How real? What kind of real? What about Near Death Experiences (NDEs)?
Especially over the past fifty years millions of NDEs have been reported. Most have a similar pattern–of a kind of tunnel, of light, of serenity.
What kind of real is this? What is the source, the cause, the explanation, the meaning?
1. Oxygen deprivation, as during a heart attack, can produce such experiences.
2. LSD can produce such experiences.
3. Most significantly, such experiences are found in other religions than Christianity.
4. Very, very few report a bad experience.
Luther spoke of a vision of Christ that appeared to him on Good Friday:
“Christ once appeared visible here on earth . . . and according to the divine purpose of God finished the work of redemption. . . . I do not desire that he should come again in the same manner, nor that he would send an angel to me. No, even if an angel would appear before my eyes, it would not add to my belief; for I have my Savior, bond and seal; I have his Word, Spirit, and sacrament; on these I depend, and desire no new revelations. And the more steadfastly to confirm me in this resolution to hold solely by God’s Word and not to give credit to any visions or revelations, I tell you what happened to me: On Good Friday last, I was in my room in fervent prayer when suddenly appeared upon the wall a bright vision of our Savior Christ, with the five wounds, steadfastly looking upon me, as if it had been Christ himself corporally. At first sight, I thought it was some celestial revelation, but I reflected that it must be an illusion and juggling of the devil, for Christ appeared to us in his Word, and in a meaner more humble form; therefore I spoke to the vision: Away with you, confounded devil: I know no other Christ than he who was crucified, and who in his Word is pictured and presented to me. Whereupon the image vanished, clearly showing of whom it came” (WATR 1:287, 8-27; emphasis added).
Luther often cited 2 Corinthians 11:14: “… even the devil disguises himself as an angel of light.”
But, we ask: Doesn’t God still do miracles? To be sure, He does. The only problem is to sort out where. Begin here: A team of medical professionals is resident at Lourdes to guarantee that there are no natural causes for the Marian “miracles” still occurring at Lourdes. And recall Luke 16:31, the point of this parable: “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.”
Again we ask: But NDEs comfort, help—how can you object? The answer: The cross and resurrection are more than enough; here is true comfort. How can we risk a supplement, a diversion (2 Corinthians 11: 14)? And life as co-heirs with Him is simply far more than all our imaginings, all NDEs (1 Corinthians 2:9; Ephesians 3:20 KJV).
Is there not, then, we ask finally, some kind of new revelation, extra revelation, something extra just for you and me? As Raymond E. Brown points out in his famous commentary on the Gospel of John: John 16:13 must not be taken out of its context in John 16:14-15. As in John 14:26 and 15:26, the Holy Spirit does not bring new revelation. His job is merely to re-present Christ. The cross and resurrection of Christ are enough.
Sharing Communion by 2017 between Lutherans and Roman Catholics!?
Munib Younan, LWF President: “Our intention is to arrive at 2017 with a common Roman Catholic-Lutheran declaration on Eucharistic hospitality.”
That’s in “…the far and ultimately unreachable distance,” stated Walter Cardinal Kasper in his official capacity as head of the Vatican department, The Pontifical Council For Promoting Christian Unity.
For Rome sharing communion is “unreachable” if a church has women bishops – as Kasper warned the bishops of the Church of England in 2006.
“Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church Communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office,” Kasper said.
He added that communing together is also impossible: “The shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance.”
Was Younan implying the LWF will stop ordaining women bishops? Or is he simply clueless?
You can’t make this stuff up.
Luigi Sandri, “Lutheran Leader seeks Communion agreement with Pope,” The Christian Century, 12/17/2010.
But isn’t the film close enough? Isn’t it at least better than most Hollywood productions? Gets a useful discussion about the Bible going?
The only question is: Who is God in this film? Yes, the name “the Creator” is used and the word “God” occurs. But the “Covenant God,” the
God who creates a world based on the covenant He first makes with Adam and Eve (the tree of life and all that), then with Noah (symbolized by the rainbow),
Is missing, or at least so much on the fringe of things that it requires reinterpretation of the film to find it. The God of the Bible, the God alone who establishes
Justice and mercy through His covenant, does not allow any substitutes, even fringe gods (idols), even somewhat gods ( a la this film).
The ordinary viewer cannot help be misled. After all, isn’t there some echo of the Biblical account? Some echo is not good enough.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” not even somewhat gods.
ELCA Presiding Bishop Eaton and “the cross”
What kind of Lutheran is Elizabeth Eaton, the new ELCA Presiding Bishop?
Outgoing Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson says of her: “She is a wise theologian committed to a strong Lutheran evangelical witness….”
