Boise is not a State and “Relationship” is not in the Bible, by Pr. Rossow

November 22nd, 2013 Post by

One of my hobbies is watching college football and basketball (Go Hawkeyes!). A few years ago I saw a clever poster at a bowl game. It was at the Oklahoma/Boise State bowl game. A fan in the Oklahoma student section, no doubt wanting to send a message to his parents and the world that his education was paying off and wishing to tweak the opponents, held up a sign that said “Hey, Boise is not a state, I looked it up.”

One of the favorite new words of the pseudo-Lutherans is “relationship,” and I am here to hold my placard saying “Hey, relationship is not in the Bible, I looked it up.” Go to any COWO or blended LCMS parish and you will find the word “relationship” being used ad nauseam as though having a relationship with Jesus were the fourth sacrament. This is really bad, dangerous and un-Lutheran spirituality. The phrase “relationship with Jesus” is harmful in at least two ways.

First, it is a way to sneak the law into what sounds like a very “gospelly” thing. The question “How is your relationship with Jesus?” sounds so sweet and nice but actually it is a killer and cannot be answered without understanding and applying law and gospel.

“You want to know how my relationship with Jesus is? Well, I am a sinner and so I deserve to go to hell but He died to pay for my sins and so everything is really jiggy between the two of us.”

“That’s not what I meant. What I meant was are you living the victorious life? Is Jesus your Lord and not just your savior, things like that.”

“Oh, you want to know if I am doing enough to please Jesus. I told you, I am a sinner and deserve to go to hell.”

The pseudo-Lutherans and their American Evangelical friends will never get that little exchange because they do not understand and apply law and gospel.

Secondly the phrase is harmful because quite frankly, there is no such thing as a relationship. I owe this insight to my theological mentor Dr. Norman Nagel. It is a creation of the late twentieth century romantic emphasis on psychology and feeling. There is no third thing between you and me called a relationship. There is only you and me and how we treat each other.

Focusing on the concocted relationship takes you one step away from simply examining your life according to the ten commandments and actually ends up distancing us from the law of God that the phrase is intended to highlight.

“How’s your relationship with your wife?” is a meaningless question. Instead, one should ask “How are you treating your wife? Are you being kind to her and cherishing her?”

Dr, Nagel was fond of promoting Luther’s notion of standing naked before God. It renders the invented notion of a relationship useless and meaningless. In spiritual matters there is no buffering third thing standing between you and God called a relationship that needs working on. There is just you, standing naked before God in all your sin and He in all His holiness. That kind of puts things into immediate, intuitive perspective. There is no imaginary thing called a relationship. There is just you and God and it is not a pretty picture. There is no buffer. There are no preppy clothes that you wear to your COWO or blended service. There is no Starbucks coffee cup. There is no weird praise-swaying of hands and arms as if you were waving to Jesus. There is just you standing naked before God in all your sin with the forbidden tree of life in the background.

“Relationship” is not a Biblical word. It is not a Lutheran word. It does not appear in the Bible. It does not appear in the exhaustive index of Luther’s works. It does not appear in the exhuastive index to Pieper’s dogmatics. It does however appear already on the second page of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. (By the way, “purpose” is also not a Biblical or Lutheran word. It does not appear in the Bible in the invented manner of Rick Warren and twentieth century Existentialism and psychology.)

Of course God is triune and no discussion of standing before Him naked is complete without filling in the picture with Christ. At the right hand of the Father is the Son who doesn’t tell the father that your relationship is pretty good and only needs a little brushing up. Instead, he goes right to the nail holes in his hands and says “This is what gives him good stead before you Father.”

It is sad that so many Lutheran churches and pastors have fallen for the pietistic and psychological spirituality of the evangelicals who promote this notion of a relationship with God. They claim to be Lutheran. They sprinkle a few Lutheran terms into their preaching and teaching but they are not really Lutheran. How sad. I wonder if they even know that Boise is not a state.






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  1. Dave Schumacher
    November 26th, 2013 at 20:09 | #1

    @GJG #50
    I recant.
    I don’t.

