Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The great temptation of choice. . .

I live in a community in which the chains are king -- from restaurants to retail our city thrives on known brands.  You know what to expect from a known brand and when you have a highly mobile population like Clarksville, familiarity trumps all.  People who move here want to know where they can get what they want to eat and where to shop -- they even appreciate it when the stores are laid out in a familiar pattern.

Somehow or another this truth has been lost to churches.  Flexibility and options predominate and, frankly, you never know what to expect when you go to any church anymore.  I had once thought this primarily a Protestant phenomenon but it seems to be universal.  We had a man in church, from England, who had lived in the US for about 10 years.  He was Roman Catholic but found American Roman Catholic Churches a hollow shell of pop Gospel music and irreverent production style liturgy and was amazed to come to Grace Lutheran Church and hear a choir sing Psalm 113 in Latin and a full sung Divine Service.  He was looking for a brand and was disappointed at the confusing array of choices that left so much to local identity.  The same is true of Lutherans who have come to appreciate the reverent liturgy, majestic music, and Biblical preaching of this congregation only to to move and find the local LCMS congregation with praise band, pastor in polos and khakis, and sermon series on improving your lives.  Where is my Lutheran Church? they complain.

Some would say it is about “LCD,” the lowest common denominator, but I would add to the "L" local.  It would seem that not only do congregations do whatever feels good locally but they often struggle to aspire to any standards of excellence that might stretch the pocketbook or require any heavy lifting -- especially when it comes to worship.  Now we all know what the normal course of man’s fallen nature does.  We know that without hearts and minds being in the Word and the Spirit prodding us, we will revert to that sinful nature that has become the default because of sin.  Furthermore, in a world in which preference is king, there is immense pressure on every pastor and parish to conform to the local LCD.  That will end up being what is least confrontational with the folks in the pews, whatever fits the mindset and culture of the moment, and what requires the least amount of preparation and effort. It takes no crystal ball to see where this will lead and what it will do to the Church.

Instead of resisting what is common to us all and what should be ordinary in the extraordinary Divine Service, we should embrace it with enthusiasm.  I am not talking about a rigid uniformity of rules but of the common concern for the well being of the Church, the well being of the people of God, and the ability of the Church to pass on the sacred deposit to those who come after (without diluting or degrading that tradition).  This is important not simply for brand loyalty (though we should not dismiss this) but for our clear confession before the world and the clear identity of the sacred place where God has marked out His Church and His people around His Word and Table.  Nobody in their right mind is talking about putting little marks in the chancel so that everyone stands in exactly the same place at the same time and holds their hands in exactly the same way.  What I am commending is unseating the rule of me from the throne of local determination and the lowest common denominator and adding in our concern to preserve the inward unity by our outward unity.  You begin at least with the hymnal.  You can add to it ceremonies and such but to detract from it or depart from it represents a clear departure also from the confession and identity we have as a Church and a people united not simply in theory but in life.

Should we not all desire to celebrate in harmony with those who have gone before and to commend faithfully to those yet to come the rich and faithful experience the fullness of great treasure that we have?  In case there are those who might wonder if this will turn people away, the people attracted by conformity with culture, modern morality, and a gospel of self-interest are not the unchurched but the restless Christians whose itchy ears refuse to be satisfied with the Word of the Lord and His sacramental gifts and graces.  Instead of playing musical chairs with the people who come and go as they move to whatever is new, we ought to be establishing an outpost of the sacred in this world which identifies us as the Church of the saints of old anticipating the promised future God has given in Christ through the means of grace.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Stay in the faith. . . Stay in the Word

Sermon for Pentecost 19, Proper 24A, preached by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich on Sunday, October 20, 2019.

