Happy belated Ascension Day

That was yesterday.  Sorry I missed it.  Ascension Day marks an important event, but it is odd the way Protestants interpret it in two opposite ways.  For the Reformed, that Christ ascended into Heaven means that this is where His body is, so it can’t be on the altars of churches celebrating Holy Communion.  But Lutherans say that the taking up of the man Jesus into the Godhead makes the doctrine of the Real Presence possible, since now this flesh and blood human being shares the attributes of the Trinity, including omnipresence.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Science gives us another perspective. If Jesus ascended into heaven at the speed of light and continued to do so until the present he would still be well within our galaxy. And there is an estimated 170 billion galaxies in the known universe. So the question~ just how literally are we supposed to take Ascension?

  • bunnycatch3r

    Science gives us another perspective. If Jesus ascended into heaven at the speed of light and continued to do so until the present he would still be well within our galaxy. And there is an estimated 170 billion galaxies in the known universe. So the question~ just how literally are we supposed to take Ascension?

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    He ascended to “the right hand of God.” You can’t place that on any star map.

    And, who says He’s bound to the speed of light?

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    He ascended to “the right hand of God.” You can’t place that on any star map.

    And, who says He’s bound to the speed of light?

  • Dan Kempin

    Not to pick nits, but the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament is a particular, physical presence of the human nature, which Christ offers because of the communication of attributes with the divine nature.

    Christ is certainly omnipresent, but it is the reformed family of theology that ascribes Christ’s presence in the sacrament to divine omnipresence–he is there inasmuch as he is everywhere.

  • Dan Kempin

    Not to pick nits, but the presence of Christ’s body and blood in the sacrament is a particular, physical presence of the human nature, which Christ offers because of the communication of attributes with the divine nature.

    Christ is certainly omnipresent, but it is the reformed family of theology that ascribes Christ’s presence in the sacrament to divine omnipresence–he is there inasmuch as he is everywhere.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @1 Dr Veith shared an interpretative conundrum associated with this event. I though I might add another. But, if as you say, we are free to dismiss reason (mass travelling greater than the speed of light, physical bodies not found on maps) then are we then bound to the perspective of crass literalism? For example, according to Joseph Campbell The Ascension is a metaphor for “returning to the source” and travelling to the “Kingdom of Heaven” within. Yes, I agree that this interpretation smacks of gnosticism but what other options do we have now that we no longer view heaven as being somewhere in the sky?

  • bunnycatch3r

    @1 Dr Veith shared an interpretative conundrum associated with this event. I though I might add another. But, if as you say, we are free to dismiss reason (mass travelling greater than the speed of light, physical bodies not found on maps) then are we then bound to the perspective of crass literalism? For example, according to Joseph Campbell The Ascension is a metaphor for “returning to the source” and travelling to the “Kingdom of Heaven” within. Yes, I agree that this interpretation smacks of gnosticism but what other options do we have now that we no longer view heaven as being somewhere in the sky?

  • fws

    Bunnycatch3r @1

    Nice to see y0u here! Time and space are also creations of God. It would be hard for us to imagine , but God is outside of those things.

    Let me add another nit to Dan´s great catch! As to Christ being everywhere bodily, Lutherans (if I remember reading Herman Sasse right in “This Is My Body” about 20 years ago or so…) believe that Christ is present in his body in the blessed sacrament. We have a theory for how this is, called the ubiquity theory, but our forefathers were careful to label it a theory. What is decisive is not how Christ can be really present, but rather that he is present , and that for the forgiveness of sins.

    So Christ´s ascension into heaven is not about this. I think maybe you are thinking of the passage “When I am lifted up I will fill all things”? Anyone here want to expound on what that means?

  • fws

    Bunnycatch3r @1

    Nice to see y0u here! Time and space are also creations of God. It would be hard for us to imagine , but God is outside of those things.

    Let me add another nit to Dan´s great catch! As to Christ being everywhere bodily, Lutherans (if I remember reading Herman Sasse right in “This Is My Body” about 20 years ago or so…) believe that Christ is present in his body in the blessed sacrament. We have a theory for how this is, called the ubiquity theory, but our forefathers were careful to label it a theory. What is decisive is not how Christ can be really present, but rather that he is present , and that for the forgiveness of sins.

    So Christ´s ascension into heaven is not about this. I think maybe you are thinking of the passage “When I am lifted up I will fill all things”? Anyone here want to expound on what that means?

  • fws

    b unnycatch3r @4

    we crossed in the mail I see. I hope that my post is helpful to you in your question.

  • fws

    b unnycatch3r @4

    we crossed in the mail I see. I hope that my post is helpful to you in your question.

  • Dan Kempin

    fws, #5,

    “What is decisive is not how Christ can be really present, but rather that he is present , and that for the forgiveness of sins.”

    Right on, bro’!

    Bunnycatch 3 r,

    I’m not sure I’m getting the point to which you are driving. I don’t think we are quite forced into the dilemma between “dismissing reason” and “crass literalism.” For one thing, Jesus didn’t say he was going “to heaven,” but “to the Father.” The ascension account of Luke says that he went “toward” heaven, and in Acts it just says that he was “lifted up” and a cloud hid him from their sight. That hardly forces us to conclude that he took off like a rocket ship and then went to “warp speed.” At the same time, there is the description of a cloud and the disciples staring into the sky, so we can hardly conclude that it is a metaphor.

    The glorified Christ is God in all His glory–with a human nature. The implications of this are beyond my ability to grasp, but I would classify the ascension as a display of His glory rather than a journey, for a journey implies that He is still bound by the limitations of a human nature.

    Personally, I have never found helpful the old explanation that God is “outside” of time, space, the laws of physics, etc. I think this flies in the face of everything scripture says about God being immanent in his creation. (See the previous post on Makoto Fujimura for some great insights on this point.) Rather than say that He is “outside” or “beyond,” I would say that He is the Creator. He is the source. All things are possible for the one who determines–no, CREATES–reality. Is the healing of a leper an interprative conundrum? Is the raising of the dead?

    Forgive my rambling. All this is to say: Please clarify your point.

  • Dan Kempin

    fws, #5,

    “What is decisive is not how Christ can be really present, but rather that he is present , and that for the forgiveness of sins.”

    Right on, bro’!

    Bunnycatch 3 r,

    I’m not sure I’m getting the point to which you are driving. I don’t think we are quite forced into the dilemma between “dismissing reason” and “crass literalism.” For one thing, Jesus didn’t say he was going “to heaven,” but “to the Father.” The ascension account of Luke says that he went “toward” heaven, and in Acts it just says that he was “lifted up” and a cloud hid him from their sight. That hardly forces us to conclude that he took off like a rocket ship and then went to “warp speed.” At the same time, there is the description of a cloud and the disciples staring into the sky, so we can hardly conclude that it is a metaphor.

    The glorified Christ is God in all His glory–with a human nature. The implications of this are beyond my ability to grasp, but I would classify the ascension as a display of His glory rather than a journey, for a journey implies that He is still bound by the limitations of a human nature.

    Personally, I have never found helpful the old explanation that God is “outside” of time, space, the laws of physics, etc. I think this flies in the face of everything scripture says about God being immanent in his creation. (See the previous post on Makoto Fujimura for some great insights on this point.) Rather than say that He is “outside” or “beyond,” I would say that He is the Creator. He is the source. All things are possible for the one who determines–no, CREATES–reality. Is the healing of a leper an interprative conundrum? Is the raising of the dead?

    Forgive my rambling. All this is to say: Please clarify your point.

  • Jonathan

    What a comfort that Jesus comes right down to me and gives me his body and blood in the Supper. I’m glad I don’t have to work myself or my soul up to heaven to meet Him there–that would seem to be a very hard trip to make on my own effort.

  • Jonathan

    What a comfort that Jesus comes right down to me and gives me his body and blood in the Supper. I’m glad I don’t have to work myself or my soul up to heaven to meet Him there–that would seem to be a very hard trip to make on my own effort.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Thank you, Good Dr.

