Archive for April, 2010

Away

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2010 by Country Preacher

Brethren (and Sisteren)

The last post will have to hold you for a while.  Pastoral duties will keep me away from my keyboard for most of the next two weeks.

Sad but true.

A letter

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2010 by Country Preacher

A scholar friend was visiting a monastery looking for lost manuscripts.  He didn’t find any, until one day he noticed that the lunch table had a piece of paper jammed underneath to keep the legs balanced.  The paper contained the following letter, which he has translated for us.  This letter has not seen the light of day in almost two thousand years.  It is apparently a response to Saint Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians.  My friend theorizes that, given the tone of Paul’s Second letter, it must never have reached him.

Reverend Paul O. Tarsus

5263 Tiberius St.

Ephesus, Aisia Minor, 99744

Dear Reverend Tarsus

Your letter, in which you express concern about one of our members living arrangements has been received.  Thank you for sharing your concerns with my office.

I am sure you realize that I genuinely share your concerns that we not cause offense in the church.  We share your deep concern for the gospel, and we hope that we can continue together in common Mission.

At the same time, it is exceedingly important that you understand the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves.  First, let me make clear that we do not at all consider it “sexual immorality” as you have said.  The pastor in question spoke to me several times before the man moved in with the woman whom you call “his father’s wife”.  At the time they moved in together, his parents were in fact, divorced.  In addition, they have assured me that they are very much in love and committed to this relationship.  Unfortunately, financial difficulties prevent marriage at this time, but they fully plan to enter marriage when the time is right.

Beyond this, I think it is important that we always focus on the gospel.  Did our Lord not say, “neither do I condemn you” to the woman caught in adultery?  Also, while the old Mosaic law had prohibited degrees of consanguinity, you are no doubt aware of the recent resolution of the Jerusalem convention, prepared by Peter himself, in which he writes, “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ — to whom we gave no such commandment.”  I am sure you will see from this that the Mosaic law is no longer binding, thanks to the glorious freedom which the gospel has given us.  If you have not read the document, I suggest you download it and read it.

In addition, as you are aware, admission to the Sacrament of the Altar falls clearly within that pastors pastoral discretion.  As the CTCR has said regarding these pastoral judgments, “charity must prevail.”

Finally, I must remind you, that under the synod bylaws to which you have voluntarily sworn yourself, before you make any charges of this sort, you must initiate a face-to-face contact meeting.  Without that meeting, there could be no further action on my part, even if I did find that this situation warrants any action.  If you continue to write and speak publicly about this, I will have no choice but to speak to your own district president regarding your status on the roster of synod.

I ask that you would join me in praying that God would give us the boldness to speak his Gospel in these troubled times.  However, we must be careful not to burden consciences, a point you yourself make in your letter to us.  Rather, let us bear with our weaker brother in all things, that we may win his soul.

I certainly appreciate your concerns.  Rest assured I am committed to a deep and lasting dialogue on this issue.

Fraternally,

Dr. Herman Nootic

President, Early Church-Asia Minor Synod.

Indiana Jastram

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by Country Preacher

Mild Mannered Professor of theology, or high stakes adventurer in the cutthroat world of antiquities?  That was the question we always had about Dr. Nathan Jastram, who bore a striking resemblance to a certain Nazi-fighting ark hunter.  He appears on the most recent cover of The CUW Concordian, and has an article about the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Did he really work on them in a library as he claims, or did he go on a multi-continent adventure, racing against bad guys and facing certain death to obtain the crucial fragment that would unlock the millenia old secrets of the scrolls?  Only he knows for sure, and he’s not telling.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, he wrote a study for the CTCR that they declined to publish.  All the better for us, because now we can read it in all of its unedited glory.  The topic?  I’m guessing it was supposed to be what turned into “The Carpet Report” on men and women.  Right click here and download for a PDF, courtesy of the folks at the CTSFW library.  Isn’t that nice of CTSFW to provide that for you?  Click here to support to CTSFW and their library relocation project.  Apparently, they don’t want to store half of the collection in closets on the other end of the campus anymore.  A library that actually houses library books?  You know, that’s just crazy enough to work.

Disappointed – A Good Sign

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by Country Preacher

Back in the 1980’s and early 90’s, there was no disappointment with the VBS from CPH.  You knew what it was going to be.  It was probably about the best thing out there, but no VBS was really good.  Indeed, the problem was not with the VBS program, so much as it was with CPH – everyone knew that it was our publishing house, but the books published there were a mixed bag.

Then, an amazing thing happened.  Someone took it upon themselves to produce a VBS that was distinctly Lutheran.   Apparently, you can teach children and remain faithful.

Then, another amazing thing happened : Pr. McCain was appointed Interim President (now Publisher) for CPH.  The quality of CPH products skyrocketed.  The VBS producer mentioned before was hired as Sunday School Editor.  There were materials worth buying and teaching to children.  It has been wonderful.

