Saturday, January 29, 2011

Who Says I’m Not Open To Contemporary Worship?

My missus and I will try out a new church tomorrow.

I always like to call ahead (OK, my favorite niece was on Facebook and IM’d the pastor for me, she was more than happy to help her uncle out!) and announce that I’m going to visit someplace new so that the pastor’s job is made easy and he doesn’t have to wonder if the person he is communing shares the same confession of faith that all Lutherans are supposed to. I certainly don’t want him to wonder if I’m some Jack Mormon who just wandered off the street and thinks that the Holy Supper is only a representation of the body and blood of our Lord and to be consumed as part of an ordinance (hey, that’s just like my evangelical and reformed friends... that’s kinda weird ain’t it?) and not the true Body and Blood that offers life, salvation, and the remission of sins by the power of the Word attached to the elements of bread and wine. So, I’m considerate like that and all.

Anyhoo, I was warned by the pastor (once again through social media instant messaging) that tomorrow being the fifth Sunday of the month it is normal for the congregation to experiment with contemporary worship: Divine Service 1! When I asked if the service was going to be conducted in Latin or even Greek I was informed that the language of choice for this particular congregation was but the vernacular!

So, there you have it; tomorrow I will knowingly go to a church that practices contemporary worship, Divine Service 1 out of the Lutheran Service Book, and conducts the entire service in English. Who says I’m not open to contemporary worship?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Footprints In The Sand

Since this picture was such a big hit on my Facebook page…

So what does it mean when you look back and only see one set of footprints in the sand during times of trial and hardship? It means you’ve had a Sandpeople problem and they were probably sent to teach you what it means to be a theologian of the cross as opposed to a theologian of glory.

Now, to steal a phrase from Paul Harvey, you know the rest of the story as well as the alternate ending of that little poem hanging in your dentist’s lobby since 1977.

HT: Pr. Christopher Gillespie who found the image first over at Saint and Sinner

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time Out Episode 100!

Dan over at Necessary Roughness has the newest Time Out: Time Out, Episode 100 posted. Episode 100? w00t!

The Scripture reading for this episode is the entire book of Philemon with commentary from the Kretzmann Commentary Series. The hymn this time is “Jesus, Once with Sinners Numbered” found on page 404 in the Lutheran Service Book.

From Dan:

Paul appeals, rather than orders, Philemon to take Onesimus back as his brother in Christ. This gives Philemon a chance to truly forgive Onesimus for what he did. Very cool on Paul’s part, and an interesting way to act as a Christian when one is a superior.

404 is quite contemporary in age, only 12 years old, and yet the lyrics discuss baptism and Jesus’s duty on Earth. I especially like the last verse, where the cross is traced over us in baptism, counting us as righteous. Great gospel there.

After the Kretzmann commentary there is an overtime segment where we get hear submissions from listeners of this awesome podcast ministry.

So, be sure to stop by, say howdy, and thank Dan for doing such a great job not only on Time Out, Episode 100 but all the episodes that so beautifully give witness to Christ Jesus through Scripture, hymnody, and commentary!

Thank you Dan for all the hard work and I hope there many more Time Out episodes to come!

Previous Time Out episodes:

Time Out Episode 99
Time Out Episode 98
Time Out Episode 97
Time Out Episode 96
Time Out Episode 95
Time Out Episode 94

Time Out Episode 93
Time Out Episode 92

Time Out Episode 91

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Evidentiary And Philosophical Apologetics Will Always Be Necessary

Today’s quote of the day is from Joe Carter writing for First Things about the anger atheists feel toward a God they don’t believe exists. From the article:

A new set of studies in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology finds that atheists and agnostics report anger toward God either in the past or anger focused on a hypothetical image of what they imagine God must be like. Julie Exline, a psychologist at Case Western Reserve University and the lead author of this recent study, has examined other data on this subject with identical results. Exline explains that her interest was first piqued when an early study of anger toward God revealed a counterintuitive finding: Those who reported no belief in God reported more grudges toward him than believers.

At first glance, this finding seemed to reflect an error. How could people be angry with God if they did not believe in God? Reanalyses of a second dataset revealed similar patterns: Those who endorsed their religious beliefs as “atheist/agnostic” or “none/unsure” reported more anger toward God than those who reported a religious affiliation.

Mr. Carter later writes “Many atheists do, of course, proceed to their denial of God based solely on rational justifications. That is why evidentialist and philosophical approaches to apologetics will always be necessary. But I'm beginning to suspect that emotional atheism is far more common than many realize. We need a new apologetic approach that takes into account that the ordinary pain and sufferings of life leads more people away from God than a library full of anti-theist books. Focusing solely on the irate sputterings of the imperfectly intellectual New Atheists may blind us to the anger and suffering that is adding new nonbelievers to their ranks.

And right there is today’s quote of the day: “Many atheists do, of course, proceed to their denial of God based solely on rational justifications. That is why evidentialist and philosophical approaches to apologetics will always be necessary

Sadly, I’m finding myself using evidentiary and philosophical apologetics more and more, not with angry atheists but rather with my reformed Christian friends and neighbors who think the Bible is just a group of stories given to us by men as a guidebook to holy living and not having any real ties to a historical crucified Jesus who continues bless us with His gifts in the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and Holy Baptism right now, today.

Yep, I’m doing way too much of evidentiary and philosophical apologetics lately.

The question I find myself wondering is this, how many of my Christian friends who physically exhibit signs of repulsion when I say we go to church to receive gifts from God and not to do something for God are angry not at me for taking the Bible literally but instead are angry at God for not coming to them in more rational or sensible terms than simple bread, wine, or water with the spoken Word.

No matter what the case may be, evidentiary and philosophical apologetics will always be necessary for both those inside and outside the walls of Christ's Church.

Monday, January 03, 2011

iPad And iPhone Apps As A Means Of Grace, It's Only A Matter of Time

I stumbled across a story last week that highlighted an iPhone / iPad app that allows Jews to now “visit” the Western Wall. The reason that visit is in quotation marks is that the visit (allowed at any time except the Sabbath or on religious holidays when electronic gizmos are said to be forbidden) is only visit in a virtual sense and the notes left in pixilated Western Wall are really only emails.

It’s really only a matter of time before such things hit the Americanized Christian church scene. Already there are pastors who encourage their members to utilize Twitter during the Sunday worship services in order to "make it not suck". How much longer before some enterprising pastor tells his people to just stay home and attend the weekly gathering in only a virtual sense. Who wants to bet that the local media will be on hand when this little stunt is perpetrated?

In a country that for the most part has no ties to the historic Church which confesses a Jesus who comes to us in a real, actual presence in the Holy Supper and instead looks to a crucified Lord who can only be with us poor humans in a spiritual sense, it won’t take that much of leap for someone to suggest a virtual spirituality in, with, and under the iPad. Mark my words, it’s gonna happen. The only question is which purpose driven or soul winning congregation does it first.

When spirituality is divorced from Christ’s presence in the Word and in the Sacraments, iPhone or iPad apps as a means of grace is just a minuscule step away. Mark my words…