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Showing posts from March, 2022

God be praised!

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  Good News from Finland — Gottesdienst

The Melanchthonian Blight in the American Lutheran Church

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Dr. John R. Stephenson wrote an article for the FritzSchrift  entitled "A Voice Retrieved from the Past with a Powerful Message for the Future." That voice is Wilhelm Löhe, and Dr. Stephenson discusses a number of elements of the Lord's Supper from Löhe's writings, including the dangers of receptionism. Receptionism "reduces the Lord's temporally extended bodily presence with His Church to His fleeting encounter with discrete individuals " - a consequence of what is referred to as Melanchthonian Blight. Against this we have the preaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:16ff, "Löhe finds it significant that Paul labels bread and cup a κοινωνία of the Lord's Body and Blood at their breaking and blessing, not merely at their eating and drinking." In an extended footnote, Löhe makes several firm statements against receptionism: "Luther speaks of the Body held in the celebrant's hands" ... "He (Jesus) doesn't say 'it will

Wolfmueller: On Online Worship

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 Pastor Wolfmueller was kind enough to respond to my voice message on What Not: The Podcast . I will try not to let his complement of "very well stated" go to my head, dear reader.  Distilling his response:   There are different energies to the Word and Sacrament. The Word scatters, the Sacrament gathers. The Word (written and spoken) travels through space and time just fine. The Sacrament gathers, you have to come to the table, take the elements and eat them. You can't do them apart from one another. Both are good, both are necessary.   The goal of online catechesis - podcasts, etc. - is to end up at your local church's altar. It is only supplemental to participation in the local congregation. The church is both synagogue (gathered together) and ecclesia (called out).  Worship is something fuller than catechesis - a shadow of the heavenly throne room - where the Liturgy takes its shape. Conversation between the Father, Son and Spirit (the Word, preached), a courtroom

Acedia thrives in nervous activity

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"The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things," by Hieronymus Bosch. (Public domain) The most recent issue of Logia (Volume XXX #4) has an article entitled "Compassion Fatigue: A Problem for Pastors" by Rev. Jerome T. Gernander, an ELS pastor. The focus of the article is on compassion fatigue in Pastors - recognizing it and then providing some helps to deal with it. I generally disagree with his  laissez faire  take on the Church's reactions to COVID but his assessment of Acedia (sloth) is spot on.  The punch line is on page 25. Gernander is quoting Dorothy Sayers from her book Letters to a Diminished Church : "It is one of the favorite tricks of this sin to dissemble itself under the cover of a whiffling activity of the body. We think that if we are busily rushing about and doing things, we cannot be suffering from sloth." To which Gernander responds "Therefore acedia thrives in nervous activity..." Gernander also quoted Kathleen Norris f

Koontz: Are we still a Free Church

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  Are We Still A Free Church? — Gottesdienst Koontz describes the American church as a state church so as to understand why the churches acted the way they did during the COVID pandemic. While our churches are not state-funded and while its "probably easier to lose one's call in our churches than for a mid-level bureaucrat in the US Department of Health and Human Services to be fired" we rely on tax benefits and school vouchers to make things work. While we don't slot into our nation's federal bureaucracies, "our subjugation need not be organizationally established". Shutting down churches, mandating masks, signup lists for worship, withholding the Common Cup - these are all indefensible actions of a truly Free Church. These actions defy the scriptural admonitions to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) to participate in the acts of the Church (Acts 2:42) and requires an Enlightenment approach to spiritualizing the words "together" and

The Sacrament of Livestreaming

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Wolfmueller: The Heresy 2-Step

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Pastor Wolfmueller had an interesting insight which he called the "Heresy 2-step" in a recent podcast . Paraphrased: Wolfmueller's thesis is that we've made the text into an abstraction, and then we use the abstraction against the actual words. He gets into the thick of it around 19 minutes describing how we can use the words "real presence" against the words "this is my body" or we can use the abstraction of Jesus (his character) against his words that condemn people to hell by saying "the Jesus I know doesn't talk this way" We can also use the Gospel as an abstraction against the words. For instance when Paul doesn't permit a woman to preach and teach in the church, we can use the abstraction of the Priesthood of all Believers or the inclusive nature of Jesus against Paul's actual words. So, the heresy two step, then, is stepping away from the particular words of God and using the abstraction behind the words against the wor

Be careful about making generalizations...

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Coquette Consecrators

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It's a fairly well-kept secret that women have been allowed to consecrate the Sacrament within the WELS. Needless to say, this is a deviation from the historic church practice and unheard-of in the other churches of the former Synodical Conference (WELS, LCMS, ELS).  Of course, more liberal churches which allow for women's ordination would naturally allow for women to consecrate the sacrament. I am addressing confessional Lutheranism in the United States which claims to hold to the Book of Concord and inerrant, inspired Scriptures. ELCA need not apply. The WELS Q&A - an official outlet of the WELS on questions of theology - has memory-holed question and answer of a parishioner who learned of the occurrence of women consecrating the sacrament via an ELS convention (more on that later). We can read the original Q&A via the Wayback Machine:  Women Serving Communion to other Women (In the WELS) - Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) (archive.org) . Highlights are min

Adolf Hoenecke

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  I was going to lead off with a bio but Timothy Grundmeier did a fantastic job and there's no need to reinvent the wheel.  Read the whole thing at studiumjournal.com Adolf Hoenecke is an critical figure in the development of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) although hardly anyone would recognize his name. Hoenecke was influential in making the WELS a confessional Lutheran body and was instrumental in the formation of the Synodical conference. Hoenecke was a seminary professor for thirty years and wrote the Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics which were translated into English between 1999-2009 from his original German manuscript. If you are familiar with Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, Hoenecke's is far more clearly organized, less pedantic and overall, an excellent resource.  He is also an excellent corrective to the so-called Wauwatosa Theology.* After Hoenecke's death the Wauwatosa theologians - John Schaller, John Philip Koehler and August Pieper - in deal