Thursday, August 30, 2007

In The Image of God

It is a slow news day. So, slow I actually ventured into the realms of Daystar, I feel like, I need a bath. Anyhow, they are once again ranting about the need to ordain women. I guess some people never learn. Just to top things off in the nothing new under the sun category, Karl Wyneken is using the same old tactic of I don't like what it says so I am going to change the meaning or barring that question whether it is applicable in our so called enlightened times. Yes, I am being overly simplistic and dismissive, but these arguments do not deserve the time of day. Particularly, when you realize they all ignore one basic principle of the church. The church is created in the image of God.

The image of God is a regular theme throughout the Bible. From the very beginning in Genesis to the very end of Revelation. Marriage it seems plays a large role in this image and it is this image that is key to understanding the make up of the church and ministry. My thoughts on this topic started many years ago, and it is now becoming a pet project of mine that I hope will culminate in a book. Anyhow, years ago I was pondering why it was so important to bring up the deception of Eve when speaking of pastoral authority in the letter to Timothy and it was during a lecture by Robert Gagnon at the seminary on the image of God and homosexuality that really sparked something. Typically, it has been accepted by biblical scholars that quotes of the Old Testament are not to be understood in isolation of their source but are to encompass their complete contextual meaning i.e. Christ on the cross. This lead me to thinking there must be something more than just the sin involved in the determination of women not holding pastoral authority. It is then it hit me. Marriage is the image of God and Eve's deception distorted the image of God and was solidified by Adam's sin. God's relationship with the church is often described in the terms of marriage. The New Testament reveals that the church is the image of God in that it is the body. The idea of the image of God in marriage is repeated frequently on different levels, so why not at the level of the pastor and the congregation. The relationship here is one of marriage. The pastor is the "bridegroom" to the congregations "bride," a woman serving in this fashion would disrupt the image God desired and thereby repeat the events of Genesis 3. Have you ever noticed just how much churches that allow women to serve as pastors have degenerated? It kind of fits when you compare it to the Fall.

Anyhow, I have been toying with this idea for sometime and I am now finally getting down to the business of actual research and solidifying my arguments. God willing, I will be able to submit manuscripts in the near future.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Be As Wise As Serpents.

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. Matthew 10:16-18
I was just reading an article about a court case concerning the distribution of Bibles to elementary children in Maryland. The Gideons are, of course, losing the court battle. To be honest, I can't work up to much outrage on their behalf. In stead, I am wondering, why do they not spend sometime taking to heart Jesus' words. We are no longer welcome to present our message in such a fashion as the Gideons in the school. That's alright, not good, but alright, because they cannot actually stop the Gospel despite their best efforts. We just need to be smart in how we do it. Jesus warned that we would need to be very smart and wise when it came to operating in the hostile world that we live in; therefore, it would behoove us to stop using methods that were acceptable in the past and start figuring out ways to reach people with the Gospel. Obviously, we cannot continue showing up at public schools and handing out bibles, court cases only make people angry and intransigent and are not going to change anything.

I honestly do not have any answers. I am studying and thinking about the question myself. A few possibilities come to mind. Such as one that we used as hospital chaplains, we weren't allowed to actively evangelize but we were allowed to answer questions. So, what we would do is find ways to have people ask questions and if the answer involved sharing the Gospel so be it. The courts, try as they may, cannot ban people from answering questions and if they ever do well - Since it is not wise nor safe to go against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other.

Monday, August 27, 2007

What is there to talk about?

Talk, talk, talk, talk that is all anybody seems to want to do. Once, again I read in the news that there are calls for new talks on homosexuality and the Bible. And I wonder what is there to talk about? Scripture is quite clear that their lustful thoughts and actions are sinful. Why are they so up in arms about that fact? There are lots of things that people like to do that are sinful. It is time for them to fess up.

But they won't. I ask why they are up in arms, but like any good lawyer I try to ask questions I already know the answer to. They don't want to think of themselves as sinners because it makes them feel bad about themselves and their desires. Welcome to the club! I don't like feeling bad about myself, and it is very painful to think of some of things I like as sins. However, just because I don't like how it makes me feel, does not make it any less true. A sin, is a sin, is a sin, it doesn't matter if it is the white lie you tell the telemarketer to avoid talking to them or murdering your neighbor. They are all equally abhorrent and therefore equally damning. But just because God condemns your sin doesn't make him an uncaring, hateful so and so. God hates our sin but he gave us the way out in Jesus. This is the whole point of the cross, to set us free from our sins through the blood of God himself.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reason # Whatever + 1 for Homeschooling

