Rev. Wilhelm Petersen
1965 Synod Convention Essay
We are living in a changing world that hasn’t changed. In this changing world tremendous strides have been made in the fields of science, medicine, and engineering. As a result, we enjoy conveniences and a standard of living unprecedented in the annuals of history. Because of modern means of travel man can get from one part of the world to the other in just a matter of hours. We may even live to see a man put on the moon! What further accomplishments will be made in the future — whether they will be for the good or ill of mankind — remains to be seen.
But this changing world hasn’t changed. It is the same corrupt world it was on the day that Christ said of it: “Light is come into the world, and man loved darkness, rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It is as true of the world today as it was of the time when the Psalmist wrote: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against the anointed, saying, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us’” (Ps. 2:2,3). The reason that the world has not changed is that man carries in his bosom a heart which “is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). It is out of this heart that there “proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). This accounts for the distress amongst nations, the breakdown of morals within our country, the riots and demonstrations which are getting so commonplace, the intensification of crime, and the gradual departure on the part of many from the revealed Word of our Lord.
It is, then, in this changing-yet-unchanged world that we find ourselves today. How shall we meet the problems of these changing times? As Lutheran people we can do no better than to turn to the Word of God which not only is up-to-date, but as Daniel March has put it, “is so progressive as to be in advance of the most enlightened age.” In this Word we find edification and direction; here our gracious God assures us of His Love and tender concern for us; here he reminds us of the purpose of our lives, namely to glorify Him; here He tells us that while we shall have tribulation in this world, yet we can be of good cheer because He has overcome the world; here we are assured of a blessed hereafter in the mansions of heaven.
The topic of this paper is THE LUTHERAN LAYMAN IN A MODERN WORLD. When we speak of the Lutheran layman we do not mean to say, or imply, that only Lutherans are Christians and that only Lutherans will be saved, for then we would be guilty of false doctrine from the outset. Nor when we speak of the Lutheran layman do we mean to overlook, or slight, the women and young people who firmly cling to, and rejoice over, the doctrines of the Lutheran church. We use the word “Lutheran” because we are Lutherans and are convinced that the Lutheran church according to its Confession teaches the Word of God in its truth and purity.
As Lutherans we have received a rich and glorious heritage. THE WORD ALONE — GRACE ALONE — FAITH ALONE are the principles upon which the Lutheran church is built. These were the principles which Martin Luther, whose name we bear, restored to the church, principles which for many years had been hidden under the rubbish of man-made doctrine. As Lutherans, we believe that a Lutheran doctrine must be a Bible doctrine. As Lutherans, we want to have the conviction which characterized the Lutheran laymen at the time of the Reformation. They were not ashamed of their faith.
When challenged by the emperor, layman Margrave George of Brandenburg exclaimed, “Rather than allow the Word of the Lord to be taken from me, rather than deny my God, I would kneel down before your majesty and have my head chopped off.”
John the Constant was not vacillating when he said, “I am resolved to do what is right, without troubling myself about my crown. I want to confess my Lord. My electoral hat and ermine are not as precious to me as the cross of Jesus Christ. I shall leave these marks of my eminence on earth, but my Master’s cross will transport me to heaven.”
As Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt, affixed his signature to the Augsburg Confession he said: “If the honor of my Lord Jesus requires it, I am ready to saddle my horse, leave goods and life behind, and rush into eternity to an everlasting crown. I would rather leave the country of my ancestors, staff in hand, rather my bread by shining the shoes of strangers, than to receive any other doctrine than that which is contained in this Confession.”
When ridiculed because of his Lutheran faith, a famous man said: “If I be asked whether with heart and lips I confess that faith which God has restored to us by Luther as His instrument, I have no scruple, nor have I a disposition to shrink from the name Lutheran. Thus understood, I am, and shall to my dying hour remain, a Lutheran.”
Such conviction and fearless testimony ought to be an inspiration to us as we live in this modern world. As Lutherans, we need not be ashamed of our heritage and testimony, for we possess the unalterable truth of God. In this paper we want to remind ourselves just who this Lutheran layman is in the sight of God, what he has been called to do, what challenge he must meet in this changing world.
Who This Laymen Is In the Sight of God
It is important that we realize who we are in this modern world. From the Word of God we learn that we are by nature lost and condemned sinners, but by God’s grace we have been redeemed by the atoning work of Christ and brought to faith by the gracious operation of the Holy Ghost through the Gospel. St. Paul writing to the laity of Ephesus told them that by nature they “were dead in trespasses and sins” and therefore “were by nature the children of wrath,” but that “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace are ye saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:1–6).
A Lutheran layman, then, is one who believes that he is a sinner saved by God’s grace. But he is more than this: Because of his redemption in Christ Jesus he, together with all other true Christians, is a spiritual priest in the sight of God. Peter wrote to the Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (I Pet. 2:9a). And in the Book of Revelation the divine writer says of Jesus that He “hath made us kings and priests unto God.” Holding this wonderful position, the individual Christian has direct access to the Father and is entitled, by God’s grace, to all of the rights and privileges of God’s children. This has been expressed very simply and strikingly in a hymn which has become a favorite in our circles,
Jesus, in Thy cross are centered
All the marvels of Thy grace;
Thou, my Savior, once hast entered
Through Thy blood an holy place:
Thy sacrifice holy there wrought my redemption
From Satan’s dominion I now have exemption;
The way is now free to the Father’s high throne,
Where I may approach him, in Thy name alone.
