Friday, October 31, 2008

TDP & Friday

It's Friday. My Treasury of Daily Prayer was shipped earlier this week from St. Louis (I believe that is from where it was shipped). I have now come to accept I will not receive my TDP this week. I have had to suffer through my American friends gloating and frothing at the mouth over their copies :-). I am jeaous. I want it. Now.

Truth is I have been using the electronic edition I was given for review for over a month each morning for Matins. There is a small group (1-2) that join me most mornings for Matins and I have been using the readings and the prayer for each day. I can't wait to get my copy so I can incorporate the daily reading from the Writing and the commemorations. What I am thinking is that once I get my copy and am able to show people it I will see about getting a bulk order. I also want to order 4-5 for the parish to have around for when people to join me for Matins they can follow along if they don't have their own.

Waiting anxiously for my TDP way up in Canada....

What is a Spiritual LIfe?

I have another thought I was pondering.

It seems to me that the use of the term "spiritual life" is not helpful. We will talk about our daily life and also our "spiritual" life. This is not helpful. It introduces a dangerous dichotomy. As a Christian what part of your life is not spiritual? How do you divorce your "daily life" from your "spiritual life?"

There is no such thing as our "spiritual life" apart from our "daily life." There is life. Your life. Do you live it with the knowledge of God? Do you live it knowing that you are a baptized child of God? Do you live it knowing that Jesus has risen?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reformation Thoughts

Perhaps what I will say below will be offensive to some. However, they were some thoughts that came to me last evening after I returned home from our Circuit Reformation Service we hosted here at Our Saviour.

The hymns we sang were great (By Grace I'm Saved, Salvation Unto Us Has Come, A Mighty Fortress). The sermon was a very good sermon which clearly expressed the Gospel and delivered well by Pastor Daryl Solie. I rejoiced in the Good News of the Gospel. I gave thanks to God for His mercy and forgiveness freely given to me for the sake of Christ. But I couldn't shake this feeling - this feeling of sadness. Why? This is not the way it should be.

The Church of Christ is divided. To a certain degree the Reformation represents a failure. It was not the intention to create a new church body. Yet it did. There was no choice of course - the Gospel needed to be given free reign and the church body of the day would not allow it. Nonetheless, it was not the intention of the Reformers and it is a sad reality to this day. It makes me wonder - is the Lutheran Church of today (and I mean those that are authentically Lutheran) an unfortunate necessity? While we ought to rejoice in the Gospel and the fact that we are able to believe, teach, and confess the pure Gospel - should we not also lament the fact that we must exist as a "Lutheran" church body?

I am in no way advocating a return to "Mother Church." Such thinking is folly for there is no such Church. The Church of Rome still teaches the same heresy it did in Luther's day. It must not be tolerated in the Christian Church. The reality is the Lutheran Church is catholic and orthodox. Any Lutheran must believe this. However, how is it that on such a day of joy and celebration brought about by the freedom to believe, teach, and confess the true Gospel - this sadness remains?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some thoughts on Lutheranism

This is about the sum of our teaching. As can be seen, there is nothing here that departs from the Scriptures or the catholic church or the church of Rome, in so far as the ancient church is known to us from its writers.[1]

Nothing has here been said or related for the purpose of injuring anybody. 5 Only those things have been recounted which it seemed necessary to say in order that it may be understood that nothing has been received among us, in doctrine or in ceremonies, that is contrary to Scripture or to the church catholic. For it is manifest that we have guarded diligently against the introduction into our churches of any new and ungodly doctrines.[2]

There are many who when they think of the Lutheran church as a whole see it as a “new” church. They see it as a creation of Martin Luther and his followers. They believe that what the Lutherans believed, taught, and confessed was “new” or “innovative.” Many believe that the Lutheran doctrine introduced something unknown to the Church. This conception of the Lutheran church is entirely mistaken.

I have had conversations where laypeople and pastors in the Lutheran church exhibit this kind of thinking. I have had laypeople and pastors express this sentiment: “Well Martin Luther tried something new so we can too!” Or, “Luther changed everything – so can we!” This line of thinking is quite contrary to the thinking of Luther and the Reformers. This line of thinking is contrary to the Lutheran Church and indeed to the catholic Church as a whole. This kind of thinking is dangerous and is ultimately arrogant and prideful.

