All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day: Origins and Samhain-ization
Today it seems that everyone knows that Halloween is originally a Celtic pagan holy day named Samhain [pr. Sow-in] which the Christian Church supplanted for the sake of forcing pagans to convert to Christianity. Obviously, in this line of thought, Christianity has nothing of it self to offer and must co-opt, adopt, adapt, and use non-Christian sources for the sake of gaining converts from the world outside of Christianity.
A read through the Old Testament will show that the people of God have many times adopted religious practices and celebrations from the pagan nations around them: Sometimes in an effort to gain peace with those nations, sometimes to attract members, sometimes . . . Read All
A fellow author for BJS, Pastor Joe Abrahamson, brought to my attention this testimonial of a woman who apostatized after realizing that her life as a Christian was not much different than her job as a saleswoman. From listening to her story it hit me at how much happiness and fellowship she was enjoying during her short monologue. Her comrades of scoffers reacted with hearty laughter as she recounted to them, with her calm sense of humor, the events that led to her conversion to unbelief. You can take a listen if you would like. What her whole presentation reveals is how damaging market-style evangelism is for souls. And we should not be fooled.
The problem with market-style evangelism . . . Read All
Contextualization Level: Expert
In a generic sense, contextualization refers to considering the context, that is, the situation, environment, time, and culture in which an event takes place. Within the church, contextualization usually refers to the process of speaking God’s Word to a group of people in a way which considers and adapts to their context. A great example of comes from St. Jerome and Dr. Luther. Each saw that the Bible of his day was in a language that only few understood, so he produced a translation in the language of the people. In St. Jerome’s context, then, Latin was more appropriate than Greek as the language of Scripture being read to the people. Centuries later, Luther produced a . . . Read All
Books people read reflect their interests. Books people recommend reflect their worldview. Books endorsed by fellow authors reflect a clique.
To test this aphorism, and as a follow-up to our previous article about influential authors and books linked with the FiveTwo Network that is hiving within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), we dug into the content. And soon wished we had not.
Some of the writing is just puerile poppycock, a lot of it is mystical mumbo-jumbo, but most of it is the Angel of Light feigning love for Christ’s church. There is heterodoxy, heresy and even blasphemy in many of the books currently in vogue among the church growth / missional crowd.
There are common threads . . . Read All
This article is a layman’s plea to confessional Lutheran pastors, theologians, and doctors to consider the myriad of challenges to the doctrine upon which the church stands or falls from a simple, strategic perspective. Otherwise, all we’re ever going to do is play whack-a-mole. That would be only a tactical defense, not a strategic one.
Despite what seems to be a dizzying array of ideas and movements that undermine, erode, or outright displace justification, really, there is a single thread running through them: theosis. When we see this single thread, we can be nimble in defending the flock.
My plea does not arise as a matter of ideology. We lay people, lambs that we are, need the militant shepherd.
. . . Read All
John the Steadfast
With great joy the Brothers of John the Steadfast announce our 2015 Conference, held once again at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL.
February 20-21, 2015
Topic: “When Heterodoxy Hits Home”
Pr. Larry Beane
Pr. Hans Fiene
Pr. Clint Poppe
Pr. Todd Wilken
Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller
Banquet Speaker – Pr. Timothy Rossow
Many of the features that have made past conferences notable will again be there including the “no pietist’s allowed” gatherings on Friday night and also the Manly Man’s Breakfast on Saturday morning.
Costs and registration information will be coming – stay tuned but save the date…
An additional note from Editor Tim Rossow:
“There will be no sacramental entrepreneurs but there will be
. . . Read All
This post is strictly for my confessional Lutheran brothers and sisters.
I’ve spent some time researching and writing about a network called FiveTwo. If you are a confessional Lutheran within the LCMS, I encourage you to make your acquaintance with the FiveTwo Network and its founder, LCMS Pastor, Bill Woolsey. My encouragement to familiarize yourself with this pastor and his network is a lesson in discernment. You see, whether you realize it or not, FiveTwo is a church planting network and though it’s not directly funded by our synod, it’s leadership is overwhelmingly comprised of rostered LCMS pastors and their sights are firmly set on transforming our synod. I could write of the vast issues I see within FiveTwo, . . . Read All
The Rolling Stones sang their song “Sympathy for the Devil,” and evangelical Christians responded with uproar. But is there anything we can learn from the song (or from John Lennon’s quip about the Beatles being more famous than Jesus Christ)? Pr. Gaven Mize joins us to discuss just why and how the hideous monster named “Satan” is also so attractive and alluring for us sinners. And what’s the remedy?
Read Pr. Gaven Mize’s article, “Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself.”
View over on Steadfast Throwdown.
. . . Read All
Visiting those who are sick and facing death is part of my job as a pastor, and, frankly, I’m woefully inadequate. Thanks be to God, I’ve spent very little time in the valley of the shadow of death personally. I haven’t shared the experiences of sickness and death that many of my parishioners are going through when I call on them in the ICU. When I enter their hospital rooms, I feel naked.
