Category Archives: Theology

Swimming the Bosporus

From Facebook:

Gentle people. I have an important announcement. I realise that I am burnt out totally from the Lutheran faith. I have learned various things the past several weeks. My time away from the spectre of Fort Wayne has been invigorating. I realise why I am in Kentucky. Not just to work for Churchill Downs, but also to begin a formal inquiry into the Orthodox faith.
I have various reasons why I am swimming the Bosphorus. The Anselm paradigm I found wanting. My mind during the wilderness years was taxed totally as I have an ontological problem. I felt that the Missouri Synod had rejected me totally. And I found the concept of a merciful Father as present in the Orthodox liturgy healing. Imagine the news that God make me able to grow and heal and have the continual support of him as I repent daily, regardless of how my brain is wired.
The Liturgy puts me at ease, smells, bells, and all. I felt uneasy during my visits to local Lutheran churches in Louisville. Even when I was in Rudisill I felt empty, desiring to go to watch Belmont simulcasts rather than feeling the divorce of mind and soul.
Please be merciful to me. I desire prayers that God will lead me to the right path. I love you all. —c.r.

My Prayer Beads. Let me show you them.

In the Weep No More guide, I suggested using a small cross or a set of prayer beads for meditation during episodes of mental pain. You are probably thinking, are you flirting with Rome with that suggestion? Far from it! Prayer beads have been an aid to Christians for centuries, and even Lutherans during the Reformation period used them for meditation.

There is a group of High Church Lutherans that are using beads for meditation, and I happen to be one of them. My beads are a Catholic Easter-themed rosary that I found appropriate for my convictions. Instead of a Marian center, it has Jesus emerging from the tomb. I used to have a smaller set, but they melted in the dryer when I left them in my pants. This rosary is from Italy and I really like the decor.

So, what do I do with them? I use them at night before I sleep. I would do the Creed, the Our Father, and the Glory Be. The one difference I have is due to what the Book of Concord had to say about prayers to the saints. Instead of using the Hail Mary, I use the Jesus Prayer. During the day, I carry them in a pouch tucked in my purse. Peace of mind, you know. Saying these prayers gave me peace and reassurance that God has shown mercy to me. I do not believe in magickal incantations nor I do not believe what the Roman Catholic Church promised to its adherents when they pray the rosary.

There are prayer beads available for purchase from Lutheran Beads of Minnesota. You can visit the Chemnitz Fraternity on ways to use them.

If you decide to get a Catholic Rosary, there are some available that do not have a Marian or saint-themed center. The first communion ones usually have a chalice. If you are a gentleman or a chick with badassery to her name, Rugged Rosaries have a tough paracord version.

NEW ADDITIONS AND NOTES: Self-Care Guide

Yesterday, I spent all day writing a series of posts on Facebook about self-care during spiritual trauma. I felt that I have the happy obligation to help fellow sufferers with what I learned.

There is so many things I want to touch on, like the subject of spiritual warfare and misconceptions due to popular concepts. I will touch on the Roman Catholic approach in their exorcism process, which does involve mental health professional care.

It will always be a work in progress. I will need an editor to make this flow properly. I also will need an artist to design a themed picture.

I removed the Makeup Holy Grail page. It felt out of place to have that section next to the guide.

Boxes of Books: A New Chapter

It has been a year since Preggie moved to the nursing home. And now I’m downsizing, moving into a smaller home.

I should be relieved that I will have less to worry. However, it means I must give away my theological books to a fieldworker. So I packed away my Loci Communes, the Chemnitz treatises, Walther’s Law and Gospel, and other reminders of a life interrupted. What could have been…

I have not opened these books for over 10 years. The memories of 11 years ago ensured that I won’t read them in the future. Tainted. The voice of my professor echoed as I touched them. Out of respect, I kept my Bible and the Book of Concord. Nowadays, I just listen to the Scriptures via the weekly sermons. If I wanted to read, I will download via Kindle.