  2. November 26th, 2013 at 21:54 | #2

    It is not just a matter of minding the sinner in the text. Voelz goes way beyond that. Here is a typical quote from the book:

    “Perhaps better put, the reader’s beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, ideas, experiences, etc., become part of the matrix for textual interpretation, so that nothing is interpreted in a text, unless it is part of a matrix with what she is as a person. She is as it were a “text” herself – a complementary “second text,” which is always a factor in textual interpretation. Therefore-and this is the basic point-the interpretation of any given text involves in fact, two texts – the given or “target” text (e.g. the book of Galatians) and as part of the matrix for understanding the target text…the so called “second text” of the interpreter.” (Voelz, p. 18)

    Notice that it is not about learning the meaning of the words from the text but one must also enter ones own self into the text as a second text. This is classic reader/response hermeneutics which is relativistic and faulty.

    Besides, it does not matter if you are a sinner. Sinners can understand the meaning of words (otherwise we are lost and condemned). Sinners can understand what the Gospel says they just cannot put their faith in it without the Holy Spirit.

    Voelz has much to offer the church but when he opens his mouth on language it is an abomination to the Gospel.

  3. November 26th, 2013 at 22:07 | #3

    Dr. Voelz speaks of the matrix and relational meaning of words in many ways. One of the most disturbing ways is how he refers to the Christian community. Here is a quote from p, 340:

    “The Church has always recognized the interpersonal nature of textual interpretation and said that it can only truly be done within the church (“within the church” being understood to include personal faith as well as community context). Thus a confessional posture, one which specifically endorses a given community/faith understanding of the historic Christian church which produced and received those documents, is a completely responsible one after all.”

    There is no interpersonal nature of textual interpretation. There are realities and there are words that represent those realities and it the interpreters job to figure out what those words refer to. It is disturbing that Voelz thinks that the Lutheran Confessions are a community effort and it is the community nature of them that we find truth. No. The Confessions are true because they are a true presentation of what Scripture teaches.

    Voelz does not really mean the things he says. He got wrapped up with the wrong relativist, post-modern crowd of linguists and he thought he was doing good. He wasn’t.

  4. Dave Schumacher
    November 26th, 2013 at 22:44 | #4

    I don’t think you should critisize what you admittedly do not understand.

  5. November 27th, 2013 at 07:31 | #5

    I wrote a 61 page paper on Voelz book for a doctoral class at Fort Wayne. The exegetical professor I wrote it considered it worthy of beingsent to Dr. Voelz which led to a few phone conversations between us.

    Here is an excerpt from the paper:

    “All this talk about the reader’s role leads Voelz to a discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in interpretation and again we see the interpolation of philosophical hermeneutics creating problems. Dr. Voelz says the Holy Spirit gives the believer congeniality with the text… Dr. Voelz says that when one’s personal text becomes congruent with the personal text of the New Testament, one’s personal text includes faith. [But he is wrong here.] This is not the role of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s work is not involved with meaning. The Holy Spirit uses the meaning of the scriptures to create heartfelt trust in God putting him above all other things. Satan understands the meaning of the phrase “Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world.” But, he does not believe it. He has congeniality to the text. He understands the Lutheran Confessions, which is why he rails against them. He knows they are the true exposition of the scriptures but he does not put his confidence in the Lord who authored the scriptures that they norm. He rejects the work of the Holy Spirit to that end. The Holy Spirit creates faith. I cannot by my own reason or strength come to my Lord Jesus Christ or believe in him apart from the Holy Spirit but I can understand the word of Scripture apart from Him.”

    We certainly need to identify our biases and keep them from determnining what a text means but that does not make me a part of the process of understanding. The words are there to be understood. All I need to do is do the correct linguistic study adn I can understand a text. Leave the reader out of the process of understanding. He only gets in the way. Voelz does not do this. Instead, he celebrates the role of the reader and highlights it in the process of interpretation.

  6. Quasicelsus
    November 27th, 2013 at 10:13 | #6

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #5
    This is interesting. I’m glad to hear that you worked on it.

    I don’t know how well I find the use of Satan in this example.
    “Satan understands the meaning of the phrase “Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world.” But, he does not believe it. ”
    I don’t know if the plan of salvation speaks clearly to the nature of fallen angels. I do not recall the promise of salvation being laid forth for the devil and his retinue.
    I’m fairly certain that Satan has rejected God and the Holy Spirit and is fully responsible for his demise.
    at the same time -
    “The Holy Spirit creates faith. I cannot by my own reason or strength come to my Lord Jesus Christ or believe in him apart from the Holy Spirit” – so I’m not hearing something incongruent with Voelz’ statement about the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe Voelz speaks to more than one layer of meaning.

