Archive for June, 2011

Global Impact Meeting AKA Paul Raabe's War Room

President Harrison Commenting On Strategic
Theological Education Efforts Worldwide

Today (30 June 2011) at the LCMS International Center, a “Global Impact” meeting was held with representatives from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Lutheran Hour Ministries, and World Mission to discuss how the LCMS could bring its resources to bear to maximize impact upon the world. The idea for this meeting came from a visit President Harrison made to a faculty forum at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis. At that meeting,  Rev. Dr. Paul Raabe responding to President Harrison’s vision to “Rock the Lutheran World,” said something to the effect, “What we need is a ‘war room’ with a map of the world so that we can plan how to best utilize the resources of the LCMS collectively (the Seminaries, Missions, International Center, Districts, Congregations, etc.) to have the largest and global impact utilizing the best stewardship.” President Harrison thought that an excellent idea and some six months later, the first “Global Impact,” a.k.a. “Raabe’s War Room” meeting was held.  To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time an event such as this has been held with people from the LCMS International Center (President’s Office, Church Relations, Missions, and Pastoral Education), along with both seminaries (CSL and CTSFW) and Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) gathered together to forge a collaborative strategy towards a global theological education and mission efforts.

Rev. Dr. Paul Raabe 

Now a brief word should be said about the term “war room” as it potentially sounds triumphalistic or as if we develop the right plan or strategy will produce the results we want or lead to the outcomes we desire. “War room” might also sound imperialistic. At the risk of protesting too much none of these interpretations is what is intended. In the best sense of the word something like the following was intended: “A centralized office or locale for the project manager and the project team to work on the project. It can house information on the project, including documentation and support materials. It allows the project team to work in close proximity.” In this case, it was an opportunity for the project team (LCMS Mission, Seminaries, LHM, etc.) to gather together to talk about the best way to coordinate our efforts and to utilize the Lord’s resources entrusted to us by the Lord’s church to proclaim the Gospel worldwide, talking into account requests and needs of our worldwide partners. While the harvest and fruit is not ours to decide, the Lord himself told his disciples to the “consider” the cost before building a tower.

After devotions and prayer, President Harrison began by reiterating his desire to “Rock the Lutheran World” and emphasized that the seminaries and their role in theological education was not only a strength of the LCMS (one might even say a “core competency”) but was essential to the LCMS’ missionary effort. Confessional Lutheran Theological Education rooted in the Holy Scriptures, Lutheran Confessions, the Small Catechism, and the Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel are essential to the formation of pastors (within the United States and also essential to the formation of indigenous pastors overseas) who preach boldly in a way that engages people, who then go on to share the Gospel with their family and friends. This also is essential to the formation of future church leaders at home and abroad.

View LCMS Theological Education in a larger map

Key to the Map: RED Markers Indicate Efforts of Both Seminaries;
YELLOW Markers Indicate Efforts by CSL
BLUE Markers Indicate Efforts by CTSFW
VIOLET Markers Indicate Efforts by LCC
CYAN Markers Indicate Efforts by LCMS WM

After President Harrison finished explaining his goal for the meeting, Al Collver, Church Relations, and Dave Birner, World Mission, gave an overview of LCMS and Lutheran Church Canada (also participants via email) theological education initiatives around the world. Next representatives from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, discussed significant worldwide contacts they had and initiatives they had begun. Next representatives from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, presented their contacts and initiatives. Luther Hour Ministries (LHM) presented on the 31 countries they work in. (The countries LHM International works in can be found here.)

Over a working lunch, Rev. Dr. Glen Thomas, Executive Director of Pastoral Education, moderated a discussion on working towards policies the various entities could agree were guiding principles for collaboration and for stewardship of resources. Good progress was made on this and the group decided to have a steering committee incorporate the suggestions from the participating entities to be presented at a future meeting.

The final portion of the meeting discussed the funding challenge first presented in the May 2011 Lutheran Witness, “Blessings, Gifts, Challenges…” (click here for the issue) which specifically challenged the Synod to raise $250,000 for theological education (see http://lcms.org/projects) or click here to give now to this challenge. The goal is to have $1,000,000 per year to divide between Concordia Seminary Saint Louis, Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne, and the Lutheran Church Canada to provide theological education consisting of bringing future leaders to LCMS and LCC seminaries, sending seminary professors overseas to teach, and to support regional seminaries of partner churches.

