via The Replication Crisis in Science

Yes, I’m reblogging Dr Veith, yes that is PhD, spent his professional life in academia, retiring as the provost of Patrick Henry College in Virginia. For all of those who love to bellow “I only believe in science, hard facts”, more and more that’s not the case. Instead you believe in a faith system that more and more is becoming more doctrinal, like evolution (real scientists really don’t believe in Darwinian evolution anymore), and just want an impersonal universe that is completely material with no consideration allowed for the spiritual. Just not going to work and is in no way “scientific” or objective. Scientism is more about doing the study the way you want it to come out and less about scientific objectivity, hence the faith system “scientism”. Just more people trying to create their own reality. It’s God’s reality, He created it and He sustains it through Jesus Christ.

The Imminent Decline of Contemporary Worship Music: Eight Reasons OCTOBER 27, 2014 BY T. DAVID GORDON

By imminent decline of contemporary worship music, I do not mean imminent disappearance. Commercial forces have too substantial an interest to permit contemporary worship music to disappear entirely; and human beings are creatures of habit who do not adapt to change quickly. I do not predict, therefore, a disappearance of contemporary worship music, sooner or later. Already, however, I observe its decline. Several years ago (2011) Mark Moring interviewed me for Christianity Today, and in our follow-up communications, he indicated that he thought the zenith of contemporary worship music had already happened, and that the movement was already in the direction of traditional hymnody. He did not make any claims about the ratio of contemporary worship music to traditional hymns; he merely observed that whatever the ratio was, the see-saw was now moving, albeit slowly, towards traditional hymnody. If the ratio of contemporary-to-traditional was rising twenty years ago, it is falling now; the ratio is now in decline, and I suspect that decline will continue for the foreseeable future. What follows is a painfully abbreviated list of eight reasons why I think this change is happening.

  1. Contemporary worship music hymns not only were/are comparatively poor; they had to be. One generation cannot successfully “compete” with 50 generations of hymn-writers; such a generation would need to be fifty times as talented as all previous generations to do so. If only one-half of one percent (42 out of over 6,500) of Charles Wesley’s hymns made it even into the Methodist hymnal, it would be hubristic/arrogant to think that any contemporary hymnist is substantially better than he. Most hymnals are constituted of hymns written by people with Wesley’s unusual talent; the editors had the “pick of the litter” of almost two thousand years of hymn-writing. In English hymnals, for instance, we rarely find even ten of Paul Gerhardt’s 140 hymns, even though many musicologists regard him as one of Germany’s finest hymnwriters. Good hymnals contain, essentially, “the best of the best,” the best hymns of the best hymnwriters of all time; how could any single generation compete with that?

Just speaking arithmetically, one would expect that, at best, each generation could represent itself as well as other generations, permitting hymnal editors to continue to select “the best of the best” from each generation. Were this the case, then one of every fifty hymns we sing should be from one of the fifty generations since the apostles, and, therefore, one of every fifty should be contemporary, the best of the current generation of hymnwriters. Perhaps this is what John Frame meant when, in the second paragraph of his book on CWM, he indicated that he had two goals for his book: to explain some aspects of CWM and to defend its “limited use” in public worship. Perhaps Prof. Frame thought one out of fifty constituted “limited use,” or perhaps he might have permitted as much as one out of ten, I don’t know. But our generation of hymnwriters, while talented and devout, are not more talented or more devout than all other generations, and are surely not so by a ratio of fifty-to-one.

