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Burying the Alleluias. . .

  Posted:Feb 26, 2017 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)

It may seem odd to take down a perfecting good Alleluia [banner or the like] and lay it into a box and bury it in to the ground.  But some do.  Literally.  And if we do not do it literally, we do it figuratively.  The Alleluias of the Divine Service will be gone, out of sight, though not out of mind, for the next 6 weeks of Lent.


We bury the Alleluias during Lent to remind us that this is a time not of parties and celebration but of repentance and meditation upon the cross.  This is shocking to us because we have come to believe that life is supposed to be happy -- one lifelong celebration of good times. Today we bury that thought and on Ash Wednesday, one of the most solemn days in the Church Year, we come wearing the external ashes of our inward repentance.  Here we acknowledge that we are sinners, sinful both by nature because of the Fall and by thought, word, and deed -- both in the evil done and the good left undone.

Historically Christians have buried their alleluias today and been marked with ashes on Ash Wednesday as external signs of the call to inner restraint, self-control, and struggle against sin -- the fruit of the Spirit and of repentance.

Scripture is replete for seasons or times of repentance.  The Old Testament calendar included them and so does our Church Year today.  There is a time to put distance between us and this world, to mourn the sin the world denies, to put on ashes even though the world tries to wish away its disappointment or trouble.  What does St. John tells us, 'Do not love the world, nor the things of the world. Whoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God. Friendship with the world is death.' This fallen world is a world filled with temptations for a fallen people. What does St. Paul do? St. Paul tells us he restrained his body as if it were a boxing opponent that could only be subdued by blows. St. Paul knew that although all things may be lawful, not all things are beneficial.  He refused to allow himself to be governed by raw desire. He beat down desire to be governed by the Spirit and the Word. We put aside or bury our Alleluias for the same reason.  As the collect we have prayed so often puts it, it is our daily prayer  'to so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal.'


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“Best Picture: The Transfiguration of Our Lord” (Matthew 17:1-9)

Tonight will be the Academy Awards ceremony coming from Los Angeles. Tonight they’ll give out the award for, among other things, Best Picture of the year. I don’t know which one will win, but I want to tell you, this morning here in the church, we get to see a far better “Best Picture,” and it is none other than “The Transfiguration of Our Lord.”

The picture we see at the Transfiguration had its share of special effects–lighting, sound, and so on. And there were a couple of guest stars making a cameo appearance–Moses and Elijah. But clearly the leading man in this story is our Lord Jesus Christ himself. He is the star shining most brightly. Who Jesus is revealed to be and what he’s about to do for us from this point on–that is why Jesus is the one who makes the Transfiguration the Best Picture you’ll see today.

We heard about it in the Holy Gospel for today. Jesus took three of his disciples–Peter, James, and John–up a high mountain. There he was transfigured before them. His appearance was changed–that’s what “transfiguration” means. How so? It says, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”

So what is this picture telling us? “His face shone like the sun.” He who created the sun–and the moon and the stars–now shines with the brilliance thereof. Christ is revealed in his divine glory as the very Son of God. “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God.” This is a glory which Christ always had from eternity, from before the foundation of the world. But it is a glory which had been hidden once the Son of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Jesus did not always or fully manifest his glory during the days of his earthly ministry. But on this day, on this mountain, he did. He pulled back the curtain, so to speak, and his disciples were shown that this is indeed the eternal Son of God. They beheld the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, in his divine majesty. The one “by whom all things were made, who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven”–this man Jesus is here revealed as true God in the presence of his disciples.

“And his clothes became white as light.” This shows the holiness, the purity, of the Son of God come in the flesh. Jesus is without sin, unstained by transgression or misdeed. He is perfect in righteousness. Jesus perfectly kept all the commandments. As a man, he fulfilled God’s law. Jesus loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He fulfilled the law. He loved his neighbor as himself. Righteous, holy, spotless, unblemished–that’s who Jesus is, and his white-as-light clothes here reflect that fact.