Here is another good reason for homeschooling my child. I won't have to worry about them being suspended by fearful people because they drew a picture. In recent news a kid was suspended in Arizona for drawing a picture of a gun, ewww scarry. If the people running the schools today were around when I was wearing short pants and taking apples for the teacher, I would never have graduated 1st grade. I was always drawing pictures of guns, tanks, bombers. Surprise, Surprise I have never shot anyone or even thought about shooting anyone. But, educators today are so frightened of their own shadows that they overflow their diapers when ever a kid looks funny at them all because of a few whack jobs. Yeah, it is scary to think that your life could end just because somebody snapped but you can't let it rule your life. I lived for years in places guaranteed to become glow in the dark glass parking lots should the button ever be pushed but we didn't hide in a bunker quaking at the slightest sound, we just pushed on.

It frightens me to think that we have such fearful people teaching our children. I can't help but think that we are going to end up with a generation of quivering frightened sheep because, fear is what they were shown by their helicopter parents and their teachers. Actually, now that I think about it we already have the bleating frightened generation in charge. For we now, live in a place where anybody who stops in front of an airport is suspected of being a terrorist. Now if you want to pick somebody up you have to find the hidden cell phone lot that is 30 minutes away from the airport. If you don't you get some stiff in an orange vest going "don't you know they had an bombing in England?" (Sigh). We are losing our freedoms to those who would seek to use violence because we are too weak and frightened to stand up for what we believe in and live our lives in accordance with our beliefs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Baptism - Common Misconceptions

For some strange reason, I enjoy hanging out on theological debate sites that are populated largely by those of Baptist and Pentecostal leanings. Call me insane but it can be quite fun to hone your sword with these people. Anyhow, one of the things I have run across many, many, many, many, many, many times are misconceptions concerning beliefs about baptism. Bapticostals, of course, teach believer's baptism. Their teaching is an odd duck in that they teach, we are commanded to confess our faith by means of immersing ourselves in water in order to symbolize an inward change. This teaching causes them a great deal of consternation because they continuously argue over whether or not somebody needs to be baptized in order to be saved because to them baptism is a matter of the Law. However, that is not the point of this post, I just wanted to give you some background. What I want to do is address some common misconceptions.

Misconception #1 - Sacramental Baptismal believers believe that the outward actions of baptism save. Depending on how you define outward action this is true or false. It is false if you define the outward action as the action of the pastor dunking or pouring water on the person. It is true if you define the outward actions as God's actions upon us in Baptism. Luther writes in his Large Catechism,
Yes, it (Baptism) shall and must be something outward, so that it may be grasped by our senses and understood, and by them be brought into the heart. For indeed, the entire Gospel is outward, verbal preaching. In short, what God does and works in us He intends to work through such outward ordinances.
As Luther plainly states the Gospel comes from outside of us in a manner in which we can grasp. Baptists, etc. grasp this truth but quickly abandon it for personal spiritual experience.

Now while I have refuted their misconception there is some truth to their misconceptions. The Roman Catholic Church has given them fuel for their fire with the doctrine of ex opere operato which states that the act of doing the sacramental signs is what makes a sacrament efficacious. This is a patently false teaching and we will address it with the next misconception.

Misconception #2 - Our second major misconception by the Bapticostals is that we believe there is something special about the water. This misconception is based on the Roman Catholic practice of Holy Water. The water is made holy through the blessing of a priest and then is used in various rituals of the church, usually for the consecration of various items. As a general rule Catholics do not believe that it is the fact that it is holy water that does the work of baptism rather the ritual as stated above. They do believe that the fact it is blessed does give it special properties hence its use in rituals such as exorcism. However, it is a simple fact that it is not the water that does the work in baptism. Rather it is the word and promise of God that does the work in Baptism. Once again we turn to Luther,

I encourage again that these two - the water and the Word - by no means be separated from each other and parted. For if the word is separated from it, the water is the same as the water that the servant cooks with. It may indeed be called a bathkeeper's baptism. But when the Word is added, as God has ordained, it is a Sacrament. It is called Christ's Baptism.

We can therefore conclude that with the exception of the Roman Catholics, those who believe in the sacrament of baptism do not believe that it is the action or the water which performs the saving actions of baptism.

Luther quotes are from Luther's Large Catechism as it is found in the Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Turn In Surface to Air Missile Get Size 3 Tennis Shoes

This is just too funny to pass up. Orlando Police this weekend ran a "Kicks for Guns" exchange in an effort to get guns off the street. Well one guy decided to take advantage and drop off a SAM launcher he reportedly found in a shed. I would have loved to see the cop's face when the guy plunked this down on the table.

