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What Luther Says

Lutherandom Musings Along Memory Lane (Saturday 10/11/14)

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): I think it was Vanessa (@BibleBeerBabies) who alerted me to this one yesterday. It's a funny piece titled "10 Movies That Were More Biblical Than 'Left Behind'" and I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. Here's a brief quote to whet your appetite: "Beyond simply being a movie with a lousy plot-line, cheesy stereotypes, and crappy special effects, the movie was simply unbiblical. Nothing shown in the movie is found in the Bible… no crashing planes, no mass hysteria… nada. In fact, it’s one of the least biblical movies I’ve ever seen." Ouch! Now, the "funny" part is found where the writer decides to list why there are several other movies more Biblical than the one being promoted as such. Enjoy! Oh, and the final paragraph is pure gold!

I stopped by The Wittenberg Trail the other day and saw a short entry titled "The Real Altar Call" by Brad David Grierson that I just loved! It said: "I’ve spoken in the past on how damaging an altar call can be, but what I didn’t speak on was that there is a very real altar call that is wonderful indeed. Every Sunday, God calls us to his altar to receive his body and blood. Not just a representation of body and blood, but actual body and blood. This very real body and blood is given for the very real forgiveness of sins. Not only that, the real altar call is true proclamation of the gospel. So as you can see, the altar call, the real altar call, is a very sacred right instituted by God himself. It is not a call to unbelievers to receive Jesus into their hearts. NO! It is a call from God himself to believers. A call to us from God every single week to receive his body and blood and forgiveness of sins. Holy communion. The Lord’s supper. The sacraments. This is the real altar call. And it’s the only altar call that proclaims gospel and the forgiveness of sins."

The theme here this past week was pretty evident whether you were a first time visitor or you've been stopping by to read for awhile now. In light of all that was shared, here's an excellent excerpt on Ecumenism & Unity from Hermann Sasse: "And what about the Lutheran Churches of America? They would have been entitled to speak and act for the Lutheran Confession at that time. In the thirty years which now have passed since the formation of the L.W.F. at Lund they have increased in stature and in favor with man. Whether also in wisdom and favor with God remains an open question. They have sent their young men to Europe to get a European degree in theology, preferably a German one which is supposed to be the seal of perfect wisdom and knowledge. The time may come when our American brethren will realize that 'authentic scholarship' and 'relevant scientific theology' does not save churches…. It was a false 'critical' theology which has destroyed the Word of God instead of explaining it. A theology is false and a nuisance to the Church which destroys the dogmatic substance of the church under the pretext to make it plain or to express it in 'relevant' terms which modern man would readily accept. It is true of mankind in all ages: 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,' even not the man who has reached the state of 'maturity.' Why do neither the church historians nor the dogmaticians nor the practical theologians examine these claims? Why does no one ask, in an age of alleged deeper Biblical studies, what the New Testament teaches on Church, church unity, the ministry? Why do we all take modern concepts of the ecumenical movement for granted? Who tells us that God wants all who call themselves Christians to be united in one big visible church? Certainly not our Lord and His Apostles. We read that into the New Testament. Who has invented the idea that the Church as the Body of Christ consists of churches and that this body is unfortunately divided? The body of Christ cannot be divided, neither the sacramental nor the spiritual body. 'A sumente non concisus / non confractus, non divisus / Integer accipitur.' Who has invented the myth of an 'Ancient undivided Church' which must be 'reunited' into the 'Future Reunited Church'? Who has invented the idea that by means of a dialog we can attain unity? In some cases it may be possible, in others not. Most certainly it will not be possible if this dialog aims at a minimum of doctrine and at formulas of compromise. A lot of these have been written in our time to overcome the doctrinal differences concerning the sacraments. No formula has been found yet to overcome the contrast between those who teach that the consecrated bread is the body of Christ and those who teach that it is not. Even if in Holland, the home of Cornelis Hoen from whom Zwingli took over his doctrine, Roman Catholics now try their hands at a compromise by suggesting a new doctrine of 'transsignification' ('In Holland everything changes in the Church except bread and wine'), the alternative remains. And all compromises on the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Baptism are marred by the fact that when unity seems to be reached the representative of the Quakers and the Salvation Army rises and states that all is nice and good, but that external sacraments are not necessary. Then you may try to convince him that this is wrong. In the very moment when the Quaker admits, he ceases to be a Quaker and must be replaced by another Quaker. So the dialog must be continued until the last member of the Society of Friends has accepted the sacraments. And the dialog itself? We already hear alarming statements that our separated brethren in Rome, after they have converted the other churches to a renewed Catholic Church wish to extend the dialog to the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Buddhists, the Marxists and atheists. But it may then happen that not only the walls between the Christian denominations become transparent (Edmund Schlink), but also other walls. We quote only one example. At the meeting of the International Missionary Council at Tambaram, Madras, in 1938 Walter Marshall Horton spoke of his friendship with 'a Buddhist priest whom to this day I persist in regarding as my brother in Christ. He gave me a picture of a Bodhisattva . . . which to him perfectly symbolized the spirit and attitude required by his simple creed: ‘to cleanse the heart of evil, and endeavour to make this world a kingdom of God.’ There is a faint smile of self-congratulation on that picture face, which reminds me of the great gulf that remains forever fixed between Buddhist self-discipline and the Christian sense of grace toward sinners; but when I talked with the priest who gave me the picture, that gulf was not there. Differences of tradition seemed to vanish between us, as I often felt them melting away between Christians of different communions at ecumenical gatherings, and our souls met in something less tangible and definable than forms of speech and thought, but infinitely more real and authoritative. If I belong in any sense to the Body of Christ,-then he does too. It would be blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the Wind of God that bloweth where it listeth, for me to deny my Buddhist brother his place in that Body. When I ventured to say as much to a group of Christians in Kobe the next day, I was sternly reminded that ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’; but I thought to myself that I have rather have the Spirit without the Name, than the Name without the Spirit' (Tambaram Series vol. I, 'The authority of Faith,' London 1939, p. 149f.; emphasis added). This is the end of the dialog, if consistently carried on. We all should love our pagan brother in Adam. He is a sinner, as I am a sinner. But to make him my Brother in Christ, this is the denial of Christ, the only Saviour of sinners, of the Holy Spirit, of the Living God and His eternal Word." *- Hermann Sasse, "Confessional Churches In The Ecumenical Movement," The Springfielder, XXXI:1 (Spring, 1967), 25-27.

