The defection of the state

More from Hermann Sasse, the anti-Nazi theologian, on the death of nations, reflecting on “the deification of the state” and other ways in which governments can “defect” from their true nature and their Romans 13 authority. [Read more...]

“The lie kills nations”

Hermann Sasse was contending with Nazi Germany, but his words about how “the lie” kills nations–presenting cultural dissolution “as a glorious ascent,” in which “decline is viewed as an advance”–have an unsettling resonance for today. [Read more...]

What churches can expect from the world

As churches try to think through the implications of the gay marriage ruling, many Christians are realizing for the first time that the United States is not, if it ever has been, a Christian nation.  Furthermore, that Christianity no longer exerts much moral influence on the culture as a whole.  This may prove beneficial, at least, in disentangling the Christian faith from civil religion.   At any rate, Christians are re-thinking their relationship to the culture and to the state.

Lutherans doing this are looking for guidance from Hermann Sasse, the anti-Nazi confessional theologian.  Not that the United States is equivalent to Nazi Germany, but that how Sasse dealt with an extreme case of national idolatry can help us think through less extreme cases.

So I’m going to be posting some Sasse quotes for our consideration and discussion.  First off, Sasse asks churches, what do you expect from the world?  And then he gives the answer of what we should expect. [Read more...]

And now LINOS

In the political world, you will hear talk of RINOs, Republican In Name Only.  LCMS President Matt Harrison, an accomplished translator, posts his rendition of a letter by the Nazi-battling German theologian Hermann Sasse, who, in praising the Missouri Synod, gives us a useful concept:  Lutherans In Name Only (LINOS). [Read more...]

How to deal with distractions

When you pray or have devotions or listen to a sermon, do you get distracted? Do thoughts come into your mind that carry you away from concentrating on God? See what John Kleinig says, by way of Hermann Sasse (the great conservative Lutheran theologian who opposed the Nazis and the Nazified church in Germany). From that book I have been pushing Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today:

“Distraction upset me so much that I eventually gained enough courage to seek help form one of my teachers, Dr. Hermann Sasse. He listened attentively and patiently, as I explained some length how the devil always seemed to distract me at inappropriate times. When I had finished, he stopped, turned to face me, and said, ‘Who says that it is the devil? Perhaps it is the Holy Spirit.’ With that he went on his way, leaving me shocked by what he had said.”

“That bit of advice has proved to be the best spiritual counsel I have ever received. It make such good sense theologically. When else could we expect to receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit than when we are engaged in listening to His Word or in praying are inspired by His Word? Since then, I have learned to regard distractions that I experience in public worship and in my devotions as the summons of the Holy Spirit, who uses these distractions to connect my life with God’s Word and to apply God’s Word to my life. Whenever I remember, I note the distractions that interrupt my worship and devotions and take each of them, if possible, as an instruction from the Holy Spirit—an instruction about something that I need to repent of or to pray for; an instruction about who to pray for and how; an instruction about what to enjoy as a good gift from God or to receive with thanksgiving…” (pp. 84- 85)

Thus, the very distractions are co-opted and turn the attention back to God as occasions for prayer. Not only that, it actually causes us to pray about what is really on our minds. This is brilliant advice, as I can testify from personal experience. Try it.