"Our presentation of the Gospel must be based on good scholarly theology or we cannot function. We dabble in feelings, but we don't trust them. We respect authority, but we don't submit to the 'Vicar of Christ'. We think logically but we are suspect of 'reason'. What are we to do with all of Jesus' invitations to follow Him into the muddle and misery of people's lives? If it doesn't fit the formula of Word and Sacrament, we struggle. Well, perhaps there is more to Word and Sacrament ministry than we thought. What if the evidence was there all along, lying right there, undiscovered, int eh Word, in the confessions, in the writing of our revered Church Fathers? What if it could be proven from good sound theology that the urges of our heart to help the ones who have been beaten down sprig from Christ's own heart? These urges toward acts of human mercy are bound to the cross and to the cup and to the inviolable Word, even to the water poured over to vicariously make us righteous. The evidence of such things is all there, buried int he writings of Luther, the Confessions, and the church Fathers, waiting to be translated and interpreted and arranged into what has become known as systematic theology."
Nothing new is going to be said, but lets pull some things together to fit into our systematic theology, so it will help us. These things have always been there, is what is asserted.
Another interesting part of the Foreward is the quote and use of a passage from the Smalcald Articles.
This is what Luther wrote in the Smalcald Articles: "We will now return to the Gospel, which does not give us counsel and aid against sin in only one way. God is superabundantly generous in His grace: First, through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world (Luke 24). This is the particular office of the Gospel. Second, through Baptism. third,through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourth, through the Power of the Keys. Also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren.' How few Lutheran believers recall that Luther identified this consolation as an extension of the gospel and therefore as a means of grace. How powerful has become this fireside/riverside/ bedside/field and forest conversation among us, even while not being fully aware that it is truly a God-ordained conversation and consolation that we share.
Indeed, the 'mutual conversation and consolation of brethren' might be overheard by a refugee mother and child who are waiting outside a portable LCMS World Relief and Human Care clinic in Malakal, Sudan. An Islamic tsunami widow in the east of India may hear with gladness the 'mutual conversation and consolation of brethren' when it is served with bandages, food, and shelter for her fatherless children.
Truly, there is nothing new here and we know exactly what Christ said and did.
Personally, I don't see myself anywhere in a foreign country any time soon, but the message applies to each of us individually and as a congregation corporately. We are all called to say something to help each other and to bring this into a myriad of situations, and not just to say but also do. Still, let's not forget to say when doing, whenever the time is right.
In terms of the blogging, I think that's why many of us like it. There is a mutual consolation found, which is a great gift. Sometimes, when you don't get a response and everyone is busy, or you don't know what someone is thinking, it does not seem very mutual and it feels like upward slogging all by yourself. So, for those who read, it is really nice if you say something. :) So, it's good to have a statcounter, which tells you that someone at least has been reading, and there is grace in that.
This quote makes me think of another thing. Sometimes you hear people talk of Bible study as a "pooling of ignorance". I think that is a destructive comment. It can occasionally be that. And there are different kinds of Bible studies. Some are lecture format and they are good. Other Bible studies are more discussion oriented and these allow people to express something of their own faith. This is good practice. If you can learn to say something about the mercy you know in Jesus Christ, you might actually be ready to say it to someone else outside of the church and maybe even in a hostile setting.
Personally, I'm very big on these studies. If there is a conflict and I have to chose between going to divine service and Bible study, I tend to go to the Bible study. Sadly, I find they are not to be had very many places. We have let them slide and go by the wayside. This is a totally destructive trend. President Bugbee talks a lot about our Biblical illiteracy and he is right.
So much for today.