    I find the ascension to be immensely comforting. That our Lord would so arrange things in order to be so near, no, present, for His people around the world, while we serve our neighbor and wait for His reappearing and the resurrection of all flesh.

    Christ is risen! Christ is ascended! Indeed – Alleluia!

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Thank you, Good Dr.

    I find the ascension to be immensely comforting. That our Lord would so arrange things in order to be so near, no, present, for His people around the world, while we serve our neighbor and wait for His reappearing and the resurrection of all flesh.

    Christ is risen! Christ is ascended! Indeed – Alleluia!

  • bunnycatch3r

    @7 Thanks for the insight that The Ascension is a display of Christ’s glory instead of merely being a demonstration or (worse) a means of travel. I really don’t know what to make of the literal act of this event and as stated above have benefited from perceiving it as a metaphor for spiritual journey (i.e. transcendence). I wasn’t really trying to make a point so much as I was fishing for a better perspective on the matter.
    @fws please forgive me if I understand you incompletely- theology is careful to avoid the “how” of our articles of faith but is nonetheless confident in the “why”.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @7 Thanks for the insight that The Ascension is a display of Christ’s glory instead of merely being a demonstration or (worse) a means of travel. I really don’t know what to make of the literal act of this event and as stated above have benefited from perceiving it as a metaphor for spiritual journey (i.e. transcendence). I wasn’t really trying to make a point so much as I was fishing for a better perspective on the matter.
    @fws please forgive me if I understand you incompletely- theology is careful to avoid the “how” of our articles of faith but is nonetheless confident in the “why”.

  • Tom Hering

    I’m happiest just accepting the Ascension as a Mystery. Though I do wonder if the Ascension isn’t, in part, the surety of a promise to us: “… and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  • Tom Hering

    I’m happiest just accepting the Ascension as a Mystery. Though I do wonder if the Ascension isn’t, in part, the surety of a promise to us: “… and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  • CRB

    Scroll down to “The Ascension of Jesus,” where Todd Wilken
    interviews Concordia Seminary’s retired prof.,
    Dr. Norman Nagel, who presents the Scriptural teaching, which
    all Christians should confess.
    http://issuesetc.org/archive/

  • CRB

    Scroll down to “The Ascension of Jesus,” where Todd Wilken
    interviews Concordia Seminary’s retired prof.,
    Dr. Norman Nagel, who presents the Scriptural teaching, which
    all Christians should confess.
    http://issuesetc.org/archive/

  • S Bauer

    For fourty days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at various times to teach them and encourage them. The Ascension was not Jesus’ removal from earth (He told them, “I am with you always to the end of the age) nor is “going to the Father” an expression for taking a journey but for describing his exaltation (think of His crucifixion/resurrection as his coronation and his Ascension as his enthronement).

    Jesus rising into the air and being hidden in a cloud (the Shekinah) is the visible demonstration of all this, as well as a way for Jesus to say to his disciples, as Harry Wendt puts it, “No more visible visits.”

  • S Bauer

    For fourty days after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at various times to teach them and encourage them. The Ascension was not Jesus’ removal from earth (He told them, “I am with you always to the end of the age) nor is “going to the Father” an expression for taking a journey but for describing his exaltation (think of His crucifixion/resurrection as his coronation and his Ascension as his enthronement).

    Jesus rising into the air and being hidden in a cloud (the Shekinah) is the visible demonstration of all this, as well as a way for Jesus to say to his disciples, as Harry Wendt puts it, “No more visible visits.”

  • Tom Hering

    “The Ascension was not Jesus’ removal from earth …” – S Bauer @ 13.

    But Scripture says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up FROM you INTO heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go INTO heaven” (Acts 1:11).

    And we confess, “He ascended INTO Heaven, and IS seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. FROM THENCE He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

    I guess I don’t have a problem with Jesus having literally gone up to another place. I’m comfortable with the thought that as I look up at they sky and at outer space, Heaven is there, but invisible to me.

  • Tom Hering

    “The Ascension was not Jesus’ removal from earth …” – S Bauer @ 13.

    But Scripture says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up FROM you INTO heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go INTO heaven” (Acts 1:11).

    And we confess, “He ascended INTO Heaven, and IS seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. FROM THENCE He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

    I guess I don’t have a problem with Jesus having literally gone up to another place. I’m comfortable with the thought that as I look up at they sky and at outer space, Heaven is there, but invisible to me.

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunnycatch 3 r, #10,

    Maybe the word “metaphor” made me nervous as implying “not real,” but I think I see your point, and it is valid. The ascension, while certainly a real and physical event, was also the transition to a different role, as it were. Jesus entered His state of exaltation with His resurrection, and no longer limited Himself (Himself as in both natures) to the bounds of a human nature. (Appearing in a locked room, disappearing, etc.) Nevertheless, for forty days he appeared to His disciples so that there would be no doubt or shortage of witnesses. With the ascension He (these are my own crass words) brings to an end His glorified appearances until the appearance when every eye shall see Him. He definitely ascended physically, (not, I would argue, to “heaven,” but to the throne of the Father), but I can see the sense in which you say it was a spiritual, i.e. transcendent, journey.

  • Dan Kempin

    Bunnycatch 3 r, #10,

    Maybe the word “metaphor” made me nervous as implying “not real,” but I think I see your point, and it is valid. The ascension, while certainly a real and physical event, was also the transition to a different role, as it were. Jesus entered His state of exaltation with His resurrection, and no longer limited Himself (Himself as in both natures) to the bounds of a human nature. (Appearing in a locked room, disappearing, etc.) Nevertheless, for forty days he appeared to His disciples so that there would be no doubt or shortage of witnesses. With the ascension He (these are my own crass words) brings to an end His glorified appearances until the appearance when every eye shall see Him. He definitely ascended physically, (not, I would argue, to “heaven,” but to the throne of the Father), but I can see the sense in which you say it was a spiritual, i.e. transcendent, journey.

  • Joe

    Tom – the right hand of God is not a physical place. It is a power. The right hand of God is the authority of God. In the Accession, Christ the God-man’s authority is made complete. From thence he will judge – i.e. he will judge as one who has the rightful authority to judge. Not as a surrogate.

    Heaven is not so much a place as it is a state of existence. A perfect existence where we are in full and perfect communion with God.

    This type of language is commonly used to describe our earthly judges. It is often said, that so and so ascended to the bench. This does not mean that they physically went to the Courthouse. It means that they rightfully hold the authority of the office of a judge.

  • Joe

    Tom – the right hand of God is not a physical place. It is a power. The right hand of God is the authority of God. In the Accession, Christ the God-man’s authority is made complete. From thence he will judge – i.e. he will judge as one who has the rightful authority to judge. Not as a surrogate.

    Heaven is not so much a place as it is a state of existence. A perfect existence where we are in full and perfect communion with God.

    This type of language is commonly used to describe our earthly judges. It is often said, that so and so ascended to the bench. This does not mean that they physically went to the Courthouse. It means that they rightfully hold the authority of the office of a judge.

  • fws

    Dan @7

    You pic some good nits dear brother. To ponder the mysteries of the blessed incarnation and of the Person of our Lord is time always best spent. I define a “mystery” as a thing “hidden in plain sight” that can be comprehended alone by faith, and is in-comprehense-ible and so foolishness to our fallen reason. The primiere example of how this looks is the Blessed Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus. Jesus Incarnate is what to look at to understand the term “deus absconditus.

    When I say that Time and Space are creations as well and God is beyond or outside of that, I mean simply that he is not bound up by these things. They do not govern him as they govern and bind us. You are right to call me out on my wording however. Jesus declared that when he would be “lifted up” that he would “fill all things”. This is a precious comfort.

    Example of where this all seems helpful to me: There is a pervasive “folk” doctrine that says that our souls become disembodied between death and the resurrection. This seems wrong to me. I am not “me” without both body and soul. The idea of a disembodied spirit that is “me” floating around for a “long time” till the day of resurrection simply has to be wrong. What makes sense to me as a theory then is that when I die, I appear immediately before the judgement throne and resurrection day complete with body. But then, I have never seen this taught anywhere , so I hesitate to assert it as possibly true even as a tentative theory.