  7. Rev. David Mueller
    November 27th, 2013 at 11:29 | #7

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #3
    THis is helpful. I’m :) understanding your meaning–that is, your point of criticism of Voelz’s approach better. The meaning of the words–the reality of the thing signified–Christ, in the case of the Scriptures (“In these latter days, He has spoken to us by His Son.”)–is most certainly an objective reality, and the words on the page signifying Him really do clearly and specifically signify Him. And *especially* since they are God’s words, but also simply because they are actual mundane human language words (contrast the “Reformed Egyptian” of the Book of Mor[m]on), despite our fallen-ness, the Meaning of those words is not inaccessible to us. The Holy Spirit certainly creates true *faith* in the Meaning of those words “when and where He will”, but, for example, some Muslims and a pile of “Christian” “theologians” today explicitly reject the Substitutionary Atonement as “Divine Child Abuse”–which is a prime example of “Reader-REsponse” criticism of the text of the Scriptures.
    To be sure, I keep coming back to that thorny, wonderful issue of Election.

    As to Quasicelsus’s comments, re: the devil and the evil angels–I beg to differ. The Atonement was not done in a black box, but is “out there” for all to see. E.g., the Scriptures themselves, and in a secondary way, the Confessions. I think the devil knows the Confessions better than I do–knows the words, the language and the realities the words are intended to convey. And, since they are consistent with the word of God and the Word of God, he hates the Confessions.
    Unless I’m misunderstanding what you are saying there…. (Ain’t this blog communication all about communication fun?!)

    Oh, and Helen, it’s Herr Louderback who was the referent, the “reality signified” by the term “lovable burr under the saddle.” This is not to say, of course, that you *aren’t* lovable.

  8. Quasicelsus
    November 27th, 2013 at 11:46 | #8

    @Rev. David Mueller #7
    Thank you for speaking to me. :)

    I wasn’t intending to imply that the Atonement was done in a black box. I was speaking to how Nicene creed speaks to the meaning of the Apostles creed, that Jesus “Who for us men, and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man.” The apostles creed doesn’t say that, but it means that when it speaks of the incarnation and his incarnation, death, and resurrection. What I’m observing is that there’s nothing in there, or the Athanasian creed that speaks to God’s plan for salvation for Satan, or that it was intended for any of the angles/fallen-angles/animals/grass/etc. I get that Satan knows Scripture and the Confessions better than anybody.
    Funny you mention election – cause I was thinking that “of course Satan doesn’t believe – he cannot without the Holy Spirit.”

    “The Holy Spirit’s work is not involved with meaning. The Holy Spirit uses the meaning of the scriptures to create heartfelt trust in God putting him above all other things.”
    I don’t know what you mean here.

    anyhoo, it just seems strange to me that we can have a catechism that repeatedly illustruates “what does this mean” and find so much trouble with discourse on meaning.

  9. November 28th, 2013 at 07:56 | #9

    David,

    Exactly! Now you got it.

    We can’t ignore the reader in the process of understanding. We must know our own biases. But to plop the reader right down in the middle of understanding and make him an equal partner with reality violoates common sense and is the work of the devil.

    Thanks for listening and being patient with this ol’ curmudgeon.

  10. November 28th, 2013 at 08:01 | #10

    Quasielcus,

    No one ever said anything close to what you thought.

    Of course there is no salvation for the devil.

    Again, the point is that words mean things and they are decipherable. The devil knows the meaning of the plan of salvation recorded in the Bible. That is why he fights so hard against it.

    For Voelz to teach that the Holy Spirit is the one who helps us understand the words of the Bible is silly. My first grade teacher who taught me how to read is the one who helps me understand the words of the text. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives me faith in these words.

  11. Walter Troeger
    November 28th, 2013 at 19:41 | #11

    Pastor Tim Rossow :
    For Voelz to teach that the Holy Spirit is the one who helps us understand the words of the Bible is silly. My first grade teacher who taught me how to read is the one who helps me understand the words of the text. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives me faith in these words.

    I hope this isn’t the same Voelz who is writing the commentary on Mark’s Gospel to be published by CPH. i hope no one gives it to me as a Christmas gift. Hopefully, if they do, they tape the receipt to the cover so I can send it back.

