THE SOWER The perennial appeal of gardening is shown by two zzzzz surprising historical events. The mighty potentate before whom Martin Luther stood in 1521 at the Diet of Worms, Emperor Charles V, abdicated his throne in 1555. One of his favorite retirement pursuits was gardening. One thousand two hundred fifty years earlier, the emperor who launched the last of the Roman persecutions of Christians, Diocletian, also abdicated (in 305), and devoted himself to raising cabbages.
To garden is common enough. But the events just mentioned are hardly common. Indeed, they strike us as quite incongruous. From palace to cabbage patch? Do not rulers preside over armies, over courts, over governmental agencies? Are they not far removed from common tasks and occupations? Do they not often dominate and oppress the ordinary people, even laying claim to their possessions? Have kings and nobility not been known to hunt wherever they choose to hunt, regardless of whose property they damage in the process? Are not the fruits of the farmers’ labors at times confiscated to support the king’s martial undertakings?
Thus we see that Jesus was taking very careful aim in his parables at the Jews’ earthly concept of the kingdom of God. For we do not hear of kings, weapons, and soldiers. What do we hear? “Behold, the sower went out to sow” (Mt.13:3). Can you imagine trying to make sense of that if you thought the Messiah would put the hated Romans in their place? The message of Jesus was loud and clear: My kingdom is not what you think it will be.
LUKE 16 Luke 16 is an excellent example of what can be gained zzzz by relating portions of Scripture to each other, instead of treating them in isolation. The parable of the steward teaches us to use our earthly resources with eternity in view. The words of Jesus between that parable and the next one may puzzle us at first. How do the various statements relate to each other? What exactly is the course of thought?
After the indictment of the Pharisees for being concerned only about what can be seen by men while ignoring God’s knowledge of the heart, Jesus focuses on their rejection of God’s Word. They would have nothing of the preaching of John the Baptist, nor of Jesus’ preaching of the Gospel. (Cp. Luke 7:29-30, Mt. 11:7-19, 12:24ff., 21:28-32.) Their rejection also of Old Testament Scripture, which never loses its character as God’s Word even when the era of fulfillment has arrived, is also addressed by Jesus. (The background for v. 18 here, as well as for other verses in the New Testament, is probably the notorious activities at that time of Herod Antipas, about which the Pharisees were keeping silent. He had married Herodias, who had divorced her husband, Herod’s half-brother Philip, and then divorced his own wife. The Greek form in the last part of v. 18, “is divorced from a husband,” does not have to be taken as a passive. The initiative can lie with the divorced person: one who herself divorces, one who secures a divorce.)
Jesus thus deals in a general way with the Pharisees’ reaction (reported in v. 14) to his previous parable. But that reaction represented a specific rejection of the parable in addition to a general rejection of God’s Word. The connection between the two parables in this chapter is clear when we realize that the rich man in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus stands in the place of the steward in the preceding parable. But does he use his resources with eternity in view? Just the opposite. He shows less pity even than animals, day after day completely ignoring the needy individual positioned at his gate while devoting himself to luxurious living. In hell, when the tables are turned and he is the needy one, he suddenly calls for emergency action. There has been no welcome for him when he left this life of the kind described by Jesus in v. 9. There is not even momentary relief for his agony in the flame. Don’t we see what Jesus is doing? He is telling the Pharisees who had scoffed at his teaching about use of resources that their attitude will place them in the position of the rich man in hell.
But the parable is not yet finished. It has an addendum. With great interest, we note what additional point Jesus wishes to make with this unusual device. And we find him returning to the topic of one’s view of and use of God’s Word. Just as the first part of the parable answers to vv. 1-13, so the second part of the parable answers to vv. 15-18.
WHAT WOULD A devout elderly lady once asked me in Bible YOUR ANSWER BE? Class to explain Mt. 24:19-20. Her puzzle-zzzz ment arose from her assumption that Mt. 24 is a chapter dealing entirely with the end of the world. Let us suppose that you are called upon to deal with this lady’s concern. How would you answer her?
