28 May 2021

“Where is this written?”

Sometimes the questions are the most important. Take that one from our Catechism. It’s built off the conviction that the entirety of “the faith once delivered to the saints” is given to us in the Sacred Scriptures. So, if you are asserting something that cannot be found in the Sacred Scriptures, what you are asserted is an opinion, and perhaps even a true opinion, but what it is not is “the faith once delivered.” This is simply a foundational assumption for being a Lutheran Christian. And the Church Fathers seem to have largely held fast this self-same conviction. Witness the following:

“There comes a heathen and says, ‘I wish to become a Christian, but I know not whom to join: there is much fighting and faction among you, much confusion: which doctrine am I to choose?’ How shall we answer him? ‘Each of you’ (says he) ‘asserts, '”I speak the truth.”’ No doubt: this is in our favor. For if we told you to be persuaded by arguments, you might well be perplexed: but if we bid you believe the Scriptures, and these are simple and true, the decision is easy for you. If any agree with the Scriptures, he is the Christian; if any fight against them, he is far from this rule.”—St. John Chrysostom, (Homily 33 in Acts of the Apostles [NPNF1,11:210-11; PG 60.243-44])

“Concerning the hearers: that those hearers who are instructed in the Scriptures should examine what is said by the teachers, receiving what is in conformity with the Scriptures and rejecting what is opposed to them; and that those who persist in teaching such doctrines should be strictly avoided.”—St. Basil the Great, The Morals

“Regarding the things I say, I should supply even the proofs, so I will not seem to rely on my own opinions, but rather, prove them with Scripture, so that the matter will remain certain and steadfast.”—St. John Chrysostom (Homily 8 On Repentance and the Church, p. 118, vol. 96 TFOTC)

“Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.”— St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327).

“We are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.”—St. Gregory of Nyssa (On the Soul and the Resurrection NPNF II, V:439)

“What is the mark of a faithful soul? To be in these dispositions of full acceptance on the authority of the words of Scripture, not venturing to reject anything nor making additions. For, if ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ as the Apostle says, and ‘faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God,’ everything outside Holy Scripture, not being of faith, is sin.”—Basil the Great (The Morals, p. 204, vol 9 TFOTC).

“For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless you receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures.”—St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lectures, IV:17, in NPNF, Volume VII, p. 23.)

“It is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments.”—St. John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, Book I, Chapter 2

Lutheran Christians will always ask this question of any who presume to teach dogma: “where is this written?”

Gerhard and Walther

The soul of a person is crafted in such a way that it cannot be without love—it has to love something. That’s why its better for it to love God, the Highest Good, rather than the earthly and the transitory.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:103.

Wherever the candle of the Gospel burns, there the Lord has a number of His own.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 466.

Patristic Quote of the Day

The whole of Scripture applies to us by way of analogy.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles

Catechesis: On the Papacy

1 The Roman pontiff claims for himself that he is ‹supreme above› all bishops and pastors by divine right.
2 Second, he adds that by divine right he has both swords, that is, the authority also to enthrone and depose kings‹, regulate secular dominions, and such›.
3 Third, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. For these reasons, the Roman bishop calls himself ‹and boasts that he is› the vicar of Christ on earth.
4 These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and destructive to the Church.

27 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The Son and the Holy Spirit are the two great witnesses of God’s love.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:102.

The powerless imaginings of the heart and the dead knowledge of the intellect will not suffice. Instead, the faith that avails is the one in which a divine living power changes the heart of the person, softening it and filling it both with a holy aversion to every sin and with love for Christ.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 463. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul is not concerned about the rights and wrongs of the issue in any objective sense. His only concern is that his brother should not stumble.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on First Corinthians.

Catechesis: Preface to Book of Concord

In this work of concord, we have not at all wished to create something new or to depart from the truth of the heavenly doctrine, which our ancestors (renowned for their piety) as well as we ourselves have acknowledged and professed. We mean the doctrine that, having been taken from the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, is contained (a) in the three ancient Creeds; (b) in the Augsburg Confession, presented in the year 1530 to Emperor Charles V (of most excellent memory); (c) in the Apology, which was added to this; (d) in the Smalcald Articles; and lastly (e) in both Catechisms of that excellent man, Dr. Luther. Therefore, we also determined not to depart even a finger’s breadth from the subjects themselves or from the phrases that are found in them.—Preface BOC 23.

