The Office of Holy Ministry

This is a great quote regarding the Office of Holy Ministry from C.F.W. Walther, first president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

O, glorious office! No matter how sick a person may be in his soul, the Gospel can heal him. No matter how deeply a person has fallen into the corruption of sin, the Gospel can pull him out. No matter how troubled, frightened, and afflicted a person may be, the Gospel can comfort him. Whatever the condition a person finds himself, even if he is convinced that he must perish because of it, the preachers can confidently oppose him, saying: “No, as certainly as God lives, He does not want the death of any sinner. You shall not perish; instead, you shall be saved. Turn to Jesus who can evermore save all who come to God through Him.” And if one who lies near death calls out: “God, what have I done? Woe to me! Not it is too late! I am lost!” the preachers should call to him: “No, no, it is not too late! Commit your departing soul to Jesus. You too shall still be with Him in paradise today.” O, glorious, high office, too high for the angels! May we always hold it in high regard, not looking at the person who bears it and despising his weakness, but looking instead at the Institutor of this office and His exuberant goodness. Let us turn to Him in faith so we can experience the blessings of which the preachers have spoken and, through them, be gathered together one day into the barns of heaven as a completely ripe sheaf.

It is comforting to know that no matter how I mess things up as a pastor, a person’s salvation does not depend on me, the man, but rather the office to which I hold. It is and always must be solely the Gospel that is put forward and never the man. Man is sinful; the Word of God is without sin. Man can err; the Word of God is without error. Let us not focus on the man in the office, but rather what it is that the man preaches; that is, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

(Quoted from God Grant It, p. 679-680)

Support and Love, Patience and Wisdom

The following is a quote from the Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe from 1979. I find it very appropriate even today.

Our primary calling as theologians is to interpret reality for ourselves and for our people. In our day, we behold the tragic paradox of secular man seeking something more solid than the phony, penultimate, pleasure trips, of either the gross or more refined variety, that are constantly held before us as the only route worth traveling…and, in their seeking, find no one to speak to them of that which is solid and real. The saints whom you serve will at times overwhelm you with their support and love. The sinners whom you serve will at times send you scampering to the throne of grace for more patience and wisdom than your flesh can muster. And yet, on this latter point, I can forthrightly say that for all their frailties you will find your flock a joy to serve. I was simply not prepared for all that closeness which is forged between Pastor and people as they seek to live a real life in the midst of a phony world. Frankly, it’s great! And if these tasks do not plant the seeds of joy and happiness in our service, then we have ourselves drifted from that which is real.

Concordia Theological Quarterly 75, p. 367-368

Great quote about the Missouri Synod

From its inception on April 26, 1847, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod has emphasized the importance of linking together doctrine, practice, and mission. While this is an obvious, almost simplistic point, to confuse this issue will lead one to misunderstand the life of the Synod. Doctrine abstracted from life and unapplied in mission is merely an intellectual enterprise. Practice without a doctrinal and missional basis can degenerate into accommodation. Mission without doctrinal substance can lose the focus of the Gospel of Christ and lack practical impact. But bring doctrine, practice and mission together, and remarkable things can happen. Practicing substantive doctrine in mission can result in extraordinary unity and growth. (Emphasis added)

Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr.

(Forward, At Home in the House of My Fathers)

Thoughts regarding Roe v. Wade

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.

I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.

And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

These are words from President Obama today. I wasn’t aware that killing was a constitutional right.  If that’s the case, then why do we prosecute and put to death those who exercise their constitutional rights when they commit murder?

On this day, let us remember the more than 53 million who were aborted and had their constitutional rights taken away from them.

<sarcasm mode off>

Sola Scriptura



Note: What is the sole source of doctrine in the Church? The Bible, and the Bible alone. God’s Word is the pure fountain and source of God’s truth. Church creeds and confessions, however, function as witnesses to that truth. As such, they are accepted standards by which we can discern between true and false teaching. Churches can, do, and should insist that called pastors and other Church workers pledge themselves unconditionally to the Church’s confession. In this way, the Church’s confession safeguards the pure teaching of God’s Word. Does this contradict the statement that the Bible alone is the source and norm of doctrine? No. Confessions are not the source of doctrine, but are a standard or norm by which preaching and teaching are evaluated, because they are based on God’s Word. This may be a fine nuance, but it is an important one. Today, in authentically Lutheran churches, pastors and other church workers pledge to faithfully teach and practice according to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, just as they have done for nearly five hundred years.

1] 1. We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with ‹all› teachers, should be evaluated and judged [2 Timothy 3:15–17] are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and New Testament alone. For it is written in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” St. Paul has written, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

2] However, other writings by ancient or modern teachers—no matter whose name they bear—must not be regarded as equal to the Holy Scriptures. All of them are subject to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 14:32]. Other writings should not be received in any other way or as anything more than witnesses that show how this ‹pure› doctrine of the prophets and apostles was preserved after the time of the apostles, and at what places.

3] 2. Right after the time of the apostles, and even while they were still living, false teachers and heretics arose [Titus 3:9–10]. Therefore, symbols (i.e., brief, concise confessions) were written against the heretics in the Early Church. These symbols were regarded as the unanimous, universal Christian faith and confession of the orthodox and true Church. They are the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. We pledge ourselves to these symbols, and in this way we reject all heresies and teachings that have been introduced into God’s Church against them.

