A Pastor's Notes

notes, comments, and sermons — sometimes even mine

Archive for October 2011


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There’s not much more of a reaction warranted for this little bit of theological idiocy. For those of you unclear on the matter, Pelagianism = Bad News, as in no good news, as in no Gospel to be found here. Pelagius and his teachings have no place in the Church. Our friend Luther had more than a little to say on this sort of teaching in his classic The Bondage of the Will. The recycling of old heresies will never end until the Lord’s return, it seems.


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24 October 2011 at 8:33 am

Posted in Weekly Notice


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Cranks are easily dismissed, both in real life and online. Yet, surprisingly often, there is something to what they’re saying, something lurking amidst the (quite often amazingly varied and counter-to-the-facts) craziness, something worth hearing when it comes to their core focus. So try this on today: is there a crank in your life? Or one you encounter on a fairly regular basis? Pay attention to their central concern. You may be surprised by what you find.

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5 October 2011 at 10:46 am

Posted in Misc

Five years on: the real target of Ratzinger’s 2006 Regensburg Address

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The furor over references to Islam in Ratzinger’s speech obscured his true target: the Reformation and its legacy (both good and bad).

He moves quickly to establish reason as the preferred rendering of λόγος in John 1, as opposed to word (or Word). He already made clear his sympathy with Manuel II Paleologus’ statement that “not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God’s nature”; by embracing the Greek mode of thought as both entirely (and without real question) compatible with that of the Old Testament, and as deeply reasonable, he attempts to write the Word — when in conflict with human reason, which it obviously must not and cannot be — into union with Reason (see more recent comments by Ratzinger on the Word, here).

The speech then turns its guns on Nominalism (already brought to mind in its short discussion of one strand in Islamic thought). What looks to be surprisingly Lutheran in tone (“the truly divine God is the God who has revealed himself as logos and, as logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf”) cannot be read as such, given the near-equation of λόγος with reason earlier in the address. This is an oblique attack on Luther’s focus on λόγος as Word, without the need for heavy lifting: why waste time on argument when discounting any other reading of the text than yours as mistaken?

This is a small move in Rome’s continued deep, Counter-Reformation game, which has been run at an accelerated rate in recent years as various Lutheran groups start to give on the articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae (do see here).

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4 October 2011 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Weekly Notice

A nice post on the contraction of religious freedom in America

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Here’s a nice post on First Things on recent developments in this direction.

Not all such constrictions of religious freedom are purposeful or even noticed. A well-under-the-radar (probably inadvertent) restriction on religious practice that affects Lutherans is found in institutional (usually correctional or mental health) settings where alcohol of all sorts is forbidden. As we believe and teach that the Lord’s Supper is to be received in both kinds, both the bread and wine, believers who are held in such settings can easily be denied access to the Sacrament. This is not a problem for nearly any other Christian group in America, as the Sacrament isn’t for many of them, and a goodly number on that side of the question deny that wine ought to be used anyway; this is also not of great concern for Roman Catholics (a local priest confirmed this for me as we discussed communing those in the local jail) due to their teaching (discussed here, for instance) that one receives both Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion when either the consecrated bread or wine are consumed. Unforeseen consequences of such restrictions become institutionalized, and lead to further restrictions (intended or not) down the road.

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4 October 2011 at 11:11 am