  12. November 29th, 2013 at 08:19 | #12

    How does one come to be called “a friend of God” (Abraham) if there is no relationship? How are we called “my little ones” if there is no relationship? How are these to be viewed?

  13. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 09:30 | #13

    For Voelz to teach that the Holy Spirit is the one who helps us understand the words of the Bible is silly.

    Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works. (Psalm 119:27 ESV)

    Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18 ESV)

    Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. (Psalm 119: 33, 34 ESV)

    Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live. (Psalm 119:144 ESV)

    Also, doesn’t the Holy Ghost help us understand even by the clarity/obscurity of the words He verbally inspired?  

  14. November 29th, 2013 at 09:34 | #14

    Alex,

    Good question.

    You are assuming that “friendship” and “relationship” are the same thing.

    I can be a friend of someone without having a “relationship” with them. “Relationship” is a modern psychological term invented to take the place of traditional, common-sense words like “friendship.”

    Abraham is called the friend of God. That means that God is kind to him and likes him. Their friendship consists of that. I don’t need to use the term “relationship” to describe what exists between Abraham and God.

    Why not use the term “relationship” to describe it? Because it is spoken of as some sort of third thing that exists between Abraham and God. A relationship is not a thing that I need to work on. If my friendship with someone is bad I need to figure out what I or they are doing to remedy it. In the case of friendship with God it is all a one way street. He is the one who makes us friends. If I feel distant from God guess who moved? Me! God is our father by faith not by working on our relationship with him. Besides, if god feels distant to me then I need to get into his means of grace and hear the word of forgiveness and believe it. That’s not really mushy and relational.

    Describing my connection to God as a relationship cheapens it and leads me into works righteousness. Describing my connection to anyone else as a relationship that needs to be worked on removes me from the real problem, my sin or theirs which is breaking the connection.

    Hope that helps.

  15. November 29th, 2013 at 09:44 | #15

    John,

    You are being your usual sophomoric and skeptical self. Will you ever give up your pietistic ways and simply accept the work of God’s grace through his word and sacraments?

    You ask: “Also, doesn’t the Holy Ghost help us understand even by the clarity/obscurity of the words He verbally inspired?”

    Understand what? That I am personally loved by God for the forgiveness of my sins? Yes. Only the Holy Spirit can work that faith in me in those words.

    Understand that a carpenter from Nazareth was nailed to a cross around 33 AD and that he claimed that it was for the forgiveness of my sins? I understand those words because of the hard work of my 1st grade teacher who taught me to “See Jane run.”

    You are using the word “understand” in an equivocal way. Equivocal speaking is a common stunt used by the sophomoric.

    In the passages you cited the word “understand” is being used as as synonym for faith. Our discussion here is using the word “understand” in the sense of “know what the words mean.”

    In Romans 7 Paul makes it clear that he understands the law and yet he cannot do it. He then exclaims “Thanks be to God” because He does not hold our sins against us. This is a clear expression of the different ways the words are being used.

  16. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 10:14 | #16

    You are being your usual sophomoric and skeptical self. You forgot “whiny” :)

    I apologize that whatever I say you take personally. My intent is merely to seek clarification – not to insult or denigrate your knowledge. I am a simple layman and sophomoric big-time. I do appreciate your answers.

  17. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 10:41 | #17

    @John Rixe #16

    To clarify: We should not ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand what the words mean in a particular passage. Am I the only one around here that has been doing this all my life?

  18. November 29th, 2013 at 10:55 | #18

    John,

    You did not offend me. I just get tired of you constantnly questioning things on this site and I really doubt that you are trying to learn because you just keep spouting the same old pietistic stuff.

  19. November 29th, 2013 at 10:59 | #19

    John,

    You are probably not the only one praying for that sort of knowledge. It is however a pietistic wish and desire.

    The Holy Spirit does not provide understanding of English and Greek and Hebrew. He provides faith in these words – “for you.”

    The Holy Spirit is not a short cut to learning. If he were, we should close down the seminaries and simply wait on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit calls preachers to study and learn so that they can teach the Scriptures.

    While we are on it, your desire for emotional and relevant worship (aka COWO) is a similar pietistic pipe dream of yours. The word is not enough for you. You desire emotion and relevence and a “relationship with Jesus.”

