16 June 2009

On the Poverty and Richness of a Single Net

The Lord has but one net by which He gathers His catch for eternal life: that net is the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen. And significantly, in Scripture the preaching of this Gospel is not merely how a person is brought to faith, but how they are kept and sustained in faith until the end. "For the Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are BEING saved it is the power of God." 1 Cor. 1:18 "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain." 1 Cor. 15:1,2

And so, as Pr. Bender perceptively pointed out some time ago, the very preaching of law and Gospel by which we are humbled and brought to faith in the first place is the exact same preaching by which we are kept humble and sustained in faith for the long haul.

So when the Mission Weenie from Corporate Headquarters tells you that what you're doing is FINE for "maintenance" but not at all good for "outreach," you might help him remember that God has only one net by which He catches men and scoops them up to life everlasting - which is communion with Him - and that net is the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. There IS no other power of God for salvation but that message alone. Where it is proclaimed, there sinners are saved and are being saved; where something else is subbed for it (snappy music or cozy togetherness or Starbucks in the Narthex or praise babes making eyes at the praise dudes) what you've done is to throw away the only saving net there is. Not wise. Not wise at all.

The Augsburg Confessors knew this and knew it well. Hence they realize that the Office of the Ministry exists for purpose of speaking and sacramentally enacting that Word by which alone fallen human being are brought alive in faith and sustained in communion with God. That's what Article V is all about - and implicit throughout the recognition that God has no other net He's placed in our hands to use.

16 comments:

Past Elder said...

Amen and Adoublemen!

This post should be bound as a sign upon the hand and be for frontlets between the eyes of the whole seeker sensitive movement (who btw seems to have forgotten that the seeker is God), metaphorically speaking.

Now that would be laying some tefillin!

Chris said...

Have you been visited recently by the synodal "mission weeenie" which prompted this writing?

William Weedon said...

Chris,

I think mission weenies avoid me as much as I avoid them. I was thinking rather of a friend's description of how his parish was visited by a "transforming congregations" team that basically told them: drop the liturgy or die. The liturgy, of course, being saturated to the gills with that gospel!

William Weedon said...

Terry,

I love it when you get all Jewish on me... :)

Scott Larkins said...

"the Mission Weenies"

Hilarious!

Thanks Father. I needed a good laugh today.

Pr. Thomas E. Fast said...

"Drop the Liturgy or die."

So a congregation is to keep herself alive by means of the unchurched community around her?Interesting teaching. Here I thought the church wasn't to be concerned with keeping herself alive at all, as she HAS Life Himself on the altar from which to live. Her work in relation to the unchurched community is to take the Life she is given and give it away to them. I think the Bible calls that the life of faith and love. I know, it is a rather alien way of living. Takes time and effort to learn. But just imagine, for a moment, how much evangelism and human care work might occur almost spontaneously if congregants actually believed that at the altar they have been given an indestructible life which is beyond all misery and decay? What do you think a congregation of people with that kind of faith would look like?

Loehe may have been onto something when he said all mission work begins at the altar and returns to the altar.

Dennis said...

Another great post Pastor. I am currently reading a book you recommended to on Liturgy and it continues to amaze me why do people want to get away from it when it is Christ and Him crucified throughout the entire service. I think part of the problem "we" need to think that "we" are doing something for God and not that God is all sufficient in Himself and does all the work of salvation. We must just keep pointing the cross and letting God do the work. And that is the Liturgy--God reaching to us to give us Himself.

Omar said...

Hmmm...
Along similar lines: http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/what-is-a-christian/1025


Pax.

Matthias Flacius said...

"This doctrine of faith and salvation is the crucial one, and it cannot be mastered in a moment, but must rather be continuously taught and nurtured. For grace and its blessings are so great that the human heart is terrified when it hears that God wants to open the gates of heaven so wide, and that when you believe in Christ there no longer is any sin or wrath of God, nothing but pure righteousness. That is why the doctrine of faith must be constantly reviewed, constantly emphasized, so that, as St Paul says in Ephesians 4:15, 'we may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.' For that reason faith is not the trifling thing that the pope and the enthusiasts imagine it to be. I am a doctor of Holy Scripture, have studied it for twenty years, and have taught it to others. In spite of that, it is still my experience that in the midst of severe temptation I get limp and wilted, just as grass wilts in the heat of a summer drought. And if God would not refresh me with his rain and dew--that is, with his Word and spirit--I would simply dry up and blow away. That is why the proclamation of faith must be continuously emphasized. You see, God did not give the Scriptures in such a way that you can understand and grasp them right off the bat." Martin Luther, Ascension Day (Second Sermon), Luther's House Postils, Ed. Eugene Klug, vol. 2, p.134.

