Tag Archives: scripture

According to the Scriptures

Biblical Text: Luke 24:36-49
Full Sermon Draft

The Lukan resurrection texts are one long story – one long Easter. When I read it I wonder if that is authorial privilege, or Luke’s research. The eating of fish sounds so much like John’s beachside story. The road to Emmaus is uniquely Luke’s. The rest are reflections of the other gospel stories. Luke pulls them all together and tells a very tight story that focuses reflection on seeing the body of Christ in three things. The Emmaus disciples are the first in Luke to see the risen Christ, and they recognize him in the breaking of the bread which is a Lord’s Supper scene. We recognize the body in the Supper. We recognize the body is the Peace of the gathering is the next one. It is in this one that we also recognize that the body is not just a spiritual reality, but is flesh and blood. Lastly we recognize the body because the scriptures have testified to it.

This sermon starts out playing with the Nicene creed’s phrase “according to the scriptures” which was one that young Parson Brown didn’t really get. But Luke gets it, and Jesus goes to great lengths to make sure the disciples get it. This sermon meditates on those scriptures not as the proof, but as the family album. In and through those scriptures we can recognize the body of Christ. And because we can recognize it, we can also move forward in faith on the promises that are not yet.

The Light in a Dark Place

Biblical Text: Matthew 17:1-9
Full Sermon Draft

There are so many things in life that we just don’t know. And so much of our problems aren’t what we don’t know, but what we think we know that isn’t so. Discerning the truth is tough. Sometimes truth comes in rough packages. Sometimes it is so mixed up with other things that separating it out is impossible. Welcome to life at the bottom of the mountain. Welcome to life under the cross. The transfiguration, if we believe the older and wiser Peter from 2nd Peter (the epistle lesson), was a proof of something else – the Word of God. If we are trying to figure out the way from false ways based only on our abilities we might as well quit. As Dante would say “in the middle of my years I came to rest in a dark woods and the true way was lost.” Or as Galadriel would give to Frodo “a light in a dark place”. The Transfiguration with its voice “listen to him” vouches for the firm foundation of the Word. Here, in Christ alone, is our light. And it is not a light meant only for the mountaintop. It is a light that is meant to be used at the base. The light in a dark place.

Worship Note: I wish I could have left in the choir, but the recording just didn’t work. (When the men have the strongest line, they get blocked from the main mic. I really need to get the loft mic’d better.) What I did leave in was our opening hymn. LSB 416, Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory. I believe I’ve extolled this hymn before. It is a modern hymn both in its text and the tune, and it is one that deserves to claim its place in the hymnody of the church. It captures poetically the main themes of the the Transfiguration. Glory’s brilliance, yet the move to go down. The surety of revelation, yet the preeminence of faith. The need for our transfiguration passing through the dark place with only the light of Christ.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Numbers 10:11-36 and Luke 16:19-31

Numbers 10:11-36
Luke 16:19-31
Theological order in non-fiction writing
The problem of Dan
Seeing is not believing

Remembrance – The Scriptures and the Word

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Biblical Text: John 2:13-22
Full Sermon Text

I used the title remembrance because that is the word John uses twice in the text to help explain it. John has yanked an event out of time, an event from Holy Week, and put it at the start of his gospel. He’s done this because the spiritual importance to him, what he wants to get across to us, he’s only seen in remembrance. And his importance is different than that attached to the event by the other gospels.

The event is the cleansing of the temple. To the other gospel writers this event is the action of the returning king, even if it is drenched in irony as in Mark. To John, in remembrance, this is the start of the sacrifice. This is where Jesus starts to clean the temple. But the temple is not one of stones. It is one of flesh. Jesus chases the animals out, because he becomes the offering.

The two pieces of music I’ve left in here pick up on that theme. The choir sings “What Wondrous Love” which is a gorgeous meditation on that sacrifice. And I’ve left in the hymn we sang after the sermon, LSB 431 Not All the Blood of Beasts which contemplates exactly that exchange. “A sacrifice of nobler name and richer blood than they.”

And They Remembered

Biblical Text: John 2:13-22
Full Sermon Text

The text is the cleansing of the Temple. It is an episode that is in all four gospel. Words from it end up at the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus. In Matt/Mark it is the proximate cause or fig leaf for convicting Jesus. In John it is moved to the front – the first action by Jesus of his public ministry – for theological reasons. All that is to say that the Scriptures view this as important. The indictment of Jesus is that the people have turned His Father’s house into a marketplace. It was easier to make God a transaction.

