Saturday, September 7, 2019

A Tale of Two "Lutheran" Conventions...

Last July I had the privilege to attend our LCMS Synodical Convention in Tampa FL.  Long story short, despite the well-intentioned hand wringing and, frankly fear mongering of a few theologically liberal LCMS District Presidents and others who still hew to the "higher-critical" interpretation of scripture (as opposed to the LCMS's Confessional understanding of scripture inerrancy), open communion and turn a blind eye to clear biblical teachings about homosexuality, same sex marriage and trans-sexualism, our LCMS convention overwhelmingly voted in confessional, conservative officers and resolutions.  More here:

Meanwhile, "back at the hop" the liberal, ever-changing/conforming to the world (Romans 12:2) Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America (ELCA), slipped into an even deeper malaise of scriptural uncertainty.  A video of key moment below documents one or two "voices in the wilderness" protesting and proposing an amendment to a resolution that essential said, "we cannot know how God feels toward Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. so we must recognize them as equally legitimate paths to God".  The unamended resolution passed and has sent the ELCA evermore careening toward Universalism. 

Of course, there is this really obscure thing called the 1st Commandment which clearly states that God does not want folks worshipping other Gods beside Him and to do so is idolatry.  Oh well.

LCMS Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller sums up the current state of affairs and implores ELCA members and pastors with a letter of warning and admonition to the apostate church body. 

Clearly there is no point in worshipping in any particular church if the Holy Trinity and Jesus is put on equal footing Muhammed, Buddha or whomever.  As I have often opined, "If everything is everything, nothing is anything."  True humility stands for something and is not about being uncertain.   Finally, and once again, there is that pesky little thing called the First Commandment.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Pulling the Nazi Card, Who are Today's Nazis?....

Linked below is an extensively backed up article, aside from her first person experience of a woman who lived in and experienced Nazi Germany as a child.  

Similarly, first serious GF's mother (this was in West LA) came home from her middle school in Paris one day to find that her house had been burned down and the Nazis had taken away her entire immediate family, never to be seen again.  An uncle or aunt was successful in getting her spirited away to America.  I only found this out one afternoon when we were chilling in Rochelle's living room watching Is Paris Burning, which had come on the TV.  

Rochelle's mother Madeleine, called her into her bedroom and asked if we could please watch something else.  She was taking a nap, didn't mind a little TV noise but not from the particular movie.  I thought this odd as Madeleine was about the most tolerant parent I had ever met in all of my youth, perhaps even to a fault.  It was then that Rochelle told me the story.  

I read the book, Auschwitz, a couple of years ago.  It was written by an Austrian Jew who survived because Mengele chose him as his assistant/secretary.  After the liberation he walked 50 miles back to his house, which was oddly undisturbed, and lit a fire in the fireplace.  The horror of what happened in that and the other camps loses its ability to appall at some point. That was my biggest take-away from the book. 

I guess my point is that the component of the human psyche that numbs itself to incivility, general brutality toward others and genocide (the greatest cause by far of unnatural death in at least the last 100 years) is particularly insidious and deceptive.  We lose our capacity for outrage or outrage is instead directed in the wrong direction.... toward the victim, or... toward someone who is trying to achieve a level of normalcy, until the point that bizarre becomes normal and vice-versa. 

Christians recognize this as "Original Sin", something that we are ALL prone to. 

We've been here before and God knows (literally He does) that we going there again:  Isaiah 5:20, "Woe unto them who call evil good and good evil, that put darkness for light and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter".  

(For the uninitiate, or those who have forgotten, Isaiah is an Old Testament prophet how predicted minute details of Christ's ministry, martyrdom and resurrection to astoundingly minute detail, 400 years before the fact.) 


This lady was there.

"What is going on in this country is giving me chills. Trump is not like Hitler. Just because a leader wants order doesn't mean they're like a dictator.
What reminds me more of Hitler than anything else isn't Trump, it's the destruction of freedom of speech on the college campuses — the agendas fueled by the professors.
That's how Hitler started, he pulled in the youth to miseducate them, to brainwash them, it's happening today."

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Tattoos and Christianity, a Commentary on the False Doctrine of Salvation through Good Works...

Recently, I attended a convention of the Northwest District of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS).   There, I was elated to see that the last few classes of seminary grads are now well into their first calls as pastors of various congregations throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

These young men, like many of their generational cohorts, tend to be less worried about "church-growth"... innovational gimmicks like modernizing the hymnal, watering down doctrine or otherwise conforming to a secular humanist culture in order to fill the pews by being less offensive to an increasing secular society.  This is a refreshing and deeply meaningful shift from previous generations, including my own. 