Religious Freedom - Lawsuit Bears Watching

The United Methodist Church is in a legal battle that all Christians need watch closely. Long story short they are suing a New Jersey city to prevent a homosexual civil union service on their property. While surprised that they have decided to up hold their written beliefs, I am encouraged and hopeful for their stance. Maybe there is still hope their denomination may return to orthodoxy? What ever the case may be with the UMC, the legal battle bears watching for two reasons.

Reason #1 - How the legal battle is resolved by the courts will be an indicator of how much property owner rights are going to be eroded or enforced. Granted this right is being drastically eroded by court rulings and so called civil liberties laws. I am going to show my libertarian side here, but I think property owners should have the right to include or exclude who ever they want and the government should just butt-out.

Reason #2 - This legal battle will either continue the erosion of religious freedom in our country or stifle the bleeding a bit. I suspect the courts will do an end around by declaring it public space and not a place of worship. However, this would be a case of the government overstepping its bounds. If the government is going to be respectful of religious practices as it should under the 1st Amendment, it must recognize that Christians believe that a place of worship is wherever two or three gather in the name of Jesus Christ. If people are gathering in this place on a regular basis in the name of Jesus, they should recognize that it is a place of worship and uphold the right of the UMC to maintain its beliefs by not forcing them to host an horrid affront to God that is homosexual marriage. As such, the government should realize that any property owned by a Christian congregation/denomination regardless of type is a regular place of worship because people regular gather at this property in Christ's name.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sex Education - Reason #whatever for Home Schooling

Our local school district is fighting over the curriculum to use for the sex ed classes in the middle and high schools. Originally, they had approved a curriculum by an outside group who would come into teach. Uproar ensued because the group was a ministry associated with a local church. Planned Parenthood cried foul because they were going to push abstinence only and tell the kids just how many times prophylactics fail. Others complained that it would be taught by volunteers who are not qualified to teach.

I sat by and thought, boy am I glad I don't have to worry about this kind of garbage. Public schools have no place teaching kids about sex. Even though I went through public sex ed and I am no worse for wear, I do not want some education major teaching my kid how to put on a condom. In addition, my little girl doesn't need to be hearing only half truths about the pill.

Besides, I am more qualified to teach than any teacher in the school system. One, I am not a defeatist aka "their gonna do it anyways." Two, I actually know the subjects down to the biochemical level. Three, I have classroom and practical experience in teaching. Four, I have practical experience in maintaining virginity. I made it 27 years waiting for my wife, don't tell me it can't be done, and don't think I didn't have my chances.

Of course, I have to wonder, who determines who is qualified? I mean really,who? The education majors? They are going to decry the volunteers just to protect their job security and to justify the 60k+ of Mom and Dad's money they wasted. I wouldn't be surprised to find out their training was an one hour teacher's training session on a Saturday morning. Talk about your qualifications there. If you haven't guessed I believe education majors are a waste of space. If you are going to teach a subject actually learn the subject.

Of course, I am not siding with the ministry either. If they let them in they have to let others in and I would rather sex ed not be taught out of the Kama Sutra.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Gerry Responds To ELCA

TO: The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
FROM: Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
SUBJECT: Statement regarding 2007 ELCA Churchwide Assembly Action
DATE: August 13, 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings in the Name of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world and Lord of the universe, through whom alone we receive forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation!

On the final day of its 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago (Saturday, August 11), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a resolution which “prays, urges, and encourages [ELCA geographical] synods, synodical bishops, and the presiding bishop to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining those rostered leaders in a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship who have been called and rostered in this church.”

News of this action troubles me greatly and is causing serious concern and consternation among the members and leaders of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). We in the LCMS hold firmly to the conviction that, according to the Holy Bible, homosexual behavior is “intrinsically sinful.” We are deeply disappointed that the ELCA, by its decision, has failed to act in keeping with the historic and universal understanding of the Christian church regarding what Holy Scripture teaches about homosexual behavior as contrary to God’s will and about the biblical qualifications for holding the pastoral office.

The LCMS firmly believes that the sin of homosexual behavior, like every sin that fallen human beings commit, has been paid for in full by the life, suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The LCMS also believes that we must continue to reach out in love to all people on the basis of what God’s Word alone teaches about human sinfulness, God’s grace in Christ, and the new life empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.