The larger question involved is the relationship between the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD and the end of the world. Obviously, if Mt. 24 does deal with Jesus’ second coming at some point, it is not doing so in these verses, which can pertain only to Jerusalem. But vv. 36-51 do indeed unmistakably refer to Jesus’ second coming, and to that alone. In addition, then, to verses that refer only to the destruction of Jerusalem and verses that refer only to the end of the world, are there verses in this chapter that refer to both? The common assumption that there are should not go unexamined, especially since things that can be observed in connection with the approaching destruction of Jerusalem are most emphatically excluded once you get to v. 36. There is a very marked switch from emphasis upon signs to exclusion of signs. Indeed, it is not at all easy to reconcile the concept of “signs” of Jesus’ coming with the comparison of that coming to the coming of a thief in the night.
Leaving aside v. 31 for the moment, let us work backward from v. 36 to see whether we are dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the world, or both.
V. 34: The natural way to understand “generation” is as referring to the people living at that time. See the earlier occurrences in Matthew: 11:16; 12:39,41,42,45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36. This is a weighty argument that everything up to this point is still referring exclusively to the destruction of Jerusalem. (V. 27 simply stresses that when Jesus does come, it will not be a merely local occurrence.)
Vv. 32-33: If these words refer to Jesus’ second coming, they would indicate that one can infer the timing thereof from certain signs. How does one reconcile this with I Thess. 5:2? (Note that what is “near” is not specified here, since the Greek allows either a personal pronoun (he, she) or an impersonal pronoun (it) as a translation, but it is specified in Luke 21:31. And remember that “kingdom” in the Gospel accounts is ordinarily not directly connected to Jesus’ second coming.)
V. 30: The quotation is from Daniel 7:13-14, which deals, not with Jesus’ second coming, but with His glorious ascension into heaven. The word translated “earth” can also be translated “land.” At the end of the world, we will see Jesus, not a sign of Him. The opening words can be translated: “Then will appear the sign [or indication, proof, evidence] that the Son of Man is in heaven.” The destruction of Jerusalem can certainly be understood as that sign, since the Romans were Jesus’ agents, whom He was then using very effectively against the Jews just as they had once used them against Jesus at the crucifixion. The thought would be: The destruction of Jerusalem as judgment upon the unbelieving nation is proof that, as indicated in the scene depicted in Daniel 7, Jesus is ruling in glory from heaven – the one they had rejected and crucified (cp. Acts 2:36). Yes, the tribes of the land would then mourn.
V. 29: Here many are victimized by not being aware of how commonly the Bible employs figurative language. (A few obvious examples are Ps. 96:12, Is. 55:12, and Jer. 7:25.) In how many of the following verses is literal language being used? Is. 13:10; Joel 2:10, 2:31, 3:15; Ez. 32:7-8; Is. 34:4. Who does not see that language concerning darkening of what is bright and glorious and falling of what is lofty and apparently secure is effectively used to portray the collapse of earthly kingdoms? And could not such language now be most fittingly applied to the chosen nation itself when the Romans deal decisively with its revolt? Remember how frequently Scripture refers to the destruction of Jerusalem. Is. 66:6; Amos 9:1; Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 19:41-44, 23:28-31; Mt. 22:7, 23:33ff.; I Th. 2:16. Note also the references to Jesus and Jerusalem’s pending destruction in Mt. 10:23, 26:64, and perhaps also 16:28.
That leaves v. 31. At first glance, it appears that this surely cannot apply to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is to be noted, however, that in other verses that speak of what the angels do at the end of the world, they do more than gather. They also separate. Cf. Mt. 13:41-42,49-50. Here they only gather. And in Greek there are not separate words for “angels” and “messengers.” The same word can have both meanings. Can a good sense be obtained if we think here of human messengers instead of angels? Yes. The destruction of the temple removed a roadblock to the spread of the Gospel. The trumpet, connected as it was with the year of Jubilee, marks the fullness of freedom we have in Christ in the New Testament period of fulfillment, when the Old Testament ceremonial law, including what took place in the temple, is permanently eclipsed. As God removes that temple with all that it represented, He sends forth His Gospel messengers throughout the world to gather the elect into His Church.
