Archive for April, 2009

S*xting

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 by Country Preacher

Here is an article I wrote for the church newsletter.  As an aside, I hate it when pastors post articles they write for newsletters on their blog.

Anyway, the topic of the article is obviously sexting.  Parents – beware.  If your marriage has managed to escape the horrors of internet pornography – and the odds aren’t good on that – then you are still not safe.

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Worse than a $5,000 Cell Phone Bill

Cell Phones. We can’t live without them. For Parents, this can be a problem. You’ve all heard about the Cheyenne man whose child ran up a $5,000 phone bill sending text messages. According to one of our pastors in Cheyenne, the real problem is much darker. Most teenagers are “sexting”. What is that? It is like texting – sending text messages via cellphone. Sexting is sending an explicit picture of yourself to your friends. Children as young as 11 or 12 are sexting. According to my sources, in some cities in Wyoming, it is rare to find children who are not doing this. (Among girls AND boys) Is it happening in Wheatland? I am certain it is. Are members of Trinity immune from this? Well, no. We aren’t immune from this any more than we are immune from any other sin.

From a legal standpoint, sexting can ruin a child’s life. If caught, they can be charged with distribution of child pornography. Not only is this a felony, but it puts them on the sex offender registry for the rest of their lives. Anyone who gets the “sext” message and then forwards it can face the same charges. Because of recent changes in the law, judges have very little discretion to reduce sentences, and can do nothing to keep any names off the registry. You must disclose this when you apply for a job, when you apply for loans, you must notify the state when you move, and your information is posted on a publicly accessible website. And it never goes away.

Even if a child is not caught, this sort of shameful behavior has consequences. By debasing themselves in this way – even if “everyone is doing it” – it can be harder to form real relationships later in life. It can cause all sorts of problems and dysfunctions. It shows very little regard for the beautiful body God created and gave to us. It devalues his creation, and it can harm self-esteem for years to come.

So what is a parent to do? Pr. Kumm suggested the following :

1. Talking with your children. (This is obvious, but needs to be said.) Make sure they understand the sinfulness of such behavior. Not everything that “Feels good” in the moment is the right thing to do.

2. When your child gets his first phone, don’t give them a full featured camera phone with unlimited minutes and texting. He recommends a pay-as-you-go phone. (Trackphone comes without a camera) Give your children a set number of minutes they can use (per month or for the whole year.) When those are gone, they are gone. This teaches responsibility. It also limits your liability -No $5000 invoices from your cell-phone company.

3. When they have demonstrated responsibility with a lesser type of phone, let them use a real phone.

4. If you suspect that phone usage is getting out of hand, again, talk to your children. It may be necessary to confiscate or disable their phone for a while. Talk to your cell-phone provider or go online to find out how much your child is using (or abusing) their phone privileges.

5. Do not be afraid to ask your pastor, or someone else you trust, for help.

When should a child get a cell phone? Opinions vary, and it depends on your circumstance. When they are responsible enough to understand that this is not a toy, and that they are to treat the privilege rightly, then talk to them about it. I have heard as young as 7/8 and as old as high school. (or even older) If they are driving, they should probably have a cell phone for emergencies.

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On funerals

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 by Country Preacher

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, before you tell anyone when your loved one’s funeral is, ask the pastor if he is available.   It will save everyone a lot of time and aggravation.

Swimming Rivers

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2009 by Country Preacher

It’s no secret there have been a number of high profile defections from Lutheranism in the last two decades.  In fairness, some of the higher profile ones (Richard John Neuhaus, for example) left the LCMS long ago, and, finally realizing the moral and theological bankruptcy of the ELCA, left Lutheranism entirely.

I recall reading an article a few years ago, “Part of the Problem Goes All the Way Down” by Leonard Klein, in which he details the very alarming problems with Lutheranism.  Similarly, men like John Fenton, Alexander Harju, etc. have given detailed (more or less) descriptions of the aberrant theology of Lutheranism that led them to either “Swim the Tiber” or “Swim the Bosporus”.