Rev. Jon Vieker, Senor Assistant to the President, closed the meeting with the Litany.

While there is much work still to be done, details to be completed, and more input sought from the seminaries and from partner churches, today was a good start. May the Lord send labors into the field for the harvest is plentiful. This is a preliminary report of good meeting. Look for more information in the Reporter and other LCMS publications in the future.

Participants: from Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, included, Rev. Dr. Dale Meyer, President; Rev. Dr. Andy Bartelt, Vice-President Academic Affairs; Rev. Dr. Bruce Schuchard; Rev. Dr. William Schumacher; Rev. Dr. Victor Raj. From Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne: Rev. Dr. Larry Rast, President; Rev. Dr. Dean Wenthe, President Emeritis; Rev. Dr. Timothy Quill; Rev. Dr. Chuck Geischen; Rev. Dr. Detlev Schultz. From the Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) Rev. Dr. Douglas Rutt;  from the LCMS International Center: Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison, President; Rev. Dr. Glen Thomas, Pastoral Education; Rev. Dr. David Birner, World Mission; Rev. Jon Vieker; Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Church Relations.

Presentation of the Augsburg Confession — A Tribute

Presentation of the Augsburg Confession
25 June 1530 before Emperor  Charles V
(Click for Larger Image)

I will speak of your statues before kings, O Lord, and will not be put to shame.” — Introit Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, Psalm 119:46.

Apart from the Lord’s salvific events recorded in the Old and New Testaments, particularly Christ’s birth, death, resurrection, and ascension, “one of the greatest days in human history” was “when the Augsburg Confession was first publicly read before the emperor.” (Klug, Eugene F A. “Lutherʼs contribution to the Augsburg Confession.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 44, no. 2-3 (1980): 155-172, pg. 159.) Martin Luther called the Diet of Augsburg where the Augsburg Confession was read, “the last trumpet before Judgment Day.” The Presentation of the Augsburg Confession 481 years ago changed the world. Arguably, the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession is even more important than when Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses on the castle door in Wittenberg in 1517. The Augsburg Confession was read in German, not Latin, on June 25 at 3 p.m. by Chancellor Beyer. He read with a clear, loud voice for nearly two hours. At least seven (if not nine) Electors and Princes of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany, for all intents and purposes) signed the Augsburg Confession. George of Brandenburg declared, “Rather than deny my God and suffer the Word of God to be taken from me, I will kneel down and have my head struck off.” (Eh ich mir will das Wort Gottes nehmen lassen und meines Gottes verläugnen, ehe will ich jetzt niderknien und wir den Kopf lassen abhauen.” Corpus Reformatorum 2, 115.) Although the German princes who signed the Augsburg Confession did not lose their heads, others would lose their heads.

The Execution of Twenty-seven Nobles in Prague
After the Bohemian defeat at the Battle on White Mountain.

Just a decade shy of a century after the Augsburg Confession was signed, twenty-seven Bohemian nobles were executed for their confession of the Protestant faith (The Bohemian Confession of 1575 based on the Augsburg Confession), and in some cases for their confession of the Augsburg Confession. The nobles were various shades of Lutherans or Calvinists. Among those executed was Jan Jesenius, physician to the Prince of Saxony 1593, and professor of anatomy in Wittenberg from 1594 until 1600, when he relocated to Prague. He was executed along with twenty-six other nobles for refusing the Roman Catholic faith. In 1621, the Emperor ordered all Calvinists and non-Lutherans to convert in three days to Roman Catholicism or to leave the Czech lands.  In December 1621 under Archbishop Lohelius, “The last Administrator, the Lutheran Jiřík Dykastus, was exiled from Bohemia with other Czech Protestant clergy.”(David, Zdenìk V. “THE WHITE MOUNTAIN, 1620: AN ANNIHILATION OR APOTHEOSIS OF UTRAQUISM?” Communio Viatorum 45, no. 1 (2003): 24-66, 35.) A few years later the Silesian Lutherans would come under persecution for their confession. From the 16th century until the present day, many would stand before kings and confess the faith confessed at Augsburg.

Title Page of Confessyon Of The Fayth
Of The Germaynes
London, 1536
Translated by Richard Taverner

Richard Taverner (c. 1505 – 14 July 1575) best known for his translation of the Bible into English, first translated the Augsburg Confession and the Apology into English in 1536. Taverner’s commitment to Lutheran theology is questionable, at the very least he was unwilling to lose his life for it. The English Ten Articles of Religion are based on the Augsburg Confession. The effects of Taverner’s translation largely are limited to a brief period of time in the 1530s.

