Meditating Day and Night…………………………………….…….…p. 3
A sermon on Jesus’ transfiguration
To the Point! …………………………………………..……………..…p. 7
1. Common Sense of Christ
2. Home, Sweet Home
From the Bookshelves ………….…………………………..… ……..p. 9
1. What the Bible Says About Parenting
2. The Theology of the Cross
Thirteen dead horses: “The messenger galloping home to Venice with the news from Paris rode thirteen horses to death in his haste.” So reports David Boyle on p. 229 of Toward the Setting Sun. What news was so important? King Charles VIII of France had died (in 1498).
It has been well said that the Christian life is not a dash but a marathon. Still, we have the most important news of all, and a sense of urgency about getting the word out is nowhere more appropriate than in a Christian. Sin, death, and damnation have died, executed by Christ.
Mt. 28:7-8: “And go quickly …. And they departed quickly from the tomb … and ran ….”
Without parental knowledge: In an on-line discussion group on education, one parent recently reported that William Ayers spoke at the public high school that his son attends – without any advance notice having been given to parents.
The current staff of this bimonthly publication of the RLC is R.E. Wehrwein (editor), Derek Wehrwein, and Shannon Steensma. Subscriptions are $10 per year. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; firstname.lastname@example.org
— www.reformationlutheranconference.org –
Luke 9:30-31: “Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.”
It is common to consider the Holy Spirit’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration as we move from the season of Epiphany to the season of Lent. On that occasion, when Jesus revealed His divine glory, we are at a point of transition. With the bulk of His public ministry behind Him, our Savior prepares to head for Jerusalem. There is therefore so much to think about as we look back, and ahead. Added to this is the appearance of two very prominent Old Testament figures, Moses and Elijah. What memories their names bring back as we recall all that is recorded of them; to what further reflections we are led as we keep in mind the offices of lawgiver and prophet represented by these two men. Indeed, the disciples themselves could not have been more dazzled by the divine glory that shone forth in and through Jesus’ humanity than we are dazzled by everything offered for our meditation by this precious account God has given to us.
Since we must, therefore, be very selective, we will focus on this fact, that Moses and Elijah were not of a mind to discuss all that had transpired during their earthly lives, nor even to discuss the glories of eternal life, but had nothing else to discuss than Jesus’ death. So we consider why we too finally have nothing else to think and talk about than Jesus’ departure.
1. Because we have contributed our full share
to the wreckage filling this world.
The wreckage of which we are speaking is not that of lost civilizations, on which archaeologists expend such vast resources; rather, it is the wreckage described, first of all, in Ex. 32:19: “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.”
Let no one say that this is merely one isolated location, and that a couple of stone tablets are of little or no consequence. For the tablets take us back to God Himself. And as surely as there was wreckage at the foot of Mt. Sinai, so surely wreckage fills the entire world.
The tablets take us back to the perfect and supremely holy God because they were written by Him. “The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets,” Ex. 32:16. Behind them is the One who, by His very nature, must forever drive all evil from His sight. The fire of His holiness can do nothing else. Since the Ten Commandments written on these stone tablets come from the holy God, their content is perfect. “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good,” Rom. 7:12.
It being impossible for God to permit Himself to be displaced, He naturally requires that He be acknowledged, worshiped, and honored as the one true God. This is expressed in the first table of the Law. Furthermore, the amazing gifts that God has poured out upon mankind – the gift of His own representatives, of life, of marriage, of property, of a good name – are protected through the sacred commands of the second table of the Law. And holy desires are the object of exclusive focus in the last two commandments.
Alas, what a tragedy that this supremely holy will of God is wantonly violated and attacked, so that its embodiment on stone lies shattered, broken, a heap of wreckage.
Such is the fate of God’s Law throughout the length and breadth of this world. And we, yes, you and I, have contributed our full share to this worldwide wreckage. “We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. … We have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws He gave us through His servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you,” Daniel 9:5,6,10,11. “All have sinned!” If we attempt to excuse ourselves for responsibility for shattering God’s commands along with the Children of Israel, then we are guilty of the great sin of pride.