    In the collect for the day, we asked God to grant us the Holy Spirit to direct and govern our hearts so that we’d persevere with steadfast faith, a faith that endures to the end.  We talk a lot about faith, but I wonder if we truly know what it is?  It can be a hard word to define especially when so many people have so many different ideas about faith.  So what is faith?  Where does it come from?  What does it do?  And how do we persevere with it?
    Faith gets talked about in many different settings, not just church.  It gets talked about in the sports world.  Athletes and coaches say they just have to have faith that all their work and preparation will result in a win.  Faith is spoken about as words of encouragement.  When things don’t seem to be going your way there’s usually someone who will say, “Just have faith and everything will work out in the end.”  But is that what faith is?  Is it a shallow hope that you’ll win?  Is it positive thoughts and optimism?  No. 
    Faith is also described as a mental activity; the ability to know facts and the choice to believe them as true.  Sadly, this is one of the most prevalent views of faith.  Too often we think of faith as knowing what the Bible says, knowing Jesus died on the cross and then our choice to accept Him as our Savior.  But is that what faith is; knowing facts and then our choice to believe?  No. 
    These popular views of faith don’t line up with how God talks about faith.  They assume faith is a mental activity.  But faith isn’t forced positive thoughts and it’s not a decision.  Faith is trust.  It’s located not in the head, but the heart…and it’s not of our making, but God’s. 
We want faith to be our doing.  We want faith to be based on our positive thoughts, on our knowledge and understanding, on our decision and choice because that shows the strength of our mind.  We want faith to be a creation of our determination and will because then we get credit for it.  We want to be able to stand up and say, “I did it.  Against all odds, I kept trusting and believing.”  But this isn’t faith, at least not faith in God.  This kind of faith is trust in ourselves, and let me ask you, can we really be trusted?  No, we can’t.  We can’t trust ourselves because we’re sinners.  Sin is in our heart, and therefore, we can’t create a holy faith that looks to God, because sin only looks inward.  Our sin doesn’t want God.  Our sin hates God. 
We can’t produce faith because our heart is filled with sin.  We can only have faith God gives it to us.  He must create in us new and clean hearts.  Your faith is a gift from God, not because you’re so smart and knowledgeable, not because you’re full of optimism, but because God wants to give it to you.
He gives it to you through the working of the Spirit as you hear His Word, as you hear His Law that shows you you’re a sinner, and as you hear His Gospel that shows you your Savior.  God’s Word is the foundation of your faith.  God’s promises spoken and His promises fulfilled in Christ are what your faith is built upon.  You trust in God because He has done what He said.  You trust in your Savior because He has given His life for you.  These are sure and certain and true.  These can be trusted.
    Today’s parable about a widow who persistently came before an unrighteous judge seeking justice is a parable about trust.  We hear this story and we say the woman was foolish.  Why did she keep going before this judge looking for justice when the judge admitted he cared nothing for justice?  Why did this woman trust in a man who couldn’t be trusted?  In the end, the judge did the right thing, not because it was the right thing, but because the widow keeps pestering him.  Using this story as an argument from lesser to greater, Jesus asked, “Will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night?” (Lk 18:7).  Of course He will, because God cares for justice, He cares for His people, He can be trusted. 
    The widow showed faith in a man who couldn’t be trusted, but your faith is in God who can be trusted.  God is faithful and just, that’s what we say at the beginning of every Divine Service.  He’s faithful, meaning He’ll do what He promises.  And He promises you forgiveness of sins, life everlasting.  These He gives to you through Christ who died in your place, taking the just punishment of death your sin deserves.  And with the gift of faith, you trust in your Savior.  With the gift of faith you receive that forgiveness and life He won for you. 
    Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, you have His promised everlasting life now, but you don’t experience it now.  You experience pain and suffering, temptation and sin.  It can be tough to stay faithful during these times.  It can be tough to stay faithful when it doesn’t appear as if God is faithful.  And on your own, you can’t remain faithful...that’s why you pray for steadfast faith. 
    At the end of Jesus’ parable He asked the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8).  If our faith were our own doing, the answer would be “NO!”  You can’t keep the faith on your own.  You can’t persevere on your own.  You must be kept in the faith by the working of the Spirit, and He does keep you in the faith.  As you hear God’s Word, the source of your faith, continually preached and read, the Spirit strengthens your faith.  As you eat and drink the body and blood of your Savior, in whom you trust, your faith grows.  It’s only by these things, it’s only by God’s grace, by His Means of Grace, that you continue to have faith.  He creates it.  He sustains it.  And you live by it. 
Faith is trust.  It isn’t head knowledge.  It isn’t shallow optimism.  It’s trust; trust in God’s Word and in the promise of life in Christ.  This faith isn’t your doing.  It’s given to you by the working of the Spirit.  This faith is founded on God’s Word and strengthened in that Word; and it’ll only endure through the hearing of God’s Word.  So stay in faith.  Remain in the Word, receive the Sacrament, and when the Son of Man returns, He will find faith in you.  In Jesus’ name...Amen. 

Hidden mercy. . .

