The latest from Apple

As can be the case, the Onion says it best:

The parody might be far-fetched on the whole, but the reaction of the Apple user is scarily life-like.

A great insight . . .

… from John H at Confessing Evangelical. Read it.

The danger …

… of the blogging pastor. From ReverendFun.Com.

United they stand

From whence comes this unifying effect of the great confessions? It is explained by the fact that in the churches which still take their confession seriously something of that great earnestness is still alive with which the Word of God requires us to give consideration to questions of doctrine. This is the case also tehre, indeed, directly there, where the great confessional churches stand over against each other as such. … The serious Roman Catholic, the serious Lutheran, the serious Calvinist, the serious Anglican, the serious Baptist—all stand nearer to the eternal truth than the one who hazards making no confession because he maintains that the truth is finally undiscernable. And because of this, they also stand closer to each other.

H. Sasse, ‘The Question of the Church’s Unity on the Mission Field’, in The Lonely Way II, 194.

Et unam sanctam …

Hermann Sasse

If the church were constituted by our faith, then a series of churches would be conceivable, because there are varying views regarding Christ. Luther’s faith in Christ is something different than [sic] that of the modern American Protestant. But if Christ, the present Lord, constitutes the church, then there can be only one church, because there is only one Christ. Then this question is immediately raised: Where does this one church become visible? Where is it knowable for us as a historical reality? And this does not mean for us, Where do we find the people who belong to this church? but rather, Where do we find Christ?

But to this question we can give only one answer: Christ is present for us humans only in the Word and the Sacrament.

Hermann Sasse, ‘Church and Churches: Concerning the Doctrine of the Unity of the Church’, The Lonely Way: Selected Essays and Letters, Vol. I, 82–83. Emph. added

The Erotica of Salvation History

Marc Chagall: 'Song of Songs III'

Now, here’s a new way to read the Old Testament in the light of the Song of Songs. Talk about thinking outside the box!

Preaching the Gospel without words

HT: Cyberbrethren

Saying “Preach the gospel; if necessary use words” is like saying “Tell me your phone number; if necessary use digits.”

The Lie

The lie is the death of man, his temporal and his eternal death. The lie kills nations. Through their lies, the most powerful empires of the world were laid waste. History knows of no more unsettling spectacle than the judgment which comes to pass when the men of an advanced culture have rejected the truth, and are now swallowed up in a sea of lies. As was the case with fading pagan antiquity, where this happened, religion and law, poetry and philosophy, life in marriage and family, in the state and society, in short, one sphere of life after another, fell sacrifice to the power and curse of the lie. Where man can no longer bear the truth, he cannot live without the lie. Where man, even when dying, lies to himself and others, the terrible dissolution of his culture is held up as a glorious ascent, and decline is viewed as an advance, the like of which has never been experienced.
H. Sasse, Union and Confession, 1.

The thing about Hermann Sasse…

… is that when he deals with the issues of his day, he could as well be writing for our day!

I have just finished reading Union and Confession (tr. Matt Harrison; LC-MS Office of the President, 1997). It’s written in response to the Barmen Declaration. Yet it could be written about the Lutheran churches of the Nordic countries, or the ELCA, or the LC-MS, today.

I suppose that’s what “timeless” means.

Let the little children…

HT: www.cyberbrethren.com

There are certain topics of discussion / debate that tend never to go away among confessional Lutherans. One of them is the age of first communion. In almost all Lutheran churches, first communion is linked closely or inextricably to confirmation—for what can only be described as pragmatic rather than dogmatic reasons. After all, confirmation is a churchly rite, not a biblical one. Tradition dictates that confirmation is preceded by detailed instruction, often lasting up to two years, in the early years of secondary education. I was confirmed at 15. In my church body, 13-14 is more common. Now, there are all sorts of historical, theological and especially pastoral issues linked to delaying (yes, I mean that) first communion to the teenage years.

Now, as I said, this debate is probably here to stay. Both sides of the argument make a fine showing in this Cyberbrethen blog post. To cut a long story short, I align myself with Pastors McCain and Cwirla in this particular debate.

I was confronted by this question in a very practical way yesterday. About half-an-hour after the last of my young children had gone to bed and grown-up time was about to start, my wife and I heard a familiar pitter-patter of little feet coming down the stairs. Yet again, my eldest daughter couldn’t get to sleep. A common occurrence, usually for no particular reason.

Well, this time it was different. H (age 7) was visibly upset, with tears flooding down her cheeks. What on earth was the matter?

“I have been asking Jesus into my heart, but nothing seems to happen, and it makes me really sad.”

Turns out, she has been reading the books of Patricia St.John, one of her favourite authors. And in almost every book, some child or another gets to the point of asking Jesus into its heart, with wonderful transforming consequences. And now little H was desperate for the same experience, and was desperately disappointed, and a little worried, that nothing was happening, despite her prayers.

As is often the way with God’s children, this misunderstanding led to a wonderful conversation about what makes us Christian. As the opening of Olaus Svebilius’ Explanation of the Small Catechism puts it so simply:

Q1: Are you a Christian?
A: Yes, I am.

Q2: Why are you called a Christian?
A: Because I have been baptised in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and in baptism I have put on Christ. I believe and confess Him to be my Saviour and my Redeemer.

There. It’s that simple. Turns out, H has had Jesus “in her heart” for over 7 years already. No need to ask for anything more, except faith to see what she already has.

Except one thing. There will come a day when she will not only have Jesus in her heart but also on her tongue and in her stomach. And she can’t wait! She knows what she needs, she knows that she wants it, and she knows where to get it from—but for the time being, she can’t have it, because she is not yet in secondary school and so can’t go through secondary-school-style instruction. She’s missing out, and she knows it, and you can tell.

Let the little children come—let’s not hinder them.

God has many ways to create, support, and increase faith in us: when we hear the Word, either publicly or privately; when we are baptized; when we are fed with the body of our Lord  . . .  He himself know what is good and profitable for us. (Martin Luther at the Margburg Colloquy, 1529. H. Sasse, This Is My Body, 201.)