It was this scriptural doctrine of the royal priesthood of all believers which Martin Luther restored to the Church through the Reformation. It is important that we be reminded of this truth in this modern world because there are many within the visible Christian church who neither know nor appreciate this blessed teaching of God’s Word. Several years ago, the sainted Stuart Dorr delivered a synodical essay on THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS. In this paper he pointed out what much of Christendom has done with this clear and comforting teaching of the Bible. vVe quote from Pastor Dorr’s paper:
We are kings and priests before God because of the fact that God in His limitless grace gave us Jesus, the Savior, and because God gives Him to us simply by leading us to believe in Him through the Gospel. And it is also clear, then, that the farther a person gets away from this central truth of Scripture the more priests he is going to interpose between himself and God. Consider, e.g., the system of the Pope of Rome. He teaches the people that Christ did not perfectly redeem them, that the way to God is not altogether opened, not completely cleared of sin. So, says the Pope, in effect, let me clear it for you. Here, I shall give you a priest who is properly accredited with God; I’ll just put him in between you and God, and he will properly arrange things, what with saying masses, etc., so that God will know about you and will take pity on you. And because you will be wishing to do some praying to God yourself, let me recommend the saints to you; they have a good standing before God; before you knock on God’s door, you knock on theirs first; they will issue you some credentials that will get you safely into God’s house. … But the Pope is not alone in this thing. A good part of Protestantism is saddled with human authority of one kind or another. You do not have to have much of an awareness of what is going on in the religious world to know something of how preachers and bishops and congregations and synods and conferences, and what not, are forever handing down rules and regulations which are supposed to be binding upon a man in his relations to God. In fact, every denial of any part of the Gospel is just so much return to slavery, the slavery of sin and of the devil; it is just so much chipping away at this perfect liberty which God has given us in Christ. It is lessening, a weakening, of the royal priesthood of believers. … We can come still closer to home. A great many who bear the name ‘Lutheran,’ because they let this or that becloud the glory of salvation by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith, have set up systems which interpose man and human beings between God and the believer. They have done it on a congregational level; they have done it on other levels. And on every level it is wrong. For to seek to take away from any Christian his royal priesthood in any degree is to seek to rob him of the sweet certainty that there is no barrier between him and God any more. To take away this or that privilege from a Christian, privileges which God has bestowed upon him as a king and a priest, is to tell him by deeds and words that Christ has not perfectly cleared the path to God for him.
We hope and pray that the lay people of our Synod will always appreciate the Lutheran doctrine of the royal priesthood of all believers in this modern world. How comforting to know that in this changing-yet-unchanged world we can go directly to our gracious Lord at any time and in any place to make known our wants and needs, to beseech His divine guidance and protection, and to be assured of His fatherly kindness and love. To be constantly aware of this truth will make us happy, confident Christians.
Someone may ask, “Well, if we are all priests in the sight of God, then why do we have the office of the ministry in our midst, and why is it so important?” God has not left that question unanswered. In Eph. 4:11 we read: “And he gave some, apostles, and some, prophets, and some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” The office of the ministry is a special gift of God to the spiritual priests. This purpose of the ministry is, as Paul points out, “to edify the body of Christ.” The “body of Christ” consists of true believers in Christ. There is, then, no conflict between the fact that the individual believer is a priest before God and the fact that the Lord has also arranged for the public ministry of the Word. This does not mean that some of the rights and privileges have been taken away from the spiritual priest; neither does it mean that the one who occupies the office of the ministry has more authority, or power, or stands on a higher plane before God than the individual priest. “One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matt. 23:8). Or as a prime minister of England has put it, “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross.”
Dr. Walther in his book The Church and the Ministry points out the difference between the relationship of the spiritual priesthood of all believers and the divine institution of the holy ministry when he writes: “The holy ministry is the authority which God transfers to certain men who by their public ministry are to exercise all the prerogatives of the spiritual priesthood on behalf of the congregation; this the Lord does through the agency of the congregation, which is vested with the spiritual priesthood and the Office of the Keys.” Again, “The holy ministry, or the ministerial office, is an office distinct from the priestly office which all believers possess.”
There are, however, those who have come to some wrong conclusions because they fail to distinguish properly between the spiritual priesthood of believers and the office of the ministry. Some have exalted the public ministry in such a way as to restrict the preaching of the Gospel to pastors only. This is the erroneous view of the papacy and of all Romanizing Protestants, who say that only the priests, or pastors, can forgive sins, while lay people have no right to teach since they are only to hear and obey. Others have exalted the spiritual priesthood of all Christians in such a way that they have denied the divine institutions of the public ministry. The Quakers, for example, reject the doctrine that the Word should be proclaimed by ministers who have been especially called by the Christian congregations because they regard the called and ordained ministry as a limitation of the free activity of the Holy Ghost. For this reason they allow no kind of preaching other than that which is the function of all Christians as they are moved by the Spirit. This explains their silent meetings at which no one speaks until he has received the “inner light.” If no one is impelled to speak by the “inner voice,” they return home though not a single word has been uttered.
The Lutheran Church believes in the spiritual priesthood of all believers and in the divine institution of the public ministry. The royal priesthood is a private thing. It comes as a result of being a believer in Jesus and in no other way. The public ministry, on the other hand, is public; that is, it is exercised in a public way, on behalf of others. The one who occupies the office of the ministry is called by spiritual priests to preach the Word publicly in their midst, administer the Sacraments publicly in their name, to instruct the children, administer to the sick, do mission work in their area, all in their name, on their behalf, at their request.
