Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We've been robbed! (sort of)

Go to Yahoo News or AOL news and search for "online confessions". Is anyone out there a lawyer? Do we have a case here?

Yes, we should be more upset about the disregard shown to incarnational theology and all that, but at the moment we're hoping for material gain in a lawsuit....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pronunciation Key

For the more dim-witted among the Lutheran clergy:

1. It's not "Maunday Thursday" or "Monday Thursday"; it's "Maundy Thursday".

2. "Introit" does not rhyme with "Detroit".

3. Jesus was not talking to "Eli" about a "llama sabbatical" while on the cross.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rite of De-Ordination

Is a pastor still a pastor after he retires?  In our experience, there seem to be three distinct schools of thought on this issue:

1.  Yes
2.  No
3.  Don’t you have anything better to think about?

To those in the third group, we can honestly answer, “Not at the moment.”  Therefore, for those in group two, we offer the following in keeping with the Apostle Paul’s mandate that everything be done in good order.

Opening Hymn:  “Oh, how blest are they whose toils are ended”

Officiating Pastor:  Beloved in the Lord, Pastor _______ had been called by the Lord of the Church into the Office of the Holy Ministry of the Word and Sacraments.  He has served faithfully in his calling as (Senior, Associate, Assistant, Youth, Administrative, Worship, Outreach, Inreach, Visitation, Education, Prayer, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, Pet Ministry, etc.) Pastor of __________ (Evangelical) Lutheran Church from his installation until now.  As he has successfully reached his seventy-second year of life, I, in the presence of God and this congregation, now remove from him the responsibility and authority of preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments.

God gathers His Church by and around His Holy Gospel and thereby also grants it growth and increase according to His good pleasure.  That this may be done, He has established the Office of the Holy Ministry into which you had been called by the Church and are now to be removed from by prayer and the laying on of hands.

Do you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?

Candidate:  I do.

Officiating Pastor:  Do you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds, namely the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?

Candidate:  I do.

Officiating Pastor:  Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church?  And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord – as these are contained in the Book of Concord – are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?

Candidate:  I do.

Officiating Pastor:  Do you promise that you will no longer perform the duties of the Office in accordance with these Confessions?

Candidate:  Yes, I promise with the help of God.

(The candidate kneels.  The Officiating Pastor places his hands on the candidate’s head.)

Officiating Pastor:  Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:62)

______, I de-ordain and de-consecrate you from the Office of the Holy Ministry of the Word and Sacraments of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

(The assisting pastors remove the candidate’s stole, black Geneva, and Christian fish tie.  The candidate surrenders his NIV Bible to the Officiating pastor.  The assisting pastors give the candidate his Social Security and Medicare applications.  The candidate recesses in silence.  The Officiating Pastor and assisting pastors will be ushered out during the closing hymn.)

Closing Hymn:  "Abide with Me", v. 4 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lutheran Economic Stimulus Plan

In these tough economic times, there’s a need for belt tightening all over, including in the Lutheran church. Even though in many Lutheran churches it would appear to be impossible to cut costs any farther without disconnecting the heat, air conditioning, and/or running water, we have found a way!

For many churches, the priciest item in the budget is full-time staff. In the past, this cost could only be cut so far before your pastor(s) and/or teacher(s) look for employment elsewhere because they don’t love Jesus enough to live in a cardboard lean-to in the church parking lot and eat nothing but potluck scraps from the dumpster. Those ingrates start coveting the studio apartments of fast food managers and turn their backs on their “ministries” and very generous $10,000 annual salary from the church. This created countless headaches for the church in finding and breaking in new staff. UNTIL NOW!

How would you like a pastor without the exorbitant cost? How about a pastor who won’t take up space in your building for his office? A pastor who can be present whenever needed? Sound too good to be true?! It’s not. It’s…


VIRTUAL PASTOR saves money! Instead of every congregation paying a pastor, a synod would only need a handful of paid pastors.

VIRTUAL PASTOR promotes unity! If your synod is looking for unity in doctrine and practice, look no further. Your synod can have absolute uniformity with VIRTUAL PASTOR! Every congregation can hear the same sermon and Bible class each week!