But what if we look at our own garments in that light? What do we see? We see that our clothing is soiled, stained with sin. And we cannot get that stain out, no matter how hard we try. The Bible says that all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. “All our righteousnesses!” If even our best deeds, done in the flesh, are considered filthy rags in God’s sight, where does that leave us? Sin is a permanent stain that even our most noble efforts cannot remove.

But the good news is that Jesus kept the law in our place. He did what you and I cannot do. He kept God’s law of love perfectly. Love for God, love for neighbor. We don’t do it as we should. But Jesus did. And he did it for us. His righteousness gets transferred to our account.

So the first picture we see in the Transfiguration is that of Jesus, his face shining like the sun and his clothes as white as light. Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God in the flesh, revealed in his divine glory.

Now what else do we see? “And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Moses and Elijah appear. What are they doing here? They haven’t been around for centuries! But now, for this unique occasion, God brings them into the picture. Moses, the great deliverer, who led Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and up to the Promised Land. Moses, the great law-giver, who at Mount Sinai gave Israel the Ten Commandments straight from God. Moses, the greatest of the prophets, but who also told Israel, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers–it is to him you shall listen.” And now, here that prophet is, the one who would be even greater than Moses. That’s why God has Moses standing there next to Jesus. It’s as though God is saying: Here he is, the one Moses was talking about. The one you now must listen to. He will fulfill the law for you. He will bring you out of bondage, the bondage of sin and death. This Jesus will lead you to–and into–the Promised Land of heaven. Yes, here is one greater than Moses.

One greater than Elijah also. Elijah, another great prophet from Israel’s past. In fact, all of God’s dealings with Israel, all of salvation history, finds its goal and fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. He is what it all was pointing ahead to, driving at, moving toward. That’s what the presence of Moses and Elijah here is signaling. All of Israel’s history leads to this man, Jesus. For later, when the disciples look up, they see “no one but Jesus only.”

“No one but Jesus only.” If you want to know where to look for your salvation, look to no one but Jesus only. If you want to know what the focus and the purpose and the point of the whole Bible is, look to Jesus. Look to Jesus, not as a law-giver. We already have Moses for that. Look to Jesus, not as an example, at least not primarily. Look to Jesus for who he is and what he came to do. Who is he? He is your Savior, the Savior of the world. What did he come to do? To do what you and I will never be able to do, and that is, to save us from our sins and to give us his life, his righteousness, forgiveness for our sins, and life with him forever. Who is able to do this? “No one but Jesus only.”

Then there is one more thing we see in the picture at the Transfiguration. A cloud. “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them.” Notice that, a “bright” cloud. Not a dark and threatening cloud, like the storm clouds on Mount Sinai when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. No, this is life-giving Gospel, not condemning Law. A bright cloud. The presence of God, but not in a threatening way. In a saving way. The presence of God surrounding us with his love, his protection, his presence to guard and guide us–like the pillar of cloud that led Israel through the wilderness. In Christ we have the presence of God with us, to lead us all the way through the wilderness of this world, all the way home to heaven.

So there is the picture. Jesus shining like the sun, his clothes white as light. Moses and Elijah there, telling us that Christ is the goal and focus of God’s plan of salvation. The bright cloud of God’s presence, his saving presence surrounding us. That’s the picture, that’s what we see.

Now what do we hear? Are there any words? A voice comes from the bright cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This of course is the voice of the heavenly Father. The Father’s voice, testifying to his Son, approving of this Jesus. “This is my beloved Son.” The Father loves the Son with a perfect love. Always has, always will. But especially does he testify to his love for the Son precisely as Jesus goes forward now with his saving mission, which is to go to the cross, to save sinful mankind. As Christ now sets his face to go to Jerusalem, to suffer and die on our behalf, the Father is saying that he is well pleased with his Son. God’s good pleasure is shown in sending him to do this great work.

God is telling us here to what measure he would go to rescue us. He’s saying he would give his only-begotten Son, his beloved Son, to die for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

And so the Father says of Christ, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Yes, listen to him! Listen, disciples, as Jesus now tells you he must go to Jerusalem, where he will suffer and die. For this journey to Jerusalem, this way to the cross, is how God’s plan of love will be carried out. Yes, sinners, one and all, listen to God’s beloved Son Jesus Christ, when he says to you today, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Yes, church, listen to Jesus. And keep on listening. For he alone has the words of eternal life.