Martin Luther has summed it all up very nicely when he writes:
Here the power of absolution is given to all Christians, although some, like the pope, bishops, priests, and monks, have appropriated it to themselves alone. They say publicly and shamelessly that this power is given to them alone and not to the layman as well. But Christ is speaking here (i.e., John 20:19–31) neither of priests nor monks. On the contrary, He says: ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ This power is given to him who has the Holy Ghost, that is, to him who is a Christian. But who is a Christian? He who believes. He who believes has the Holy Ghost. Therefore every Christian has the power … to retain or to remit sins. Now perhaps I shall hear the question: I may, then, baptize, preach, administer the Sacrament of the Altar? No. St. Paul says: ‘Let all things be done decently and in order’ (I Cor. 14:40). If everybody wanted to hear confession, to baptize, to administer the Sacrament, how unseemly that would be! Again, if everybody desired to preach, who would listen? If we were all to preach at the same time, what a confused chattering that would be, such as you now hear among the frogs! Therefore it should be thus: the congregation chooses a suitable person who administers the Sacrament, preaches, hears confession, and baptizes. To be sure, all of us possess this power; but no one except him who is chosen by the congregation to do so should presume to practice it publicly. In private, I certainly may use this power. If, for instance, my neighbor comes and says: ‘My friend, I am burdened in conscience, speak a word of absolution to me’: then I am at liberty to do so. But in private, I say, this must be done. If I wanted to sit in the church, another man, too, and we all wanted to hear confession, what rhyme or reason would there be in such conduct? Take an illustration. When a nobleman has many heirs, one is chosen, with the consent of all the others, who alone has the rule on behalf of the others. For what would happen if everybody wanted to rule over a country and its people?
We would close this first section of the paper with a comment on the proper relationship between the individual member of the congregation and the one who occupies the office of the ministry in the congregation. As one reads the Epistles, he is impressed with the bond of affection which existed between the early apostles and the lay people. “My beloved brethren” Paul writes to the Corinthians. “Dearly beloved” Peter writes to the Christians in Asia Minor. In the Book of Acts we read of how the people of Ephesus wept when Paul told them that he was leaving them. So, the ideal situation is that of mutual affection and respect between the lay people and the pastor, the pastor regarding his flock as a heritage of the Lord consisting of blood bought souls to be fed with the pure Word of God; the congregation looking upon the pastor as one sent by God to feed their souls. Then the work of the Kingdom will truly prosper!
The Lutheran Layman and the Great Commission in this Modern World
What This Commission Is
The Lutheran layman, who is a spiritual priest in the sight of God, has a command from his Lord to go out into the world with the Gospel. We speak of this as the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19–20). This commission is addressed to everyone who calls himself, or herself, after Christ. That is the work which the Lord wants us to be doing for Him until He comes in glory on the Last Day.
There is a legend which says that when Christ ascended into heaven He called the holy angels together and told them how He had descended to earth and worked out eternal salvation for mankind by perfectly fulfilling the law of God and by suffering and dying on the cross for the sins of the world; and how He had ascended into heaven to prepare an everlasting home for man; how it was His plan that His followers on earth were to spread the message of salvation to the world. Then one of the angels asked Him, “But what if your followers do not make known the Gospel of salvation, then what are your plans?” “I have no other plans,” replied the Savior.
That is just a legend, but it does point out the responsibility which we have as followers of the Lord. A true Lutheran layman will recognize his privilege and responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission. As lay people, scattered throughout several states, varied in background, engaged in different types of earthly work, we have ONE common interest, namely the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation is the glorious heritage of each one of us. Because of the abundant grace of God, this Gospel has been handed down to us in its truth and purity. We sing of this in one of our treasured hymns,
God’s Word is our great heritage,
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor;
Through life it guides our way,
In death it is our stay;
Lord grant, while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure,
Throughout all generations.
This hymn very eloquently describes the comfort and the guidance which the Gospel gives us in life and in death, and it also points out our obligation to preserve it pure and unadulterated and to spread it to others.
We notice in the Great Commission what kind of a Gospel the Lord asks us to proclaim: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Many church leaders and churches in this modern world have overlooked this fact; consequently much mission work today is wasted time and energy. Unless we proclaim a Gospel in its truth and purity we will not truly build the kingdom of God.
In our Synod’s Explanation we have this question and answer which pin-points the mission of the church: “What is the mission of the church?” Answer: “It is the mission of the church faithfully to preserve the means of grace pure and unadulterated, to use them diligently for its own edification, and to bring them to all who do not yet belong to the kingdom of God.” — Home and Foreign Missions. Notice that the first mission of the church is “to preserve the means of grace pure and unadulterated.” This is certainly in keeping with the Great Commission to teach all things that the Lord has commanded us. And it is not coincidental that the very first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is Hallowed Be THY NAME. In our Catechism we learned that we hallow God’s name when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity and we as children of God lead holy lives in accordance with it.
Knowing What the Gospel Is
If we, as lay people, are to preserve and spread a pure Gospel, it is important that we know what this Gospel is and that we are able to distinguish between true and false doctrine. That is the command of the Lord Himself. It belongs to the general priesthood of believers that they judge and decide matters of doctrine according to the Word of God. It is important for us to realize this as we are living in times when many people couldn’t care less about doctrine. To many people a church is a church, and they are not too concerned with what that church teaches.
In the well-known Sermon on the Mount, which was spoken to lay people, our Lord Jesus told them to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.” And then He told them how to recognize them, namely “by their fruits,” i.e., by what they teach and say. The fact that He warns against false prophets certainly implies that they exist, for otherwise His warning would be ridiculous; and it also implies that the sheep should judge and distinguish between true and false prophets.
Dr. Walther, on an eighth Sunday after Trinity, preached a powerful sermon on this text, using as his theme, THE SHEEP JUDGE THEIR SHEPHERDS, pointing out that the sheep are the judges; that therefore they shall know the true doctrine and be steadfast in it; that they must not let themselves be deceived by a mere good appearance; and finally that they must above all look for the proper fruits. Here are a few excerpts from this sermon: “This admonition by the Son of God shows us plainly how entirely false the principle is that the preachers should teach and the hearers only listen, that the shepherds should lead and sheep only follow, that the clergy should resolve and the congregation only acquiesce. No, when Christ calls upon His hearers to beware of false prophets and to know the true and the false by their fruits, Christ thereby seats all hearers upon the seat of judgment and places the balance scale of truth in their hands, and bids them confidently execute judgment on their teachers.” Again: “Therefore in divine matters no one is excluded from the judicial office. All Christ’s sheep are judges, both learned and layman, man and wife. bachelor and spinster, young and old, for it concerns each one’s soul, his own soul, his own life, his own salvation.” Finally: “If you permit yourself to be deceived, you have deceived yourself. The responsibility is yours.”
