April 2008

Just a quick note (in a slow posting week for us) about our shin-dig tomorrow evening (Thursday) at the Red Lion – 8:30 P.M. in Houston, Texas.

Sorry for the slow blog this week, I am sure we are reserving our mental energies for table talk (ha!) tomorrow evening.


Luther on Justification . . .

It is impossible for a papist to understand this article: “I believe the forgiveness of sins.” For the papists are drowned in their opinions, as I also was when among them, of the cleaving to or inherent righteousness. The Scripture names the faithful, saints and people of God. It is a sin and shame that we should forget this glorious and comfortable name and title. But the papists are such direct sinners, that they will not be reckoned sinners; and again, they will neither be holy nor held so to be. And in this sort it goes on with them untoward and crosswise, so that they neither believe the Gospel which comforts, nor the law which punishes.

But here one may say: the sins which we daily commit, offend and anger God; how then can we be holy? Answer: A mother’s love to her child is much stronger than the distaste of the scurf upon the child’s head. Even so, God’s love towards us is far stronger than our uncleanness. Therefore, though we be sinners, yet we lose not thereby our childhood, neither do we fall from grace by reason of our sins.

Another may say; we sin without ceasing, and where sin is, there the Holy Spirit is not; therefore we are not holy, because the Holy Spirit is not in us, which makes holy. Answer: The text says plainly; “The Holy Ghost shall glorify me.” Now where Christ is, there is the Holy Spirit. Now Christ is in the faithful, although they have and feel, and confess sins, and with sorrow of heart complain thereof, therefore sins do not separate Christ from those that believe.

The God of the Turks helps no longer or further, as they think, than as they are godly people; in like manner also the God of the papists. So when Turk and papist begin to feel their sins and unworthiness, as in time of trial and temptation, or in death, then they tremble and despair.

But a true Christian says: “I believe in Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour,” who gave himself for my sins, and is at God’s right hand, and intercedes for me; fall I into sin, as, alas! oftentimes I do, I am sorry for it; I rise again, and am an enemy unto sin. So that we plainly see, the true Christian faith is far different from the faith and religion of the pope and Turk. But human strength and nature are not able to accomplish this true Christian faith without the Holy Spirit. It can do no more than take refuge in its own deserts.

But he that can say: “I am a child of God through Christ, who is my righteousness,” and despairs not, though he be deficient in good works, which always fail us, he believes rightly. But grace is so great that it amazes a human creature, and is very difficult to be believed. Insomuch that faith gives the honor to God, that he can and will perform what he promised, namely, to make sinners righteous, Rom. iv., though `tis an exceeding hard matter to believe that God is merciful unto us for the sake of Christ. O! man’s heart is too strait and narrow to entertain or take hold of this.

Luther saw no difference between the Pope’s view and the Turk (read Muslim). Is that still true today? We know Islam’s view has not changed. Has the Pope’s? Has the Catholic Church? This comes up in light of B16’s forthcoming revised take on Martin Luther. Thoughts?

My friend passed this video, and now I’m passing to you. It’s pretty clever and catchy at the same time….enjoy!

This is a great story about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s pet bible verse that she has employed on a host of occasions to justify this and that. Here she is using it to celebrate Earth Day:

The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.” On this Earth Day, and every day, let us honor the earth and our future generations with a commitment to fight climate change.

Great verse isn’t it! Especially appropriate for people with environmental sensibilities. The trouble is that it does not exist. Go to the Old Testament, it ain’t there. It’s not in the NT either.

Many thoughts come to mind, here are two:

1. This woman is Speaker of the House (third in line from the Presidency). She has a huge staff, but it’s just dumb and dumber going on about what the Bible says. Sounds good? Great, let’s use it. Who cares if it’s made up.

2. I googled “pelosi and bible” and turned up a bunch of right wing bloggers. Nothing from the MSM on this. What do you think would happen if President Bush made up a bible verse to support whatever pet program or agenda he was promoting?

I just wanted to share some good news with the blogosphere. I have been officially accepted into Concordia Theological Seminary! Praise God for the news today, but the adventure has just begun…..yesterday I was a “prospective student”, now I am a “seminary student”, and by God’s wonderful grace about 4 years from now I will be a “called and ordained servant of the Word”. A big thanks to everyone whom God has placed in my life; you have encouraged me, instructed me, and fed and watered me through Word & Sacrament, you are the Church.

Now for some entertainment, let’s play a game of “Where’s Luther?”

Anyone seen it yet? I have not had a chance to go.

Last night wrapped up HBO’s miniseries event “John Adams,” about one of our nations most important, yet unknown, founding fathers.

Credit where credit is due. This is the most outstanding screen depiction of a founding father, I have ever seen. Kudos all the way around. Paul Giamatti owns John Adams. Playing him from his rise to prominence in 1770 Boston to his death in 1826, Giamatti presents Adams warts and all. Kudos to Tom Hanks and Play Tone for producing this adaptation of David McCullough’s groundbreaking book on Adams. I hope this bodes well for Hanks upcoming turn as Abe Lincoln, but we will see. At least, he knocked this one out of the park. Finally, I must pay tribute to the cast. David Morse’s plays the enigmatic Washington perfectly. Tom Wilkinson brings the perfect charm and presence to Benjamin Franklin. But, Stephen Dillane steals the show as Thomas Jefferson. This was critical as Adams’s relationship with Jefferson was such an important part of his story.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the series received poor marks by critics. They must have been jacobins. I found it riveting, humorous, and glorious to watch. This is how history should be played. There was no effort to “sex it up” for the benefit of a 21st century audience out fear that we might be bored (think “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth the Golden Age”). Rarely have you seen a proper depiction of 18th century oral hygiene. Be afraid.

Aside from bad teeth, we see in detail the maneuvering and intrigue of the Continental Congresses that led to the Declaration of Independence. We see Adams’s true role (mostly lost to the history textbooks) as the foremost champion of independence. We also see the tension and frustration of Adams’s time abroad in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. Enthralling is Adams’s tenure as President and his time as the first occupant of the White House. It has changed quite a bit. Most of all we see his relationship with Abigail, his wife of 54 years. Rarely have you seen such a depiction of marriage on HBO. Usually they reserve positive depictions of marriage to shows about polygamists.

There is one surprising omission, that of Adams’s adamant opposition to slavery. Adams considered it an abomination. To be sure, slavery is present and not hidden, especially during Adams’s tenure in Washington (creating all sorts of ironies). But, I was surprised they did not make it more of an issue.

John Adams ended last night with the classic story of the American founders, Adams and Jefferson’s near simultaneous deaths on the Fourth of July, fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. You could not write a better ending.

I suspect that John Adams will be playing in many high school classrooms for decades to come (do you really think they will make them read the book?). If that is the case, bravo! Bravo, HBO. I will trade an occasional John Adams for an idiotic Bill Maher any day.

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