Saturday, June 24, 2006
I confess, I am trying to finish up a dissertation chapter today, but I just had to stop and go read the Confessions for a while, to remind myself of just what exactly they say viz. this adiaphora thingy. And I'm convinced that I remembered them correctly.

First, adiaphora gets put on the back burner if the Church is under presecution. That is, if we were in a situation where some Roman bishop was making a bunch of noise about how Lutherans aren't Christians because they DON'T have statues of Mary, then for that moment, we are obliged to rid ourselves of any statues of Mary.

As an immediately relevant example, take the recent Southern Baptist Convention which took place up the road in Greensboro last week. At the convention, the Baptists passed a Resolution which states:

[SNIP]

WHEREAS, There are some religious leaders who are now advocating the consumption of alcoholic beverages based on a misinterpretation of the doctrine of “our freedom in Christ”; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, June 13-14, 2006, express our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages; and be it further

[SNIP]

RESOLVED, That we commend organizations and ministries that treat alcohol-related problems from a biblical perspective and promote abstinence and encourage local churches to begin and/or support such biblically-based ministries.

The SBC has declared that the "Biblical Perspective" on alcohol is that (in essence) it is a sin to drink and as another blogger pointed out (read the whole thing, BTW) --
Attend any event, including by not limited to the following locations: a St. Louis Cardinal’s game at BUSCH stadium, a Colorado Rockies game at COORS Field, or a Milwakee Brewers game at MILLER Park.

I propose that we are now Confessionally obliged to promote the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, precisely because a heretical sectarian organization masquerading as a represenative Christian body* has made a false claim which undermines the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not as modest of a proposal as somemight think.

We as Confessional Lutherans maintain that the consumption of various foods (including alcohol) is a matter of Christian liberty (provided one follows the laws governing such things, see Romans 13). This SBC resolution attacks that liberty, which (to my mind) constitutes persecution. (Bear in mind, one part of the resolution calls for SBC members to support legislation curbing alcohol use!) When under persecution, the Church is obliged not to behave in the way in which the persecutors prescribe:
26] 1. Therefore we reject and condemn as wrong when the ordinances of men in themselves are regarded as a service or part of the service of God.

27] 2. We reject and condemn also as wrong when these ordinances are by coercion forced upon the congregation of God as necessary.

28] 3. We reject and condemn also as wrong the opinion of those who hold (what tends to the detriment of the truth) that at a time of persecution we may comply with the enemies of the holy Gospel in [restoring] such adiaphora, or come to an agreement with them.

29] 4. We likewise regard it as a sin that deserves to be rebuked when in time of persecution anything is done either in indifferent matters or in doctrine, and in what otherwise pertains to religion, for the sake of the enemies of the Gospel, in word and act, contrary and opposed to the Christian confession.
[SDFC, of adiaphora]

Here's a thought: I suggest that we sell naming rights for new churches to breweries. My current congregation is in the process of "spinning off" a new Church; here's how I think it could work.

After we call the new vicar, we'll ask him what his beer of choice is. (On the other hand, we're Lutherans, so I guess we'd have to put it to a committee...) Let's say for arguments sake that it's Sam Adams**. So we would simply call it--
Sam Adams' Lutheran Church of the Ascension (LCMS)

In exchange for naming rights, the Sam Adams company would help to cover the costs of contruction of the kitchen and dining facilities, and provide the beer at all the potlucks for the first five years.

[ZIIIIIIIP]

Now, back to the point...

As per things Marian, the Lutheran Church is decidedly not under persecution (or is it? Perhaps I am wrong). So what then are we to do with Pastor McCain's unease about her statue*** in an unnamed (of course, we all know where it is) congregation? At what point does adiaphora cease to be adiaphora because one congregation does not like what another is doing?

Arguments about pentecostal style worship are a red herring. Enthusiaism and fanaticism are already condemned in the Confessions (as is the invocation of saints). The liturgy isn't adiaphora (see Ap. XXIV). When he compares them, he confuses his categories, but worse than that, he sells the farm to the anti-Liturgy movement.

Let's look at the section that follows the part I cited up above, shall we?
30] 5. We reject and condemn also [the madness] when these adiaphora are abrogated in such a manner as though it were not free to the congregation [church] of God at any time and place to employ one or more in Christian liberty, according to its circumstances, as may be most useful to the Church.

31] Thus [According to this doctrine] the churches will not condemn one another because of dissimilarity of ceremonies when, in Christian liberty, one has less or more of them, provided they are otherwise agreed with one another in the doctrine and all its articles, also in the right use of the holy Sacraments, according to the well-known saying: Dissonantia ieiunii non dissolvit consonantiam fidei; "Disagreement in fasting does not destroy agreement in the faith."