    Dan. You have made me aware that I am not using “the form of sound doctrine”. Can you or someone here point me to the formula of words used in the Confessions of our Evangelical Church to allow me to express this doctrine more helpfully?

    S Bauer @13: I would call your attention to something very interesting: The Gospel of St John is the one gospel that does not include the institution of the Holy Supper. Note however that “body and blood” are all over that Gospel. Everywhere. When Jesus disappears between resurrection and ascension, he is doing what? He is breaking bread and giving thanks. I have no doubt that Our Lord is saying through the holy apostle: If you want to seek my intimate presence now then seek it here, in the Holy Supper.

  • fws

    Dan @7

    You pic some good nits dear brother. To ponder the mysteries of the blessed incarnation and of the Person of our Lord is time always best spent. I define a “mystery” as a thing “hidden in plain sight” that can be comprehended alone by faith, and is in-comprehense-ible and so foolishness to our fallen reason. The primiere example of how this looks is the Blessed Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus. Jesus Incarnate is what to look at to understand the term “deus absconditus.

    When I say that Time and Space are creations as well and God is beyond or outside of that, I mean simply that he is not bound up by these things. They do not govern him as they govern and bind us. You are right to call me out on my wording however. Jesus declared that when he would be “lifted up” that he would “fill all things”. This is a precious comfort.

    Example of where this all seems helpful to me: There is a pervasive “folk” doctrine that says that our souls become disembodied between death and the resurrection. This seems wrong to me. I am not “me” without both body and soul. The idea of a disembodied spirit that is “me” floating around for a “long time” till the day of resurrection simply has to be wrong. What makes sense to me as a theory then is that when I die, I appear immediately before the judgement throne and resurrection day complete with body. But then, I have never seen this taught anywhere , so I hesitate to assert it as possibly true even as a tentative theory.

    Dan. You have made me aware that I am not using “the form of sound doctrine”. Can you or someone here point me to the formula of words used in the Confessions of our Evangelical Church to allow me to express this doctrine more helpfully?

    S Bauer @13: I would call your attention to something very interesting: The Gospel of St John is the one gospel that does not include the institution of the Holy Supper. Note however that “body and blood” are all over that Gospel. Everywhere. When Jesus disappears between resurrection and ascension, he is doing what? He is breaking bread and giving thanks. I have no doubt that Our Lord is saying through the holy apostle: If you want to seek my intimate presence now then seek it here, in the Holy Supper.

  • fws

    another idea that might be useful:

    robert farrer capon says that most people imagine God´s appearances in history like that of a sewing machine needle that pierces the fabric of time and then withdraws.

    He suggests that the better image is that of God´s presence being like a vast iceburg just below the surface of all that is seen, and that there are sacrimental manifestations of this presence that are like fingers of that iceberg periodically poking themselves visibly above the surface of the water. This seems like a great metaphor to me that seems to conform to our confessions and their understanding of holy scriptures.

  • fws

    another idea that might be useful:

    robert farrer capon says that most people imagine God´s appearances in history like that of a sewing machine needle that pierces the fabric of time and then withdraws.

    He suggests that the better image is that of God´s presence being like a vast iceburg just below the surface of all that is seen, and that there are sacrimental manifestations of this presence that are like fingers of that iceberg periodically poking themselves visibly above the surface of the water. This seems like a great metaphor to me that seems to conform to our confessions and their understanding of holy scriptures.

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #17,

    Lol!

    I wasn’t calling you out. (And may I say that I love the phrase “folk doctrine.”)

    The truth is that this doctrine of the intermediate state is not one that is addressed in scripture with absolute clarity. (No, it is not UNclear . . . perhaps better to say that scripture does not reveal all the details.) The points that stand firm are, in no particular order: 1) Christ will return and the dead will be raised. 2) The final judgment to eternal life or eternal death will be a holistic judgment of the whole person, body and soul. 3)Those who “fall asleep” in the meantime are with the Lord immediately. (“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”)

    A number of theories have been advance about this intermediate period, from soul sleep to time jump. Each of them is reasonable enough, I suppose, but the thing that always troubled me about the “folk” doctrine of time jump is the lack of anything definitive in scripture. The argument usually seems to go something like, “this is a reasonable explanation, therefore it is the truth.” Maybe so, but I am not yet entirely persuaded.

    There are two scriptures in particular that make me hesitant to buy in to the time jump theory. The first is the rich man and Lazarus, where Jesus speaks of two men who have died and gone to their place of judgment. The rich man was concerned for his brother who was still living. That is difficult to reconcile if it is the last day. The second scripture is the text in Revelation that speaks of the slain souls under the altar crying out, “How long, O Lord?” Again, difficult to reconcile if we are transported (transtemporized?) to the last day.

    Anyway, thanks for giving me something to think about. I’m out for the rest of the day, so God bless! (I’ll check in some time later and see how you all have solved everything.)

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws, #17,

    Lol!

    I wasn’t calling you out. (And may I say that I love the phrase “folk doctrine.”)

    The truth is that this doctrine of the intermediate state is not one that is addressed in scripture with absolute clarity. (No, it is not UNclear . . . perhaps better to say that scripture does not reveal all the details.) The points that stand firm are, in no particular order: 1) Christ will return and the dead will be raised. 2) The final judgment to eternal life or eternal death will be a holistic judgment of the whole person, body and soul. 3)Those who “fall asleep” in the meantime are with the Lord immediately. (“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”)

    A number of theories have been advance about this intermediate period, from soul sleep to time jump. Each of them is reasonable enough, I suppose, but the thing that always troubled me about the “folk” doctrine of time jump is the lack of anything definitive in scripture. The argument usually seems to go something like, “this is a reasonable explanation, therefore it is the truth.” Maybe so, but I am not yet entirely persuaded.

    There are two scriptures in particular that make me hesitant to buy in to the time jump theory. The first is the rich man and Lazarus, where Jesus speaks of two men who have died and gone to their place of judgment. The rich man was concerned for his brother who was still living. That is difficult to reconcile if it is the last day. The second scripture is the text in Revelation that speaks of the slain souls under the altar crying out, “How long, O Lord?” Again, difficult to reconcile if we are transported (transtemporized?) to the last day.

    Anyway, thanks for giving me something to think about. I’m out for the rest of the day, so God bless! (I’ll check in some time later and see how you all have solved everything.)

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 19

    I know alot of new Lutherans who were not raised Lutheran, and they miss an important context by not understanding that there is indeed Lutheran “folk doctrine”. Other examples of Lutheran “folk doctrine” are:

    “Suicides go straight to hell since they would not have a chance to repent of their sins” (this betrays other underlying assumptions that are, dare I say it? straight from hell).

    “Sanctification is where the Holy Spirit enables us to do truly God Pleasing works because we then do those works from an “attitude of gratitude” and those works conform to God´s Written Laws.” (This is in fact Calvinism of the Puritan strain, and is not Lutheranism. It is a pure confusion of Law and Gospel.)

    This folk example merits a specific corrective since it is so very pervasive among Lutherans: Sanctification, just like being born again, called, gathered, enlightened and kept with Jesus in the one true faith are pure Grace with no effort done on our part. no striving. see the 3rd article of the small catechism to confirm this as the pure teaching of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. What many Lutherans call “sanctification” is in fact the work , also of the Holy Spirit, called “mortification”. This is pure law. it is a submission of the Old Adams of both pagan and christian alike. “Life is Mortification” said one Martin Luther. Vocations and the good works done in those vocations then look and are absolutely identical for both christian and pagan. The only difference between christian and pagan is invisible faith. alone!

    “When we die, our souls leave the body and join the Lord in heaven” (this contradicts the doctrine that we are only truly “me” when we are both body and soul. It contradicts the doctrine of the resurrection)”

    Anyone here have other examples of Lutheran “folk doctrines” you learned growing up “Luthurn”?

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @ 19

    I know alot of new Lutherans who were not raised Lutheran, and they miss an important context by not understanding that there is indeed Lutheran “folk doctrine”. Other examples of Lutheran “folk doctrine” are:

    “Suicides go straight to hell since they would not have a chance to repent of their sins” (this betrays other underlying assumptions that are, dare I say it? straight from hell).