Thus the assumption that vv. 29-31 simply cannot be applied to the destruction of Jerusalem is seen to be without foundation. That opens the door for a very attractive way to understand Mt. 24, and a very simple answer to the lady’s Bible Class question. Jesus has given a very organized response to the two questions of His disciples in v. 3. The destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, though most certainly comparable in some ways, are not here merged; they are separated from one another. The very wording of v. 36 indicates a switch in topic; the second question of the disciples – the one about the end of the age – will now receive its answer. No longer need we try to understand how there can be signs of an event that will not be preceded by any signs. No longer need we deal with an apparent contradiction to the various passages of Scripture that stress the need for constant readiness for Christ’s coming since nothing will take place to mark it as about to happen, or even as particularly close. Mt. 24:36 – 25:13; Luke 12:40; Luke 17:26ff.; I Thess. 5:2; II Peter 3:10; Rev. 16:15. These passages disallow any distinctions in degrees either of nearness or of readiness.
Let us, under two headings, glance into some of the pertinent literature on this.
HOW HELPFUL May we see in earthquakes and similar disastrous IS THIS? phenomena reminders of the end of all things? zzz Most certainly. But it is a totally different thing to speak of signs as things indicating a temporal nearness of Christ’s coming that could not be inferred in the absence of those signs.
An example of obscuring this critical distinction may be found in Lesson 40 of the worksheets for the Advanced Bible History, once very commonly used in our circles in teaching Bible history to the young. Question 3 calls for the student to “list five signs of the end of the world.” But in Question 4 we find this: “These signs have always been with us. When we see them we should let them remind us [emphasis added] that this world will end. Give at least three examples of times when these signs have occurred.” (Not to be overlooked is this very unfortunate statement in Question 12: “By ‘this generation’ Jesus means the Jewish people.”)
A glance into F. Rupprecht’s Bible History References (CPH) also turns up something troubling. There, in Lesson 40 (“The Signs of Christ’s Coming Luke 21:25-36”), there is a statement that “Jesus mentioned certain signs that will precede His appearing in the clouds of heaven.” This is followed by a listing of five items under the heading, “Signs Pointing to the End.” “And there shall be signs – Certain occurrences, unusual or otherwise, that foretoken a great event; here: the coming of the Last Day. 1) In the sun and in the moon and in the stars – ‘The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven,’ Matt. 24:29.” A passage from Kretzmann’s commentary is then quoted. No. 3 is “more than ordinary tempests and gales on the great bodies of water all over the world.” No. 5, which includes another quotation from Kretzmann (“The very powers of the heavens that hold the machinery of the vast sky in place will be moved and shaken”), is that “sun, moon, and stars will leave their wonted orbits and in utter confusion will be thrust hither and thither.”
Let’s follow Rupprecht’s lead and see what we find in Kretzmann’s commentary. “When the day which is destined to be the last day of this world dawns, most unusual and terrible signs will appear. The sun will be darkened, the moon will lose her splendor, the stars will fall from the sky, the powers which control the heavens will be agitated, all the laws of nature will be overthrown. No ordinary eclipses, shooting stars, meteors here, that are merely acting in accordance with nature’s law; here is chaos, here is the subverting of all the powers that have held the universe in its accustomed path.” Does this sound like signs of the end, or the end itself; like something that is coming, or something that has arrived?
Those are comments on Mt. 24:29-31. Kretzmann makes very similar statements in his comments on Mark 13. Of interest, because of the contradiction it contains, is this: “As Jesus looks forward, according to His omniscience, the earlier calamity will merge into the later, the judgment upon Jerusalem is carried out only on a greater scale in the final judgment of the world. There will be no interval of a happy, sinless reign, no millennium. With no respite and without extensive previous warning [emphasis added] the Day of the Lord will dawn, it will burst upon the world with great suddenness [emphasis added].” The treatment of Luke 21:25-27 begins: “Here some of the signs that will usher in the great Day of Judgment are enumerated.” The context seems to indicate that the “signs” are viewed as the actual end of the world.
Thus, though Rupprecht is setting forth a dramatically different view from that of Kretzmann – “signs pointing to the end” rather than events of the end – he makes it appear that Kretzmann is an advocate of his (Rupprecht’s) view.