Naturally, it follows that if they are to judge, they must know the doctrine of the Gospel. We can learn a lesson from the Bereans, of whom we read in the Book of Acts that they didn’t take everything at face value which Paul preached unto them. They checked his message out with the Old Testament scriptures, and Paul commended them very highly for this. He said of them: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so” (Acts 17:1).
The New Testament epistles also warn against false teachers and false doctrines, thus implying that lay people should be in a position to judge. Peter, writing to lay people scattered throughout Asia Minor said: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them” (II Pet. 2:1). And the Apostle John was writing to lay people when he wrote: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (I Jn. 4:1). And to the members of the congregation at Rome St. Paul wrote: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).
From this Scriptural evidence it is certainly clear that laymen should concern themselves with the matter of judging doctrine on the basis of the Word of God. So far as our modern world is concerned, we believe that we are living in those days of which the Bible speaks: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables” (II Tim. 4:3–4). We are living in times when much of the visible Christian church is riddled through and through with liberalism and modernism. By this we mean that many within the church question or deny many of the fundamental doctrines of Scripture using human reason as the test and guide, accepting only that which agrees with reason and politely discarding that which does not agree with their reason.
What do we mean by modernism? The Rt. Rev. James Pike, an Episcopal bishop of California, was quoted in the Oct. 12, 1964, issue of the San Francisco Examiner as saying that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was one of the “outdated, incomprehensible, and non-essential” teachings of the church that keep many people from accepting Christianity.
Just think of it! A man claiming to be a Christian theologian holding a high position in the church, an ardent advocate of the ecumenical movement, calling the doctrine of the blessed Trinity “non-essential”!
A very recent book on the theological market is one entitled Honest to God by John T. Robinson, the Anglican Bishop of Wookwich. In this book Bishop Robinson writes:
In the last century a painful but decisive step forward was taken in the recognition that the Bible does contain ‘myth,’ and that this is an important form of religious truth. It was gradually acknowledged, by all except extreme fundamentalists, that the Genesis stories of the Creation and Fall were representations of the deepest truths about man and the universe in the form of myth rather than history, and were none the less valid for that. Indeed, it was essential to the defense of Christian truth to recognize and assert that these stories were not history, and not therefore in competition with the alternative accounts of anthropology or cosmology (pp. 32–33).
Robinson also rejects such Christian doctrines as the Incarnation and Atonement of Christ. He writes:
The whole scheme of a supernatural Being coming down from heaven to ‘save’ mankind from sin, in the way that a man might put his finger into a glass of water, is frankly incredible to man ‘come of age,’ who no longer believes in such a deus ex machina.
He further says:
The ‘full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world’ supposed to have been ‘made’ on Calvary requires, I believe, for most men today more demythologizing even than the Resurrection (pp. 78–79).
In the May 7, 1965, issue of Christianity Today there was an article entitled “Promoters of Doubt or Builders of Faith?” written by a conservative Baptist pastor and instructor in which he points out that many Protestant colleges and seminaries today have departed from their original purpose of building faith and instead are now promoting doubt. He writes:
One of the greatest shocks of my carne when I transferred from a state college to a church-related college. The main reason for my transfer was my desire to study the Bible and liberal arts in a Christian atmosphere. I soon discovered, however, that the church-related college may be more critical of the Bible and Christian theology than the state college. In fact, I gained the impression that the liberal minister who taught me philosophy was trying to outdo the agnostic and atheist, although this doubtless was not his deliberate intention. Later on when I graduated from college and enrolled in a liberal seminary, I discovered that the seminary was even more critical of the Bible than either the state college or the church-related college. Every Christian doctrine that I held and still hold dear was criticized and discarded by some of my liberal seminary professors. The creation accounts in Genesis were neatly discredited as being the work of two authors who were labeled “J and P.” Adam’s fall and the doctrine of original sin were charged to the psychology of the ancient Jew. The account of Noah and the flood was shrewdly undermined by pointing to the that the Babylonians also had a flood story. The Red Sea’s opening for the children of Israel to escape from the Egyptians was said to be merely a legendary explanation of Israel’s escape from Egyptian bondage. The account of the sun’s standing still for Joshua was said to be an error on the part of the author of the Book of Joshua. Jonah in the belly of the whale was relegated to ancient mythology. The three Hebrews in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lion’s den were labeled Maccabean propaganda. The virgin birth of Jesus was laid to early Christian piety. The miracles Jesus did were either outright lies or charged to Jesus’ psychological power. The crucifixion of Jesus was said to be only Roman execution and not atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus was said to be not the Lamb of God but just a great moral teacher. And his resurrection was termed a hallucination of the disciples or a carry-over from mystery religions.
After six years of this kind of liberal Christian education, I received two degrees and was turned loose on a church … When I left the seminary, I did not believe in the Bible; I did not believe that the blood of Jesus washed away my sins; I did not believe that the Church is a divine institution; I did not believe in heaven or hell. In short, I did not believe in anything that could not be supported by human reason — that is, by my own reason. And the sad part of it all was that I was proud of my attitude; after all, was I not a product of a liberal Christian education?
My sermons and addresses were filled with liberal teaching. I never preached on the Atonement, the Resurrection, or any of the other cardinal Christian doctrines. I suppose one could say that my sermons were more or less lectures on ethics. After the first few months of my pastorate, my parishoners got tired of listening to me and stayed home, and even I got bored with my essays on ethics. And then toward the end of my first pastorate I was re-enlightened, thanks to the working of the Holy Spirit … After my re-enlightenment, my preaching changed from that cold lecturing to warm proclamation of the good news of God … Thus, my experience in a liberal church-related college and a liberal seminary was of little benefit to me as a Christian minister. However, my experience was and is shared by many other young people. If someone were to make a survey of all the graduates and students of liberal Protestant schools, he might be surprised to discover that the majority of them do not believe in the cardinal doctrines of the Church.
