The Egotistical Underpinnings of First Amendment Rights and the Societal Response, or It’s Just a Chicken Sandwich, People

There’s been a lot of rumbling around the media and the Internet as of late regarding the ability of a retail food outlet’s president to state, very plainly, his beliefs on the family and homosexual relationships. The backlash to his statements, and subsequent support for them, has been tremendous in both quantity and volume. After all this discussion, it makes me wonder about this debate, and who should be protected by the law for what they say versus who have the “correct” viewpoint and the reasoned approach.

Dan Cathy, the President of Chick-fil-a, which is for all purposes a chicken sandwich shop, decided to make public on a Baptist media program his opinion about homosexuals and their desire to be married under the laws of the U.S. Cathy spoke not out of turn, nor did he speak out to a media that would be less supportive of his comments in order to by antagonistic. Instead, he answered a question about his financial support for organizations that work to keep marriage between a man and a woman, and then explained the position he and his family-owned company hold on the subject.

As word of his comments spread, the community supporting gay marriage under the law stepped in and decried his comments as anger-mongering, evil (or, at least, the opposite of good), and discriminatory. Supporters of Cathy have claimed he was under his First Amendment rights, according to the U.S. Constitution, to make these statement. Detractors have decided to protest his stores and push to block their expansion into markets across the country.

At this blog, the biblical definition of marriage is the belief of record, whether the United States decides to allow the marriage of two men or two women to exist legally. And that belief is held knowing full well that two things can result from it: 1) People may choose not to read this blog because it preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified; that is the choice of any reader of any blog; 2) People may choose to argue, attack, threaten, decry, hack, or abuse this blog, and it will continue to preach about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Because, at the end of it all, we are all sinners (Romans 5:12). We have all done the evil we do not want to do (Romans 7:15). And yet, Christ comes for all, to die on the cross for the sins of the world. He died for all, that all might live (Romans 6:10). We need only to listen to His Word, and by doing so, receive the Holy Spirit and the faith the Spirit brings to us.

I’ve never actually eaten at a Chick-fil-a. Will Dan Cathy’s comments make me more likely to do so? Probably not if I’m not in the mood to eat chicken. Cathy can says whatever he likes. He will have to deal with the response society brings on him and his business. He will also have to deal with the judgement of the Lord when Cathy stands before him in his death. And then, his actions, his words, his thoughts will not save him. Only faith in Christ alone and His atoning death and suffering on the cross and resurrection on the third day will bring Dan Cathy, and all of us, to eternal life in Christ Jesus.

He is Risen! Hallelujah!

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Too Much Baptism…

I always enjoy the comment, “You Lutherans always talk about Baptism too much.”

To paraphrase “Phineas and Ferb”: “Yes, yes we do.”

This of course begs the question, “Why?”

First off, what is Baptism? Is it man’s work? Is it just some water and special words? Let me quote Luther’s Small Catechism here,

“Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water included in God’s command and connected with God’s Word.”

There it is! Baptism is the command of God, given by Christ, through His Word. It is the Word that completes the work, not the man who pours the water, the one who receives it, or the congregation who witnesses it. It’s the power of God, working in His Holy Word.

So, what does it do? Baptism, quite simply, “saves.” That’s it. 1 Peter 3:21, “Baptism…now saves you.” It sanctifies us (Eph. 5:25-27), brings forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14), and through the Holy Spirit in the Word, plants faith in our hearts for belief in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9).

Baptism is, in effect, Jesus Himself come to us, for He is the Word (John 1). When we preach of Baptism, we preach about Jesus, who saves and brings us faith and life eternal. We talk of Baptism because we spread the Word of Christ, who is in the water and comes into our hearts through the Word. And it is this Word that, through God’s Grace, gives us eternal life by the Faith received at Baptism in Christ alone.

Zombie Church

One of the popular shows on TV right now is about the zombie apocalypse. Every week the zombies shuffle back and forth across the land, mindlessly continuing on, following whatever sound they hear or person they see.

The zombies don’t think for themselves. They don’t believe, teach, or confess anything. Herds of zombies wander to and fro every week, empty inside, like a flock of birds. If one zombie turns down a path, the rest follow.

Some churches are full of zombies, too. They blindly follow the will of the pastor, believing that HIS beliefs are what they need, that HE knows the right way, and all they have to do is show up, listen and do what he says, and then they are saved.

Belief is not a passive act. It doesn’t grow and take shape by the acceptance of what a pastor, church leader, or other people say. This is why the creeds begin with the word, “I”. The creeds are not just another part of the liturgy every week because somebody in the church decided hundreds of years ago to put them after the readings and before the sermon. Instead, they are our confession of our faith, a personal and true statement of what you and I believe as Christians in the Church of our Lord.

Romans 10:9-10: “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

What Romans describes is not an act of blind acceptance. It is an active statement, something we can do with a faith that is our own, given to us through Baptism by the Holy Spirit in the washing of our hearts.

Don’t think I’m eliminating the pastor’s role in the church. He is here to strengthen our beliefs and guide us. But his faith is not our own, and his beliefs will not save you or I. Instead, his words in the pulpit follow the creed so that we can use our confession to evaluate his, to ensure that he speaks of Christ and Him crucified for our salvation.

So, confess out loud with your whole heart your faith in our God. Don’t be a zombie in church. They usually miss out on the donuts and coffee, anyway.

David Koresh and Vision Casting

Vision casting is the idea that a pastor/church leader has received a specific vision from the Holy Spirit for the purpose/design/direction for a church and that the vision must be followed because it is God’s Will, regardless of it’s intent.  In other words, if you’re not on the bus, get off the bus, or it will run you over.

So, let’s think about that for a minute…

A congregation following the vision cast by a leader MUST follow the leader without questioning the vision, or they will be seen as questioning a vision from God for the purpose of the church.

I’m sorry, but that sounds a little too David Koresh for me…

The sole norm and direction of the church comes directly from God to all of His people in the form of His Word, the Holy Scripture.  Christ and the salvation He brings alone is presented to us in the Bible, and all of our direction comes from Him.  We do not need additional revelation or vision from God.  If we did, He would have provided it to us through the Church, not the individual pastor in a random congregation who proclaims that God only speaks in his ear for his congregation’s benefit.  Again, a little too cult leader/”I hear the Voice of God”…

Any word or deed outside of the guidance of Scripture is not from the Lord.  It is very simple to understand.  The Lord grants us, His people, the ability to judge those who claim to be the prophets of the Lord by one simple criteria:  If it’s not in the Good Book, throw it out.  2 Timothy 3:15-17, “and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

What’s the purpose of these men who seek to cast a vision on a church?  Is it to do God’s Will as defined in Scripture, or to do another “will” as they are perceiving it?  It is not the visions of men which should lead and guide a church, but the Gospel of Christ Jesus as revealed in Scripture.  Galatians 1:6-10 is very clear in this matter.  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

God does not need to reveal Himself in any way beyond the revelation we have through Christ Jesus.  And the revelation of Jesus is available for us all through Scripture.  It was made to be this way at the crucifixion.  When the curtain of the temple was torn in two, Jesus removed the barrier between His people and salvation.  No longer were we needing to seek the High Priest and the sacrifices of the altar for our forgiveness.  Christ had made the final atonement and brought to us life and salvation through Him alone, which we receive through Baptism and His Holy Supper.  That is what the pastor should be preaching:  Salvation is by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Scripture Alone.

That’s the only vision I need.

Here’s an interesting discussion with Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith on vision casting over at Issues, Etc.