  1. Early on in the contemporary worship music movement, many groups began setting traditional hymn-lyrics to contemporary melodies and/or instrumentation. Sovereign Grace Music, Indelible Grace, Red Mountain Music, Reformed Praise all recognized how difficult/demanding it is to write lyrics that are not only theologically sound, but significant, profound, appropriate, memorable, and edifying (not to mention metrical). If the canonical Psalms are our model, few hymn-writers could hope to write with such remarkable insight (into God and His creatures, who are only dust) and remarkable craftsmanship (e.g. the first three words of the first Psalm begin with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph (א), each also has a shin (ש), and two of the three also have a resh (ר), even though each is only a 3-letter word. Even those unfamiliar with Hebrew cannot miss the remarkable assonance and alliteration in those opening three words: “ashre ha-ish asher”).
  2. As a result, the better contemporary hymns (e.g. “How Deep the Father’s Love,” “In Christ Alone”) have been over-used to the point that we have become weary of them. These two of the better contemporary worship music hymns are sung a half-dozen times or a even a dozen times annually in many contemporary worship music churches; whereas “A Mighty Fortress” may get sung once or twice (if at all); but neither of the two is as good as Luther’s hymn. What is “intrinsically good” (to employ Luther’s expression about music) will always last; what is merely novel will not. Beethoven will outlast 50 Cent, The Black Eyed Peas, and Christina Aguilera. His music will be enjoyed three hundred years from now; theirs will be gone inside of fifty years.
  3. It is no longer a competitive advantage to have part or all of a service in a contemporary idiom; probably well over half the churches now do so, so we have reached what Malcolm Gladwell calls the “Tipping Point.” Contemporary worship music no longer marks a church as emerging, hip, edgy, or forward-looking, because many/most churches now do it. Churches that do not do other aspects of church-life well can no longer compensate via contemporary worship music; they must compete with other churches that employ contemporary worship music. Once a thing is commonplace, it is no longer a draw. And contemporary worship music is now so commonplace that it is no longer a competitive advantage; to the contrary, smaller churches with smaller budgets have difficulty competing with the larger-budgeted churches in this area.
  4. As with all novelties, once the novelty wears off, what is left often seems somewhat empty. In a culture that celebrates what is new (and commercial culture always does so in order to sell what is new), most people will pine for what is new. But what is new does not remain so forever; and once it is no longer novel, it must compete by the ordinary canons of musical and lyrical art, and very little contemporary worship music can do so (again, because its authors face a fifty-to-one ratio of competition from other generations). Even promoters of contemporary worship music prefer some of it to the rest of it; indicating that they, too, recognize aesthetic criteria beyond mere novelty. Even those who regard novelty as a virtue, in other words, do not regard it as the onlyvirtue. And some, such as myself, regard novelty as a liturgical vice, not a virtue because of its tendency to dis-associate us from the rest of our common race, heritage, and liturgy.
  5. Thankfully, my own generation is beginning to die. While ostensibly created “for the young people,” the driving force behind contemporary worship music was always my own Sixties generation of anti-adult, anti-establishment, rebellious Woodstockers and Jesus freaks. Once my generation became elders and deacons (and therefore those who ran the churches), we could not escape our sense of being part of the “My Generation” that The Who’s Pete Townsend had sung about when we were young; so we (not the young people) wanted a brand of Christianity that did not look like our parents’ brand. Fortunately for the human race, we are dying off now, and much of the impetus for contemporary worship music will die with us (though the commercial interests will “not go gentle into that good night,” and fulfill Dylan Thomas’s wish).
  6. Contemporary worship music is ordinarily accompanied by Praise Teams, and these have frequently (but by no means always) been problematic. It has been difficult to provide direction to them, due to the inherent confusion between whether they are participants in the congregation or performers for the congregation. In most circumstances, the members of the Praise Team do the kinds of things performers do: they vary the instrumental or harmonious parts between stanzas, they rehearse, etc. In fact, if one were to watch a video of the typical Praise Team without any audio, they ordinarily look like performers; their bodily actions and contrived emotional expressions mimic those of the entertainment industry.

Theologically and liturgically, however, it is the congregation that is to sing God’s praise, and what we call the Praise Team is merely an accompanist. But there is a frequent and ongoing tension in many contemporary worship music churches between the performers feeling as though they are being held back from performing for the congregation, and the liturgists thinking they’ve already gone too far in distinguishing themselves from the congregation. Many pastors have told me privately that they have no principial disagreements with contemporary worship music, but that they wish the whole Praise Team thing “would go away,” because it is a frequent source of tension. I have elsewhere suggested that the Praise Team is not biblical, that it actually obscures or obliterates what the Scriptures command. I won’t repeat any of those concerns here; here I merely acknowledge that many of those who disagree with my understanding of Scripure agree with my observation that the Praise Team is an ongoing source of difficulty in the church.