Western Christianity seems unduly preoccupied with substance and accident.  We find it hard to get away from the categories of change -- what changes and what does not.  So Rome insists that everything that is real changes and all that is left is the least real part of bread and wine.  And Lutherans insist that there is, indeed, a change, but the change does not replace one neatly with the other but adds something to what is there.  So it is still bread but now also Christ's flesh and still wine but now also His blood.  Rome insists that there can no Real Presence without Transubstantiation and Lutherans insist that Real Presence has nothing to do with a philosophical theory of how Christ is present.  In both cases the issue is really about what is manifest in bread and wine, in eating and drinking what the Lord gives and promises.

The great Orthodox theologian, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, once rather famously said that sacraments do not make things into something else so much as they reveal things to be what they are.  In other words, it is not about what changes or how but the God who reveals what is hidden. Why is it that some are preoccupied with what changes and others are focused on what is hidden there, apprehended only by the eyes of faith, received with grateful faith,  Lutherans and Rome continue to fight it out about what changes, if it changes, or what remains the same and who makes it happen.  In the end, I am not at all sure Luther was as keen on fighting it out on this turf as some Lutherans were.  For Luther as it should be for Lutherans the focus is surely on what God has hidden there.  We do not apprehend it as we do acknowledge it, trust it, receive it with joy and thanksgiving, and are transformed by it as the Spirit brings the promise to bear upon us.  Perhaps because Luther was less the systematician than exegete and his theology more Biblical than anything else.

Not long ago I preached on the parable of the dishonest steward.  I cannot think of any preacher who wants to preach on such a text.  It remains one of those words we wish Jesus had not spoken or we would rather have had Jesus say something else.  But it is a text one approaches simply on the basis that Jesus said it and therefore we must hear it for the Word of God is less about us and what we think than about God and what He chooses to reveal.  Can we not say the same about water and bread and wine and the voice that absolves?  They are wonderful things but hardly what we would have chosen to be where grace is given and Christ accessible.  Yet, there He is.  In parable and Sacrament what is gained comes not by cracking the nut but by hearing it with faith, believing it, and rejoicing at the mercy hidden therein.  This happens by the Spirit.  And what a joy that is!

Monday, October 21, 2019

An unreasonable faith. . .

I have had a number of ongoing discussions with folks who were Lutheran and ended up, either by deliberate choice or accidental detour, not Lutheran.  Among the many protests were the promise that they were still Lutheran in their heart of hearts -- at least until they were baptized again but this time as an adult and by immersion.  And then there were those who dated or married a non-Lutheran who refused to attend a Lutheran Church and so the spouse, desiring to worship together as a family, began attending the non-Lutheran Church and, before long, was no longer Lutheran even in that person's heart of hearts. It has always struck me strange how quickly people can abandon some of the core and center of Lutheran doctrine and practice for non-doctrinal reasons that eventually probably do become doctrinal.  Were they never really Lutheran?  I am not ready to go there.  I suspect that the real issue is faith itself.  They eventually gave up not on doctrine but on faith -- at least the idea of faith that is trust instead of understanding and rational, reasonable, acceptance. 

Lutheranism is not rational or reasonable or systematic.  It is filled with paradoxes left unresolved and it surrenders the hope of understanding or getting God for the trust that believes His Word and is captive to that Word -- captive minds and hearts.  The problem is not so much with Lutheranism as much as it is with the Word of God itself.  People seem to be drawn like magnets to those who can cut and paste the Scriptures together to offer something that is logical and orderly and answers questions and can be understood.  But if God can be understood, does He continue to be God?  Is not a God who is captive to the mind not worth believing?

In a recent conversation a parent in tears lamented a child who had abandoned the faith the child was confirmed in and embraced something more appealing to the mind and more satisfying to the heart.  In the end it was less about doctrine than it was about the need to understand, to have God explain Himself or be explained.  While that is quite often our desire, it mitigates against the very nature of faith (Hebrews says it best -- the substance of things hoped for and confidence in things not seen).  Lutheranism is not all that appealing to those who want a systematic God who can be explained, predicted, and understood.  But Calvinism is attractive for exactly that reason.  Calvin approaches God from the vantage point of reason.  If Calvin is not explaining God, at least he is certain God has explained Himself and transformed faith from trust to consent of the mind and will.

