Archives for category: Lutheranism

Watchman, what of the night?
Dear friends,

I believe that we as fellow Christians,take little notice of our Lord’s teaching in obedience, even unto death. Those who practice disobedience to God’s Word are multiplying like rabbits and even among the clergy there is the taint of the self-will of “I know better”.
The deceptions of the Women’s Ordination [WO] supporters and the statements on their blogs have gone on for some time. As with all lies, if one repeats an untruth long enough people may believe it to be the truth. Only Christ Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life.
However, the un-biblical statements/claims of the WO faction are based on their conception that their writings are Lutheran; do not be deceived they are not Lutheran! I even doubt that their writings are even fully Christian.
First and foremost I must remind the WO supporters, their fellow travelers in the LCA, and all who call themselves LUTHERAN that as members of the LCA we are all bound by both clauses of the un-alterable Article II of the Constitution of the Lutheran Church of Australia:
1. The Church accepts without reservation the Holy Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments, as a whole and in all their parts, as the divinely inspired, written and inerrant Word of God, and as the only infallible source and norm for all matters of faith, doctrine and life.
2. The Church acknowledges and accepts as true expositions of the Word of God and as its own confession all the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, namely … and the Formula of Concord.

This is NOT repeatedly taught; nor taught often enough, in our Parishes/Congregations, and as a result of this, many may be unaware of the obligations involved in the membership of a Congregation or Parish of the Lutheran Church. Leading Lutherans have a duty here to proclaim our Lutheran identity through this and teach the Book of Concord to the laity, whether in the pulpit, or in time and in season, [a good layman’s ministry]. Some of our current problems – same as in Dr. Martin Luther’s time – are caused by either ignorance or unwillingness to submit to the Word of God. We as Confessional Lutherans [ordained and lay alike] can address ignorance by teaching the pure Word of God and our Word based doctrine; unwillingness remains just that, unwillingness to submit to the Word of God will only respond to prayer.
All the Lutheran Pastors and some of the lay people (like some Chaplains) have made the statement [promise] that they will adhere to the Constitution of the Australian Lutheran Church, in particular the two sub-clauses above, and ALL of them [both groups above] should be held to their promises or be de-authorised to act as a Pastor, Chaplain, or any other office in the LCA; and be prevented to continue in their role until repention and correction.
The teachings of the Lutheran expression of Christianity have been adulterated by those who replace our Bible based doctrines and dogmas by secular practices, and use standards that only have a place in the secular world; i.e. work place rules on gender equality, equal pay for equal work and the hours one must work for a nominated pay.
Some Lutheran Bishops/Pastors now tolerate or encourage the teaching of Alpha [of Anglican origin] instead of Martin Luther’s Catechism(s). Some have even gone so far as to introduce the theology of another denomination [e.g. “40 days of purpose” by the USA Baptist Pastor Rick Warren], either straight out or under the cloak of adjusting it to our practices/doctrine; a claim to the latter was made some years ago by a Lutheran Pastor, who was rather weak in his knowledge of and adherence to our doctrine as in the second clause of our Confession. We must no longer tolerate or accept the authority in the LCA of those who openly, willingly and knowingly fail to adhere to their ordination/installation vows before God.
Two streams have developed in the LCA;
(i) Lutherans who loyally subscribe to Article II of our Constitution in full, and
(ii) those who cannot or will not subscribe to our Confession, they must realise and confess that in fact they are no longer Lutherans and consequently should be banned from taking any part in decisions that affect the life and teachings of the LCA.
The ‘white anting’ of our Confession must stop; if it is not stopped the LCA will, slowly but surely, lose its foundational doctrinal basis. The introduction of non-Biblical practices – such as WO – is one part of the rot that has crept into the LCA, it goes directly against a commandment from our Lord and against the Apostolic instructions that women are not to speak in the Church. It is like gangrene, the longer it is tolerated, the more damage it does, and consequently the more surgery is required to save the patient. In my opinion, this gangrene has already been tolerated far too long, has advanced too far; and hence, drastic surgery is essential for the life of the patient, in this case the LCA. I look forward to our College of Bishops to initiate the surgery to remove that which is NOT Lutheran. I pray for their intestinal fortitude to bite the bullet and remove the rot; we might end up with a smaller LCA, but it will be more true to God’s Word and its roots in the LCA. True adherents to Lutheran Doctrine will always understand and comply with Article II, others have no place in any position of authority in the LCA, be that a Bishop, a Pastor, a Chaplain or any lay person in a position of authority. It is time we act on that! If we do not act now, we cease to be the Lutheran Church of Australia, instead becoming the Liberal Church of Australia!
I look forward to a display of adherence to the Lutheran principle by our College of Bishops to the implications of adhering to Article II of our Constitution; Yes, gentlemen, both sub-clauses!
Barney
Christian P.J. Bahnerth
GradDipMaintEng., GradCertMgmt.,
GradDipTh., MTh., PhD.

