One of the heroes on that French train is a Lutheran

You know those three unarmed Americans who took out the armed-to-the-teeth terrorist on that French train?  One of them was a Missouri Synod Lutheran.  What difference does that make?  Not much on one level.

But surely when you heard about this, if you are from the USA, you felt a surge of connectedness that these guys were fellow Americans.  When a fellow Christian does something, the tie is even stronger, because of what the Apostle’s Creed calls “the Communion of the Saints.”  According to 1 Corinthians 12, we are all different organs of the same body, so that what happens to one member happens to all of us.  So, for me, a part of the body that writes and blogs in safety, I rejoiced at the part that had the courage to tackle a terrorist with an AK-47 who was shooting a pistol, saving who knows how many lives.  And that he shares my confession and that we commune with each other makes for a particularly close kind of unity.

So my fellow Lutherans who read this blog, as well as my fellow Christians and my fellow Americans, can all claim a connection to what happened on that train, though the heroism of those young men is all their own.

Details about Army National Guardsman Aleksander Skarlatos of St. Paul Lutheran, Roseburg, Oregon, after the jump. [Read more...]

Pope will allow priests to forgive abortion

Pope Francis will allow priests to forgive the sin of abortion during the upcoming Holy Year, from December 8 to November 26.  Normally, abortion incurs automatic excommunication.  Bishops must give special permission before a priest can absolve a penitents of that particular sin.

That abortion cannot be forgiven, apart from an elaborate bureaucratic process, is another example of the Gospel-denying effects of the Roman Catholic penitential system.  Christ died for all sins, including abortion, and He bore every woman’s abortion in His body on the Cross.  So every woman who has committed this sin can know that she has forgiveness in Him.  Now for one year, such women can find forgiveness in the Roman Catholic Church.

But this action by Pope Francis is being interpreted as another example of the pontiff’s “tolerance” and will be taken as a weakening of the church’s position on abortion. [Read more...]

When Christian voters support the least Christian candidate

There once was a time when evangelical voters favored candidates who were Christians and who modeled “family values.”  Today the favorite candidate among evangelical voters is someone who says he has never repented of his sins, has been married three times, brags about his sexual conquests, and has made much of his fortune by building gambling casinos.

At least those who once called themselves “the moral majority” can no longer be accused of being “judgmental” in their politics.

Is this indifference to a candidate’s faith and morals a sign of political maturity in the Christian right?

Or is it the end of the Christian right, with its members caring more about such issues as immigration more than they do moral or religious issues? [Read more...]

The Pope as illegal immigrant?

Pope Francis is coming to the United States next month.  Back in January he said that he would like to come in by crossing the Mexican border.  That would be, he said, a “beautiful sign” of solidarity with illegal immigrants.  I would think such a crossing would be at one of the legal checkpoints, rather than wading across the Rio Grande, but who knows?

The Pope decided not to because if he visited Mexico, he would have to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and he didn’t time this visit.  But Catholic opponents of illegal immigration, including the Catholic Republican presidential contenders (Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki) can expect to feel pressure from the pontiff, as they will also on climate change. [Read more...]

We’re number 119!

I just learned that this blog was ranked #119 in the top 300 Christian Blogs for Ministry, as determined by a complicated algorithm by  OK, “Cranach” is misspelled, but still, I am honored.

You should see the list, which probably contains other blogs that you’d like to check out: Top 300 Christian Blogs – Church Blogs |

But now could someone please explain what those numbers mean?  And I’m not sure how together they can be calculated into a ranking, since I don’t see a pattern in the numbers and the sequence of the list.  The site tells what the different metrics are, but I can’t follow what is being said.

Walking away & walking it back

Another good sermon yesterday from Pastor Douthwaite on the third week the Gospel lesson has been on John 6, that rich text in which Jesus proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life.  When he went so far as to say that he was not just being metaphorical, that His flesh is “true food” and His blood “true drink,” many of his followers walked away.  The same thing happens today when erstwhile followers encounter “hard sayings” that they won’t accept.  We sometimes walk away from Christ.  But Christ doesn’t walk away from us. [Read more...]