Sunday, September 24, 2006

Correction and Clarification

An anonymous commenter for the last post pointed out some issues with my post on the passing of Prof. Marquart, and I wanted to address them here because of their importance. I must ask for your forgiveness for these Omissions.

First the reader took me to task on the phrase "Jesus Christ was the Word incarnate- LAW and GOSPEL. There is no dividing the two- they are one and the same." He referenced two latin phrases: "opus alienum" and "opus proprium." Unfortunately, I am a lay person and have no experience with Latin. I did some checking and as best as I can get this to make sense is, respectively: "someone else's deeds" and "a deed I have done." His comment was "Is the law opus alienum, or opus proprium?"

This is where I omitted the important clarification, although I did allude to the calrification. Because of this omission, it changes everything, and I was in error due to it. I am going to go about it the long way so it is very clear where the error was.

There are two important doctrines of salvation (capitalized for clarity)- LAW and GOSPEL. These aspects are quite different and are separate. The LAW shows us our sins, and proclaims to us our inability to do anything to warrant any blessings of God. The LAW, while it is good, will damn us to hell. The GOSPEL is the wonderful news that God has given us mercy through the sacrifice of Christ. Christ takes our place and has fulfilled the LAW, allowing us to live eternally with God. This is where the latin comes in- "opus proprium" applies in the LAW (works you do mean zilch for salvation) and "opus alienum" applies to the GOSPEL (works of Christ provides for our salvation). In failing to be precise and clear (what I even suggested in the post), I am in grave error and must beg your forgiveness.

The intent was to point out that Christ is the Word made Flesh. He embodies both LAW and GOSPEL- they are combined in Him. He was under the LAW and fulfilled it, becoming our salvation. Since both LAW and GOSPEL complement one another perfectly, they are the two halves of our salvation. The LAW drives us to seek God, and the GOSPEL provides the mercy of God. I was looking at the LAW and GOSPEL as the two parts that make us Christian and provide the whole package for our salvation. As C.F.W. Walther says in Thesis I of God's No and God's Yes, the Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel "Both are equally necessary. Without the Law the Gospel is not understood; without the Gospel the Law benefits us nothing." The intent was to suggest a better phrase is "Word of God" since the secular/baptist translation often just means the GOSPEL and not the LAW (which is at odds with the Bible and Lutheran teachings). This was the intent, but the post fell far short.

The poster also took issue with my peeve of doing something "in someone's honor." The genesis of this peeve is the ubiquitous listings, at least in the southern US, of "driving (or another activity) in the memory/honor of ." This is blantantly wrong on so many levels- namely you do not drive in memory of someone, but to get to work, school, or another location. It only belittles their memory, even if they were pious. Let me get to what the poster wrote:

"You also have this problem, namely, the Lutheran Confessions in fact teach us to honor the saints, and imitate them. Before you are so quick to judge those who would honor this great servant of God, perhaps you might want to consider whether you yourself in fact have a full and complete grasp of the teachings of the Book of Concord. You might start with CA XXI and Ap XXI. Prof. Marquart was a very humble man, and did nothing for his own honor. But it is not right for you to teach such un-Lutheran ideas in a post about him."

First off, I did not intend to in any way relate this to Prof. Marquart. He has the respect of everyone I know who knew him, and my own, even though I did not know him or take classes under him. I know him simply by reputation, which was spotless. I was simply reflecting on a single passage in an article about his passing. I am sorry this was understood in such a way, but it was not my intent, nor did I say it directly or otherwise.

Secondly, a humble man will not, by definition, wish you do anything in their name or to honor them. That is the definition of humility! I take issue with the poster on this point due to the obvious contradiction. I sincerely doubt Prof. Marquart would want anyone to do anything but believe in God wholeheartedly. Even Luther cringed at the thought of the Lutheran denomination being named after him. I hope the poster can and does provide clarification on this point.

Thirdly, on the articles that the poster references, they mention two articles from the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession that deal with the Invocation of the Saints. These were written in response to the Roman Catholic teaching of praying to the saints (Mary, the Apostles, and others). In Article XXI of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the article seems to relate to saints as the Roman Catholic church understood them, not as the Lutheran doctrine of simultaneously sinner and saint. That difference not-with-standing, there is a clear prescription for honoring the saints.

The Apology says there are three ways we should honor the saints (sentences 4-7) in Article XXI. The first honor is to thank God for their examples of mercy, because God wishes to save people, and He has given the Church gifts (teachers are called out specifically). Second honor is the strengthening of our faith in that God has forgiven them of their sins and will forgive ours also. The third honor is to imitate their faith, and then their other virtues in our vocations. As I read and understand that, you honor the saints by 1) praising God for their example, 2) using that example as reassurance we also have salvation from God and 3) use our faith to be an example to others. Since faith is ultimately God's work, ultimately this boils down to: we are praising God for his examples and asking that we would in turn be those examples to others. The focus is on God alone.