Lay Chaplain.

Author of “Order in the House” and “Service in the Household of God”. Published on the CLAi website. And “Public Office in the Household of God.” a development of the former two after further theological studies leading to his PhD in Biblical Studies.

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Standing Firm
Confessing the Word of God.i

For Lutherans the litmus test of confessing the Word of God is the adherence to Lutheran doctrine as in our Constitution and in the Formula of Concord, Epitome I: “We believe, teach, and confess that the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with all teachers, should be evaluated and judged are the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments alone.”ii
i Unless otherwise indicated Scripture is taken from the Holy Bible, 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
ii C.f. The Book of Concord, The Formula of Concord, Epitome, I.

The question arises: “Are those who no longer confess the doctrines of their denomination really still members of that denomination?”
The deviation from Lutheran doctrine does NOT develop suddenly: the accuser is much too smart for that; his stock phrase – as first used in Genesis when addressing Eve – is; “Did God really say that?”, seeding doubt in the mind of his victims. Now the phrase has become “Does the Bible Really say that?” But since the Holy Bible IS the Word of God, there is nothing original in the phrase: “Does the Bible Really say that?”

The Problem

The problem is that some Christians believe that because (quia) the Holy Bible, IS the Word of God, it really applies to them; others believe that the Word of God only applies to them only as far as (quatenus) it agrees with their personal belief system and/or their practices in the secular world, thus negating the Holy Scriptures as the only rule and norm. The latter are in serious danger of hearing the accuser saying to them: “Does the Bible Really say that?”
Many deviations from the Holy Scriptures can be traced back to denominational agendas and/or individual interpretations which are not based on what the Word of God teaches or even to a total disregard of the instructions for a Christian life as contained in the Word of God. “Sadly,“ as Matthew Block writesiii; “those on the side of biblical authority frequently are in the minority in their denominations. As a result, they often become the targets of oppression from their national church bodies.” I agree with Mr. Block that sexuality is a main topic in current theological battles. But this sexuality falls in two categories, (i) feminism, and (ii) homosexuality, including all sexual relationships contrary to Biblical standards. Whilst both categories belong to the ‘quatenus’ block, their profile is different. Feminism claims to strive for equality for the female gender, which if that was their final target, could be supported; but is that really their aim? Males and females are not the same i.e. identical; removing either female or male clothing/fashion totally from the shelves would bring that to light rather quickly. Imagine a formal dinner where male and female were dressed alike; women with bowties or men with exposed upper chest and back; one or the other, not both. Imagine a divorce where each former spouse walks out with what they contributed during the marriage, that does not happen, nor does any equality in the time one gender may have with the children compared to the other, which gender is usually the custodial parent? Yes I agree, the one most suitable to bring up the children should the other parent no longer be full time available.
iii Canadian Lutheran.ca, “Standing Firm”, article 16 Nov 2011, retrieved 2011-11-25.

The feminists are not breaking any secular moral standards; they intend to break Biblical standards to attain positions that are not set aside for them. Homosexuality, on the other hand, aims for the recognition of non-moral and – what is more –  non-biblical sexual standards, and the legal recognition and right(?) of same gender sexual relationships, including M2M and F2F ‘marriages’, which are – in Australia – still against the Constitution, and dare I say without legal standing here, even with a local political vote.

In the past, feminists have after succeeding in their agenda, managed to pave the way for the increased activity of those of the non-moral sexual persuasion. The end results are only different in the degree of disobeying the Word of God; Biblical disobedience versus Biblical disobedience coupled with moral offence. It is often claimed that all people have the ‘right’ to practice their ‘love’. However, no matter how much ‘love’ is involved, breaking the Holy Scriptures – the Word of God – is, and remains, against God’s holy will. For instance if I sin with ‘love’, I have still sinned. If a married person falls in love [lust?] outside marriage and has sex outside marriage, that married person has committed the sin of adultery; the ‘love’ reason/excuse does NOT negate the sin. Jesus’ answer to those who sinned always was and still is: “… go, and sin no more.” John 8:11b.

The agenda of the ‘quatenus’ block is getting closer and closer to the secular world removing themselves further and further from the Word of God. The Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer explains; “In the latter part of the twentieth century, the secular world embraced positions which, according to biblical standards, are actually immoral. The ethic that accepts homosexual practice is an example of that.”iv
iv Canadian Lutheran.ca, “Standing Firm”, article 16 Nov 2011, retrieved 2011-11-25.

