Reading Spufford in Light of Ferguson

I came across this quote while researching for my sermon this week.  Concerning the crisis in Fergeson, it’s a humbling reminder to all of us (myself included) who are pointing fingers in our hearts and on social media.

Wherever the line is drawn between good and evil, between acceptable and unacceptable, between kind and cruel, between clean and dirty, we’re always going to be voting on both sides of it, despite ourselves.

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Paul Zahl on the Focus of Christ’s Saving Work

Christ’s soteriology [i.e. saving work] is focused and exclusive…  It is exclusive to sinners.  This is because “those who are well have no need of a physician” (Matthew 9:12; Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31).  The non-inclusive and non-universal voice is not a slap at other religions, such as Buddhism and Islam.  The non-inclusive factor is instead a barrier to the non-needy people, or better, to the needy people who do not realize they are needy.

Paul Zahl “The First Christian

Entertainment & Church

Came across this powerful quote from Lutheran scholar Gene Edward Veith in a book I was reading today.  Thought I’d pass it along to you:

Entertainment is not the purpose for going to church.  Indulging ourselves in aesthetic pleasure is not the same as worshiping.  Churches dare not choreograph their worship services to add entertainment value, even to attract nonbelievers

To do so in worship… risk undercutting the Christian message.  Ours is a culture wholly centered upon the self.  The church must counter this egotism, not give in to it.  The Bible calls us to repentance, faith, service, and self-denial–qualities utterly opposed to the entertainment mentality.

In Christian worship, the congregation is not the audience; God is the audience.

Gene Edward Veith quoted in Philip Ryken’s “City on a Hill: Reclaiming the Biblical Pattern for the Church in the 21st Century.”

Charles Spurgeon on the Parable of the Talents

As I said last week, right now the lectionary is leading us to confront (or be confronted) by some of Jesus’ most confusing, difficult, and I would argue most misunderstood parables.  The following is from Charles Spurgeon’s sermon on the Parable of the Talents.  It doesn’t get much better than this:

This is THE VERDICT OF GRACE. Blessed is the man who shall acknowledge himself to be an unfaithful servant—and blessed is the man to whom His Lord shall say, “You good and faithful servant…” God first gives us Grace and then rewards us for it! He works in us and then counts the fruit as our work. We work out our own salvation, because “He works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure.” If He shall ever say, “Well done” to you and to me it will be because of His own rich Grace and not because of our merits! And, indeed, this is where we must all come and where we must all stay, for the idea that we have any personal merit will soon make us find fault with our Master and His service as being austere and hard.”

Charles Spurgeon’s Sermon on the Parable of the Talents June 6, 1880

Forde on “Post-Reformation Lutheranism” (and I would add Christianity in General)

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared anything from my favorite Lutheran Theologian Gerhard Forde.  Here’s a doozy:

The tragedy of post-Reformation Lutheranism and the theological root of its identity crisis is to be found in the persistent attempt to combine the radical gospel of justification by faith alone with an anthropology that cannot tolerate it…

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