  1. We cannot evade or avoid the “holy catholic church” of the Apostles’ Creed forever. Even people who are untrained theologically have some intuitive sense that a local contemporary church is part of a global and many-generational (indeed eschatological and endless) assembly of followers of Christ; cutting ourselves off from that broader catholic body may appear cool for a while, but we ultimately wish to commune with the rest of the global/catholic church. Indeed, for many mature Christians, this wish grows as we age; we become aware that this particular moment, and our own personal life therein, will pass away soon, and what is timeless will nonetheless continue. Our affection for and interest in the timeless trumps our interest in the recent and fading. We intuitively identify with Henry F. Lyte, whose hymn said, “Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not, abide with me.” We instinctively wish to “join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all” (to use Edward Perronet’s language). Note, in fact, the opening lines alone of each stanza of Perronet’s hymn, and observe how, as the stanzas move, our worship is connected to both earthly and heavenly worship, past and future worship:

All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall;…
Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre, and as they tune it, fall…
Crown Him, ye morning stars of light, who fixed this floating ball;…

Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call;…
Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall,…
Hail Him, ye heirs of David’s line, whom David Lord did call,…
Sinners, whose love can ne’er forget the wormwood and the gall,…
Let every tribe and every tongue before Him prostrate fall…

O that, with yonder sacred throng, we at His feet may fall,
Join in the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all!

It is not merely that some churches do not sing Perronet’s hymn; they can not do so, without a little dissonance. Everything that they do intentionally cuts themselves off from the past and future; liturgically, if not theologically, they know nothing of martyrs, of Israel’s chosen race, of David’s lineage. Liturgically, if not theologically, everything is here-and-now, without much room for angels or seraphs, nor every tribe and tongue (just those who share our particular cultural moment). To sing Perronet’s hymn in such a setting would fit about as well as reading Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at a Ku Klux Klan gathering.

“Contemporary worship” to me is an oxymoron. Biblically, worship is what angels and morning stars did before creation; what Abraham, Moses and the Levites, and the many-tongued Jewish diaspora at Pentecost did. It is what the martyrs, now ascended, do, and what all believers since the apostles have done. More importantly, it is what we will do eternally; worship is essentially (not accidentally) eschatological. And nothing could celebrate the eschatological forever less than something that celebrates the contemporary now. So ultimately, I think the Apostles’ Creed will stick its camel’s nose into the liturgical tent, and assert again our celebration of the “holy catholic church, the communion of the saints.” The sooner the better.

(Photo credit: Aikawa Ke/ Flickr)

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ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

T. David Gordon

T. David Gordon

T. David Gordon is Professor of Religion and Greek at Grove City College, where since 1999 he has taught courses in Religion, Greek, Humanities, and Media Ecology. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is the author of Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers and Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Re-Wrote the Hymnal. His personal website is www.tdgordon.net. He lives in Grove City, PA, with his wife Dianne, and daughters Grace and Dabney (and innumerable cats). 

via Embracing Religious Identity while Rejecting the Religion’s Teachings

Another great blog from Dr Gene Veith, one of those authors whose grocery list I would read if he published it.

Ah no, how can the women (in the picture in Dr Veith’s blog) either keep a straight face, or genuinely believe their little signs? They can’t! They either don’t know what they’re talking about and think that stomping their legs in an adolescent hissy fit like they did with daddy, is going to get them their way, or it’s a cynical attempt at something they don’t really get.

I would certainly stipulate that the Christian church, no less the Roman Church, has never been a monolith. There have certainly been liberal elements in flatline…. uhmmmm I mean main-line protestantism for always and the Roman church certainly has its liberal element. But the liberal element in the Christian church is just not relevant. No one takes liberal protestantism seriously and for Jesuits in the Roman church they create an interesting liberal element, but they are just not relevant to Christianity in the mainstream.

But it’s certainly great that the culture seems to be finding it’s way back to the church. I would certainly see that as a move by the Holy Spirit. And you can’t expect them to come back in some pristine Christian manner. They’ve been tainted by the world for years, you can’t expect them to completely grasp genuinely Christian doctrine. I grew up outside the church, it took me awhile.

