Christ Crucified for You! On Good Friday, not Wednesday

Holy Week is the time of year where different theories about the specific date of the crucifixion and resurrection come up. One of the most common theories out there is one that is generally referred to as the Wednesday to Saturday theory. To put this theory in simple terms, they believe that the Last Supper was instituted on Tuesday, Christ was crucified on Wednesday, and rose from the dead on Saturday. Their proof text for this belief is found in one place in Holy Scripture, the sign of Jonah.

St. Matthew 12:40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

So, basically, they argue that since this text uses the phrase "three days and three nights," Christ could not have been crucified Friday and risen on Sunday. Why? Because that's only 2 nights.

The solution to this apparent dilemma is actually quite simple. First and foremost, we have numerous other Scriptures that point to a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection. Second, we have the issue of Hebrew idioms.

First of all, let's deal with the Hebrew idiom going on here. The phrase "three days and three nights" is never meant to be a literal phrase in Holy Scripture. It's an idiom that Hebrews used to describe any part of any three days. Hence, Scripture can also repeatedly insist that Christ rose on the third day.

Christ speaks of the resurrection often in Scripture, and only this one time does He use this phrase "three days and three nights." Scripture uses other phrases as well, such as:

St. Mark 8:31: "after three days"

St. John 2:19: "in three days"

St. Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; St. Luke 13:32; 24:46: "the third day"

Obviously, all of these refer to the same event. What we have to recognize is that the bible reckons time inclusively. In other words, chronology in Scripture can contain any of these phrases and refer to the same event. If not, well, Houston, we have a problem. The third day and "three days and three nights" are not the same thing in a strictly literalistic sense. After three days and in three days aren't either. Quite simply, we have to take all of these phrases as referring to the same event. Were the biblical authors and Jesus confused? Certainly not. The point is, they simply used these phrases interchangeably for counting time in Hebrew culture.

To put it even simpler still, if any part of any day was included in chronological counting, it was always reckoned as a whole day. Hence, Jesus can rise on the third day and this can also be called "three days and three nights."

"Before we turn to the Bible for confirmation of this principle, let us read the authoritative statement of the Jewish Encyclopedia on the matter. "A short time in the morning of the seventh day is counted as the seventh day; circumcision takes place on the eighth day, even though, of the first day only a few minutes after the birth of the child, these being counted as one day.” Vol. 4, p. 475. How clearly this defines the Hebrew method of computing time. Any small part of a day was reckoned as the entire twenty-four hour period. It is the Hebrew form of speech and language. Scores of contradictions would appear in both Old and New Testament if this principle were ignored. We must compare Scripture with Scripture and use the idiom of the language in which the Bible was written. Inclusive reckoning was taken for granted by all writers of the Scripture." -Joe Crews (Three Days and Three Nights)

Counting time inclusively is all over the Old Testament as well. (1Sam 30:12-13, Gen 42:17-19, 2Chr 10)

We have other Scriptural evidence as well that the crucifixion was on Friday and the resurrection was on Sunday.

1. The Jewish Sabbath began at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday.

This is important because of the data we have from Holy Scripture regarding the crucifixion.

St. Matthew 27:62-64: On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Notice also, there is that inclusive counting again. "After three days." And then "the third day."

St. Mark 15:42: Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath

St. Luke 23:54: That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

St. John 19:31-33: Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

So here we plainly see that Jesus was crucified and Joseph of Arimathea asked for His body on the Day of Preparation, which is the day before the Sabbath: Friday. Likewise, St. John tells us that the Jews would not allow a body to remain on the cross during the Sabbath. The Jews requested that the bodies on the cross (Jesus and the two thieves) were to have their legs broken because the Sabbath was drawing near. In other words, it was darn near sundown on the Day of Preparation - Friday.

2. The Resurrection was on Sunday.

St. Mark 16:1, 2, 9: Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen...Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

St. Matthew 28:1: Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

St. Luke 24:1: Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

St. John 20:1: Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.


It's pretty clear and obvious that the Wednesday to Saturday theory is very unbiblical at best. Once we see that Hebrews counted days inclusively, there is no problem here. The overly literalizing of the phrase "three days and three nights" actually slaughters the inerrancy of Scripture in this case, since it ends up falsifying all the other phrases that mention "the third day" or something like it. It also falsifies the clear biblical data that we have regarding the crucifixion and resurrection.