These, then, are a few examples of crass liberalism and modernism which openly and boldly reject the Christian faith — and this, mind you, in the Protestant church.
An even greater danger to the church in this modern world is “neo-orthodoxy.” This is more subtle and deceptive than outspoken modernism because it looks and sounds quite orthodox in that it seems to accept the teachings of historical Christianity. Pastor Blegen in a paper “The Inerrancy of Scripture” which was delivered at the Lutheran Free Conference last summer in Waterloo, Iowa, described neo-orthodoxy as “a sort of hybrid of modernistic thought and the old redemptive religion of authority. It is agreed that man is a sinner, but historic Christianity is not defensible at the bar of reason, and the Bible is not an infallible rule of faith and practice.” Nee-orthodoxy speaks highly of the Bible, but does not believe that it is God’s verbally inspired Word. It speaks of “errors” and “contradictions” in the Bible. Karl Barth, who is considered to be the champion of neo-orthodoxy in his Kitchlicke Dogmatik (Christian Dogmatics) says that the “Bible is all the way through fallible human words. The fallibility of the Bible, that is to say its liability to mistakes, also covers its religious, that is, its theological content.” Again: “According to the witness of the Scriptures about man, which also refers to the prophets and apostles, they could err, and they also have erred … but precisely with this fallible and erring human word they have spoken the Word of God.”
Emil Brunner, another neo-orthoxist, speaks of “verbal inspiration with all its disastrous results” and he criticizes the Reformers by saying that they “were wrong when they made the biblical doctrine their final unassailable authority by identifying the word of God with the word of the Bible” (Theological Quarterly, October 1951).
Neo-orthodoxy regards the Bible to be a medium, record, and witness of God’s word. According to neo-orthodoxy, it is up to the individual to decide just what is the Word of God and what is not. According to them, the Bible is not objective truth and therefore not the authoritative Word of God. To neo-orthodoxy, the Bible becomes the Word of God only when it strikes a responsive chord in the heart.
The following quotation pretty well sums up what neo-orthodoxy has done to the Bible. A seminary professor, Ronald Osborn, writes in an article “Up From Emancipation” found in The Pulpit, November, 1960:
I have too many questions about the life of prayer in a world of sciences, especially in a world so conscious of psychology, to give myself unreservedly to the kind of devotion which antedated our present sophistication … I am also emancipated from Biblicism … The old-timers in our churches could give a chapter-and-verse for everything we did and demanded a proof text for every proposed innovation. The Bible was the infallible Word of God, and all man had to do was obey. It is a far cry from this old ‘cover-to-cover’ faith to the knowledge of the Bible which I share with others in the seminary community. The impact of natural science, of evolutionary thought, of historical criticism, of demythologizing, have left us with a Bible utterly unlike the Book our mothers read … I find that the Bible is still a powerful emotional symbol and that a good many ministers — perhaps even I — resort to a proof text when trying to dragoon reluctant laymen into the support of missions or the practice of tithing … While I confess that the passing of the old-line generally recognized authority of the Bible has left popular Protestantism with a gaping hole in its foundations, I must say in all honesty that old Biblicism is washed up and I cannot seek to revive it.
Neo-orthodoxy has also crept into the Lutheran church. The Lutheran Church of America has long been on record as rejecting the verbal inspiration of the Bible. A book highly recommended in that body, Read and Live, by Dr. John Brokhoff states: “The Bible has a human side. It is true that the Bible came from God, but it must be remembered that God used men in the writing of the Bible … On its human side the Bible has its errors and contradictions.”
Prof. Warren Quanbeck of the American Lutheran Church writing in a book Theology in the Life of the Church speaks of God’s revelation to man taking place in acts rather than in words when he says, “God’s revelation has taken place in events, the culminating event being the incarnation of the Word in Jesus the Messiah. Through these events God gives Himself to those who respond in faith.” In other statements by Professor Quanbeck it is apparent that he does not believe that there is such a thing as revealed truth. He believes that before one can determine what truth is, one must use the critical process which, as he says, “requires trained literary skills, and sensitive qualities of appreciation.” If that were true, then we could not be sure of our salvation, for — as Prof. B.W. Teigen said in his paper “Scripture as Revelation” delivered at the Free Conference — “it may take some time and considerable study before one can find the answer to the question, What must I do to be saved? And if such a one thinks he has found it, he may be mistaken, since he may be lacking ‘trained literary skills and sensitive qualities of appreciation.’”
With this sort of theological thinking going on within Lutheranism, it is not surprising that the Lutheran World Federation which met in Helsinki in 1963 could not agree on the central doctrine of the Bible, namely that a poor, lost sinner is justified by grace alone through faith. Even the secular Time magazine in its August 23, 1963, issue noted: “The doctrine of justification by faith alone was the keystone of the Reformation. Although modified in various ways by Calvinists and Anabaptists, justification by faith was accepted by every Protestant church. But at Helsinki, justification and its meaning for modern man came in for some questioning.” And Dr. Gerhard Gloege of Bonn University was quoted as saying: “It is an open secret that today neither the church nor the world knows what to do with this doctrine of justification. For the fathers it was the fountain and rule of faith and life. For the church today it is clearly an embarrassment.”
Even in the Missouri Synod, which for many years stood as a bulwark against all liberalism, today there are some professors and pastors who question or deny Scriptural truths. A few years ago Dr. Martin Sharlemann, a professor at Concordia Seminary, delivered a paper in which he stated: “In this paper I propose to defend the paradox that the Book of God’s truth contains errors.” And in the Missouri Synod now there is a controversy going on between liberals and conservatives over such doctrines as the verbal inspiration of the Bible, the creation account in the book of Genesis, the immortality of the soul, the question of church fellowship, to mention a few.