The inability to state clearly what is actually happening according to the common view of Mt. 24:29 is also illustrated in this striking quotation on p. 614 from The Gospels by John Ylvisaker: “When the last tribulations have reached their climax, the advent of the Lord shall take place, heralded and attended [emphasis added] by appalling cataclysms in nature: the sun shall be darkened …. … Nature, both in heaven and on earth, shall pass through such an organic change that it must be obvious to every one that the end is at hand. The forces of nature shall be transformed so thoroughly that it will be plainly apparent that the old order of things is in the process of dissolution.” Here, in the underlined three-word phrase, we have the two fundamentally contradictory positions represented: the position of Rupprecht in the word “heralded,” and the position of Kretzmann in the word “attended.”
Other baffling passages have been discovered in literature from which we would expect to obtain help. “By the presence of the vultures you can know the presence of the carcass. So shall it be at the end. By the signs I am giving you shall my sheep know that the death of the world is at hand. Like vultures these signs of the times shall fly about, and ye shall know in spite of the fearfulness of this great dying of the world, that the end is at hand. And it is indeed not hard to understand, for He has made for us the end of Jerusalem as a type. As it was with Jerusalem’s end, so shall it be at the end of the world. … Indeed they are flying about, the signs of the times, the vultures over a dying world.” (Sermon by Winfred Schaller Sr. on Mt. 24:15-28, preached Nov. 18, 1945. If the vultures represent signs, and the end of the world is its death, shouldn’t that end precede the signs, rather than vice versa? And shouldn’t the signs then proceed to devour the dead world?)
Or: “We are not unduly belaboring a point when we again caution the reader to understand the words, ‘near, right at the door’ [in Mt. 22:33] correctly. … To him what we call ‘near’ in time can be 10,000 or more years in the future.” (W. Franzmann, Bible History Commentary, NT-1, p. 677) On the other hand, A.T. Robertson candidly acknowledges (in commenting on Mt. 24:29 in his Word Pictures of the New Testament, I, pp. 192-93): “This word [immediately] … gives trouble if one stresses the time element.”
On p. 447 (Lesson 74) in Bible History (NPH, 1982; 2nd printing 1989; labeled for Grades 5-6), there is a picture of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the Bible references are Mt. 24:1-29, Mark 13:1-37, and Luke 21:5-38. But the title of the lesson is “Christ’s Second Coming.”
Finally, mention should be made of the article, “Heed the Signs,” on pp. 16-17 of the January 2008 issue of the Wisconsin Synod’s Forward in Christ. In addition to other problems, including a reference to the existence of signs before the Flood, there is a setting forth of two incompatible positions. “Notably, Scripture offers three different signs to remind us [emphasis added] that his return will be ‘soon’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20).” That is acceptable, though “signs” is a misleading word. “Immediately before our Lord’s return there will also be astrological events.” What does that leave of the concept of a “thief in the night” and of the need to be ready at all times?
BUT FOR THIS WE CAN The 2004-3 issue of the Journal of BE VERY THANKFUL Theology (CLC) is an excellent zzzzzzzz launching pad for additional study of Mt. 24. That issue contains a book review in which Prof. David Lau lists the various earlier issues of the JT in which Pastor Paul F. Nolting had written on this chapter. During the last quarter of the previous century, Nolting had made the CLC aware of the alternative understanding of this chapter in papers, articles, and sermons. We might also mention his Ministry by Mail sermon of 30 years ago, the one dated Dec. 3, 1978. Because of how accustomed we are to a different understanding of v. 31, we quote Pastor Nolting’s helpful comments on that verse.