This current and growing phenomenon parallels one thing we know about millennials generally...  they want unadorned, unvarnished truth.  They are less interested in societal niceties and being "contemporary" than they are in learning core, often ancient truths.

Recently I pictured on Facebook (and above), a young pastor I met at lunch at the conference wearing a large, boldly Christian tattoo, picturing the Luther Rose superimposed over a large cross, itself tipped with smaller crosses.

An old associate of mine, quite liberal, politically and theologically, who has posted in the past that she became a Christian in order to be a good neighbor, posted in response that "conservative Christians don't like tattoos.  Maybe this person should post ornaments of good works instead of ornamenting expensive tattoos".  (Quite a metaphorical flourish, I must concede!)

I directed her to a book called The Lutheran Difference, an extensive comparative theology work that talks extensively delineates different Christian denominations and exposes that false doctrine of works righteousness that exists in many of them.  And I intoned the Lutheran understanding that we saved by faith which in turns comes from Grace, not by pleasing God with good works.  Probably tiny seeds falling on hot rock, but you never know.

Per my previous post, this "works-righteousness", both in the form of inveighing against tattoos and tying salvation to legalistic life-components like being a "good neighbor",  is an outgrowth of a non-confessional approach to Christianity, to wit, believing that the Bible only "contains" the true word of God, versus the Confessional understanding that the Holy Bible is, in its totality, the inerrantly inspired word of God.  The Word that saves us to everlasting life through faith in Christ, a faith bestowed on all of us through God's grace in the death and resurrection of His only son, Jesus Christ.

Now... try as I might, I find nothing in Holy Scripture, that is the The Holy Bible, that commands us to refrain from wearing tattoos.

On the other hand, adultery is explicitly and repeatedly forbidden, yet many of these non-confessional liberals institutionally endorse adultery in the form of liberalized divorce doctrine, turning a blind accommodating eye to pre-marital sex, etc..  Same with homosexuality, a form of adultery specifically mentioned as a sin throughout scripture.  But yet, these same liberal theologians and churches not only endorse homosexuality but institutionalize it by performing homosexual marriages and ordaining openly homosexual clergy.   Fascinating.

Additionally, we see a works-righteousness kind of quasi-socialism at work here.  "Go out and hang ornaments of good works before spending money on 'expensive' ornaments like tattoos".   This monastic view of Christianity is fine, if that is what you are called for.  But it is not "required" and it is not specifically "Christian".    Radical concept:  There are many weighs to become a "good neighbor" without being a Christian.  Some of our most conscientious members of LFP Neighborhood Watch were avowed (angrily so, even) atheists.  Others were Buddhists or Hindus.

Christianity is not primarily about being a good neighbor or a civically righteous "good person".  Christianity is primarily about believing that Jesus Christ was and is the living Son of God, the third person of the triune God and that, by that faith, we are saved to eternal as opposed to eternal damnation and death.  That is it!  Just that.

Yes, good works are a natural outgrowth of that faith.  Good works and civic righteousness performed outside that faith are wonderful commendable but not a credited to or requirement for salvation to eternal life in Heaven. 

What is required is what commanded of us in the Great Commission.  The resurrected Christ said in his final words to his disciples, "go and make disciples of all nations, preaching and teaching them and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".  (Matthew 28:16-20).

Above all, we are to witness and bring people to faith or back to faith.  We are to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us as a means of Grace.

In that light, let us return to the sadly maligned tattoo of Pastor Jason.  That tattoo is no different than the cross on the steeple of a church, serving as a beacon, a reminder of Christ's work in our life, your life.  His attention-getting focal point, like his clergy collar will attract the attention of needy sinners throughout Jason's life-ministry.  Imagine the possibilities... 

A lost and desperate person, conscious of his or her sin, some terrible sin or a bevy of smaller sins, convinced that their is no hope beyond a shallow self-serving spiritually impoverished life, sees that tattoo, talks with Jason and is brought to faith in Jesus and everlasting life in heaven.  That saved person then witnesses to how many others?  Does how many other ministerial good works that bring others to faith?   

My last church, Messiah Lutheran in Seattle spent 20-30 thousand dollars a year on direct mailers, promoting our Adult Information Class. Hundreds of folks over the years from our surrounding neighborhoods, attended these classes, joined our congregation, came to faith or just reinforced their existing faith. 

One attendee of Messiah Seattle's Adult Information Class joined the church, after being raised in a mixed-faith marriage, was confirmed into our church, went onto seminary,  become a mission pastor and now runs a full-time Lutheran mission in Papua New Guinea, where he lives with his wife and four children in a crude rural setting,  teaching and preaching to locals, who just a few decades ago had no exposure to Christ and His saving message...  "Go and make disciples of all nations...".