In other words, the Church has always had this correct. Jesus Christ was crucified on Friday and rose again on Sunday. The biblical data is irrefutable for this fact.



Maybe Jesus Didn't Die For You. Poof! No Assurance.

Limited Atonement. Particular Redemption. Effectual Atonement. Definite Atonement. All of these are terms for the Reformed doctrine that Christ died only for the elect. That is to say, there are many people in history, nay most people in history, that the Christ did not die for.

Well, at least in Reformed Theology this is the case. It's a cute little theory based on logical deductions as well as some Scriptures. Yet it doesn't tell the whole story and doesn't do justice to the whole of the biblical data. At the end of the day, it ends up being another half truth. Reformed Theology is great for half truths. They affirm predestination to salvation. Great! That's clearly in Scripture. But then they turn around and say that God predestines people to hell. Not so great. That's not in Scripture. They affirm that Christ died for the world. Great! That's in Scripture. Then they affirm that world doesn't mean everyone. It just means that Christ died for the world in general, from which He will save all His elect by dying for them. But not for the others. Not so great. That's not in Scripture. They affirm that God and God alone saves and keeps us to final perseverance and salvation. Great! That's in Scripture. Then they turn around and say that everyone ever in a state of grace will never fall away and will infallibly persevere. And the rest were never saved to begin with, whether they reject Christ outright or give up their profession. Not so great. That's not in Scripture.

Anyhow, limited atonement is a doctrine that absolutely slaughters a person's assurance of salvation. I know, I was a Calvinist for years. This is typically where the Calvinist plays the intellectual card and says that I didn't really understand limited atonement. That's the problem, I understood it too well.

First of all, since Christ may or may not have died for you, looking to the cross for assurance is a fool's errand. After all, you might be deceived into thinking you're a Christian but you really aren't. I've had many Calvinists say that if God damns them to perdition, well, it will be for His glory, and they'll just have to revel in the glory of God from hell. I'm like, OK dude, what a comforting through.

Second, limited atonement forces a person to look inwardly for their assurance of salvation. If Christ may or may not have died for you, then the only way to know this is by looking to your own faith to see if it is really true faith, and looking to your obedience to see if you really love God.

But here is the rub. On our best days, we still do not have perfect faith, much less perfect obedience. We are fickle, us humans. We're subjective. We have emotions and we run the emotional roller coaster. We're not the same person (metaphorically speaking) from day to day. Looking to ourselves to see if we are really saved is really just not a good idea. We're ultimately going to fall in one of two directions. First, we're going to be led to despair because we realize that our faith nor our obedience to Christ is that great. We have our ups and our downs. If we ask the question "What does Christ demand?" Well, we must answer that He demands perfection from us. Hence He died and rose for us. But if that dying and rising is only for certain people...

Second, we might fall into the pride category. We think we are doing so well that we're definitely saved, because we obey Christ so well and stuff.

The point is, if limited atonement is true (thank God it's not), then the only place we can possibly look for assurance of salvation is in ourselves, to see if we're really truly believers.

Thankfully, this half truth of the atonement given to us by Reformed Theology is just that; a half truth.

The truth, thankfully, lies in the objectivity of Christ's work given to us. He died and rose for everyone universally. (Here comes the "that makes Christ a failure!" argument from the Calvinist, or some other silly thing.) He also gives us infallible *and objective* promises rooted in Himself in the here and now, to spare us from the constant navel gazing that limited atonement brings in its wake.

Ironically, Reformed Theology sort of ends up in the same place on the topic of assurance as other expressions of Christianity that affirm free will or justification by works. (Such as Arminianism or Roman Catholicism)

He baptizes us. That's His work to us and is objective. We are baptized in the Name of the Triune God for the remission of our sins. He gives us His Word. He also gives us His true Body and Blood in the Lord's Supper. That also is objective. It's Christ giving us Himself. It's grace.

So where do we look for assurance? Jesus Christ on the cross, given to us in Word and Sacrament. Not to ourselves, for that will just kill us. We are simul iustus et peccator, after all.