Acta et Scripta Theologorum Wirtembergensium et
Patriarchae Constantinopolitanti D. Hieremiae,
1584.

After Luther’s death, the Lutheran’s continued to reach out to others with the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon is believed to have sent a letter to Patriarch Joasaph II (1555-1565) in 1559. After Melanchthon’s correspondance, Demetrios Mysos came to study in Wittenberg for about six months. During this time, Melanchthon and Mysos are believed to have translated the Augsburg Confession into Greek. Melanchthon died in 1560 and there is no evidence that Mysos returned to Constantinople with the Greek version of the Augsburg Confession.

The Augsburg Confession’s Title in Greek Reads,
“A Confession of the Orthodox Faith.”
A second attempt to contact the Eastern Orthodox church was made by Jacob Andreae in 1574 when he sent a copy of the Augsburg Confession in Greek to Patriarch Jeremiah II. The title of the Augsburg Confession in Greek reads, “A Confession of the Orthodox Faith.” The Patriarch responded to the Augsburg Confession article by article. Agreement was not found. The entire fascinating story with a translation of the correspondance can be read in Augsburg and Constantinople: The Correspondence between the Tubingen Theologians and Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople on the Augsburg … Library of Ecclesiastical and Historical). The original Acta et Scripta Theologorum Wirtembergensium et
Patriarchae Constantinopolitanti D. Hieremiae,
1584, can be downloaded here in PDF.

Philipp Melanchthon
Das Augsburger Bekenntnis von 1530,
ergänzt durch die Apologie des Bekenntnisses
Wittenberg: Georg Rhau, 1531

The Augsburg Confession confesses, “Ecclesiae magno consensu apud nos docent,” that is, “The churches among us with great consensus teach.” This is an ecumenical statement that the Augsburg Confession is a universal creed, that correctly expounds the Scriptures and believed by all Christians. On this Dr. Charles Arand writes, “And so in the Augustana they proclaim, “This is the one holy catholic and apostolic faith” which is proclaimed among us. Therefore the one holy Christian church exists among us in its fullness. In this claim of catholicity the confessors issue a call, inviting others to confess their catholicity by confessing the Gospel as it is set forth in the twenty-eight articles of the Augustana. And then they issue a bit of a challenge: And we hope that it exists among you.” (Arand, Charles P. “The Future of Church Fellowship : A Confessional Proposal.” Concordia Journal (July 1999), 248-249.)

The Augsburg Confession is the bold confession of the Lutheran, rather of the Christian Church, to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

Read the Augsburg Confession here.

"A Little Book on Joy" Now in Reprint!

Rediscover the joy of being a Christian! LCMS president Matthew Harrison has produced a well written exploration of the nature of life in the fallen world and the joy that we have in Christ. Read about the joy of life together in community, marriage, and family, or the joys of humor, worship, the sanctity of life, and the wonders of creation.

Includes:

•   Study questions at the end of each chapter, perfect for Bible study or small group study.
•   A Prayer Guide for “The Great Ninety Days of Joy after Joy with texts and prayers from Ash Wednesday through Pentecost.
•   “Something to Think About” questions are included at the end of each chapter.

A Gift from the Lutheran Church of Nigeria

Many thanks to President Christopher Ekong and the Lutheran Church of Nigeria for this beautiful gift! Blessings also on the upcoming celebration of the LCN’s diamond jubilee!

Luther: Look to the Mouth and Fingers of the Preacher!

…And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! Jn. 1:36

Other prophets have also foretold how Christ would come and how He would free the world from sins. But neither Isaiah nor Jeremiah would have been able to say: This is the one whom you must accept. John is the only one whose voice was the first to announce Christ and whose fingers pointed to the person where the forgiveness of sins is actually to be found. No human being had ever had or seen fingers like those of John, with which he pointed to the Lamb of God. Therefore, when we are oppressed by sin, or terrified by the Devil or by Death, what we need to do is to look at the mouth and fingers of the preacher, who will give us the correct teaching and show us how to come to the forgiveness of our sins and how to make our peace with God. This is the joy that the whole world, not just Elizabeth and Zechariah, should have in John.

Martin Luther in Luther’s Breviary: A Meditation for Each Day of the Year (Wartburg Verlag 2007), p. 192

"Behold the Lamb!"

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