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Author Archive -- Pastor John Fraiser


Pastor Fraiser didn't begin as a Lutheran, but he became one as soon as he could. He grew up as a Baptist and received his M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. With time on his hands following his seminary studies, he began reading the writings of Martin Luther and became convinced that Lutheran doctrine was a faithful presentation of the doctrine of Scripture and answered many of his perplexing Baptist questions. After joining the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, he went on for graduate philosophy studies, while also taking post-graduate courses at Concordia Seminary. Though he intended to teach philosophy in a university setting, he also applied as a candidate for ordination through the Synod’s colloquy program with the plans of bi-vocational parish ministry. Following colloquy, he assisted in a vacancy at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in LaGrange, Kentucky where he was eventually called as pastor. He said 'no' to a philosophy PhD fellowship and was ordained on Luther’s ordination date – April 3rd – in 2011. Pr. Fraiser is married to Emily, and they have a four-year-old daughter named Jillian.

Science or Theology: Which Would You Rather Do Without?

In an article for The Guardian a few years back, secularist Terry Sanderson claimed: I look at it this way. If science disappeared from human memory, we would soon be living in caves again. If theology disappeared from human memory, no one would notice. Theology is a completely and utterly useless pursuit. It is self-indulgence of the first order. This kind of assertion is, no doubt, convincing to many. It’s easy to see the benefits of science: modern medicine, improvements in transportation and communication. The list could go on. To those in the West, theology, on the other hand, seems far less consequential to modern life,   More…

Did the Whole Church Get the Eucharist Wrong before the 16th Century?

April 25th, 2013 11 comments

For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but just as our Savior Jesus Christ, being incarnate through the work of God, took flesh and blood for our salvation, so too we have been taught that the food over which thanks have been given by a prayer of the Word that is from Him, from which our flesh and blood are fed by transformation, is both the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.  (Justin Martyr, First Apology 66:2) I ran across this statement from Justin Martyr in the 3rd Century, and it occured to me   More…

REPOST: Responding to a Tragedy in Your Community in a Steadfast Way

April 17th, 2013 13 comments

Any pastor worth his salt feels a tension between two good things: (1) breaking out beyond his own ecclesiastical ghetto so as to live in the public square as a Christian leader and (2) remaining faithful to the Word of God and an orthodox confession. Often, it feels as though a choice of one or the other has to be made. Think of the recent flap over Louie Giglio being disinvited (forced to withdraw?) from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration. Whatever you think of the rest of Giglio’s Christian confession, he was forced out of the public square back   More…

Being Lutheran in a World with Popes

What are Lutherans to do with a new pope? Lutherans, like Evangelicals, don’t have a place for a pope in their ecclesiastical structure, but for somewhat different reasons. Evangelicals throw out the papacy with all things regarded as “too Catholic”. Whereas Lutherans deny any papal authority in the church precisely because it’s not catholic enough. We want an authority that has belonged to the whole church from the beginning and comes from Christ himself, not one which gradually accreted power across the centuries through political maneuvering. We want what the apostles confessed, the highest repository of which we find in   More…

“Upon this Rock”: Avoiding the False Dilemma of the Protestant and Roman Churches

Recently a Protestant friend of mine asked my opinion about a written conversation he had with a Roman Catholic convert. In the conversation the convert explained that, for him, the most convincing point of Roman Catholic doctrine was the doctrine of Petrine succession. My Protestant friend didn’t really know how to respond. I shared with him the problems with arguing for Petrine succession from Scripture, and I think it’s worth sharing my response with you here. For those not familiar with this Catholic doctrine, it essentially states that according to Matthew 16 and other biblical passages we can see that   More…

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Biblical Sanity for Benediction Madness

February 20th, 2013 65 comments

What is the benediction and who is it for? The benediction, or pronouncement of blessing, is not our creation because it is not our blessing that we either receive or pronounce. It is God’s blessing and so we receive it from him, and it is he who ultimately pronounces it. From Scripture it is clear that the benediction is always pronounced on those in God’s covenant community and never on those outside of it. We see these parameters in Numbers 6, from which the church takes her most common benediction. The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and   More…