Matt

Thursday's Child said...

Amen!

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Thank you, Pr. Weedon.

Anonymous said...

You mean it isn't up to us? C'mon, the Transforming Churches weenies have got it right--law-based evangelism, with an "or else"--"or else you'll have to close the doors."
And now we have "Tracking the Holy Spirit" if TC doesn't work.
Who needs the Gospel when you can get the Law? Of course, it's up to us.

Johannes (tongue in cheek of course)

Rick Serina said...

Weedon said "Weenie." Naughty sinner.

Paul said...

If (as reported) 70% of Roman Catholics no longer have faith in the "Real Presence", what do you think the percentage would be in our beloved LCMS?

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Weedon !

Our pastor Mark Latham here in Buhl, Idaho forwarded your observations about the groups of people now found in the Lutheran Missouri Synod churches.
Your article makes for eye-opening and interesting reading. Of course your remarks are not only funny and enjoyable, but they also do tell the truth of what is beginning to insiduously infiltrate even our conservative Lutheran Missouri Synod.
It seems to me that there are always some people or groups somewhere who would love to improve something that needs NO improving in the first place.
The type of Christians , that you refer to as, ( Mission Weenies) probably consider usurping our time honored church traditions as good works which should earn them Brownie points.
Why are these type of individuals always trying to reinvent the gospel or promote a different ,more-up- to- date God ?

God does not need advertising nor liberal modernist methods to attract members ! Christ's gospel is not changeable to become more palatable or more attractive.
If anything these methods of trying to increase memberships in the Lutheran Church is self defeating. Compromising the simple message of Christ to make it more sellable will only result in confusion to Lutherans now and others who might consider joining the Lutheran Church.
If these people would only consider and think about what it cost Dr Martin Luther in the 16 th century to purify what the Roman Catholic Church had polluted, in their grasp for memberships and power , they might not be all that eager to change anything.
I grew up in Germany after the Second World War and was a baptized member in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. I came to Canada with my parents and attented the Lutheran Church in Kelowna ,British Columbia for several years. I was also confirmed in that church. Today that church has become the French Cultural Social Club center.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church now known as the ( Reformed Lutheran Church ) has gone through several stages of compromise. They have become a more LIBERAL organization just so that their memberships would grow. I hope that we in the Missuori Synod will never accept their sort of compromises.
I do appreciate your candor and your stand for what you believe in. Our pastor Mark Latham is of the same oppinion . He is truly a Pastor with INTEGRITY and comittment.
We here in the dinky small town of Buhl, in southern Idaho, are very fortunate to have a Pastor with his credentials and abilities and his devotion to the true gospel of Christ.
The way I see it as a member of the St John Lutheran Church here in Buhl is ,that we have not yet been infiltrated by the Mission Weenies. Tradition is still alive in our church and I hope that this will not change.

I do hope that all Missouri Lutheran Synod churches and church members seriously consider any suggested liberal modernist views before accepting them as positive changes.

Julius Steiger
Church member-St John Lutheran Church, Buhl, Idaho.

christl242 said...

Paul,

In fairness, I'm not sure that as high as 70% no longer believe in the Real Presence. Sometimes one has to very carefully define for them what exactly is meant by "Real Presence." Catechesis in the RC has been less than stellar since Vatican II.

Even though it is not a Lutheran tradition (and rightfully) those RC parishes that have Perpetual Adoration usually have a high percentage of members who still believe that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament.

Herr Julius Steiger,

Grüßgott! How nice to meet another German-born Lutheran on Pastor Weedon's blog. My sister and I also grew up in post-WWII Germany and immigrated to Australia before coming to the U.S.

I very much appreciate what you stated in your post and agree. The LCMS needs to cherish and uphold her Confessional Lutheran heritage. Pastor Weedon and many others are doing a fine job of that.

Christine