Showing posts from February, 2022

Luther on Lay Eucharist

"Clearly if misfortune and need are so great that they can secure ministers in no other way [than by subterfuge], I would confidently advise that you have no ministers at all. For it would be safer and more wholesome for the father of the household to read the gospel and, since the universal custom and use allows it to the laity, to baptize those who are born in his home, and so to govern himself and his according to the doctrine of Christ, even if throughout life they did not dare or could not receive the Eucharist. For the Eucharist is not so necessary that salvation depends on it. The gospel and baptism are sufficient, since faith alone justifies and love alone lives rightly. Surely if in this way two, three, or ten homes, or a whole city, or several cities agreed thus among themselves to live in faith and love by the use of the gospel in the home, and even if no ordained man, shorn or anointed, ever came to them or in any other way was placed over them as minister to administe

The Priesthood of All Believers in Luther on Worship

Luther on Worship is a fantastic little book.  One of his gems is regarding the relationship between the Priesthood of all Believers and the Office of the Holy Ministry. In the WELS these are conflated - there is a priesthood of all believers, there are ministerial functions (as opposed to an office), and anyone in the priesthood can perform those functions subject to the headship principle.  The author provides an excellent insight that challenges that view. Starting in the chapter on "Faith and Worship" As fellowship between the "God-for-us" and man, faith constitutes the highest form of worship (WA 40, 360)  He goes on to discuss faith's dependence on Word and Sacrament Faith dare not be isolated from God's redemptive action in Word and sacraments as it reaches us through the office of the ministry. Finally, Man becomes a "priest" "passively", as it were, by receiving Christ's work through Word and Sacrament.   He justifies this v

Deep Theology with Amazing Grace

b... b... but Amazing Grace isn't really that deep?

Confessions of a Former "Worship Leader"

  I had been looking for God inside myself, in my feelings, my experiences, my spiritual faithfulness, and works of obedience. I’d come up empty. I had nothing. The game was over. The God I had been seeking was turning out to be an imaginary best friend whom I was outgrowing. I finally reached the point where I couldn’t fake it anymore. It was tearing me apart to the point that atheism seemed preferable. I felt like such a hypocrite standing before the congregation every Sunday to lead them in the kind of “worship” that felt like leveraging commercial subculture to manufacture experiences that would hopefully be misconstrued as spiritual. I threw in the towel. Five days after giving my two weeks, I received a phone call from a Lutheran church on the other side of the country. They wound up taking this religious refugee in and teaching me to worship God in a more emotionally and spiritually healthy way. A much older way. Rather than pushing me deeper into myself to find my connection wi

The WELS functional view of the Ministry: Kinda Sus!

"You will recognize them by their fruits." (Mt 7:20, NKJV)  The WELS holds to a "functional" view of the ministry. This means that the tasks of a pastor are discrete functions that can be performed by any member of the church - including women - but subject to the headship principle Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. The fruits of the functional view of the office include  Lay consecration, in practice Female consecration, in practice Women's ordination, in theory Note that these are all historical aberrations. 1. Lay consecration This is a not-uncommon practice in the WELS. I have consecrated the Sacrament in lieu of my pastor. The "call", loosely interpreted, includes any Christian in good standing. There is a confusion between the call to be a Christian and the call to the Office of the Holy Ministry. 2. Female consecration This was a practice that the WELS abstained from since 2007 but has happened on multiple occasions. The WELS does not repu

The Privatization of Piety

Pastor Peters at Pastoral Meanderings has an excellent post on misdirected piety. Read it all, but here's a brief quote: Money is not our problem. Buildings are not our problem. Even hostile governments are not our problem. What is our problem is our weak and vacillating piety -- treating the mighty things of God as a meme to illicit sentimental response and depriving our faith of the very means of grace that encourage, uplift, and comfort us with the fruits of Christ's work of salvation. The sad reality is that the privatization of piety -- distinguishing that individual piety from the Church and what goes on there around the Word and Sacraments -- has left us with a private faith that is both content to live alone and excuse for doing what is easy and convenient over what is right. The privatization of piety leads to enthusiasm. A right understanding of piety returns us to the Church where God comes to us in Word and Sacrament. It reminds us that the emphasis of our fait

