Category Archives: Theology

Luther: On Prayer

luther_glass“When we pray we have the advantage [of the promise] that what we ask will be granted, although not according to our wish. If it weren’t for the promise I wouldn’t pray. God does well, moreover, that he doesn’t give us everything as we wish, for otherwise we’d want to have everything on our own terms.

That our Lord God is the same in life and death I have often experienced. If our prayer is earnest it will be heard, even if not as and when we wish. This must be so or our faith is vain. Consequently it’s difficult to pray. I know well what a prayer requires of me. I haven’t committed adultery, but I’ve broken the first table against God’s Word and honor. On account of my great sins [against the first table] I can’t get to the others in the second table.” — Martin Luther

Fun Facts from Church History: Luther’s Dread

luther65Luther left the Wartburg on March 1, 1522, arriving at Wittenberg on March 6. One of the first things he did was to preach a series of eight sermons, during the week beginning March 9, in an effort to counteract the extreme reforms which had been forced through by Karlstadt and Gabriel Zwilling.  Luther was by no means opposed to reform measures, but he held that they should be brought about by persuasion, not compulsion.*

One of those sermons was on marriage, which Luther commences thusly:

How I dread preaching on the estate of marriage! I am reluctant to do it because I am afraid if I once get really involved in the subject it will make a lot of work for me and for others. The shameful confusion wrought by the accursed papal law has occasioned so much distress, and the lax authority of both the spiritual and the temporal swords has given rise to so many dreadful abuses and false situations, that I would much prefer neither to look into the matter nor to hear of it. But timidity is no help in an emergency; I must proceed. I must try to instruct poor bewildered consciences, and take up the matter boldly.

And then of course he does.

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*Luther’s works, vol. 45 : The Christian in Society II p. 13.

Quote of the Day

“When early Christian bishops were made of gold, their crosses were made of wood. But bishops became like wood when their crosses appeared as gold.  The more that there was simplicity in the administration of the Word of God and the sacraments, the more that pastors were small and humble in the eyes of the world, and the church had fewer troubles. And who can dare to despise poverty in a faithful servant of God in the presence of the prophets, apostles, confessors and martyrs, and Jesus Christ himself—who were all poor?”  —Simon Goulart

Salus extra ecclesiam non est

OUTSIDE THE CHURCH OF GOD THERE IS NO SALVATION.    We esteem fellowship with the true Church of Christ so highly that we deny that those can live before God who do not stand in fellowship with the true Church of God, but separate themselves from it. For as there was no salvation outside Noah’s ark when the world perished in flood; so we believe that there is no certain salvation outside Christ, who offers himself to be enjoyed by the elect in the Church; and hence we teach that those who wish to live ought not to be separated from the true Church of Christ. — Heinrich Bullinger

Cheering You Up one Post at a Time

“The fourth [consequence of sin] is referred to as eternal death. In this life, terrors and anguish of the guilty mind are a foreshadowing of this, the desolation of the spirit bereft of any divine comfort, and an awareness of divine wrath under the weight of which the wretched soul crumples. Then comes the soul’s entry into the place of tortures.” — Herman Witsius

Via Ralph *The Cheerbringer* Keen

The Bankruptcy of Philosophical Theology

lutherSome wag said to Luther, whilst discussing difficult theological concepts-

“It is asserted in the Creed, ‘he descended into hell.’”

Luther responded,

“This must be believed. We can’t understand it. That’s the way it is. There will be debate about how the Trinity is in the unity (when there’s no relation between the infinite and the finite), how nature can produce such a strange marvel as a God-man, etc. [While occupied thus with disputation] men will let the article concerning justification go.

If only we would study in the meantime how to believe and pray and become godly! We’re not content with that which we can understand and insist on disputing about something higher, which we can’t possibly understand and which our Lord God doesn’t want us to understand. That’s the way human nature is. It wishes to do what is forbidden; the rest it ignores and then starts asking, Why? Why? Why?

This is what happens when philosophy is introduced into theology. When the devil went to Eve with the question Why? the game was up. One should be on one’s guard against this. It’s better to fall on one’s knees and pray an Our Father. This will help more. “Dear Lord God, protect us from the devil, and also from ourselves!”

There’s something glorious in simplicity and honesty that eclipses pretensions to false knowledge.

Quote of the Month

No one at Herrnhut is afraid of burglars in the night. This is partly because there’s always someone up praying, partly that the angels protect us and partly that we own nothing worth stealing. – Count von Zinzendorf

Quote of the Day

Even if you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ from an apostle you will not follow it unless the heavenly Father teaches and draws you by his Spirit. The words are clear: God’s teaching clearly enlightens, teaches and gives certainty without any intervention on the part of human knowledge. If people are taught by God they are well taught with clarity and conviction. If they had first to be taught and assured by men, they would be more correctly described as men-taught rather than taught by God.– Huldrych Zwingli

The First Rule of Theology Club…

Is READ A BOOK!

It never ceases to amaze me when people discuss theological issues that were discussed and settled millennia ago as though no one had ever written a thing and they came up with the observation themselves, noticing something no one had noticed before. Theologians, READ A BOOK!  For pete’s sake, crack open a volume.  That ‘original thought’ isn’t original at all and has been formulated far better by people centuries ago than it has been by you.

