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.”
“Lutheran theology starts where all others end. Virtue is not the goal of life, virtue is our problem. Religion is not given for morality; it is there to end it. The picture of progress upward to happiness is toppled, and in its stead is the apocalyptic end of righteousness in this world so that only Christ remains, who alone is righteous in the eyes of God.”
Steven Paulson “Lutheran Theology“
“I feel like the theology of the cross—this idea that God is most present in human suffering, and these places where we wouldn’t expect any self-respecting God to show up—is uniquely poised to speak to this generation right now… I think people are aware of their suffering. They are aware of the suffering of others, the trauma of modern life, knowing about every single natural disaster and school shootings. They are carrying that around, and I feel like theology of the cross has something to say to that in a way that super-duper, cheerful, positive, human-empowerment Christianity never can.”
Go to Mockingbird to read the whole thing.
“Lutheranism is the history of a departure from Luther, but this is not a decline or decadence from a golden age…, instead it is a bald fear of the Gospel that lies at its core. The same charges that were made of Paul resurfaced among the Lutherans: ‘Shall we sin the more that grace may abound?’ ‘Is the law to no avail?’ ‘Do I do nothing?’ Luther’s kind of preaching is a nuclear reactor–so much energy produced from so small a core–and yet the fear always hovers among those who are nearest that the thing will implode and destroy life rather than generate it.”
-Steven Paulson “Lutheran Theology“
“The Spirit is precisely unleashed upon us in the properly preached gospel, the Word of the crucified and risen one, which sets us free. It is simply not… a ‘free-floating’ and occasional ‘force’ which may or may not visit this person or that one. All such ‘free-floating’ spirits detached from the gospel were [in the reformation] highly suspect and deemed likely only to bind to the law in one subtle way or another. The Spirit is detached from the Trinity. So Luther, in outspoken fashion, could simply declare in the Smalcald Articles that ‘whatever is attributed to the Spirit apart from the Word and sacraments is of the devil?’ Why the devil? Because the devil too is spirit, of course, but he also the enemy, the accuser, the spirit of slavery… What is at stake is always the gospel. Spirit detached from preached Word of the gospel and sacraments can be devastating. There is, after all, more than one spirit; and we are admonished to test them lest we fall prey to the wrong ones.”
Gehard Forde’s Lutheran response to the Pentecostal view of sanctification found in “Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification.”
Sorry for the lack of original words from me lately. Life’s been crazy busy. So in lieu of originality here’s a gem from John Pless’ “Handling the Word of Truth:”
“When Law and Gospel are rightly divided, the Gospel comes out on top. The Law must be spoken to diagnose the sin and expose the quackery of every remedy the sinner would devise to mitigate the disease. But the Law always stands in service of the Gospel… The Gospel alone can provide healing for the wounds uncovered the Law. Troubled people with consciences torn by sin and hearts distressed by doubt will find no rest or peace in the Law… The ultimate aim in our preaching of the Law must be to preach the Gospel… The Gospel magnifies the merits of Christ and extols His work of redemption. The Law is all about human beings, our sin, our failure, and ultimately our death. The Gospel is all about Christ Jesus, His righteousness, His faithfulness, and His atoning death. Because it is about us, the Law brings terror. Because it is of Christ, the Gospel brings God’s own consolation and calms the terrified conscience.”