    “Sanctification is where the Holy Spirit enables us to do truly God Pleasing works because we then do those works from an “attitude of gratitude” and those works conform to God´s Written Laws.” (This is in fact Calvinism of the Puritan strain, and is not Lutheranism. It is a pure confusion of Law and Gospel.)

    This folk example merits a specific corrective since it is so very pervasive among Lutherans: Sanctification, just like being born again, called, gathered, enlightened and kept with Jesus in the one true faith are pure Grace with no effort done on our part. no striving. see the 3rd article of the small catechism to confirm this as the pure teaching of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. What many Lutherans call “sanctification” is in fact the work , also of the Holy Spirit, called “mortification”. This is pure law. it is a submission of the Old Adams of both pagan and christian alike. “Life is Mortification” said one Martin Luther. Vocations and the good works done in those vocations then look and are absolutely identical for both christian and pagan. The only difference between christian and pagan is invisible faith. alone!

    “When we die, our souls leave the body and join the Lord in heaven” (this contradicts the doctrine that we are only truly “me” when we are both body and soul. It contradicts the doctrine of the resurrection)”

    Anyone here have other examples of Lutheran “folk doctrines” you learned growing up “Luthurn”?

  • Joe

    How about this canard – Voter’s assemblies are the only scriptural form of church polity.

  • Joe

    How about this canard – Voter’s assemblies are the only scriptural form of church polity.

  • fws

    dan K @19

    Feel free to call me out any time dear brother! I derive joy from being corrected and so made better able to serve others in our common hope!

    I don´t see lazarus´relations or such as problematic. Why? Time and space still exist in our created existence. This is not either/or. It is both/and.

    Further “The lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world” starts to make sense with my theory. In addition, there are real problems with being overly sequential in our understanding of God´s Work in Christ. Dispensationalism is an extreme example of this. Sometimes we do best to remain bound by time in our readings. I usually read the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac from God´s perspective. I know how it will end. The story can only be read properly by not doing that! We need to follow father Abraham and Isaac not knowing how the story is going to end.

    Finally, ignore everything I have said on this thus far. To speculate about God apart from our Christ is all a very very wrong turn. We must live in the discipline of knowing no other God but that one sucking the breast of the most blessed mother Mary. Here only should we ponder the nexus between eternity and the temporal. Nowhere else. There is a very fine line between clever and stupid. I have probably crossed it here!

  • fws

    dan K @19

    Feel free to call me out any time dear brother! I derive joy from being corrected and so made better able to serve others in our common hope!

    I don´t see lazarus´relations or such as problematic. Why? Time and space still exist in our created existence. This is not either/or. It is both/and.

    Further “The lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world” starts to make sense with my theory. In addition, there are real problems with being overly sequential in our understanding of God´s Work in Christ. Dispensationalism is an extreme example of this. Sometimes we do best to remain bound by time in our readings. I usually read the story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac from God´s perspective. I know how it will end. The story can only be read properly by not doing that! We need to follow father Abraham and Isaac not knowing how the story is going to end.

    Finally, ignore everything I have said on this thus far. To speculate about God apart from our Christ is all a very very wrong turn. We must live in the discipline of knowing no other God but that one sucking the breast of the most blessed mother Mary. Here only should we ponder the nexus between eternity and the temporal. Nowhere else. There is a very fine line between clever and stupid. I have probably crossed it here!

  • fws

    Joe @ 21

    great catch:

    This “folk doctrine” would be phrased, I think, as…

    “The kingdom of God is a democracy and not really a kingdom. ”

    But here we need to be careful eh? We assign to “Church” the label “christian”. what happens in administrating a church is all about earthly righteousness that is no different in essence than what the pagans do. It involves 1) mortification + 2) love. Even and especially pastors can mix law and gospel better an any bartender can blend a cocktail. The only part of church that is truly holy, and faith alone or “heavenly kingdom” are those things that are whole-ly of God and of which we have no part: The holy ministry, holy supper, holy baptism, holy word spoken, and holy absolution. Those things that alone bring us Christ and are alone about Christ. Did I say alone?

  • fws

    Joe @ 21

    great catch:

    This “folk doctrine” would be phrased, I think, as…

    “The kingdom of God is a democracy and not really a kingdom. ”

    But here we need to be careful eh? We assign to “Church” the label “christian”. what happens in administrating a church is all about earthly righteousness that is no different in essence than what the pagans do. It involves 1) mortification + 2) love. Even and especially pastors can mix law and gospel better an any bartender can blend a cocktail. The only part of church that is truly holy, and faith alone or “heavenly kingdom” are those things that are whole-ly of God and of which we have no part: The holy ministry, holy supper, holy baptism, holy word spoken, and holy absolution. Those things that alone bring us Christ and are alone about Christ. Did I say alone?

  • ptl

    amen fws at 22 above….

    By the way, check out David Scaer’s “Christology” for some good insights on the Ascension….this gentleman knows where to draw the line:

    http://www.lutheracademy.com/christology.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Christology-Confessional-Luthern-Dogmatics-6/dp/0962279161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273858312&sr=8-1

    Cheers!

  • ptl

    amen fws at 22 above….

    By the way, check out David Scaer’s “Christology” for some good insights on the Ascension….this gentleman knows where to draw the line:

    http://www.lutheracademy.com/christology.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Christology-Confessional-Luthern-Dogmatics-6/dp/0962279161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1273858312&sr=8-1

    Cheers!

  • fws

    ptl @ 24

    thanks for that. scaer is almost always a great read!

  • fws

    ptl @ 24

    thanks for that. scaer is almost always a great read!

  • fws

    But here we need to be careful eh? We assign to “Church” the label “christian”.

    what i mean here is that christian applied to visible church is “sinectoche” (sp?) meaning that we assign a name to the container that really is all about what it contains as the important thing.

    “christian church” in the visible sense is only “christian ” because of the believers contained therein. and we can trust, only by invisible faith, that there are only believers there because of the word and sacrament contained therein. We count ALL in those visible churches as christians out of the law of love, not out of faith. We leave it to our Lord to separate weeds from wheat and sheep from goats. Holy Mother Church is a net that takes in everything, especially the rubber boots and trash that the net drags in. Baptism sanctifies, completely, everything within it.

  • fws

    But here we need to be careful eh? We assign to “Church” the label “christian”.

    what i mean here is that christian applied to visible church is “sinectoche” (sp?) meaning that we assign a name to the container that really is all about what it contains as the important thing.

    “christian church” in the visible sense is only “christian ” because of the believers contained therein. and we can trust, only by invisible faith, that there are only believers there because of the word and sacrament contained therein. We count ALL in those visible churches as christians out of the law of love, not out of faith. We leave it to our Lord to separate weeds from wheat and sheep from goats. Holy Mother Church is a net that takes in everything, especially the rubber boots and trash that the net drags in. Baptism sanctifies, completely, everything within it.

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom – the right hand of God is not a physical place.” – Joe @ 16.

    I agree it’s authority. But if I believe Heaven is also, in some way, a place … well, just chalk me up as a “folk” believer. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Tom – the right hand of God is not a physical place.” – Joe @ 16.

    I agree it’s authority. But if I believe Heaven is also, in some way, a place … well, just chalk me up as a “folk” believer. :-)

  • fws

    tom @ 27

    blessed incarnation. Jesus has a real body.>>> not “folk doctrine” bodies occupy a “space”. how that is? dunno. doesn´t really matter eh?