All I can do is listen to how sin and death whispers its lies to the sick and their families. I grieve with them even though I have not experienced their pain myself. All I can offer is to read Scripture, announce the forgiveness that God has . . . Read All
Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.
J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories
Every child builds. Some build castles out of wooden blocks handed down from an older sibling. Some construct forts out of blankets, chairs, and miscellaneous living room artifacts. Some erect mansions and small municipalities out of Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, or any other plaything their grandparents or parents saved for them to enjoy one day. As fun as those pastimes were, my medium of choice has always been Lego bricks.
I received my first Lego bricks from family . . . Read All
Rosebrough on the FiveTwo Network
Here are three segments with Pr. Chris Rosebrough where he addresses different problems with the FiveTwo Network’s practices and use of language. Pr. Rosebrough makes it quite clear that he thinks Pr. Woolsey properly understands Law and Gospel, but there are aspects of his theology that are in error.
Sacramental Entrepreneurs and the FiveTwo Network – Issues Etc.
Bill Woolsey Creates His Own Ecclesiology (41:41 – 1:08:15) – Fighting for the Faith
Bill Woolsey Tries to Explain What It Means to Be Sacramental? (3:40 – 11:11 & 38:45 – 48:35) – Fighting for the Faith
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“Justification: The Heart of the Reformation” (Romans 3:19-28)
Today is the last Sunday in October, and so we are observing Reformation Day. It will be 497 years ago this Friday, on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, thus setting in motion the great Reformation of the Christian church. We are the heirs of that Reformation, blessed to be so, and so we join with faithful Lutherans all around the globe in celebrating that historic event and all the blessings of pure doctrine and sound practice that came from it.
How do we celebrate the Reformation? By believing in and caring about the same things that Luther and . . . Read All
Title: Your Testimonies Before Kings
Text: Ps 119:46
Reformation Day (Observed), October 26, 2014
Prior to the Lutheran Church there was no denominational church in western Christendom. There was simply the Medieval Church, sometimes called the Church Catholic. You were either a member of the Church Catholic or, you were a pagan. There were only two options.
An Augustinian Monk named Martin Luther began to see from Scripture that the teachings of the Medieval Church were not in line with Scripture. Over the course of time the first church to be formed in the West was the Lutheran Church.
Many cite the founding of the Lutheran Church in 1517 when Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the church door in . . . Read All
Reverend Christopher I. Thoma +
Text and Theme: Lutheran Service Book, Hymn 656, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”
(The Preaching of the Gospel for this feast takes a different form than what is our usual practice. The intention is to combine the preaching of the Gospel with the singing of the hymn. The pastor will preach a portion and the congregation will respond by singing a stanza. This is to happen in consecutive order with the sermon conclusion being the final stanza.)
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The fortress is God’s. A mighty fortress is our God. His bricks and mortar, His moat and iron girds, His . . . Read All
Rev. Chris Rosebrough is the founder and moderator of Pirate Christian Radio. He is a sharp witted and sharp thinking Lutheran. He has his own story to tell about how the 5/2 Network folks are deleting comments on their blogs that ask hard and important questions of them.
Click here to read his account of deleted comments and questions on the 5/2 Facebook blogs.
. . . Read All
The recent BJS posts about the “Five-Two” network may all sound vaguely familiar to any of you who have been reading BJS for four years or more. In August 2010, Pastor Rossow did a great article on the topic of “Pastoral Leadership Institute,” a.k.a. PLI.
In my opinion, PLI and Five-Two work out of the same mind-set, which is a “managerial approach” to the church. This approach has great appeal to corporate executives and to pastors who show partiality (James 2:1-13) to those types of guys.
Pastor Rossow’s original post led to a very long discussion by the BJS bloggers following that post, with lots of good content. You really need to read Pastor Rossow’s article and those . . . Read All
The 5/2 editors are deleting comments on their blogs that they apparently don’t like. (You can find these blogs at the Five Two Facebook page.) A couple of our writers have posted comments asking questions about some of the 5/2 practices and they have been deleted. So I ask the District Presidents of the LCMS, who are the genuinely courageous and open folks in the LCMS, the 5/2’ers or the BJS’ers?
We have a very liberal and open comment policy here at BJS. Through the years I have been pressured to delete various comments that include false teaching and personal attacks. We have started to delete unfair personal attacks but we never have and still do not delete critical or . . . Read All
Don’t write off entrepreneurs in the church. I know some great churchy entrepreneurs such as Todd Wilken (Issues, Etc.), my partner in ministry here at Bethany, Jonathan Fisk (Worldview Everlasting), Bryan Wolfmueller (radio, publishing, comedy, etc.), and even Matt Harrison who before he headed up Lutheran World Relief put together an ambitious urban renewal project sponsored by his parish (Zion, Fort Wayne), the LCMS and the city of Fort Wayne.