Today we have been with the disciples on the holy mountain for the Transfiguration of Our Lord. What have we seen? Here we have beheld our bright and shining Lord, our beautiful Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God come in the flesh. He is the goal and focus of all salvation history. In him we are surrounded by the bright cloud of God’s gracious presence. We lift up our eyes and see no one but Jesus only. And what do we hear? We hear the Father’s voice, testifying to his beloved Son. And so we hear how much God loves us, that he would send his Son to suffer and die for us. And God tells us to listen to Jesus, and to keep on listening, for our Lord has more words for us to hear, our whole life long.

Today it is on the Mount of Transfiguration, not in the glitz of Hollywood, that we see what truly is the Best Picture. Pictured for us in the Transfiguration of Our Lord is our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ, showing us exactly who it is who will go to the cross for us. And if it is God’s own Son who suffers and dies and rises again for us, if it’s Jesus who speaks words of life for us to listen to–well, that’s the Best Picture we can see.

stmatthewbt.org

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In My Name. . .

  Posted:Feb 25, 2017 By Pastor Peters (Pastoral Meanderings)
“W here two or three are gathered together in my name,” said our Lord Jesus, “there am I among them.”

The words of Matthew 18 are simple and plain but their meaning is not.  Over the course of time these words have come to mean that we who invoke the name of Jesus invite and even compel His presence.  In this respect, the name of Jesus has become almost magical, as if it were a spell or incantation recited to draw a reluctant spirit into the material world.  The truth is so far from this impression as to make our mistake laughable.

Where two or three are gathered in My Name has little to do with the intention or will of the people and everything to do with where Christ has placed His name -- the Word and the Sacraments.  The promise of our Lord is not that if bidden He will come but that He will always be present in the means of grace.  He cannot but keep His pledge and promise of His Word and He wills to do nothing but fulfill that pledge and promise for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.  It is not the Lord who comes to us when we ask Him but we who gather where the Lord always is. 

The invocation is not even a sentence.  In the Name of. . .   It is an implicit acknowledgement that we are gathered because He has promised and where He has promised and not to make Him present.  This is one of the underlying keys to the liturgy and to the sacramental life of worship that our Lord has given as gift to His Church.  How sad it is, then, that we who use the liturgy every Sunday and whose confessional identity is thoroughly sacramental fall into the trap of turning our Lord's words into a formula or recipe instead the promise of the Word, of water and the Word, and of bread and wine and the Word.

We do not ascend into the heavenly heights but God has brought low the heavenly glory and hidden it in the ordinary of material things where He makes known to us and bestows upon us the riches of His gifts and grace.  Sacramental theology is incarnational.  God comes to us.  God does not compel us to come to Him but comes to us in the flesh of the Word Incarnate, in the voice of the Word proclaimed, in the words of the Word written, in the address of the Word absolving, in the Word in and with the water, and in the Word in and with the bread and wine. 

The name of Christ is not some ritual formula to be said to make the Lord do what we want but the name that delivers to us His mercy and accomplishes His purpose in the places where He has promised.  The name of Christ is shorthand for the Word and Sacraments.  It is this aspect of Lutheran piety which the liturgical movement has sought to recover, to distinguish us from those for whom the Lord is an idea to be thought, a rule to be obeyed, or a truth to be believed.  Christ is present among us not because we want Him to be or because we have acted piously or because we the truth is accepted as fact.  Christ is present because He has willed to be present, attached Himself to His Word and Sacraments, and works through these means to accomplish His saving purpose.

As Luther said in the Smalcald Articles, everything else is just enthusiasm and everyone merely Schwamerei.  When we detach Christ from the means of grace and we make Him and His presence subject to our ministrations or dependent upon our feelings, we are left with nothing certain at all.  Our worship life is then the shifting sand of hopes, dreams, wishes, and feelings absent any real promise at all.  Feelings do not legitimize Christ's presence nor do they give authority and weight to our faith.  That is not to say they are bad but simply that feelings do not establish Christ or His presence among us.  They flow from the means of grace and are transformed (as our the minds of God's people) as the fruit of Christ's presence and the consequence of His grace among us and for us. 