VIRTUAL PASTOR doesn’t need sleep, days off, or vacations! Unlike old-fashioned pastors, VIRTUAL PASTORs can be in more than one place at once and will never take time off!

How does VIRTUAL PASTOR work?

VIRTUAL PASTOR is a combined package for your total pastoral care. Your kit includes:

~Subscription to the VIRTUAL PASTOR DVD series. Each DVD includes the current month’s collection of services, with a called and ordained pastor conducting the liturgy and preaching. All you need to do is insert the DVD each week at the beginning of the service.

~Vend-a-sacrament kiosk. The kiosk is user-friendly and easy to assemble. After a congregation member inserts the sacrament-specific fee (Lord’s Supper $10, Holy Baptism $25), the product (prepackaged wine and bread or water bottle) will be dispensed and the screen will automatically begin the rite led by one of VIRTUAL PASTOR’s called and ordained clergy. Simply follow the on-screen instructions to receive your sacrament.

~Access to the 24/7 VIRTUAL PASTOR phone center. Just call 1-800-437-3842* and follow the prompts: wish to confess and receive absolution-press 1, in the hospital-press 2, dying-press 3, thinking about a divorce-press 4, living in sin-press 5, just want to kill time-press 0.

While the cost of a full-time pastor can extend into the tens of thousands of dollars, VIRTUAL PASTOR is dedicated to helping congregations end every year in the black. Just because your congregation is non-profit doesn’t mean it can’t make money! For the low, low price of just $5,000 plus $25 per month for the DVD subscription, your congregation can have its very own VIRTUAL PASTOR!

But wait! If you order now, we’ll also include, at no additional charge, a free year’s subscription to the VIRTUAL PASTOR Bible class and confirmation class DVD series.



*That’s 1-800-HERETIC

Monday, February 16, 2009

Read This, You Whiny Lutherans

If we would be Christians, therefore, we must surely expect and count on having the devil with all his angels and the world as our enemies (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9). They will bring every possible misfortune and grief upon us. For where God's Word is preached, accepted, or believed and produces fruit, there the holy cross cannot be missing (Acts 14:22). And let no one think that he shall have peace (Matthew 10:34). He must risk whatever he has upon earth--possessions, honor, house and estate, wife and children, body and life. Now, this hurts our flesh and the old Adam (Ephesians 4:22). The test is to be steadfast and to suffer with patience (James 5:7-8) in whatever way we are assaulted, and to let go whatever is taken from us (1 Peter 2:20-21).

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sabbatical of Sorts

At our November board meeting, it was decided by a vote of 365 to 173 that we should each take the next few months to sit in a dark room and ponder the root problem of the Lutheran church bodies in America. Yes, that did mean that we missed out on Advent, Christmas, and a chunk of Epiphany, not to mention many family events and work-related duties, but we feel our vocational responsibilities, though important, do not outweigh our more pressing need for self-indulgent continual self-analysis. Therefore, here’s the problem, as we see it:

Church bodies are too large. It’s difficult for a doctrinally pure ecclesiastical supervisor to keep that many sinners under his thumb. Church body size would be better restricted to nothing higher than a single-digit number, preferably all living under one roof. This could be accomplished most conveniently by the father of each nuclear family naming himself bishop, binding his wife and children to his interpretive authority, and preaching and administering the sacraments in the home. There would of course be some challenges to this approach:

a. None of these men are called to do this, so it would be a break with the historic Church, but since in so many places “everyone a minister” is already practiced, it shouldn’t cause too much of a stir.

b. It’s conceivable that not every man who is a physical father is qualified to be a spiritual father.

c. The wife and kids might be heretics who would have to be excommunicated to the garage, which while keeping purity in doctrine and practice, may make for an unpleasant living situation.

d. What to do with the older kids? School outside of the home/church environment is not a satisfactory option. The best alternative we’ve come up with so far is arranged marriages. After home-schooling through high school is completed, if you (and possibly your wife) can agree with another father enough doctrinally to permit your children to marry, you could give your daughter a letter of transfer, and after she takes the proper membership classes, she may be admitted into the church/home of her husband.

e. This may have implications for the whole “body of Christ” imagery of the Church. We’ve decided it’s best not to think too much about that. We’d rather not destroy our simplistic absolutes.*

Discovering that seminal flaw of American Lutheranism didn’t really take too long and left us with enough time to ponder the problems of some of the “confessional” Lutherans in these church bodies. The following is not a complete list, just a few random things that make us angry (more annoyed really, but this is Angry Lutherans, so we’ll stick with angry).