    To rise to the level of “junior” or “senior” you need to identify these pietistic leanings and leave them behind.

    Just saying…

  20. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 11:11 | #20

    While we are on it, your desire for emotional and relevant worship (aka COWO) is a similar pietistic pipe dream of yours. The word is not enough for you. You desire emotion and relevence and a “relationship with Jesus.”

    You must have me mixed up with somebody else. I have no desire for emotion, relevance and relationship. I prefer traditional/liturgical and have been to less than 5 COWO services in the past 10 years.

    Blessings to your family on this Thanksgiving weekend.

  21. Jais H. Tinglund
    November 29th, 2013 at 11:49 | #21

    @John Rixe #17
    I do believe that very often preconceived notions can stand in the way of understanding something, even when the point should be absolutely clear, cognitively speaking. This can happen due to stubbornness or stupidity, or because it never occurs to a person that there could be more to this than what I already know, and the way I am used to think about things, or because it is so difficult to lay preconceived notions aside.
    And sometimes it will have to be the task of the Holy Spirit to open the minds of the stubborn by breaking down ungodly arrogance and setting in its stead faith and submission to God, and willingness to not only read and listen, but also pay attention and think about things.

    And sometimes it will be the task of the Holy Spirit to remind a Christian of the tremendous greatness of the glory and goodness of God in Christ, so that, in light of this, things actually make sense in a way they would not do to human nature.

    I think we have a good example of something similar to this in the Book of Acts, and how it seems to come to a surprise to the Apostles that Gentiles are to be included in the true Israel of God, and the Holy Spirit had to make that clear to them – even though Holy Scripture, cognitively speaking, had made that clear all along.

    I think this whole thread has been a good example also, of something similar – well, not the Holy Spirit at work, necessarily, but rather of how preconceived notions can stand in the way of understanding that which is absolutely clear, cognitively speaking, and how strong the notion can be that things cannot be and cannot be expressed in any other way than what I am familiar with.

    Pastor Tim Rossow :“Relationship” is a modern psychological term invented to take the place of traditional, common-sense words like “friendship.”

    Why not use the term “relationship” to describe it? Because it is spoken of as some sort of third thing that exists between Abraham and God.

    Describing my connection to God as a relationship cheapens it and leads me into works righteousness. Describing my connection to anyone else as a relationship that needs to be worked on removes me from the real problem, my sin or theirs which is breaking the connection.

    All this was made absolutely clear from the beginning, cognitively speaking.

    But apparently this was overlooked by many, I suspect due to the preconceived notion that the specific term “relationship” must be employed when describing the the realities of salvation.
    This preconceived notion must be very strong, as this thread has shown, since to say a thing like:
    “You are a child of God; you should use another term for being a child of God than relationship
    to some is clearly the equivalent of saying: “You are not a child of God!”
    and
    to say a thing like:
    “You have friendship with of God; you should use another term for having frienship with God than relationship
    to some is clearly the equivalent of saying:
    “You cannot have friendship with God!”
    and
    to say a thing like:
    “The Church is the Bride of Christ; you should use another term for the Church being the Bride of Christ than relationship
    clearly to some is the equivalent of saying:
    “The Church is not the Bride of Christ!”
    etc.

    A good example of how strong preconceived notions can be.

    This problem can be psychological as well as intellectual in nature (with this I am not referencing this particular thread, but rather hindrances to communication in general). But it can also be spiritual; some do not understand, simply because consciously or subconsciously, they will not.
    Does not the absurd misunderstandings unbelievers so often reveal, when they try to describe the faith, clearly enough confirm that the “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (II Corinthians 4:4), and that men “by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18).

    But it is a far cry from acknowledging such hindrances to authentic communication and comprehension on the one hand, and on the other to claim as an epistemological axiom (that is: as something that is always a given due to the very nature of knowledge itself as a phenomen) that that which is not already known, accepted, acceptable, or otherwise a priori part of the conceptual world of the receiver cannot possibly be communicated and understood as the communicator intended.

  22. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 12:40 | #22

    And sometimes it will have to be the task of the Holy Spirit to open the minds of the stubborn by breaking down ungodly arrogance and setting in its stead faith and submission to God, and willingness to not only read and listen, but also pay attention and think about things.

    This is excellent and explains a lot. Thanks.