  • fws

    tom @ 27

    blessed incarnation. Jesus has a real body.>>> not “folk doctrine” bodies occupy a “space”. how that is? dunno. doesn´t really matter eh?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    During the Reformation debates about this, the Reformed did understand Heaven to be a particular place far above our world, where Jesus “sat down” at the right hand of God, which is where He still is. The Lutherans ALWAYS, Bunnycatcher, said that Heaven is not like that! It’s not a place out in outer space. Think of it as another dimension. And the Ascension IS associated with the Sacrament. (See the day’s prayer in the Treasure of Daily Prayer.) Indeed, Jesus Himself associated His ascension back into the Godhead with His Presence: “Lo, I am with you always.”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    During the Reformation debates about this, the Reformed did understand Heaven to be a particular place far above our world, where Jesus “sat down” at the right hand of God, which is where He still is. The Lutherans ALWAYS, Bunnycatcher, said that Heaven is not like that! It’s not a place out in outer space. Think of it as another dimension. And the Ascension IS associated with the Sacrament. (See the day’s prayer in the Treasure of Daily Prayer.) Indeed, Jesus Himself associated His ascension back into the Godhead with His Presence: “Lo, I am with you always.”

  • fws

    Thoughts on the ascension from Martin Chemnitz, who was the chief editor of the Formula of Concord…

    From “The Two Natures in Christ.” Page numbers according to the 2007 CPH edition.

    “On the basis of Heb. 1:3 we speak of the right hand of the divine majesty, or the right hand of His power or strength (Luke 22:69), at which Christ is described as sitting here in time. Elsewhere in Scripture the right hand of God does not signify a member or part of God, nor merely a place of quiet and bliss, but it indicates the power and activity of God by which He drives back His enemies, is present with His own, hearkens to them with His grace, His blessing, His help, His liberation, His defense, His preservation, His salvation, as shown in His miracles and all His glorious divine works.

    Christ according to His divine nature is the very right hand of God, for the Father does all His works of divine majesty and power through the Son. But the human nature of Christ clearly does not become the right hand of God here in time, for no commingling, conversion or equating of the natures takes place, but the unimpaired distinction of the natures remains even after the union, as we have previously shown.

    However, the human nature lodges within Christ and sits at the right hand of God, because it has been personally united with the divine nature of the Logos, which is the very right hand of God. Now after He has laid aside His humiliation in the exaltation or glorification, it has been brought into the full and manifest use of the power of the right hand of God, so that now the right hand of the majesty and power which is in the person of the Logos shows itself and exercises, carries on, and accomplishes the activities of its divine power and majesty in, with, and through the assumed nature; and the assumed nature carries on the divine works of the right hand of God in the person of the Logos, with whom it has a communion like that of heated iron, which glows and gives heat by the power of the fire that is united with it, yet without commingling or equating.

    Ch. 24 (p.322)

    The expression “to sit” in this passage (Psalm 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25) does not refer to the reclining position of the body or to the occupancy of a particular place, but to His power and to the glorious administration of His office of King, High Priest, and Messiah and to His dominion over all things. Scripture speaks in this way of Christ’s session at the right hand of God so that it may show clearly that also with respect to His human nature, according to which He was crucified, dead and raised again, Christ is placed at the right hand of the majesty and power of God.

    The terms which are added in the description of this session, such as “in heaven,” “in the heavens,” “in the highest,” do not restrict the right hand of God to one place, nor do they imply that Christ according to His human nature is sitting at the right hand of God in only one place in heaven; but these expressions mean that the majesty and power are not created, earthly, or lowly, but rather that they are heavenly, lofty, and divine. For it is said of God Himself, who is limited to no one place: “Our God is in heaven, He does all things which He wishes.” (Psalm 115:3) etc. Ch. 24 (p.323)

    See chapter 28 for a thorough catalogue of testimonies from the ancient fathers

    Not the least part of the work of Christ as our Mediator and Savior is that as Head He is present with His members, gathering, ruling, defending, preserving, and saving His Church. For in all our afflictions and temptations—in the depraved infirmity of our nature, among the various offenses and the many pitfalls under the powerful tyranny and the rage of Satan, the world, and all the enemies of the church— our greatest and only comfort is our knowledge that Christ is present as our King, our High Priest, our Head, and the pastor of us who are His sheep in the midst of ravening wolves. He does not place the burdens of governing in His kingdom on the shoulders of others through delegated work, as the custom of our kings is, for the government is always on His shoulders (Is. 9:6), but when He Himself is present He cares for us, governs, defends, preserves, and saves us, as His peculiar people whom He has bought with His own blood. Ch. 30 (p.423)

    We have, moreover, an express word and a specific promise instituted in a particular and definite way, ordained as a part of His will and testament by the Son of God Himself on the night in which He was betrayed, a promise which Christ ratified also after His ascension by sitting at the right hand of the Majesty in His glory in heaven, a promise which was repeated to Paul, a promise that He wills to be present with His body and blood in the observance of His Supper as it is celebrated in the gathering of the Church here on earth in accord with His institution. Ch. 30 (p.432) In the peculiar revelation of the divine will (the Supper), in the special promise attached to it, in the unique and earnest assertion, and thus in the testamentary arrangement or ordinance of the Son of God, the words state that Christ wills to be present in His Church with His Body and Blood, or according to His human nature, wherever His Supper is celebrated on earth. Through His assumed humanity, as through the organ which is akin to us, as the Fathers put it, He wills to bestow His benefits on us, to confirm and seal them, and thus to accomplish in the Church His work of giving us life, according to each nature, through His life-giving flesh. (p.434) [This is] a doctrine which is so full of consolation, that is, that the Son of God, our Mediator and Savior, according to the words of His testament wills to be present with His Church here on earth, which is fighting under the banner of the cross and struggling in this vale of tears. For He wishes to be present also in and with His assumed nature by which He is of the same substance with us, related to us, our Brother, our very flesh, according to which flesh He does not blush to call us His brothers and in which flesh He was tempted, so that He can share in our sufferings, according to which flesh Christ is our Head and we His members. And just as no one hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, so also Christ does to His Church, since we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bone (Eph. 5:29). Ch. 30 (p. 434-435)”

  • fws

    Thoughts on the ascension from Martin Chemnitz, who was the chief editor of the Formula of Concord…

    From “The Two Natures in Christ.” Page numbers according to the 2007 CPH edition.

    “On the basis of Heb. 1:3 we speak of the right hand of the divine majesty, or the right hand of His power or strength (Luke 22:69), at which Christ is described as sitting here in time. Elsewhere in Scripture the right hand of God does not signify a member or part of God, nor merely a place of quiet and bliss, but it indicates the power and activity of God by which He drives back His enemies, is present with His own, hearkens to them with His grace, His blessing, His help, His liberation, His defense, His preservation, His salvation, as shown in His miracles and all His glorious divine works.

    Christ according to His divine nature is the very right hand of God, for the Father does all His works of divine majesty and power through the Son. But the human nature of Christ clearly does not become the right hand of God here in time, for no commingling, conversion or equating of the natures takes place, but the unimpaired distinction of the natures remains even after the union, as we have previously shown.

    However, the human nature lodges within Christ and sits at the right hand of God, because it has been personally united with the divine nature of the Logos, which is the very right hand of God. Now after He has laid aside His humiliation in the exaltation or glorification, it has been brought into the full and manifest use of the power of the right hand of God, so that now the right hand of the majesty and power which is in the person of the Logos shows itself and exercises, carries on, and accomplishes the activities of its divine power and majesty in, with, and through the assumed nature; and the assumed nature carries on the divine works of the right hand of God in the person of the Logos, with whom it has a communion like that of heated iron, which glows and gives heat by the power of the fire that is united with it, yet without commingling or equating.

    Ch. 24 (p.322)

    The expression “to sit” in this passage (Psalm 110:1; 1 Cor. 15:25) does not refer to the reclining position of the body or to the occupancy of a particular place, but to His power and to the glorious administration of His office of King, High Priest, and Messiah and to His dominion over all things. Scripture speaks in this way of Christ’s session at the right hand of God so that it may show clearly that also with respect to His human nature, according to which He was crucified, dead and raised again, Christ is placed at the right hand of the majesty and power of God.