While the original intent of the author of the article might have been to suggest we honor Prof. Marquart's memory by being faithful, I would argue that a line was crossed when the following was written "honor the blessed memory and legacy of Kurt Marquart is...redoubling our efforts and even more energetically advancing the cause of authentic, genuine, confessing Lutheranism..." Why do we confess our faith and keep it genuine? Is it because of Kurt Marquart? Or that which God has done, and does, for us? This point isn't as clear as it should have been, making the rememberance seem more than it should be- turning Prof. Marquart's example into a rallying cry.

I hope the anonymous poster will review this post and provide corrections and/or some form of acceptance that this is proper doctrine. I am a layman, and I am human. I will get some things really wrong, and other things slightly so. I can only correct error when it happens and I am made aware of it, and ask for forgiveness. I hope those who read this blog will provide me with the necessary correction when necessary.

It is my desire to use this blog to defend the faith, and in times of correction, grow in it. I only hope that this provides some benefit to those who read it as well.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ft. Wayne Professor Passes...

It is unfortunate that I must include the news that Professor Marquart at the Fort Wayne Seminary has passed away. I won't include the details, but you can find them here.

I do want to briefly touch on a quote from the link because it shows something that is troubling- the loss of the distinction of Law and Gospel. First, the quote:

The greatest way we can, and will, honor the blessed memory and legacy of Kurt Marquart is by holding fast to the confession and tradition that he passed on to us and redoubling our efforts and even more energetically advancing the cause of authentic, genuine, confessing Lutheranism -- the cause of the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What stands out in that sentence? It is certainly well meaning, but something else is there, or rather not there. I don't want to pick it to death, but the phrase "...cause of the pure and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ." is missing the LAW! Jesus Christ was the Word incarnate- LAW and GOSPEL. There is no dividing the two- they are one and the same. It shoud read "... cause of the pure and unadulterated Word of God." (The Word is Christ.) This isn't just a technicality. By removing the Law from the Gospel, you have removed the very essence and power it entails. This is the secular/Baptist type saying, which has unfortunately also entered the lexicon of the Lutheran church. Gaurd your mouths and fingers (in the case of blogging) lest someone misunderstand the unadulterated Word. We should seek clarity, simplicity, and accuracy in all things lest our answers be unclear.

I also want to point out as more of a peeve that if Marquart was a confessional Lutheran (by all accounts he is - yes IS; he is just in a much better place), he by no means would relish anything done in his honor. That is another American/Baptist-ism and we would do well to avoid it. Want to do something in memory of someone? Go to Communion!

Rest in Peace, Brother Marquart.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


My son is getting to the age where he can associate results from actions. So this means discipline starts. My daughter is also trying her bounds to see what her parents will do and allow. So we are a household full of learning moments. Sometimes this is the part that parents really hate- your kid(s) do something against the rules or something you have said to do and they are being coy about it or are just pushing a little and something inside you says "eh, it wasn't that bad..." If you are a parent, you rember the rules and the punishment and you carry it out. Anything else is a disservice to both you and the kids.

It occured to me a couple nights ago that some people associate punishment with pain. Others associate it with teaching violence. Some punish little, if at all. Others punish excessively. Both believe that doing so is the right thing. But none of these thoughts are true.

Punishment and discipline, when done in the proper context, will, of necessity, inflict some amount of discomfort and pain. The point is to knock off a burr, smooth a rough spot, purge the dross from the child. You do it to render the person better in the end. Parents forget that Satan has already started on their children before they (or you) were born. They look innocent, but their heart is dark and their ways are corrupt. Until Baptism in Christ, they have no redeeming qualities when it comes to eternity, or life here on earth. They want to do whatever suits them. So we start with a rough, corroded heart and we must polish, pound, and even burn off those behaviors they will try in order to teach them to be a benefit to society and how to be a Christian. This is our Christian and parental duty. God does the same things in our lives- He presents us with opportunities to learn, be disciplined, and grow in faith. Children is simply God's way of showing us what He does.

I don't want to read too much into the role of parenting and what example it shows- mainly because there is such a plethora of failed families out there that the meaning would be lost on many people. Those who it wouldn't be lost on probably already understand this. I could be wrong. Suffice to say, anyone who loves their kids will discipine them. Anyone who doesn't only hates them. I have great pity for the kids of those who are too caught up in themselves to care about their children.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good stuff

Get Religion has some good items. The one I will reference is by Mollie entitled "God of Nice Things" about a Time Article on the "Just Believe and all will be well." I think the last quote sums it up nicely. If I copy it here, I won't spoil the ending I don't think.

“Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.”

Let's see... I want something in this life that corrodes, can be lost or stolen, and that will only distract me from God OR I can have Heaven, which won't pass away. There is a tough one! I feel it's only right to end this with "May God have mercy on their souls..."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A new link

I wanted to point out that I have added a link to "Get Religion", specifically with Mollie Ziegler. She is an excellent writer and a good Lutheran. I know because she goes to my church. I recommend her blogging, and her other articles she writes. Her name will change soon (getting married) so I will update that once I know what it is! ;-)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

What you see is what you get!

My coauthor and myself have submitted our paper's first draft. I have a lull and can put down something that has been banging around my mind for a couple days.

The thought relates directly to the "Christianity Lite" and the recent abduction and release of the Fox News people in Gaza. First, "Christianity Lite", also known as the "worship celebration," the "don't-bother-me-with-words-just-good-vibes" or, my phrase, "marshmellow services." What do you really get here? A sense of community? A discount at a spa? Maybe the church you go to isn't that far, it just has a contemporary service, maybe some more "upbeat" music. Yea, the music is low on substance, but it has more pep that some of the older hymns. Maybe the only thing that bugs you is how things seem a little off, but you can't put your finger on it. I know the last part- I have lived that one myself. Something is off, and you can't figure it out. It most likely is NOT the theology- or at least not directly. Surprised? You should be. The theology in these churches is, more or less, on. They read and try to adhere to the Bible. But what is the theology? Where is the error?

Think on it while I go to the next aspect- kidnappings in Gaza, and the Middle East as a whole. The Fox News people were held for about 2 weeks in an unusual abduction. They were released alive, in keeping with previous kidnappings. But something HAS changed in that warfront. The journalist from the Christian Science Monitor, these newspeople, and the latest from al-quiada all have something in common. Conversion. If you don't convert, well thats too bad for you. Never mind the conversion happens at the end of a gun (or willingly for that matter, as long as it happens). As long as you aren't currently attached to the wrong end of a weapon or its projectile, a conversion seems to be a "willing" conversion in islam.

Back to Fox News- both of their correspondents claimed to have "converted", but pulled a "fake out." (term from the 80's related to lying for those less than 18) They said they didn't mean it. Granted, I have never had a muslim put a gun to my temple and start reading the koran. I have not had the pleasure of sitting in their version of the "Hanoi Hilton." I pray everyone who reads this does not also experience this. Hoewver, given all that humans can do and say, the words of Christ come to mind "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it." (Mark 8:35 NKJV) There is a lot of pressure to follow the easy path in prisons such as these. This is why the Christian is to trust God always. "Convert" to save your life? You might well loose that which you should mind above this life. Your life here is temporal. This is exile. Why do we grasp it so? (good Christian answer: old adam and sin!)

How does this relate to the question above? America has had a wonderful state of prosperity and peace. Our homeland has not been invaded by a foreign army since the War of 1812. (Mexican minor incursions not withstanding- I am talking about actual invasions. Civil War doesn't count- that was us on us.) Our religious freedom is unprecedented. This sort of conversion is not something we are used to. What does "kumbaya" give you to fall back on during such conversions? Where does the "happy clappy" fall into the Lord's Prayer? How much do you really keep to use in time of stress and trouble? This is the error- they have theology, but it is liquid, weak, and not providing the strength for battle! Read that again- the theology is "correct", but weak. "How can God's Word be weak?" I hear some screaming. God's Word is never weak- only faith of individual people. The "lite churches" revel in spiritual immaturity. They only want milk, suckling long past their time. Doubt this happens?

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)

Those "lite churches" do not provide the sustenience to "fight the good fight" or run the race. They provide sweet milk, but watered down. Think of it as spiritual formula- kinda like the real stuff, just no where near as good. I know this sounds harsh, but in the end, you will have to stand and defend your faith. It might be at the end of a kid with a gun anywhere, a muslim with a sword (gun, etc), or the guy who says "it's all the same isn't it?" No! Again- NO! It is not the same! Fight the fight- defend your faith! Eat the meat of the Word, do not dwell in the nursery! The milk can leave you guessing. It is the meat that sustains, leaves no doubts. Do you want to doubt when the time comes to know?

Maybe I shouldn't watch action movies prior to posting. ;-) On the other hand, the movie I watched has a chilling image of the current situation. I watched "Chronicles of Riddick." It was an action flick, but the arch enemy either converted you or killed you. It sounds a lot like some words from the koran. The interesting thing is they destroy a muslim planet. Some irony, huh?