  23. November 29th, 2013 at 12:49 | #23

    John,

    But you have defended COWO in countless comments. You may not attend, but your defense of COWO betrays your theology.

  24. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 13:33 | #24

    I believe I’ve been consistent in encouraging the exclusive use of synod approved worship materials.  I am indifferent as to what instruments we use.  My so-called “defense” of COWO betrays the theology of the vast majority of LCMS pastors and laymen. 

    “Music fluctuates and changes, but Lutherans should keep to the basic order. We want to encourage and foster every move toward the full use and appreciation of the historical treasures we have been given and whatever good things the Lord sees fit to add from the gifts and talents of His people in this day. We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would treat the liturgical deposits as a finished work. We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would replace entirely the voices of the past with the voice of the present. In other words, we want to make full use of the worship treasures of the past, present, and future.” – Pr Matt Harrison, Today’s Business, Issue 1, May 2013

    Sorry for the thread drift, but I think you have me confused with somebody else.

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #23

  25. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 14:22 | #25

    The word is not enough for you. You desire emotion and relevence and a “relationship with Jesus.”

    This is over the line, Pastor.  

    “Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives.  If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.”

  26. November 29th, 2013 at 14:33 | #26

    I am not judging your motives. I am echoing your support for COWO which you have stated on countless occasions on this wite.

    If you agree with Matt Harrison that music is not so important but that lyrics are then I am glad you have changed your position.

    I don’t care what instrumentation is used. In our own parish we use organ, piano, tympani, brass, and even an occasional electric base guitar all to support the liturgy.

    What we do not do is use COWO lyrics or a blended liturgy like you do in your parish. I know you don’t go to the blended service but you support it and you have defended it time and time again on this site.

    Also, the fact that you quote majority opinion for COWO again belies your pietistic approach to church. God does not ask us to go with the majority. Instead he asks us to be faithful. We do not base our church decisions on opinion but on the Word of God.

  27. John Rixe
    November 29th, 2013 at 14:41 | #27

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #26

    Though you have no respect, I can assure you that the word is enough for me.

    You need to work on your relationships. :)

  28. helen
    November 29th, 2013 at 16:10 | #28

    @John Rixe #25
    This is over the line, Pastor.

    “Interaction between people leaving comments ought to reflect Christian virtue, interaction that is gracious and respectful, not judging motives. If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.”

    Too much Thanksgiving turkey, Pastor?

    John often disagrees with me but he doesn’t give me indigestion.
    You’ve “entertained” worse on here without rebuke.
    Perhaps you have got John confused with someone else.

    We have a multitude of sermons today.
    If you need a respite, John quite possibly hasn’t commented on any of them.

  29. November 30th, 2013 at 08:34 | #29

    Helen,

    It is simple enough for John to state clearly that he believes COWO is bad for the Lord’s church. Let’s see if he does.

  30. John Rixe
    November 30th, 2013 at 11:10 | #30

    If you mean a service using synod approved contemporary materials following the traditional order of the Divine Service I think it’s fine.   Do you agree?

    How is this relevant to the thread?

    “Engage the contents and substance of the post. Rabbit trails and side issues do not help the discussion of the topics.  Our authors work hard to write these articles and it is a disservice to them to distract from the topic at hand.”

    I’m dropping out of this rabbit trail now. (Can’t imagine why anyone is that interested).

  31. November 30th, 2013 at 12:42 | #31

    John,

    As I figured, you are not able to say that COWO is bad for the church.

  32. John Rixe
    November 30th, 2013 at 12:57 | #32

    If you mean a service using synod approved contemporary materials following the traditional order of the Divine Service I think it’s fine.   Do you agree?

    As I figured, you didn’t answer. :)

    (Kids in a sandbox?)

  33. November 30th, 2013 at 13:02 | #33

    I’m sorry. I’ll answer you, even though in your typical sophomoric way you answer a question with a question.

    I do not subscribe to something because the synod approves it. I subscribe to something if it is Scriptural. During the presidency of Pres. K there were numerous things that slipped through that should not have. Likewise, even with my friend Matt Harrision in charge there are still things that slip through.

    I am a synod man. I am proud of my synod. But I do not endorse things because they are approved by the synod. I approve because they are Scriptural.

    Still waiting for you to answer my simple question.