It should be noted that the ELCA voted not to amend at this time its governing documents regarding the expectations of its ordained workers in this area (this matter was referred to its task force on sexuality). However, its decision “to refrain from or demonstrate restraint in disciplining” ELCA workers in “a mutual, chaste, and faithful committed same-gender relationship” raises troubling questions about whether the expectations set forth in its governing documents will be taken seriously by the ELCA or by the task force. The potential implications of decisions such as this for future LCMS-ELCA relations have been discussed in previous meetings involving leaders of the LCMS and the ELCA. In addition, I stated in my official greetings to the 2007 ELCA Assembly on Friday, August 10, “For the sake of our mutual witness and service together, the implications of such action, should it be taken, would need to be addressed, fraternally and evangelically.”

As the LCMS noted in a resolution adopted at its 2001 Convention (Resolution 3-21A), “we of the LCMS recognize that many of our brothers and sisters of the ELCA remain faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and we resolve to reach out to them in love and support.” As President of the LCMS, it is my ongoing hope and fervent prayer—as stated in my remarks to the 2003 ELCA Assembly—that the ELCA’s continuing “study and deliberation of this matter will be made in the light of the biblical understanding of human sexuality and the qualifications for the pastoral office.” I also pray that God the Holy Spirit will lead and guide all Christians and Christian denominations everywhere to seek wisdom and truth from God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word on this and other critical issues in our contemporary church and culture.

Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, President
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Gerry, I'll keep praying too cause I don't like to give up, but I ain't holdin' my breath.

The Question That Must Be Answered

There is one primary question in the life of a Christian that must be asked and answered in any situation be it worship, work, family, or anything else. Is this to the glory of Christ (1 Cor 10:31)? If you can answer unequivocally yes then what you are doing is fine. However, if you can't then you need to change what you are doing. It does not matter what it is you are doing. It must bring glory to Christ. Many of our conundrums in life can be answered by applying this simple question.

However, to be able to answer this question you need to understand that which brings glory to Christ. To have an understanding of glorifying Christ requires careful study of the Bible, for it is in these pages we find what Christ desires from us. Now the Bible is a big book, so I will summarize it as it applies to glorifying Christ. Simply put it is to love God with all your heart and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Now, Christ himself describes this as the summary of the Law, and really if you think about it is true if you love God you will worship none but him and if you love your neighbor you are not going to murder him, steal from him, be jealous of him, etc. You are instead going to build him up. Now the process of building up our neighbor brings into the equation the second part of what glorifies Christ. The proclamation of the Gospel.

The proclamation of the Gospel alone can build up a person, for it is the Gospel that gives us life. Therefore, as we go through life if we desire to give Christ glory we are going to tell people what he has done. When you get right down to it there is no better way to praise God than to tell others what he has done.

If what you are doing is an expression of love towards God and neighbor, then by all means carry on. At the same time be careful saying yes, because sometimes the things we do are not actually glorifying God. These mistakes generally manifest themselves in the arenas of worship and politics. In the name of relevant praise we are guilty of singing songs that are indistinguishable from Brittany Spears pop drivel and making it a requirement to worship in only certain ways. In the name of doing God's will we try to force morality on the people around us with out seeking to change their hearts first through the Gospel of Christ. Despite how we think and feel, these things do not glorify Christ. They are merely acts of self appeasement.

So go on ask yourself. Am I bringing glory to Christ by loving God and my neighbor?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I've finally nailed down my educational approach

I've been bouncing between classical education, Charlotte Mason, and unschooling for quite some time. Now I think I've finally got it all sorted out.

I am a
(wait for it)
classical unschooler, with Charlotte Mason influences ;).

I suppose you could consider that a cop-out (I love labels, but I rarely fit nicely into one slot), but I think it is pretty accurate, nonetheless.

What I mean by it is essentially classical subjects via an unschooling methodology (with some CM habit training thrown in for good measure). My academic goals are that, before my kid(s) leave home, I want them to be proficient at reading, writing, speaking, and listening in English and at least one other language; I also want them to be proficient at arithmetic, algebra, and geometry; as well, I want them to be exposed to the essentials (as judged by dh and me) of history, science, literature, art, and music.

My current, highly-subject-to-change plan is:
Grammar stage: Focus on reading widely in English and any other language to be mastered - most of which is child-selected - using the content of the reading to achieve exposure to many concepts. Do copywork, oral narrations, and some memorization, letting the child(ren) choose most of the examples to copy/narrate/memorize. Informal math teaching only, although math workbooks available for kid(s) who want them.
Dialetic stage: Start introducing more structure. Do formal grammar study of English and foreign languages. Do formal arithmetic. Do progym exercises. Do formal logic.
Rhetoric stage: Assist each kid in designing and executing a high school curriculum of their choice.

