Romans, Justification and Talents

We’re studying Romans in my adult Bible study. We’re about four chapters in and have stalled out a little, due to the very insightful comments and questions I’ve been getting.

But yesterday was a kind of watershed event for me. The questions raised really got me thinking on the nature of faith and our response in a way I’ve never experienced before. Here’s an example:

At the seminary Prof. Eickmann said ths gospel is like a man walking down the street. A stranger comes up and hands over a check in the amount of $2 million. The man must now deposit the check, having faith that it is good and use the money, or the man must decide that it is a hoax and throw the check away. But as the check is genuine, we can say that the man is a millionaire, even if he never deposits the check. Likewise, God has given us forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death is for all. But salvation is a matter of trusting this grace of God–depositing it, as it were.

So. Yesterday discussion flowered out of this “parable” and I began to wonder about some of the implications of this, and as it relates to Christ’s parable of the talents.

My questions for you:

1. Is this parable/analogy accurate?

2. What implications do you see from this?

3. How does it affect justification?

Must Read on Worship

My friend and colleague Mason Beecroft apparently gave the most controversial presentation at the recent LCMS Theological Convocation on Worship. Doesn’t surprise me. He’s a great guy (this is not a non-sequitur).

So what did he say? What was the problem? His conclusion was nothing radical. Every congregation ought to use the LSB, i.e., the hymnal and liturgy from the most recent service book published.

But the how and the why is what rubbed many the wrong way. He is sacramental. He is pre-modern. He believes what the Lord says in a way that frustrates the neo-literalist, historical-grammatical fundamentalists, evangelical practicalists in our midst.

Ignore that last sentence if you don’t know what it means. But do read what Pr. Beecroft posted today. Here’s an excerpt:

[So who decides?] This question was pervasive at the LCMS Model Theological Conference, “Toward a Theology of Worship…,” which was held this past week in St. Louis. As the discussion turned toward issues of style, rite, ceremony, form and liturgy appropriate to our sacramental confession, this typical response came often, “So who decides what is appropriate? Or reverent? Or sacramental?”  The underlying assumption, of course, is that it is all, or largely, in the eye of the beholder. What is appropriate, reverent, and sacramental for one person, may not be appropriate, reverent, and sacramental for another. Thus, the predominant factor for making such determinations is cultural context. The most important consideration is how to communicate the idea of the Gospel to modern (post-modern) people.

Orwell Was only 25 Years Off

This article

And this one, which provides some more editorial comment.

The Children’s Secretary set out £400million plans to put 20,000 problem families under 24-hour CCTV super-vision in their own homes.

They will be monitored to ensure that children attend school, go to bed on time and eat proper meals.

Private security guards will also be sent round to carry out home checks, while parents will be given help to combat drug and alcohol addiction.

This has got to be a hoax. Please, Good Lord, make it be a hoax.

HT: Hollywood

The Lutheran Study Bible: Initial Thoughts

I received my copy of The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version a few days ago. It’s a huge book. I bought the hardback edition and the binding seems good. It stays open well and should hold up nicely. However, the pages are incredibly thin. Think onion-skin thin, and there is plenty of bleed-through. Not good for notes or quick page turning.

Having said that, I am incredibly impressed with the book. It is simply packed with notes and helps. Everywhere. There are the usual verse-notes at the bottom of every page–generous verse-notes too, but there are also introductions to each book that address overall themes, Luther quotes, “Challenges for Readers” which introduce isogogical issues and some apologetical issues, vocabulary lists of important terms, outlines and more. Plus, each major category of books also sport introductions, for instance, the Pauline Epistles have their introductory sections.

I haven’t had much time to evaluate the content of the notes and study helps, though what I have seen is quite good for modern LCMS Lutherans. In other words, it well reflects the current theological stance of the Seminaries. What does this mean? Solidly Lutheran, Confessional…and slightly fundamentalist/naturalistic. Allegory and “spiritual meanings” are given short shrift to historical-grammatical analysis. In places some miracle stories are explained naturalistically, though the hand of God is still recognized as running the show. I think for many/most within the LCMS this is probably not an issue…but it is for me.

Having said that, even after only a quick look I would recommend for most Lutherans as well as for other Protestants who are looking for a meatier, deeper study Bible.

Adaptable

It’s still frozen here. Three degrees this morning. Seven degrees yesterday morning, though when it got up to 2o yesterday afternoon it felt downright warm. I can’t imagine what 40 degrees is going to feel like. Shorts weather.

It wasn’t that long ago that 40 was ice-cold and twenty unthinkable. It’s amazing how we get used to relative temperatures, how much and how quickly our bodies adjust to the environment.

But it’s more than our bodies. We are adaptable creatures, for good or ill. When we surround ourselves with beauty and light and goodness, we adapt to it, grow more into it. The opposite is also true. Mom was right: he was a bad influence on you and changed you.

And so St. Paul writes, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Phil. 4:8)