Wednesday, June 19, 2019

God is doing a new thing. . .

Strangely enough, what does evangelicalism, mainline Protestantism, and Roman Catholicism have in common?  Apparently it is the idea that God is constantly reinventing Himself and His Church, generation after generation, issue after issue, trend after trend.  It is as if Scripture did not warn against departing from the sacred deposit or forgetting the tradition or abandoning what had been taught.  For the weakness of our modern age is our ignorance of history and, even worse, our lack of interest or curiosity about the past.  Instead we are future focused -- and not on the future God has prepared and that we anticipate in the Eucharist but the future we imagine and we desire, asking God to come along instead of lead.  Nowhere is this more true than discussions about sexuality, gender, the truth of Scripture, the factual basis for our creedal confession, and worship (including hymnody).

Lest you think that it is only Protestantism in its various forms that is so enamored, read what Pope Francis has reportedly asserted:
Jesus does not want the church to be a perfect model, satisfied with its own organization and able to defend its good name… Jesus did not live like this, but on a journey, without fearing the upheavals of life.’
Living like Jesus demands the ‘courage of renunciation’ …a willingness to abandon traditions that are dear to us.
Changing and adapting is not about imposing something new, ‘but leaving aside something old.’
‘God often purifies, simplifies, and makes us grow by taking away, not by adding, as we might do.’
‘True faith cleanses from attachments. As a church, we are not called to corporate compromises, but to evangelical enterprise.’
In other words, what God has done is not as interesting or as important as what God is doing or might do.  From Rome to Wittenberg to Geneva to your city, Christianity is in danger not of holding onto the past and becoming irrelevant but embracing the future and becoming impotent.  Our only power and our only purpose is the Word of God that endures forever.  Faith comes by hearing the Word and this Word is itself the power to accomplish what it says and the Holy Spirit works through this Word.  (Not to diminish the Sacraments, but to highlight the sacred deposit of doctrine.)

The mantra of Pope Francis, church growth gurus, the sexual liberation movement, the feminist movement, contemporary Christian music and worship, and preaching and teaching today is that the new thing God is doing and the future we are visioning is not only more important than God's saving acts in the past but the sacrificial offering we must make if the Church is to survive and thrive.  Except for one thing, those jurisdictions that have forgotten their past and embraced the future of their own imagining have declined at rates faster than those who live by the faith of their fathers and guard the sacred deposit of God's Word and Sacraments.  Strangely enough, there are those who view the means of grace as precisely the attachments that Pope Francis believes are an impediments to evangelical enterprise (whatever that means).

Our congregation has an Instagram account and recently it was mentioned how many churches on Instagram have more to say about people coming out as gay, lesbian, transgender, or queer than about Jesus' death and resurrection.  In other words, the rainbow flag has replaced the cross.  This has always been the temptation -- to make the Gospel more about me than about Jesus -- but it is even more pernicious today because it is the prevailing trend all across culture and religion.  The individual me has become the center of everyone's universe and with it we run the risk of completely forgetting the Gospel itself and returning to the prison of self that once made the free captive to sin and its death.  The quotes from Francis are deliberately vague.  That is how he communicates.  But they are specific enough to give support for the whole idea that faith is one person wide and one person deep, just like the truth that under girds that faith, the faith that is confessed, and the life lived out from this faith identity.

To Francis and all those who think that the Church must be rescued from this sacred deposit and set free from her tradition, I plead with you to exercise care and caution in your quest to find vitality and life.  Once Christ crucified and risen becomes only part of our message or is displaced from our preaching and teaching, we have nothing left to offer the world, nothing to say to the culture of death, nothing to offer to the despairing, and no hope to offer anyone.  We have become the worst of the choices available, worse than a sect, we have become merely a lame echo of the sinful heart whose desires are both its truth and its purpose.  We all have much to answer for before God but it is of this that Jesus says to those who cry "Lord, Lord," "I know you not."


Daniel G. said...