26 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The reason Christ came was that He might ignite the fire of the love of God [in the hearts of believers].—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:101

As soon as the Holy Ghost enters the heart of an individual, he becomes smaller and more modest. He no longer knows anything about himself in which he can boast, and no longer despairs on account of his sins.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 460.

Patristic Quote of the Day

If you love the weak person less because of the moral failing that makes him weak, consider the One who died on his behalf.—St. Augustine, Question 71

Catechesis: Conclusion FC

We do yearn with heartfelt pleasure and love for unity. On our part, we are sincerely willing and anxious to advance that unity (according to our utmost power) by which God’s glory remains unharmed. We willingly advance unity where nothing of the divine truth of the Holy Gospel is surrendered, no room is given to the least error, and poor sinners are brought to true, genuine repentance, raised up by faith, confirmed in new obedience, and justified and eternally saved alone through the sole merit of Christ.—FC SD XI:96.

25 May 2021

Well, this was the first day…

…fully back in the saddle since my surgery. It has been busy and it feels great. Our usual morning routine of coffee, Treasury, private prayers (Matins), and meditation. I listened to the Bible then as I did my workout: 200 pushups; 20 pullups. Still have not added back in the kettlebell swings, but it’s coming! I worked out yesterday too and am still a bit tender in the tummy. I wrote three podcasts and went for a walk around the block after each one to clear the mind and reset. Had lunch with Cindi. Caught up with an old friend on the phone. Wrote tomorrow’s blog posts. Vacuumed the pool (third day in a row; it had been a MESS). Still ahead today is Vespers, writing the prayer of the church for this coming Sunday, dinner with Opa, and a game of cards. 

Gerhard and Walther

We love a tiny steak of the good that emanates from God in creation. We find so lovely the taste of a little droplet of the good that is bestowed upon creation by God to the point that we love it. So why would we not even more so love the bright shining sun and perfect light of God’s perfect good? Why would we not love the inexhaustible and eternally deep Fountain of every good things?—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:99,100.

Thus the means by which the Holy Ghost enters the heart of man is not by the frightening preaching from the smoking and quaking Sinai but by the preaching of grace about Golgotha and the great deeds of God. It is not the damning Law of our works, but by the sweet and comforting Gospel of free grace in Christ.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 438.

Patristic Quote of the Day

“God stirs the air and raises the winds; He makes the lightning flash and thunders out of heaven, to move the inhabitants of the earth to fear Him, and to remind them of judgement to come. He shatters their conceit and subdues their presumption by recalling to their minds that awful Day when heaven and earth will flame as He comes in the clouds with great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead. Therefore we should respond to His heavenly warnings with the fear and love we owe Him,’ said Chad. ‘And whenever He raises His hands in the trembling air as if to strike, yet spares us still, we should hasten to implore His mercy, examining our inmost hearts and purging the vileness of our sins, watchful over our lives lest we incur His just displeasure.”—St. Chad, according to the Venerable Bede

Catechesis: Election

Therefore, it is false and wrong when it is taught that not only God’s mercy and Christ’s most holy merit, but also something in us is a cause of God’s election, on account of which God has chosen us to eternal life. Before we had done anything good, also before we were born, yes, even before the foundations of the world were laid, He elected us in Christ.—FC SD XI:88

24 May 2021

Red chair

 Is another yard sale find, and it is perhaps the most comfortable chair in the whole house! 

Gerhard and Walther

Cocky self-assurance is a spiritual anesthesia to anyone who lets it come in and overcome his soul.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:84

If, then, a person is to be filled with the Holy Ghost so he can be saved, the Law of God must first sound through his heart like a rushing wind coming down from heaven, awakening him from his spiritual sleep.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 435,6.