Eventually, I will read the books of my adulthood. But right now, I have Beyer On Speed.

Flashback Paper: Why Should the Fluffy Have All the Good Music?

Cleaning out my room, I’ve found this on a forgotten flash drive. It was for the final class I took at Ivy Tech, a college writing class. I thought my AP grade would excuse me from this general requirement. Nope. So I ended up in this class. I was pleasantly surprised at how I enjoyed that class. The prof respected me greatly. I also taught the students a small tip. One day, the prof said to all of us to bring in a trade publication or an academic journal article. Most of the class brought in small articles, 2-5 pages with pictures. Thinking of nothing, I brought in a 25 page article. The students thought I was crazy to bring in a “large” article.


Guys. When you get to a 4 year college, you will be expected to read these articles and use them in papers. By the time you get a Master’s, these articles are a walk in the park.

I would rack up A-grade papers, mainly because of my years of training at Concordia Irvine and at the Sem. I also imported a bit of Confessional Lutheran theology into arts and culture. Here is one paper from this class, entitled “Why Should the Fluffy Have All the Good Music? An Analysis of Contemporary Christian Music.”

Why Should the Fluffy Have All the Good Music? An Analysis of Contemporary Christian Music
Carol Rutz, 2009

The Christian Church is a singing church. It is the Church of King David the Psalmist, Bach, Mendelssohn, Charles Wesley, and Johnny Cash. It is also the Church where Jars of Clay, Amy Grant, and other Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) artists flourish. However, like any form of art, CCM music is subject to review and criticism. Contemporary Christian Music with its cultural isolation, overemphasis on human emotion and light theology, should take steps to become more engaging to the world. A disclaimer: This paper offers a confessional Lutheran viewpoint that is highly liturgical. This differs from the American Evangelical tradition, CCM’s theological roots. Music is a sensitive subject as questioning the content risks offending a variety of people. It is not the intention of this essay to question one’s motivation, dedication and faithfulness to Christ. The question about CCM is not about using language or musical forms that people understand– various churches do incorporate various instruments in their worship. The question is whether popular culture should dictate how artists produce music at the expense of compromising what the Christian Church throughout history believes.

To understand CCM, it is necessary to define it and look into its historical origins. “CCM” is Christian music that runs parallel to various genres of music and adopts current innovations and artistry while carrying a Christian message. Its roots are in the Jesus Movement, a youth-based revival among the hippie subculture of the 60s and 70s. Out of the Jesus Movement spawned various church groups like Calvary Chapel, the charismatic Vineyard churches and Jesus People USA and influenced others like Campus Crusade for Christ and non-denominational churches. CCM is trans-denominational, although it is dominated by the “born-again” evangelicalism inspired by the Jesus Movement. Christians within the movement thought that via rock and folk music, they can reach Vietnam-era alienated youth. They faced challenges such as limited radio coverage and publicity, disapproval and hostility from various Christian organizations, and “technically inferior record production” (Romanowski 103). Over time, CCM became a multi-million dollar industry, with an awards show, magazines, and implemented cutting edge technology.

CCM is a tight-knit enclave that mainly entertains and edifies the converted rather than reaching the unconverted. Peacock (60-65) noted that trend started at the very beginnings when Billy Ray Hearn, under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention, created the folk musicals Good News (1967) and Tell It Like It Is (1968). The Baptists’ aim for these albums was to entertain their own youth so that the youth would not turn to the countercultural rock of the Sixties. Although today there are “crossover” bands and secular bands with professed Christian members like Creed, Sixpence None the Richer, P.O.D., and Jars of Clay, the vast majority of CCM bands rarely find Billboard or Grammy-level success because of its emphasis of being apart from the world with its own subculture. One Barna Group survey reported that while 96% of evangelicals listen regularly to Christian music, only 25% of non-Christians expose themselves to Christian media.