What, indeed, if Pastor Jason's tattoo were to lead to a conversation that led to a conversion that led to a similar ministry that in turn brought many to faith?   That is a church promotion less expensive than a $20k-plus annual direct mail budget, is it not?. 

But it is not cheap.  Oh, never mind the few hundred or so to get tattooed...

What of the self-sacrifice of always being under the cross?  What of the derision from social liberals who frequently seem bent on lecturing openly faithful Christians about our faith, calling us hypocrites or worse? 

Well, Amen to those who pick up their cross, display it openly and take not vacation from the vocation of openly preaching to the Gospel of Christ's salvation both to those who thirst for it and those who throw it back in their faces.

May the Peace our Lord Jesus Christ with you always.


-=Doug Hansen

Lay Delegate
Trinity Lutheran Church
Mt. Vernon, WA.

Monday, June 25, 2018

ELCA vs. LCMS, It's Not Really about Homosexuality...

Wow, hard to believe over a year since my last post.  Since then, my wife and I have moved and are therefore attending a new church.  I represented that church as a lay delegate at the Northwest District Conference of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). 

Foremost on my mind, as it is in posts below, is the understanding of why the LCMS exists apart from other Lutheran Synods, such as ELCA, which was formed out of the infamous split in the Lutheran Church of America (LCA) starting back in the 1970's, known as Seminex.   As the ELCA has gotten even more theologically liberal or, more accurately "conformed to the world",  subsequent waves of ELCA parishioners have fled the ELCA for other churches, mostly those of the LCMS.  LCMS churches have also received refugees from other liberal protestant denominations.

The latest wave of world-conformity to plague of (or bless, depending on your view) the ELCA, was the ordination of openly homosexual pastors, including those married to their "partners" and recognizing/performing homosexual marriages.  Of course, this came on the heels of communing openly homosexual parishioners, which came on the heels of conforming to feminism by ordaining female pastors.

Predictably, some parishioners from the ELCA have brought with them the core non-confessionalist notion that, "well, I was OK with open communion, the new hymnal and even ordaining women, but the 'gay thing' is just a bridge too far for me".   Of course, this results in/from a lack of understanding of why we do the things we do in the LCMS, even to the point of harassing, intimidating and marginalizing our Confessional LCMS pastors who are attempting to maintain or bring a core LCMS theology to their congregations.  Some LCMS congregations are less confessional than others, as theological liberalism has left its stain on the LCMS as well.

Let's back up for a moment and define Confessionalism.  Some fairly devout and educated Christians may misunderstand it.  A confessional church is one that confesses that The Bible is Holy Scripture, and, as such, is the "inerrant, inspired word of God".  This stands in opposition to those who believe that the Bible rather merely contains  the word of God.  It is on this axis alone that the difference between the LCMS and ALL liberal protestant/reformist churches AND the Roman "catholic" church turns.

The Roman ("catholic") church absurdly and alarmingly still aspires to be "the church" of the whole world, i.e. catholic, even though much of what it teaches and does stands apart from or adds to scripture (The Holy Bible).

Liberals* within the Lutheran Church, along with other liberal protestant churches waited until the western cultural revolt of the mid-20th century to bring their apostasy to their churches through the "Historical - Critical Method" of interpreting scripture.  So, as in Vatican Rome,  but in a more open and ongoing, but perhaps less authoritarian manner, the church authorities in theologically liberal protestant churches are deciding for God's people which is and which is not the word of God.  And, as the world wears down, that interpretation keeps changing to conform to the world.  (See Romans 12:2)

Luther spoke and wrote often of the need for each Christian to possess his or her own knowledge of The Word of God and not be beholden to pastors, priests or bishops to interpret Holy Scripture for them.   Armed with freedom AND with faith, knowledge and a moral compass, individual Christians will preserve and hold fast to the true Word, and prevent a corrupt hierarchy from usurping their freedom of conscience.  Sound familiar?  Luther and the reformist movement in Germany actually provided the precepts foundational to the American Revolution 220 years later.

The Christian understanding of knowledge is that it is inextricably linked to faith.  "In the world, faith comes from knowledge.  In God's kingdom, knowledge comes from faith".  That is grace.

Yet, in our post-McLuhan/post-literate world of passive, non-critical and unstudied consumption of information, sloth and sin-nature open the door for the world's prince to enter into the conversation in a more persuasive way. False doctrine is remarkably intuitive when casually consumed in the context of the world.

