Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The End of the World

(Post originally written in early January)

Is the end of the world coming? of course.  Is it coming soon?   I hope so.  But there is no sure way to tell. I see the natural disasters, the fires and floods and such as God taking blessings away by the handful. He does it because the nation which He has so abundantly blessed has taken their wealth and blessings as something they have earned an deserved and used them in ungodly ways. The popularity of divorce (not ones that are needed like yours, but those where they just get tired of one another after a year or two), open sexual immorality, the promotion of homosexuality, the openness of porn, the popularity of violence, the "me-first" of our culture and the abandonment of the church and of faith and worship - these things are being addressed, I believe, by the withdrawal of blessings.

It doesn't happen all at once, but God does some here and some there, calling us to repentance. The troubles will fall on everyone, in general, but those that trust in the Lord will have their comfort in Him, and will show the way back to the Lord. Whether society will follow or not is another question. Finally, the nation will fall because of the corruption of society. How few are not participating in the corruption! You don't need to be a prostitute to share in or at least tacitly approve of general immorality. Look at the abortion issue! We have a candidate for office who supports infanticide! He is running neck and neck in the polls with the other candidate. Wouldn't you think that believing it was a fundamental right to murder babies would disqualify someone from office? I am not just talking about abortion, but putting to death a baby that survives the first attempt on his or her life.

Church after church drives their pastor out for not being fun enough, or for holding faithfully to the teachings of the Scripture. Okay, so none of those people may have murdered their neighbor in his sleep. But they told God to take His truth and shove it, and demanded to be entertained instead of hearing the Word of God and worshiping. In their unfaithfulness, they close the door to those who have not yet heard the Word, no longer allowing the truth to be proclaimed in all its power, so that they might be saved -- thereby murdering souls. They spend a fortune on their clothing and toys and entertainments, and allow their pastors to live below society's standards, their churches to fall into disrepair, and the mission to the unbelieving to die a slow death of underfunding. They sing "Take My Life and Let It Be", but they don't mean a word of it. "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold." Yeah, right!

When the church members had only two sets of clothes - church clothes and work clothes - and did not even need closets, just a nail on the bedroom door, the church built hospitals and orphanages, and wonderful church buildings, and schools for their children. Now we are rich, and cannot afford the school, and the pastor's support is too much, and no one has time for bell choir or church activities. We don't do hospitals or Orphanages any more. We leave that for Uncle Sam.  The church may be struggling, but Walmart is doing great business, and new restaurants open every week or two, and every child seems to have a cell-phone and an I-pod. Who is innocent?

The crap on TV is there because people will watch it. I am as guilty as the next guy, there, but if I could watch The old shows - Lucy, Beaver, Sgt. Bilko, Uncle Milty, Crusader Rabbit, I would. I am so tired of seeing women in their underclothes in commercials, and hearing about feminine hygiene products, I could scream. And who gives a rip whether some guy has E.D.? Then there are lawyers advertising for people to authorize them to sue someone. They don't tell you that as a member of a class you might get a buck forty-nine, while the lawyer gets ten or twelve million dollars. Open, stupid, hateful greed! Where is the innocent person?

Could someone as shallow and dangerous as Obama be a symptom of the wrath of God against a society gone terribly wrong, and all the evil in our country? Yeah, it is possible.

The Official Publication

One of the most telling and troubling signs on the horizon for the LC-MS is the Lutheran Witness letters.  People write in, and editors choose to print false doctrine and broadsides aimed at our confession without a word of correction.  It presents the false ideas of those who are clearly not solidly grounded in Lutheran doctrine (that is to say, the Scriptures) alongside sound doctrine as though both are equally valid and acceptable.

It is true that writers can write in to correct the false teacher, but their letter appears a month later -- ineffective for making the point that what was written was error, because it appears not as an official correction, but as an expression of another, equally valid idea.  Fancy re-design of the publication and even sound articles published in the magazine will not work to promote or preserve sound doctrine when the apparent policy is to publish truth and error side by side as equally valid positions.  Someone needs to review their Krauth.

I append the Krauth quote for the novice to his works:

The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology, by Dr. Charles Porterfield Krauth, original copyright 1871, reprinted by permission of Fortress Press by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1963.

Pages 195-196

     A human body may not only live, but be healthy, in which one lobe of the lungs is gone; another may be sickly and die in which the lungs are perfect.  Nevertheless, the complete lungs are an essential part of a perfect human body.  We still truly call a man a man, though he may have lost arms and legs; we still call a hand a hand, though it may have lost a finger, or be distorted.  While, therefore, we freely call systems and men Christian, though they lack a sound sacramental doctrine, we none the less consider that doctrine essential to a complete Christian system, and to the perfect faith of a Christian man.  The man who has lost an arm, we love none the less.  If he lost it by carelessness, we pity his misfortune, yet we do not hold him free from censure.  But, when he insists, that, to have two arms, is a blemish, and proposes to cut off one of ours, then we resist him.  Somewhere on earth, if the gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church, there is a Communion whose fellowship involves no departure form a solitary article of Christian faith -- and no man should be willing to be united with any other Communion.  The man who is sure that there is no such Communion is bound to put forth the effort to originate it.  He who knows of no Creed which is true to the Rule of Faith, in all its articles, should at once prepare one that is.  Every Christian is bound either to find a Church on Earth, pure in its whole faith, or to make one.  On the other hand, he who says that the Church is wrong, confesses in that very assertion, that if the Church be right, he is an errorist; and that in asking to share her communion while he yet denies her doctrine, he asks her to adopt the principle that error is to be admitted to her bosom, for as an errorist and only as an errorist can she admit him.