Why have I gone to such lengths to point out all this? If we are to be obedient to Christ’s command to teach all things whatsoever He has commanded us we must know what is going on in the visible church. Surely, we do not delight in criticizing and finding fault, but when God’s truth is at stake, we have no other recourse than to point out, to testify against, and to separate ourselves from, doctrinal error. God’s Word demands of us that we “prove all things” and that we “test the spirits.” We are to judge them by their fruits, that is, by what they teach and preach and write. (We do not point this out in a pharisaical attitude, “God, we thank Thee that we arc not as others,” but in humble gratitude that by God’s grace we have been preserved from the doctrinal confusion which exists in so much of the visible Christian church.)
How the Layman Can Do His Part to Fulfill the Great Commission in His Local Congregation
Having shown from the Bible that a vital part of the Great Commission is to preserve a pure Gospel and that a Lutheran layman must know what this Gospel is so that he may be able to judge between true and false doctrine, let us now consider how the layman in a positive way can promote and extend the Gospel and thus do his part in helping to fulfill the command to preach the Gospel to others.
First of all, the Lutheran layman can do his part by being a faithful and active member of his local congregation. It is here that he uses the means of grace for his own edification. It is here that the Gospel is preached to him and the Sacraments administered. Believing that he is but a stranger and pilgrim merely traveling through this world, he will regard his church as a very precious place, an oasis on the highway of life where he may find rest and refreshment for his soul. With the Psalmist he will say of his church: “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth” (Ps. 26:8).
It is also in the congregation that the layman has opportunity to use his God-given talents in the service of the Lord. If a congregation is to do its work effectively in a community, it needs consecrated laymen to give willingly of their time, energy, and talents. A church is really a business, a big business, the greatest business in the world, the results of which will be seen throughout all eternity. In tins business, offices must be filled; bills must be paid; projects must be promoted. The church needs to keep up with the times in its business and administrative affairs. A truly living church can be an effective instrument of the Holy Spirit in building up the Church of Christ so that souls may be saved. In fact, a church exists for one purpose, namely to save blood-bought souls, and the layman has been called to be a partner in that blessed work.
In our modern world the cost of church work is also spiraling. The Lutheran layman will respond to this by giving generously of his means so that the work of the Gospel may be effectively carried on in his congregation. God has made it clear that the preaching of the Gospel should be supported by the free-will offerings of Christians. Lutheran lay people should see to it that their pastors are paid adequately so that they can do their work without suffering want. Luther says: “My office is a service winch I should render to every one freely and without charge, so that I do not seek in it money or goods, honor or any other emolument … But surely, when I am attending to my ministry, it is your duty to guarantee my maintenance.” And Dr. Peiper remarks that the “public ministry is not a commercial enterprise, in which the price may be adjusted to suit the value of the merchandise, since it is utterly unthinkable to set a price on the holy Gospel. The treasure offered in the Word of God is so stupendous that, as it has been received freely, so it must also be dispensed freely; but the minister must certainly be remunerated for his labor.”
There is a story told of a Negro parson who had labored faithfully in his congregation without receiving any material remuneration. Finally, he appealed to his congregation for a stipulated salary. His parishioners were shocked at his audacity in asking for money. After a long silence one of them got up and said: “But, parson, de Holy Book tells us dat de water of life am free.” The parson, however, equal to the occasion, settled the matter by saying, “Dat’s true, brudder, but de congregation mus’ pay for de pipin.”
The matter of supporting the ministers of the Word is not optional with lay people, but has been clearly commanded by God. The Bible says, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel” (I Cor. 9:14). And “the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7).
In supporting the work of the local congregation it is not enough merely to give moral and financial support. We should also advertise our church by godly conduct so that people can see that Christ lives in us and that His Gospel is the most important thing in life. Jesus says, “Let your light so shine before men, that they see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Peter writing to the Christians in Asia Minor who were living among heathen people says, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles” (I Pet. 2:12) . Someone has said, “Be careful how you live; you may be the only Bible some people read.” He was but echoing what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Ye are our epistle … known and read of all men” (II Cor. 3:2).
There is a story told of a man in Ohio who came to a pastor’s office one day requesting membership in his church. He stated that his neighbor belonged to his church and that he was so impressed with the sincerity joy and zeal for his church that he wanted to be a part of it too. He said, “That family has something which is missing in our home.” Here is an example of Christian living preaching an effective sermon.
On the other hand, there is nothing that can do more harm to the Gospel than church people who do not live their faith. Not only is this a grievous sin against God, but it hinders people from coming into contact with the church. How often do we not hear, “Too many hypocrites in the church” — not that that is an excuse for not coming to church, but it does point out the harm which unchristian living can do to the church. Each one of us would do well to ask himself: “Am I leading a life that bespeaks the Gospel of Christ? Is my life leading someone to Christ, or away from Him?” The answers to these questions are very important because when the day of salvation is over, there are going to be two final, irrevocable sentences pronounced by our Lord: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matt. 25:21). Or else, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
In our modern world, we are a nation on wheels. People are constantly on the move. Upon moving to areas where there is no conservative Lutheran church the layman may explore the possibilities of starting a mission congregation. He can get in touch with the Mission Board who will be happy to look into any situation. That is why we such a Board. We read that when the early Christians were scattered abroad they “went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). We can learn from their example in this modern world.
How the Layman Can Do His Part in Fulfilling the Great Commission in the Synod
The Lutheran layman can help to do his part in fulfilling the Great Commission also by supporting the work of the Synod. The Great Commission demands of us that we bring the Gospel to as many places and to as many people as we possibly can. As individual members of a local congregation we are limited; we cannot go very far beyond our own community. But we can through our Synod, which consists of many congregations, bring the Gospel to others.
