Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lutheran Carnival XXII

Peter 2: 1-3 (NIV)

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

My temporary American Idol insanity too often keeps me from reading blogs of substance, like Dr. Veith's Cranach blog or the latest Lutheran Carnival (let alone submitting posts to it). On Monday of this week, Dr. Veith wrote:

"I hope you had a happy Quasimodogeniti yesterday. I couldn't find any Quasimodogeniti cards at the Hallmark store, nor did I do any Quasimodogeniti shopping. Sorry--I just love that word, which refers to the first Sunday after Easter. It's not named after the Hunchback of Notre Dame; rather, that unfortunate fellow was named after the day. Nor is it a holiday, as such. The word comes from the first words in the Introit that begins the service in the classic liturgy for that day. In Latin, they are "Quasi modo geniti," which in English comes to "Like new born." The entire sentence is "Like newborn babes desire the pure milk of the Word." Like much of the liturgy, it's words from the Bible, in this case 1 Peter 2:2. That's good advice for the whole year. We need to turn this into a bona fide holiday. I suppose we could observe Quasimodogeniti by drinking milk. We could get the Wisconsin Dairy Council to help promote it. But for the true meaning of the day, we should also do some serious Bible reading." ~Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Jr.

Consider this an appropriate introduction to the most recent edition of the Lutheran Carnival, which I have also neglected during the American Idol season. There are some new faces in this 22nd edition of the carnival and a nice tie-in to Quasimodogeniti. Pastor Snyder at Ask the Pastor is the host and he opens the carnival with this:

Quasimodogeniti, the Second Sunday of Easter’s “week of weeks” brings the twenty-second installment of the Lutheran Carnival to light. Pastor David Petersen provides a quick summary of “Hunchback Sunday” at CyberStones (and don’t forget to read the comment cum literary critique).
The antiphon of today’s introit comes from 1 Peter 2:2-3. “Like newborn babes,” saith the King James Version, upon which many of us were nourished in our youth — that certainly provides a carnival theme with promise. Yet what if some readers aren’t thrilled with babies? Or, if they’ve been drinking the “pure spiritual milk,” perhaps they’re ready for some meat (see Hebrews 5:12-14) — or not (see 1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

Well, I then thought, since this is Carnival-22, how about a Joseph Heller theme, reminiscent of his classic novel Catch-22? I gave it some thought, but decided to pass. Certainly Heller understood paradox and irony, two major literary types used in Holy Scripture. However, Catch-22 never comes to a resolution. Certainly our ongoing celebration of Easter provides ample reminder that Christ provided complete resolution of our alienation from God in His suffering, death, and glorious resurrection.

Finally, I decided to fall back on the Lutheran Carnival’s regular feature, the introduction to relatively unknown Lutherans. Therefore, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about a child born upon the Ides of March in the Year of Our Lord 1992. Read on...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Putting Out The Fire: "We only believe in the Bible"

In a post over at Putting Out the Fire, Frank posts We only believe in the Bible. Frank writes:

Here’s an example of how playing a guessing game as to what a particular church’s confession is has personally affected me: I wouldn’t commune at a church in my hometown because the pastor reworded the Nicene Creed. Why is this a big deal you ask? This pastor had so butchered the creed that I no longer tell if this church, which I had visited many times in the past and communed there as well, shared the same confession of faith. And since I didn’t hear said pastor preach Christ crucified in his sermon, it was as if I was in a church that just liked to make it up as they go. There are no words for how angry I was when I left after the service. I was not fed by either Word or Sacrament in the very place that I know I should’ve been fed. Was I making too big of a deal out of a little matter? No I was not! In his epistle to the Romans 10:9,10 St. Paul wrote “That if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” This is why people like me cling to the confessions, because it ensures we are all on the same sheet of music. If you like your music to be of the Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant variety that’s fine, just don’t interrupt my Bach Chorale and tell me we’re listening to the same thing!

In a related post, which Frank used to bolster his point, Pastor Stiegemeyer writes, in Doctrine vs. God's Word:

It matters WHAT you believe, friends. You can't just say, "I love Jesus." Nearly everyone says that from Mormons to Muslims. "Who do men say I am?" WHO is Jesus? WHAT did he do?

If you say that God is not going to judge you according to your doctrine, be careful because it sounds like you are suggesting that your relationship to God is not related to what you believe.

According to St. Paul... (read on)
~ Pastor Stiegemeyer

In my experience, too many evangelicals and fundamentalists do not understand how their ancient Christian forefathers fought false teachings and developed creeds from those battles. Someone who has as their creed, "Just give me Jesus!" or "We only believe in the Bible." might as well be carrying a banner into the future for all the false teachings of the past centuries. At the very least, that person is holding open the door to false teachings in their family's lifetime and for his or her great-grandchildren. Everyone has a creed, spoken or not, written or not. In my youth, I thought it drudgery to state one of the creeds in church; now I see it as hope for the future members of my church.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Beggars All: America's Lowest-Common-Denominator Christianity

Tim the Enchanter over at Beggars All posts on the latest embarrassing study on Christians in America. Once again in this age of "Just give me Jesus!" and as-you-like-it worship, it is CLEARLY ILLUSTRATED why our faith forefathers went to all the time and trouble to develop the various creeds. Satan has used false teachings and neglect of teaching to attempt to harm God's children and draw them away from their father. Next time you are in church and your eyes and ears begin to gloss over at the reading of one of the creeds, close your eyes and imagine yourself chanting the summary of your beliefs all with the millions of Christians throughout the ages. If your church rejects any creeds, ask yourself who is happier about that : you, God or Satan?