Pastor McCain wants to have his cake and eat it too, on this point. He argued (in the comments section of his post) that "congregation" should be read as "gemein" here, implying that it's speaking of an enitre body, not of just one parish within in a larger body. This, however, ignores the historical context of the passage: indivdual congregations (all within the Church of the Augsburg Confession) were calling down fire and brimstone on one another for various and sundry things. Think of Osiander and Melanchthon. So, sorry, Pastor McCain, but this is a perfect parallel to the current situation. Oh, the madness!

Thanks for playing; better luck next time.

And the silly argument that "it's not the statue by itself that's wrong, it's when you add the votive candles and the kneeler"... Bloody poppycock. Just because there happened to be a medieval theory about how candles helped prayers get to God doesn't mean that we throw the candles out with the stupid theory. Dump the tripe, yes; keep the candles if you want to. It doesn't matter. That's WHAT adiaphora means, FCOL: it's indifferent.

We don't get to move something out of the "indifferent" column just because it might be confused for Romanism. That's not enough.

Look at the arguments of the SBC on alcohol: because it has led to abuse in the past, and because it could lead to abuse now, we ought not have anything to do with it.

How are the arguments against that statue any different than this SBC nonsense?

*Apologies for that to my Baptist readers (and I know who you are!). If you know Lutherans, you know we have a habit of calling things by their formal names, even though we would most certainly express brotherly love in an informal setting. For example, in our Confessions, we consistently refer to that German guy with the funny hat as "the antichrist". Now, I'm sure Herr Ratzinger is a nice guy, and I'd love to sit down and have a beer with him (don't you wish YOU could??!!). I own several of his books, and I personally think he's a pretty smart guy. Nevertheless...he believes and teaches something contrary to the Gospel, and I am compelled to call a spade a spade.

**Sam Adams has not paid me to endorse their product. I do so of my own free will (SDFC, III.74) and at my own expense (usually about $6.99 for a sixer).

*** Of course, there is the other argument that the statue is not of her, it is of the Infant Christ who just happens to be in her arms (and yes, your present author agrees with this latter position!)
 
Thursday, June 22, 2006
I suppose it's the literary in me, but I have found The Little Professor to be one my favorite NAAACL websites. I found her via Library Thing, as she is the user with whom I currently share the most titles. That may not change, either, since I have a pretty broad collection of Romantic and post-Romantic literature. She's witty, intelligent, and now I am completely jealous of her.

Why?

She's currently in one of my most favorite places: The British Library. But she's just a bit angry over things.
 
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
But aside from that, there's this basic question:

If it's adiaphora, why do we have to "go about it" together??? That is, if we all have to come together and agree on what's adiaphora and what's not (apart from the definition gievn in the Confessions) and how we "go about it"...well, doesn't that mean that it's not adiaphora?

Somebody help me. ***scratches his head***

Confused? Go here.

UPDATE: It's gets bizarrer and bizarrer. (yeah, I know...) The commenter "Skillman" seems to "get it" tho'....
 
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The Terrible Swede's post about his Dad inspired Rick over at Old Solar to write about his Dad. Inspired by Rick's post , I decided to put this memory down to ... silicon. Xrysostom is also in on the action.

OK, so this has morphed into an ad hoc carnival for Dads. So be it. Mutti over at Beckfest has a short but sweet homage to her hubby. (We hubbies like these!) Jon Ledetroit reminds us that forgiveness is a Fatherly trait. Des Moines 360's Dad is a cowboy. Jeremy is celebrating teeth. Favorite Apron photoblogged the Dads in her life; so did Caroline at Our Little House, and also Lutheran Lucy... Tim May gives us a good Father's Day sermon on the faith of our fathers. Matt at Lutheran Loser compares talks with his father with talking with his Heavenly Father.

When I was about 8 years old, a school chum and I were walking home from school. It was some kind of minor holiday, because it was only a half-day, and I was looking forward to going home, since I knew my Dad had the day off.

We took a short cut through a debris-ridden field, which just happened to have some kind of sewer access hole in the middle of it. The kind that's made out of poured cement, about 10 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep, with a big iron grate on top, secured with the mother of all padlocks. Some older boys had managed to pry the padlock off the cover and were milling around, as older boys are wont to do, wondering what to do with this new found treasure of a big pit. Along come two 8 year olds, and Voila! Instant tormenting satisfaction. Yes, they decided that putting my friend Shawn and I in the hole would be great fun.