The name of Christ is not like a wizard's words that suddenly shake the wand and zap us with magic.  The name of Christ is the Word of Christ, His water, His bread and wine and His voice to absolve.  When we begin to get this, we also find the joy and freedom that is the true and living fruit of the Gospel.  We do not begin with the invocation because God is hidden and must be summoned but because, bidden or not, God is present.  We have come to the very means of grace wherein He has attached Himself so that by the power of the Spirit we may receive what He has promised to give for the joy and edification of His people and for the equipment of His people for their vocation both toward God and neighbor.
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schmidt Dr. Alvin Schmidt of
Illinois College

Hallmarks of Lutheran Identity

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morse Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute

a href=”http://www.ruthinstitute.org/ruth-speaks-out/poor-kids-need-their-parents-too” target=”_blank”>Poor Kids Need Their Parents Too
The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims
The Ruth Institute
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s Blog

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A New Heart

  Posted:Feb 24, 2017
a guest editorial by Pfarrer Dr Gottfried Martens
translated by Dr. John Stephenson

God says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26 RSV): comments on the ecumenical text (Losung) chosen for the year 2017, which happens to be the Five Hundredth Jubilee of the Reformation.

When we engage in electronic communication with other people these days, we often employ so-called emojis, symbols that aim to give non-verbal form to feelings. By this point there are so many emojis that we can even find an Emojiwiki on the Internet where we can look up the meaning of all the many emojis. We there find explanations of what a yellow heart stands for in an electronic message; it stands for optimism, encouragement, and joy in life.

We see nearby a yellow heart on the image with which the artist Ulrike Wilke-M ü ller interprets the Text for the Year ( Jahreslosung ). And yet we would completely misunderstand this picture if we saw in it only an emoji offering a brief and instantly comprehensible message that could be put in words as “Hold your heads up high and think positively!” No, it would be worthwhile to subject this image to a much more precise inspection.

Whatever may be the case with emojis, a yellow heart is and remains unusual; we are much more familiar with a red heart as a sign of love. And yet Holy Scripture makes it abundantly plain that our human heart, that which stands for our inmost essence, that which pushes us on and defines us, has a radically different colour. From our first heartbeat on it is black, closed to God’s love, hard, and turned in on itself. And this black heart has no future, it cannot endure before the eyes of God when He examines and judges our hearts, our inmost essence, that which defines and stamps our lives.

And yet in the Losung for this New Year 2017 we hear a grandiose promise of God: He Himself removes this black heart and replaces it with a new heart; with us as the patients, He undertakes a lifesaving heart transplant. Let us pay close attention to what God promises here. He doesn’t say, “You must make an effort to purify your hearts”! He doesn’t say, “I’ll give you tips how to change your hearts”! He doesn’t say, “You have to take a decision for Me, and then I’ll give you a new heart”! On the contrary, God Himself sees quite clearly that we ourselves can do nothing to get a new heart and a new spirit; we can do zilch to cooperate in our own salvation.  He Himself really must do the whole thing for us, He must turn us into people who are open to Him and His Word, to Him and His love.

Yellow indeed, as a sign of God’s presence, as a sign of something completely new that God creates. A yellow new heart bestowed by God and suffused with His presence—what  a marvellous promise! And now it behoves us to look more closely at Frau Wilke-M ü ller’s artwork.

We see as it were rays that shine fom above into this heart and suffuse it: God places His new spirit in us and suffuses it with His own Spirit. Shades of blue surround the heart on the left side, a reminder of Holy Baptism in which God carried out this heart transplant upon us, in which God gave us a new heart and bestowed His Spirit upon us.

We see here how a Cross shines above the heart and reaches into it. The new heart is determined by the love that God Himself has proved to us by surrendering His own Son to the Cross.  Our heart only becomes luminously bright through the Cross, only through the forgiveness we receive by the Cross do our black guilt and failure retreat from the centre of our lives.

