Great Stuff Found on the Web – a Collection

There are several posts about the current topic running across the web that we would like to call your attention to. Rather than include several posts pointing to each individually, we will provide links to the posts in this article:


Found on Mathew Cochran’s blog, The 96th Thesis, “Why We Don’t Worship With You”

It’s not because “those are our rules.” It’s because we believe our religion is actually true.

That’s the long and the short of it. And as shocking as the concept might be in a postmodern age, the fact that our religion is true makes others false inasmuch as they contradict ours.

If we are correct, then the consequence is that when Christians stand up and preach, we are not doing the same thing that pagans are doing when they stand up and preach. Pagans might make people feel better. Pagans might offer emotional comfort in times of distress. Pagans might foster a sense of unity in a community in the face of a shared tragedy and help people get a sense of closure and move on with their lives. Christians also might do these things when they stand up and preach, but they are only doing these things because they are actually telling people what God has actually spoken. Christians might offer words of comfort to those who are grieving. However, those words are only comforting because they are actually God’s promise of salvation through Jesus Christ.

To read more of this article, click here.


Found on, “Faithful before God and Man”

The recent storm of controversy over Rev. Robert Morris’ apology for participation in the Newtown, CT worship service reveals several common misunderstandings. If reporters had looked more closely into the events, the letter from Rev. Robert Morris and the letter from Pres. Matthew Harrison both make it very clear that no “censure” or “reprimand” was given, but the apology was freely offered and accepted. Other misunderstandings come from a difficult tension that arises during times of tragedy, such as the shootings in Newtown, CT. Church leaders must struggle to 1) be faithful before God and 2) faithful to those with whom they share a confession. Here’s an essay from Werner Elert that reflects on some of these truths below.

By way of introduction to this essay from Werner Elert, Prof John T. Pless comments:

“Robert Preus once described Werner Elert (1895–1954) as one of the ‘the three most significant confessional Lutheran theologians of our century.’ Like Sasse, Elert was no sectarian but widely engaged in ecumenical conversation. His ecumenical engagement was fueled by his recognition that truth must be confessed and error rejected. In 1927, Elert gave this short essay at a meeting of the World Conference in Lausanne. It was published in Faith and Order: Proceedings of the World Conference, August 3–21, 1927, 1927, edited by H.N. Bate (New York: George H. Doran, 1927), 13–18. There is much in this essay that is still timely nearly 90 years later. Especially note the Erlangen theologian’s accent on the confession of the truth necessitating a rejection of error. Timely, indeed, in light of defenses being offered for the Newtown prayer vigil.”

To read more of this article, click here.


Found on Pastor Mark Surburg’s blog, The Grief Ritual of American Civic Religion:

I didn’t watch the Sandy Hook Interfaith Prayer Vigil when it took place, because I already knew what it would be. It was predictable. It would be the grief ritual of American civic religion. There would be clergy from different Christian confessions as well as those from other religions such as Judaism and Islam. Many of them would be in some form of liturgical vestments. There would be an opening address which would emphasize the unity of the different participants as they gathered together to grieve and support one another. There would be readings from the Bible and the sacred texts of the other religions present. There would be brief homilies based on those texts and prayers that sounded more like homilies. There would be comforting religious songs. Civic leaders would speak along with the religious figures, and in this case I had already heard that President Obama would speak. There would be some kind of closing benediction. You could bank on it.

Of course, at the time I didn’t know that a LCMS clergy member would be taking part and that it would become a topic of discussion in both synodical and national circles. After seeing much of the discussion during the last few days, I have watched it on You Tube, and it turns out that I was pretty much dead on. I suppose there really weren’t any religious songs, but there was chanting in Hebrew and Arabic by a Jew and a Muslim.

In the discussion that has taken place thus far, I believe that a crucial category has been missing in the analysis of this event and what we should learn from it as we move forward as a synod. That category is ritual. Ritual is a central part of the human experience that helps to shape and reinforce the beliefs of a culture (and of course of religions) in individuals. Ritual facilitates times of transition. It is also very important for promoting a sense of well being during times of crisis and grief.

To read more of this article, click here.


Found on Gottesdienst Online: “What would Elijah pray? What would Elijah do?”

Former President Kieschnick writes: “Elijah prayed in the presence of hundreds of prophets of false gods. Paul preached in synagogues and taught in temples in the presence of people who rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah. So did Jesus himself.”

Have the exegetical capabilities of our clergy fallen to such a nadir that this argument in favor of round robin interfaith prayer services carries any weight? Really? I really feel that I would just be embarrassing our readers by dissecting it. Really, one feels badly about swinging at such low hanging curve balls.

Elijah. Well, let’s see. Here is what Elijah said to the people in the presence of the prophets of Baal: “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”

If an LCMS clergyman were invited to an interfaith, round robin prayer service and spoke remarks along these lines to the audience, he would be roundly applauded by all who have criticized Pastor Morris’ participation. But, of course, that’s not what such modern day round robin prayer services are meant to be by their creators among the “community leaders.” Comments like, “How long will you in this community go on attending this Mosque? How long will many of you go on talking as if all roads lead to heaven and as if everyone killed in this massacre is in heaven? If Jesus is God, follow him. If Allah is God, follow him.” – well, they wouldn’t be received well by the organizers and might just get you an indictment for hate speech. That’s the Elijah way.

To read more of this article, click here.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web – a Collection — 1 Comment

  1. The section, Found on, “Faithful before God and Man” notes: By way of introduction to this essay from Werner Elert, Prof John T. Pless comments: “Robert Preus once described Werner Elert (1895–1954) as one of the ‘the three most significant confessional Lutheran theologians of our century.’”

    That’s odd! In a book Robert Preus edited with Wilbert Rosin, A Contemporary Look at the Formula of Concord (CPH, 1978), in the chapter on the Third Use of the Law, Eugene F. Klug discusses the unconfessional Lufauxranism of Werner Elert (pp. 200-1):

    Werner Elert argued that not only is the term “third use of the Law” foreign to Luther, but the concept itself….

    Elert grossly oversimplifies the whole matter, simply ignoring the countless references in Luther’s writings and sermons and letters that plainly uphold the Law’s use in the Christian’s life as a guide for godly living. Elert mistakenly conceives the Christian’s freedom from the Law–its curse, punishment, coercion–to include freedom “to live without the law,” as though the Law no longer needed to inform regenerate Christians what to do [W. Elert, Law and Gospel, Philadelphia, Pa.: Fortress Press, 1967, p.32]….

    The only remaining conclusion, therefore, is that Elert himself, like Agricola and the second wave of antinomians (Otto, Poach, Neander, et al.), holds that a regenerate man needs no teacher of what is rightly or godly, since the Gospel itself teaches him. Precisely this form of antinomianism is what Luther feared would sweep the church, falsely parading its so-called love for and freedom in the Gospel. The Reformer saw that this “piety” was a “fanaticism” whose purpose finally was “not to remove the Law but to remove Christ, the fulfiller of the Law” [LW 47, 110].

    In his book, Law, Life, and the Living God: The Third Use of the Law in Modern American Lutheranism (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2002, 250 pp.) Scott R. Murray traces today’s antinomian notions of XXXA and the “Valapriaso theologians” to the same source: Werner Elert.

    Confessional Lutheran theologians are not antinomians.

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