“Everything in our hearts and minds should be fixed”

As you have probably heard, Rick Warren’s 27-year-old son committed suicide.  That’s about the saddest thing I can imagine, both that someone would take his own life and that those who love him would have to go through that sorrow.  I pray for the Warrens and for others who have gone through this.  But that’s not what I want to post about.

The Washington Post published a follow-up story on Christians’ reactions to the suicide, focusing on the stigma often attached in evangelical circles to seeking psychological help.  Various church leaders are quoted, saying as how Christians in mental distress should, in fact, seek professional help and that churches should support them in that.  But that’s not what I want to post about either.

I was struck by this quotation:

“Part of our belief system is that God ­changes everything, and that because Christ lives in us, everything in our hearts and minds should be fixed,” said Ed Stetzer, a prominent pastor and writer who advises evangelical ­churches. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes need medical help and community help to do those things.”

via Suicide of star pastor Rick Warren’s son sparks debate about mental illness – The Washington Post.

Is that true, that “everything in our hearts and minds should be fixed”?  That we should expect either Christ or doctors or some combination of the two to “fix” every aspect of our lives that is out of whack?   Not just our moral failings but “everything in our hearts and minds”?

 

Sanctification and Vocation

The estimable Anthony Sacramone has been carrying on a fascinating and helpful discussion (in two posts here and here on Jonathan Fisk’s  Broken) about the Lutheran view of the Christian life, how it perhaps doesn’t do enough with sanctification.  I think the missing link, so to speak, is the doctrine of vocation.  Here is a somewhat revised version of what I posted as a comment:

The doctrine of vocation is not just about our work.  It really is the Lutheran doctrine of the Christian life.  We are brought to faith through Word and Sacrament and then we live out that faith in love and service to our neighbors.  “Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God  has called him” (1 Corinthians 7:17).  And God assigns us and calls us to various and multiple tasks in the orders that He has created for human beings:  the household (the family plus economic labor), the church, the state, and what Luther called “the general order of Christian love” (the informal relationships of friendship, interactions with others,  as in the Good Samaritan parable, etc.) . Vocation is where sanctification happens, where we exercise our faith, where we battle with sin, where we grow “in faith towards you [God], and in fervent love for one another” (as it says at the end of the liturgy, when we are sent back into our vocations).

I wonder if the problem is the ordinariness of the good works that take place in vocation.  As Einar Billing says in Our Calling, “In all our religious and ethical life, we are given to an incredible overestimation of the extraordinary at the expense of the ordinary.”  [Read more...]

Happy Baptism birthday to me

I didn’t grow up a Lutheran, so I don’t have the Baptismal sponsors or the Baptism anniversaries that lifelong Lutherans generally do.  But not too long ago, I discovered my Baptismal certificate.  It happened on April 10, 1960.  You non-Lutherans will appreciate that it was not an infant baptism.  I was 9.  It was a believer’s baptism.  I remember the fervency of my faith, though I suspect I did not have all that much more theological understanding than an infant.  It was by immersion.  I remember it vividly and it was a true religious experience for me at that young age.  I remember the exultation I felt, the sense of being clean, the sense of being Christ’s.  Such feelings, of course, aren’t necessary, but it’s nice to be able to actually “remember my baptism.”

Why are traditions that don’t put all that much emphasis on Baptism actually doing anything such sticklers about its mode?  When I became a Lutheran, my having been baptized in this way was considered quite valid.

At any rate, who else can remember his or her baptism?  What other Lutherans were baptized as adults?  Those of you in churches that don’t baptized infants, how old does someone have to be before he or she can offer a profession of faith and be baptized?  Those of you who only practice “adult” baptism must remember when this happened to you.  What was it like, and what did it mean to you?  Just church membership, just obeying a law, or was there a sense of the gospel, of dying and rising with Christ?

Church authority vs. state authority over marriage

As gay marriage becomes the law of the land in many jurisdictions and, very likely in the near future, in the whole country, some Christians are saying, well, marriage is a religious function anyway.  Let the state do whatever it wants in regards to redefining marriage.  Or, better yet, let it get out of the marriage business.  We Christians will uphold real marriage, and we don’t need the state to let us do that.

Well, that might work if we were all Roman Catholics.  The church of Rome used to control and regulate all marriages.  But the Reformers took issue with that, insisting that the state should be in charge of marriage. [Read more...]

Why do the Orthodox ally with liberal Protestants?

One of the mysteries of the American religious scene is why all but one of the Eastern Orthodox church bodies in this country are members of the National Council of Churches, the mouthpiece for liberal Protestant denominations.  Not only that, the NCC consistently promotes abortion, homosexuality, a leftist social gospel, and a whole array of doctrines opposed to the traditional theology the Orthodox claim to champion.  And it isn’t like the Orthodox representatives are speaking up all that much against the NCC’s anti-orthodoxy.  John Lomperis of the Institute for Religion and Democracy asks some pointed questions. [Read more...]

The Crucified God

For Lent I’ve been reading Jürgen Moltmann’s The Crucified God.  It’s sophisticated theology, interacting and often agreeing with radical and liberal theologians, and yet there are treasures on virtually every page.  Here are some quotations:

“When God becomes man in Jesus of Nazareth, he not only enters into the finitude of man, but in his death on the cross also enters into the situation of man’s godforsakenness. In Jesus he does not die the natural death of a finite being, but the violent death of the criminal on the cross, the death of complete abandonment by God. The suffering in the passion of Jesus is abandonment, rejection by God, his Father. God does not become a religion, so that man participates in him by corresponding religious thoughts and feelings. God does not become a law, so that man participates in him through obedience to a law. God does not become an ideal, so that man achieves community with him through constant striving. He humbles himself and takes upon himself the eternal death of the godless and the godforsaken, so that all the godless and the godforsaken can experience communion with him.” [Read more...]


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