There must be a reason why some are saved and not others and predestination is it.  Jesus would surely not die for the world but only for those who He foresaw would come to faith or whom He chosen to set apart as the recipients of His atoning work.  Infant baptism makes no sense but believer's baptism makes all the sense in the world.  The saved will bear the marks of this salvation and election in their lives of obedience. What cannot be understood with the mind is experienced and God is manifested in feelings (the sublime nature of the Eucharist, for example).  For more than 23 years Calvin kept adding to his Institutes in an effort to unpack more and more of the mystery of God and God's work.  There are not many true Calvinists left but enough -- enough to appeal to those who find it too much to trust the Lord without explanation or reason to back it up.  Instead of jumping headlong into the hidden arms of God at the prompting of the Spirit, the person begins to seek something more to hold onto -- a reasonable faith that appeals to the mind and the movement of God in the realm of feelings and emotion.

In the end I have tired of trying to argue it out.  If I can argue someone into the faith, then somebody else can argue them out.  I do not believe it is fruitful to approach these people with an appeal to the mind.  Their argument is really not against Luther or catholic theological tradition with respect to the Word and Sacraments.  Their argument is with faith itself.  They refuse to believe if believing does not offer something rational to the mind and something warm to the heart.  They will not believe if believing means trusting what their eyes cannot see or their minds cannot understand or their hearts not experience or feel.  If we think we can argue them back into classical and orthodox Christianity,, then we have already conceded the most important theological point -- God is not the end result of the mind's fruitful search for reason and order to life and the future.  God has made Himself accessible in the means of grace -- not to supplement understanding and feelings but to replace them with something eminently more durable.

I was reminded of a small quote from Hermann Sasse:
Not every question can be settled by means of a friendly discussion. It is necessary to remember this in an age which has a superstitious belief in dialog as the infallible means of settling everything. There are questions raised by the devil to destroy the Church of Christ. To achieve this he may use as his mouth piece not only ambitious professors of theology, his favorite tools, but also simple, pious souls.
Consensus is a wonderful thing and compromise sounds positively wonderful but in the end these may just lead us from truth to error in our search for a credible faith and a reasonable God.  I get it.  I feel it as well.  I want a God who will explain Himself to me, clue me into His ways, and fit into the understanding of my limited mind.  Who doesn't?  But as nice as it is, the true faith will always challenge and shock and scandalize us.  After all, Jesus the innocent Son of God willingly suffered for the sake of those who were sinners and enemies of God.  Nobody can find much comfort in a God who willingly dies for the unworthy and undeserving.  Jesus did not suffer for scoundrels.  Or did He???  God can be explained and predicted.  Or can He???  Ultimately all we know is what God has told us and what He has told us points us not to minds that get Him but to the trust of things we cannot see and have only by promise and the witness of the Spirit.  In the end, we must ask ourselves if this is enough?  I pray that the Spirit will enable us to say "Yes, that is more than enough" for me to believe in Him and rejoice in His grace and mercy.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Better sung than said. . .

The chief distinction between a low mass and a high mass is the singing.  Low mass is spoken; high mass is sung (chanted).  Much has been written about how the exception (low mass) became the norm and norm (sung mass) became the exception.  Music was not always welcomed into the liturgy.  St. Augustine had concerns for the sensuality of music, fearing that it would detract from the mass.  But it eventually won out over fears.  At least until some of the reformers overcame the music that sang in the Reformation with their own fears and reservations.  Think here especially of Zwingli who wanted it banished entirely.  But Luther was unequivocal.  Music is the handmaid of the Word, its most profound and noble servant!

I wonder if it might be possible that the Christian faith is better sung than said.  It is not that I have anything against the spoken Word but that music is one of the most profound mediums to use in the proclamation of that Word.  We sing it better into our memory and singing allows the many voices of a congregation to be one voice together.  But I cannot take credit for this.  Anglican cleric Giles Fraser was the one who asserted that “Christianity is always better sung than said.”  His point was made not only for the love of music but because of his fear of academia and the descent of faith into words that attempt to say what is hard, if not impossible to say.   So, according to Fraser, “to the extent that all religion exists to make raids into the what is unsayable, the musicians penetrate further than most.”  Music has the power to address in more than words the depth of the great mystery of God in flesh.  Of course, it does not hurt that the angels sang in the birth of the Savior and that Scripture is replete with calls to sing praise to the Lord.  This singing is not only worship but also witness and confession.