So there it is. You might be noticing the extreme lack of anything connected to the Bible or Lutheran theology. Rest assured it is *not* because we plan to completely neglect the Queen of the Sciences. Rather, it is because, for all that I embrace the unschooling ideal of no distinction between academic subjects and the rest of life, I still do it anyway =shrug=. The above subjects all fall under my mental heading of "academic". Teaching our kid(s) our faith falls under my mental heading of "part of daily life" - where it should be - and so I don't discuss in the context of (un)school.

The ELCA Shuffle

The ELCA is once again in convention which means it is once again time for the ELCA shuffle. While wanting to appear progressive but at the same time not do anything that would solidify a split they shuffle between their positions. In a remarkable decision they defeat a measure to allow active homosexuals to serve and at the same time pass a measure that prevents the defrocking of active homosexuals. Why do they do such double speak? For the same reason they continually delay the release of their study on homosexuality and the church. They are not blind.

While incredibly ignorant on matters such as biblical interpretation they are great at judging the cultural climate. They can see that American society is increasingly accepting of the homosexual life choice and they want to appeal to American society. At the same time, they can see what the homosexual issue has done to their bosom buddies the Episcopals (they are in Altar/Pulpit fellowship). The Episcopals are undergoing a ever growing split as conservative Anglicans leave their ever shrinking church body. The ELCA knows that is going to happen to them. It will likely happen on a larger scale, because the conservative portions are in larger numbers in their church body. With this in mind don't hold your breath waiting for a definitive statement, it probably will not come until they have chased out a sufficient number of conservatives.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Holiness of Dirty Diapers

How can something so foul be so holy? Well, Veith has found a wonderful quote from Luther concerning the holy work of changing a dirty diaper.

Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason (which the pagans followed in trying to be most clever), takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, "Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores, and on top of that care for my wife, provide for her, labour at my trade, take care of this and take care of that, do this and do that, endure this and endure that, and whatever else of bitterness and drudgery married life involves? What, should I make such a prisoner of myself? 0 you poor, wretched fellow, have you taken a wife? Fie, fie upon such wretchedness and bitterness! It is better to remain free and lead a peaceful. carefree life; I will become a priest or a nun and compel my children to do likewise."

What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, "0 God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers. or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? 0 how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labour, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight."

A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works. . . .

Now you tell me, when a father goes ahead and washes diapers or performs some other mean task for his child, and someone ridicules him as an effeminate fool, though that father is acting in the spirit just described and in Christian faith, my dear fellow you tell me, which of the two is most keenly ridiculing the other? God, with all his angels and creatures, is smiling, not because that father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Those who sneer at him and see only the task but not the faith are ridiculing God with all his creatures, as the biggest fool on earth. Indeed, they are only ridiculing themselves; with all their cleverness they are nothing but devil's fools.

Boy, it kind of makes me feel guilty about grumping about changing Baby Lutherette's diapers.

It does help put things into proper perspective. The simple act of care in the face of something foul is the greatest form of love. This act of changing the diapers must be something a kin to Christ changing the dirty rags of my life, that are soiled in sin, for those washed white in his blood.

HT: Cranach - The Blog of Gene Veith

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Old Bait and Switch

Surfing the net looking for sermon and outreach ideas, I came across a church that is practicing what I would call the old bait and switch. They have named their church ______ Community Church. Now anybody having some familiarity with community churches would expect something of the bapticostal type teaching. However, in this case the church is Lutheran, something that becomes apparent when you view their website, they have a link to and they have a regular seminar that is based on Veith's Spirituality of the Cross.

This combination bothers me. I have met the senior pastor at this church and he does believe that having a church name that identifies you with a denomination is a detriment to outreach. I disagree, obviously. I seriously doubt many people who have no church experience are going to be turned off by the name Lutheran, Baptist, or whatever on the sign. Most likely they are going to go where their friends and family are and where they feel welcome, despite the name on the sign.

As far as I can see the there are three sets of people who will be turned off by having a denominational name. The first set is the group comprised of people who have had negative experiences within a certain denomination. The second set is the group of overly pious people who view denominational names as high heresy. The third set is the group of people who don't want to bind themselves to any set confession, rather they want to be free to make up their own confession. That is it. So, instead of creating a name that is welcoming to non-Christians they are practicing a bait and switch on these people. That just ain't right. Churches should go above and beyond in being completely open and honest about who they are, not hide behind a name.