Furthermore I take personal offense to those who cast stones at entrepreneurs “cuz I is one.” I started a publishing company that was a bust (although there are still a few Blue Pomegranate books out there), one of the most read Lutheran blogs (you’re . . . Read All
Our previous article focused on the people associated with the FiveTwo Network and how they relate to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS). This time we’ll focus on FiveTwo’s formative influences. The findings are disturbing for Confessional Lutheranism if the FiveTwo organization is allowed to continue hiving within the LCMS as a shadow synod.
FiveTwo’s “Sacramental Entrepreneurship” model is social entrepreneurship glossed with a light Lutheran varnish. Like all social entrepreneurism, it reduces to the fusion of business fads with do-goodism. Corporate strategy and marketing are the business disciplines that most inform social entrepreneurship. They are also the most impulsive and mystical fields in any business school, and whose chief characteristics are change for the sake of change.
At . . . Read All
I’d like to die in my sleep. I’d like to be in my eighties or even my nineties. I’d like to have roast beef with potatoes and gravy for dinner that night. Maybe even a glass of my favorite beer or a Scotch before bed. I’d like to be able to do my nightly prayers and go sleep soundly thinking of my savior. I’d like to peacefully fall asleep and await the resurrection of my flesh. This seems like a good way to die. Others have different ideas on how they’d like to die. Maybe you’re an avid motorcyclist and would like to be on the road in your last moments on earth. Maybe you’d like to die with your . . . Read All
A great post found by original BJS columnist Mollie Hemingway found over on TheFederalist.com excerpted below:
I just received an email asking me to “save the date” for a “Christmas” party to be held on Wednesday, Dec. 3. “Hi friends, get a jump start on your holiday planning with our Save the Date for the [redacted] Christmas party,” the email read. Attached was a card that read “sleigh bells will ring, JINGLE, JINGLE, JINGLE So let’s get together to MIX & MINGLE.”
Even though Advent is marked in this country by millions of Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and many other Christians, it’s almost invisible in media coverage and cultural celebrations. And Christmas, in this country, “ends” on the day . . . Read All
Posted over on Steadfast Throwdown:
How does a person become a Christian and stay a Christian? Not by doing things, but by hearing the Word of Christ. And should we really condemn someone for their faults, foibles, and sins in life, or should we focus more on the doctrine? Dr. Matt Phillips, professor of history at Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska, joins us to discuss his articles “Becoming a Christian by Listening” and “Distinguishing Between Doctrine and Life.”
Read Dr. Phillips’ article “Becoming a Christian by Listening”
Read Dr. Phillips’ article “Distinguishing Between Doctrine and Life”
. . . Read All
UPDATE: The pastor concerned has alerted me to an inaccuracy that as been corrected. His church was not in decline.
For weeks we have been justifiably preoccupied with Pastors savaging the Great Commission, and mocking our Confessions. There’s a nasty flipside. I read this weekend of one of our LCMS Pastors being abused by his congregation. It’s all about the root of all evil and that Artemis sized idol – the love of money.
City Methodist Church, Gary, IN.
Courtesy Michael Kappel.
In this case an already small congregation had cash flow problems, but it is asset rich. However, the Church leadership cannot bear parting with its savings or selling assets to cover shortfalls, and heaven forbid that leaders . . . Read All
Sermon Text — Matthew 22:15-21
October 19, 2014 AD
NOTE: Pastor Sikora’s sermons are now available in audio format; since he normally posts them the prior Thursday, these posts normally go up before the audio is available. We received this sermon late, so the audio is available. For those interested you might check back later to hear the sermons. For example, those who already read his Oct 2nd sermon may want to revisit it
to hear the audio.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Matthew’s gospel account the 22nd chapter.
A. They Tried . . . Read All
A post by LCMS 4th Vice President (and Houston Pastor) Rev. Dr. Scott Murray over on ReligionNews:
Recently, Houston city attorneys, acting on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and the City Council, issued subpoenas to five area pastors requiring they hand over copies of all communication with members of their congregations about a gay rights ordinance.
So what is a Christian pastor to do?
The mayor or members of the City Council are always welcome in my congregation. Sermons aren’t exactly private or privileged communications; they are proclaimed to audiences in public and placed on our website for people to listen to any time. Christian preachers condemn human sin and call people to repentance. They . . . Read All
Here in the commonwealth of Virginia, we moved Concordia Lutheran Mission from Lexington to Buena Vista because we were led to find a great rental property. We have now worshipped in our new location three Sundays, including today. One of our members told me about going to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Sale store in Buena Vista and some of his finds for the Mission, but he also told me something else. Our brother was talking with the clerk and he told the clerk that he was looking for stuff for our new mission. The clerk responded by saying that you are the new mission which is against gays and women and won’t let them serve in church. Our brother responded . . . Read All