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

29 April 2021

Well, glad THAT’S over…

that being a bilateral hernia repair. Two weeks of no exercise. I thought that would be really hard to cope with, but at least given how gingerly I am moving at the moment, I have no desire at all to exercise! But if you’re wondering why the blog went all quiet for a couple days, now you know. I’ll get back to regular posting here in the next day or so. 

27 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

Now, Christ has likewise prescribed for us in the Our Father that we should ask for the forgiveness of sins. That’s why we can be sure that God the Lord, by grace, wills and desires to forgive us our sins.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:217.

Holy joy is the picture of God, while worldly sorrow is the picture of Satan and the opposite of faith.—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 394.  

Patristic Quote of the Day

We then say, that in many things we all of us offend, and that no man is pure from uncleanness, even though his life upon earth be but one day. Let us ask then of God mercy; which if we do, Christ will justify us; by Whom and with Whom, to God the Father, be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages. Amen.—Homily 120 on Luke 18 - St. Cyril of Alexandria

Catechesis: Person of Christ

We believe, teach, and confess that there are now in this one, inseparable person of Christ two distinct natures, the divine, from eternity, and the human, which was assumed into the unity of the person of God’s Son in time. These two nature can nevermore be separated nor mixed together with each other, nor can one be transformed into the other. Rather, each remains in its own nature and essence within the Person of Christ for all eternity.—FC SD VIII:7

26 April 2021

Gerhard and Walther

The blood that Christ shed from His body is God’s own blood, the blood of God’s Son. Therefore, it is a complete, perfect payment for the sin of the entire world.—Johann Gerhard, Schola Pietatis II:210.

Oh, blessed is he who is kept with Christ. By this he remains on the certain path to eternal joy. As Christ says: “so also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”—C. F. W. Walther, God Grant It!, p. 392. 

Patristic Quote of the Day

Carnal concupiscence is remitted, indeed, in baptism; not so that it is put out of existence, but so that it is not to be imputed for sin.—St. Augustine, On Marriage and Concupiscence, Book I, Chapter 28

Catechesis: Person of Christ

Christ Jesus was in one person at the same time true and eternal God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and a true human being, born of the most blessed Virgin Mary.—FC SD VIII:6

25 April 2021

When Jesus doesn’t say what you expect Him to...

...I was contemplating this from the Jubilate Gospel, and particularly John 16:22: “And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”

The italicized words seem to be reversed from what I would expect: “but you will see Me again.” And that led me to some pondering. The source of a joy that fills the heart and that cannot be taken from us is not that we with our eyes get to see Jesus risen; that was something for the Apostles, but we are “those who have not seen” and those St. Peter spoke of: “whom having not seen, ye love.” We have not seen Jesus but we are not excluded thereby from the promise of a heart rejoicing and joy that no man can take from us. For THIS is the source of our joy: I will see you again. The eyes that had once closed in death see again; and those eyes belong to Him who is Forgiveness for all sin; Destruction of all death; Eternal life in human flesh. Those are the eyes that see again and this, beloved, is joy beyond all joy. He’s watching you with those forgiving and death destroying eyes; He’s got you in His sights and He will keep you there, from the first moments of your existence in your mother’s womb until the present, from the present until you (should He not return first) expire and begin your turn back to the dust, to that day He calls you from the dust to shine with Him in His glory.

HIS eyes see you. This is joy. And this is peace. I think the more we remember the eyes of Crucified and Risen Lord fixed upon us, the greater that peace and that joy will be in our lives. That is all.

24 April 2021

An Expression of Joy and Humility

(From The Daily Office, CPH, 1965, for the Week of Jubilate at Matins)

Let us praise God in gladness and humility for all great and simple joys and for the weak things of the earth which have confounded the strong.

For the gift of wonder and joy in discovery; for the everlasting freshness of experience; for the newness of life each day as we grow older: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For the fireside; for the intimacies of friendship; for the traditions and customs of the home; for meals eaten together in fellowship; and for all the sanctities of family life: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For games and holidays in the open air; for books and pictures and all our small possessions: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For forest trees in spring and for fruit blossoms; for the smell of the earth after the rain; for the green grass and the flowers; for cloud and sun, hills and mountain streams: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For birds; for children and the joys of innocency; for the satisfaction of work attempted and achieved; for the joy of harvest and the wedding feast: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For the happiness which is born of sympathy and sorrow; for the rapture of the lost soul finding love again; and for the joy of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all purging comedy and laughter; and for the gift of humor and gaiety of heart: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all the Lord’s merry men, who have consecrated mirth with the love of Christ: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all singers and musicians and all who work in form or color to increase the joy of life: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For poets and craftsmen; for all who rejoice in their work and make things well: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all who have loved the unfortunate and borne their sorrows in their hearts: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all obscure and humble saints; for village pastors and ministering women, who have made life sweet and gentler: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For those disciples who have not fully understood all Christian doctrines and yet have lived in the companionship of Christ: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For the image of Christ in average people, their forbearance and generosity, their good temper in crowds, their courage and their kindness: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For the glory of God shining in unsung lives; for husband and wife devising ways to please each other, and for the sacrifices of both for their children: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

For all holy and humble men of heart, in whom the loveliness of our Savior Christ has been made manifest in the world: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

Our Father....