  34. John Rixe
    November 30th, 2013 at 13:14 | #34

    Fair enough. If you mean by COWO what I described in comment 30, then I think COWO is fine. There are many, many flavors of COWO.

    (Hope you don’t interpret my comments as unfriendly. Sometimes tone is hard to communicate via web comments.)

  35. Reaper
    December 2nd, 2013 at 08:42 | #35

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #33

    Pastor Rossow
    I think it’s time to apologize for unfairly characterizing John. Stop attacking, stop asking him questions and just apologize. You’re wrong. Deal with it. Your comments here are really showing a domineering spirit.

  36. December 2nd, 2013 at 09:19 | #36

    Two comments about the Pr. Rossow’s article and the thread:

    1. This is merely a guess: I think the talk about “relationship” may have as it’s origin in a short work I/Thou (1923) by Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. was quite influential and quite popular in the 60′s because Buber posited two basic relations: I/Thou and I/it which he said describe all our relations. It is my speculation that use of the word “relationship” is a long devolution of Buber. Buber uses the word “relation” to describe this but he does seem to write about “relation” as we do “relationship”, which Pr. Rossow has correctly diagnosed in popular secular and evangelical cultures as a “third thing”. Buber: “All relation is meeting”. As I write there is “I” (me) and “Thou” but that can become I/It. The Old Adam is expert in making I/It out of I/Thou. I/Thou is the primary word of relation. It has been some time since I read it but what happens in the meeting of I/Thou is a conversation. What is a conversation? Answer: words. There is no mysterious construct called “relationship” but there are words between us: written and spoken. I think that the intent of our words will be two fold in the I/Thou: Law or Promise. So when I incorrectly say, to my wife, “We have to work on our ‘relationship’”, I am really saying, I want to work on you, which is a word of Law. I have made my wife, my “thou” into an “it”. I/Thou is the world of Gospel/Promise, of love. But “love” is not centrally a “feeling”. So when we use utilize the pop psycho-babble of “relationship” we are actually talking about “feelings”, “between us”, but feelings are simply a by-product. Even to talk about feelings is again a conversation, words. “Feelings” do no mediate I/Thou, words do. What happens are words: vows, promises, condemnations, and the like. God speaks to us His Word, not merely His “feelings” and when He does reveal His ‘feelings’ it is of course through His Word. Feelings are a by-product of the ongoing conversation between I/Thou: feelings are a by-product, not the end product. The Lord’s goal in His Word of the I/Thou is Jesus Christ.
    2. I was disappointed to read about a Concordia Seminary professor who bought into a relativistic understanding of the Confessions. The Church does not determine the Confession, the Word of God does. The professor’s comments reminded me of The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis in which he takes up the issue of absolute moral law after reading the English equivalent of a high school text book.

  37. John Rixe
    December 2nd, 2013 at 12:21 | #37

    @Pr. Mark Schroeder #36

    “How’s your relationship with your wife?” is a meaningless question. Instead, one should ask “How are you treating your wife? Are you being kind to her and cherishing her?”…

    “Relationship” is not a Biblical word. It is not a Lutheran word. It does not appear in the Bible. It does not appear in the exhaustive index of Luther’s works.

    ….but it just appeared now right on this page :)

    LUTHER SAID

    There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.

    Lutheranism 101 widget

    (Maybe it’s just a bad translation)

  38. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 2nd, 2013 at 12:46 | #38

    John Rixe :

    (Maybe it’s just a bad translation)

    My guess is that when the translation was done, it did not have the specific perspective in mind which Pastor Rossow has brought up on this thread.

    And it is a very specific perspective. It is no wonder that many have not been aware of it. And, of course, the issue can be pushed way to far, and pursued in way to absolute terms.

    Obviously, the idea is not that anybody who has ever used the term “relationship” in connection with the faith is necessarily a Pietist who has swallowed all the connotations that come with the term hook, line, and sinker.

    Of course, that is solely my own perception of what the idea is, or rather, perhaps, of what the idea should or should not be. Pastor Rossow might have intended something else.

    What I take with me in terms of the term “relationship” is that I myself intend to be more careful about using the term in connection with the faith in the future. I am not going to think, however, that anybody whom I observe using the term is necessarily doing so because they intend to express a false understanding of the realities of the faith.

    Just my two cents.