Pastor Peters,

I have to confess that as a Catholic, I am exhausted as a result of what this Pope has said and done but, and as you know, he does not speak for all Catholics in that there are Catholics who hold fast to "what has been delivered once and for all to the saints." I'm sure you are aware of this:

issued by a group of Cardinals and Bishops. So as disheartening as it is listening to this Pope "pontificate", there is hope as there is a remnant in the Church who is true to the teachings unadulterated.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Martin Luther was not content with the "traditions of the church"
as far as Papal indulgences were concerned. He rediscovered the gospel
message that by grace are you saved through faith in Christ, it is a
gift of God, less any man should boast about his good works to gain

Anonymous said...


You miss the mark completely. Read Pastor Peters remarks again and think about what he said.

Cliff said...

Hi Daniel G.

Good to see you back. It is encouraging to see Catholics embrace many areas of truth which your current pope tries to water down and confuse everything.
There is one thing about returning to "old' ways that scares the ba-zibbers out of me and that is the quote below about Protestants. Some of your fundamentalist Catholics, like Michael Voris state that Protestants need to be entered fully into the Catholic Church and are therefore not really Christians destined for heaven. I agree we should all be one, BUT to infer that only Catholics belonging to the one true church will inherit heaven or be considered true Christians. This is a troubling statement about us Protestants, so needless to say this would return us to pre Vatican II days where the animosity would return between us. I am all for truth and sound doctrine, but this one from Catholics is very troubling.
This issue has to be settled before we can move forward in any restoration of the old traditions. Hopefully intelligent saner heads will prevail on this issue?

God Bless!

True ecumenism intends that non-Catholics should enter that unity which the Catholic Church
already indestructibly possesses in virtue of the prayer of Christ, always heard by His Father, “that
they may be one” (John 17:11), and which she professes in the Symbol of Faith, “I believe in one
Church.” Ecumenism, therefore, may not legitimately have for its goal the establishment of a
Church that does not yet exist.

Daniel G. said...

HI Cliff,

If I was a protestant listening to that statement, yes that statement would be troubling but sometimes the Truth is jarring; it is like lighting a match under your behind to wake you up. Take for instance the statement by “anonymous” which says that Luther, “....rediscovered the gospel message that by by grace, etc”. What I and any informed Catholic would say is
that he did not rediscover but re-interpreted the gospel to the detriment of the unity of the Church. If by the bible and grace and faith alone were true, then those protestants who embrace that doctrine would all be unified in belief and practice but alas both you and I know what the results have been since Luther posted his 95 Theses.

Now I don’t believe that by virtue of being protestant since that is all you know and were brought up to believe, you are de facto damned. On the other hand if someone like those protestants who have converted to Catholicism (Scott Hahn, Jeffrey Cavins, et al) who knows the Bible inside and out and takes the time to do the research and comes to the realization that the Catholic Church is the one founded by Christ then the only option available is to enter into communion with the Church. One would have no excuse since once now he/she knows the Truth and it convicts him/her. The only other option would be damnation since knowing the Truth he/she would have rejected it had he/she not joined.

But Cliff, I’m sure that what I just said you probably already know since you are well read.

God bless!

Joseph Bragg said...

The Roman Catholic Church separated itself from the one true Church when they changed the Creed and created the dogma of the Pope, among other things. The True Orthodox Church calls Protestants and Roman Catholics to return to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that has exited from the first Church in Jerusalem and remains the same today.

Daniel G. said...

Mr. Bragg,

With all due respect, that is a tired and non-productive argument. There is no agreement amongst the Orthodox in the Orthodox Church (Old Believers, Old Calendarists, etc.) and further the Orthodox Church is not universal but merely ethnic (Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, Coptic, Armeniian, etc.). One thing that the Orthodox Church has in its favor is the fact that it is Apostolic, Possesses all Seven Valid Sacraments or Mysteries and is a True, Particular Church. That’s it. And charity is lacking from many orthodox when it comes to catholics. Go to the Holy Land where orthodox priests spit at Catholic Priests. That’s Christian charity? Or how about that debacle at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Greek Orthodox priests and religious began a fight in the Church with Armenian Apostolic priests and religious. Interesting.

I refer you to this excellent article by a former Orthodox Christian who converted to Catholicism:

Until that time when the upper echelons of both lungs, if you will, get together and work through the baloney so we in the pews have a stronger unified church, let’s pray for each other and that unity that eludes us.

Anonymous said...