Quote of the Day

bengel

Quote of the Day

“A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”  ― H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America

(HT Glenn Miller on the FB).

This PERFECTLY describes the pseudo-gospel of ‘progressive’ Christians.

Evangelism is More…

Than just saying ‘God loves you’. It also says ‘repent! Believe the Gospel!’ If you never move beyond ‘God loves you’ you aren’t preaching the Gospel you’re lying.

Lutheran Dogmaticians Cheering You Up

On those sentenced to hell-

“They are the most exquisite pains of soul and body (for both had sinned), arising from the fear and sense of the most just wrath and vengeance of God against sins, the most sad consciousness of which they carry about with them, the baseness of which is manifest, and of which, likewise, no remission afterwards, and, therefore, no mitigation or end can be hoped for. Whence, in misery, they will execrate, with horrible lamentation and wailing, their former impiety, by which they carelessly neglected the admonitions of their brethren and all the means of attaining salvation; but in vain. For in perpetual anguish, with dreadful trembling, in shame, confusion, and ignominy, in inextinguishable fire, in weeping and gnashing of teeth, amidst that which is eternal and terrible, torn away from the grace and favor of God, they must quake among devils, and will be tortured without end to eternity.

These future torments of the damned far surpass all the penetration of the human mind, so that we are not sufficient to ever comprehend in thought their greatness; therefore, what they will be, or of what nature, cannot be at all expressed in words. Scripture, nevertheless, in order to show that these tortures are the greatest and most exquisite, likens them to those things by which, in this life, pain both of soul and body is accustomed to be excited. For this reason they are compared now to the gnashing of teeth, now to worms, now to the most sorrowful darkness, and whatever other matters of sadness and of the most complete pain can be mentioned, Is. 66:24; Matt. 5:22; 8:12; Rev. 19:20.”*

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*Matthew Hafenreffer (born 1561, professor at Tübingen, died 1619. His chief work, Loci Theologici, sive Compendium Theologiæ, was especially esteemed in Würtemburg, Sweden, and Denmark, where it was generally used as a text-book.)

John Calvin on John 3:16a

Calvin writes

… our minds cannot find calm repose, until we arrive at the unmerited love of God. As the whole matter of our salvation must not be sought any where else than in Christ, so we must see whence Christ came to us, and why he was offered to be our Saviour. Both points are distinctly stated to us: namely, that faith in Christ brings life to all, and that Christ brought life, because the Heavenly Father loves the human race, and wishes that they should not perish. And this order ought to be carefully observed; for such is the wicked ambition which belongs to our nature, that when the question relates to the origin of our salvation, we quickly form diabolical imaginations about our own merits. Accordingly, we imagine that God is reconciled to us, because he has reckoned us worthy that he should look upon us. But Scripture everywhere extols his pure and unmingled mercy, which sets aside all merits.

Q.E.D.

Römerbrief und Tageszeitung! Politik in der Theologie Karl Barths

Die Theologie Karl Barths hat aufgrund ihrer politischen und gesellschaftskritischen Ausrichtung eine besondere Bedeutung. Ihre politische Dimension gewann sie gerade dadurch, dass Barth sich auf seine genuin theologische Arbeit konzentrierte. Als ein kritischer Zeitgenosse las er neben der Bibel aber immer auch die Tageszeitung und diese Lektüre liess er in seine theologische Arbeit einfliessen.

Inwieweit lässt sich Barths politisches Denken auf gesellschaftliche Herausforderungen der Gegenwart anwenden? Dieser Band versammelt Beiträge des akademischen Nachwuchses und von Expertinnen und Experten der Barthforschung zu theologischen Grundsatzfragen und aktuellen Themen aus den Bereichen Umwelt-, Friedens- und Sozialethik im europäischen und amerikanischen Kontext.

Mit Beiträgen von Kai-Ole Eberhardt, Margit Ernst-Habib, Marco Hofheinz, Markus Höfner, André Jeromin, Christine Lieberknecht, W. Travis McMaken, Raphaela J. Meyer zu Hörste-Bührer, Björn Schütz und Jan-Philip Tegtmeier.

Quote of the Day

As men cherish young plants at first, and fence them about with hedges and other things to keep them from hurt, but when they are grown, they remove them, and then leave them to the wind and weather, so God besets his children first with props of inward comforts, but afterwards he exposes them to storms and winds, because they are better able to bear it. Therefore let no man think himself the better because he is free from troubles. It is because God sees him not fit to bear greater.  — RICHARD SIBBES

Churches Have all the ‘Members’ They Need

People: ‘we need more church members’.

Me: Why? So we can have more people not participating? We need more disciples, not more members.

People:

Quote of the Day

Those men are brutish who propose to themselves any other felicity than that which arises from drawing near to God.  — John Calvin

Theology: An Observation

Hipster faddist new age ‘theology’ has abandoned the Logos (scripture) and as a consequence has also abandoned Theos (God).  It serves neither Church nor faith and instead grovels about in the bed of Whore Reason seeking her approval and favors.

“Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.” – Martin Luther

This is not anti-intellectualism it is anti-exaltation of human reasoning above all – as if paltry human minds were all-comprehending.  This is anti-hubris.

Zwingli For Today

cropped-zw45.jpgChrist did not wish to make us idle by His holy offering, but, as St. John the Baptist preached, he wishes us to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.”