As Charles Porterfield Krauth termed it – the Lutheran Reformation was a “Conservative Reformation.” As he writes: “It is vastly more important, then, to know what the Reformation retained than what it overthrew; for the overthrow of error, though often an indispensable prerequisite to the establishment of the truth, is not truth itself; it may clear the foundation, simply to substitute one error for another, perhaps a greater for a less”[3]

When one reads the Lutheran Confessions it is made clear that the Confessors’ intention was not to formulate new doctrines but to keep what had always been taught. It was not so much an attempt to introduce something new but a plea to return to something old! The Confessions, and perhaps no more clearly than in the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, are presenting the case that what is being taught therein is simply in line with what the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has always taught. The Confessions are simply pointing out where the Roman church of the day had strayed from those teachings and the Confessors’ desire was to call the Church back to its historic teachings.

As one reads through the Confessions, and again most apparently the Augsburg Confession and its Apology, one is struck by the constant references to the Church Fathers. St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom prove to be the two most frequently quoted among the Fathers. The Catalogue of Testimonies, often overlooked or entirely forgotten, was appended to the early editions of the Book of Concord “to show that the Lutheran teaching about the two natures of Christ is thoroughly in line with the historic and universal faith of the Christian Church.”[4] The Catalogue is itself a collection of both Holy Scripture and quotations from the Church Fathers supporting various teaching touching upon the nature of Christ. This gives insight into the way the Reformers both viewed their theological positions and also into their method of theology itself.

It seems to me that many of our people as well as many of our clergy, indeed we ourselves, have drifted from “doing” theology in the way of the Reformers. We have uncritically adopted a North American protestant approach to “doing” theology rather than the method of the “Conservative Reformation.” We trust ourselves and our individualistic notions above those who have gone before us. We are intellectually arrogant rather than humble. We judge those who have gone before us as ignorant and only trust in what is “new” and “relevant.” We do not hesitate to discard a long held teaching of the Church if it does not meet our “rational” expectations.

This was not the way of the Reformers. This is not the way of the Church. We might ask ourselves in our day, “What do we know now that makes us better students of the Bible than St. Augustine, Ignatius, Cyril, Ambrose, and others?” We must not isolate ourselves from those who have gone before us in the Faith. We must listen to them so that we do not become blinded by our own Age. We must ask, before we choose to discard a teaching of the Ancient Church, “Why?”

To be sure, the Church Fathers can be held in too high esteem and begin serving almost as a “norming norm.” This is dangerous and is certainly not the way of the Reformers. Chrysostom himself wrote:

Let us not therefore carry about the notions of the many, but examine into the facts. For how is it not absurd that in respect to money, indeed, we do not trust to others, but refer this to figures and calculation; but in calculating upon facts we are lightly drawn aside by the notions of others; and that too, though we possess an exact balance, and square and rules for all things, the declaration of the divine laws? Wherefore I exhort and entreat you all, disregard what this man and that man thinks about these things, and inquire from the Scriptures all these things.[5]

The Confessions also state:

But our papists make use of such human opinions to make men believe their shameful, blasphemous, accursed traffic in Masses which are offered for souls in purgatory, etc. They can never demonstrate these things from Augustine. Only when they have abolished their traffic in purgatorial Masses (which St. Augustine never dreamed of) shall we be ready to discuss with them whether statements of St. Augustine are to be accepted when they are without the support of the Scriptures and whether the dead are to be commemorated in the sacrament. It will not do to make articles of faith out of the holy Fathers’ words or works. Otherwise what they ate, how they dressed, and what kind of houses they lived in would have to become articles of faith — as has happened in the case of relics. This means that the Word of God shall establish articles of faith and no one else, not even an angel.[6]

So, it seems, we need to strike a “middle road.” We, in our day, must reacquaint ourselves with our Confessions and the Church Fathers upon which much of the Confessions are based. We must be willing to listen to the Fathers and allow their influence in our theology today. We must critically examine our presently held ideas and positions and if they differ from that of the Church Fathers we must wrestle with why we differ. What is it we know now that the Fathers did not? Have we gained some exegetical insight or have we changed our position because of our present context? Is it a valid change? We must resist the modern and present day arrogance among us that assumes we have greater insight than those who have gone before us. However, we must not view the Fathers as an inerrant source. We must also use our critical skills when reading them. We must always hold to the Word alone as our “norming norm.” It is only the Word of God that is above and beyond the present Age.

