“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [Read more…]

Open questions

Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, posted a passage from the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (1932) regarding “Open Questions.”  It makes the wise point that Scripture does not clearly answer all theological questions, and so the Church may not offer definitive answers to them.  See the passage after the jump.

First, can anyone explain the confessional status of the Brief Statement?  Is acceptance of this document obligatory for Missouri Synod Lutherans?  Just pastors?  Laymen?  (The only requirements for formal subscription I’ve come across are to the Scriptures and to the confessions in the Book of Concord.)  This statement affirms things like the inerrancy of Scripture and the Six Days of Creation, but it leaves out important Lutheran doctrines such as the Theology of the Cross and Vocation.

Second, what ARE some of these open questions?  I suspect there are different positions on whether the Scriptures are clear or not on some issues. [Read more…]

The Nigerian schoolgirl kidnappings as Christian persecution

The public is rightly horrified by the kidnapping of some 276 Nigerian high school girls by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, which has announced its plans to sell them as sex slaves.  Missing from many of the news stories is that most of the girls are Christians (the majority of whom are members of the Christian Brethren church) and that the attacks are in the context of Boko Haram’s anti-Christian crusade.  [Read more…]

More on the (cancelled) Harvard Black Mass

Catholics at Harvard have come out with a good statement on the Black Mass that had been scheduled for last night but, apparently due to the public outcry, was cancelled.  The op-ed piece in the Crimson, the university’s student newspaper, gives details about how the Body of Christ is desecrated during the Satanic rite and draws parallels to the burning of a Quran. [Read more…]

Pastors with bodyguards and food-tasters

J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine, takes some of his fellow Pentecostalists to task, urging that they drop six specific teachings and practices.  What particularly interests me here is what he says about some Pentecostal pastors.  They reason that they have been “anointed” by the Holy Spirit; therefore, they are the ‘Lord’s anointed.”  Therefore the pastors take on the modern-day-equivalent perks of the Davidic monarchy, including the right not to be criticized and having “armor bearers”–that is, an entourage including bodyguards, food-tasters, someone to carry their briefcase, someone else to carry their Bible, and people throwing dollar bills at their feet.

Lutheran and other pastors, try to get this past your board of elders and your voters’ assemblies!  Then again, elders and voters–especially those with a higher view of the pastoral office than the Pentecostals have–might learn from them to treat their pastors at least a little better!  I’ll volunteer for food-taster. The list of practices after the jump. [Read more…]

How worship services have changed since 2000

LifeWay CEO Thom S. Rainer cites the findings of the National Congregations Study from Duke University on how church services have changed over the last 10 years.  It isn’t just a matter of contemporary worship styles or the worship wars.  The study cites changes that also, I dare say, apply to liturgical and traditional services.  See the list of 9 changes after the jump. [Read more…]