Luther himself was not simply in favor of music as a musician but saw the whole thing theologically,  regarding music as God’s second greatest gift to creation (after theology).  So many have said it that it must be true -- the Reformation might well have failed without the power of the hymn to sing it into the hearts and minds of the people of God.  Still to this day the Lutheran chorales are noteworthy for the way they sing the Gospel into the minds and hearts of the singers and through the witness of song into the ears of the hearers.  Yes, it does matter what we sing.

As the Anglican bishop Nick Baines said it: “I go along with Wesley that if you sing you learn your theology from what you sing. And if you sing rubbish you believe in rubbish. Language matters.”  I am not sure he was the first or the last to suggest that the content of the song and how that sounds  has as much to do with it benefits the Word or detracts from it.

Every pastor knows that you can tell a great deal about the theology your people hold dear by asking their favorite hymns.  Yet even that may be more information than you want to know.  Our people struggle to understand why the silly little ditties or guilty pleasures are not beneficial to the faith and they struggle to identify what it is that makes hymns good.  Yet that should not detract from our recognition that for Christians, faith is sung as much as it is said and perhaps better sung.  What we owe those in the pew is the training to understand what make s hymn noble and profound and what makes it, well, empty and ordinary.  

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Had to repost. . .

The reality is that we have enjoyed a wealth of good teachers, not just good theologians but good teachers, within our small slice of Christian history. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has produced and enjoyed the good witness and thinking and, even better, the apt teaching of giants. I watched the funeral of The Rev. Dr. Norman Edgar Nagel with great sadness that we have lost another of those giant figures. It is, of course, to his joy that he has received the outcome of his faith, the salvation of his soul, but he has not left us without substantial record on which to chew for some days. My good friend The Rev. William Weedon put this together and I am passing it on. Great and pithy gems of wisdom, truth, and theology to ponder, left to us by a kind, gentle, but great man!!

A Miscellany of Nagelisms

A friend asked [Will Weedon] me to share these with him today. I thought others might be blessed. I was, by merely typing them out:

"The good news of Easter isn't that a man rose from the dead, but that the man who had been crucified for our sin rose from the dead."

"Glorying in the element is sarkical. It is is glorying in the gift-all-the-way-down-ward."

"The big thing is not that the body and blood are there, but that the body and and blood of Christ which were given for you are there."

"Faith is nothing but what it is given. What faith is given is the Gift that lives. Living Gift! And so living, it enlivens. As enlivening gift of the Living Lord, it is not suceptible to our measurement or calculation."

"You mayn't have a Gospel justification and a semi-law sanctification."

"The person scornful of the Lord's Supper says: 'I don't need to be given to.'"

"Sasse asks the haunting question: Is our doctrine of inspiration based on Scripture alone or on tradition, tradition that Luther and Melanchthon swallowed whole?"

"All the Christ, Christ, Christ stuff flies in the air unless it is Christ for you. And He is for you where He promises to be."

"You cannot move by analogy—progression of our thinking, yearning—which can have as its outcome God."

"Glory in contingency and the dataness of it!"

"We are not roaming in the realm of ideas. He did it. The sheer He-did-it-ness for which we can lay on Him no compelling reasons; and the data-ness, THAT recognition evacuates any possibility of us laying something down ahead of God."

"Nothing could less like God than the man hanging dead on the cross. Only God could be so human and so weak. So opposite to every religious notion about God—religion being the result of our wishing, emotions, yearning, thinking."

"Of the sheer did-ness and data-ness you have the locatedness—the specificity of time and place. He did it. He provides for its delivery to you."

"Each part of the Gospels is to be read as the whole of the Gospels are to be read, the pushing or giving of the Jesus they bestow."

"The specific Jesus that is the specific gift of that pericope."

"God loves nothing better than dishing out the good stuff. Why else did he make this crazy world?" 

"That which is His great delight, He would bring to us too. So He gives us much more than we need so that we can have fun dishing it out too. In that there is the life of God which cannot be brought into any bondage of coercion."

"Faith is not the product of the exercise of God's power, but the consequence of His giving."

"A gift is rejectable; His power is not."

"Toenails grow. Is that under the power of law or gospel?"

"There is no action of the Holy Spirit outside the Church in the New Testament."

"Unbelief is the refusal of gift, the refusing to be given to."

"The grounds of damnation is the rejection of the gift."

"When the Lord said, 'Follow me,' to Matthew, Matthew was given to. He is made alive as a man that wasn't alive before. That 'Follow me' is Gospel."