Most Americans don't believe they will experience a resurrection of their bodies when they die, putting them at odds with a core teaching of Christianity.

The findings of a new Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll surprised and dismayed some of the nation's top theologians since it seems to put Americans in conflict with both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed, ancient statements of faith meant to unify Christian belief.

The Nicene Creed, adopted in 325 at the First Council of Nicea under Roman Emperor Constantine, concludes with the famous words: "We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

Similarly, the Apostles' Creed professes a belief in "the resurrection of the body." Read on...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Last Supper

When he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me," 1 Corinthians 11:24,25.

Strange quote of the day: Kirk Cameron

From Laura Ingraham's website...

It was a personal step of faith. 'God, if you're there, show me ... if you did what you did on the cross for me, then make me the man you want me to be, and I'm in.'
-- Actor Kirk Cameron, on his conversion to Evangelical Christianity.

I would like to compile a list of SCRIPTURE verses supporting his point and contradicting his point. Wanna help?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Can God's Word be summarized?

I has an interesting conversation with my 16 year old daughter the other day. She asked me why people always use John 3:16 on signs at stadiums, on bumper stickers, etc. I told her that many think of that verse as a good summary of God's Word. She said, "I know that, but WHY do they do that?" What she was asking was WHY use it? She had seen it on a shopping bag given out by a popular clothing store (I think it was Forever 21).

Her question was a good one and one with a couple of answers. First of all, the owner of any store is free to put any kind of message he wants on his customers' shopping bag. Second, the owner is most likely a Christinan and believes that John 3:16 is a verse that will lead his customers to read God's Word. But what I took away from our conversation is my daughter questioning the purpose of a widely-accepted evangelical practice of stamping John 3:16 on everything.

We didn't end up condemning the use of John 3:16 (the word and numbers, not the actual verse), but since turning to confessional Lutheran practice that verse no longer carries the sole weight that it once did for me as an evangelical. I don't turn to that particular verse to summarize God's Word. To me, a good summary must clearly illustrate the law and the gospel.

John at Confessing Evangelical posts:

In the second of his expository lectures on Romans from 1989 (see previous post), Dick Lucas quotes the Lutheran theologian Anders Nygren on Romans 1:16,17:

The Gospel is not the presentation of an idea, but the operation of a power.

In other words, we need to avoid an intellectualised, "static" view of the Gospel as being nothing more than a set of facts and doctrines that we appraise and then either accept or reject. Instead we need to recognise that, as Nygren continues...

Hat tip to Rob at Love and Blunder

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Does revelation continue?

Beefstew-inator posts an excellent review of the book, A Different Jesus: The Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, and gives excellent commentary on an important point. He is not the first to comment on the growing similarities between many evangelicals and Mormons. I agree with his assessment that the belief that God is continuing to give new revelations to people is behind their coming together. While no orthodox Christian would dare to be God's spokesman in saying that there are no prophets and no revelations today, the abuse of the two is very apparent to all. In fact, the abuse was a major factor in my leaving Evangelicalism. He makes this excellent point:

If the ...Pope or almost any Evangelical can say "God told me..." and claim that it was from God and then base their church's formal teaching or personal life on it, why can't the Mormons?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

More on the "Gospel of Judas"...

More on the "Gospel of Judas" from Rev. Paul T. McCain...
The Gospel of Judas: Yawn! Same-old, same-old Well, here we go again. Somebody finds a Gnostic "Gospel" and suddenly the media jumps on it as if it is the downfall of Christendom. When I used to be a parish pastor, I would visit my dairy farmers on their farms early in the morning sometimes. In the Winter, there would be steam rising from piles of material left behind by cows. Let the reader understand. Well, this is precisely what all this hype over the Gospel of Judas is all about: a big old pile of steaming nonsense. Here is a very well done rebuttal of recent media coverage of this issue, by Dr. James White, It is all over the news today, as predicted (and, obviously, planned, given the date). "The Gospel of Judas Contradicts Christian Belief!" "Judas was Doing Jesus' Will!" "Christianity Shaken!" Blah, blah, blah. When you get your historical and theological information from Katie Couric on the Today Show, well, you'll buy anything. When I was responding to Bart Ehrman's media blitz on his book, Misquoting Jesus, I repeatedly emphasized the need for every-day Christians to start studying these sources so as to be able to provide a meaningful response in an ever more anti-Christian context in Western Society. Well, here's another example. For those who have already realized Bart Ehrman's "if they said Jesus once, they were Christians" mythology makes no sense, this is another second century gnostic writing, like Thomas or Mary. Judas was one of the favorites of the gnostics; this gospel is gnostic to its core; gnosticism is utterly incompatible with anything that can seriously be called "Christian." End of story. Explain to the guy on the bus who just saw the Today interview (which had zero meaningful content). Go on with your daily service to Christ. But, of course, not only are most Christians completely and utterly unaware of gnosticism, Nag Hammadi, aeons, dualism, etc., but they are likewise easily troubled by the culture's invocation of the holy and authoritative phrase, "scholars." Bart Ehrman is having to guzzle Starbucks to survive all the interviews he is doing today, all the while promoting his key argument: early Christianity was a mass of self-contradiction, and what we have today was just one small sliver that somehow managed to survive to predominance. And hence, due to lack of discipline and foundation, many are left wondering about the very foundations of their "faith." Let's set the record straight right off the bat...