One of the purposes of a synod is to do together what would be almost impossible to do alone. By supporting a common treasury it is possible to maintain a school where pastors and teachers and missionaries are trained to go out and preach the Gospel. By supporting synodical work we can help establish and maintain mission congregations so that others can share the means of grace with us. “How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher: And how shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:14).
The Lutheran layman should be interested in synodical work because this is the Lord’s work. Our Synod exists for no other purpose than to do the Lord’s work. In order to do this work, our Synod meets annually to discuss and plan the work of the Kingdom. We need laymen to lend their counsel and to serve on committees and boards. The Synod needs the financial support of all the people if it is to do the Lord’s work effectively. Satan, who is the chief enemy of the Lord’s work, seeks to hinder it by driving a wedge between the congregation and the Synod, picturing the Synod as a group of men sitting behind closed doors making plans to our money. Unfortunately, the devil has been successful in advancing this image of the Synod to some lay people.
We need to remember that each one of us is the Synod. The Synod’s work is our work. True, the Synod does elect officers and boards to carry out its work, but they do this only on our behalf.
A recent survey of our congregations revealed that only one-third of our constituency give regularly to synodical work. Only one-half of our communicant membership have taken part in our Golden Anniversary offering. Surely, it is not that the others are not able to give to the work. Perhaps it is partly due to us pastors who haven’t stressed and promoted synodical work as zealously and effectively as we should have. Here is an area where you lay people can stress the importance of synodical giving at your church council meetings and voters meetings. Just think of what we could do if we could get 100 per cent cooperation on the part of our people. We could meet a budget twice this size proposed by our Finance Committee. We could almost double our Golden Anniversary offering. As a result, we could open several new missions every year.
In this changing-yet-unchanged world with Christianity on the wane we must promote the Gospel as it has never been promoted before. If we do not do this, we are in danger of losing it. We can not expect the Lord’s continued blessing if we fail to respond generously in carrying out His work. It is for the sake of the preaching of the Gospel that God permits this world to exist. The Bible says: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). For the sake of the Gospel our Lord demands our prayers, our testimony, and our earthly goods. What a dreadful thing, then, to hinder the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom by refusing to contribute that which God rightfully requires of us!
Luther complained about the people of Germany in his day, many of whom were sluggish and indifferent toward God’s Word, so that few gave willingly to the cause of the kingdom. Luther reminded them again and again that Germany possessed the Gospel in its truth and purity. He insisted that God would finally punish this sin by depriving them of His Word altogether. He wrote:
The fact that we have the Gospel and the ministry, what else is that than the blood and sweat of our Lord? He secured it for us by His agony and holy blood … Now, should Christ, the Son of God, deserve nothing better than that some men persecute the office which we owe to the blood He shed for us, while others withdraw their hand and do not support the preachers of the Gospel in order that it may be preserved unto us? Besides this, they even keep the children from hearing and learning it-all this in order that this office may be abolished and the shedding of Christ’s blood and His Passion may be in vain? If these things are to happen in Germany, I shall indeed regret that I am a German or ever spoke or wrote a word of German. And if I could do with a good conscience, I should give all the advice possible and do all I could to get the Pope back with all his abominations to oppress, profane, and destroy much more than he did before. Formerly, when people served the devil and brought shame upon the blood of Christ, all pocketbooks were opened wide, and there was no end to their giving for churches and school and every kind of abomination. They compelled their children to enter convents, churches, and schools, at an exorbitant cost — all to no avail. But now that they are asked to establish schools and churches in which the pure Word of God is taught … they say they cannot give anything; all pocketbooks are locked with chains. I ask God for a blessed departure from this world lest I see the misery which must come upon Germany … God grant that I may be in error and that in this respect may be a false prophet. This would surely be the case if we should amend our ways and honor our Lord’s Word and His precious blood in quite a different way than formerly.
History shows that Luther’s prophecy regarding Germany came true. Germany has been a hot-bed of rationalism and liberalism down through the years. And look at the divided state of Germany today.
Let us apply this warning to ourselves. We possess the Gospel in its truth and purity. We have also been blessed materially. “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required” (Luke 12:48). Let it therefore be our greatest concern to prove ourselves grateful toward God by giving cheerfully and liberally for the spreading of the Gospel in order that it may be preserved among us and be preached to as many others as possible.
We might also make a comment regarding methods in promoting synodical work; the Lord expects us to use our brains in working out practical methods of promoting His work. We often hear it said, “Just preach the Gospel and money will come in, young people will be moved to enter the ministry, etc.” Certainly, it is true that the Gospel must be the motive and basis for all church work, but we can, by effective planning, make it easier and more appealing to support this work. The members of the Golden Anniversary Committee are to be commended for their work in promoting our Jubilee Offering. We need more planning and promoting like this. Failure to plan and to promote effectively can hinder the work of the Gospel.
To sum up: As Lutheran laymen, who have been blessed with the Gospel, it is our privilege and responsibility to carry out the command of our Lord Jesus. We can do our part by treasuring this Gospel as our dearest possession; preserve it in its truth and purity, and promote it to the best of our ability by faithfully promoting the work of the Gospel in our congregations, leading godly lives, and supporting the work of our Synod. As we do this work, may our prayer be:
And grant me Lord to do,
With ready heart and willing,
What’er Thou shalt command,
My calling here fulfilling,
And do it when I ought,
With all my strength, and bless
The work I thus have wrought,
For Thou must give success.
Our Challenge in this Modern World
The Great Commission of our Lord presents a real challenge to the Lutheran layman in this modern world. While we are permitted to live in a wonderful era in the history of the world with all it modern conveniences and opportunities, we also live in dangerous times. The Bible describes the last days as “perilous times.” “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good. Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof …” (II Tim. 3:1–5a). Again: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrine of devils” (I Tim. 4:1). Certainly an accurate description of our modern world!