Its cultural isolation spawns the attitude that the CCM bands are solely substitutes for Christians so they can not only participate in the commercialized rebellion of rock ‘n’ roll without the sin, but also participate in the consumer culture. That sentiment prevails every time a Christian band gets compared to a secular band. Like drugstore knockoffs of designer perfumes, CCM bands are touted as “safer” alternatives to objectionable secular music. One youth ministry in Troy, Michigan has its own “Alternatives to Secular Music” guide online. The message behind these lists is that if the listeners care enough being a Good Christian, they should support the CCM artists and not the secular bands. The unintended consequence of these lists is that the marks of Christian identity are no longer the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper and active Christian corporate worship but instead outward consumer consumption of goods from music CDs to themed t-shirts.

Even today, related magazines would review a band, comparing the guitar sounds to secular bands. Here is a sample review for alternative pop CCM duo, Chris and Conrad, written in 2009: “From the first notes of ‘You’re the One,’ the duo bursts out with simple but singable harmonies and lyrics similar to Waller’s vertical-style fare. Next, the techno-flavored ‘Rescue’ boasts a dance beat and enhanced vocals reminiscent of One Republic. Vocally, Chris and Conrad prove quite versatile, with momentary glimpses of The Fray, Goo Goo Dolls and Lifehouse.” Another one for Revive reads: “While chunky guitars a la Third Day are present throughout most songs, Revive is more readily compared to fellow countrymen INXS or Midnight Oil, plus newer secular standouts Glasvegas.” The problem with these comparisons is that CCM bands will be typecasted as analogues (inferior versions) of the secular (real; better) thing.

CCM’s substitutions give a message that their talents are stagnant and years behind the current trends. Note also which secular bands were compared with the CCM bands: INXS, Midnight Oil, and the Goo Goo Dolls were popular in the late 80s and early 90s. To say that Revive is like INXS and Midnight Oil is to say that their newest work sounds like what was popular in the 90s, and to compare Chris and Conrad to the Goo Goo Dolls is to say that their sound is years behind what is trendy in 2009.

Furthermore, the CCM industry prefers that music should be positive and optimistic, even though those outside the subculture do not find it engaging. Peacock (119) recalled one episode of “Seinfeld” when Elaine complained about her boyfriend’s penchant for Christian music. George Constanza’s response: “I like Christian rock. It’s very positive. It’s not like those real musicians who think they’re so cool and hip.” Peacock was not amused. Despite the popular sentiment, the musicians are forced to follow that trite and true pattern and stay the positive course lest they get scathing criticism. Howard and Streck (177) quoted Peter Fuhler of Newsboys: “We’ve definitely done our share of cliché-driven songs…” and noted that Audio Adrenaline described their first albums as “cheerleader music”. That emphasis stifles creativity and ignores the reality of the Christian life—that a Christian, a saint and a sinner at the same time, will experience joys and struggles until his life on Earth ends.

CCM with its short entertaining lyrics provided little information about Christ and too much emphasis on personal emotions. Christian hymns and songs are singable confessions of the Faith. When a congregation sings a song, it is confessing what they believe, teach, confess, and practice. The Christian Church has a Latin saying: Lex orandi, lex credendi: As one practices, one believes. As religious music is heavily marketed and blurred the lines of entertainment and worship, CCM focuses upon the subjective feelings and reactions of man more than the concrete work of Christ. One explanation by Peacock was that the Charismatic movement was heavily involved in CCM, which placed personal experience and private revelation on par with Scripture (44). Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, which is a product of the Jesus Movement, admitted that “a lack of sound Bible teaching” was a weakness of the movement. A Barna Group survey reveals the hazards of novelty: “Overall, nearly half of all worship attenders said that the words in the currently popular praise and worship songs lack the spiritual depth of traditional hymns while three out of ten adults noted that too many new worship songs are introduced into their services.”