Patristic Quote of the Day

We do not know God, but he knows us. That is why Christ said: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” This is the fruit of love and the death of pride.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on 1 Corinthians

Catechesis: Election

All preparation for condemnation is by the devil and a person, through sin. In no way does it come from God, who does not want any person to be damned. How, then, should He Himself prepare any person for condemnation?—FC SD XI:81

22 May 2021

A few more pics…


My grandmother’s maternal grandfather was Thomas L. Pemberton. I found his gravestone this visit to Richardsville. He is buried in the Baptist cemetery:

And I think, but am not entirely sure, that he is the man in this picture in my bedroom, sitting next to his wife, Ann E. Bullard Pemberton. But whether that is Thomas or not, it is he who made the washstand that I use as a beside table, and who made the kitchen table that I use as my desk, and also the bench that matches it. He also made a bed that my brother used to have and also a large cherry wardrobe that matched it.

Just pulled in…

…from our trip out to Maryland and Virginia to visit with family. Was so good to see everyone. (First pic, Cindi and I behind my sister Marie (aka, Sissy) and her husband Jimmy; Second pic, Cindi’s sisters Deb and Dee and also her Aunt Sandi). 

21 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

[It is a mark of the fear of God] that we patiently take up the cross that is placed upon us. For anyone who fears God knows that he has earned something far bigger with his sins before God the Lord. That’s why he patiently takes upon himself the tiny cross and humbles himself before the high majesty of God.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:81.

We Christians, who see and feel our common distress, who know we are increasingly forsaken by the world, must not forsake one another. We must extend helping hands, not shut our hearts before our poor brothers. Let us not become tired in giving and comforting one another so no brothers or sisters sigh and lament to God that they have been abandoned even by other Christians.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 449.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Whatever knowledge we have, it is still imperfect. How is it then that some people claim to have a full and precise knowledge of God? Where God is concerned, we cannot even say our wrong our perception of Him is.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on 1 Corinthians.

Catechesis: God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election

God’s foreknowledge foresees and foreknows what is evil, yet not in the sense that it is God’s gracious will that evil should happen.—FC SD XII:6

20 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

For anyone who fears God will not go forth and sin with reckless abandon. Instead, he will fear the wrath of God with which sinners are threatened, and he will, with sincere repentance, abstain from evil.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:81

As we pass through this world like strangers and pilgrims, pausing here and there to rest and refresh ourselves, but soon thereafter hastening on toward our heavenly goal. Our entire life must be, as Luther expressed it, an eternal Lord’s Prayer in which our principal desire is for God to deliver us from evil.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 447.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Arrogance causes divisions, but love draws people together and leads to true knowledge.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 20 on 1 Corinthians.

Catechesis: God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election

For all things, whether they are past or future, are clear and present before God.—FC SD XII:4

19 May 2021

Happy 5th to this

….young man. Love you, Henry David Weedon. 

Gerhard and Walther

In Holy Scripture and in experience there is to be found a twofold fear of God. First there is timor servile, a servile fear, in that a person fears God like a slave before his master and out of fear of punishment if he undertakes some evil. Secondly, timor filialis, a childlike fear as when a child shies away from his father and out of love guards himself from enraging him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, III:77.

In God’s reckoning of time, the end is always near, even if by our manner of telling time it is millenniums away.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 444.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Love builds up. It moves in the realm of truth, not opinion.—Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 1.54.4

Catechesis: God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election

Foreknowledge or prevision means that God sees and knows everything before it happens.—FC SD XII:4

18 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Make Yourself known to my soul, O You eternal Light. Let me receive Your kindness and sweetness, O You eternal Love. Speak to my soul, O You heavenly teacher!—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:64.

Although the variety of sins is great and sad, from careless and vain thoughts to the obstinate hardness of Pharaoh and Judas, each demonstrates an uprising of our heart against God, the Father of light.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 442.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul always wants the best out of Christians. If someone really wants to get married, then it is better to marry publicly according to the permission given than to behave badly and be ashamed in private.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles (1 Cor. 7:36)

Catechesis: God’s Eternal Foreknowledge and Election

For the teaching about this article—if taught from, and according to, the pattern of the divine Word—neither can nor should be regarded as useless or harmful. For the Holy Scriptures not just in one place or randomly, but in many places, thoroughly discuss and explain this teaching.—FC SD XII:2

17 May 2021

Catechesis: Church Practices

So the churches will not condemn one another because of differences in ceremonies when, in Christian liberty, one has less or more of them. This applies as long as they are otherwise agreed with one another in doctrine and all its articles, and also in the right use of the holy Sacraments. This fits with the well-known saying: “Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in the faith.”—FC SD XI:31

Gerhard and Walther

The true, saving knowledge of God springs forth from the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:62

It is on God’s Word alone that we will one day be judged, so it must now guide our faith and life. If we allow it to light our path continually, we will not go astray.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 440.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul makes his case for celibacy, but in the end he leaves it up to the free choice of the individual.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians

14 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

God the Lord has constructed a fence in His Word and set limits over which we should not step. Nor are we to brood or speculate outside the realm of the revealed Word.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:61.