The times in which we live pose a real threat to the personal, spiritual life of the layman. We live in an age of materialism when many people are chiefly concerned with earthly, tangible things. They have permitted these things to blind them to spiritual and eternal values. Now there certainly is nothing wrong with working for, possessing and enjoying earthly things provided, of course, that they do not become our god in life. God has given us all things richly to enjoy. But the danger is that we become so involved in material things that we neglect the spiritual. Jesus cautions us: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John 6:27). And in so many of His parables Jesus warns against an undue emphasis on the material. (Cf. the parable of the Rich Fool. The Rich Man and Lazarus.) In our modern world where materialism reigns as god we need to remind ourselves often of the most penetrating question that has ever been asked: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36–37).
We also live in a pleasure-mad age which threatens to lure our hearts and minds away from the Lord. The Bible says that in the last days people shall be “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” (II Tim. 3:4). Again, there certainly is nothing wrong with enjoying earthly pleasures. In our day of tensions and pressures we need a certain amount of relaxation and wholesome recreation. But when our attendance in God’s House and our zeal for the Lord’s work has to give way to the golf course, the beaches, and other amusements, then it is time to check up on ourselves and ask: “Am I seeking first the kingdom of God? Where is my true treasure? Is my affection on things above or on the fleeting pleasures of this world?
Then there is the spirit of indifferentism which is so prevalent in our day. While it is true that church membership is at an all-time high (approximately 64 per cent of our country’s population claims church membership) yet so much of this membership is shallow and superficial. The church is considered to be a nice thing to have and a place to attend when convenient. Lacking in our day is that spirit of dedication and commitment. But the Christian religion is not a religion of convenience. It calls for self-denial and cross-bearing. Christ wants followers, not fans. His terms for true discipleship do not allow for indifferentism or vacillation. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).
As Lutheran laymen who are truly concerned with a healthy spiritual life we need to watch and pray that we fall not into temptation, but that our hearts and minds remain fixed on those things which shall not pass away.
There is also a challenge to the work which the Lord has called us to do. On the one hand, there is the threat of atheistic Communism, which is committed to the destruction of religion. Communism refers to religion as the “opiate of the people.” And where Communism has taken over, the preaching of the Gospel has been suppressed, Christians have been persecuted, and life in general has been made very difficult for the Christ-confessing Christian. The goal of Communism is world domination and the rapid success which they are having achieving this goal is indeed frightening. Should America ever fall to this power — which God in His mercy forbid! — we would be in the same situation as were the early Christians in time of persecution — and in which many Christians are today in Iron Curtain countries.
On the other hand, there is the Ecumenical Movement which is spreading like wild-fire in the visible Christian church. This Movement, which has as its avowed goal the merging of all churches into one organized union, has no regard for doctrinal differences. It has invited all churches, even the Roman Catholic Church, to take part in its activities. Even many Lutherans are active in this movement using as their reason the opportunity to witness as justification for their part in it.
Now we are not opposed to true ecumenism provided that it is based on agreement and unity in doctrine, but we have no business getting involved in unionistic entanglements where God has told us to “beware” and “avoid.” The spirit of the Ecumenical Movement has been described by William Adams Brown of Union Theological Seminary in his book “Toward a United Church” in which he writes:
The Churches which unite in the Movement do not claim for themselves an exclusive possession of true Christianity. They recognize that others also possess truths which they themselves have not always cherished as they should … This association of churches, which differ in their understanding of God’s will for His Church, in common worship, common work, and common study is something new in Christian history (p. 11) … What is new in the present Movement is the type of unity to which the churches have committed themselves. This is a unity which has broken once for all with the ideal of conformity and makes place for independence of thought and action in the program for the future (p. 16).
In other words, according to the Ecumenical Movement, no one church has the full truth and finally we have recognized it and can join in union where people can believe what they want to believe.
This spirit poses a real problem for the true Lutheran layman who is committed to the Bible as the Word of God and our authority in doctrine and life. It is not easy to swim against the stream. Our Lord has forewarned us that the going will at times be difficult. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you (John 15:18–20).
However, these obstacles should not depress nor frighten us, for we have the Lord’s promise, also contained in the Great Commission, “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). With His promise of presence, protection, and guidance we can go forward in His name confident that we have a guarantee of success even before we begin, for the Lord who has commanded us to do His work has made the promise. In the Old Testament, Isaiah, by divine inspiration optimistically wrote: “As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Is. 55:10–11). And St. Paul in the New Testament — Paul who certainly knew what opposition was — wrote: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
Taking God at His word, trusting Him, and going forth in His name is the Lutheran layman’s answer to the challenge which confronts him in this modern world.
We would close with a comment from Pastor Kurt Marquardt of Australia who wrote an article in the January 11, 1965, issue of Lutheran News entitled “Our Epiphany Challenge” in which he gives a keen analysis of the times in which we live:
The seriousness of the situation can hardly be overestimated. Our generation seems destined to live through some great and historic upheavals in Church and State. Nevertheless we face the future calmly and without fear. If demonic Communism comes, and martyrdom be our fate, then so be it. We pray only for faith and strength. And if the storms of doctrinal confusion should seem for a time to shatter the True Visible Church on earth into fragments, then we shall grieve, but shall not despair, for we know that the Church is founded upon the Rock and that the very gates of hell shall not prevail against her. After the storm, if the world stands, God will again send peace and unity, when, where, and how He pleases. This is not a time for fair-weather Christians. It is a time for soul-searching, for penitence, for truth, a time for prayer, for devotion, for sacrifice. If Christ be our Anchor, then come what come may: we shall not be moved! In the remaining time of grace — be it long or short — let us eagerly encourage each other in spiritual life, in faith and love, that we, our families, and our congregations, may cling to Christ where He manifests Himself; in His Word and Sacraments. And let us manifest Him to the desperate, dying world around us, by visibly living the King of God on earth, living it with a convincing urgency and a consuming love. And our King and Father will bless us with every good gift from above, and will grant us the final victory.