Thursday, March 27, 2014

Best non-Lutheran Theology to Read?

In recent years I have learned more theology from classical, conservative Anglican sources than any other. They share enough of our history and theology for me to be able to understand the language and concepts, and yet they differ from us enough to provide truly fresh insights that have helped me clarify my own thinking. I've reviewed Mascall's Corpus Christi in the past, and still can't recommend it highly enough. Today I give you an essay on Transubstantiation from the folks over at The Continuum.

The T Word.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Empty Barn!

The proverbial horse has bolted, and the barn is empty! That is, the current issue is at the Post Office, and coming soon to a mailbox near you.  Assuming, that is, that you are a subscriber.  (Yes, there is a print edition.  Subscribe now if you didn't know that, or if, for some other unfathomable reason, you aren't already).

In this issue: 

Chad D. Kendall Eric R. Andrae and Bo H. Giertz Andrae and Giertz Larry L. Beane II David H. Peter sen

Commentary on the War David H. Petersen
 Learning from Chrysostom   
Liturgical Observer Burnell F. EckardtJr.
Pardon the Interruption        
Casual Sundays
Who Says the Our Father?
Homer Nods
Sabre of Boldness Jonathan E. Shaw
Justifying Sanctification       
Michael Brockman Is 2014 Sabre Bearer
Taking Pains Mark P. Braden
Rogation Days, Ember Days 
The Apostolic Faith   Kathryn Ann Hill 
Musing on the Mysteries Karl F. Fabrizius
And He Died Genesis 5:5-27     

Call For Sermons!

By Larry Beane

One of the hallmarks of our Lutheran tradition - especially within our confessional and liturgical tradition - is the strength of our preaching.  It is always a great privilege for me, as the sermons editor of Gottesdienst, to review and ponder sermons from my brethren in the Holy Office.

We all have our favorite go-to preachers that we can count on to proclaim Christ crucified, to thunder with the law, and to soothe with the gospel.  We also have a diversity of styles and approaches to the homiletical enterprise and how a given text is treated.  Our Lutheran preaching is indeed a treasure trove, and the quarterly sermons published in Gottesdienst are a delight to our readers.

Of course, every year, our seminaries release more faithful men to do battle against sin, death, and the devil, and as preachers grow in stature and experience, their preaching improves and grows.

I know there are sermons out there that should be published in Gottesdienst, to edify pastors and laypeople alike, to assist pastors young and old in freshening up their own preaching, and in illustrating with clarity that good liturgy is not only about proper rubrics and ritual, but also in faithful proclamation of the Word.

So, if you know of a particular sermon or preacher you would like to see in our print journal, send me an e-mail at pastorbeane (at) gmail  [dot] com.

The only catch is that we run roughly a quarter ahead of time.  Even though our current attention is on Lent, Passiontide, and Eastertide, for publication, right now I am looking for sermons for our Trinity issue.  So please point me to sermons from the early Trinity season (before Michaelmas).  Also, as Sts. Peter and Paul falls on a Sunday this year, please consider sending me a sermon for that Sunday as well.

Getting published in Gottesdienst is even better than being on the cover of The Rolling Stone. We'll even send you three copies for your mother - or your fan club.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Properly speaking versus most properly speaking

Oh, dear: the knots we sometimes tie ourselves into in theology. Check out this paragraph from Gerhard. The poor guy is trying to argue that penance, that is Absolution, is not really a sacrament like Baptism and the Eucharist. But then his Roman Catholic opponent throws Ap. XIII in his face. The resulting hoop jumping is, in my opinion, kind of funny.

In my secret heart I'm afraid I think I might feel the same way about the kerfuffle about "objective justification." I think I know what everybody means. I think both sides in the debate over the use of this term would agree to this: Jesus died for the sins of the whole world but that doesn't mean the whole world is going to heaven, but only those who believe in Jesus. So I just can't get myself excited about arguing over the terms. I tried once, while in seminary, to really get into this debate, but my heart just wasn't in it once I was convinced that both sides were holding to the truth above. Much as I don't care to argue with Gerhard about which are sacraments properly speaking and which are sacraments most properly speaking.

But that said, I have found both discussions very enlightening. In reading Gerhard's discussion I learned a lot about why he thought it was such an important point - it has more to do with what he wants to deny in Rome's teaching than in what he wants to affirm. Likewise, in reading through some of the "objective justification" stuff I have also learned a lot, and again I think it has more to do with denying certain heresies than in making the positive, simple, Biblical statement above.

At any rate, enjoy the distinction between proprie and proprissime. 