9:30AM DOSE OF VITAMIN D (DOCTRINE): Friendship. For a moment, let's consider a few of the Bible's insights regarding God's view of friendship and of the vocation of being a friend. There's Proverbs 17:17 (ESV) "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." We could also consider Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Also, there's Proverbs 27:6-10 (ESV) "6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. 7 One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet. 8 Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. 9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. 10 Do not forsake your friend and your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away." I read one LCMS Pastor who examined all of those verses and then simply put it this way: "Friends are acquainted with good council. A friend is close enough to say what needs to be said. A friend is a trusted advisor. A friend sticks with you, even when the world begins to fall apart. Our friends are the biggest influence on our behavior. Our peers are the biggest influence on our conscience. St Paul gives this marvelous instruction to the Corinthians: 'Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals,'' (1 Corinthians 15:33). Good friends speak the Gospel to us, help keep us in the faith, and encourage us toward love and good works. Other friendships tempt us away from the Scriptures, away from the Church, away from the Lord’s joy and comfort. We pray for good friends, and that we might be good to our friends." Amen! I can only hope and pray that I fulfilled my vocation as a "good friend" this past week during those times when my hatred of false doctrine, my contempt for sin, and my passion for pure doctrine came pouring out in response to one close friend in particular. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (ESV) "6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth."

When it comes to the subject of "Selective Fellowship" Hermann Sasse wrote the following for us: "Paul, like every missionary, has great patience with immature Christians who have still to grow into the full understanding of the Gospel. Thus with great patience he argues with the people at Corinth who denied the resurrection of the body, an idea so strange to Greeks, as also Acts 17:32 shows. He refutes the errors existing in Corinth concerning the Lord’s Supper. He would have dealt differently with these people, had they insisted on their errors and proclaimed them as truth contrary to Paul’s doctrine. Even a heretic is to be excommunicated only after the first and second admonition (Titus 3:10). A heretic has to be avoided, as John understood it in the case of the deniers of the incarnation even in private life. The tradition of John’s last admonition 'Little children, love ye one another' and of his refusal to be in the same house with Cerinthus is an excellent illustration of the way how for him love for Christ and strict rejection of heresy belong together. The strong language which Luther sometimes used when criticizing heretics has often been regarded as a deplorable and unchristian lack of love. He and the great champions of orthodoxy in all ages have followed the example of the apostles (e.g., 'serving their belly,' Romans 16:18, cp. Philippians 3:19, where probably the same heretics are meant as Romans 16:17 f., since Phil. was written in Rome). We do not say that to excuse Luther’s every expression or similar utterances and ways of speech in dogmatic controversies. We only want to state how abominable to the apostles (as also to the Old Testament prophets) the rejection of God’s Word was. 'Serving the belly' is, by the way, a very true and not only picturesque description of men for whom theology is a means of satisfying their own desire for fame and an easy life (comp. the profound description of sin in its various aspects, 1 John 2:16)."

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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