        But the practical result of this principle is one on which there is no need of speculating; it works in one unvarying way.  When error is admitted into the Church, it will be found that the stages of its progress are always three.  It begins by asking toleration.  Its friends say to the majority: You need not be afraid of us; we are few, and weak; only let us alone; we shall not disturb the faith of others.  The Church has her standards of doctrine; of course we shall never interfere with them; we only ask for ourselves to be spared interference with our private opinions.  Indulged in this for a time, error goes on to assert equal rights.  Truth and error are two balancing forces.  The Church shall do nothing which looks like deciding between them; that would be partiality.  It is bigotry to assert any superior right for the truth.  We are to agree to differ, and any favoring of the truth, because it is truth, is partisanship.  What the friends of truth and error hold in common is fundamental.  Anything on which they differ is ipso facto non-essential.  Anybody who makes account of such a thing is a disturber of the peace of the church.  Truth and error are two co-ordinate powers, and the great secret of  church-statesmanship is to preserve the balance between them.  From this point error soon goes on to its natural end, which is to assert supremacy.  Truth started with tolerating; it comes to be merely tolerated, and that only for a time.  Error claims a preference  for its judgment in all disputed points.  It puts men into positions, not as at first in spite of their departure from the Church's faith, but in consequence of it.  Their recommendation is that they repudiate that faith, and position is given to them that teach others to repudiate it, and to make them skillful in combating it.

A Little Here, A Little There . . .

"As was laid out above, the office of pastor is Word-based, not ritual-based. To distinguish one pastor from another on the basis of education, so that the non-M.Div. pastor cannot “consecrate the elements” makes an unacceptable distinction between the means of grace, as if consecrating the elements is the chief task of the pastoral office. This has never been the Lutheran position. Furthermore, the Lutheran Confessions do not regard “ordination” as that which qualifies one for the office; rather, it is that the candidate be “rightly called,” of which ordination may be viewed as a recognition by the wider church of this man’s training and call. However, by no means is ordination a necessary element."  -- from the St. Louis Seminary statement about the SMP Program.

This is what results when a church body abandons its confession.  Someone got the strange idea that it was okay to let those who were not pastors preach from the pulpit.  At first it was just the odd "special" occasion.  The Augsburg Confession surely never meant to restrict anyone from speaking the Word of God, and, after all, a pulpit is just a place.  It has no specific New Testament sanction.  AC XIV did not intend to stifle such free speech, so they said.

Men of good intention then marked the distinction of the office with the administration of the Sacrament.  A retreat from Augsburg, for sure, but intended to maintain the distinction.

Now the seminary can see no distinction in ordination -- or no need for it,  So, the unordained can preach AND administer the Sacrament.  We don't really need trained pastors, after all, we no longer have any confession to maintain.  Welcome to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod - Baptist Association.  If you feel the call, get up and start preaching.  If you can gather a crowd, you are a minister.  If your "congregation" gives money to the Synod, through the District, you will have their hearty support.

The only thing required in reality to be a Missouri Synod pastor is the permission of the District office.  And if you don't have their support, training and ordination is not of much use to you.  They will even help your critics remove you - and see to it that you do not get called again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What Is Missing?

We hear of a new scandal every day.  Our government is going all 1984 on us.  Persecution for the Christian faith is undoubtedly not far behind.

Have you noticed what is missing?

There is a ridiculously obvious absence of outrage or even real concern by our elected representatives.  They passed the laws that enable this totalitarian shift, and they have no concern for us.  They apparently see themselves as insulated from the effects of this change in policy.

I recognize the few voices of concern, and that the Pravda-esque Media immediately dives into the effort to marginalize those who speak out, but there are too few speaking.  Apparently, free-enteprise and a representative republic (for the people, or the people and by the people) is only for small countries and pre-industrialized civilizations.  Once you get too big or too prosperous, shameless socialism and oppression is required. 

The Democrats have taken the lead in finally bringing us to a state-controlled, socialist society.  The Republicans are taking us there too, but first they have to run against the way things are before they acquiesce to the need to put us serfs back in our place.  Thank-you congress for undoing the Revolutionary war and bringing us back to the monarchy.

It does get a little tiring now and then to watch those we elect to preserve our liberties betraying us.