We respond. The name sacrament is attributed to repentance with respect to the purpose which it has in common with the rest which are properly called sacraments, that is,  the strengthening of our faith in regard to the forgiveness of sins, for the words read this way: “If we call sacraments those rituals which have the commandment of God and to which has been added the promise of grace, it is easy to judge those which are properly sacraments, to wit, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and absolution.” But a little later this follows: “If everything which has God’s command and to which promises have been added should be counted with the sacraments, why do we not add prayer, which can very truly be called a sacrament, for it has God’s command and very many promises, etc.” From this passage we draw the following conclusion: most properly speaking it is not enough for a sacrament to have the mandate of God and the promise of grace. Yet from this basis it has been asserted that absolution should be assigned to the sacraments. Therefore the Apology did not want it to be a sacrament most literally speaking. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gottesdienst Chicago!

Coming up again this May!

A one-day conference: “Justification and the Sacrament”  — with special guest speaker Rev. Rolf Preus

Tuesday, May 20th 
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
5259 S. Major Ave
ChicagoIL 60638

Also featuring banter and discussion from among our editors:

Rev. Fr. Larry Beane, MDiv; Rev. Fr. Jason Braaten, MDiv; Rev. Fr. Mark Braden, STM; Rev. Fr. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., STM, PhD; Rev. Fr. D. Richard Stuckwisch Jr., PhD; Rev. Fr. David H. Petersen, MDiv


8:30-9:00 am  Registration/Coffee, donuts/
Holy Absolution available
9:00 am  Matins
9:40 am  Welcome
9:45-10:45 am
Justification and the Sacrament,
part one  -- Rev. Preus
11:00 am  Holy Mass
12:15 pm  Lunch (provided)
1:30 – 2:30 pm
Justification and the Sacrament,
part two -- Rev. Preus
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Panel Discussion
Response from the editors
3:30 pm  Vespers
4:00 pm  Gem├╝tlichkeit

Lodging on your own.  
Recommended:  Hampton Inn $169. 6540 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) 496-1900 ‎www.hamptoninn.hilton.comChicago Marriott Midway $219.  6520 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL. (708) 594-5500 ‎ Carlton Inn Midway $109. 4944 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL. (773) Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites $171. 6500 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL. (708) 458-0202. Hilton Garden Inn $239. 6530 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) Courtyard $199. 6610 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) Sleep Inn $159. 6650 S Cicero Ave, Bedford Park, IL. (708) 594-0001 ‎ Holiday Inn $180. 6624 S Cicero Ave, Chicago, IL. (708) 563-6490 ‎

Registration: $25 (Payable to Gottesdienst. Email the following info to with “Gottesdienst Chicago” in  the subject line).  You may pay the registration fee when you arrive.

Registration info requested:

Your name
Your title
Your parish
Your address, city, state, ZIP
Your phone
Your email

Monday, March 10, 2014

Father Weedon and Time Warping

If you would like to see the space/time continuum warp and bend, watch this presentation by Father William Weedon.  He makes two hours seem like a mere ten minutes.  His presentation, "Why You Should Stay Lutheran" given at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana on January 20, 2014 is simply captivating!

Part One:

Part Two:

Wittenberg Academy

This is a shameless plug for an endeavor that some of our editors are involved in: Wittenberg Academy, the online Lutheran high school. Really it's more than a high school: we've got students of many levels. For example in Latin (which I teach) we run everything from Elementary Latin for grade schoolers up through Latin Readings and Latin for Adults. Father Beane and Father Braaten also teach for the school.

So Wittenberg Academy is not merely a high school - and neither is it exclusively for the home school crowd. Some brick and mortar Lutheran schools also use WA as a means of expanding their course offerings.

It's an exciting time for Confessional Lutheranism in America. We have so much opportunity to do good - and so much room to grow. The folks who direct the affairs of WA share that excitement about being thoroughly Lutheran - and training the next generation of Lutherans. Check them out!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Article 24 Still Matters!

By Larry Beane

"[N]o novelty has been introduced which did not exist in the church from ancient times... no conspicuous change has been made in the public ceremonies of the Mass..." 

 ~ AC 24:40 (German, Tappert ed. p 60)

The video above (from an ELCA congregation) illustrates the wisdom of our Reformation fathers, a wisdom we seek to carry on in the reverently-celebrated traditional liturgy.  Unfortunately, even in our own LCMS communion, Article 24 is often bent and stressed to its limit - if not outright broken - by both liturgical novelty (such as "contemporary worship") and theological novelty (such as women vesting and serving at the altar during Mass).

The confessors understood that such innovation is playing with fire.

The above video shows liturgical and theological innovation taken to its inevitable end.  Here we have a group of people pretending to be the church, pretending to be Lutheran, led by a man pretending to be a woman (who incidentally prefers neither the pronoun "he" nor "she," but "they"), who is pretending to be a pastor, pretending to sing the Words of Institution over bread and wine, pretending to celebrate the Eucharist, pretending Jesus is present for such a farce.