Even though I embrace it as doctrinally sound, even I occasionally struggle with the term "Closed Communion"  for describing our practice of sharing Holy Supper only with those whom we are in Communicant Harmony regarding scripture, including, but not limited to the meaning and doctrinal Holy reality of the Holy Supper. 

Scripture is clear that sharing Communion or Holy Supper with those who do not believe and confess as we do does them a fundamental and profound disservice by allowing them to "drink it to their own damnation".  In the days of Paul, Corinthian parishioners were treating the Lords supper as communal feast of conviviality and fellowship.  Paul told, them "if you are hungry, eat at home first before coming"... to truly discern the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  1 Cor. 11:17-34. 

LCMS doctrine is clear on the meaning of the Lord's Supper, "While the Lord’s Supper is always a personal matter, it is never a private matter. That is an important truth that is often overlooked.  Those who commune at the same altar are thereby declaring publicly that they are united in the doctrine of the Apostles (Acts 2:40-42). Therefore, fellowship in the Supper is church fellowship.  This is what is taught by Holy Scripture in 1 Cor 10 and 11."  (A.L. Barry LCMS President, 1992-2001)

The concept of "open communion" sounds nicer, more welcoming and more loving than "closed communion", which, especially to the contemporary American mind,  seems restrictive, "exclusionary" and "unwelcoming".  But that perception is exactly 180 degrees from the Biblical truth, as illustrated above and in the logical understanding of what was going on at the actual Lord's Supper on the eve of Our Lord's crucifixion. While Jesus openly preached His Word and Gospel message to all who would gathered to hear Him, he did not invite all the masses to this supper.   This Supper was only served to all who were to hear, understand (even if they didn't totally) and most of all believe in who He was and to directly carry out the His Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

While I am grateful to be included and gladly attend mass with close friends and relatives of mine who are RC members and attend Roman mass (very similar liturgy to LCMS, by the way),  I would not besmirch theirs or my faith by sharing in their Communion, which carries with it an understanding of "transubstantiation", with which we Lutherans disagree, along with many other Roman precepts, such as purgatory, the primacy of the Pope, the nature of salvation, grace and much else. 

The Roman Church still officially mandates closed communion but renegade liberal* priests are here and there declaring open communion in their parishes. 

Not welcoming?  We welcome all to attend service and receive The Word, a fundamental "delivery system" for faith according to Holy Scripture and Lutheran doctrine.  We baptize all whose sponsors attest to their faith and their commitment to being stewards of the faith for the baptized (much more open than the Baptist and other reformer church's who eschew infant baptism in favor of the more restrictive and danger-fraught practice of adult baptism).  And we welcome ALL to come to the communion rail and receive a pastoral blessing in lieu of taking the hosts of the Holy Supper.

But communion stands as a "close" or "closed" breaking of bread, just as Our Lord did not invite all the thousands of faithful to His Last Supper.  Holy Supper is an "apostolic" sacrament.  The term "close communion" was popularly translated from the original German to describe our practice of closed communion.  "Close" was later used as a modifier by more liberal LCMS pastors to allow any who believe in the true presence of the body and blood to share in communion at their divine services.  Research has shown that the original German intent was that "close" and "closed" meant the same thing.  The LCMS supper is for LCMS members only.  Pastors have discretion.

And while I am interested and delighted to attend a non-confessional ELCA service and participate in their hymns and prayers,  I would not take communion with them as we fundamentally disagree on what is happening in the Lord's Supper. As a believer in the "Invisible Church",  I have no doubt that many faithful and saved people attend these services, but our church and theirs do not have a Communicant Relationship because we do not believe the same thing about a whole host of things, including communion but, most importantly and overall, what scripture is!

I do not love or care for Roman catholics, ELCA Lutherans or any other Christians any less, but out of respect for their tradition, I do not participate in their communion because our churches are not "in Communion" with each other on these important doctrinal issues.

I hew to the understanding of taking communion only with those with whom I have a communicant relationship because I have prayerfully considered this issue over the years as Christian, a parishioner and congregational leader in the Lutheran Church, not because "authorities" tell me it's the right thing to do. This includes presiding over internal controversies about communion within the church going back to the 1990's.

By that stroke, I think that it is important for Christians to prayerfully discuss, meditate upon and actively wrestle with these theological/doctrinal issues.  Please remember, that we are the New Israel in Christ.  And, of course you know, "Israel" is Hebrew for "wrestles/contends with God".  Avoiding these controversies and dwelling in a worldly "love cave" is fraught with danger.  Our faith-driven knowledge needs to be strengthened by the crucible of debate and active consciousness.  "A faith without works [is indeed] a dead faith".  James 2:14-26

Confessionalism is THE core understanding of Scripture. It is the nucleus of our saving faith. There are no proper "different interpretations" of Holy Scripture.  And it is up to the free-thinking, deeply conscious individual Christian to understanding these things on his/her own rather than to simply follow political authorities in the church.