Even after the resurrection, Christ, according to his human nature, did not immediately assume dominion over all things. This took place after the ascension when, also according to His human nature, He entered into the full use of the same majesty and power the Father possesses.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 422. 

Catechesis: Church Practices

We also reject and condemn abolishing these adiaphora as though the community of God [Latin: churches of God] at any time and place in any land was not free to use one or more ceremonies in Christian liberty, according to its circumstances, as may be most useful to the Church.—FC SD XI:30

Patristic Quote of the Day

All our deeds are children. If we perform good works every day, we shall not lack spiritual offspring.—Caesarius of Arles (Sermon 51)

13 May 2021

A beloved rerun: O.P. Kretzmann on the Ascension

Now He was going home... In seven words the years of labor and sorrow end: "While they beheld, He was taken up."... There were no bells and banners on earth, but surely all the trumpets on the other side sounded as they never sounded before... Surely the chiming golden bells of heaven sang their welcome, and angel choirs intoned the song of the throne: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdomand strength."... On the anvils of God the nails had been forged into the scepter of a king... "He was taken up"... The angel hosts sweep to either side, leaving the way clear to the Eternal Light that no longer blinds the eyes of us who stand gazing after Him... He leads a procession which comes from the ends of time and space, all the harvest of all the white fields the world has ever known, the pilgrims of the night who come at last to the dawn of an everlasting day... "He was taken up." The Child of the manger, the praying heart on the starlit lanes of Galilee, the hunger in the wilderness, the weariness of the Sychar Well, the tears of the Garden and the Hill, the thirst of the Cross - all over now... The robes of the Transfiguration once momentary, now clothe Him forever, and angels and archangels sound the great doxology of the Waiting Church: "Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever."...

An old story - perhaps too old for us to do more than glimpse its glory... And yet - we ought to remember it more clearly... It was the solemn moment in the story of God and man when the visible Christ became the invisible Christ... From that hour everything concerning Him became visible only to the eyes of faith... The final line of demarcation in the world - between those who believe and those who refuse to believe - was now clear... Men can say that all this is not true and use the mind of man to reject the mind of God, or they can know that God once walked among them and that they now have a Friend in heaven who knows all that earth and time and pain can do to man...

The Ascension did not take Jesus away... It brought heaven near... In the realm in which He now reigns time and space have no meaning... There is no up and down, no near and far, no darkness, and no distance in the world of faith... He is as near as yesterday's prayer, today's joy, tomorrow's sorrow... His homecoming has made heaven a home for us who still walk far from home... Wherefore stand we gazing into heaven?... Our momentary task is here, but through the slow dimming of the years we see the evening lamps of home tended by the pierced hands of Him who has gone to prepare a place for us... Is there a better way to live - or die? ... All that we have to do now is believe and follow:

The lapping of the sea of death before his feet
Crept near; the wind was wild;
But he, who knew the One he came to meet,
Saw it and smiled.

Stepping without a hesitating word
Into the icy tide,
As if he saw the footprints of his Lord
Gleam at his side,

Borne up by Love that gave as he had given,
He crossed the midnight foam
And laid his hand upon the door of heaven
Like one returning home.

The Pilgrim, p. 14

Gerhard and Walther

As the revealed Word is preached and taught, read, and pondered, there exists along with it the inward enlightening and power of the Holy Spirit. He enlightens our hearts, which by nature are in darkness, so that the light of divine knowledge is ignited within them.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:55.

With His glorified body, He raised Himself higher and higher until the disciples could no longer see Him. But as soon as the gate of clouds closed behind Him, He entered into a state of divine majesty, appearing full of glory to all angels and saints who were welcoming Him with their hymns of triumph. Then, as Man, He commenced His almighty and omnipotent dominion over heaven and earth and all creatures.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 430. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

What greater price is there than that the Creator shed his blood for the creature?—St. Jerome, Homily 29 (FC 48:220).