Now some churches – even among the Lutherans and the Anglicans – have permitted practices which are clearly against the Word of God; e.g. ordination of females and ordination of openly practicing homosexuals. The denomination or Church which permits either or both of these practices is – using the nicest possible terms – ‘heterodox’ and the promoters and practitioners of that teaching are in great danger of becoming heretical.

Against the Word of God

Ordination of Females

In its simplest form the ordination of females is contrary to the Word of God because even if the female was ordained she could not practice without breaking the Scripture. For this we must have a look at the Apostolic Instructions in the New Testament.

The Minister is to be a husband of one wife, in a Christian environment a woman cannot be a husband; a woman can be a wife but not have a wife! 1 Timothy 3.

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak.” A woman is to be quiet [σιγάτωσαν sigatōsan; not speak] in church; 1 Corinthians 14:33a-36.
3. “11 Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Here is one of the reasons why women are to be quiet in church, in quietness [ἡσυχίᾳ hesuchia; studious attention] they must learn so that they – in turn – can teach other women and also children. “3 … older women likewise, that they behave as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to too much wine, teachers of good things, 4that they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, … 15 These things speak and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” 1 Titus 2.

Dr. Martin Luther – who freed many women from oppression – wrote: “A woman can perform many of the mental and physical tasks of a man and indeed some of them even better than a man, but she is not a man on that account. But if she could become a man, this certainly would not take place by performance of these actions, by which she has acted like a man, but by some other power, namely, God’s; but then having become a man, she would truly and rightly perform the actions of a man. Likewise a man can perform some of the tasks of a woman, but he is not a woman on that account, he certainly cannot give birth to a child. Man and woman are created similar and complimentary, but biologically and genetically, visibly and invisibly different and for a good reason, e.g. procreation requires that man and woman use their physical differences when they become one flesh, without this there would not be procreation, without these differences there would not be a right upbringing of children.
A painting of wine may possess the semblance and likeness of wine, but wine it is not. It does not quench the thirst and gladden the heart of man Psalm 104:15. Likewise, a painting of water may have the appearance of water, but it is not real water, which can be drunk or used for washing and cleansingv”.
v Luther, M. (1999, c1957). Vol. 22: Luther’s works, vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4 (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

Hence, females are not to be ordained lest they break Scriptures. However, Dr. Martin Luther, allowed women to speak in church when there were no capable [or willing] males in the Congregation, for the Word of God must be passed on. The Abbess Hildegard von Bingen was a very experienced preacher to the members of her convent; female to female.

Ordination of Homosexuals

Those who practice immoral sexual habits have already disqualified themselves from sacerdotal office. Among fornicators, covetous idolaters, railers, drunkards, extortioners there is not one of them who will inherit the Kingdom of God, without repenting and changing their immoral lifestyle. “with such a man do not even eat.” 1 Corinthians 5:11, compare also 6:9-10, 18-20, 7:2-5 and other places.
They are NOT blameless as the Selection Criteria require; “blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, of good behaviour … ” 1 Timothy 3

Valid ordination

Ordination of men
The above does NOT mean that ALL men may be ordained, the Selection Criteria as outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and in Titus 1:6-9 are quite specific as to what qualifications are required for the Public Office of the Sacraments and the Word, not all of those who are called will be chosen, Matthew 20:16b. Likewise one can perform the functions of ordained office, but one is not on that account ordained or even eligible to be ordained. The authority for performing the duties of a Pastor, Teacher or other religious appointment belongs now, as ever, to God.

Who do you really wants as your Pastor?

A person who knows the holy Scriptures, and lives, and preaches according to the Word of God?

Or

One who treats the Word of God with contempt and only applies those parts – if any – that suit their own or their denomination’s agenda; neglecting Apostolic Instructions on how to live in the Household of God, i.e. the Christian Church?

Reader, the choice is yours. As for me I chose the former.

True Christians, whilst living in the world, are not of the world; they need not fit in with world’s agenda which some denominations are doing more and more. True Christians obey secular laws but only as far as they do not go against the Word of God. There is a point where true Christians have to stand firm and voice their disagreement with the deviations from God’s Word.

One who drives on the wrong side of the road, must not complain if they have a head-on collision with one who drives on the correct sided of the road. Likewise, one who goes against the Word of God should not be surprised if they have a theological collision with one who takes the Holy Scriptures as the only rule and norm according to which all teachings, together with all teachers, should be evaluated.

Conclusion
“These things I write unto thee … that thou mayest know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God”. 1 Timothy 3:15.

“The older, truer, wiser and – I think I may fairly say – the authentically Christian position … is that God has spoken, His Word must be our guide, we can only serve Him acceptably and please Him by faithfulness to the Scripture both in what it affirms and directs, and in what it forbids and rules out.” J.I. Packer

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
14 For God shall bring every work into judgment,
including every secret thing,
whether it be good or whether it be evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

To God Only Be Glory.