Tuesday, May 22, 2007 

A Good Post Over At The Children Of God

Emily over at The Children of God has a great post where she recounts explaining how we will see Jesus to her daughter well as providing a link to Pastor Weedon’s post entitled The Visible Presence of Christ. Great post Emily!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 

Either You're Catholic, Or You’re Going To Hell

A bit ago, Tishale asked me to talk (write) about why and how God, being merciful and all, would let those who confess to be catholic go to hell. I have been, for the better part of a month, been trying to come up with a tactful way of explaining that. But as anyone who reads this blog knows, tact is usually something I’m lacking.

One of the things that make this task so difficult is the Tishale’s anti-Roman Catholic biases. Last time we chatted, I said that all catholics (see, lower case “c”) are going to heaven. I explained that catholic is a theological word meaning universal, in other words, all of Christ’s Church. I then went on to say that membership in the visible church Tishale attends, however dynamic and exciting, doesn’t necessarily guarantee every member of said group heaven. Tishale assured me I was incorrect and that every member of the congregation is going to heaven. “You can just tell, they love Jesus, it shows!” Tishale exclaimed.

Taking the bait, I brought up the parable of the tares (weeds) in Matthew 13:24-30 as well as Jesus saying “the scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat” from Matthew 23:2. I said if Christ says we can’t tell the believers from unbelievers, then, we can’t tell, it’s not possible! The Church catholic is something only known to God. I also zeroed in on Matthew 10:32, 33 where Christ states “Whoever confesses me before men, him I will confess before my Father in heaven.” I said it was not how the people appeared that got them in to heaven, but rather their confession, which can only be made by the undeserved gift of faith given to us by the Holy Spirit!

But this was really getting way off topic… To subscribe to a visible church only leads into the same Roman heresy that the Pope, or whichever elected or appointed church official, guards the gates of heaven based on membership in an earthly established temporal organization. How one can hate our Roman friends but then subscribe to an identical dogmatic position is enough to give me a pretty severe headache on the very best of days.

So how do we get to heaven, or rather keep from going to hell? Well, by a righteousness that comes not from what we do or what group we belong to, but instead, a righteousness that comes from God, through faith in Jesus Christ as laid out in Romans 3:21-26; 4:5

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness

So it’s not a visible church we should look to but instead we look to Christ nailed to the cross doing it all for us. It is Christ’s righteousness that becomes our own by God’s merciful grace.

What I eventually got back to in our conversation was the word catholic. Tishale really had a problem with the word itself. For Tishale, catholic equals Roman Catholic. I explained the word catholic means universal. Tishale responded with “but that word isn’t in the Bible so I don’t believe it even if you say it’s a real word. We only believe in the Bible and I don’t remember reading that word in the Bible.”

This brings me to the purpose of this post. Let’s look at where the word catholic comes from and how do theologians, even amateur ones like me, use it.

The first extant reference to the “Catholic Church” occurs in a letter written by St. Ignatius of Antioch. In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans written in 107 AD we find the following statement: “Wherever the bishop is, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” Clearly, the word catholic predates the formation of the western Romanized church by several hundred years. At the time St. Ignatius wrote his letter, the bishop of Rome was just one of several leaders in the early church. There were bishops of Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, along with a bunch of others, all with “equal” authority. (It’s also important to remember Christianity wasn’t really even legitimized by Constantine’s Edict of Toleration until 313 AD.) All the way back to the first Christians, catholic was used to describe Christ’s Church as a singular confession of faith and doctrinal unity.

But if you wish for a more secular reference instead of dead martyrs and saints, even online dictionary’s can be a little help here. Dictionary.com lists the definition as well as the Greek etymology of the word:

Cath·o·lic Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kath-uh-lik, kath-lik] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. of or pertaining to a Catholic church, esp. the Roman Catholic Church.
a. (among Roman Catholics) claiming to possess exclusively the notes or characteristics of the one, only, true, and universal church having unity, visibility, indefectibility, apostolic succession, universality, and sanctity: used in this sense, with these qualifications, only by the Church of Rome, as applicable only to itself and its adherents and to their faith and organization; often qualified, especially by those not acknowledging these claims, by prefixing the word Roman.
b. (among Anglo-Catholics) noting or pertaining to the conception of the church as the body representing the ancient undivided Christian witness, comprising all the orthodox churches that have kept the apostolic succession of bishops, and including the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, Church of Sweden, the Old Catholic Church (in the Netherlands and elsewhere), etc.
3. pertaining to the Western Church.

4. a member of a Catholic church, esp. of the Roman Catholic Church.