Catechesis: Church Practices

Paul yields and gives way to the weak concerning food and the observance of times or days (Rom. 14:6). But to the false apostles, who wanted to impose these on the consciences as necessary things, he will not yield even in matters that are adiaphora. “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” Col. 2:16—FC SD X:13

12 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

[In the school nature] first of all, He leads us out from ourselves.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:48

Arise! If we want to serve God, let us not only hear His Word but also act by faith that is active in love. Let us not suppose that we have already served God merely by going to church, partaking of Holy Communion, confessing our sins, and returning to our home where we speak pious words on our knees. Let us practice love for our neighbor.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 428

Patristic Quote of the Day

It is wrong to suppose that the circumstances that prevailed when a person was converted stand in the way of his becoming holy.—Theodore of Mopsuestia on 1 Cor. 7:17

Catechesis: Church Practices

We also believe, teach, and confess that at a time of confession, when the enemies of God’s Word want to suppress the pure doctrine of the Holy Gospel, God’s entire church, indeed, every single Christian, but especially the ministers of the Word, as the directors of the community of God, is bound by God’s Word to confess the doctrine freely and openly… In this case, even in adiaphora, they must not yield to the adversaries or permit these adiaphora to be forced upon them by violence or cunning to the detriment of the true worship of God and sanction of idolatry.—FC SD X:10

11 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

For it was especially for this reason that God the Lord created us and gave us a rational soul, namely that we should know Him from His Word, exalt Him and praise Him.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:40.

It is not the hearing of the sermon that saves a person, but the doing of what is preached, the keeping of the Word. In short, the doing of the Word is faith.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 425. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

For, tell me, what profit is it when, though not in bondage to a man, you lie down in subjection to your passions? Since men indeed often know how to spare; but those masters are never satiated with your destruction.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on First Corinthians

Catechesis: Church Practices

We believe, teach, and confess that the community of God in every place and every time has, according to its circumstances, the good right, power, and authority to change and decrease or increase ceremonies that are truly adiaphora. They should do this thoughtfully and without giving offense, in an orderly and appropriate way, whenever it is considered most profitable, most beneficial, and best for good order, Christian discipline, and the Church’s edification.—FC SD X:9

10 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

It is not only idolatry if a person wants to regard and glorify as God that which of itself by nature is not God, even though it is merely a created creature or an image formed by the hand of man. Instead, it is also idolatry if a person wants to serve the true God in a different manner than what God has commanded and prescribed. For thereby a person serves not the true God but rather he serves the idol that a person has established in his own heart.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:32,33.

Of course God does not always answer prayers immediately. He sometimes lets the petitioner wait for a longer or a shorter time… God often allows delays for the wisest reasons. He alone knows the hour in which the requested help or the good will be salutary. He also uses the delay to awaken us, perhaps for the first time, to true earnestness in our asking.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 423.

Patristic Quote of the Day

You were bought with a price: become not bondservants of men. This saying is addressed not to slaves only but also to free men. For it is possible for one who is a slave not to be a slave; and for one who is a freeman to be a slave. And how can one be a slave and not a slave? When he does all for God: when he feigns nothing, and does nothing out of eye-service towards men: that is how one that is a slave to men can be free.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 19 on First Corinthians

Catechesis: Descent into Hell

We simply believe that the entire Person (God and man) descended into hell after the burial, conquered the devil, destroyed hell’s power, and took from the devil all his might.—FC SD IX:2

09 May 2021

A happy Mom

Getting to visit with all her children AND her grandchildren:

07 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

In the same way that the First Commandment has a far-reaching effect and permeates through all the other commandments, so also idolatry permeates everything around it. And many a person is an idolator who does not think he is or intended to be one.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:30.