There is only one problem with many of these theological diatribes : They have no basis in actual Lutheran Dogma.

I almost wrote that they have no basis in Reality, but that is not true.  They do have a basis in reality.  If you look, you can find Lutherans who hold to the errors which – so they say – drove them from Lutheranism.  Indeed, in many cases you don’t have to look too hard.  But you won’t find those errors espoused in the Lutheran Confessions.  Klein’s article was especially egregious.  I found myself, several times, saying “My LUTHERAN seminary condemned these very errors!”  The problem with Klein’s article was that he was trying to swing at a straw man – or rather two straw men.  On the one hand, the historical critic, last seen in 1975, as seminex faded from the newspapers.  Now, it’s true that there are still historical critics out there.  But their influence in matters synodical is fading fast.

On the other hand, he swipes at the evangelical fundamentalist. Several of the younger critics do as well.  Now there are arguably more of these in the LCMS.  But even so, they are in the LCMS in defiance of the Lutheran Confessions.  There continued presence, ignoring the Sacrament, denying the power of the Word to save (both sinners and the church) is a mystery to me, given our confession’s clear espousal of things like Private Absolution, the Mass, Episcopal governance, etc.

Why then do these men, who seek true doctrine, run from what is true to what is false, for the sake of escaping men who claim to speak the truth, but then contradict their confession.  Men being sinners the world over, I have no doubt that their new confession is no better – having in it men who claim to belong while privately (or publicly) denying what is confessed.  The advantage is that, on the issue which drove them from Lutheranism, there is unanimity.  That battle need no longer be fought.  They can leave for the greener pastures of the East, secure in the knowledge that “worship wars” need never be fought again.  They can swim the Tiber, knowing that the issue of authority will no longer be a point of contention.

Which is sad.  But I get tired of hearing people complain that Lutheranism has no respect for tradition, that we have no real doctrine of the church, that our doctrine of worship is lacking.  None of this is true.  That these teachings are denied by many (in some cases most) in the LCMS is true, but it doesn’t make the clearly articulated Lutheran teaching any less true.

There is a question that should be asked.  And perhaps its answer would still drive these men away.  It was asked by Fr. Fenton before he left, but I am not certain he ever worked out an enswer.

What is it about  the Lutheran confessions – which confess doctrine so clearly – that makes it so easy for men to disregard them, while still calling themselves Lutheran?  And why does this invariably seem to happen to Lutheran Churches – there is not one Lutheran Church that has held been able hold the doctrine of the confessions steadfast for more than about 150 years.  Why is that?

The answer of course, is “Sin.”  But then, as Dr. Marquardt pointed out, the East doesn’t take sin all that seriously, and Rome thinks sin can be worked off.  We actually believe in sin.  It should be no surprise that we have to deal with the consequences.

Evangelicals and Liberals

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2009 by Country Preacher

The difference between the Evangelical and the Liberal is :

The Evangelical believes in the authority of the Word of God, but not it’s power.

The Liberal believes in the power of the Word of God, but not it’s authority.

The evangelical will talk all day about the authority of the word of God.  I once heard a “sermon” against evolution at a Baptist church that went on for 45 minutes, and said that evolution was false because the bible said so.  Therefore it must be false because the bible said so.  So it must be false because… Yet, the evangelical will ascribe no power to the word.  It is the human heart that decides to follow Jesus, not the power of the Holy Ghost, who, through the Gospel calls gathers enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth.  The Word can actually be an impediment to conversion (being powerless) so excitements must be added. (Musical, theatrical, power-pointical, etc.)

Meanwhile, the Liberal will speak about the power of the word.  I have heard liberals wax eloquent about incarnation in ways that would bring tears to your eyes. But they don’t like talk about”The word.”  For it has no authority.  (The acknowledge it’s power but speak of it in other terms – Gospel, sacrament, liturgy, etc.) The following is a direct quote, “The doctrine on which the church stands and falls is justification, not the word.”