4] 3. However, schisms in matters of faith have also happened in our time. Therefore, we regard as the unanimous consensus and declaration of our Christian faith and confession—especially against the papacy and its false worship, idolatry, superstition, and against other sects—the first, unaltered Augsburg Confession. It is the symbol of our time, and it was delivered to the Emperor, Charles V, at Augsburg in the year 1530 in the great Diet. We hold to this confession along with its Apology and the Articles composed at Smalcald in the year 1537, which the chief theologians signed at that time.

5] Such matters also concern the laity and the salvation of their souls. Therefore, we also confess Dr. Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms as they are included in Luther’s works. They are “the layman’s Bible” because everything necessary for a Christian to know for salvation is included in them, which is handled more extensively in the Holy Scriptures.

6] As announced above, all teachings are to be conformed in this way. What is contrary to these confessions is to be rejected and condemned, as opposed to the unanimous declaration of our faith.

7] In this way the distinction between the Holy Scriptures of the Old and of the New Testament and all other writings is preserved. The Holy Scriptures alone remain the judge, rule, and norm. According to them—as the only touchstone—all teachings shall and must be discerned and judged to see whether they are good or evil [1 Thessalonians 5:21–22], right or wrong.

8] The other symbols and writings mentioned above are not judges like the Holy Scriptures. They are only a testimony and declaration of the faith. They show how the Holy Scriptures have been understood and explained in regard to controversial articles in God’s Church by those living at that time. Also, they show how the opposite teaching was rejected and condemned ‹by what arguments the dogmas conflicting with the Holy Scriptures were rejected and condemned›.

Concordia : The Lutheran Confessions. 2005 (Edited by Paul Timothy McCain) (473–474). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Electronic Edition.

A great read–“Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Read the Catechism?”

Pastor Dan Walters has written a great piece entitled, “Why Would Anyone Ever Want to Read the Catechism?”  Currently, I’m teaching the Small Catechism to our 7th and 8th grade catechumens.  It is a difficult process because they are, well, 7th and 8th graders.  They don’t want to learn the Small Catechism (most of them).  They are here because their parents make them come or that’s what you’re supposed to do in 7th and 8th grade.  But he quotes the words of Martin Luther talking about the importance of the Small Catechism.  Below is just a snippet of that quote:

Catechism…For myself I say this: I am also a doctor and preacher; yes, as learned and experienced as all the people who have such assumptions and contentment. Yet I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning – and whenever I have time – I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so….

Go ahead, read his post.  While you’re at it, go ahead and dust off your Small Catechism.  If you’ve “lost” yours, it’s ok; CPH has lots of them for sale!

Thoughts from history for the 2010 LCMS Convention

As we as The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod prepare for our 2010 Convention, I think it is wise to remember words from J.A.O. Preus, the 9th president of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.  These words come from his presidential report to the delegates of the 1977 Convention.

As a church we have been known and are still known as people who are vitally concerned that the Word of God be preached in its truth and purity, that the entire program be based upon God’s holy, inspired, inerrant, and powerful Word.  The Word brings the church into being, and the Word is truly our rule and norm for faith and life in all the activities that we carry on.  We cannot yield one jot or tittle of God’s holy Word.  And the Word is the means for carrying out our mission.  It is all we have.  It is all we need.

We have emerged from a serious doctrinal controversy, in which we are probably the only Christian church in America and probably the only Lutheran Church in the world which seriously and earnestly confronted the issues raised by modern historical-critical methods of Biblical interpretation and honestly and forthrightly dealt with them…

The strength of our beloved Synod has always been a unique blend of concern for a pure doctrine which has brought about our strong confessional stance, coupled with the overwhelming desire to carry out the Great Commission. 1

1) Quoted from A Seminary in Crisis by Paul A. Zimmerman, available from Concordia Publishing House.

HT: Issues, Etc – Web Extra: Profiles in Presidential Leadership in the LC-MS

Bonhoeffer on the Temptations of the Pastor

I have to say that I haven’t been in God’s Word as much as I should be in recent months.  I use a wonderful devotional entitled Treasury of Daily Prayer by Concordia Publishing House.  I don’t really have an excuse.  I could say that I’ve been busy, I’ve had too much going on, not enough time in a day, etc.  There really is no good excuse.  So tomorrow morning, I will get myself back into God’s Word.  What good is a pastor if he is not in God’s Word as much as he can be?  Here’s a wonderful quote from Bonhoeffer on the subject.

The life of the pastor completes itself in reading, meditation, prayer, and struggle.  The means is the word of Scripture with which everything begins and to which everything returns.  We read Scripture in order that our hearts may be moved.  It will lead us into prayer for the church, for brothers and sisters in the faith, for our work, and for our own soul.  Prayer leads us into the world in which we must keep the faith.  Where Scripture, prayer, and keeping the faith exist, temptation will always find its way in.  Temptation is the sign that our hearing, prayer, and faith have touched down in reality.  There is no escape from temptation except by giving ourselves to renewed reading and meditation.  So the circle is complete.  We will not often be permitted to see the fruits of our labors; but through the joy of community with brothers and sisters who offer us spiritual care, we become certain of the proclamation and the ministry. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Spiritual Care (Fortress Press, 1985), p. 69