    The terms which are added in the description of this session, such as “in heaven,” “in the heavens,” “in the highest,” do not restrict the right hand of God to one place, nor do they imply that Christ according to His human nature is sitting at the right hand of God in only one place in heaven; but these expressions mean that the majesty and power are not created, earthly, or lowly, but rather that they are heavenly, lofty, and divine. For it is said of God Himself, who is limited to no one place: “Our God is in heaven, He does all things which He wishes.” (Psalm 115:3) etc. Ch. 24 (p.323)

    See chapter 28 for a thorough catalogue of testimonies from the ancient fathers

    Not the least part of the work of Christ as our Mediator and Savior is that as Head He is present with His members, gathering, ruling, defending, preserving, and saving His Church. For in all our afflictions and temptations—in the depraved infirmity of our nature, among the various offenses and the many pitfalls under the powerful tyranny and the rage of Satan, the world, and all the enemies of the church— our greatest and only comfort is our knowledge that Christ is present as our King, our High Priest, our Head, and the pastor of us who are His sheep in the midst of ravening wolves. He does not place the burdens of governing in His kingdom on the shoulders of others through delegated work, as the custom of our kings is, for the government is always on His shoulders (Is. 9:6), but when He Himself is present He cares for us, governs, defends, preserves, and saves us, as His peculiar people whom He has bought with His own blood. Ch. 30 (p.423)

    We have, moreover, an express word and a specific promise instituted in a particular and definite way, ordained as a part of His will and testament by the Son of God Himself on the night in which He was betrayed, a promise which Christ ratified also after His ascension by sitting at the right hand of the Majesty in His glory in heaven, a promise which was repeated to Paul, a promise that He wills to be present with His body and blood in the observance of His Supper as it is celebrated in the gathering of the Church here on earth in accord with His institution. Ch. 30 (p.432) In the peculiar revelation of the divine will (the Supper), in the special promise attached to it, in the unique and earnest assertion, and thus in the testamentary arrangement or ordinance of the Son of God, the words state that Christ wills to be present in His Church with His Body and Blood, or according to His human nature, wherever His Supper is celebrated on earth. Through His assumed humanity, as through the organ which is akin to us, as the Fathers put it, He wills to bestow His benefits on us, to confirm and seal them, and thus to accomplish in the Church His work of giving us life, according to each nature, through His life-giving flesh. (p.434) [This is] a doctrine which is so full of consolation, that is, that the Son of God, our Mediator and Savior, according to the words of His testament wills to be present with His Church here on earth, which is fighting under the banner of the cross and struggling in this vale of tears. For He wishes to be present also in and with His assumed nature by which He is of the same substance with us, related to us, our Brother, our very flesh, according to which flesh He does not blush to call us His brothers and in which flesh He was tempted, so that He can share in our sufferings, according to which flesh Christ is our Head and we His members. And just as no one hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, so also Christ does to His Church, since we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bone (Eph. 5:29). Ch. 30 (p. 434-435)”

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws,

    Your stock with me just went up 74.5 points for quoting “The Two Natures in Christ.”

  • Dan Kempin

    Fws,

    Your stock with me just went up 74.5 points for quoting “The Two Natures in Christ.”

  • Tom Hering

    “… bodies occupy a ‘space’ …” – fws @ 28.

    Somewhere, somehow – and everywhere, somehow.

    Luther, BOC, 610-611.103 (KW): “I do not wish to have denied by the foregoing that God may have and know still other modes whereby Christ’s body can be in a given place. My only purpose was to show what crass fools our fanatics are when they concede only the first, circumscribed mode of presence to the body of Christ … For I do not want to deny in any way that God’s power is able to make a body be simultaneously in many places, even in a corporeal and circumscribed manner. For who wants to try to prove that God is unable to do that?”

  • Tom Hering

    “… bodies occupy a ‘space’ …” – fws @ 28.

    Somewhere, somehow – and everywhere, somehow.

    Luther, BOC, 610-611.103 (KW): “I do not wish to have denied by the foregoing that God may have and know still other modes whereby Christ’s body can be in a given place. My only purpose was to show what crass fools our fanatics are when they concede only the first, circumscribed mode of presence to the body of Christ … For I do not want to deny in any way that God’s power is able to make a body be simultaneously in many places, even in a corporeal and circumscribed manner. For who wants to try to prove that God is unable to do that?”

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @31 and Tom Hering @32

    Chemnitz is only topped by one Dr Martin Luther. I LOVED the “Examination of the Council of Trent”. Lutherans need to read and reread it. over and over and over. Rinse and repeat.

    Ditto Sasse. Piepkorn. Bishop Giertz. Gerhard. Bach. Lohe (sp?)Required reading. But most of all, I am grateful for how you two men hold the Symbols of our Evangelical Lutheran Church. If we would only be truly serious about being confessional. By this I mean making the confessions the major factor in every theological discussion and dispute and not just an “and also” and “by the way”. Dr. Piepkorn needs to get more play in the LC-MS in this precise respect. More symbolics in seminary. Less dogmatics. and Bonhoffer not so much…

    I LOVE what Chemnitz and FC Epitome author Andreae (I-am-so-OVER-Melancthon-! former Melancthon groupie) did with FC article VI titled so very subversively “Third Use of the Law”. Here brother Chemnitz shows how to give the third finger of fellowship to the crypto-calvinists. “ok. So you want a Luther-an “third use” eh? Take this: “The Lutheran third use is to inform christians that there is no “christian” use of the Law. No third use. None. Same Law. for pagan and christian. Same effect. Death. Old Adams everywhere only need apply for application of said Law. New Adam has no need for Law. And then do this by neatly and exactly plagarizing a Luther sermon (1528 Marburg 9th sunday after trinity) to do this masterpiece. Amazing work.

    It is so good to be among Lutheran brethren who know that all doctrine is only good if it is all and only only about our Lord Jesus and who will call me back to that should I take a wrong turn! This is what our Confessions are only about. “The Holy Gospel and all it´s articles” as the Augustana puts it nicely.

    End of Lutheran Bloviation attack….

  • fws

    Dan Kempin @31 and Tom Hering @32

    Chemnitz is only topped by one Dr Martin Luther. I LOVED the “Examination of the Council of Trent”. Lutherans need to read and reread it. over and over and over. Rinse and repeat.

    Ditto Sasse. Piepkorn. Bishop Giertz. Gerhard. Bach. Lohe (sp?)Required reading. But most of all, I am grateful for how you two men hold the Symbols of our Evangelical Lutheran Church. If we would only be truly serious about being confessional. By this I mean making the confessions the major factor in every theological discussion and dispute and not just an “and also” and “by the way”. Dr. Piepkorn needs to get more play in the LC-MS in this precise respect. More symbolics in seminary. Less dogmatics. and Bonhoffer not so much…

    I LOVE what Chemnitz and FC Epitome author Andreae (I-am-so-OVER-Melancthon-! former Melancthon groupie) did with FC article VI titled so very subversively “Third Use of the Law”. Here brother Chemnitz shows how to give the third finger of fellowship to the crypto-calvinists. “ok. So you want a Luther-an “third use” eh? Take this: “The Lutheran third use is to inform christians that there is no “christian” use of the Law. No third use. None. Same Law. for pagan and christian. Same effect. Death. Old Adams everywhere only need apply for application of said Law. New Adam has no need for Law. And then do this by neatly and exactly plagarizing a Luther sermon (1528 Marburg 9th sunday after trinity) to do this masterpiece. Amazing work.

    It is so good to be among Lutheran brethren who know that all doctrine is only good if it is all and only only about our Lord Jesus and who will call me back to that should I take a wrong turn! This is what our Confessions are only about. “The Holy Gospel and all it´s articles” as the Augustana puts it nicely.

    End of Lutheran Bloviation attack….

  • fws

    dan kempin @31

    I pray daily for God to remove any original or creative spark from me in communication of the mysteries of God. Plagarism is where it is at for Lutherans. The most honorable way to do theology actually.

  • fws

    dan kempin @31

    I pray daily for God to remove any original or creative spark from me in communication of the mysteries of God. Plagarism is where it is at for Lutherans. The most honorable way to do theology actually.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    As it happens, today’s “writing” in the Treasure of Daily Prayer relates Christ’s Ascension to these very issues, including relating Ascension to the ubiquity of Christ and how He can be present in His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. It’s no less than one of the Lutheran confessions: The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, VIII, 27-30.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    As it happens, today’s “writing” in the Treasure of Daily Prayer relates Christ’s Ascension to these very issues, including relating Ascension to the ubiquity of Christ and how He can be present in His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. It’s no less than one of the Lutheran confessions: The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord, VIII, 27-30.