Or, as the old joke goes, “An evangelical is someone who says to a liberal, ‘If you call me a scholar, I’ll call you a Christian.'”

Stat meter / QOD

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2009 by Country Preacher

So, according to the WordPress Stat meter, the top searches that lead to my site are :

Ken Schurb BRTFSSG

Do not throw at wild boar.

The first makes much sense.  The second is… amusing… or puzzling… not sure what.

But it is certainly good advice.  So that is my “Quote of the Day.”

“DO NOT THROW AT WILD BOAR!”

Tell me why the stars do shine?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 by Country Preacher

OK, so I don’t need to know that.  What I am curious about is this :

Why is it,that every time I start a blog, my computer crashes within about a month or two, so I can not post regularly? At other times, my computers work like highly engineered German cars – purring along with no trouble.  Blogging seems to bring out the bugs/viruses/complete system crashes.

For vs. Of – Or, A little learning…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 26, 2009 by Country Preacher

In seminary, a beloved professor argued that “This is the Feast” – that beloved new canticle – had a bit of unintentional grammar that made it unacceptable to  Lutherans.  He claimed – I have heard it claimed often since then – that the phrase “This is the feast of victory for our God” was incorrect, and should be sung with the more correct (but far more awkward) phrasing “This is the feast of victory OF our God.”  The reasoning, so it is said, is that we are not throwing the feast FOR God, but rather, the feast is celebrating the victory OF God.

That’s fine as far as it goes, but does it justify either A) Not singing the Dignus Est Agnus, or B) Using White-out on the word “for” and typing the word “of” on top of it?

No.  It does not.  Why do I say this?  Because, a little learning (in this case grammar) can be a dangerous thing.  Let’s look at this grammatically.

Diagramming doesn’t work well in a blog, but if you have a piece of paper, follow along at home.  The subject of the sentence is “This”.  The predicate is “is”.  “(the) Feast” is a predicate nominative.  This leaves us with two prepositional phrases.  “Of victory” tells us what kind of feast it is.  But where do we put “for our God”?  Does it modify “feast” or “victory”?  In english, it could go either way.  The choice is yours.

Practically, this means that the sentence can mean either “This is the feast for God, to celebrate his victory”  or it can mean “This feast celebrates the victory which God has won.” In the former   “for our God” modifies feast.  In the latter it modifies “victory”.  While it can mean either, the latter makes more sense.  Why?  The verses seem more directed to explaining the terms of the victory than to describing the feast itself.  If the verses explained the feast, it would naturally follow that the feast is for our God.  But since the verses explain the victory, the prepositional phrase apparently modifies the victory.  Which victory?  God’s victory.

Another reason to assume that the phrase “for our God” modifies “victory” is the placement in the sentence.  While not entirely determinative, the most logical reading of the sentence it to have the modifier modify the closest option.  If “for our God” modifies “feast”, then we really have a sentence that says, “This is the feast of victory.  This feast is for our God.”  Instead of saying, “This is the feast of victory.  The victory is God’s.”

When President Obama was elected, there was a giant victory party in Downtown Chicago.  This party was thrown BY the Obama campaign.  It was a party of victory for Obama.  But it was not thrown for him.  It was thrown by him.  (Weeks later the city was still claiming the campaign owed them money.)  So, we can say, a feast of victory for our God, and still mean that the victory is God’s, the feast is God’s and the party is for us.

So, it turns out, that a little bit of grammar knowledge leads us to find heresy where there is none.  A more in depth look at the grammar shows us that this song can be sung.  As to whether anything should replace the Gloria in Excelsis, well that’s a discussion for a different day.  But we need not reject this hymn solely for a false teaching it doesn’t teach.

Sing “This is the feast of victory FOR our God”.  Sing it loud, sing it proud.  And where possible, sing it as a communion hymn, not in place of th Gloria.