To demonstrate the paucity of theological content in these hymns, here is Pastor Todd Wilken’s diagnostic with two popular songs: “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever” by Delirious? [sic], and “Radiator” by 2009 CCM Magazine Readers’ Choice winner Family Force 5. Wilken, host of the radio talk show Issues Etc., introduced a diagnostic for sermons, hymns and song writing as a way to expose weak theological points. The first question states: “How often is Jesus mentioned? For His purposes, a simple tally will suffice.” This is not a license to produce heavily commercialized “Jesus Per Minute” music so a band gets heavy rotation in Christian radio stations. In fact, the other two questions erases the notion that only mentioning Jesus’ name suffices for good songwriting. The second question asks: “Is Jesus the subject of the verbs? Is Jesus the one who acts, or are you?” The final question is: “What are the verbs? What has Jesus done and what is He doing?”

In “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever”, there is no mention of God or Jesus, although Delirious? used capitalized pronouns and referred to God as “the Healer”. The second Wilken question reveals that the singer—represented by the pronoun “I”– is the subject of most of the verbs: “Over the mountains and the sea,/ Your river runs with love for me,/and I will open up my heart/and let the Healer set me free./ I’m happy to be in the truth,/and I will daily lift my hands:/for I will always sing of when/ Your love came down.” In the third question, those verbs reveal the lack of what Jesus did, except with hazy terms: “Your river runs”, “The Healer set me free” (from what?). Family Force 5’s “Radiator” is like the first song in that Jesus was not mentioned except in third-person pronouns: “Hey You You’re blowing my mind again/Out of my skull, I feel the levitation/I feel my skin crawling up from my soul/I feel Your radiation/I’ll be a radiator just like You/Radiate it on me, burn it all through.” Most of the verbs described what the singer is feeling, and if the third person refers to Jesus, He is “blowing [the singer’s] mind again.” How is Jesus “blowing away” one’s mind? According to singer Nathan “Nadaddy” Currin in an interview on JesusFreakHideout.com, the lyrics reveal an out-of-body experience, death and the here-after. The listener must provide the meaning of this song instead of the song explicitly teaching what Christ did. Unless one reads an interview, it is unclear whether Family Force was talking about Jesus. Note also the use of “I feel” in both songs (Delirious? : “Oh, I feel like dancing -/it’s foolishness I know”, Family Force 5: “I feel the levitation/I feel my skin…”). Neither song mentioned any Scriptural reference, which makes it unsuitable for worship or catechesis.

What does CCM must do to improve? On the part of the artists, an intense period of personal catechesis and continuing theological education. If a singer wants to sing about Jesus, she must know about Him and His work for mankind. A serious regimen of study can lead to not only theologically rich content, it will also provide creative insights. Another avenue for artists to express creativity is to incorporate older hymns and adapt them to new music for modern styles. Of course, artists must exercise discernment when selecting hymns, as even the seemingly conservative hymnals of yesteryear are guilty of assimilating popular culture of past eras and focusing upon human-centered actions. The Wilken Diagnostic is a good way to gauge and adjust the content of these hymns. This is not to say: Throw away the guitar and keyboard. The use of musical instruments is what theologians call “adiaphora”, indifferent matters that people can disagree. But solid Christocentric doctrine is NOT adiaphora, especially in worship environments. To introduce faddish sound and man-centered lyrics into corporate worship is to strip away the holiness of God, making the Christian life into an exercise of kitsch.

The final suggestion is that the artists should not consider music as Sunday School lessons promoting morality and happy platitudes but creative works of art that can be judged by their own merits. Romanowski in his 2005 essay refers to CCM as “propaganda” with diluted and sanitized musical styles. If CCM artists want the secular world to take their art seriously, they should first meditate upon Huxley (1932): “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” According to Franky Schaffer (113), the whole world belongs to God without any compartments between real life and Christianity. That means that artists should be free to sing about a whole range of topics in a whole range of emotions without adding a gloss of spirituality as an afterthought so the album is easily accepted by the industry. It also means that the “transformational” artists described in Howard and Streck have an idea and vision worth looking at. Brown (147) points out that kitsch is immature, like the mawkish Precious Moments figurines. What CCM need are more maturity and substance, and they are located outside the range of shallow “selling Jesus” pop consumerism.

