Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hinckley Earns His Eternal Reward

Yesterday, thousands of believers were in mourning following the death of Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hinckley, considered a prophet among Mormons, was called home to Kobol following complications due to old age.

I too am saddened as this is just one more reminder that season four of BSG wont start for another two months. Very sad indeed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lutheran Carnival LXVIII

Lutheran Carnival LXVIII is up and running over at Necessary Roughness. Dan hosts said Carnival and takes a look at Pastor Todd Wilken the host of Issues, Ect, the best darned radio show for all things theological ever produced! Be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing a great job of highlighting somebody that hasn't assumed room temperature! Go Dan!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different…

Normally, I don’t stray off topic and post on things other than my sometimes warped view of Lutherans or Americanized Christianity. I know that it sometimes seems that I’m posting on things that have no connection whatsoever with faith, but if you look close, I’m usually making a point even if only a sarcastic one. That being said, I’m not making any such point here. The picture posted is just plain funny, even for a Mac user like myself.

Free Hymnals

I really don’t know why I was asked to do this but…

If anyone wants three boxes of the old blue hymnal, Lutheran Worship, send me an email and they’re yours for the cost of shipping. The hymnals are in excellent condition.

So why do we want to get rid of them? My congregation switched to a far superior hymnal, Lutheran Service Book. We need to find our little blue hymnals a home before they go to the dumpster. So even if you can use them to prop up that old bench up in your choir loft, drop me a line and I'll hook you up.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Atoning Symposia

Well my first day here at the Exegetical Theology part of the symposia was a really good one. In fact, I would say this was the single best day since my first symposia back in 2000. Drs. Walter A. Maier III, Peter J. Scaer, Simon J. Gathercole, Jeffrey A. Gibbs, and Charles A. Gieschen all presented great papers that were both challenging and informative. I said previously that I thought that the topics and papers over the past few years seemed to be theology “lite”. This year there has definitely been some atonement.

I’m especially looking forward to tomorrow’s ecumenical prospective. That should be a hoot!

I came to the conclusion this afternoon that the reason I enjoy a good symposia so much is that I miss being taught. I’ve been teaching a challenging Sunday school class to high school students for so long, I don’t think I was aware of how much I missed learning myself. I still learn as I prepare my lessons mind you because I usually spend about 15 hours preparing for a one hour class. But there is a difference between learning while preparing and learning while listening. I miss the later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lutheran Carnival LXVII

The sixty-seventh Lutheran Carnival is up and running over at Journalistic Jargon. Stop by, say howdy, and thank her for doing such a good job introducing us to a church father by the name of Claus Harms. Well done Mrs. T. Swede!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Dan Kimball Asks “What Would Luther Do?”

After attending a 'symposium" on the emerging church hosted by the youth ministry office of district and congregational services, Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church, asked these hypothetical questions:

In seriously pondering the scenario, with many younger Lutheran leaders at this symposium andseeing their energy and passion - what if a 29 year old young and zealous Martin Luther was alive today passionate about having young adults know Jesus and the gospel:

What would be the theological issues would be his concerns and what he would be
taking stands for (or against) in today's current theologically diverse landscape?

Would he write music as he did then using the cultural music genres of his day (he wrote
classic hymns such A Mighty Fortress is our God)? Would we see Martin Luther hip hop
worship songs? Or Martin Luther rock worship songs? Would he listen to mainly
contemporary Christian pop worship music on his iPod?

Would he find local pubs and as part of his ministry hold "Theology pubs" and drink beer
with people while discussing theological topics? (It is common knowledge he did like beer).

If Martin Luther was a youth pastor today, where would he be getting in trouble in his church? What changes would be want to make to the average church if he was a 29 year old young pastor going into the average church in today's culture?

Would Luther change the lay out of a church meeting place and take out the pews and when he preached he wouldn't want to preach from behind those large pulpits in some churches?

Would a 29 year old Luther wear a suit when preaching in today's culture? Would he ever wear a robe? Would he wear jeans in Sunday church meetings?