God created the fire that consumes our homes, the flood that devastates our fields, the murderer who turns his dagger into our heart, and even Satan, who seeks to destroy both body and soul and our salvation. However, it is the result of our sin that all these bring death and destruction. The truth remains: Nothing evil comes from God.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 417.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul means that if we are free to choose, then we should remain free and not become a slave to any particular desire. Anyone who orders his desires properly remains the master of them, but once he goes beyond this limit he loses control and becomes their slave.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on 1 Corinthians (6:12)

Catechesis: Person of Christ

Because of the this personal union and the communion that results from it, which the divine and human natures in Christ have with each other in fact and in truth, things are attributed to Christ according to the flesh that the flesh, according to its nature and essence, cannot outside of this union intrinsically be or have—for example, that his flesh is a true, life-giving food and his blood a true, life-giving drink, as the two hundred patres at the Council of Ephesus testified, “carnem Christi esse vivicam seu vivicatricem” (that is, that the flesh of Christ is a life-bestowing flesh).—FC SD VIII:76

06 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

We receive every good thing for body and soul from the one, true God. He has created us, renewed us, and sustains us. He protects us and has promised us eternal life. That’s why we are obliged to acknowledge Him alone as the one, true God, honor Him, and serve Him only.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis III:22.

Every person by nature does not want to be subject to the divine law. He would like to be totally free to do or not do whatever he wants.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 414.

Catechesis: Person of Christ

We believe, teach, and confess that God the Father has given his Spirit to Christ, his beloved Son, according to his assumed humanity (therefore he is also called Messiah, that is, anointed one), in such a way that he has not, like other saints, receive the gifts of the Spirit with limits.—FC SD VIII:72

Patristic Quote of the Day

Paul says that they have been changed for the better, not so as to lose concupiscence altogether, a condition never realized in this life, but so as to not obey the desire to sin.—St. Augustine commenting on 1 Cor. 6 in Against Julian 16.49

05 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Here, however, a sensible lamb must learn to properly distinguish the voice of his own Shepherd, Christ, from the howl of the wolves and the voices of heretics, so that it is not misled and steered away from salvation.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:278.

It is not the conviction that natural reason provides that will allow a person to stand before God, but the conviction that God Himself gives by His Holy Spirit.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 413.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Even bare deliverance from our sins would have been a great gift, but God has gone on from that to fill us with countless blessings.—St. John Chrysostom, Homily 16 on 1 Corinthians

Catechesis: The Person of Christ

This fullness, with all its majesty, power, glory, and efficacy, spontaneously shines forth in the assumed human nature when and how Christ wishes it.—FC SD VIII:64

04 May 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Just as the old Adam has a distaste for the crucifixion of the flesh and self-denial, so also is it the case with following after Christ. All of us gladly allow ourselves to be called Christians, but we do not gladly want to follow after Christ.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:261.

Therefore, whoever is rid of sin through faith, thus sharing in Christ’s righteousness, does not have to fear any judgment, any accusation of the devil, any hell, and any damnation. For him, the Last Day will be a day of complete redemption and victory. It will be the day when his freedom and glory in Christ, the conqueror of Satan, will be revealed.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 410.

Patristic Quote of the Day

A bishop cannot do anything about unbelievers. But a brother who is caught doing such things he can bar not only from the sacraments but also from common intercourse with his fellows, so that when he is avoided he may feel ashamed and repent.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles (1 Cor. 5:12)

Catechesis: The Person of Christ

We are not inventing anything new out of our ideas, but we are simply accepting and repeating the explanations that the ancient, orthodox church has given us on the basis of the sound foundation of the Holy Scripture, name, that such divine power, life, might, majesty, and glory have not been given to the assumed human nature in Christ in the same way in which the Father has eternally imparted his essence and all divine characteristic to the Son according to the divine nature, so that he is of one essence with the Father and is equal to God.—FC SD VIII:61

03 May 2021

Let the Word of Christ…

…dwell in you richly. Colossians 3. What do you think St. Paul envisioned when he wrote that? No doubt, at that early stage there were collections of saying from Jesus; there was the “tradition,” the Creed, if you will, that St. Paul cites in 1 Cor. 15; and what we assume were ancient Christian hymns like in Philippians 2:5-11. But I think we do a disservice to link it ONLY with these seminal bits of what would become our New Testament. The Word of Christ, I suspect, for St. Paul wasn’t merely the “lens” (the Gospel kerygma) but what the lens was trained upon, the Scriptures of the Old Testament. 