Works Cited

Argyrakis, Andy. “Revive- Chorus of the Saints: Faith-Affirming Fun from
the Land Down Under.” CCM Magazine. 12 June 2009

Barna Group. “Christian Mass Media Reach More Adults With the Christian
Message Than Do Churches.” 2 July 2002. 13 June 2009
< http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna-update/77-christian-mass-media-reach-more-adults-with-the-christian-message-than-do-churches >

—————-. “Focus On ‘Worship Wars’ Hides The Real Issues Regarding Connection to God.”
19 November 2002. 13 June 2009 < http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/5-barna- update/85-focus-on-qworship-warsq-hides-the-real-issues-regarding-connection-to-god >

Brown, Frank Burch. Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste:
Aesthetics In Religious Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Cartwright, Grace S. “Chris and Conrad: Smart Debut from Slick Pop Duo.” CCM Magazine. 12 June 2009
.

Delirious? “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever.” Cutting Edge. Furious/Sparrow,
1997.

DiBlase, John. “Family Force 5 Interview.” JesusFreakHideout.com. 27 July 2008.
14 June 2009 < http://www.jesusfreakhideout.com/Interviews/FamilyForce52008WT.asp>.

Family Force 5. “Radiator.” Dance or Die. Tooth and Nail,
2008.

Howard, Jay R. and John M. Streck. Apostles of Rock. Lexington:
The University Press of Kentucky, 1999.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York:
Harper & Row, 1932.

Life Christian Church. “Positive Music for Teens Youth – Alternatives to Secular Music.”
12 June 2009 < http://www.turnlife.net/music.php>.

Peacock, Charlie. At the Crossroads: An Insider’s Look at the Past, Present, and Future
of Contemporary Christian Music. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999.

Romanowski, William D. “Evangelicals and Popular Music: The Contemporary Music
Industry.” Religion and Popular Culture in America. Ed. Bruce David Forbes.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Schaffer, Franky. Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts. Westchester:
Crossway Books, 1981.

Wilken, Todd. Issues Etc. 15 June 2009
< http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/ >.

Potpourri of Links: Grace, Discipline, and a Spanish Movie

CAPTIVATED BY GRACE: The Steadfast Lutherans scored an interview with Tullian Tchividjian. Very good interview so far (and there will be more soon), and he gave credit to various theologians from our Synod, plus Bo Giertz. And we thought only seminarians read The Hammer of God. If I could speak to him, I would tell him to continue in that direction and keep on sharing the 200 proof Gospel. And in case you figure that you want to walk the Wittenberg Trail, let us know. Our seminaries are more than happy to help you.

MASTERS OF THEIR DOMAIN: This is for people who are weighted down by pornography, with viewing and accompanying behavior. Yes, I am talking about masturbation. Or fapping, if you want to use slang. A bunch of Redditors noted that their porn habits have really affect their sex lives, their social lives, and spiritual lives. That is where the NoFap subreddit comes in. (NSFW linkage for frank talking) It is a non-sectarian subreddit but welcomes religion, as many Fapstronauts have religion as their motivation. You join, and the most likely first thing they do is refer to the TEDx talk “Your Brain On Porn.” YBOP is a great video on the science of how porn affect your brain, especially the pleasure center. Then you try to avoid porn and fapping for 90 days, to reset their brain. What makes it different from conventional (often Christian) methods is that there is a JOY OF DISCIPLINE. Fellow men are encouraging each other, they open up about the surge of energy and motivation they feel, they even noticed the improvement of human interactions. Sometimes people experienced deep emotions, like entering a Technicolor’d realm when they were living in greyscale. If you need help, NoFap is a good start, and please partake of Confession and Absolution so you can start the journey right.