But our view of the wreckage is not yet complete. “He [Elijah] replied, ‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword,’” I Kings 19:10. See also v. 14. More wreckage – the wreckage of the very altars constructed to worship the true God. A smashing of the First Commandment, fountainhead of all the rest. Worship of the Golden Calf on a large scale, as it were. An attack upon God as Savior just as erection of the Golden Calf at Sinai was an attack upon the God who had rescued Israel from Egypt.
Who can ever truly take the measure of the wreckage that comes into view when our thoughts trace out the connections suggested by the appearance on the mount of transfiguration of: 1) Moses; and 2) Elijah.
2. Because in that departure alone, and in nothing else,
there was a new kind of breaking through which
everything was put back together.
What then shall descend upon this world, which has broken God’s commands? We know very well what descended. God Himself descended. He acted in holy vengeance. He picked up instruments of cruel punishment. He wielded them mightily, one after the other. The cruel scourge. The crown of thorns. That horrible instrument of the ultimate in a tortured death – the cross, with regard to which He Himself had declared: “Cursed is every one who hangs on a tree.” He did inflict mankind’s punishment. He did extract the utmost price for mankind’s sin. He did slam shut the door of heaven, and open wide the door of hell. He did drive the evil out of His sight, expelling it into outer darkness.
But none of us can say that we felt this. None of us, ranging over the length and breadth of the world, or over its past and future, can turn up any sinner who experienced this punishment. For it was the holy, innocent Son of God, Jesus, who bore this punishment, fulfilling those wonderful words of Isaiah 53: “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.”
When Moses came down from his Old Testament mountain, what faces us is broken commandmenets. When Elijah came down from his Old Testament mountain, Carmel, we have facing us broken altars. But when Jesus came down from His mount of transfiguration, there is a very different kind of breaking: His own body is broken as He steps into our place, becoming the victim of God’s wrath in our stead. Yes, since Jesus is God, we may say that the descent from this mount leads us to the breaking of God.
It is this new kind of breaking to which we cling when we take up the words of Paul Gerhardt: “The joy can ne’er be spoken, Above all joys beside, When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.” (LH: 172-7)
What was the outcome of this new kind of breaking? As our sin shattered the tables of stone, so the righteousness of Jesus, brought to completion when He obediently gave Himself into that sacrificial death, put them back together. What we never could have begun, Jesus did: He pieced everything flawlessly back into perfect form. That which was broken is whole again. Once again the commandments are in one piece. Once again they exist, inviolate, exactly as they came forth from the mouth and hand of God. Once again there is not a mark or scratch to be found upon them. By being broken Himself, Jesus completed the course of perfect obedience through which the wreckage disappears and the tables of the Law are presented unbroken to the Father on behalf of the world. It is as impossible to disfigure them as it is impossible to go back and eradicate the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. The devil himself can only rage in impotent fury as the world is blanketed in righteousness.
But let no one think that he has numerous options. Peter declared concerning the risen Christ: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name, under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12. It is in Jesus’ departure, and in that alone, that there is a new kind of breaking through which everything was put back together.
God grant, then, that we may always join Moses and Elijah in understanding that the one subject of surpassing importance was, is, and always will be, the death that Jesus accomplished in Jerusalem. Amen.
We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.
COMMON SENSE Timothy Richard spent years among the
OF CHRIST desperate and famine-stricken people of
x China. He tells how he was hampered in his efforts to distribute food and clothing to the masses. The starving crowds were simply unmanageable.
Till one day in his morning Bible reading, Richard came across the verse in which Jesus said: “Make the people sit down.”
In a flash, he saw the solution. Sitting people do not push and shove and trample one another. Ever after, he said, he had the highest opinion of “the common sense of Christ.”
How often doesn’t it happen? Good and gifted people often fail in their purpose because they lack common sense.
Jesus had a good measure of it. He fed 5,000 hungry souls that day. “Make the people sit down.”
The man Jairus and his wife were so startled to see their daughter raised to life that they stood there and did nothing. Only Christ saw the common-sense thing to do. “Give her something to eat,” He said.