+Grace and Peace+


Given for You. Shed for You.

An Maundy Thursday is upon us, a post on the Lord's Supper is in order.

The Gospel According to St. Luke states,

St. Luke 22:19-20: And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."

Here is Christ instituting the Lord's Supper. The two statements of Christ are of paramount importance here. In times past, the debates on the Lord's Supper have been legendary. During the time of the Reformation, the Marburg Colloquy between Luther and Zwingli was a monumental event. Luther and Zwingli could not agree upon the Lord's Supper, with Luther affirming the Real Presence and Zwingli denying it. Later on, Swiss Reformer John Calvin tried to concoct a via media between the two camps and bring union, affirming a spiritual presence where the elect believers are lifted in faith to heaven where the Holy Spirit delivers Christ to them. Lutherans rejected Calvin's formula, since it is a rejection of the Real Presence.

Anyhow, all of these discussions proved to show us one simple thing: there is no via media between the est (is) and the significat (signifies). Rightly, our Lutheran churches are not in communion with the Reformed churches, and this is mainly due to their denial of the Real Presence in the Lord's Supper. There are other reasons, but that is a big one.

In the text from St. Luke, we find two statements of Christ. The sacramentarians interpret the passage to say that the bread and wine are symbols of Christ's body and blood; not the true body and blood of Christ. When we look at Christ's statements, we see that these statements are interpreted as follows:

This is My body [symbolic] which is given for you [literal]; do this in remembrance of Me

This cup is the new covenant in My blood [symbolic], which is shed for you [literal]

Herein lies a big problem in sacramentarian interpretation: If this is just a symbol of Christ's body and blood, but it is literally given and shed for you, one has to prove on what basis they can separate the statements of Christ in a half literal and half symbolic manner.

In other words, if this is NOT Christ's body and blood, what confidence can you have that this is given and shed for you? Ironically, in Reformed Theology, Christ's Body and Blood might not have been given and shed for you due to the dogma of limited atonement. Why then can't the entire statements be symbolic only? That would actually make more sense of the sentence in sacramentarian interpretation. If the first clause is symbolic (This is My Body), then the entire statement should be symbolic in nature (This is My Body which is given for you).

To hold to a symbolic interpretation of the Lord's Supper demands that a person also hold to a symbolic interpretation of "given for you" and "shed for you" within the same statements. One would have to prove that is the case.

It makes much more sense to simply cling to the clear words of Scripture here. This is My Body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.

Literally. This is My Body (literally) which is given for you (literally); do this in remembrance of Me (literally).

+Grace and Peace+


Sasse on Luther and Zwingli

I wrote a blog a couple days ago where I insinuated that the Sacramentarian (Real Presence deniers and deniers of Baptismal Regeneration) churches separate the Sacraments from the Gospel and thereby deny the promises given within.

Directly Proportional Sacramentology

So, to clarify what I have written, I am going to call on Hermann Sasse. He explains it better than me. I quote from Sasse's stellar work on the Marburg Colloquy, entitled This is My Body.

"How then, is it to be explained that he [Zwingli] was prepared to recognize Luther as a brother in the faith, in spite of what he regarded as Luther's grave error? The answer is that for him the Sacrament. and the doctrine on the Sacrament, did not belong to those essentials of the Christian faith concerning which there must be unity within the church. In contradistinction to Luther, the understanding of the Gospel on which there must be unanimity is independent of the understanding of the Lord's Supper and of the Sacraments in general. The Sacrament for Zwingli is not part and parcel of the Gospel; it is an ordinance of Christ, to be performed by Christians. This performance may have some effect on the soul of the faithful, insofar as the 'sign' makes the Word of the Gospel clearer. But the Sacraments can never be means of grace in the strict sense. They only signify the grace which has been given without them, as he puts it Art. 7 of his Fidei Ratio:

'I believe, indeed, I know, that all the sacraments are so far from conferring grace that they do not even convey or distribute it.'