I have yet to see a solid argument from either Rome or Constantinople why anyone should pray to the dead - in other words, to the "saints". How can we know the dead (saints) hear our prayers. Do they really have privileged access to God compared to other living and dead mortals. How do we know that it is in their power to fast-forward our prayers to God. How do we know that God gives preferential treatment to prayers relayed by the saints.

Prayers to the saints and the routine cover-ups of pedophilia cases keep many "Protestants" from considering joining the Roman Catholic church. In fact, disenchanted Lutherans are more inclined to become Orthodox than to join Rome. Having to adopt an ethnicity notwithstanding (Russian, Armenian, Egyptian Coptic, etc.), there seem to be far fewer sex scandals and less social justice warrior preaching among the Orthodox. By contrast, Pope Francis' social justice messages turn too many traditional Christian families off.

As an aside, I am sorry to read about the uncharitable behavior of the Orthodox towards the Roman Catholics. LCMS Lutherans often feel the same way when they encounter a (perpetually disgruntled) WELS Lutheran!

Regarding unity, the fact that there are many competing factions within Rome make the "universal Church" a fleeting and illusory notion. Rome appears no more unified than the sectarian Orthodox. Why else do so many Roman Catholics loathe Pope Francis?

Should I leave confessional Lutheranism in order to join a "Universal" church body that encourages this:

Vatican II theology in action: Moslem call to prayer in ‘Catholic’ cathedral in Paris, France

More news here:

Parting thought from the Nous Ordo Watch website:

"Modernists are well known for their wordiness, which they use to disguise, distract from, and hide their nefarious thoughts."

Joseph Bragg said...

When referring to the Orthodox Church, everyone continues the fallacy of equating the Orthodox Church with an official organization, jurisdiction or something called world Orthodoxy. "World Orthodoxy" has also fallen away from the true Faith It seems that most cannot get beyond the false perception of the Church as a denomination, jurisdiction or official organization. The true Orthodox Church is that Church which holds the Faith unchanged, under a true bishop.

Anonymous said...

"The true Orthodox Church is that Church which holds the Faith unchanged, under a true bishop."

OK, where is it? What's its name? Can you direct us to this "Orthodox Church" under a "true bishop"??

Daniel G. said...

Oh where to begin or not to begin....

Anonymous said:

I have yet to see a solid argument from either Rome or Constantinople why anyone should pray to the dead - in other words, to the "saints". How can we know the dead (saints) hear our prayers. Do they really have privileged access to God compared to other living and dead mortals. How do we know that it is in their power to fast-forward our prayers to God. How do we know that God gives preferential treatment to prayers relayed by the saints.

I could quote you all of the Early and Apostolic fathers who confirmed the intercession of the Saints but what good will it do? No matter how much proof either Biblical or from Sacred History/Tradition most of which predates the complete canon of the New Testament, you will not change your mind because you refuse to acknowledge the truth. Still though, here are a few that I will leave you with:

Clement of Alexandria

“In this way is he [the true Christian] always pure for prayer. He also prays in the society of angels, as being already of angelic rank, and he is never out of their holy keeping; and though he pray alone, he has the choir of the saints standing with him [in prayer]” (Miscellanies 7:12 [A.D. 208]).


“But not the high priest [Christ] alone prays for those who pray sincerely, but also the angels . . . as also the souls of the saints who have already fallen asleep” (Prayer 11 [A.D. 233]).

Cyprian of Carthage

“Let us remember one another in concord and unanimity. Let us on both sides [of death] always pray for one another. Let us relieve burdens and afflictions by mutual love, that if one of us, by the swiftness of divine condescension, shall go hence first, our love may continue in the presence of the Lord, and our prayers for our brethren and sisters not cease in the presence of the Father’s mercy” (Letters 56[60]:5 [A.D. 253]).

Joseph Bragg said...

To anonymous - There are many in the world. Some are identified as the true Church of Greece, true Church of Russia, Bulgaria, etc. Are you looking for one? Let me know where you are and I may be able to help. My parish is under Metropolitan Demetrius of the GOC. My point is that what is considered officialdom is not Orthodox if they have succumbed to the heresy of Ecumenism and compromise. It is not a name but the Faith, once for all delivered which includes Faith, Worship and Government.