He did it again Easter evening. At the sight of the risen Christ, the frightened disciples did not believe their eyes. They thought their nerves were playing tricks on them, till Jesus told them something that made good sense: “Handle Me and see!” He was not at all afraid of the experiment. He challenged them to make the test: “Handle Me and see!” Prove it for yourself, once and for all. Do the common sense thing to answer your doubts and questions.
He allows Himself to be handled critically, roughly, and even cruelly. They found out He was no fantasy, no ghost or apparition. He knows that we are children of our times, prejudiced and skeptical. “Handle me and see!”
Begin right where you are and with what you have. Lay hold of any word or promise of His. Dare to test Him out. “Handle Me and see!” You will find that His offer makes the best common sense in the world.
HOME, SWEET HOME The U. S. Congress has passed the
Defense of Marriage Act. The bill was sponsored in the House by Bob Barr (three marriages), endorsed by then Senator Dole (two marriages), and signed by the president (he of the colorful personal life).
Which led one person to remark, “If marriage needs Congress to defend it, then we know we are in serious trouble.”
Part of the problem is the pro-family group itself. These folks paint a hopelessly unrealistic picture of family life. Their argument usually is: In the stress and strain of modern life, the family is a haven of peace, and pleasantry, and unity.
G.K. Chesterton says that the honest defense of the home would be: Family life is not peaceful, not pleasant, and not unified. It takes a heap of divine grace and hard work, and a shared faith and vision to hold a family together and make it worth the effort.
It is difficult for any man, who has lived largely by himself and for himself, to commit himself to the well-being of another person. There is a grinding of gears to change a vocabulary of “I” and “me” and “mine” to a mindset of “you” and “yours” and “ours.”
It’s hard for a woman, the center of attention herself, to give full attention to an infant; from perfumed lover to smelling like a baby.
Any child with a will of its own rebels against each command with the cry, “I don’t want to.” Outside with others, the same child will say, “Now I will be the mother, and you must do what I say.” To which the others will respond, “I don’t want to.”
In realistic fashion Scripture describes the home life of Jacob, and Samuel, and the prodigal son.
Like any extended family, the Christian Church is made up of every imaginable personality type, age, race, and social status. And yet, in Christ what holds us together is always stronger than what pulls us apart. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
There is always hope, where Christ is forever making new personalities out of old, and forging new possibilities out of worn-out relationships.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY John MacArthur’s book, What the Bible z Says About Parenting – God’s Plan for Rearing Your Child (Thomas Nelson, 2000) was procured because of a request to include comments on it in Grace Congregation’s Bible Class discussion of the Christian family. A pair of minor quibbles can be disposed of right away: 1) “Parent” still doesn’t seem to me to be a legitimate verb. 2) Nor can we dispel some lingering reservations about the author’s frequent references to children as “kids.”
Worthy of note is this pair of statements on p. xi: “Politicians seem more and more intent on usurping the parental role. And parents seem more and more willing to abdicate that role to others.” Members of Grace will recall how some stressed one of these evils, and others the other, in a previous Bible Class discussion of education. (Here we can also include the fine statement on p. 19: “Parents must involve themselves in their children’s lives enough to insure that no other influence takes precedence.”) Another of many excellent statements is this on p. 7: “It appears that the village Mrs. Clinton envisions is a morass of federally-funded programs designed to indoctrinate children with whatever values the state deems acceptable. And if anything has been made clear over the past half century, it is that biblical values are certainly not deemed acceptable in any government-sponsored program in America, so Mrs. Clinton’s village would no doubt indoctrinate children with secular humanism instead.”