Now is the time to go to them, and I’ve done this pretty regularly and gently correct. No abortion is not a Catholic value, (how can you say that with a straight face) or any of the other frivolous, adolescent assertions. Put on your big boy/girl pants and sit and listen instead of playing. Stop being a phoney, trying to convince us you know what you’re talking about and put on your critical thinking hat. Let’s get genuine, try to understand what it really is about and stop being a phoney hypocrite. We want you to genuinely understand God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit and not the drivel you’ve been listening to from the world for years. We want you to know the genuine truth, the logos of God (I’ll explain what that means if you want to genuinely sit down and talk. Genuine, that’s a value you folks take seriously? Yet you never seem to practice it.)

Anyway, you need to get real and get rid of your hypocritical attitudes and attempts to try and force your phoney political agenda, on the timeless doctrine of Christ’s church. You say you believe in Him, he did establish the church, “I will build my church on this rock…”, “I give the keys to heaven and hell to the church”. Your phoney attempts can’t work and will reveal you as phonies.

The attempts by the liberal agenda to dictate to the church, the Churches that gave into the world, the liberal agenda, have been prattling nonsense for decades, prattle which no one takes seriously and has turned the flat-line, uhmmmm I mean main-line protestant churches into groups of contempt and ridicule.

But now there’s those who are coming back, who seem to want to genuinely talk. I’ve talked to some of those people already. I want to hear them, to understand them, to also guide them. That’s the job of the church, and if someone genuinely wants to talk, I’m more than ready. Don’t care about their sexual orientation, abortion attitude, 2nd amendment whatever, really whatever. Give me the chance to present the Gospel to you and then we can go from there.

As wrongheaded as many of those who seem to want to return to the true church of Jesus Christ, at least they are genuinely, I hope, searching. I want to give them every opportunity to sit and talk and come together. That’s what I’m suppose to do as a Christian and a clergyman. I’m eager to do so, let’s sit and talk. As always thank you Dr Veith, I’m a big fan. God richly bless you.

Are we going back to the bad old days of gang warfare and that’s ok for some people?

There was a top 40 song from my bubble-gum music days, 1974, that even at the time I thought was kind of hokey, kind of fanciful. The name of the groups was “Paper Lace” which sort of made it’s seriousness even more marginal. It started, “My daddy was a cop, on the east side of Chicago, back in the U.S.A. back in the bad old days” Interestingly the song was about Chicago where 104 people were shot over the past 4th of July week 2018, not 1925!!??

So ya, I knew who Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, all those people were, but they had been 40 years earlier, way outside of my experience in Boston, where ya, there was gang warfare, but no where near the scale of Chicago, and people who weren’t involved didn’t get hurt.

Law Enforcement

These are the lyrics:  This is the UTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-L0NpaErkk

Lyrics
My daddy was a cop on the east side of Chicago
Back in the U.S.A. back in the bad old days
In the heat of a summer night
In the land of the dollar bill
When the town of Chicago died
And they talk about it still
When a man named Al Capone
Tried to make that town his own
And he called his gang to war
With the forces of the law
I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was
Glory be!
I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night the people saw
Brother what a fight the people saw
Yes indeed!
And the sound of the battle rang
Through the streets of the old east side
‘Til the last of the hoodlum gang
Had surrendered up or died
There was shouting in the street
And the sound of running feet
And I asked someone who said
“‘Bout a hundred cops are dead!”
I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was
Glory be!
I heard my mama cry
I heard her pray the night Chicago died
Brother what a night the people saw
Brother what a fight the people saw
Yes indeed!
And ther was no sound at all
But the clock upon the wall
Then the door burst open wide
And my daddy stepped inside
And he kissed my mama’s face
And he brushed her tears away
The night Chicago died
Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na
The night Chicago died
Brother what a night the people saw
Brother what a fight the people saw
Yes indeed!
The night Chicago died
Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na
The night Chicago died
Brother what a night it really was
Brother what a fight it really was
Glory be!
The night Chicago died
Na-na na, na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na
The night Chicago died
Brother what a night the people saw
Brother what a fight the people saw
Yes indeed!
Songwriters: Mitch Murray / Peter Callander
The Night Chicago Died lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
I don’t know, did Al Capone really think he could take over Chicago? I’m not even sure I know what the allusion means in the song. But doesn’t that seem to be the case today?
On the other hand the violence of these few people led to the completely unwarranted death of, if you believe the song, “…’bout a hundred cops are dead…” Certainly over the course of the 1920s and 30s hundreds of law enforcement, Chicago city cops, FBI, remember this is where Elliot Ness became famous he was an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agent. Many law enforcement were killed by the evil of those who were completely motivated by greed and power. Did law enforcement have issues today and then? Yup they do. Does that justify conducting war against law enforcement in this day and age? No, absolutely not, deal with the issues as they arise, work hard to weed out the people who shouldn’t be carrying a badge and gun. I was a Coast Guard Law enforcement officer. My brother is a State Police officer, because of my service I came to know many civilian local police and federal law enforcement. In my interactions I saw all of these people as very honest, high integrity, wanting to do a dangerous job to serve the people of this country. The vast majority of people of people in law enforcement are genuinely doing their best to serve and protect.

