Friday, September 17, 2010

A Bit From Walther

Let us picture to ourselves as vividly as we can the situation that would have been created in the early Church, when errorists like Arius, Nestorius, and Pelagius arose, if men like Athanasius, Cyril, and Augustine had not earnestly opposed them. As far back as in the fourth and fifth centuries the Church would have lost the primary article of the Christian faith; the foundation would have been removed from beneath it, and it would have had to collapse. That was, indeed, impossible in view of the eternal counsel of God concerning the Church; however, because of that very counsel, God had to raise up instruments such as those teachers were. True, while they lived, they were hated and persecuted as malicious disturbers of Christendom, but for more than a thousand years their names have been beacon-lights, as names of great witnesses to the saving truth, and in eternity they will shine as the brightness of the firmament and as the stars forever and ever. Dan. 12:3. Let no one, then, be deterred from giving his testimony in behalf of the truth by the charge that he has a false spirit. That charge emanates only from unbelief.

Again, suppose Luther, after learning the truth, had indeed borne testimony for it to his immediate associates, but had not entered into conflict with the Papacy because of the great abominations which it had introduced into the Church, what would have happened? Christianity would have to remain under the soultyranny of the Roman Antichrist, and we all should still be subjects of it.

There is no question, then, but that both, yes, both these efforts are necessary: to defend the truth and to oppose every doctrinal error.

Walther, C. F. W., Dau, W. H. T., & Eckhardt, E. (2000, c1929, c1986). The proper distinction between law and gospel : 39 evening lectures. Forward by Jaroslav Pelikan. Includes index. (electronic ed.) (350). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Of Rust and Tattoos

I just tried to salvage the front door to our house. I'd started noticing rust coming through the paint a while back, but with all my other concerns couldn't do anything about it. I'm finally well enough to do something. So I stripped it of all its extraneous hardware. Numbers were placed elsewhere. They're more noticeable in their new location anyway. The door knocker I packed away. That meant I have a few holes to patch, but a bit of car putty and sandpaper would take care of that.

I took some 150 grit to the worst of the rust. It flaked. Not a good sign. Sure enough, the rust was worse than I'd thought. It'd eaten clean through the steel of the door. So I looked over the door more closely, and with my fingers. Sure enough, there was a large bubble to the left. That means the surface rust just revealed a greater cancer lying beneath the paint.

Now, I could spend a great deal of man hours and supplies and wind up with a door that looked like it had been repaired (one hole was in the detailing), or I could bite the bullet and buy a new one and have it installed. Priming and painting I can do. Installation is another thing altogether.

The point is, before we bought the house someone painted that sucker with rust already on it. We changed the color of that paint, giving it even more protection. It's taken seven years for the rust to finally eat through the coats of paint. So now we are at the point we are. A bit of prevention at the first would have solved this.

It's not really about the money we are shoveling out for the door and the installation, although there is that. It's about that lack of care for the things given us. It's about stewardship. It's like that commercial of that kid destroying his toys just to prove that one certain car gets a load of testing. My kids wouldn't have had any toys for a while had they treated theirs like that.

There are basics and essentials that need to be taken care of up front. It has been the setting aside of the Confessions and through that the Word of God that has turned synod into the bureaucratic nightmare that it is, instead of the supportive institution to its pastors and congregations that it was meant to be.

We slap the paint on top of paint through all sorts of commissions and reports to cover the fact that the Confessions are being eroded like rust on steel. In countless congregations what can be seen is there is no unity in practice according to the Word of God and the Confessions. Moreover, the demand that we depart further from the Confessions increases. The rust spreads no matter how quickly we slap that paint on it.

Furthermore, because of the rust and the coats of paint to cover it up, significant dialog on the issues that matter by using the Confessions and the Word of God is getting to be well nigh to impossible. The issues are no longer the focus, the paint and rust (rulings by commissions and reports) are!

A friend got himself a Luther Rose tattoo in honor of the installation of Matt Harrison as President. “Big deal!” I thought, “That’s an honorific? Better yet, study more the Confessions.” Of course, to cut this one some slack, I’m not a tattoo person, and he already does spend a good deal of time with his nose in the Confessions, which he honors in his practice.

The local Methodist church proudly displayed Luther’s Rose in front of their church for several months. It isn’t “ours” anymore. It also belongs to the place of “Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors.” Their demonstration of Luther’s Reformation symbol at a place which rejects so much of what the Reformation won demonstrates that merely slapping a Luther Rose on a thing is no indication of unity in doctrine and practice. Two hours after the installation of Harrison on Sept. 11, St. Andrew’s Anglican Cathedral in downtown Jackson, MS, is having a come-one-come-all Eucharist in memory of 9-11. Christ’s Supper isn’t His anymore. That same practice is observed and encouraged among many of our own LC-MS churches, too.

The LC-MS is on the cusp of repentance or rejection. She can either stand as the true repository of Luther's Reformation inheritance, in which her Confession is that of the Apostolic Church, or she can slide into conformity with those around her. A few more coats of paint and who would know the difference, anyway? I pray my friend didn’t waste a good tattoo. There is much to celebrate this Saturday, but there is also much work ahead.