Dr. Gene Veith interview

I’m a big fan of Dr. Gene Veith, who lives in Virginia and is a provost at Patrick Henry College. The Washington Examiner (which is the newspaper my husband works for) ran an interview of him in its weekly “Credo” section. That’s where local big shots talk about the role that religion plays in their life. Here are a couple of Veith’s answers:

Do you consider yourself to be of a specific faith?

I am a Lutheran Christian. Lutheranism is sacramental and liturgical, and it is also evangelical and biblical. At the same time, Lutheranism avoids legalism, affirms our life in the world, and above all focuses on the grace of Christ. For me, Lutheranism embraces the whole scope and depth of Christianity at its best.

At your core, what is one of your defining beliefs?

I believe in Luther’s doctrine of vocation, which teaches that God works through human beings. He gives us our daily bread through the vocation of the farmer, the miller, the baker, and the whole economic system. He creates new life through the vocation of mothers and fathers. He creates beauty through artists and informs us through journalists. And He works through all of us in our multiple callings in the family, the workplace, and the culture, as we live out our faith in love, and serve to the neighbors that He brings into our lives. Vocation sees God’s presence in ordinary life and charges the seemingly secular realm with spiritual significance.


Comments

Dr. Gene Veith interview — 17 Comments

  1. I am impressed with Veith’s pithy definition of Lutheranism: “sacramental, liturgical, evangelical, biblical.”

    It makes me think how the “church growthers” in our midst would only use the last two to describe Lutheranism, i.e. as “evangelical and biblical” if they were honest.

    I’ll side with Veith.

    TR

  2. What are you doing up so late Sumbody? It was good to see you a couple of weeks ago.

    I agree – the vocation stuff is great! I just preached a couple of paragraphs on vocation in my sermon last Sunday.

    TR

  3. I sort of think he could have answered the second question better. If someone were to ask me to state one of my defining beliefs and I talk about vocations rather than the cross of Jesus Christ, I have perhaps missed out on an opportunity. But that’s just me.

  4. @Pastor Tim Rossow #1
    Pastor,
    I have met some church growthers who are as you describe, but I have met far more who are all four although the definition of liturgical to them is slightly different than what you imply.

    Dr. Veith is a blessing. “He creates beauty through artists and informs us through journalists. And He works through all of us in our multiple callings in the family, the workplace, and the culture, as we live out our faith in love, and serve to the neighbors that He brings into our lives. Vocation sees God’s presence in ordinary life and charges the seemingly secular realm with spiritual significance.”

  5. Gotta love his answer about preaching, as well…

    [W]hat I prize the most are sermons that have cut through my soul.
    The classic Lutheran preachers developed that kind of sermon into an art form. They preached from God’s Word — not their own word — and they did so in light of what they called “the Law and the Gospel.” They would preach the commandments of Scripture not in order to be moralistic, or to draw out principles for better living, but to make the hearers realize they did not keep those commandments, and to provoke a genuine sense of repentance, even desperation. Whereupon the sermon would turn to the One who did keep those commandments — to Christ, who offers free forgiveness through His lavish grace. The hearers seize on that message, the Gospel, with relief, gratitude, joy and faith.
    That’s the kind of sermon we need to recover, the kind that can actually build faith and transform lives.

  6. @Andrew Strickland #7
    Andrew,
    I would like to meet more of the church growthers you have met. I have had the opposite experience. Most church growthers I know think the liturgy (which I always assume means the historic liturgies of the One True Catholic or Christian Church) and sacramental practices exclude the seekers. They don’t understand that the historic liturgy is more biblical and evangelical than dumbed down, self centered stuff being spewed out by the poor miserable biblically illiterate today. They also seem to miss the fact that being biblical means being Gospel or Christ centered. Every chapter and book of the Bible is ultimately about Jesus on the cross for you and me. Finally, the evangel often becomes more about what I do than what the Holy Spirit does through the Word and Sacraments.

    But never fear, as long as the Law and Gospel are proclaimed in their truth and purity there is hope for all of us.

    With regard to the topic at hand. I like Dr. Veith. He really gets it.

  7. Back to#3…Just wrote oreilly that late. The idea up in New Jersey they cannot sing Silent Night etc. Funny thing I just ordered a Sweatshirt with the words in German and English and it is nicely decorated…giving it as a gift. I told him they could go silently to this school.

    After all we are from the Show Me State!

  8. Andrew,

    What CS said in #9.

    I do appreciate your point though that there are gradations of growthers. For the most part though, there is a lack of discernment that demonstrates a lack of commitment to word and sacrament. For instance, I do not know how any Lutheran pastor committed to the four principles mentioned by Veith could ever bring the 40 Days of Purpose into their congregation but it happens all the time and has been done by most of the people I would define as growthers.

    TR

  9. @Pastor Tim Rossow #12
    Pastor,

    Touché! Ok you got me there. I have been led astray by some of that nonsense that was introduced by LC-MS pastors.

    I am not sure if all growthers are growthers in the sense of declining church. There are plenty of those to be sure, but many are also misguided sharers of the Gospel. Which makes it a different issue.

    Finally, I am becoming more centered on those four foundations mentioned by Dr. Veith.

    Thanks for your insight and a blog that challenges me! 🙂

  10. @Matthew Gunia #14
    You are correct in saying that we are all “church growthers.”

    Yes, but we do not all think it’s something we do ourselves, with “programs”, spectacles, or sermon series that are not on the Gospel.

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