“So also the sound of the trumpet is not just used in Scripture to signal the end of time. It was also used to signal the Year of Jubilee in which liberty from debts, liberty from slavery, and liberty from all kinds of obligations was proclaimed. … As long as the temple, the Old Testament priesthood, the sacrifices, and all the rituals still remained, the preaching of the Gospel was hindered because pressure would be placed upon converts to become Jewish first so that they could become Christian. … Once all was swept away, as it was after 70 A.D., the way was cleared for messengers of the Gospel to go to the four corners of the earth and proclaim the liberty of the Gospel – liberty from the law, liberty from sin, liberty from Satan, and liberty from death itself through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jerusalem and Parousia – Jesus’ Eschatological Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel by Prof. Jeffrey Gibbs (CPH, 2000; “parousia” is the Greek word commonly used to refer to Jesus’ second coming, and “eschatological” means “having to do with the last things”) is the book treated in Lau’s very favorable nine-page review. We limit ourselves to three brief quotations from this magnificent study. “The allusions in Matt 24:29 to Isa 13:10 and passages like it are not excessively subtle.” “The sequence of events in 24:29-31 parallels the salvation-historical sequence found in the parables of the Wicked Tenants (21:33-46) and the Wedding Feast (22:1-13), namely (1) judgment upon the nation of Israel whose leaders and crowds rejected Jesus as Christ and Son of God, followed by (2) the turning of invitation and outreach to the Gentiles.” “The sequence of ‘judgment on Jerusalem followed by mission to the Gentiles’ is precisely that which occurs in the parables of the Wicked Tenants and the Wedding Feast.” (pp. 195, 174-75, 202)
One important point of difference between Nolting and Gibbs should be noted. It concerns the question of how to understand “end” in 24:6 & 14. In view of Col. 1:6,23 (note also Acts 2:8-11 and Rom. 1:8, 10:18, 15:24), a reference to the destruction of the temple and city is certainly possible, and that is how Nolting takes it, at least in v. 6. (The promised continuation of this Journal series on the Olivet Discourse unfortunately never came; the treatment thus does not get beyond 24:8.) In the section on 24:4-8 (JT, 1988-2, pp. 37,39,40). Nolting writes: “The end of what? The end of the temple, its destruction, and so the end of the Nation of Israel in its covenant relationship to the Lord.” “Secular history reports a plethora of earthquakes in the years preceding AD 70 – in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Campania, Rome, and Judea. It was as though the Lord was making every effort to gain the attention of Jews before judgment would fall upon their nation.” “What we are protesting against is the view that our Lord, in responding to the questions of His disciples concerning His prophecy of the destruction of the temple, began by warning them about deceptions that would confront disciples living hundreds of years later.” Gibbs, however, understands it as referring to the end of the world. Cf. pp. 181-82, 196, and 229.
To answer a question that might arise concerning Mt. 24:22, we also offer the explanation given on p. 120 of An Eschatology of Victory by J. Marcellus Kik (1971): “It was out of mercy that God decreed a limit to the terrible siege. … If the siege had continued for long the war would have spread throughout Palestine and even the Christians would have suffered.”
MAIER A welcome collection of interesting material both about and z by Walter A. Maier, Missouri Synod seminary professor, author, and Lutheran Hour speaker who lived from 1893 to 1950, a collection produced by Herman Otten, was published earlier this year by Lutheran News, Inc. It is entitled Walter A. Maier Still Speaks – Missouri and the World Should Listen. Many may remember Maier as the author of For Better, Not For Worse. He also wrote a scholarly commentary on the book of Nahum. In the table of contents, there is some improper alignment of chapter headings with page numbers.
PIEPER Mention Friday evening lectures and we may immediately zz think of C.F.W. Walther’s book on Law and Gospel, the contents of which were first delivered to students at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in the “Luther Hour” on Friday evenings. Two sets of such lectures by Walther’s successor, Francis Pieper, are now available in English as a result of the translation labors of Dr. O. Marc Tangner. These are the lectures on justification, and the lectures on the true visible church. The two sets of lectures were published in 2007 by The Luther Academy under the title, The Church and Her Treasure.
Dr. Tangner, an adult convert who had once been a Marxist, and a one-time college German professor, is known and dear to us in the RLC as the translator of J.P. Meyer’s articles on the kingdom of Christ. We are delighted that he has been enabled, despite advancing age, to make this valuable material accessible in a fluent English translation. The Antichrist, the clarity and authority of Scripture, the distinction between Law and Gospel – these are but a few of the many topics that the reader will find treated in a most devout, edifying, and down-to-earth manner in these pages. A number of members of Grace Congregation have read, with great profit, the copy that has been placed in their church library.
