I thought was such a "hard" and "long" week at school), and then sleep in as late as I wanted to on Saturday morning.

The best part? Whether Dad would make us breakfast or not (his French Toast!), the even better part of my Saturday mornings growing up was plopping myself down in front of our TV to watch cartoon after cartoon! You know, the kind that were only on once-a-week and not available in an instant through YouTube and/or Netflix?

I thought about that recently and decided it might be cool to come up with a new weekly tradition of sorts for us adults to enjoy each and every Saturday morning now that we're all grown up (ok, at least some of us more than others anyway). I mean, isn't it time for us to look forward to Saturday mornings again?

Besides, it will be good for us to recall that childlike faith in fun and laughter if only for a few moments each week. You'll remember that laughter was for Luther a sign of divine grace and also an antidote against the devil too.

From the very beginning, humor had been a theological topic for Martin Luther, embracing the dramatic scope of his whole world view. He himself explained: "When I was unable to chase away the devil with serious words of with the Scripture, I often expelled him with pranks." And so this unique concept is born! Ok, so it's really not all that "cool" or "original" or "fun" to be sure, but it will be our new tradition here, and I'll try to make it worthwhile too. So who's with me then?

Please keep in mind, it won't be flashy, and it will hardly grab and hold your attention like a classic episode of the Care Bears, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, or Voltron would, but these "Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane" should satisfy the Confessional Lutheran's appetite for a balanced breakfast that includes your VDMA Vitamins like Vitamin A (Amusement), Vitamin B (Best of the Blogs), Vitamin C (Confessional), Vitamin D (Doctrine), and Vitamin E (Everything Else).

Each Saturday morning, God willing, I'll do my best to share some of the things I remember coming across in my unpredictable journey through Cyberspace during the week (hence, the "Along Memory Lane" part). Of course, this is also where the things you send me via email (if any) will show up too.

Ok, enough with all the commercials! Let's get the show started already, shall we?

8:00AM DOSE OF VITAMIN A (AMUSEMENT): So the trailer for a film called Fight Church was released on April 2nd (or a day after April Fool's Day) so I was initially skeptical to believe it's legit. Then I read the description: "Academy Award Winning Director, Daniel Junge (Saving Face) and director Bryan Storkel (Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians) team up with producers Eben Kostbar and Joseph McKelheer (The Hammer) for a feature documentary about the confluence of Christianity and mixed martial arts, including ministries which train fighters." It's legit. Lovely, huh? You know, I put this in our Vitamin A category this morning, but now that I think about it there's nothing "funny" about this at all. This is incredibly sad and sick, IMHO. Just stop. Please.

First, Rev. Mark Buetow gives some insight on whether you should see movies based on Bible stories or not (I'm looking at you Noah!). Second, Alan Kurshchner says, "Christians who endorsed the movie Noah have some explaining to do now. And those who criticized me for calling this movie blasphemous." Why? Because "the movie Noah was based on Gnosticism, not Genesis." He then cites Brian Mattson who documents this well. Be sure to click the link to read the entire detailed review. Here is an excerpt from Mattson's conclusion: "Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish 'Midrash.' This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this. So let me tell you what the real scandal in all of this is. It isn’t that he made a film that departed from the biblical story. It isn’t that disappointed and overheated Christian critics had expectations set too high. The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: 'it’s a conversation starter,' 'at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,' etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for 'not following the Bible'...Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces. I believe Aronofsky did it as an experiment to make fools of us: 'You are so ignorant that I can put Noah (granted, it’s Russell Crowe!) up on the big screen and portray him literally as the 'seed of the Serpent' and you all will watch my studio’s screening and endorse it.' He’s having quite the laugh. And shame on everyone who bought it. And what a Gnostic experiment! In Gnosticism, only the 'elite' are 'in the know' and have the secret knowledge. Everybody else are dupes and ignorant fools. The 'event' of this movie is intended to illustrate the Gnostic premise. We are dupes and fools. Would Christendom awake, please? In response, I have one simple suggestion: Henceforth, not a single seminary degree is granted unless the student demonstrates that he has read, digested, and understood Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies. Because it’s the 2nd century all over again." I didn't see the flick, but it's tough to argue with that assessment based on everything I've heard and read about it from others. Kurschner concludes by stating that, "Some readers may think I’m being hard on people for not noticing the Gnosticism at the heart of this film. I am not expecting rank-and-file viewers to notice these things. I would expect exactly what we’ve seen: head-scratching confusion. I’ve got a whole different standard for Christian leaders: college and seminary professors, pastors, and Ph.Ds. If a serpent skin wrapped around the arm of a godly Bible character doesn’t set off any alarms...I don’t know what to say." Yep, my sentiments exactly. For emphasis, check out Bill Muehlenberg's "Noah And Christian Discernment" too. Bottom line? Doctrine and discernment are sorely needed in the Christian Church today.