That the Sacrament is also a sign has never been denied by Luther and the Lutheran church, as it is the conviction also of Roman doctrine. The question is only whether, according to Scripture, it is not more.
Here lies the deepest reason for the differing attitudes of Luther and Zwingli, not only toward the Sacrament as such, but also toward the doctrine, that is, the understanding of the Sacrament. If the Sacrament, though performed by man, is an act of God, and if this act is more than a sign, namely, and instrument by which God gives something, then the denial of this character of the Sacrament is ...nothing less than a destruction of the Sacrament. The Sacrament is either a means by which God gives His grace, or it is no Sacrament at all - at least, not in the sense in which the church for 1500 years, since the days of the apostles, had understood the Sacrament. Nothing can conceal the difference between churches for which the Sacraments are instruments of divine grace and churches which deny this." (Hermann Sasse, This is My Body, Adelaide: Lutheran Publishing House, p. 228-229)
As I posited in the aforementioned blog, one's view of the Sacraments determines their importance. Hence, Zwingli could unite with Luther despite their differing views on the Sacrament of the Altar, but Luther could not. For Zwingli, it was not Gospel and was secondary in a sense. For Luther, the Lord's Supper is pure Gospel and to misunderstand it is to have a misunderstanding somewhere along the line in your understanding of the Gospel. Therefore, Luther and Zwingli left Marburg as opponents on some level and not as united brothers.



Lord, Teach Us To Pray!

St. Luke 11:1-2: Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

And Jesus replied: Make sure you are praying whatever is on your heart as the Spirit leads you. God loves a spontaneous prayer, and you definitely don't want to pray something that anyone else has ever prayed, ever. You must be original!

Actually, He didn't say that at all. Here what He did say:

St. Luke 11:3-4: So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”

A lot of Christians don't like repeating prayers that are not original. They view this as vain repetitions, which Jesus warns against in St. Matthew 6:7. But it's quite ironic that the warning about vain repetitions as the heathens do is in a specific context. Look at it.

St. Matthew 6:7-13: And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Hmm. So Jesus says don't use vain repetitions, then gives them the Lord's Prayer to pray. So Jesus contradicted Himself, eh?

Not quite. The Lord's Prayer is not a vain repetition. I mean, if it meant that, praying any Scripture would be a vain repetition. What Jesus is rebuking here as "vain repetitions" is the idea of repeating the same thing over and over and in many ways in order to channel God, gain merit by more prayers, or make sure God really hears it by repeating it a bunch of times.

It has nothing to do with repeating prayers or using prayers that have been used for centuries.

So that is my thought for the day.

+Grace and Peace+


Directly Proportional Sacramentology

A church's specific view on something will determine how important they think a certain doctrine is. Hence you have theological liberalism clamoring for unity of everyone in Christendom. Some of the further left theological liberals are even ecumenical with other non-Christian religions.

My point here is that unity and truth go together. It's not as if they need to be "balanced." Being balanced is just a catch phrase people use too often now days. But nevertheless, the two go together. Unity must be in the truth, and the higher emphasis one places on certain doctrines, the more likely they are to be dogmatic about them and not budge on the importance of them.

Calvinists and Lutherans are a prime example of this. If you talk to your usual Calvinist who is knowledgeable regarding Reformed Theology and Lutheranism, they will generally say that Calvinism and Lutheranism are not that far apart. They tend to see Lutherans as a group that began the Reformation, but didn't quite reform enough; carrying over too many things from medieval Roman Catholicism. However, your usual knowledgeable Calvinist is very favorable to Lutheranism.

I assert that there are two reasons for this. First of all, Martin Luther was pretty cool. Pretty much everyone who is not a Roman Catholic or an adherent of Eastern Orthodoxy wants to claim Martin Luther. The majority of Reformed Christians that I run across now days seem to think that Martin Luther was a Calvinist and if he were alive today he would most certainly be Reformed, not Lutheran or anything else. (That's not true, but that is not what I am getting at here) That's the first reason.