I think Paul is telling the Colossians here: move into the Old Testament. Make it your home. I know for many of you (Gentiles) it’s an adopted home. But you have now the key (the Gospel kerygma) to open up every door of the place and make yourself at home there. Learn the stories inside and out. Ponder them, and if you don’t quite get why it’s significant to learn about Benaiah killing the lion in a pit on a snowy day or about the big deal over Zelaphehad’s daughters; that’s cool. Just become familiar with the whole story (well, collections of stories) and wander around them so often that you actually begin to feel at home even with the caul (long lobe) of the liver and the blood on the high priest’s big toe and the completely shaven Levites. 

But YOU have at your disposal ways that St. Paul could not even begin to dream of living in these stories and letting them live in you. I want to share the ways I try to live in the Bible and let it live in me. They may not be your cup of tea, you may not ultimately find them helpful, but it’s sort of how I’ve settled into making myself “at home” in the Biblical narrative.

First, as a basic framework, there is Treasury of Daily Prayer, using the daily lectionary of Lutheran Service Book. Use just this year by year and you’ll develop a decent “map” to hold in your head of the Bible, particularly when combined with the observance of the Church Year and the Divine Service on Sundays. Treasury, of course, uses the English Standard Version.

Second, for about the last ten months after finishing with Treasury, I pray a form of Matins using my handy dandy King James Version from England. (This version is invaluable not only for containing the Apocrypha, but for providing all the textual notes that originally were published with the KJV; the longer I use it, the more grateful I become for those helpful little notes). After the opening versicles, I read from the monthly Psalter. The Treasury provides a table that duplicates the way the Book of Common Prayer first suggested praying this, and I think it’s the best “system” out there. Through the entire David once a month, and I have the Psalms marked with a dot to show when a section has come to an end. Then a chapter usually from the Old Testament (on saints festivals and such, from the Apocrypha), the Te Deum, a chapter from the New Testament (running three times in a year from Matthew through Acts), the Benedictus, and closing prayers from The Lutheran Prayer Companion. In the afternoon, sometime around 3 or later, I pray Vespers along the same lines. The only real difference is that the canticles are Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis and that the second reading is a chapter that runs sequentially from Romans through Jude (occasionally from Revelation). That daily office constitutes the core of my daily Bible reading and the pattern is from the original King James Bible (I put it all in a spreadsheet and am happy to share it with anyone who wants to give it a whirl).

But I find that such an approach, which gives me what I think of decent scope, doesn’t get me through the whole Bible as often as I’d like. For that I use an audible version of the KJV read by Christopher Glyn. I actually listen to this as I do my workout. So yes between walking, pushups, pullups, and kettlebell swings, the words of Scripture wash over me. I don’t mind if I get distracted. The goal here is not in-depth study, but getting a handle on the big picture and the recurring patterns. And it amazes me the odd stuff I notice in hearing the Scriptures that I NEVER see when I’m just reading, or studying the words in detail. 

Finally, there is also the deeper study necessary for my daily podcast or for preaching for chapel or for church. That’s a different kind of pondering and approach yet again. 

Add it all together and I find that each different way of living with the Bible yields such a different experience and benefit. The questions that arise from one way of experiencing the Word differ hugely from those when it is experienced the other way. And so I’ve found that sticking with all of them has been a massive blessing. And I wonder if there are ways of experiencing it that I’ve not discovered…yet. Any ideas or thoughts from you all? 

Gerhard and Walther

Since these divine promises [1 Tim 2:4-6; 2 Pet 3:9] are universal, a repentant sinner should never exclude himself from them.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis, II:214.

Do not attempt to plead your own righteousness before the holy God. You will only be shamed by it. Before God, even the heavens are not pure and all human righteousness is like a filthy garment.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 408.

Patristic Quote of the Day

Sin does not look like sin if it is not corrected or avoided by anybody.—Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles (1 Cor. 5:6)

Catechesis: The Person of Christ

In his Word he has revealed as much as is necessary for us to know in this life. In this case we have the clear, certain testimonies in the Scriptures, which we should simply believe and to which we should not raise any objections—as if the human nature in Christ was not capable of certain things.—FC SD VIII:53

First, it is a clear rule shared by the entire ancient, orthodox church that whatever Christ received in time according to the testimony of Holy Scripture he received not according to the divine nature (according to which he had all things from eternity), but that the person received it in time ratione et respectu humane naturae (that is, according to the assumed human nature).—FC SD VIII:57