1. Blogging. (Yes, we’re aware of the irony of using a blog to call blogging a problem. Don’t write in.) Blogging in some “confessional” Lutheran circles has become a root of much time-wasting with precious little usefulness. The seemingly endless navel-gazing has progressed to lint-gazing and in some cases, lint describing in excruciating detail. Your situation is not that bad. God is in control. Quit whining.

2. Ego. Especially on the internet, but also in person, ego has outpaced intelligence (in some cases ego is so far out in front that intelligence can’t even be seen in the rear view mirror anymore). This seems most prevalent among the younger “confessional” pastors, though not limited to them. From our informal market research, to an outsider these men are offensive. No one is quite sure how they appear to themselves (though the word “brilliant” gets bandied about), but to others it’s just one egomaniac shouting down the last egomaniac, with nothing better about which to shout. Reminds one of resounding gongs and clanging cymbals.

3. Fighting. The fights involving “confessional” Lutherans are already legion, but apparently, there’s always room for one more. To broadly point out some of the contentions for those unfamiliar, we have pastors vs. lay people, “confessional” pastors vs. other pastors, pastors vs. district officials, pastors vs. synod officials, pastors vs. seminaries, “confessional” pastors vs. other “confessional” pastors who don’t quite measure up…. Some of the differences are serious, some are not. If “confessionals” can’t judge the difference between a gnat and a camel, they are damaging their own ability to deal with the very serious theological problems plaguing the churches.

4. Not giving the devil his due. The much maligned church growthers and “confessional” Lutherans are finding themselves closer together than either group might like. The search for methods has infected the “confessional movement”. We’ve heard many a “confessional” say: “If we use the historic lectionary…”, “If we make our people accept the chasuble”, “If we bind ourselves to a rule…”, “If we do away with the general confession and absolution…” While some (certainly not all) suggestions for methods made by “confessionals” are better than praise bands and cozy coffee house churches, they will likely not bring success (however you define it) and may not even constitute faithful service to your flock (N.B. Bullying is not faithful service.).

Is there any hope for the Lutheran churches in America? Probably not. Should we all blog ‘til our fingers bleed about the hopelessness? No. See to your duties, as insignificant as they are and as troublesome as they may be.** Christ reigns. His Church endures.

*The preceding is not meant to be serious, but we have heard some of these ideas posited in all seriousness by some who believe home-schooling, arranged marriages, etc. will “save the Church”. (To those folks we say: Christ already did that.)

**Goodness, what does one expect in the ministry?! Recall what Jesus said, “If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!”

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nobody Panic! We're Still Here!

Our absence from the blogosphere will be explained in a later post, sort of. Since no one is paying for a subscription here, we, your humble sub-committee of Angry Lutherans, feel that will be more than sufficient.

In the meantime, here are a few notices regarding comments:

1. Anonymous comments from folks who misread what was written will not be posted. Although it is fiendishly enjoyable to tear to shreds the illiterate, we don't have the time.
2. Non-anonymous comments from folks who misread what was written will not be posted for their own protection from the horror of internet embarrassment.
3. Comments from anyone writing in to let us know that they are horribly offended by our sarcastic tone (which we warned you about from the beginning) and are never going to visit here again will not be posted. Since you are not a paying customer, we don't care. Save yourself some time and mental anguish by just not reading here anymore.
4. If you have a problem with these changes and write a comment to that effect, it will not be posted. We're all equal, but here on this blog, we're in charge. (someone has to be)
5. For the dinette set, laundry soap, and trip to Hawaii: to what are we referring in #4?