Dr. Tangner thanks Pastor Bryce Winter of Australia for calling his attention to one set of these lectures. English translations of other sets of Pieper’s Luther Hour lectures appear in the 1998-1 issue of The Faithful Word of the Lutheran Churches of the Reformation, where spiritual life is the topic, and in the 2002-1 issue of that same publication, where the proper preaching of God’s Word is the topic.
SCHALLER The lead article in the October 2002 Lutheran Spokesman z (CLC) is a portion of a Reformation sermon on I Kings 18:36-41 by Egbert Schaller. The reprinting of this in the Oct. 28, 2002, issue of Christian News elicited a letter from Joel Gerlach, one-time member of the Wisconsin Synod’s seminary faculty. Here is part of that letter, which was published on p. 24 of the Nov. 18, 2002, issue. “They [the sermons by Schaller contained in the first two volumes published by Prof. em. Paul Koch (it was the next and third volume that included the afore-mentioned Reformation sermon)] represent Lutheran preaching at its best. My wife and I use them for our family devotions, and I never cease to be amazed at what Schaller could find in a text and apply to our lives. If I were still teaching homiletics, I would require every student to acquire copies of the two booklets for the purpose of analyzing sermon structure and learning how to properly distinguish and preach Law and Gospel.” We resurrect this ringing recommendation at a time when we can joyfully announce that with publication a couple of months ago of another collection, the number of published volumes of Prof. Schaller’s sermons has reached six. Order from Paul R. Koch, 3425 Morgan Ave., Eau Claire, Wis. 54701-7023; phone 715-835-5083; firstname.lastname@example.org The cost is $8 per copy plus postage.
FOUNDERS Between hearing from one side that our founding fathers z were not all that different from today’s secularists, and from the other side that they were ardent Christians if not even theocrats, we have perhaps wondered just exactly where the truth really lies, and where a correct version of things can conveniently be found. One answer that can now be given is: in the pages of Founding Faith by Steven Waldman (2008). We heartily recommend its reading, and even its purchase, by any seeking, from someone not grinding an ax, an accurate and readable account of the emergence of religious liberty at our country’s founding. This is welcome and wonderful reading.
JULIAN Emperor Julian (361-363) sought to revive paganism in the z Roman Empire. What he did in turning his attention to education is of great interest. Here are quotations from pp. 83-84 of G.W. Bowersock’s 1978 book, Julian the Apostate. “… Julian did not advocate illegality or open persecution as a means of wiping out the Christians. He preferred subtler means, especially inducements to recant and the purification of the younger generation. … No Christian, in his view, would qualify as a teacher because he was automatically deficient in character (mores). Accordingly by a single stroke Julian forbade Christians to teach grammar, rhetoric, and philosophy. … Julian knew perfectly well what he was doing. Within little more than a generation the educated elite of the empire would be pagan. … Meanwhile, Julian announced that the Christians had to be cured of their disease like madmen, against their will. ‘In my opinion,’ he declared, ‘one does not punish but instruct the insane.’”
LUTHER Beginning with a volume scheduled to come out a year from z now, Concordia Publishing House is embarking on a major project: translating and publishing more of Luther’s works in 20 volumes that will be added to the current 55 volumes of the American Edition of Luther’s works as volumes 56-75.
We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.
A DEADBEAT’S BIBLE The old curfew warning said, “It’s 10 zzzzz o’clock p.m. Do you know where your children are?” Authorities have modified the warning for parents of today’s latchkey kids: “It’s 4 o’clock p.m. Do you know where your children are?”
The cops know, even if parents do not, that unsupervised children are not capable of supervising themselves.
But the can’t-be-bothered parent has a heroine in Judith Rich Harris, whose best-selling book has a title which pretty much says it all: “The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do; Parents Matter Less Than You Think and Peers Matter More.”
Nothing parents do, Harris argues, affects a child’s behavior, relationships, personality, sense of self-worth, mental health, or abilities. Virtually nothing the parent says or does – not kind words, slaps, or hugs; neither laxity nor firmness – makes a smidgen of difference in a child’s life.