But that passage also contains a phrase that puts one on the alert: “biblical values.” What does this mean? One’s apprehensions are not lessened by this on p. 9: “All taboos are systematically being abolished and replaced with one new taboo: Absolute moral standards, instituted by God and revealed in the Bible, should govern all human behavior.” You can see the problem; you are used to seeing it everywhere. Natural law is obliterated. Moral standards are assumed to be connected exclusively with Scripture. A concept that should be attached to Gospel truths, “revealed,” is used to refer to something that, though it is reaffirmed in Scripture, is originally written on the heart (natural law). Most alarmingly, the stage is thus set to treat the Bible as nothing more than a book of Law, thus robbing us of our salvation. May we never cease being horrified beyond measure at such satanic error. No, we are not saying that this book has no Gospel. We are showing the error implicit in this particular way of stating things. Note also the sentence on top of this same page: “Therefore the future of the family in our society hinges on the success of those who are committed to the truth of Scripture.” Is this not going too far? Does it not imply denial of the “natural affection” of which the Bible itself speaks (Rom. 1:31; II Tim. 3:3)? Leaving the strictly spiritual aside, are there not wonderful marriages and is there not a great deal of wholesome family life also among those who are not Christians?
A striking statement early in the second chapter (p. 28) is this: “Scripture never portrays parenting as an obstacle course beset with potentially deadly pitfalls.” But the transition is then made to the “one gigantic pitfall that is too often overlooked by Christian parents.” That is “the child’s inborn inclination toward evil.” And indeed, this chapter deserves high marks for its presentation of original sin and its consequences, and for denouncing the foolishness of the philosophy of self-esteem. One applauds this on p. 32: “The truth is that such people are not a product of something their parents did to them. They are products of what their parents did not do to them.” But we are not surprised to find that regeneration is not treated as well.
That brings us to the crucial third chapter, “Good News for Your Kids,” which opens: “The one practical question I am most commonly asked by parents is this: How should I present the gospel to my children?” And we in turn have learned from experience to ask: Will the Gospel now actually be presented and set forth, or will it be conspicuous by its absence though the word itself is used repeatedly? The answer to whether it is presented is a qualified yes. The Gospel is proclaimed – this we are very happy to say. For numerous passages are quoted that set forth the perfect finished saving work of Jesus Christ. But in the author’s own statements, do we find ringing affirmation of objective justification? No. “His righteousness is imputed to those who trust Him. … Thus He freely justifies all who trust in Him.” (p. 59) Is the sharp distinction between Law and Gospel upheld? No. “Real saving faith cannot be ignorant of essential gospel concepts such as good and evil, sin and punishment, repentance and faith, God’s holiness and His wrath against sin ….” (p. 49) One has difficulty putting a good construction on this on p. 52: “No single formula can possibly meet the needs of every unregenerate person anyway.” Will not this do: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mk. 1:15) This is an example of how faith seems to be intellectualized. The wonder of Christ’s immeasurable love in being willing to suffer so terribly for us sinners does not come through clearly.
To these weaknesses in presenting what Christ has done (Second Article) must be added what is probably an even greater failure when it comes to the work of the Holy Spirit (Third Article). Very simply, the concept of the Means of Grace is scarcely to be discerned. The true glory of the Word and Sacraments as the divinely chosen tools that create faith, kill the old man, bring the new birth, snatch us from death and damnation, unite us to Christ, enable us to call out to our Heavenly Father with limitless confidence, overcome the devil, bring peace to the heart, bestow absolute certainty of salvation, and preserve us unto heaven – none of this is distinctly and forcefully set forth. “Baptism” is not to be found in the index. (Neither is “Gospel,” although “Law” is.) Not unexpectedly, the intimate connection we always want to see made between all good works and what we have received from Christ (“We love because He first loved us”) is not clearly made. At about the half-way point in reading the book, it was our impression that the abundant use of Scripture throughout the book, and even the occasional eloquent passage on the use of the Word (e.g., pp. 124-25), are not properly set in the framework of an overall outlook in which the Gospel always remains the overriding consideration.
The usual deficiencies of Reformed theology are thus indeed on display in this book. Rather than expand further on such matters, however, we will focus on what can be commended in the remaining five chapters of the book.