In the centre of the heart we see an opened door. The One who has bestowed the new heart does not remain outside, but lives within us and makes our hearts His dwelling. No, we must not “let God into our hearts”. God already invites Himself inside and comes in. Shades of red dominate the right side of the picture, a reminder of the blood of Christ that washes us clean from our sin, the blood that we receive in the holy sacrament of the altar, the blood in which Christ takes up residenc e in us and continually nurtures and strengthens our new heart.

If we look closely, we see that the heart is formed by the two Tables of the Law, by the Tables of the Ten Commandments. What a marvellous image—as Christians we don’t need to adhere to thousands of discrete legal prescriptions. On the contrary, God’s will itself is written in our heart, when we have received this new heart. The way we follow God’s will is for God’s Spirit to move us, the Spirit who makes us God’s children, people whose hearts cling wholly to their Father and His Word.

And when we take a final look at the image, in the very centre of the heart, where the two sides intersect, we notice a grain of wheat. Yes, we already have the new heart, we can already live as new people. And yet there is oftentimes so little outward evidence of this in our lives. The grain of wheat is already planted in us, but everything that is still to develop from this will only be fully perceived at the goal of our lives, in God’s new world. And that we arrive at that point, despite all our failure, this is something that God Himself takes care of, He who bestows the new heart upon us and places the new spirit within us. This is the whole point of the Lutheran Reformation past and present!

I wish you a blessed Reformation Jubilee Year 2017,
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0550. Morning Chapel from Kramer Chapel, 2/24/17

  Posted:Feb 24, 2017 By Issues Etc. (Issues Etc)

chapel February 24, 2017

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Lambs at Pasture for Invocavit (the First Sunday of Lent) and its Answer Key are now available for download.

The repetitive nature of  Lambs at Pasture  aids familiarity and memorization of key passages. This is especially true when used in conjunction with the Daily Prayer meditation found in the  Lutheran Service Book  (page 295).

For more information about  Lambs at Pasture , please see the  introduction blog post .

If you would like to receive an email when the next edition is ready, please sign up here.

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In Part 1 of this series of articles, we saw that The Shack and its theology arise from two pressures:

  • Pain, loss, and suffering.
  • The perceived inadequacy of Calvinistic and Wesleyan-Arminian evangelicalism to heal pain.

These two pressures – pain and the inadequacy of “traditional Christianity” – drive a person in pain to look for something else, or drive those who try to help persons in pain to find something else.

Wm. Paul Young, the author of The Shack experienced the Great Sadness that his main character, Mack, suffers in the novel, as a result of severe abuse in childhood. (See footnote 13 in Part 1)

Parallel to Paul being in his Great Sadness, in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a “renaissance of Trinitarian theology.” [1] This happened around the world, across denominational lines, and across disciplines and fields of study. Many Lutherans are unaware of this, but it is a pretty big deal. A piece of this would come to provide Paul with his healing, the healing he wants his children and you to have, the gospel of Trinitarian Theology.

As it relates to The Shack , the British setting of this renaissance is significant, where the revival of interest in the Trinity was much influenced by the Study Commission of the British Council of Churches on “Trinitarian Doctrine Today,” which met between November 1983 and May 1988. The seminal paper John Zizioulas presented to the commission delineated its task and defined its agenda. [2] Zizioulas agreed with the view of Karl Barth and Karle Rahner that the doctrine of the Trinity has become marginalized in the church, both East and West, not only in matters of doctrine, but also with regard to the devotional life of Christians. [3] With Costa Carras and James B. Torrance as their joint chairs, the study commission published their report titled The Forgotten Trinity , [4] a selection of papers with the same title, and a study guide for local churches. The study guide related the Trinity to worship, Scripture, tradition, our relationship with God, human relationships, and society.