He is even pretending to sing a Beatles' song.

Thus our Lord's sacrifice on the cross, His atoning blood shed for the forgiveness of sins, and the glorious good news of the resurrection to come, by faith in His name, through His grace, in the proclamation of His marvelous and merciful Word - is reduced to this shallow and rather pathetic perversion.

The Book of Concord is as relevant today as it was in the sixteenth century.  And Lutherans would do well to submit to the Lord's Word as confessed and explicated by the treasury that is our collection of symbolical writings - and to do so in matters both of doctrine and practice.  For doctrine shapes practice and practice shapes doctrine.

Our fathers in the faith understood this.  We need to understand this now more than ever.  The pastor who told me that Article 24 is no longer relevant and is not binding on pastors in our day and age is simply wrong.  Perhaps even more than in 1530, Article 24 still matters!

Come Quickly, Lord Jesus!

Contextualizing the Message

This is a very round about book review of James C. Russell's The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation. (Oxford University Press, 1996. 272 pages. Find it used for more like $23 instead of the list price of $60).

I'm not the first to surmise that Protestantism took hold in Northern Europe in part for social, cultural, and political reasons and that post-Reformation Roman Catholicism is very Mediterranean in outlook. It's the Ice People versus the Sun People. Pickled herring and dark winters versus olives, red wine, and the sunshine that grows them.

For example, consider the issue of whether or not we ought to pray to saints and angels.

The Protestant, thinking of heaven like a Prussian barracks, finds this absurd, nonsensical. God is the Commander in Chief of the Heavenly Host and the Church Triumphant. He tells one "Go" and he goes. Why on earth would I ask St. Michael to guard me in my travels when I can ask God to give His angels charge of me? If I were the administrator of a hospital and wanted a few soldiers to stop by for the Toys for Tots program next Christmas, I would never stop one of these soldiers on the street and ask him to come by. Indeed, I would expect him to tell me I was nuts were I to try: "That's above my pay grade, Sir. Talk to my commanding officer." As that most Protestant of Protestants, Jack Chick, said: praying to Mary makes Mary cry.

But for the Roman Catholic heaven is not a Prussian barracks but an extended Italian family or a Spanish political party. You don't have to go to the head of the family for every little thing.  Indeed, if you did, it would be less than ideal since the point of a family is to have relationships with everyone in the family. Each member of the family has a unique role to play, an area of responsibility given by the paterfamilias, who neither needs nor wants to micromanage. If you wanted Aunt Aurelia to watch the kids (or if you wish to consider that kind of Italian family: Cousin Vinny to break somebody's legs) and you asked the paterfamilias to order Aurelia (or Vinny) to do so, he would say something like, "Well, I can ask her. But why don't you ask her yourself? You should get to know her: she's your aunt after all."

So to this day, though most nobody in Europe believes much of anything anymore, the Northern lands maintain their (secularized) Protestant state churches and the Mediterranean peoples remain (superstitiously) Roman Catholic.

We can all share these little insights about national character, and have a good chuckle about them as well - you've heard the one about the difference between heaven and hell, right? (In heaven the British run the police and the Germans run the trains and the French run the cooking....but in hell the British cook, the Germans are cops, and the French are in charge of the railway tables). But in regard to religion is there any substance here, or is this just ex post facto rationalization and material for laughing at ourselves and others? In a work of great scholarly care and deep insight James C. Russell argues that Medieval Christianity really was changed from the inside out by the Germanic conversion. Indeed, he argues that the mass conversion of a nation to Christianity, as happened in Medieval Europe, simply could not have been a one way street. Not only were the Germans Christianized, but Christianity was Germanized.

Besides every historian's desire to provide an explanation for the world as we find it, Russell is also explicitly concerned with informing the work of contemporary missionaries. His story is a warning for the modern day advocates of "contextualizing" the articulation of the Faith in and for a given society, nation, people group, tribe, neighborhood, etc. There's nothing new under the sun - and the missionaries of the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries found out that contextualizing the articulation of the Faith inevitably led to a change in the Faith. The Spanish missionaries who oversaw history's last mass conversions of whole people groups in His Catholic Eminence's possessions in the New World encountered the same facts.

The student of the liturgy will also find fresh grist for his mill as Russell argues that the Roman Canon is not Roman at all, but Germanic in origin, not only in its texts but in its outlook. I'll let you puzzle out what that means for my claim above that the Reformation was a Germanic thing. After reading Russell's book my own suspicion is that it's as mixed up as the Holy Roman Empire, which was infamously neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire: so also Luther's Germanic Reformation was the work of a Biblical worldview having its way in the brains of obedient Germans who were finally really Christianized after a few centuries, at last revolting against old Germanic ideas that had been transferred to Rome.

Or something. Like I said: much grist for the mill.