The fourth chapter is the longest of the eight chapters. Quotations from Proverbs abound here. There is much to vigorously applaud. “From the very earliest age, teach your children that sin is a capital offense against a holy God.” (p. 80) “Drugs have thus replaced discipline for millions of parents.” (p. 87) “Teach your children to select their companions wisely.” (p. 88) In the fifth chapter, dealing with obedience, we find this: “Your kids will be good at disobedience; you won’t have to teach them that. No one ever had to explain to a child how to disobey. No parents have ever said to a toddler, ‘Let’s do a little role playing so I can show you how to disobey.’ They have disobedience down very well; it comes naturally to them. They are experts in it from the very beginning. But obedience is something they must learn.” (p. 114)
Ch. 6, which has much on provoking to anger, is outstanding. “But let’s remember that parents are depraved, too.” (p. 131) The discussion in ch. 7 of the father’s role is similarly outstanding. These chapters might well warrant purchase of the book. (They also lead to some second thoughts about criticisms expressed in earlier paragraphs of this review.) And the high quality of material is sustained in the concluding chapter on the mother’s role, though the scope of I Cor. 11:8-9 (wrongly referred to as 14:8-9) seems unduly limited by the author on p. 196: “The Apostle Paul, calling for women to display submissive attitudes in public worship [our emphasis] wrote: ‘For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.’” The same thing is evident on p. 220, in the appendix giving answers to some key questions about the family, where, after I Cor. 11:3 is quoted, a subsequent sentences narrows the scope from man and woman to husband and wife.
Especially striking passages from the last part of the book are these: “I like to sum up the sacrificial nature of the husband’s love with these three words: Consideration. … Often it boils down to listening. The husband must understand his wife’s heart. … Chivalry. … Communion.” (pp. 168-69) “When a physical body does not respond correctly to its own head, the result is either an incapacitating paralysis or uncontrolled seizures. Either way, it is debilitating to the body.” (p. 197) “Nothing makes the truth more distasteful to a child than to have a hypocritical or spiritually shallow parent who affirms the truth publicly but denies it in the home.” (p. 233)
Although there is much more that invites comment, we will confine ourselves to the mention of two more points. On p. 13, “a man from the Lord” is accepted as the correct translation in Gen. 4:1, instead of “a man, the Lord.” On p. 20, MacArthur denounces the contents of Judith Rich Harris’s book, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do.” This is the very book treated in John Parcher’s column on p. 16 of the 2008-6 issue of Always Abounding.
Worthy of note: The index of Henry Meeter’s book, The Basic Ideas of Calvinism (fifth edition, revised; 1975 Baker Book House reprint), has an entry on the Law of God as well as major entries on government and state, but no entry for either Gospel or salvation. Furthermore, the entry for war is significantly longer than the entry for Christ.
For an outstanding delineation of the fundamental theological weaknesses in what passes for a magnificent religious book today, go to the SoundWitness website and locate the lengthy article reviewing Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. http://www.soundwitness.org/evangel/purpose_driven_life.htm
(Speaking of Rick Warren: For an explanation of how his inauguration prayer made nods to Judaism and especially to Islam, see Aaron Wolf’s article on p. 8 of the March 2009 issue of Chronicles Magazine.)
Our readers might also want to be aware of the recently formed Hausvater Project and to make use of what appears on its website, Hausvater.org.
THE THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS The first thing that comes to Reflections on His Cross and Ours mind in embarking on some zzzzz comments on this book by Daniel Deutschlander (NPH, 2008) is something that Egbert Schaller said in the introduction to a sermon he preached on Mt. 10:24-27: “After studying [the text] prayerfully for days, I have decided that it is going to be difficult to preach this sermon. It will either be too short or much too long.” (Selected Sermons of E. Schaller, first volume; p. 126 in the second edition; p. 130 in the third edition)
Another thing that comes to mind is the opportunity we had of auditing a presentation that the author, a professor of German, history, and religion at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, Minn., who ended up losing his position there because of cutbacks caused by budget constraints, made during a return visit to the college. In no uncertain terms, he explained that worship is not entertainment, adding, to our considerable surprise at his freedom from inhibitions, considering the circumstances, that that pernicious misconception had made inroads also into the Wisconsin Synod (his own fellowship and that of his audience). The book under review here repeatedly takes aim at that view, and something else that he said when speaking of dealing with the spiritual problems of the young appears exactly as we remember it on p. 173 of this book. “Just something as simple as this may make the guilty aware of the gospel in a way that they never were before: ‘Just think, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, and all around him said, ‘Come down!” he refused. And why? Because he thought of you at this very moment in your life. Thinking of you, he refused to come down. He insisted that he would stay and bear all the guilt that is yours and its eternal punishment. That’s how much he loved you! He didn’t suffer hell and die for a nameless, faceless blob of humanity. He suffered hell and died thinking of you!’”