The second reason is Calvinism's view of the Sacraments. Classically, Reformed Theology affirms the Sacraments as means of grace, although it is confusing as to how they are. Many of the Reformed claim that the Sacraments are means of grace in our sanctification, but not in our justification, thereby separating grace into two categories. In short, the Sacraments are given a second-place seat behind the Gospel. That is to say, Reformed Theology separates out the Sacraments from the Gospel itself. Ulrich Zwingli took a staunch memorialist stance on the Lord's Supper and rejected the Real Presence. John Calvin took a via media stance that attempted to assuage both the memorialists and affirm the Real Presence of Christ in the Supper. (Then there is the Consensus Tigurinus...Lutherans are heretics pretty much.) Calvin tried to deal faithfully with both the Real Presence of Christ as well as the Ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father. He ended up with what amounts to a spiritual presence only for the elect; and no presence whatsoever for the non-elect, who receive only bread and wine, while the elect receive Christ by faith via the work of the Holy Spirit raising us up in faith to the Throne Room of the Father. This is ultimately a denial of the Real Presence, despite Calvinist protests. Christ is not present in the bread and wine in this theology, or else the unregenerate would receive Christ as well. If He is present, everyone partaking would receive Him. Pretty simple.

In short, Reformed Theology has a "lower" view of the Lord's Supper. Thus, they can be lenient towards other views. After all, it's not the true body and blood of Christ, so they can tolerate other views. Hence, Calvinist seem to like Lutheranism in general; despite their obvious disagreements. Lutherans are monergists and affirm the solas, after all.

On the flip side, there is the Lutheran view of Reformed Theology. The Reformed can keep John Calvin. We posit that Calvin had a lot of errors and a very rationalistic theology. Calvin, along with Zwingli and the Reformed churches are what we refer to as the "Radical Reformation." In short, the Reformed got rid of a bunch of stuff just because Rome held to it, which is a terrible reason, considering Rome has a lot of things correct. That's what we think anyways. Exclusive Psalmody, no instruments in worship, a very strict regulative principle, and so on.

Then there is the Lord's Supper. And Holy Baptism. And the atonement. We see Reformed Theology's doctrine of the Lord's Supper as an explicit rejection of the Real Presence, and as such, a denial of the Gospel promises given therein. In other words, we argue that the Calvinists reject what the Lord's Supper is, and as such, make a huge blunder. We also argue that Reformed Theology's stance on the Lord's Supper is Nestorian. Nestorius was an ancient heretic in the early church who split the natures of Christ, more or less.

Thus, in Lutheranism, we do not tolerate aberrant doctrines of the Lord's Supper. This is precisely because we have a "higher" view of the Supper. (We do not think the Reformed think the Lord's Supper is unimportant, just wrong. And as such, a serious error.) Therefore, we see the Reformed doctrine of the Lord's Supper as out of line with what the church has always held to and thus something that must be guarded against. They reject that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ. Therefore it's not even the Lord's Supper, it's something else. (Look up the Prussian Union sometime. If you go back even further to the Reformation era, check out the Crypto-Calvinist controversy.) We view the Lord's Supper as the objective Gospel given for you and to you in the Sacrament.

So, to summarize, the Calvinists are generally very favorable to the Lutherans. Sure, we carried over that old Roman idea that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ, but that's OK, because it's not that big of a deal.

Lutherans, on the other hand, are generally very unfavorable towards Reformed Theology. The Real Presence in the Lord's Supper is a non-negotiable. The true body and blood of Christ is not something to be trifled with or rejected. We see theories that reject the Real Bodily Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as crass and unbelieving. It's a huge deal.

Not to mention that whole assurance killing limited atonement thing. And double predestination. And rejection of baptismal regeneration. We affirm that the Reformed are Christians, but we cannot be in communion with them, no matter how much some of them protest that we are so close to each other.

We're not.

And on and on we go.


The Brotherhood Prayer Book - YES!

Reviews of books and resources are few and far between from me, but I am compelled to write something regarding the Brotherhood Prayer Book, compiled by Benjamin T. G. Mayes and Michael N. Frese, published by Our Savior Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, MI in 2004. An updated edition was released in 2007. I own the original 2004 edition.

In short, this book is an amazing resource and fills the gap in an area that has a strong tendency to be neglected in Lutheranism, let alone its complete non-existence in other non-traditional forms of Christianity.

The book is a comprehensive resource as well. There is a piece on the daily offices and the roles that are traditionally held in these offices. Within the same section of the book there is also an explanation of Gregorian musical notation used for chanting (singing) the prayers and Psalms. All of this is very helpful to people who are not familiar with the offices and the practice of singing the Psalms and prayers (like me).

