Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ravenna Rundown

Many thanks to all the participants at the Gottesdienst West conference out in Ravenna, NE a couple of weeks ago - especially to our hosts, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Fr. Micah Gaunt, and Mrs. Gaunt for her super excellent cinnamon rolls.

This was especially enjoyable for me as I got to catch up with some friends from my Seward days and even with a couple of dear parishioners from my home church.

Considering that it was the middle of June, on a Friday, in sparsely populated central Nebraska we were very happy with the response: we had 13 pre-register - and maybe we even tempted a few to carpool out to Kewanee in the fall for Gottesdienst Central with Rev. Dr. David Scaer.

You can read the paper I delivered here. This is an attempt to take the doctrine of election as the starting point in missions and worship - and a critique of what I term the Functional Arminianism of much of modern Lutheran thinking on the topic.



  1. I have started harping about things like this in my circuit - so thus I have e-mailed them all the paper's address. Very well done.

  2. Here is a little human logic:

    Jesus did not sin.
    Jesus is omnipresent and can be anywhere He wishes.
    To neglect to preach the Gospel to anyone is sin.


    Jesus must not have stayed in the Middle East during His earthly life, but must have traveled everywhere to preach.

    Also, it's wrong to buy costly perfume (nard, for example), because the money could have been spent on missions.

  3. As the spouse of a former Reformed Baptist, I enjoyed your article.
    Interesting google ads on scribd, though:

    -Joyce Meyer
    -"The Antichrist:
    Discover What the Early Church Knew
    About Rapture & the Meaning of 666"

    and the most relevant to your article...

    -"Are You Really Saved? See the 7 Deadly Deceptions of Modern Christianity"

    (Also enjoyed your Issues, Etc. program on Constantine and Helena earlier today-I'm a little behind on my podcasts)

  4. I look forward to reading your paper...I am sorry that I was unable to make the conference. Maybe, when you have the East Conference in Cleveland, OH, or the Far East Conference in Scanton, I'll be able to make it.

    Seriously: I will read, eat, and inwardly digest the paper and give you my Arminian thoughts.

  5. Fascinating paper!

    I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but I have a question. You claim that the error in functional arminianism is a case of pushing the truth too far. In this case, you diagnose an unhealthy emphasis on the human element of the means of grace.

    However, in practice, the only "mean" that seems to be important to this crowd is the preached word. I certainly don't see an emphasis on absolution, baptism, or the Lord's Supper, which is often disparaged as an impediment to missions. In fact, even the preached word often takes the back seat to sharing the gospel by means of one's personal testimony, with little or any reference to the actual Word of God, beyond a "life verse" or two.

    Is it possible that you are being too charitable to your opponents by claiming that their error is based on an overemphasis on the means of grace?

  6. I think you are on to something Matt. It seems to me that the error is thinking that the means of grace that God has given us needs to be bolstered with man's techniques (hence the Arminean or synergism), but I think that is what Pastor Curtis is getting at. It is just that they don't come right and say that this what they are doing hence the "functional". Pr. Curtis, correct me if I am wrong.

    A subtheme that seems to run through this essay is the idea of submission. This is something that Americans or the old Adam doesn't like. We don't want to submit to anyone. "Functional Armineanism" plays right in to that. Pastors and laity need to submit to the mind of the Church as long as the Gospel is not being compromised. I love this line.

    But no matter - be the man God ordained you to be: a servant of the Church, not a servant of potential converts or a would-be creator of the Church.

    I think this applies to lay people as well especially in our body where they can have such a strong influence through the voter's meeting.

  7. Fr. Curtis,

    As a novice Gottesdienster, I thank you for putting into concrete terms my abstract sense-that-something-is-wrong-but-I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it.


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