[1]Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Augsburg confession : Translated from the Latin (The Confession of Faith: 2, XXI, 4). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
[2]Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The Augsburg confession : Translated from the Latin (The Confession of Faith: 3, VIII, 4-5). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
[3] Charles Porterfirld Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology (repr. St. Louis: CPH, 2007), 202.
[4] Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, p.651.
[5] St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Second Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Corinithians, Homily XIII,
(Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers First Series), Volume 12, p. 346.
[6] Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The book of concord : The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church (The Smalcald Articles: 2, II, 13-15). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

I Am Sorely Vexed

So the NFL Season so far has been full of surprises. How is a guy supposed to win his "Pick 'em" leagues if teams like St. Louis keep winning? I mean if there was one thing I should have been bale to count on was the Rams losing to the Cowboys. I put the highest level of confidence points in that one. Ouch.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The American Revolution/Rebellion and Vocation

I doubt I am the first to raise this but I am curious to read the response. Was the American Revolution/Rebellion an example of breaking the 4th Commandment? As the Small Catechism teaches us - we are to submit to the governing authorities. We are to submit to the governing authorities unless we are forced to break God's Word - then we obey God rather than men. Perhaps that is a rather basic summary - but I think it suffices for now.
So that being the case - what was it that prompted the American Revolution/Rebellion? What was it that pained the consciences of the Americans to the point where they felt they were being forced to contradict God's Word by submitting to the Crown? From what did they seek independence? From what sin did they flee?
Furthermore, I wonder, what of those who remained loyal to the Crown? Were they in some sense obeying man rather than God? Would that have been an argument at the time? What did Lutherans from around the world make of the Revolution/Rebellion at the time?
Enquiring, and historically ignorant, minds want to know.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Day - Canadian Style

Today is election day in Canada. In Canada we don't fool around. An election is called and two months later - bang! we vote.
What is that? Oh, our Prime Minister passed a bill stating that we would have fixed election dates a la the USA? He ignored that because he was in a Minority government? Let's not talk about that...
I will vote. I have voted in almost every Provincial and Federal election since I was 18. I do my duty. I even follow politics - though rarely do I voice my opinion publicly regarding particular parties and politicians.
However, I must say I am truly tired of the political process as it has become. The so called debates and discussions are nothing other than an opportunity for the politicians to voice their "talking points." They all do it. All of them. However, the one politician in Canada that I think is the best (or worst) example of this is Jack Layton. It drives me crazy. Any question posed he turns into a discussion of his talking points. It is so transparent. And if I hear him say "working families" one more time I will cry. Tears. Actual tears rolling down my cheeks. Do you hear that Jack? Don't make me cry.
I am not the first to say this and I don't claim I am revealing any great insight here - but public discourse is dead. We no longer know how to discuss, debate, and argue in rational and meanigful ways. The fact that the term "rhetoric" has become a slur is indicative of the situation. Rhetoric: the art of using language effectively and persuasively. No - we don't want that in our politics apparently. We want monotonous talking points, ad hominem attacks, red herrings, and begging the question. Why? I don't know. It drives me crazy. But they wouldn't do it if it wasn't effective. Has it always been this way? Maybe. I don't know. Probably.
An example. The Conservatives attack the Liberal "Carbon Tax" on the basis of.... it is scary! It is a risk! The comercials don't lay out anything other than it may be a big risk and it is scary. I am not saying I like the idea of a carbon tax but how about giving some actual reasons against the the Carbon Tax rather than just saying: BOO!
The Liberals: I really don't know what to say here. I am not sure what they are about. Something about a Carbon Tax and they say Stephen Harper doesn't care about people or some such.
The Green Party: ?.
The Bloc Quebecois: A travesty that a seperatist party is even a part of the game. I suspect in many other countries instead of being a political party they would be in jail for treason.
So, I will vote. It is the least I can do. Literally. In a democracy it is the least you can do. I just wish I felt more inspired by the process.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving - Canadian Style

This is Thanksgiving weekend for us Canadians. Monday is officially Thanksging Day. Many have their Thanksging feast on one of the three days of the weekend. I love Thanksgiving! Turkey, cranberries, stuffing, yams, potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie. This is Thanksgiving Canadian style.

Noah, Naomi, and I (Abigail was sick with a fever so Chris stayed home with her) went to my brother and sister-in-law's where my parents are visiting for the weekend. It was a great meal. On the way home I drove through a full blown Canadian Prairie blizzard (not exactly as represented in the pic but close!). We could not go much more than 70kms/hr and at one point we could only go 40 kms/hr. Like I said: Thanksgiving - Canadian style!
This morning the ground is white with snow. The kids had a blast playing in the snow this morning. It looks like most will melt by the end of the day - but it is a foretaste of what is to come. It is a little early for the snow to stay until the Spring!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Glorious Day

Today marks a most glorious time of year. It also happens to be our wedding anniversary today. :-)

Today the NHL season begins (in full). Also, we are in the middle of the MLB playoffs. And the CFL is in full swing as is the NFL.

