Lovely issue. My congregation subscribes to the Witness and there will always be a stack of them on a table in the entry. I love that!
The Reformation was not about Repentance – it was about the Gospel. Lutherans knew that when we used to read Revelation 14: 6, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people” on Reformation Day. John the Baptist did indeed preach Repentance. But what did our Lord have to say about that, Luke 16: 16"The Law and the Prophets were until John. Since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Moreover, this is what He said about the proclamation of the Gospel, Luke 4:43, “But He said unto them, ‘I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to other cities also, for therefore am I sent.’" On Pentecost Peter also preached Repentance, Acts 2: 38,"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." Is this the Repentance to which Rev. Harrison is calling us? Should we then be baptized again and will we then receive the Holy Spirit?We Lutherans must learn that the Repentance we experienced when we were baptized and became children of God is not the repentance each Christian practices – sometimes daily, sometimes less often, and sometimes more than once a day. But if we neglect to express contrition to God, or if we are unable to remember one of the myriads of sins we commit every day, He still remains faithful and forgives us. We must also recognize that it is not how deeply we repent or for how long, but the fact that we have been made new creatures in the waters of Baptism, and that the Lord, the Holy Spirit dwells in each of the baptized, that is our assurance of forgiveness and membership in the Kingdom of God. This is not an insignificant part of what our Lord accomplished for us on the cross.Rev. Harrison writes, “If you meet Him secure in your sins, whether at the Communion rail or on the Last Day, you shall die in your sins, eternally.” Isn’t close(d) Communion supposed to prevent that? What are you then doing at the Communion rail? How do we know when we have repented long or deeply enough to become acceptable to God? How do we know when we are secure in our sins? If I were a betting man, I would bet that there are more people at the Communion rail unsure about God’s acceptance of them, than there are those who are secure in their sins. But these latter all will be saved, because of the gracious words of our Lord, Matthew 12: 31, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” It is the Lord, the Holy Spirit, who guards the souls of the children of God, so that they are not secure in their sins, but at the same time they rejoice in the grace of God. Further he writes, “So often our laity have an inclination that preaching could be better but have no idea what Lutheran preaching should be!” How can they know if their preachers don’t preach the Gospel as they should, and what preacher when told the truth about his preaching will repent, rather than say, “what do you know? You are just a layman.” Strangely enough, in a church where the Gospel was rarely found, Fr. Alexander Schmemann wrote this in his diary (12 Oct. 76), “The first, the most important, the source of everything is, “Let my soul rejoice in the Lord …” The fear of sin does not prevent one from sinning. Joy in the Lord does…. How, when and why, instead of freeing the tortured, did the Church begin to sadistically frighten and to terrorize them?”Peace and Joy!George A. Marquart
The gospel is rarely found in the Orthodox Church? Is that what you are saying? If so, George, that is crap.
Trent: First, I am glad that someone has found something to object to in what I wrote. That it was not something to do with the main point I was making is another matter.Secondly, I chose my wording carefully: I did not write “is rarely found” but “was rarely found.” I had in mind the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia from its inception to the post-Soviet period. On this point I have no doubts whatsoever, based on my reading and conversations I have had with many people on the subject. This is the church from which the Orthodox Church in America received its independence. On the other hand I have every reason to believe that the Gospel is no stranger to the church which Fr. Schmemann and Fr. Meyendorff organized in the US. As to any other Orthodox churches, I simply have no idea about how they proclaim the Gospel. Peace and Joy!George A. Marquart
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