Of course, we resisted. They tried to corral us towards the hole, but we kept evading. Shawn took advantage of a gap in between two of the three boys and made a break for it. As he ran towards the corner (our houses were still out of view) I yelled after him to get my Dad. The boys threw rocks at him as he ran. My description makes the boys sound inept (and they were, to be sure) but they made up for that in meanness. They managed to swipe my jacket (my prized Dallas Cowboys Team Jacket from Sears Roebuck & Co.!) and throw it in the hole.

A couple of minutes later, my Dad came charging around the corner, full speed. For that moment, he was the Cavalry, a locomotive, and Superman all rolled into one. Needless to say, the older boys took off, and my Dad retrieved my jacket from the bottom of the hole.

I reminded him of this this past Christmas; funny, but he has no memory of it. Me, I will never forget it.
 
Friday, June 16, 2006
Pastor Snyder demonstrates how to be...erm...pastoral...when discussing the issue of rebaptism.

Ask the Pastor: Changing Towns, Changing Churches?

He pulls no punches and yet leaves his reader unbruised.
 
Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Fun with Photoshop™. Er, rather, fun with The GIMP.
 
Friday, June 09, 2006
The Frost performs its secret ministry,
Unhelped by any wind. The owlet's cry
Came loud--and hark, again ! loud as before.
The inmates of my cottage, all at rest,
Have left me to that solitude, which suits
Abstruser musings : save that at my side
My cradled infant slumbers peacefully.


















'Tis calm indeed ! so calm, that it disturbs
And vexes meditation with its strange
And extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood,
This populous village ! Sea, and hill, and wood,
With all the numberless goings-on of life,
Inaudible as dreams ! the thin blue flame
Lies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not ;
Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.
But O ! how oft,
How oft, at school, with most believing mind,
Presageful, have I gazed upon the bars,
To watch that fluttering stranger ! and as oft
With unclosed lids, already had I dreamt
Of my sweet birth-place, and the old church-tower,
Whose bells, the poor man's only music, rang
From morn to evening, all the hot Fair-day,
So sweetly, that they stirred and haunted me
With a wild pleasure, falling on mine ear
Most like articulate sounds of things to come !
So gazed I, till the soothing things, I dreamt,
Lulled me to sleep, and sleep prolonged my dreams !
And so I brooded all the following morn,
Awed by the stern preceptor's face, mine eye
Fixed with mock study on my swimming book :
Save if the door half opened, and I snatched
A hasty glance, and still my heart leaped up,
For still I hoped to see the stranger's face,
Townsman, or aunt, or sister more beloved,
My play-mate when we both were clothed alike !














Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Whose gentle breathings, heard in this deep calm,
Fill up the intersperséd vacancies
And momentary pauses of the thought !
My babe so beautiful ! it thrills my heart
With tender gladness, thus to look at thee,
And think that thou shalt learn far other lore,
And in far other scenes ! For I was reared
In the great city, pent 'mid cloisters dim,
And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars.
But thou, my babe ! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags : so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher ! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

---S. T. Coleridge

I hope that my son shares his father's love (and his grandfather's love, and his great-grandfather's love) for poetry.

Having grown up in a fairly legalistic pentecostal denomination, enjoying something "worldly" (you have to say it with with a slightly curled lip and faintest tone of derision) like the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge was mostly frowned upon. "You could be spending that time reading the Bible instead of reading those pagans," or something like that.

Thankfully, the Lutheran idea of the Two Kingdoms not only allows us to enjoy Coleridge, Wordsworth and other things, but actually encourages it. "The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it!"

I will teach my son to love the Lord God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, and his neighbor as himself. I will also teach him (I hope) to love Coleridge.
 
Sunday, June 04, 2006

My Son, Eli Jack, was born last Tuesday, May 30. Mom is doing great, Eli is wonderful.

Dad, OTOH, is a snivelling basket-case.

Can someone please explain why I just want to stare at him all day long?

7 pounds, 3 ozs; 20 inches.

My mother overheard from the nurse that we are not having him circumcised, and she flipped.

Aside from the fact that it's none of her business, I happen to know (I am after all wiriting a dissertation in medical history) the history of circumcision in the west. By and large, it was completely unknown for nearly 2000 years (you know, ever since Paul told the Galatians they'd be better off cutting their John Thomases off! cf. Gal 5:12) until about 1870 when some British doctor reintroduced it. It caught on in the U.S.A. about 5 years later, as part of the whole "health and wellness movement".

Anyways, my mother had a brief explosion and then (mysteriously) it was never mentioned again. I have a feeling my Dad told her to shut it. I'm glad. It gave me more time to stare at my son.

There's some scene from a movie with John Cusack where he has this staring match with a baby...that's what I feel like when my son looks at me in the eyes.

I lose any perception of the world around me.