Still another thing that comes to mind was learning during our years of seminary study that it had been said of C.F.W. Walther’s book on Law and Gospel that it was so good that pastors ought to read it once a year. We have long wondered whether even the greatest of books – and Walther’s is certainly one of them – should be viewed in quite that way, since one should be able to absorb the essence of its content without that many rereadings and since one by such a practice greatly limits the amount of time available for reading other excellent things. But the point here is that Deutschlander’s book is well-deserving of similar praise as a superlative book, with one difference: It was not written specifically for those studying for the ministry. Leaving aside basic devotional and doctrinal material – whether hymnal, catechism, Plass’s What Luther Says, etc. – as well as the six volumes (so far) of Egbert Schaller’s sermons plus Bible-study aids and a book or two on Luther, I think that if I were to restrict myself to just a dozen books that I would urge laymen, one and all, to read, this book might well be on that list.
The diet of scriptural theology is wonderfully rich and edifying. The material is practical and relevant throughout, with no aura of the study or the ivory tower about it. The voice of authentic Christian experience is heard throughout; the throbbing of a heart filled with a love for souls is felt on every page. And the writing is of the very highest quality, characterized both by irresistible forward movement and by innumerable memorable verbal zingers. Those whose profession calls for much work with books may have occasion to read in or become somewhat acquainted with dozens upon dozens of books without reading any of them cover to cover. Except at this point for two appendices, this is a book I’ve read cover to cover. You will have no trouble doing the same if you but pick it up. And you will probably soon be thinking of others to whom you want to give the book.
“So we come again to the question,” Deutschlander writes in the preface, “Could the theology of the cross be the litmus test of genuine Christianity in our day? The corrupt and the counterfeit push aside the whole concept of cross bearing in favor of a joy without it. Fake Christianity offers the Christian an imitation of Christ’s glory in heaven, not of his humiliation on earth. The phony and the artificial church turns worship into a spiritual happy hour devoid of repentance, with cheap absolution, with no thought of taking God seriously in either the law or the gospel. And people love it. They still get to be their own god, their own bible, their own source of ultimate truth and salvation. In the pages that follow, we will search the mind of God, as he has revealed it in his holy and inerrant Word, for his definition of Christian faith and life under the cross, under his cross and ours. We will wrestle with the seeming contradiction of the necessity of cross bearing and rejoicing at the same time. We will strive to bend our minds and hearts and souls beneath his cross and our own. Then we will rise under the healing balm of the gospel in his Word and sacraments to rejoice evermore in his cross and ours, until he takes us from the imitation of his cross to the enjoyment of his glory in heaven.”
The preliminary work for this review consisted in typing out about a dozen especially good brief quotations from the book. Except for what fits here, that has been deleted. It will be much better for each of you to make your own list.
“So cleverly have these vices been inserted into the soul that the called worker has not even noticed them. He has become a robed worldling. He is comfortable with the world and does not want the bother of opposing the devil and the world in himself, much less in anyone else. The sliver on the cross may even be the noble-sounding goal of winning souls for Christ but only with part of God’s Word, a Word stripped of anything that might offend the flesh and therefore keep the church from growing fast enough.” (p. 79) “Forgiveness is used as a license to sin and a wonderful and so sanctified-sounding way of escaping the cross! Should the conscience occasionally be troubled during the sermon, Rev. Sloth mounts the devil’s pulpit and soothes away the trouble: ‘Don’t be concerned about the sins the sermon rebukes; before he is done, he will tell you again that all is forgiven! Good thing too! After all, the cross hurts, it’s hard to carry it, and the sins are dear.’” (p. 83)