  39. Rev. McCall
    December 3rd, 2013 at 08:01 | #39

    @John Rixe #37
    Did you know the word “Trinity” never appears in the Bible? Yet we use it all the time. :-) “Relationship” may not appear as a word in the Bible either, but it is none the less there as a reality that exists between God and man and man and man. When we are told we can now call God “Abba, Father” that implies that there is a relationship. When we call each other “brother and sister in Christ” that means there is a relationship there. When Jesus uses terms like “friend” or “brother” that implies a relationship. When Luther explains the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, he does so in language that reflects the reality that there now exists a relationship between man and God (“true children”, “true Father”, “dear children”, and “dear father”). So this article may go a bit too far. The objection should not be to the term “relationship” but perhaps more so as to how we define the word.
    A Blessed Advent to you John.

  40. Tim Schneider
    December 3rd, 2013 at 10:41 | #40

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #14
    Doesn’t the modern use of relationship imply a bi-directional and reciprocal friendship?

    If that definition is so, it is totally contrary to grace as the sole avenue of salvation.

    Tim

  41. December 3rd, 2013 at 11:23 | #41

    @Tim Schneider #40
    No, relationship can be a good one, or a bad one, and reciprocity does not have to be part of that.

    Relationship is also connection between two, two people, two things. See Oxford, the third definition of.

    So, I say, a person connected to God has a relationship…yet praise be that God as we by sin and other means rips our connection, trash it, whatever.

    His connection to us at the cross, as the Word made flesh, whatever Biblical text you use, His promise to the sheep, His faith is ironclad.

    Do I and my sheep have a “personal relationship?” I cringe at the word that Evangelicals love to use (with some bad theology backing). But the water’s of Holy Baptism and His Word did not pour over anyone else’s head but mine. He was, is, and will be for me my Rock and Salvation.

    Good and interesting discussion…just breath and love one another, PLEASE.

  42. Jais H. Tinglund
    December 3rd, 2013 at 11:27 | #42

    Tim Schneider :
    @Pastor Tim Rossow #14
    Doesn’t the modern use of relationship imply a bi-directional and reciprocal friendship?

    It most certainly does in the common so-called Evangelical talk about a “personal relationship”.

    I remember quite a few years ago quite a few of my parishioners (a large family) had attended the non-baptism of a niece in an Evangelical church.
    Independently of each other, more than one of them approached me afterwards and told me that the Pastor had preached about once having been a Missouri Synod Lutheran until he “decided that he needed a personal relationship with Jesus”.
    The following Sunday I mentioned in my sermon that what that people usually mean by saying that is that (and I quote myself from memory) “rather than hearing the Word of God and believing in His promises I need to be charge of that relationship” (yes, I did use the “r”-word).
    A couple of members of of the family, again, independently of each other, thanked me afterward; one said that that was what they needed to hear.

    In the more healthy and Gospel oriented strains of Scandinavian State Church Pietism (which tends to have a slightly more Lutheran flavour than American Evangelicalism) one of the main indicators of having a “personal relationship with Jesus” is that a person experiences Anfechtungen, that is: Romans 7 type concerns for sins and shortcomings and anxiety about one’s salvation. Of this is what is meant when someone in this context talks about somebody having a “personal relationship with Jesus”. Could it be any more different from common American Evangelicalism?

    Of course this also can lead to excesses and abuses. But it is interesting. I think it is interesting.

  43. Diane
    December 23rd, 2013 at 10:04 | #43

    In Creative Worship for the Lutheran Parish, Series A, Part 1, copyright 2013, CPH under the Confession and Absolution section the pastor says, ‘In the mystery of the incarnation, we see that God lovingly chose to be in relationship with us-to take on our flesh..’ In this context I understand what they (the writers) mean by the word and I don’t object to it. I would prefer using one of the DS’s in LSB every Sunday, but unfortunately, I don’t have a choice.

    Diane

  44. helen
    December 23rd, 2013 at 11:30 | #44

    @Diane #43
    In Creative Worship for the Lutheran Parish, Series A, Part 1, copyright 2013, CPH under the Confession and Absolution section the pastor says, ‘In the mystery of the incarnation, we see that God lovingly chose to be in relationship with us-to take on our flesh..

    IMO, Creative [playthings] for the parish was bad for Lutherans, and it was all downhill from there.

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