If he was a youth pastor, would he be on staff at John MacArthur's church? Would he cause trouble there or fit in there? Would be on staff at Mars Hill Seattle or Mars Hill Grand Rapids and fit in one of them? Where would he choose to go to seminary today?

Would Luther be taken seriously only being in his late 20's to make major change in
established churches today? Would his innovation and desire to make the changes
needed to communicate the gospel in our culture today be stifled and not listened to by
senior pastors and elders at the local church he would be serving at?

Would he stay in the Lutheran denomination?

Interesting things to ponder. We can never know what would happen and so much of today's
church world was shaped by some of his actions and challenges to the existing church of his
time. But trying to think of him alive today at age 29, and as a youth or young adult leader in a church - what would he do?

Now Mr. Kimball can ponder all he wants to, that’s fine and dandy with me. But wouldn’t it be nice to actually have an answer for these questions? Well, as Professor Farnsworth likes to say, “good news everyone!” we already have an answer. Reverend Larry Beane has a post that answers these questions for Mr. Dan Kimball and explaines how Dr. Luther handled an emergent leader of the reformation era; Andreas Karlstadt. If you are unfamiliar with how Luther dealt with Schw√§rmerei, you're in for a treat.

I was actually writing a post on this very subject to answer two anonymous commentors who thought the mission of the Church is more important than the message. Hint, hint, they cant be separated! Enjoy Pastor Beane’s history lesson and learn for yourself that there is absolutely nothing new that hasn’t been tried before.

(Luther dealt with this in his LETTER TO THE CHRISTIANS AT STRASSBURG IN OPPOSITION TO THE FANATIC SPIRIT. It took me a couple of weeks to find what I was looking for which is why my post is so late. All the better that somebody as learned as Pastor Beane got to the topic first!)

Emerging Without A Mirror

Dan Kimball, emergent church leader extraordinaire spoke a few days ago to those who want to wish lead our youth at a "Symposium" entitled "Emerging from what?: Exploring Ministry With Young Adults". (before anyone jumps down my throat, symposium is in quotation marks because that is how Dan Kimball described it, not me!) Kimball was invited by Terry Dittmer, who heads youth ministry for the LCMS, to help us understand why so many of our children leave the church the first chance they get to.

So, we turn to Kimball, the author of They Like Jesus But Not The Church, to help us maybe understand how we can look to the emergent church so as to become more attractive by being culturally relevant in today’s society and thereby retain youth. Of course, we don’t ask ourselves why, with mega churches like Willow Creek admitting that they are losing members after only three or so years because of spiritual starvation due to vapid preaching, would we chase after those who by their own admission, don’t like church.

Instead, we should be asking ourselves this; are we, just like the good folks up at Willow Creek, the ones to blame? I would say absolutely yes.

We run around and repeat to everyone the one verse everybody already knows John 3:16 “For god so love the world that He gave His only begotten son”, and then we stop. We ramble on about the great commission and the priesthood of all believers all the while failing to follow our Lord’s command “and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” We are so afraid to teach our children and our youth because we think they either they can’t understand or we think that they might actually have real faith and believe that which God has laid out in Scripture without challenging it like we learned to do in philosophy 101. We water down our theology to the point it’s barely recognizable as spiritual milk much less spiritual food. Why do we scratch our heads and wonder why youth leave when we treat them (and adults) as if they should always be spoon fed the theological equivalent of baby food?

We are afraid to teach them that we are all miserable sinful creatures that by ourselves have no hope of coming to any understanding of God. We are afraid to teach them that we deserve to die by Divine wrath, every one of us. And we are afraid to look at the cross as it shows us what we deserve, to be hung on the cursed tree. We remove Jesus from the cross of Good Friday to repress our own guilt and move right on to Easter and yell out “he is risen indeed” just loud enough for our neighbor to hear but not wanting to say why He was on the cross in the first place.

We make sure that we are “hip” enough to let these youth go off and discover for themselves what Christianity is. We give them song books that are so shallow and vapid even a Buddhist could sing the ditties. Why would we do this? It’s simple, because we tell ourselves real hymnody is just too hard to learn. We listen with heads in nodding agreement to parents who complain when we say Buddhist or atheists will not go to heaven because we don’t want lose an important member of the congregation over such a minor issue.