Clearly the use in this country of the word catholic gravitates towards the Roman Catholic Church. But Tishale, the word is real and it does have other uses than to fuel bigoted tendencies. No earthly established church can claim that they are the gate keepers to heaven. This is why right minded Christians look to Scripture and let God’s Word purely preached and His Sacraments rightly administered define where the Church universal, catholic, reside. It is these Marks, these confessions that define for us where Church is.

In conclusion, Tishale, at the end of the day, you can rest easy because God will not let any confessing catholic go to hell. He loves His elect so much that He allowed His son to be nailed to a tree at Golgotha to prevent just that which causes you concern. In fact, it is those who are outside of the Christian faith which you should pray for that they might be brought to faith and join the rest of Christ’s catholic Church.

In other words, if you ain’t catholic, you ain’t… well you’re going to hell. Cool eh?

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007 


There were two things that made for a good weekend. The first, which I’ve already posted about, was Valerie coming home. (Did I mention we missed her? Oh yeah, I did but it bears repeating, her aunt and I really missed her!) The other thing…the other thing…I was elected to the Board of Youth Ministry. I will serve as co-chair with a friend, whom I also consider part of my extended family, serving as the chair.

What makes this so funny for me right now, is that within the last month, I was told that I wasn’t capable of understanding children because I don’t have any little raggamuffins of my own. (Oh, that’s a whole other post, isn’t it?)

I had four people come up to me before the voters meeting and tell me how excited they were that I agreed to serve. “What these kids need is a little discipline as well as someone who understands them” is what one woman told me. The other three echoed the first’s point of view.

The first thing I had to remind each of them is that I’m only serving as co chair this year. Just because I can take charge and lead, doesn’t mean I will. To automatically think that, just because I’m fifteen years older than the chair, I'm going to be running the show is really doing the chair a gross injustice.

The punch line of all of this is that none of the people who talked to me before the voters meeting have children in our youth group! Yep, that one is going keep me going for a while.


Monday, May 07, 2007 

Valerie's Back

One of the highlights of my weekend was my deaconess in training niece Valerie coming back from Concordia University Chicago on Friday. While I wasn’t able to see her right as she got home, I did swing by on Saturday for the sole purpose of giving her a big hug. Her aunt and I missed her a bunch and look forward to spending time with her over the summer. Welcome home Valerie!



Lutheran Carnival XLIX

Lutheran Carnival XLIX (or IL) is up and running over at Random Intolerance. Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank RandomDan and Elle for doing a great job.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007 

Holy Fire Water

I just got emailed a little story that I actually was aware of because I watched Nightline last Friday. ( the show has really gone downhill since Ted Koppel left) I wasn’t going to even touch this one, but what the heck.

The last of the three segments on Nightline focused on Brian Germann out in Linden, which is just outside Sacramento, Calif. Mr. German is selling a bottled water called Holy Water. What makes it “holy” is the fact that they got two priests, one Anglican and one Roman blessing the stuff. They tried to get a local Roman priest to bless the water but after he refused, they brought in one from outside of the diocese. The concept, Germann says, is to be inspirational: Keep a bottle of Holy Water nearby and it might keep you out of trouble. "[By] drinking holy water or blessed water, they might just think and take a second thought before they take any kind of action that might be bad towards somebody else," he said. See the whole story here

Anyhoo, I don’t have the time or the patience to go into any lengthy discussion of what makes water holy today. The short answer is of course, the Word of God combined with a physical element, in this case water, is what makes the water of Holy Baptism holy. Since Christ didn’t say drink the holy water of baptism, there is no promised means of grace, and because of that, the water these fine folks are drinking is just as holy as the water I mopped the kitchen floor with.

But how about this…we start selling “fire” water as both a fund raiser and as a outreach resource to promote Ablaze!? Think about it, first, we would have receipts that would tell us how many people we’ve reached, after all, counting the unchurched and uncommitted is really, really important, or so we’re told. Second, doesn’t the Fire Water© brand just match perfectly with Ablaze!? Heck yeah!

And think of the added benefits. Any time we do or say something really goofy we could just fall back on “I forgot that we had confessions, I must have been hitting the Fire Water©" Or how about "I really thought we just another protestant denomination, I must have been hitting the Fire Water©.” If a synodical president just happens to get up on stage snaps his fingers in a slow cadence and says “every time I snap my fingers someone else goes to Hell because we haven’t done our job, all he would have to do to respond with is “ heck, I didn’t know what I was saying, I must have been hitting the Fire Water©.” As I said, think of the possibilities…

I’m more than willing to share with my brothers in our beloved synod any profits that are generated by this great evangelical outreach idea. Just give a me shout, as it turns out, I am very mission minded.

Thanks Dan!

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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