Friday, May 13, 2011

Freed from the Shopkeeper's Prison - IN Presentation

Note: Several of the Gottesdienst editors have given presentations at regional, district, and circuit events. In fact, we are working on creating a speakers' bureau to provide a clearing house to connect district conference committees with speakers who can provide thought-provoking, Confessional, theological, and practical presentations. In the coming days I'm planning on posting examples of these presentations. Here is my latest - +HRC

Freed from the Shopkeeper's Prison
Presented at the Indiana District's North Region General Pastor's Conference, May 9-10, 2011

Lutherans have been highly influenced by the outreach and evangelism methods, outlook, language, and expectations of the conservative American Protestant churches. But is there another path? What about the doctrine of Election? What exactly is the Pastor's job? What is his duty in the task of "outreach"? How did Jesus and the Apostles "do evangelism"? These and other questions are explored in this four part presentation by Rev. H. R. Curtis.

Both text files and audio files are listed below. Of course, there is some stuff in the text that is not in the audio and vice versa. Part IV, especially, is really only fully there in the audio with the text being notes.

Text files (pdf):

Audio files (mp3 - thanks to Fr. Erich Fickel):


  1. "The Arminians, on the other hand, sail by the pole star of their theology: humans are free to reject God or not."
    Do not Lutherans believe that one can reject God by denying Him? Or not staying in His Word? Please answer.

  2. Yes Leona, we Lutherans confess that one can reject God, but that is not really freedom; it is bondage. Where Lutherans disagree is in the "or not" of the sentence. The elect are not free to reject God. The sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd. They can certainly kick against the goads, but God's promises are sure. The elect will inherit the kingdom prepared for them before the foundation of the world.

  3. Leona,

    All the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve are born in sin, in the kingdom of Satan, without a truly free will. They are bound and have no power but to reject God and all His offers of grace. How are some then saved? By God's gracious work alone, the human being merely passive in the exchange.

    Then why isn't everyone saved? If God alone saves and God wants all men to be saved, why aren't they?

    In the final analysis, Luther offers no answer to that question because the Scriptures don't either. If someone is saved, that is God's doing alone, he gets all glory. If someone is damned, that is his own fault, he gets all the blame.

    The notion you mention here, that men are damned because they refuse God's offer of Grace in Word and Sacrament is absolutely true. But that leaves the same mystery: why do some accept the Word and others reject it?

    If you can answer that question, you are not a Lutheran. Calvinists have an answer: God wants the elect to accept it, and he never really even offers it to the reprobate. In other words, the difference between the elect and the damned is a difference in God's intent. The Arminians and Roman Catholics also have an answer: some men apply themselves (the elect) and some done (the reprobate). The difference between them is a difference in their own free will, goodness, effort, etc.

    The Lutherans don't have an answer to the question, "Why are some saved and not others?"

    For more discussion of this, I recommend reading through the Formula of Concord's eleventh article on election. It is quite accessible and explains it better than I could.


  4. In Part I, starting with the last paragraph on page 9 and going through page 10, did you intend to sever any correlation between Word & Sacrament, and Election? Because that's how I'm reading it.

    I understand that your primary intent was to argue against any connection between man's efforts and Election; but it looks like you've done so by making Word & Sacrament God's demonstration rather than His actual saving work. My interpretation seems to be further supported by your statement that preaching the Gospel is how we "discover God's elect."

  5. I really, really appreciated this. Found it very refreshing (in a tangible sense) and rejuvenating — freed from the shopkeeper's prison as it were. I was very sad not to be able to stop by and shake hands as I drove past Worden in mid-May on a whistle-stop tour of the Midwest.

    So, thank you.

  6. Just discovered this. I too really, really liked it. Very, very helpful. Thanks!


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