 

If someone wants to slap me down about copyright, I will take it down, I’m not trying to steal, I’m trying to create some genuine empathy and awareness that something is going on today that sure isn’t unprecedented maybe. When I first saw this post, ahhh I thought, maybe even a little creepy, but the more I thought about it and this song came to mind, why does the loved one of anyone who puts on a badge have to worry, have to cry, have to miss their wedding day because someone else just decides to take their pique out on someone else? The post I’m referring to follows:

Murdered Officer’s Fiance Takes Solo Wedding Photos

Police Officers bide

byHollyMatkin

Nov 24, 2017-edited

Nikki Salgot’s photos honor the memory of her fiance, Sgt. Collin Rose, who was murdered a year before their wedding.

In the fall of 2016, Nikki Salgot was an excited bride-to-be. She and her fiancé, Wayne State University Police Sergeant Collin Rose, had just less than one year to go before their Oct. 14, 2017 wedding date.

She never expected she would be alone in her wedding photos.

While on patrol on the night of Nov. 22, 2016, Sgt. Rose, 29, checked out with a suspicious man in an area where numerous thefts from vehicles had recently taken place. When he attempted to detain the suspect, the man shot Sgt. Rose in the head, killing him.

“It’s been almost a year, and it still feels like yesterday he walked out the door for work, and never came home,” Salgot, 29, posted on her Facebook page on Oct. 14 – the day that would have been her wedding day. “I loved a hero and paid the price. Given the chance, knowing the outcome, I’d do it all over again.

 

Despite her grief, Salgot looked for a way to honor her fiance and their pending nuptials. “I needed that day to not be ignored and forgotten,” she told Women’s Health.

She decided to ask her former classmate, wedding photographer Rachel Smaller, if she would photograph Salgot in her wedding dress, as a memorial shoot.

 

“I remember being in tears on the way there, thinking, ‘How am I going to do this? How am I going to find a way to take photos that will do this justice, not just for her but for him?'” Smaller, 28, told Today.

According to Women’s Health, Salgot bought a wedding dress while Sgt. Rose was still alive, but admitted to him that it wasn’t her first choice. She said the dress she truly loved was unlike anything anyone would expect her to wear, and that it was too expensive.

“He told me, ‘If it’s what you want and what will make you happy, go get it. We’ll figure it out,’’ Salgot recounted to Women’s Health. “So, I went back and I bought the dress after Collin died.”

Salgot wore that dress to Sgt. Rose’s memorial shoot.

 

“She was the picture of grief and resilience and strength and vulnerability and authenticity, all at once,” Smaller told Today. “She had an ease about her….She was very empowered.”

Despite their solemn purpose, the women also found themselves enjoying the day.

“There were moments when Nikki would shift her dress around, or step on it and start laughing. I wanted to capture those moments, too, to show that she can still laugh,” Smaller explained. “I needed to tell the story of this woman who’s lost the love of her life, but is still going to have closure, and still going to be his wife one way or another.”

 

Inside, however, the year’s struggles still weighed heavily for Salgot throughout the shoot. “I was angry that I was standing alone in a wedding dress and utterly lost in life,” she told Women’s Health. “I had lost my rock, my other half.”

When Smaller gave her the photos from the session, however, Salgot was faced with a new realization.

“She captured images that still vividly show the pain left behind; images that show I am still able to laugh, smile and be me; images that show this loss has not and will not destroy me; and my favorite, images that show I am still just as fierce as ever and refuse to let this define me,” she said in an Oct. 16 Facebookpost.