All true Christians must be at war with Science

There is nothing new under the sun. Prof. John Schaller wrote the forward to a book by Pastor F.E. Pasche's pamphlet "Fifty Reasons: Copernicus or the Bible" decrying Science and it's high priests against "plain science" which must accord with the Bible. Read the whole thing at Back to Luther! A few choice quotes: "For Science with its highpriests and devotees is intolerant to the last degree." "Oh yes, Science will always tell us that this and that is an hypothesis; but Scientists and their unthinking followers, quickly losing sight of the difference between the finest hypothesis and the most insignificant fact, will just as surely insist, after a little while, that what entered the world as a guess becomes a fact by many repetitions." "since Science has decreed that these facts shall be utilized for deductions based upon other points of view, and has declared its deductions to be facts, thousands of deluded sinners have been led to

The "Orthodox Pounce"

Re-reading Pr. Tomczak's excellent Hermeneutics and the Confessions  (which deserve a few future blog posts), he discusses one of the problems in the WELS being that we've never had our "Battle for the Bible" like the LCMS did during Seminex. There is a temptation, described by Wauwatosa theologian August Pieper on page 9, that "We know the Scriptures well, but could not use them." A sense of legalism in that "We've got it. We've mastered exegesis. The exegesis is done." by our Lutheran forefathers and that we could simply rest on their theological laurels. This leads to a fear that Wauwatosa theologian J.P. Koehler identified as fear that "right faith" would end up focusing on "right" more than "faith." Later Hummel identified this as the "Orthodox Pounce." While I am critical of the Wauwatosa Theologians (Wauwatosa was turned into an exegetical method, whereas it was really only a useful [valid] cri

The Democracy of the Dead

“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father.” - G K Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 4 What does this mean? When we are discussing changes in church practice, particularly when they steer a wide berth of historic church practices, we need to listen to all the voices, especially those not in the room who may have spoken their last many years ago.  lex orandi lex credendi - changes in our practice cast a different light on the unchangeable, immutable word of God. And the reverse - the word of God casts light on G

Luther on the name Lutheran

It is unfortunate to hear self-loathing Lutherans (pastors, even!) decry the moniker of Lutheran in place of being "Just Christian". While we are Christians, and Lutheranism is simply biblical Christianity, Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 11:19 that  "there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized." We must identify with our confessional documents and Luther himself contra the various sects and heresies in American Christianity. Luther in his own words: From: On Receiving Both Kinds in the Sacrament (1522) Finally, I see that I must add a good word of admonition to those whom Satan has now begun to persecute. For there are some among them who think that when they are attacked they can escape the danger by saying: I do not hold with Luther or with anyone else, but only with the holy gospel and the holy church, or with the Roman church. For saying so they think they will be left in peace. Yet in their hearts they regard

The Sacrament of Holy Masking


The 95 Theses of Claus Harms

By Julius Fürst - Scan aus dem Buch: Schleswig-Holstein meeumschlungen in Wort und Bild von Hippolst Haas, Hermann Krumm u. Fritz Stoltenberg (1896), Public Domain, Note: The following was from the now-defunct LutherWiki via Wayback Machine The 95 Theses of Claus Harms Three hundred years after Luther's publication of the 95 Theses in 1517, Claus Harms (1778-1855) republished Luther's theses and added 95 theses of his own in which he called the (Lutheran) church to repent of the prevalent influences of rationalism and unionism. This publication caused a firestorm of reaction. Among those who reacted negatively was F. D. E. Schleiermacher, a leading proponent of uniting the Lutheran and Reformed churches in Prussia. Contents   [ hide ] 1   Life of Claus Harms 1.1   Birth and Early Years (1778-1799) 1.2   At Kiel University (1799-1802) 1.3   Candidacy and Tutor at Probsteierhagen, First Call at Lunden (1802-1816) 1.4   Arch