Torrance, his brother Thomas, Zizioulas, and theologians like them become some of the prime influences on Paul and others in the Perichoresis movement, such as the author of the The Shack Revisited , F. Baxter Kruger. Paul himself writes the foreword for The Shack Revisited , saying, “If you want to understand better the perspectives and theology that frame The Shack , this book is for you.” [5] He describes Kruger as “A Mississippi theologian who cut his intellectual teeth in Aberdeen, Scotland with the Torrance brothers.” [6]

This school of thought, this type of Trinitarian Theology, is not easy to summarize briefly. It draws from many sources in church history including the Cappadocian Fathers, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonheoffer, Robert Farrar Cappon, Geroge MacDonald, James Torrance, Thomas Torrance, Kallistos Ware, Richard Rohr, and John Zizioulas, to name a few.

In this theology, the Trinity becomes a theory-of-everything. [7] All other doctrines are affected by it, to the extent of being conditioned by it. The Trinity becomes a hermeneutical principle that governs how Scripture is interpreted. What we are to believe about creation, law, fall, sin, wrath, promise, faith, repentance, conversion, justification, atonement, sanctification, adoption, testament, new covenant, reconciliation, eschatology, holiness, and more is subject to what fits with the perichoretic Trinity.

The doctrine of the Trinity is not to be regarded as a specialized subsection of the Christian doctrine of God, but it functions as the framework for doing Christian theology. It is the point from where the whole of Christian teaching finds its integration. [8]

In Paul’s own words:

Eventually Baxter and I would like to deal, among other things, with history to help us understand how we got so far off-course, with theology that asks the hardest and best questions, and with the implications that must necessarily arise out of such conversations. If what we are trying to unveil and communicate is true, how does this affect our thinking about heaven, hell, evangelism, homosexuality, work, the role of women, politics, religion, science, the sacred-secular divide, commerce, education, the nature of the Church, the process of transformation, healing, and everything else? We would then like to see this reality worked out in the flesh of everyday experience. We hope to gather together people who can communicate with us what this vision looks like in their own spheres of interest and passion: astrophysics, mothering, arts, media, music, plumbing, farming, fathering, business leadership, pastoring, caring for the planet, medicine, day laboring, teaching, dance, you name it. [9]

Kruger says, and rightly, “it would take twenty volumes to set out the details and nuances of these ideas.” [10]

Paul’s larger vision is rooted in “the evangelical theology of the ancient Catholic Church,” to borrow a phrase from theologian Thomas F. Torrance. This vision involves you, me, and everyone else on the planet in a breathtaking relationship with Jesus’ Father – the Papa we always wanted. It is trinitarian, incarnational, relational, thoroughly biblical, Christ-centered, and cosmic. [11]

Streamlining this to the issue of the chief article: First, there is a perichoresis of the persons of God, then a perichoresis of the two natures in Christ, and then a perichoresis of fallen sinners in God through Christ, which is our salvation. [12]

I agree that the Trinity was marginalized. I agree that the Trinity should be dusted off from the shelf of academia and technicality and made the lay person’s bread, breath, prayer, and song. I am on board with that part of the agenda of the Trinitarian renaissance. Nine of my catechetical evangelism articles published in my local newspaper are about the Trinity. [13] Those articles seek to show how the Trinity is a vital, personal concern for the lay person, a matter close to heart, and an indispensable part of the evangelical appeal of the Gospel.

Trinitarian Theology’s theologians, pastors, teachers, and writers have created beautiful, flourishing, and inspirational expressions of many true things about the Trinity and many true implications of the Trinity for family, church, and society. Up to that point, Trinitarian Theology is a journey from pain to truth.

That is why it is tragic, so tragic, that many in the movement have fallen into error in ways that depart from the chief article on which the church stands or falls, justification and the redemption we have in Jesus. Trinitarian Theology, when it goes beyond what is revealed in Scripture, becomes a springboard for speculation. It becomes yet another Enthusiasm that bases beliefs on intra nos sources aside from the external Word and Sacrament. It becomes a sola trinitas that overrules sola scriptura , thereby changing the doctrines of law, sin, wrath, atonement, and justification, which loses the Gospel.

Part 3 will explore that tragedy. It will explore how the journey from pain to truth got carried away, how it overshot, and led to error. As a foreshadowing, one way of describing the problem is that a vicarious humanity of Christ subsumes and eclipses the vicarious sacrifice of Christ.