GREAT LENGTHS: Just rediscovered an old Mexican remake of this Catholic movie Un Traje Blanco. The Mexican remake is called Primera Comunion. A poor kid wanted to make his First Communion. But white suits cost money, so he tries to earn money by any means for that suit. With my limited Spanish, I think I remembered that his dad is an atheist/”None”. It also reminded me of when the local Catholic Church refused to catechize me due to my disability. I never had my First Communion, and I settled with Welch’s and crackers at the Assembly of God church. I do wish that I can have that moment, but God wanted me to be a Protestant. I was so glad that I was confirmed/inducted into the Lutheran church. No white dress, but I had a pretty green dress with little purple flowers.

If you do not mind the B-Movie quality, here is the film on Youtube:

Whispers of Heresy: Why Natural Revelation is Not Enough

If you rely on mystical and extraBiblical experiences based on Nature, you will not get the Gospel but the Law. Bees sting, animals eat each other, the rain will drench you and people will breathe their last, becoming maggot food. This is Natural Revelation, a God Who is angry and has let the world fall apart. Where is Jesus in this video? Did Jesus tell us where He is now? Not in birdsong, not in pithy e-mail but in the Word and Sacraments. This video fall short, as it focused on feeling, not a concrete reality.

As Lutherans, we should talk about the special revelation, that God had mercy upon this entrophic world, through His Son. Advent is coming and we will celebrate that historic event.

I used to have a testimony.

From my early Protestant years, the first thing any born-again Christian should have is a testimony. That was expected from any evangelical Christian.

My testimony was piss poor in comparison to the exciting (and often) sordid stories of various people who later converted. Like the Australian outlaw biker who became part of the Tribe of Judah motorcycle ministry. Or an assortment of pagans/’Satanists’ who would do magickal* stuff… and then they say a spell The Sinner’s Prayer and they have been delivered. Me, I was only an autistic kid who thought Catholicism is not my thing. And why lie about your testimony? It would ruin it.

One year, I was going to be rebaptised and give my testimony one Sunday… but the night before, I had horrid menstrual cramps. No go. (It turned out to be a good thing I was not rebaptized.)

I discovered the internet in high school, and found out at Concordia Irvine that I can get a free web page from Geocities where I can have my political and Christian webpage. It was good, but something strange happened.

I was learning about Christocentrism and the Solas. What was driving my story, me or Christ? What was the point of having a testimony? I had to question that as I see the sordid stories become “Try Jesus and you will get good things” pitches. They choose Jesus, they have subjective emotional extra-Biblical experiences that I cannot support or refute. How do they know their story was true? From their good behaviour? Or their happy beaming family? Or their $ucce$$ful living? Anyone with a Dale Carnegie/Napoleon Hill book would point out that anybody regardless of religion can have some moralism and success.

What was supposed to be my testimony just became a short autobiography, some mundane words. I have not even imported it from my old websites.

Here, the guys at The White Horse Inn says all this better than I can. The deeper I fell into the Lutheran realm, the more pointless my testimony gets. It should be useless, because Christ came to me via Scripture and the Means of Grace, not me choosing.

I only have a small bit of thought, for those who are about to give a testimony: When giving the testimony of your life, who is driving your actions? To whom the spotlight is shining on?

*When I say ‘magick’, I am referring to Crowleyan-style stuff, not David Copperfield sleight-of-hand magic.

The 11th Reason

(Please note that I am writing this from a mobile device, so I will have to edit my post to add citations. Also, it has been so long since I wrote a theology post. My meds are indeed kicking in.)

Just saw this link from Facebook, an article from Marc5Solas on why kids and teens leave the Church.. It is a good read, so I advise you to read it, please.

After reading, I was thinking of other reasons why kids leave church. As a Lutheran convert, I think that how Evangelicals view the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist is the 11th reason.

Forgiveness. We want it. But how do you know how you are forgiven? In my Evangelical/Pentecostal years, it was when we are emotionally drained and we choose to go to the altar and repent. I also heard from non-Pentes that people would do a variety of things in order to feel that God has forgiven them. Some would pray for hours. Others would fast. Maybe they decide to bargain with God and agree not to do it again. But where is the certainty? In the quest for forgiveness, these people have done anything except the obvious. If I mention it to them, they would say that is a popish error. And the broken hearted will spin their wheels and try to make things right with God until they have enough of this vain charade and leave the rat race.