"The wordless Law—what man knows in his bones. A wordless God is Deus Absconditus, before whom is only terror and dread. But Law, worded or wordless is the same, and worded is the more terrible and inescapable. Never by an exercise of inescapable power is faith produced. Any inescapable power is Law talk, not Gospel."

"There is an unwillingness in Jesus to be other than Gift. And He wants to be all the gift that He is. Those who just wanted a piece, He wouldn't let them have it, because He wanted to be the lot for them."

"God runs the whole show in two ways: Law and Gospel. Either life or death, it is gift which evokes the faith in the being received. If received as gift, it is received faithfully and gospelly. The man who receives the death by cancer as a gift from the Lord has faith."

"The AC's 'where and when He pleases' warns us off from lusting to get our hands on things and bring them into our control."

"The distinction between Law and Gospel has the ultimate reach in God. There is a God who damns and a God who saves. Only at the last minute do you say it to the same God—up to then it's like there are two gods going on."

"When you find reason taking God captive and laying prescriptions on Him, that's law talk."

"The Gospel runs the third use of the Law. We'd do better to talk about the Gospel's use of the Law."

"It is a measure of our freedom that the Law can be brought into our service as a gift. Then it is a guide. It's not what makes us what we are nor the prompting before Him."

"Love is evoked outside of you. You don't work up a bit of love and then give it away." 

"If ever we did a good work that didn't need forgiving, we'd never know about it."

"Where there's measuring, there's Law-talk going on."

"Rather than measuring good works, let us engender them. Only we can't. The Spirit does it by the Gospel. We do not know what damage is done to people that misshapes and shrivels and warps them. The way of the gifts of Christ in such a one will work in the way they will work and we are not in a position to keep a scoresheet."

"Whatever good thing happens, we can but say thanks!"

"The wholeness of the child! When a little child laughs, there is no part of him not laughing, and so when he weeps."

"The infant is as damnable as the rest of us."

"It is the way of being gifted that its never enough and there's always more."

"Unbelief is refusing to let God be gracious."

"Your forgiveness is as sure as Calvary is sure; the fluctuation is in us, not in Him."

"The Dominicality is the biggy. The first thing to confess about Baptism and the Supper is what HE said about them. After He has had His say, we can rejoice in the gift in our own words. It is the Lord's Supper, not our Supper."

"Confirmation is the public celebration of the fulfillment of our Lord's bidding: We've been baptized and we've been taught!"

"Our good works are only good works because they are forgiven."

"It is vital that we always be on the alert for spotting anthropological analogy in the matter of the Holy Spirit—that is always backwards."

"You cannot move from evidence in you to saying something about the Holy Spirit. That will always be dubious."

"Equating the Holy Spirit with love you end up with quantitative parcels."

"When the lot of good works are within His forgiveness, then we're not playing quantitative games with God."

"We rejoice to confess filioque because the Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. That is the point."

"How does the Holy Spirit give the Jesus stuff?"

"We must not talk about faith in any way but a grace alone way." 

"Faith is the creation of the Holy Spirit and the receiving of the Jesus stuff."

"Love and necessity are mutually exclusive."

"Does God think you're worth bothering with? Look to Calvary!"

"Salvation may not be deduced from God's nature, but from what Christ has done." 

"The love of God that is shed abroad in our heart is Jesus' death and resurrection. That is how He loved us." 

"The best confession of the Trinity is that which tells the good news of our salvation that the Father sent the Son to die for us sinners and what Jesus did is given to us by the work of the Holy Spirit. The directionality inherent in this is the opposite of an inverted Trinity."

"Does God make you fit to be loved, and then love you? Or does He love all what's going on, sitting on your chair?"

"To pay attention to the Holy Spirit is to frustrate the Jesus work that He is seeking to do. The Spirit gets behind you and gets you to look at Calvary."

"Would this theology work without Calvary? Then it's not Christian theology."

"What Jesus loves is you, not what He ends up making of you."

"The Supper can never be our work. It is God's giving out what Calvary achieved."

"God is given you in the sarx, whose shins would bruise if you kicked them. To look for him anywhere outside the flesh is to look away from where He is for you."

"The most important question to ask of any pericope is what is the Jesus that this text gives me that is given nowhere else? What is its proprium?"

"The becoming man of God was the becoming man of man."

"The bestowal of salvation happens where we are at. That's the job of the Holy Spirit."

"Can't say unJesusy things about the Holy Spirit. The more Jesusy the Spirit, the more we can be sure we're getting it right!"