As a typical American, I was an individualist. I had always believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that he became a human being, but I thought of him as an individual who did something for us . I had not seen – even though Professor Torrance was telling us so fifty times a day, in his great phrase “the vicarious humanity of Christ”— that in Jesus something happened not only for us , but to us and with us .

Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. 144). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

________________________

[1] Christopher Schwöbel, ‘The Renaissance of Trinitarian Theology: Reasons, Problems and Tasks,’ in idem, ed., Trinitarian Theology Today: Essays on Divine Being and Act (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), 1–30.

[2] John Zizioulas, ‘The Doctrine of the Trinity Today: Suggestions for an Ecumenical Study,’ in Heron, ed., The Forgotten Trinity , 19–32.

[3] Rahner said that if it were announced that the dogma of the Trinity had been a mistake and was to be erased from official Christianity, nobody would be too bothered, neither the ordinary believing Christians nor the authors of theological textbooks. Karl Rahner, The Trinity , Trans. Joseph Donceel (NY: Crossroad, 1997) pp. 10-11.

[4] The Forgotten Trinity: 1. The Report of the BCC Study Commission on Trinitarian Doctrine Today (London: British Council of Churches [BCC], 1989); The Forgotten Trinity: 2. A Study Guide on Issues Contained in the Report of the BCC Study Commission on Trinitarian Doctrine Today (London: BCC, 1989); Alasdair I. C. Heron, ed., The Forgotten Trinity: A Selection of Papers Presented to the BCC Study Commission on Trinitarian Doctrine Today (London: BCC/CCBI, 1991).

[5] Young, Wm. P., Foreword, Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. ix). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[6] Young, Wm. P., Foreword, Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. ix). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[7] The Trinity as a theory-of-everything has merits. The Renaissance sought the theory of the unified field, giving to the university its name, and while making headway, never found it. The Reformation, without making that its project, serendipitously happened upon it (by grace!), in the Trinity. The Trinity shows something that deserves to be called much more than a harmony of the one-and-many, unity-and-diversity, and community-and-individuality. This harmony solves problems across fields, and thus can be a unified field theory. For example, we see it in the seven simple machines from which all the manifold machinery of the world is composed. Because of the Trinity, I can say that ‘On my farm, I have only seven machines, because there are only seven machines in the world, from which all the thousands of kinds of machin ery are composed.’ We see it in e pluribus unum underlying the constitutions of Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. We see it in the field of accountancy with its seven elements. We see it in art, architecture, astronomy, mathematics, economics, and so on. A Reformed treatment of the Trinity and the impact of the One-and-Many worth your time to read is Rousas John Rushdoony, The One and Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978). The trouble comes when we speculate beyond what is revealed, and use speculative notions about the Trinity as intra nos Enthusiasm that supplants the revelation of Scripture. Because, ‘No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him,’ (John 1:18), theology centers better in the Incarnation, in Christology. In Christ, God is declared, not in speculations about God that go past what Christ has declared.

[8] Christopher Schwöbel, ‘Where Do We Stand in Trinitarian Theology?’ in Christophe Chalamet and Marc Vial, eds., Recent Developments in Trinitarian Theology: An International Symposium (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), p. 16. Downloadable at Project Muse .

[9] Wm. P. Young in Foreword, Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. xii). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[10] Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. 64). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[11] Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. 62). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[12] “This means that the mutual indwelling of the blessed Trinity now includes us! In Jesus, the human race has been gathered into the Holy Spirit’s world. Adam’s fallen race has been embraced by Jesus’ Father and made his children forever. In Jesus, the love and joy, the fellowship and shared life, the staggering oneness of the blessed Trinity, have found us in our shacks – us: you, me, all of us – forever. In Jesus, ‘Papa has crawled inside of your world to be with you.’” Kruger, C. Baxter. The Shack Revisited: There Is More Going On Here than You Ever Dared to Dream (p. 141). FaithWords. Kindle Edition.

[13] Halvorson, T. R., Catechetical Evangelism in the Newspaper (Sidney, MT: Synoptic Text Information Services, Inc., 2007), pp. 75-90.

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