I have to say that much of American church life can feel like that at times. That sometimes it is just easier to pay the temple tax than to carry the cross.

Where does renewal start? “The disciples remembered…and they believed the scriptures and the word that Jesus had spoken.” The disciples remember. The sheep hear his voice. The new temple is a temple of living stones. A temple cleansed in the blood of Jesus. A temple where the sacrifices are the broken and contrite heart. The renewal…the life starts by being deep in that word.

Biblical Inerrency

John Bayer asks in the comments –
“…Also, Raymond Brown is criticized by tradionalists for denying Biblical inerrancy. Is this criticism unfounded? What is the Lutheran view and particularly what is Parson Brown’s position on Biblical inerrancy…”

To the first question, the criticism is not unfounded. Raymond Brown absolutely would deny a tradionalist statement of inerrancy. When I wrote that Raymond Brown was a critical scholar, you’ve used the technical/theological term for what that was pointing at. Raymond Brown puts reason over scripture to the point that if there are percieved “errors” the problem is with Scripture and not with the interpreter. Raymond Brown is not beyond using the text as we have it to “peer behind and reconstruct” the “original text” in his understanding. This form of Higher Criticism is why I could not recommend Raymond Brown for a layman. (Sorry, that sounds snobby.) It is also why I thought it fair to point out that I was reading him. Many people would not find him kosher. That said, I have found Raymond Brown to be helpful and insightful, especially if you know his starting point. He is a writer that one can argue with, sometimes loudly.

To the second point, a hearty and loud yes! to scriptural inerrency is my personal confession. I’m going to sketch out that case really quickly here, and maybe elaborate a little over the next few days.

A. Inerrency of scripture is the universal testimony of scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:20-21 as the clearest examples, Luke 24:44, John 2:22, Acts 1:16, and several other supporting passages)

a.1. Yes this is a circular argument, but all interpretation/understanding of our world begins somewhere. To make a mathematical analogy, all geometry rests on axioms taken as truth. Arguing with Euclid over parallel lines never touching is lunacy, because that is an axiom of Euclidian Geometry. The interpretation cycle of the church begins with Jesus Christ as the revelation of the Father. Christ testifies that the scriptures are all about him. They are Christocentric and every word they contain was or will be fulfulled in Christ (Luke 24:44). Scripture is the bedrock and norm or everything including itself. Scripture interprets Scripture, or Sola Scriptura.

B Inerrency of scripture is a statement of faith. Just like the universal church, the Una Sancta, is a statement of faith. Ultimately you cannot “prove” revelation. Like the message of the Gospel, revelation is accepted or rejected. The Nicene Creed states in the 2nd article that “on the third day He rose again accoring to the Scriptures” putting forward the Scriptures as the valid and true testimony of Christ. It also holds in the 3rd article the “Holy Spirit… who spoke by the prophets” which affirms the old testament Scriptures. The creeds, the rule of faith and the summation of the scriptural witness which we confess, hold the scriptural testimony to be true.

C. Our recent Synod’s writings on inerrency give a fully rounded view. This link takes you to the Commision on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) document on “The Inspiration of Scripture. Pages 10-11 address inerrancy. The money paragraph in my mind is the quotation in II.A.2 (p 11):

Inspiration was not mechanical dictation but rather an operation of the Holy Spirit
that allowed a function to each author’s individuality in writing the Scriptures.
Therefore the predication of inerrancy to the Bible does not imply that when the
New Testament reproduces and applies Old Testament statements this must
always occur by means of verbatim quotations, or that there must be verbal
correspondence between parallel accounts of the same event wherever they are
found either in the Old or the New Testament.
Each writer inerrantly imparted God’s truth as the Holy Spirit moved him to do so
in his own way, from his own perspective, and for his own purposes. Far from
impugning the veracity of the Scriptures this multidimensional application of
whatsoever was spoken aforetime and this multidimensional view of events
reported serves to impart more fully the truth which God reveals for the
edification of His people. The Biblical conception of inspiration does not see
these differences as errors, but as inspired variety which we should recognize
with thanksgiving and study prayerfully imploring the Spirit’s help so that we may
receive all the instruction He wishes to imparts.

This is getting a little long, so I’ll stop there. If anything is really unclear, let me know, or if anyone wants to take me to task.