This is glorious - and it is marvelous in my eyes.

Monday, October 6, 2008


On Saturday I received very bad and sad news regarding some members in the parish. It has hurt them deeply. As their pastor - it hurts me as well. I mourn with them. I wish I could make it better. I can't. It has me thinking this morning...

From the outside life looks as if it is flowing along smoothly. People wake up, drink coffee, go to work, go golfing, read the paper, check out their stocks, watch SportsCentre, pick up the kids, cut the grass, do the dishes, and so on. It all seems rather simple, planned, expected. Every day will be this way.

The reality is that every day, everywhere, all the time there are major crises occurring to people all around you. Life altering events. Earth shaking. Announcements of disease. A marriage falling apart. Children getting into serious trouble. Injuries. Accidents. Miscarriage. Death. There are many people that are in the middle of a major crisis and they cannot understand how everybody else is living life as normal and their life is totally upside down. People all around you are dealing with seriously heavy stuff. Every time you hear an ambulance's or a police cruiser's or a fire engine's siren - we should be reminded of this.

Before I served in the parish I never truly realized that this was the case. In many ways I had floated through life without any major traumatic event. That illusion has been removed. I realize the fragility of so called - "normal." I have seen how a Dr's diagnosis, a car accident, a heart attack, a death - can suddenly change someone's "normal" forever.

Perhaps you have no idea of what I am talking about. You will. Unfortunately you too will have your "normal" changed forever in some way on some day.

That's life. There is much good. There is much bad. We like to hide ourselves from the bad and we try and ignore it and pretend it won't happen to us or our loved ones. It will. That's lilfe. If ignorance is bliss - that bliss will not last long.

Better to face the reality. Better to know what life is really like and not what we want it to be. Better to recognize that what is now will not always be. Better to get rid of a false sense of security. Better to not rely on "normal." Better to realize the truth and shed the illusion of a nice peaceful life. It does not exist this side of heaven. It is only a fantasy.

What then can we rely on? What can we do when "normal" is destroyed forever? What can we do when we look to the future and the uncertainty causes an overwhelming panic? What can we do with the pain we must endure?

Do you have an answer? You need one. This is not a hypothetical. This is not a "What would you do if...." This is - what will you do when. Do you have an answer?

As a pastor I learned very quickly I do not have all the answers. In many of the crisis situations I have been involved with there is no way I can make it better. I cannot say a few well spoken words and "fix it" and make everyone feel better. But I can be there with them. I can suffer with them. I often do not need to say anything. In many cases I should not say anything. Just be. Care. That is enough. What you say will not be remembered. But that you were there will be.

But that comes from not being surprised at life. That comes from knowing that this life is a mess. That comes from knowing that sin has destroyed any hope of living an easy life. That comes from knowing that while we must endure much - our Lord endured more. That comes from knowing that while it seems as if all hell has broken loose - our Lord has overcome it. That comes from the confidence that even though I cannot "fix it" our Lord already has. That comes from knowing that we do not walk through this valley alone.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

1000 Hits!

Well, I must say I am surprised - but my counter now has a little over 1000 hits. Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Is This a Hate Crime?

My concern and little personal crusade against the abuses of the Human Rights Tribunals and Commissions continues. Here is a link ( to the actual letter that has caused Pastor Stephen Boissoin to be brought before the Alberta Human Rights Commission. Is this a hate crime? Even if you disagree with the content - is this a hate crime?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Blessed Beginning to My Day

It has been a practice of mine to pray Matins most mornings in the sanctuary of the church. Though, in all honesty, it has been a little spotty of late. However, this morning I have begun anew and I had "advertised" it in the bulletin and on our congregational email list and so on that I would have Matins Tuesday-Friday at 9:15 and this morning two members of the parish came to join me for Matins. What a blessing! I love Matins and it is fine praying it alone - but it was wonderful to have others join in with me. I am also blessed that on Wednesday evenings after our Bible study the group joins me in the sanctuary for Compline around 9:00 - the people have grown to love Compline both for its beauty and its simplicity.

The Tree in Front of Our House

This is the tree in front of the parsonage. It turns this incredible golden colour every Fall. The colour almost glows - it is truly beautiful. I am not sure my picture taken on my Blackberry does it justice (did I mention I got a Blackberry? :-)). No one seems to know what kind of tree this is. Perhaps some sort of elm? It seems to be the last tree to get leaves in the Spring and one of the first to lose them in the Fall. In fact, most years all the leaves fall off in a matter of a few hours over one day.