We read: “Take, eat; this is my body. …Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28) However, Zwingli’s legacy is seen in the evangelical church. It is just an ordinance, a symbol of how we are committed to Christ. We made this Sacrament impotent, forcing people to seek peace in other ways. I can tell you, outside of the Church there are more ways to experience the feeling of peace. But there is no certainty.

How can we be certain that we are forgiven via this Supper? Because He said so. Jesus did not say to pray for hours until you feel forgiven. He did not say “go to the altar call with a sad countenance.” Unless we present the Eucharist in its powerful form, kids will find our ways vain and useless.

I remember Mrs Valla. She suggested to my mum that I could attend church there, where things are legit and not kooky. It was an Assemblies of God church, and I attended there until I went to Concordia Irvine.

One day, I felt that unforgiven aspect in me and it was communion time. For some reason, Mrs Valla told me: this is Christ’s body. This is Christ’s blood. It seemed she ignored those symbolism talking points and told me the truth, despite what the church taught me. I was glad to see that glimpse of forgiveness in the Supper then, and I was even more glad that Lutheranism actually took Jesus’ words seriously.

I suggest that we should be bloody damn serious about the Lord’s Supper by using the Small Catechism and teach our understanding of this Supper often. This is a good anchor for anyone looking for forgiveness.

George Wollenburg’s Letter to the Lutheran Reporter, September 2003

(There is a thread at one of the Confessional websites, and it is about a sainted friend, Rev George Wollenburg. Someone posted a cached copy of Wollenburg’s letter and I want to preserve the letter before the Internet sends it to /dev/null. So, here is Pr George’s letter to the Reporter, dated September 2003.)

“I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21).

An article in the June Reporter quotes the Commission on Constitutional Matters: “Subscribing to, or requiring a ‘confessional statement’ in place of or in addition to the confessional position of the Synod … is a violation of the covenant relationship in the Synod (Article VI 1; Bylaw 1.03). …”

President Kieschnick is quoted as citing a document titled “That They May be One” as coming under the CCM opinion and names it divisive. He asks district presidents to exercise ecclesiastical discipline, if necessary, against the authors and signers of the document, which uses theses that begin, “We believe, teach, and confess,” and antitheses that begin, “We reject and condemn ….”

Dr. Kieschnick stated that his concern is over anyone “who does not follow the Synod’s agreed upon procedures for making doctrinal statements or expressing their disagreement with synodical doctrine and practice.”

No mention is made of a document from the Atlantic District, “That We May Be One,” which uses the same language: “We believe, teach, and confess …,” and “We reject and condemn ….” This document also was mailed out to members of the Synod. No ecclesiastical discipline is called for.

A similar appeal was made in the December issue of “Jesus First.” Eight theses were presented with the words “We affirm …,” and one antithesis with the words, “We reject ….” The theses were introduced with the statement, “We call on church members to be advocates for Jesus-First leadership and to endorse these affirmations.” No ecclesiastical discipline is called for.

In 1998, a document titled “Eucharistic Understanding and Practice, a Biblical and Confessional Study” that challenged the Synod’s practice of “close communion” was circulated in the Synod, calling for subscribers. This document also was written with the words, “We believe, teach, and confess …” and “We reject and condemn ….” Eleven former district presidents and a large number of others signed the document. No ecclesiastical discipline was called for.

I do not agree with or endorse use of language that purports to prepare a new “confession” for the Synod by using the words, “We believe, teach, and confess,” or “We affirm,” and the words “reject” and “condemn.” This language has a specific confessional meaning. I said so in 1998, and since then as well.

I am also committed to the words of the brother of our Lord: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:17, 18).

Dr. George F. Wollenburg, President, Montana District, Billings, Mont.