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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 9/20/14)

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 this video from The Lutheran Satire is a few months old, but I just saw it for the first time today. It's called "Donall And Conall Meet C.F.W. Walther" and it's hilarious just like all the others! I'm quite fond of C.F.W. Walther myself and, of course, he's considered the one who helped establish the LCMS and served as its first Synod President too. Enjoy!

My recent post and the resulting discussion on Facebook opened the door to us thinking about the true threat of unionism. Forget education for a moment. What happens when our brothers and sisters -- heck, even our Pastors! -- begin talking about the need to join with other local churches in the area to "make church work more effective" let's say? Quoting from Dr. Theodore Graebner's essay "The Leprosy of Unionism," written in 1918. Dr. Graebner was a long-time Professor at Concordia Seminary. All ellipses are in the original. "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." The emphases in bold are from me, by the way. Hat tip to Scott Diekmann's blog for the reference.

Quoting from Rev. Rolf Preus's paper "Luther Revisited: The Doctrine of Justification Is Still The Issue" is this gem that also speaks of the danger of unionism: "The doctrine of church fellowship is not a matter of submitting to rules determined by the democratic processes of the synod to which we belong. It is a matter of confessing the pure gospel by which we sinners are saved from hell. The unionistic spirit is utterly incompatible with the Christian gospel. It holds the righteousness of Christ in contempt. We condemn religious unionism because we love the gospel of justification by faith alone. Why do Lutheran pastors promote participation in the Promise Keepers or similar organizations? Because they don't have enough rules on how to apply the doctrine of church fellowship? Of course not. They do it because they don't value the righteousness of Christ. If they did, they would teach their members to mark and avoid such gatherings. Find a preacher who preaches Christ, His person, His work, His atonement, His righteousness reckoned to us, the forgiveness of sins, all within the context of preaching the law without any compromise, and you'll find someone opposed to religious unionism. The same faith which receives the righteousness of Jesus with which God clothes us is the faith which rejects the unionistic spirit of doctrinal indifference. The reason a Lutheran marks and avoids false doctrine and refuses to worship with those who don't is not because he has been sufficiently indoctrinated in his church's rules. Rather, it's a simple matter of love and hate. If you hate something, you don't express fellowship with it. If you love the pure teaching by which God has saved you, you hate the false teaching which can damn you. And it is just this love for the gospel of justification that will find in every other article of Christian teaching the same golden thread of the righteousness of the God-man which covers us and renders us fit to enter into eternal life. Nothing is worth teaching, preaching, defending, or confessing, except for the sake of this truth which glorifies God as it reveals his mercy to poor, lost, undeserving sinners like you and me and thus saves us eternally." Again, the emphases in bold are all my own.

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Romans 16:17-18 (ESV) "17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive." My Lutheran Study Bible says about this passage: "Paul warns against those who cause divisions and promises God will overcome them. Those who advocate a false Gospel are to be avoided entirely. Unlike Paul, false teachers snare hearers with false praise (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6). Unnamed people divided the Church from within, probably along Jew/Gentile lines. No false teaching is acceptable for God's Church, whether it contradicts the Law or the Gospel. As in Galatians, believers are to reject any false teachings and refuse to associate with those who advocate them. Some have applied this to any and every different teaching, but here it refers specifically to issues that strike at the heart of the Gospel.Heavenly Father, guard and protect Your Church from all who would corrupt Your precious Gospel. As we await the final consummation of our salvation, may our obedience to Your will be 'known to all' around us. Amen."

Finally, there's this from Franz Pieper's "Modernists Seek Unity Through Fundamentals Only" that serves as a fitting conclusion to our theme of unionism today: "Thus our precious Lutheran Church confesses: There is no teaching in the Christian faith which is not revealed in passages of Scripture with clear and unambiguous words. In these Scriptures all articles of the Christian faith have been revealed in a way which is accessible to both the learned and unlearned, as St. Augustine early affirmed. You should be grateful that God has led you to a church body which adheres to this scriptural position, a church body which takes very seriously the truth that Holy Scripture is a lamp unto our feet, and a light upon our path. Perhaps you are wondering if this is not a position taken by all Protestant churches. By no means! If we look about us today, we must unfortunately conclude that their signature is one of despair about the clarity of Scripture – including that of modern Lutheran theology. Today they attempt to build unity in the church by disregarding unity in doctrine; indeed, they have declared it impossible to achieve unity in the church by means of doctrinal agreement. But why do they make such a declaration? Well, simply because they do not trust in Holy Scripture; they do not believe that God has provided us with clear Scriptures, and that by them all Christian teaching can be established with surety. Hence, they wish to bring unity by means of externals and 'fundamentals,' but not by ‘all articles’ of Christian doctrine. This is apparent nowadays also in that the churches allow not only a varied selection of beliefs but also a diversity of 'opinions.' We, however, who maintain that our beliefs are not opinions but based on clear Scripture, are decried as romanizers with 'infallibilist' tendencies… But by the will of God you must not permit Holy Scriptures to be placed in doubt for you by the modern theology and unionism which are inundating the church. By God’s grace, cling to the inspiration, that is, the divinity, of Holy Scripture and its perfect clarity. It is only then you can have proper joy in Scripture and read God’s Word with firm countenance and, by God’s grace, obtain a sure conviction. It is only by belief in the clarity of Holy Scripture that you are orthodox Christians, true Lutherans." As before, the emphases in bold are all mine.

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

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, you've been fed a balanced spiritual diet this morning so I hope you're full and wide awake and ready to face the day.

Grace and peace to you and yours!

NOTE: 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 perhaps wouldn't be too 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 interpreting a specific portion of Scripture exegetically, 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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