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks, Dr. Vieth, for pointing to FOC VIII 27-30. I recognized one of my own mistakes there. Which has me rethinking a number of things.

  • Tom Hering

    Thanks, Dr. Vieth, for pointing to FOC VIII 27-30. I recognized one of my own mistakes there. Which has me rethinking a number of things.

  • S Bauer

    fws

    I agree wholeheartedly with your observations, as usual, especially when they confirm my own poor attempts. :-)

  • S Bauer

    fws

    I agree wholeheartedly with your observations, as usual, especially when they confirm my own poor attempts. :-)

  • fws

    Dr Veith @35

    excellent catch! This is very helpful!

  • fws

    Dr Veith @35

    excellent catch! This is very helpful!

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #35,

    You have placed your finger precisely on the point of difference between the Lutheran and Reformed theologies, namely the communication of attributes in the person of Christ. This difference can be seen in the differing understanding of “omnipresence.”

    The Reformed say that Christ is present in all things, including the sacrament, according to his divine nature. Thus God IS truly present in the sacrament, but “spiritually.” They deny, however, that He can be present physically, and thus divide the natures of Christ. By necessity, therefore, they deny the union of His person. (This, I believe, was the basis for Luther’s condemnation of Zwingli. Denying the real presence is not a matter of differing interpretation, but it reveals a differing Christology.)

    We believe and teach that Christ is omnipresent *in both natures*, and is *physically* present in the sacrament, though the ability to do so is according to His divine nature. (Sorry for the asterisks. I don’t know how to get italics.)

    That, at least, was the “nit” I attempted to pick in #3. The doctrine of “omnipresence” is understood differently in Reformed usage and the use of that term might lead some to conclude a “spiritual,” though “real” presence in the sacrament.

    You are right, though, that we should press on to reclaim the proper use and understanding of “omnipresence” as the whole person of Christ in both natures, according to His divine nature.

    As a final remark, I add the sound of one hand clapping for a “confessional” lutheran who actually reads and cites the confessions. Bravo!

  • Dan Kempin

    Dr. Veith, #35,

    You have placed your finger precisely on the point of difference between the Lutheran and Reformed theologies, namely the communication of attributes in the person of Christ. This difference can be seen in the differing understanding of “omnipresence.”

    The Reformed say that Christ is present in all things, including the sacrament, according to his divine nature. Thus God IS truly present in the sacrament, but “spiritually.” They deny, however, that He can be present physically, and thus divide the natures of Christ. By necessity, therefore, they deny the union of His person. (This, I believe, was the basis for Luther’s condemnation of Zwingli. Denying the real presence is not a matter of differing interpretation, but it reveals a differing Christology.)

    We believe and teach that Christ is omnipresent *in both natures*, and is *physically* present in the sacrament, though the ability to do so is according to His divine nature. (Sorry for the asterisks. I don’t know how to get italics.)

    That, at least, was the “nit” I attempted to pick in #3. The doctrine of “omnipresence” is understood differently in Reformed usage and the use of that term might lead some to conclude a “spiritual,” though “real” presence in the sacrament.

    You are right, though, that we should press on to reclaim the proper use and understanding of “omnipresence” as the whole person of Christ in both natures, according to His divine nature.

    As a final remark, I add the sound of one hand clapping for a “confessional” lutheran who actually reads and cites the confessions. Bravo!

  • fws

    what dan says. I will add another clapping hand to that. And trust that this stuff is not about merely abstract musings. Those of us beat down by the world and raised in Christ find these things lifegiving and of no small urgency and application in our personal lives and wellbeing.

    My Jesus is the God of creation who like me has arms legs and is not an anatomically deficient action figure god. He understands me. He knows all my dirt, and in spite of understanding me, he still likes me, not just loves me.

    When I contemplate that I will probably need to die pretty much alone without wife or children at my side, I can look at that figure on a cross and know that I am actually not alone. The very opposite is true.

    Bless you all here.

  • fws

    what dan says. I will add another clapping hand to that. And trust that this stuff is not about merely abstract musings. Those of us beat down by the world and raised in Christ find these things lifegiving and of no small urgency and application in our personal lives and wellbeing.

    My Jesus is the God of creation who like me has arms legs and is not an anatomically deficient action figure god. He understands me. He knows all my dirt, and in spite of understanding me, he still likes me, not just loves me.

    When I contemplate that I will probably need to die pretty much alone without wife or children at my side, I can look at that figure on a cross and know that I am actually not alone. The very opposite is true.

    Bless you all here.

  • Tom Hering

    “… this stuff is not about merely abstract musings.” – fws @ 40.

    Heavens no! The way we understand the natures of Christ can affect our salvation. If all of Christ is present, we have all that we need, and don’t need to complete our salvation ourselves (a sure path to doubts that WILL replace faith). The vary same body that was broken for us, and the very same blood that was spilled for us, is here with us – for us … the forgiveness of our sins.

  • Tom Hering

    “… this stuff is not about merely abstract musings.” – fws @ 40.

    Heavens no! The way we understand the natures of Christ can affect our salvation. If all of Christ is present, we have all that we need, and don’t need to complete our salvation ourselves (a sure path to doubts that WILL replace faith). The vary same body that was broken for us, and the very same blood that was spilled for us, is here with us – for us … the forgiveness of our sins.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin

    They deny, however, that He can be present physically, and thus divide the natures of Christ.

    I wonder if I could get some help understanding what is meant by “physically” as opposed to “spiritually”. Surely you don’t mean physically in the same way a materialist uses the word – because that can be verified empirically. So, he is present “physically” but not in any way that can be observed…well I don’t know if “spiritually” is the better word but “metaphorically” or “symbolically” or at least “let’s all pretend” come to mind as being more appropriate.

  • bunnycatch3r

    @Dan Kempin

    They deny, however, that He can be present physically, and thus divide the natures of Christ.

    I wonder if I could get some help understanding what is meant by “physically” as opposed to “spiritually”. Surely you don’t mean physically in the same way a materialist uses the word – because that can be verified empirically. So, he is present “physically” but not in any way that can be observed…well I don’t know if “spiritually” is the better word but “metaphorically” or “symbolically” or at least “let’s all pretend” come to mind as being more appropriate.

  • Dan Kempin

    That’s actually quite a good question. “Physically” is an imported word (not biblical) used (by me) to emphasize the real and true presence in the sacrament, according the the Lord’s own words, “This is my body, etc.” That is what we wish to uphold. Jesus says his body is given. This is not a metaphor. We assert the reality of the fact without, in turn, trying to explain how it can be. Jesus said it. That is the explanation.

    So in a sense you are correct that the word “physically” may go too far in trying to explain. The body of Christ in the sacrament cannot be perceived in the same way as other things “physical.” Perhaps, upon further reflection, the word “bodily” would be a better choice.

    On the other hand, I use the word “physically” as a crass contrast to the use of the word “spiritually,” which is commonly understood in the way you reference, “metaphorically . . . symbolically . . . let’s all pretend.” The sacrament is not pretend. Christ does not offer metaphors, but realities.

    So we are back to the old lutheran dilemma in this debate. How can I best affirm the full reality of Christ’s words, “This is my body,” while declining to attempt an explanation?

  • Dan Kempin

    That’s actually quite a good question. “Physically” is an imported word (not biblical) used (by me) to emphasize the real and true presence in the sacrament, according the the Lord’s own words, “This is my body, etc.” That is what we wish to uphold. Jesus says his body is given. This is not a metaphor. We assert the reality of the fact without, in turn, trying to explain how it can be. Jesus said it. That is the explanation.

    So in a sense you are correct that the word “physically” may go too far in trying to explain. The body of Christ in the sacrament cannot be perceived in the same way as other things “physical.” Perhaps, upon further reflection, the word “bodily” would be a better choice.