The BPB follows the traditional church calendar and takes you through the year ordered around the various festivals of the church. The normal daily prayers, called the ordinaries, form the guts of the book. The ordinaries are Vigils (Matins), Morning Prayer (Lauds), Midday Prayer (Prime, Terce, Sext, None), Evening Prayer (Vespers), and Night Prayer (Compline). For those who pray the offices, the ordinaries are the prayers that are done on a daily basis (unlike me, the sinner, who doesn't do them every day). However, since the book is ordered around the church calendar (as well as the days of the week themselves), there is an entire section on specific antiphons, collects, and readings to be done on specific days of the week, seasons of the church calendar, and feast days. These are called the Propers.

The book also contains the entire Psalter (book of Psalms) and the Psalms are all pointed for singing if you so choose to do so. In addition to the Psalter, there is an entire daily lectionary of readings for each day of the year. The lectionary readings include an Old Testament passage, New Testament passage, and an additional reading from various sources for each day of the year.

The BPB has chosen to use classical, Jacobean English for the book. I quote,

"We have chosen to use classical, Jacobean English for the prayer book. The text of the Psalms and Canticles is from the King James Version. The text of the propers conforms to that of The Lutheran Hymnal (St. Louis: Concordia, 1941) and other works which use classical English. This has been done for several reasons. First, new English translations of the Bible appear constantly. No matter what version we would choose, no one knows whether that version will be widely used in as little as ten years. The King James, on the other hand, has been a classic of the English language for 400 years. It will never go any more out of style than it is now. In addition, the King James, unlike modern English Bibles, is in the public domain. Its classic language often preserves nuances in the biblical languages which are lost in modern English, such as the difference between the 2nd person singular and plural (thou and ye)." (Mayes and Frese, The Brotherhood Prayer Book, Grand Rapids: Our Savior Lutheran Church, 2004)

In addition to the Psalter and the lectionary, the book also contains the Great Litany, the Litany of the Holy Sacrament, and a section with various collects (short prayers) for all occasions.

To be succinct, this is an excellent resource if you desire to pray the daily offices ordered around the church year. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The book can be purchased here: BPB - Emmanuel Press It's $50 price tag is pretty steep, but well worth the investment.

There is also an outstanding online resource, mainly of audio files, where one can listen to the different chanting done in the BPB. That is found here: Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood


Grace, Doctrine, and Shenanigans

Erecting false dilemmas is a staple of theological liberalism in this day and age. The latest well meaning statement I ran across said something along the lines of how Christ came to bring us grace, not doctrine (name withheld to protect the innocent!). In a real sense, there is some truth in this, but ultimately, it falls short of being a solid idea.

First of all, Jesus did come to bring us grace. That's true. The cross of Christ is a life giving fountain of grace. He dies and rises for us. He did that, past tense. It's the Gospel and it's done. He also delivers this work to us in the present via His Word and Sacraments.

Wait a second. This is all doctrine. That is where the statement falls short of making any meaningful sense. The statement pits grace against doctrine. To be plain, this is a false dichotomy. Doctrine is teaching. Doctrine is content. We learn doctrine. We study doctrine. It's not a bad word, it's what we have! Christ came because we needed grace. That's the truth. But to separate grace from doctrine is a serious mistake. To pit them against each other turns grace into some random mystical thing that we have no clue about.

Ultimately, this is nothing more than theological liberalism masquerading in the form of anti-intellectualism. Would the theological liberals not have our pastors preach and teach from the pulpit? Would they have us not teach our children the truth about Christ? Does doctrine really not matter?

Come on. Think with me a bit here. How do we know what grace is without hearing about it? What about Jesus? How do we know who He is and what He has done for us?

That would be doctrine. Need some Scripture? OK.

Romans 10:14-15: How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 16:17: I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.

1 Timothy 1:3-11: As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 4:6: If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

1 Timothy 6:3-5:  If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Titus 1:9: He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

So you see, the statement that Christ came to bring us needed grace but not doctrine is quite anti-Christian indeed.

+Grace and Peace+