 

“She managed to capture more than I could have ever hoped for; things I wasn’t entirely sure existed within me anymore,” Salgot wrote.

Salgot said Sgt. Rose continues to inspire her, and that she is still working on the education he encouraged her to obtain.

“I am learning to accept my new normal and everything that it brings to me, good and bad,” Salgot told Women’s Health.

 

Smaller has nothing but confidence in Salgot’s ability to persevere.

“This is a woman who is not broken. This did not break her,” Smaller told Today. “To me, she is an inspiration.”

Sgt. Rose was a five-and-one-half year veteran of the Wayne State University Police Department. He was also a K9 officer, and had previously served with the Richland Police Department. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant after his death.

He was just one credit shy of a Master’s degree in Dispute Resolution when he was killed, WZZM reported. In December, 2016, Wayne State University conferred Sgt. Rose’s degree posthumously, and Salgot accepted the diploma on his behalf.

Raymond Durham, 61, has been charged with first-degree murder, murder of a peace officer, possession of a firearm by a felon, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in relationship to Sgt. Rose’s murder.

After Officer Rose’s murder, two Detroit officers were shot by Durham before he was apprehended.”

Yea, initially I thought a little creepy, but then I felt the poignancy. Carrying the flag that was presented at his funeral, his hat. A 29 year old police officer, finishing his masters degree, getting married, every indication of someone who would be a fine police officer and man, his life ahead of him. Then shot by a  61 year old, over stealing from cars. We seem to have so much compassion for the people who commit the crimes, who have no compunction about physically harming or taking something important to another, there are people out there who would question why the police were bothering him “he’s just stealing from cars” they would say. You doubt that? I’ve heard those people say things like that. The vast majority of people today, living in a big city or anywhere, are tired of the crime, the threats to their safety and poverty. Yet we have a few people who want to make it about how someone is some how driven to crime, that we should simply forgive and move on. We’ve seen these times before, in the wild west days, in the gang days, to some extent in the 1960s. There has been a return to sanity and a marginalizing of those who would either commit the actual crimes, or those who would make excuses for those people and ignore the needs for safety and protection of the vast majority of those who want to live in peace, secure in their homes and their possessions. We will have a return to that sanity when people have heard enough excuses and refuse to accept the nonsense and platitudes of those trying to justify the violence.

No child should have to sit at home all night hearing his mother crying, gun shots going off and wondering if his parent police officer is coming home. No woman should be deprived of her wedding day, because a man decides to kill over stealing from vehicles. We need to hold our law enforcement accountable and the vast majority of those in law enforcement expect and appreciate that. But we also have to support them, help them to know that the majority of us out here appreciate all they do and we are ready to be there for them. There has to be a return to sanity, hold those who would cause this harm accountable. Stop with the phoney excuses and lame compassion, because the vast majority of people out there don’t commit crimes and want it to stop so they can go on and live safe, productive lives. I don’t think that’s too much to ask and I cannot understand how someone else can justify otherwise.

People need to wake up and realize they make themselves God’s enemy John 3:20

As much as I read people from the past, I see it repeated over and over today. The failing is that if it’s already happened, and people are trying to run the same game as people 500 years ago, the people today are simply, let’s be charitable, and say not very perceptive, or they think people today are not very bright and can be played into their game. How about the nonsense being played against law enforcement today? One of the stated purposes of the United States constitution for government is to “provide for the common defense.” When you are sworn in as a law enforcement, military or some officer of government, you swear to protect against all enemies “foreign and domestic”. Whether they are Americans or not, anyone who does something that is an attempt to undermine the civil authority is an “enemy”. We need to be open to correction, not abuse, not overreaching authority on the part of government, people trying to abuse their power and authority, but we do need to accept when we have stepped out of bounds and offended the law and our neighbors. Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, doing things that offend and deprive our neighbors rights is obviously not loving.