The reason we lose our youth is that we fail to properly catechize them, that is to say we fail to teach the catholic faith. That is why they leave. When we go out of our way to make ourselves no different than the culture, no matter what the reason (and I’ll hold my tongue here so I can get all you trolls who think that the mission is more important than the message, to stay on message) why would our youth stay? We go so far out of our way to make sure we reach and please everyone, we become a culture that is, by our own design and doing, separate from Christ’s Church. Why would anyone stay for that? They wouldn’t, and they don’t.

And what is our beloved Synod’s solution to retaining young people? We seek out people who don’t like church, and who want to culturally relevant. Well ain’t that just peachy. Lets not teach our youth, let’s follow Willow Creek and their newest mistake, and teach our youth to be self feeders who meditate on deep ponderings like the desert fathers, looking inward to their feelings like modern day Schw√§rmerei. We don’t need to look the emergent church, we need to take a long look in a mirror.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Goin’ to the Fort

Well, a week from today I’ll be on my way to sunny and warm Fort Wayne, Indiana to attend the annual Symposia held at Concordia Theological Seminary. The theme for the 23rd annual symposium on Exegetical Theology is "Atonement for Sin in the Scriptures: Challenging the Modern Dismissal of this Biblical Theme". The theme for the 31st annual symposium on The Lutheran Confessions is "Atonement: Biblical, Confessional, Ecumenical Perspectives."

I skipped the event last year after going for six years straight because I’d been noticing a change in the “tone” of the Symposia. I thought there had been a real, excuse my wording here but I think it fits, dumbing down of what should have been some fun papers from my first year I attended to 2005. A friend of mine says that this is most likely attributed to the fact that I’ve grown in the faith and that I no longer crave spiritual milk but want all the meaty goodness. While I do understand I’ve grown somewhat, I just don’t think any slack jawed yokel should be able to follow along with a bunch of doctors of theology with near complete understanding. If I can always follow along, it probably theology “lite”.

And while the invited guests have been ok, is it efficacious to invite people that don’t really stir debate? There were times I thought that there could be meaningful discussions with some good Methodists friends of mine. At least there would be a debate or two. I understand the politics of what is going on within our beloved synod, but playing nice to the detriment of serious theological debates doesn’t benefit anybody. In the past couple of years being nice for the purpose of being nice has stifled debate on serious dogmatic issues.

But I’m going to give the Fort another go around and see how everything shakes out. I’m really forward to seeing a friend of mine that is attending the seminary this year. It'll also be fun to see a couple of folks that always get stuck eating lunch with me because they had been dawdling in the halls and looking at CPH’s and the other vender’s displays. It’ll be fun to catch up after two years away. The banquet looks promising, (as long as it isn’t used for a political commercial again) and I expect to enjoy the entertainment which will be provided by Erin Bode.

My only question now is who out there is going to the symposium, and if you are, do you want to get together off campus for a libation and discussion of our own? Maybe even a bite to eat…?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Webmaster Works Overtime

The webmaster was in rare form over the weekend. Those of you who know where in the Haut South the official Ablaze! firefighter lives, go to his congregation’s site and see for yourself. We’re still working out a few bugs but I’m curious what all of you think.

Many, many thanks to Mrs. A. who did nearly all the heavy lifting of creating an entire website from scratch!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Golden Aardvark Awards Announced

The most recent Golden Aardvark awards have been posted over at Aardvark Alley. Orycteropus Afer has what can only be described as a huge list of winners this time. This enormous list of award winning posts,honored for raillery, doctrine, or intellect in exposition, is a great way to double check and make sure you didn’t miss anything during the Advent and Christmas season.
With more and more confessional bloggers out there, that task of keeping up with all the dead orthodoxy goodness becomes more and more daunting. The Golden Aardvark is just one way Orycteropus Afer helps promote the confessional Lutheran blogosphere. So be sure to stop by and thank Herr Pastor for doing his not so small a part.