Parents get no credit or blame, if they rear children well or abuse them, Harris says, because parents simply don’t matter.
Well then, does anything matter? Yes, Harris says: “The world that children live in with their peers determines how they grow up.” She means: Spend lots of money on a nice home in a swank neighborhood, for fashionable clothes, orthodontia, and if need be, plastic surgery.
Harris just put another book in the bible of pop psychology which says, “Everything bad that happens is somebody else’s fault.”
The real Bible teaches personal responsibility; behavior does matter; and, like it or not, there are always consequences. Why “Honor thy father and thy mother,” if they don’t matter anyway? Why should fathers “bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” if fathers are irrelevant to start with?
Does any sane person really believe Harris’ psychobabble on child rearing? An old friend of ours used to say, “If you’re going to train a dog, you’ve got to be smarter than the dog.” Solomon agrees in a famous Bible proverb [22:6]: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Note the phrase, “way he should go,” and not the “way he wants to go.” Solomon assumed a real parent would know the difference.
DOCTORED PRIORITIES Ronald Glasser, M.D. and a Minneapolis z pediatrician, is an even-tempered man. He’s mad and he stays mad. He says his doctor’s office today is little more than an insurance company’s waiting room. Glasser claims America’s doctors are held hostage to corporate health-care systems that are more interested in making money than caring for the sick.
He cites a manifesto, signed last year by 2,300 Massachusetts physicians, protesting the threats and bribes to shun the sickest patients as “unprofitable.” They risk being fired or “delisted” for giving, or even discussing, expensive procedures and are offered “bonuses” for minimizing health care.
And Doc Glasser names names: Women with breast cancer who have to hire lawyers to get their health plans to pay for treatment. Managed-care companies that deny wheelchairs to children who pass a “utilization test” by staggering 25 feet with the help of a walker.
Sadly, Doc says, this is occurring at a time when new medical procedures are developed every day that are nothing short of miraculous.
There are a whole lot of school teachers out there who know exactly what Dr. Glasser is talking about and understand his frustration. Most got into teaching to equip children with the basics and enrich their lives with a mastery of history, math, and literature. Instead, they find they are supposed to stem the tide of broken homes, drug abuse, venereal disease, gang violence, and racial prejudice.
The good folks in Onalaska [Wis.] recently debated the merits of all-day kindergarten sessions. Many quite honestly favored the idea because it would spare them the expense of day care.
So now we can add babysitting to the list of feeding, medicating, entertaining, chaperoning, and disciplining American school children.
And the end is nowhere in sight. Check any school office for the non-educational baggage educators are saddled with. And people wonder why Johnny can’t read? Or figure his change from a one-dollar bill?
It’s hard to go up against a $952-billion-a-year health-care system. But it is possible for parents to refocus attention, away from themselves, and back on the offspring they brought into this world.
We in the RLC have now enjoyed nearly nine years of joint work. This wonderful blessing our Heavenly Father has granted to us for Jesus’ sake, despite our great unworthiness.
The first of our two conference meetings this past year was held April 5th in Austin, Minn. The four congregations had made preparations for participating in a discussion regarding the best way to spend our time at meetings and the best way to work together more efficiently. Detailed proposals that had been submitted by St. Peter’s of Austin were discussed at some length, with the result that one of them – the proposal to start a publication – was adopted. (The other proposal was to establish a committee to deal with all aspects of our organization and joint work.) Pastor Dommer began a discussion of the liturgy.
Pastor Dommer continued this presentation during the first part of our other meeting this year, which was held at St. Mark’s in Onalaska on Sept. 15th. A topic by Pastor Wehrwein on Psalm 82 and government that had been started at the April 21, 2007, meeting was completed. Considerable discussion on the subject of education attended this topic. Discussion of our joint work was then resumed. Although inconclusive, this discussion did bring before everyone the question of why we have not made a systematic, concerted effort to determine where we should be focusing our time, efforts, and resources.
“Love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth,” I Cor. 13:4-6. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. … Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation,” Rom. 12:10,16. “To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit,” I Peter 3:8. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself,” Phil. 2:3. “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth,” III John 4.