To be sure, she’s known to point to the cross:
“On our own we are helpless and lost. We cannot effect our deliverance. We are, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “like prisoners who must wait for someone from the outside to unlock our cell.” The death of Jesus has done that. That is our core belief. That is the faith. It is Christ and Christ crucified that is the unshakeable foundation of the church.”
“Lutherans have a history of living with paradox. There are some things that are nonnegotiable for us. But there are other things that it is possible for people who love Jesus holding the same faith together, can have very strong, very sharp disagreements, but it does not have to lead to disunity. Things like marriage or the ordering of government or certain political positions, we can and we do disagree, but we agree on the cross.”
Eaton affirms “the cross” and she supports major ELCA agendas, including but not limited to, changing the ELCA constitution in 1999 to require an Episcopal, sacramental priesthood, supporting the 2009 decision to approve gay marriage and families, altering God-language to comply with feminist objections as found in the ELCA hymnal, Evangelical Lutheran Worship.
The problem is:
What is “the cross”? Don’t all Christians “agree on the cross”? Isn’t the cross “the unshakeable foundation” of all Christian churches, not just Lutherans?
Lutheran identity is not a matter of waving the cross more vigorously than Catholics or Baptists.
Rather, Luther rediscovered that salvation is all God’s doing. Now that cuts. It excludes semi-pelagianism in all its pious forms, both personal and institutional. It excludes revelation outside of the cross. It means that the only proper use of the cross is in proclaiming salvation in Christ alone, through the cross alone, by faith alone, through grace alone.
Properly used, “the cross” shows the edges of the gospel, edges which offend modern sensibilities as they did medieval ones. Properly used, “the cross” has necessary, real world consequences that cut.
What kind of Lutheran is Elizabeth Eaton? She’s like her predecessors: Hanson, Anderson, and Chilstrom. Richard Koenig, a prominent LCA Lutheran who died in 2011, put the ELCA problem succinctly:
“The ELCA knows all the Lutheran jargon and recites the epigrams regularly — Christ the center of the Scriptures, Law and Gospel, justification by faith alone, faith active in love — but in stuff coming from the headquarters, there’s no signal that anyone knows how to USE them.”
 The Lutheran, August 2013, p. 50. Bolding added for emphasis added here and hereafter.
 Northeast Iowa Synod Letter, Dec. 15, 2009, Bishop’s column
 Meet the Woman Who Will Lead Evangelical Lutherans: ‘Religious’ but not Spiritual” Time, Interview of Elizabeth Eaton by Elizabeth Diaz, August 18, 2013.
 Richard Koenig, www.crossings.org/Thursday/Thur091803.htm.
Christ the Center
The Predella of the
Cranach Altar Triptych
This painting is the bottom panel of the Cranach altar in Wittenberg’s Town Church. It is the best known among the altar’s paintings and shows Luther in the pulpit preaching the “Word of the Cross.” One hand is on the open Bible; the other points toward the crucifix as the incarnation of the Word of God. The cross, in central position, symbolizes the foundations on which religious life is built, and there is a wave in the loincloth revealing that Christ crucified is alive and present among us.
On the left, the congregation is gathered – Luther’s family with Katharina von Bora holding their son Hans by the hand. The girl with the round face behind them might be Magdalena, a daughter who died at a young age. The man with the full long beard in the background is Lucas Cranach “the Elder” who has deliberately chosen to join the Protestant group. The narrow red band around Luther’s neck is reminiscent of a cardinal’s collar as if to make Luther the secret bishop of the Protestant church. A comparison of the two wings of the Cranach triptych and the bottom panel reveals the same interior design, making the altar a uniform and compact whole.
“The distinctive character of current Lutheranism, however, is largely the result of its continuing search for its own roots in the Reformation and Luther’s thought itself. Beginning in about the 1840s, when J.C.K. von Hofmann appealed to Luther in the argument over atonement, Luther was for the first time set against Lutheran orthodoxy on a substantive doctrinal issue (Hirsch, 1954, vol. 5, p. 427) and the uniqueness of Luther’s own thought began to emerge as a viable alternative.”
 Forde, “Lutheranism,” Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Ed. Alister McGrath (Cambridge, MA; Blackwell, 1993) 357; emphasis added.
April 29, 2013
The Canon of Scripture: A Guide for the Perplexed
“The insistence that scripture interprets itself is simply the hermeneutical
correlate of justification by faith alone.”
10:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Holy Nativity Lutheran Church, 3900 Winnetka Ave No., New Hope, MN
Sign up by contacting one of the three people below:
Stew Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org (651-207-3939)
Brad Jenson email@example.com (218-625-2430)
Meg Madson firstname.lastname@example.org (763-475-0577)
Sponsored by The CrossAlone District of LCMC
 Forde, “Authority in the Church: The Lutheran Reformation,” A More Radical Gospel: Essays on Eschatology, Authority, Atonement, and Ecumenism, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) 66.