Martin Luther had a great, if not obvious observation; “The world doesn’t want to be punished. It wants to remain in darkness. It doesn’t want to be told that what it believes is false.” (365 Devotional Readings from Martin Luther “Through Faith Alone” Concordia Publishing House July 2) Oh, wow! We’re seeing that not just in terms of the Christian church, but also the authority of what Dr Luther called the “left-hand kingdom”, the civil authority. Dr Luther asserts that God placed the “right-hand kingdom” in the world to assert the authority of the church, those who want to benefit from being in the church. He also asserts that God placed the left-hand kingdom in the world also. Those who are law- enforcement officers, government officials, mayor, governor, president, district attorney, attorney general etc. All placed by God to maintain public order. As much as we see attacks against that order now, Luther saw in his day. As Americans, in the tradition of the Declaration of Independence and the writings of the Founding Fathers, we certainly have a right to push back against government that becomes abusive of its authority. That is the whole reason for American Revolution. You can certainly make the case that government in many ways has become abusive of its authority. While it may be being dialed back a little with recent Supreme Court decisions, more and more government has been discriminatory against Christians, depriving people of their First Amendment rights to practice their religious beliefs without government interference. But in the way that those who want to somehow eliminate local law-enforcement, Luther’s observation is as prescient today as it was 500 years ago. Make no mistake, those who want try to usurp local law-enforcement do so in an attempt to intimidate government into creating a de-facto local government in many city neighborhoods. That distinct minority of people are making a play to establish their own system which would be established solely to their benefit and increase their wealth and power. In terms of third-world countries, Somalia would be a great example of a place ruled by local, I don’t know how to put it nicely, that run their fiefdom under their own authority, chose who will survive/thrive under their rule and starve those who resist. That is the vision of those who would presume to some how create autonomous zones in our cities.

This is the extreme example of what Luther writes about, but there are many enemies, to the church and civil authorities, foreign and domestic who would run roughshod on the rest of us given the opportunity. The church’s authority has certainly been undermined, now other authority, certainly the left-hand kingdom is being challenged.

Luther addresses the issue in the church: “If you also don’t want to be corrected, then you might as well leave the church and spend your time at the bar and brothel. But if you want to be saved – and remember that there’s another life after this one – you must accept correction.” It is pretty amazing how many people outside and inside the church (foreign and domestic) continue to undermine the church. The Bible addresses many issues which state that in order to be a Christian you must conform to the stated teachings of what is in the Bible. Of course the mantra today is “well my God, would / wouldn’t…” and in their petty dictator way, ignore the reality of what is written, but continue to insist that God would approve of their way, in complete contradiction to any kind of reality or documentation. Luther goes on to write: “If you don’t want to be saved, what’s the use of me being concerned about it? If you aren’t sure you believe in hell, the devil, death, eternal condemnation, and the wrath of God, then just ask your neighbor about it…”. We see this all-around us today, don’t trust in what God’s minister says, or elected official, or police officer. Instead go have a chat with your uninformed neighbor, and you can both share your ignorance and then wonder why your life is as messed up as it is. Trust everyone else but the people who God has put in place to serve the public good. I have seen it acted out over and over in many settings, it’s bizarre! Suffice to say, you can create your fantasy world, what you say is right or wrong, but if it is in conflict with the revealed Word of God in Scripture, then you are condemned, you are an enemy of God.

“In short, if the church and secular government are to exist, they must shed light on evil. The civil authorities must punish the obvious deeds of darkness of public vices and the offensive ways of people, while we preachers in the church must bring to light the subtle darkness of false teachers and false belief. We must confront those who teach and think that they have God’s approval because of what they do.” As a pastor it’s not up to me to punt when I know someone who is playing around with God’s word, anymore than a police officer can just walk by someone who stabbed another person. We both have the duty to enforce what we’ve sworn to do (and Christian ministers certainly take vows in their ordination on what they are supposed to do to serve). With the civil law it’s usually pretty obvious. There’s a body with stab wounds in it, the person has ceased to have a heart rate and respiration, people have stepped forward and credibly accused a person of the stabbing/murder, and the police have the duty to arrest, imprison and attest in court to what the person did. A Christian minister’s duty is often a little more subtle, but nonetheless, usually obvious, and frankly profoundly more destructive if he does not address those issues. Issues of sexuality today have had a profound effect on undermining the church and the civil authority. “I will do what I want, when I want”, when God has said “thou shalt not”, calls into question the authority of the church. Since western government was established under biblical principles, leads people to wonder why it’s anymore important than church authority. The answer is that the civil authority can still put you in jail and even execute you. Church authority can’t, but whether or not you believe in hell, the punishment of God is profoundly more effective than civil. You can put someone in prison for a season, hell is eternal and would make an American prison look like Wallyworld.