Responding to a Tragedy in Your Community in a Steadfast Way

February 8th, 2013 8 comments

Any pastor worth his salt feels a tension between two good things: (1) breaking out beyond his own ecclesiastical ghetto so as to live in the public square as a Christian leader and (2) remaining faithful to the Word of God and an orthodox confession. Often, it feels as though a choice of one or the other has to be made. Think of the recent flap over Louie Giglio being disinvited (forced to withdraw?) from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration. Whatever you think of the rest of Giglio’s Christian confession, he was forced out of the public   More…

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Human Machines, Free Will, and Moral Evil

January 22nd, 2013 17 comments

There’s a popular view on love and free will that I regularly encounter. It goes something like this: In order for love to be genuine, the agent has to have the ability to choose not to love. Unless there is freedom of one’s will to either love someone or hate them, it isn’t really love. I’ll call this the Genuine Love Principle. This principle is regularly called upon to support claims on a variety of subjects. Something like it was behind Western culture’s shift away from arranged marriages to marriages based on mutual choice. Many Christians, most notably C. S. Lewis (for whom a   More…

Rightly Dividing the Lectionaries

December 17th, 2012 38 comments

What you’re about to read should rightly be considered “inside baseball”. Many of you who read this are lay persons who will quite possibly shake your head that there are such debates among the clergy. For those head-shakers, please consider that for those of us who are clergy, this is our craft. We have devoted our lives to the ministry of the church, and for this reason, it is right that we discuss and consider things in greater detail than those outside the craft might otherwise — much in the same way one in a civil profession would give attention   More…

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Common Misconceptions about the Advent Narratives

December 4th, 2012 49 comments

There are several good reasons to expose and correct the apocryphal, Hallmark-card understanding of Jesus’ birth (which I will hereafter dub the mythical view):  1. When people come to realize that the details of the Christmas story as taught by the church are factually incorrect, it threatens the credibility of the church’s teaching on other matters. 2. As we will see, the details of the birth accounts found in the gospels are not arbitrarily selected. They are chosen to communicate a particular understanding of the birth and person of Christ. The mythical view obstructs these significant points that the gospel writers are   More…

The Nondenominationalists Who Weren’t

November 15th, 2012 111 comments

Calling oneself nondenominational is en vogue, but what does it mean exactly to be nondenominational? I doubt many have given it much thought. Yet, as I have talked to those who use this term for themselves or for their church, I find that they believe that there’s something magnanimous about not being part of a denomination — that it’s primitive and all Jesus-like to just call yourself a Christian and not be so sectarian as to be denominational. The term’s appeal is that it gives those who use it a feeling of being a pure Christian, but is that feeling reflective   More…

Lutheranism in a Nutshell

October 11th, 2012 215 comments

If you want your ideological movement to really take off, one great way to do it is to boil it down for popular consumption. Now if you’re an ideological purist (which I tend to be), you know that there’s a danger in doing this because in the boiling-down process, complex ideas can easily be misrepresented. But there is something valuable about summary, and if it’s done well, it can be very effective. For example, say what you will about Calvinism, but it wouldn’t be nearly as popular without the whole TULIP thing. Stroke of marketing genius, that was. Because I am   More…

Using Foul Language in a Fair Way

September 24th, 2012 134 comments

My mother is one of those sweet, saintly women who is regarded as such by everyone she meets. You know the kind. Growing up she seemed to have eternal patience and rarely spoke an unkind word. She is truly a wonderful woman. So wonderful, in fact, that she has given me permission to tell the following story. I say that she rarely spoke an unkind word, because I remember an instance when she did. As patient as she was, no one on earth could test her patience the way my sister could. Riding in the car one day, my teenage sister   More…

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On the State of the Missouri Synod and the Problem of Christian Education in Our Congregations

September 14th, 2012 62 comments

When I learned that the September 2012 edition of the Lutheran Witness was going to address the current state of the Missouri Synod, I waited with eagerness to read its analysis. The magazine is chock full of statistics that all Lutherans need to know, and, as you might imagine, the statistics do not paint a very pretty picture. Within its pages is the outline for a restructuring and regrouping in our Synod organized around six “Mission Priorities”. Here are the announced priorities: Mission Priority 1: Revitalizing Churches Mission Priority 2: Expanding Theological Education Mission Priority 3: Human Care Ministry Mission   More…

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