And so, we came to expect that everything ever published by CPH would be awesome.  And yet, for some reason, the VBS continued to disappoint.  Strides were made, but it never seemed to capture the essense of “Follow the Lamb” – perhaps the best VBS any of us has ever seen.

This year, we were disappointed yet again.  Our hopes that this one area of CPH would improve were not fulfilled.  It was the same as the generic Christian VBS’s from the 80’s and 90’s.

Of course, the very fact that the VBS stands out as a weak point shows how far CPH has really come.  Back in the 80’s it wasn’t a weak point.  It was part of an overall program from a mediocre Christian publisher.  Today, it is one of the few weak points in an otherwise stellar line up.

So, for all of us who continue to hope for a VBS from CPH that we can use in our congregations with pride, something our children will grow into and not out of, I ask the folks at CPH to take to heart the “October Motto” of the loyal Cub’s fan : Maybe next year.

10,000

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by Country Preacher

To whomever visited 162 persons ago, thank you.  I now have over 10,000 visitors to my blog.  Happy day!

Pastors in Trouble

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by Country Preacher

I feel sorry for the poor new pastor who goes into a congregation only to find it a hotbed of lodge activity.   Or a hotbed of homosexual propaganda.  Or a hotbed of absolute denial of the biblical record.  Or rampant, public and scandalous sexual sin.   Or flagrant unionism.  Unwittingly, the poor fellow preaches the truth, and finds himself gratuitously attacked.  The congregation decides it needs to get rid of this man, who has done nothing more than what Paul encouraged and admonished him to do.   I know of men who have found themselves in all of these situations.   They try to do the right thing, lovingly and gently.  In many cases, they are run out of town on a rail.  In others, they manage to survive a vote to remove by only one or two votes.  Or perhaps they manage to survive the evil motion to cut the pastor’s salary to zero by one or two votes.  A mass exodus occurs.   (And double woe be unto he that ends up in a congregation which the DP has served that has these problems.  Trust me, don’t even bother to pick up the phone.  It’s a waste of your dime. )

The question asked by one of the Wyoming District officers in a recent meeting was : Where are the district presidents, telling their congregations that if they remove a faithful pastor, they themselves will be removed?

Has it ever happened?  I read the notices in the synod’s papers.  I know of pastors removed or pushed out for being faithful.  (Of course, they aren’t removed from synod all at once.  They are placed on “CRM” status – a synod death sentence.)  I have only seen one congregation removed by action of the DP in 12 years – and the pastor went with them.  Do we have no one who will stand up for the rights of pastors?  Who will fight for them?

The synod’s campaign to recruit and train pastors (What a way to go) might be more effective if the synod would EVER stand up for the pastors.

I mean, how easy can it be to run a campaign when the bottom line is : You love God.  Great!  But that won’t matter at all.  It’s all about whether you can keep people happy.  If you do, then all is well with thee and thou mayest live long in the synod.  If you do not, then you will be destroyed, and no one will lift a finger to help you.  We will all stand around doing a post-mortem on the errors you made, and you will become a cautionary take to others not to rock the boat.  Like this. Or this. Or this. Or this.

We have  our own synodical whitewashed tombs.  Robert Preus, anyone? He managed to be cleared of all charges hours before his heart gave out.    If he had died the day before, no ruling would ever need to have been made.  He could have died with a cloud over his head, and this epitaph could have been etched in granite : Troubler of Israel.   By dying after the ruling that absolutely cleared him, his gravestone is nicely whitewashed, but the cautionary tale remains : What did that paint job cost him?

I recently heard of a conversation a pastor had with an otherwise good  district president (that is, a very confessionally minded one) who told him point blank that when it comes down to it, he will side with the congregation every time.  That’s just wrong.

I know of an instance where the pastor would have been removed, had he been a member of the LCMS, but fortunately, he was a member of LCC.  He had the support of his district president and congregation, but had angered one of our district presidents.   Good for him.  And shame on the District President who refused to stand up for a faithful pastor.   Will no one?

(PS.  I don’t need anyone to stand up for me.  My congregation is quite happy with me, thank you very much.  But I do pray for those who are suffering.)

On Presidential Elections

Posted in Uncategorized on April 23, 2010 by Country Preacher

A dear friend of mine has a theory regarding LCMS politics : A Conservative POTUS means a liberal POTS, and vice versa.  So, when Texans got elected back in 2000/2001, he was not at all surprised.  Now that “O” is in the Oval Office, he thoroughly expected the sort of nomination numbers for Harrison that we now see.   Indeed, he expects a Harrison win, based almost solely on the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

If you look back, I suppose it makes sense, until you get to 68/69 – Preus/Nixon.  The exception that proves the rule?   Anyway, if that is true, do we start praying for a second term for O?  Or can Matt Harrison buck the trend and get elected with a President Palin in office?

Time will tell…