Be glad in the salvation that comes to us from God, in the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ and delivered to us through the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

*Liberal here refers to theological, not necessarily political left-liberalism.  The two often, but not always, conjoin.

If the Joy of God...

Quote from LCMS President Matthew Harrison:

"If the joy of God has touched your heart, would you please inform your face?"

Yes!! (Crabby Old Lutheran is supposed to be an ironic title).


Friday, February 3, 2017

Sermon on the Mount, Law or Gospel?...

... I had lunch last week with Pastor Mankin and the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) came up in our conversation.  I asked my favorite question...the one I ponder often... "Is the Sermon on the Mount Law of Gospel?"   He replied quickly and with great enthusiasm, "It's Gospel.  In fact I am preaching on it this Sunday!"

Wow.  Hallelujah.  And the sermon, linked below, did not disappoint.

Most people, especially non-Christians, erroneously see the Sermon on the Mount as Christ's core work as "one of the wisest men ever".  As such, they see The Beatitudes as law and Jesus as possibly the most exemplary law-giver ever.  When we see Them this way, we miss the point.

I am fascinated by this human misconception of who Christ is because I struggle with it myself.  I think that we all do.  But God does not want us to.  When we "mourn for our own sin" as P. Mankin intones, God wants us to be comforted in Christ, specifically in the knowledge that we are saved purely and solely in our Faith in Him, because we can never behave well enough to please God, not even close.  But, of course we should try, not in order to be saved but out of gratitude for our salvation in Christ through his suffering and death on the cross.

This broader "wise man" misconception about Christ among humanity is also reflected upon brilliantly by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity where he says Jesus was not a wise man.  He was crank, a nut job... unless of course He is whom He says is... the risen savior... the Only Son of God, who has come to save us from sin.  


Here then, please hear this week's sermon:

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Advent Begins and We Get...

Happy Advent, everyone!!

The season of Advent is upon us quickly this year, it seems.  Advent is the traditional beginning of the Christmas season, of course.  

But today's intense and spiritually fulfilling sermon ("What is All the Hoopla") by Pastor Mankin flashes forward to the arrival and presentation of Christ at that fateful passover in Jerusalem.   As we approach the season celebrating the coming of Jesus, it is important to know where He is headed.... why is here at all.  

He is to suffer a humiliating death on the cross in atone for OUR sins.  Jesus did not come and die for just the sins of Christians but, rather for the sins of all humanity.  Yet it is though hold the faith of redemption in Him who are assuredly redeemed unto eternal life.  

Pastor Mankin explains that while Jesus comes as a heroic, conquering king, he is different.  Unlike heroes and celebrities of the secular world... actors, politicians and sports stars who typically travel either in high security limos or uber high-end cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porches, etc.  

Even the Pope has a special, custom built car that was built for him to tour different locations around the world. 

In stark contrast, Jesus enters Jerusalem and present himself to the teeming throngs and worshipers on a lowly colt, as was foretold in the old testament book of Isaiah.   Jerusalem at Passover is in a frenzied state of celebration.  All of Judaism descends annually to worship and celebrate.  And this year is especially over the top because word has been circulation about this traveling rabbi who is now drawing larger and larger crowds wherever he goes. 

(These same adoring fans will soon turn in extremis on their king and implore the Roman governor of Jerusalem to crucify him.  Crucifixion is a death reserved by Roman law only for the lowliest and most despised of criminals.  Just being a Roman citizen is enough to save even the most hardened and despicable criminal from such a harrowing, brutal, agonizing and long public death.)

Our Savior, this Jesus, who redeems us from our sinful condition,  unlike secular heroes and celebrities, does not grandly transcend the humble conditions of his birth.  He does not buy his mother a mansion but rather promises a mansion for all of His redeemed.   He does not own a stable of expensive sports cars.  He does ride on a donkey.  He does not charge us hundreds of dollars to see him perform.  But, rather, he offers the free gift of eternal salvation given to us freely by His Grace. 

In Jesus, we have the King we really need, rather than the King we want or think we need. 

For a transcript and podcast of today's sermon at Messiah Lutheran Church, please visit and scroll down.  Please remember it takes a few days to a week for sermons to be updated.  

Please also note that this blog does not necessarily represent the views of Messiah Lutheran Church or the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  It is merely a witness to my personal Christian journey which generally takes a Lutheran perspective.