“If the church and government stopped admonishing people, the whole world would collapse in a heap. If you want to be saved and be a Christian, then stay open to correction. A preacher has to rebuke, or he should leave his position. The Christian who won’t accept correction is only pretending to be a Christian.” I’ve been a Christian pastor for 8 years now, I’ve certainly seen it. Those who are convinced their authority in the church is more necessary than the pastor’s, despite having no training, education, real experience, or any other credential, and yet actively work to undermine the man appointed to be the pastor. That person is living in their own fantasy, they are undermining God’s authority as much as any pretender to civil authority in a neighborhood, foreign country, and just as much an enemy of God and certainly a domestic enemy of the church.

Certainly the world and the church, both under God’s direction, have ways of reasserting the authority God has given them to maintain order and not “collapse into a heap.” But it requires people who will stand up under the scrutiny and the pressure of those who are in active rebellion, enemies foreign and domestic and do God’s will in either realm. The church needs to be much more pro-active in supporting those people on the front lines, maintaining the order, and taking the shots. The people need to stop listening to the non- sense of those who would readily suppress them and take from them if they succeed in ascending to authority. Instead in today’s world, it’s easier for the majority of people to side with those who take the side of those trying to usurp God, His enemies, and then wonder why the world has collapsed into a heap and why no one’s doing anything about it. Oh yeah, it’s bizarre! Try being in the position of those who support God’s servants and not the way of the world, the world’s way will end up as an incredibly evil and destructive way to live.

The Lutheran Hero of the American Revolution  JULY 4, 2018 BY GENE VEITH

Among the heroes of the American Revolution, which we celebrate on this fourth of July, was a Lutheran pastor, Peter Muhlenberg.  An article in The Federalist tells his story.  And there was more to his career than his famous disvesting in the pulpit.

He became George Washington’s aide, was a military hero, and after independence became a statesman in the new republic.  Read about him, and then I have some questions.

From Ellie Bufkin, Meet A Friend Of George Washington And Patrick Henry Who Fought Boldly For American Independence:

In January 1776, a small church in rural Virginia burst at the seams with parishioners eagerly awaiting the arrival of their pastor. Members of the congregation, who had even spilled out into the cemetery, were alive with excitement.

Over the last few months, with tensions between the colonies and England ever increasing, the members of the Lutheran church had heard from their pastor that a revolution was imminent. He told them the time to take up arms in defense of their nation was now.

This particular Sunday was to be the pastor’s last sermon, and the large gathering represented far more citizens than those who inhabited the small town of Woodstock where the church stood.

Rev. Peter Muhlenberg entered the church dressed in his robe, with a sense of purpose that appeared to make him stand taller than usual. He ascended to the pulpit and delivered his sermon, acutely aware of the importance of what he would say.

As the sermon began its conclusion, Muhlenberg referenced Ecclesiastes chapter three: “In the language of Holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time to preach and time to pray, but those times had passed away.” He faced his congregation for the last time, and in words that he knew meant the end of life in the once- peaceful Virginia countryside, he continued, “There was a time to fight, and that time has now come!”

Muhlenberg removed his robe, revealing his colonel’s uniform, and descended from the pulpit to the sounds of drummers by the church door, drumming for recruits. Three hundred recruits signed that day at the church, and Muhlenberg’s was the first of the Virginia regiments ready for combat service just two months later.[Keep reading. . .]

So what are we Lutherans to make of Rev. Muhlenberg?  Was he violating the Two Kingdoms in preaching the American revolution from the pulpit?  Was he violating his vocation as a pastor, or just moving to a new calling as a soldier?  At any rate, does he not deserve our nation’s honor, along with Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and the others who brought our nation into being?

There was a whole family of Muhlenbergs who were important in the early days of American Lutheranism. The key figure is Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg, known as “the father of American Lutheranism,” who was Peter’s father.

Can anyone tell us more about the Muhlenbergs and their legacy in both the church and the state?

 

Illustration:  Portrait of Peter Muhlenberg, Public Domain, via Wikipedia