    On the other hand, I use the word “physically” as a crass contrast to the use of the word “spiritually,” which is commonly understood in the way you reference, “metaphorically . . . symbolically . . . let’s all pretend.” The sacrament is not pretend. Christ does not offer metaphors, but realities.

    So we are back to the old lutheran dilemma in this debate. How can I best affirm the full reality of Christ’s words, “This is my body,” while declining to attempt an explanation?

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Interesting enough, in the early church symbol meant something quite a bit different.

    These days we think that if it’s a symbol then the real thing isn’t there. In ancient days the symbol was the thing that demonstrated that it really *was* there. (More like a “sign” in modern semiotics.)

  • http://chaz-lehmann.livejournal.com Rev. Charles Lehmann

    Interesting enough, in the early church symbol meant something quite a bit different.

    These days we think that if it’s a symbol then the real thing isn’t there. In ancient days the symbol was the thing that demonstrated that it really *was* there. (More like a “sign” in modern semiotics.)

  • Tom Hering

    “How can I best affirm the full reality of Christ’s words, ‘This is my body,’ while declining to attempt an explanation?” – Dan Kempin @ 43.

    I think we “best affirm” by upholding the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture – that Scripture is the final authority on Scripture.

    How does that work in this case? Well, we always accept the plain meaning of a statement in Scripture, unless something else in Scripture compels us not to. For example, reading Exodus 15:8 “‘At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,’” I would at first accept that God has nostrils – but be compelled by John 4:24 “‘God is spirit’” and Luke 24:39 “‘a spirit does not have flesh’” to change my mind, and no longer take “nostrils” literally.

    So, what is it in Scripture that would compel us to reject the plain meaning of “‘This is My body … this is My blood’”?

  • Tom Hering

    “How can I best affirm the full reality of Christ’s words, ‘This is my body,’ while declining to attempt an explanation?” – Dan Kempin @ 43.

    I think we “best affirm” by upholding the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture – that Scripture is the final authority on Scripture.

    How does that work in this case? Well, we always accept the plain meaning of a statement in Scripture, unless something else in Scripture compels us not to. For example, reading Exodus 15:8 “‘At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,’” I would at first accept that God has nostrils – but be compelled by John 4:24 “‘God is spirit’” and Luke 24:39 “‘a spirit does not have flesh’” to change my mind, and no longer take “nostrils” literally.

    So, what is it in Scripture that would compel us to reject the plain meaning of “‘This is My body … this is My blood’”?

  • fws

    dan @ 43

    We do this very simply by saying “is” means is in it´s fullest and most natural grammatical sense here because of the grammar, who is saying that “is” the context (a very solemn one) and (here I disagree with the Lutheran fathers), john 6 and the rest of the gospel of st john don´t make alot of sense without is meaning is.

  • fws

    dan @ 43

    We do this very simply by saying “is” means is in it´s fullest and most natural grammatical sense here because of the grammar, who is saying that “is” the context (a very solemn one) and (here I disagree with the Lutheran fathers), john 6 and the rest of the gospel of st john don´t make alot of sense without is meaning is.

  • Tom Hering

    Yup, “is” means “is” – unless something else in Scripture (not Reason) forces us to conclude it doesn’t.

  • Tom Hering

    Yup, “is” means “is” – unless something else in Scripture (not Reason) forces us to conclude it doesn’t.

  • ptl

    bunnycatch3r…..my hunch would be that there are “physical” things all around us right now that we cannot measure empirically simply because we don’t have the tools…..am thinking of all kinds of radio signals that fly all around us….just a few hundred years ago, we didn’t know anything about them…..or the different kinds of signals coming in from outer space that the Hubble and other measuring devices now routinely capture and reinterpret into very dramatic images of outer space phenomena…..so am thinking just because we can’t measure something now empirically, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a physical existence? maybe someday we will figure it all out….hope so :)

  • ptl

    bunnycatch3r…..my hunch would be that there are “physical” things all around us right now that we cannot measure empirically simply because we don’t have the tools…..am thinking of all kinds of radio signals that fly all around us….just a few hundred years ago, we didn’t know anything about them…..or the different kinds of signals coming in from outer space that the Hubble and other measuring devices now routinely capture and reinterpret into very dramatic images of outer space phenomena…..so am thinking just because we can’t measure something now empirically, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a physical existence? maybe someday we will figure it all out….hope so :)

  • kerner

    All, here:

    I want to thank you for this great discussion. One of the reasons I read this blog regularly is that I am so often educated by my bretheran. You all are way ahead of me on this and I am grateful for the chance to learn from you. Bravo.

  • kerner

    All, here:

    I want to thank you for this great discussion. One of the reasons I read this blog regularly is that I am so often educated by my bretheran. You all are way ahead of me on this and I am grateful for the chance to learn from you. Bravo.

  • fws

    back atcha Kerner. how nice to be around people who love Jesus in our quirky over the top Lutheran kinda way. Only the Holy Spirit could create a unity of faith like that. amazing actually.

  • fws

    back atcha Kerner. how nice to be around people who love Jesus in our quirky over the top Lutheran kinda way. Only the Holy Spirit could create a unity of faith like that. amazing actually.

  • Tom Hering

    We might also consider the feeding of five thousand men, plus women and children, with only five loaves and two fish. How was it done? How can it be proven, empirically, that such things are possible? It doesn’t make sense that five loaves and two fish can be in the mouths of more than five thousand people simultaneously (who all ate until they were full – leaving twelve baskets of leftovers).

    If Christ could do something incredible when providing our bodies with an earthly supper, can’t He do something even more incredible when providing our souls with a heavenly supper?

  • Tom Hering

    We might also consider the feeding of five thousand men, plus women and children, with only five loaves and two fish. How was it done? How can it be proven, empirically, that such things are possible? It doesn’t make sense that five loaves and two fish can be in the mouths of more than five thousand people simultaneously (who all ate until they were full – leaving twelve baskets of leftovers).

    If Christ could do something incredible when providing our bodies with an earthly supper, can’t He do something even more incredible when providing our souls with a heavenly supper?

  • Tom Hering

    I’ve often heard it said that Christ multiplied the five loaves and two fish. But none of the Gospels state that these were “multiplied.” Quite the opposite: “… He divided up the TWO FISH among them all” (Mark 6:41). How physically incredible is that? :-)

  • Tom Hering

    I’ve often heard it said that Christ multiplied the five loaves and two fish. But none of the Gospels state that these were “multiplied.” Quite the opposite: “… He divided up the TWO FISH among them all” (Mark 6:41). How physically incredible is that? :-)

  • Bob

    fws,

    Can you recommend any of Capon’s books for someone who hasn’t read any?

    Also curious as to which of his books his idea of heaven that you mentioned came from.

  • Bob

    fws,

    Can you recommend any of Capon’s books for someone who hasn’t read any?

    Also curious as to which of his books his idea of heaven that you mentioned came from.

  • fws

    bob @ 53

    I don´t recall mentioning anything about capon´s idea of heaven.

    I would recommend capon´s trilogy on the parables. and then the other two essentials would be “the astonished heart” and his cookbook!

  • fws

    bob @ 53

    I don´t recall mentioning anything about capon´s idea of heaven.

    I would recommend capon´s trilogy on the parables. and then the other two essentials would be “the astonished heart” and his cookbook!

  • ptl

    Bob….Capon might be groovy, but check out fws in #33 (+ Scaer, ha!) if you have not read already….definitely not baby’s milk, and without a 20 century (plus or minue 100 years) psychological bubblegum perspective…thank God :)

  • ptl

    Bob….Capon might be groovy, but check out fws in #33 (+ Scaer, ha!) if you have not read already….definitely not baby’s milk, and without a 20 century (plus or minue 100 years) psychological bubblegum perspective…thank God :)

  • http://caughtnottaught.blogspot.com ED… who blogs at Sincere Ignorance and Conscientious Stupidity

    Good post of the “pulls out pin, lobs, jumps for cover” kind!

  • http://caughtnottaught.blogspot.com ED… who blogs at Sincere Ignorance and Conscientious Stupidity

    Good post of the “pulls out pin, lobs, jumps for cover” kind!


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