"Good prayer books are hard to find. While good prayer books are available, most people are after convenience. Just as many people 'nourish' their bodies with whatever they can find at the local fast food establishment, so also many 'nourish' their faith with whatever they can find in the 'inspirational' book section at Target or at the local Christian mega-store. While fast-food places may have a few nutritious items on their menu, most of their stuff is really bad for you. The same is true with these fast-food style Christian booksellers. They may sell a few really good things (like the Bible), but most of their books reflect an American evangelical perspective. Such books teach a purpose-driven (mis)use of the Law, where God’s Law is seen as something to empower the life of faith rather than something that kills. The centrality of God’s grace in Word and Sacrament is almost never taught and is often denied outright. While a few salutary nuggets may be found in these books, they end up getting lost in a sea of error. Even the worst foods often have some positive nutritional value (however slight it may be), but it is usually better to avoid such foods altogether. The same might be said about most of these books. Which brings us back to the original point: good prayer books are hard to find— or so it would seem. Luther had this same problem in his day. The Hortulus animae ('a little garden of the soul') was an early 16th century bestseller, which contained prayers to Mary and the saints, apostles, virgins, and holy widows, just to name a few. ... Luther himself found these books were in need of 'a basic and thorough reformation if not total extermination.' According to Charles Arand, this shortage of good prayer books is what led Luther to write his own. His Little Prayer Book (1522) was built around the three texts of the catechism (The Ten Commandments, The Creed, & The Lord’s Prayer). Luther saw the catechism as a book to be meditated upon and prayed. The influence of the Small Catechism (structure & content) can also be seen in Luther’s A Simple Way to Pray (1535). ... Fortunately, we still have his Small Catechism today, which is a wonderful, lifelong treasury of daily prayer! The catechism, as a summary of the Scriptures, has the same goal as God’s Word: to create and sustain faith (John 20:31). The entire Small Catechism can thus be prayed with this goal in mind. ... Apart from Scripture itself (especially the Psalter), it’s hard to imagine a better prayer book than Luther’s Small Catechism. In truth, good prayer books are not hard to find." Pastor Eric Andersen

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Here's Rev. William Weedon's homily from yesterday morning's Chapel on John 6:1–15 that's way more than just a few words about bread and a food shortage: "Jesus tosses Philip a hot potato, a problem that he cannot solve. 'Where can get bread for these to eat?' Philip is one of you numbers people. He sizes up the crowd and figures out that having 200 days wages would not be enough for each one to get a bite. His attention is captivated by the huge size of the need. Andrew is a tad more practical, I suppose. He checks out the resources at hand: five loaves, two fish. He comes to Jesus shaking his head: 'What are they among so many?' Dismay and despair over the huge need and the meager resources and so the disciples fail the text. For they don’t look up from either to the face of Jesus. 'Give them to me,' he says and then He offers His thanks and praise to the Father who loves His children and provides them with all they will ever need. Then Jesus takes those meager resources and sends the disciples forth: 'Go give it away.' Can you see Peter… then the look of surprise… no matter how much he gave away, the chunk in his hand didn't diminish. From shock to the joy of giving it away to the hungry crowd! Now ask yourself IF they had used their noggins and kept the food, how much would they have had at the end of the day? Their measly five loaves and two fish? Probably not even that, because they'd have eaten it! But because they did what Jesus told them to do: give it all away. What did they come away with at the end of the day? 12 baskets full of left overs. No, makes no sense at all. But this is God’s arithmetic. And it is the arithmetic of Jesus’ own life. We fear if we give our lives away, we won’t have anything left for ourselves. But Jesus, who can take the bread and bless it and give it away and come up with more than you could ever dream, this is the Jesus who does the same with HIS LIFE. He spends His life in love for others, for you and for me. He pours Himself out till He’s all spent and there's nothing left but a corpse to put in a tomb. And yet raised from the dead on the third day, He shows how His Father vindicates such a life. Love is as strong as death, says Solomon in his Song. Jesus shows: No, love is stronger than death. Don’t be afraid, people loved by God, to spend and be spent in loving service to others. You don’t come up the loser. You can’t. Jesus invites you to look away from the vast need, to look away from your meager resources, to look to Him and to dare with Him to venture all on God’s amazing economy where love triumphs. Amen."

Say what? This is just bizarre. Pope Francis is going to beam a 3D image of himself to the world on April 27th, 2014!?! It sounds like something out of Science Fiction (or a Dan Brown novel), but it's legit: "Pope Francis will become the first pontiff seen globally in 3D during the upcoming April 27 ceremony in St. Peter’s Square when two of his predecessors, John Paul II and John XXIII, will be canonised as saints. The unprecedented double canonisation event will be produced in 3D by the Vatican TV Center (CTV) in a partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia, BSkyB and Sky Deutschland payboxes, and Sony. The ceremony will also be beamed into 3D movie theatres across Europe and in North and South America, in what is being touted as the first convergence of HD, 3D and 4K technologies for such a high-profile multimedia 3D event. At a press conference in the Vatican, CTV chief Monignor Dario Vigano said the live transmission will require 'more satellites than the Sochi Olympics.' Vigano underlined that the Vatican decided to offer the canonisation ceremony to the world in 3D in order to give people who would want to attend but cannot, for many reasons including economic ones, the chance to get a 'fully immersive' experience.The production will use 13 3D cameras positioned in spots that will give a unique and exclusive vantage point of St Peter’s Square. The HD feed will be carried by 100 broadcasters, including Italo pubcaster RAI, and viewed by an estimated 200,000 global TV audience. Roughly five million pilgrims are expected in Rome for the event, which will see four popes united in St Peter’s, given that the Vatican has confirmed that former Pope Benedict XVI will attend. Benedict, who stepped down from the papacy in February 2013, has been living a secluded existence inside the Vatican walls." So now we see the Roman Catholic Church going all "Church Growth," "Emergent," and "Missional" by taking a page out of the mega-church playbook with a fancy-schmancy display of cutting edge technology. Just what the world needs more of.

Sorry, but that's all I have for you this week.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, you've been fed and, hopefully, you're wide awake by now so go and serve your neighbor in love today.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. 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 not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a Lutheran-In-Name-Only at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. 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 we 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). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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