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
"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!"
I wrote some of those down. I have also listened to the his encore Issues, Etc podcast about the presence of God three times. He speaks about Jesse so clearly.
Jesus so clearly. Jesus.
I often wonder - with such amazing teachers, and so many faithful and talented pastors, the fruit of those professor's labors, why the LCMS especially remains so 'hidden' in general Christianity, our voices both so small, and this even within our congregational (layperson) ranks so opposed. Solid Lutheranism is such an uphill battle in so many places.
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