The well-known book by Lutheran Hour speaker, Walter A. Maier, For Better, Not for Worse – A Manual of Christian Matrimony (CPH; second edition, 1936), has 551 pages, not counting the index. It is therefore perhaps a little surprising that despite this length and even though the number of subheadings in the table of contents exceeds 200, only two of them have the word “father” in it. One of these headings quotes the Fourth Commandment and deals with obedience. The other heading is “Father, Key-Man of Our Social Order,” but is less than four pages long. The index entry on parents is about half a column long, but the entry on fathers has only seven lines and nine references to pages, of which six are to pages – a couple of them more than once – in the four-page section just mentioned. A current check, made mainly by consulting others who are much better versed in this area than we are, brought a similarly surprising result: When it comes to sound Lutheran material dealing with the Christian father, the pickings today are quite slim. Judging by a quick glance into the indexes of some Lutheran periodicals, even they have not devoted much space to the topic. Perhaps the following quotations and references might therefore be of some use.
Having mentioned Maier, let us begin with him. “We must remember that, according to divine social standards, fathers, not mothers alone, are given the command to bring up their children ‘in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Eph. 4:6 [sic; should be 6:4]).” “ … The great Reformer insisted: ‘No one should become a father unless he is able to instruct his children in the Ten Commandments and in the Gospel, so that he may bring up true Christians.” “Fathers must retain a sympathetic feeling for their children’s activities and find time to develop a happy companionship with their children. We are not, however, in favor of a loose familiarity. On the contrary, we agree wholeheartedly with Judge Aarons of Milwaukee: ‘Fathers are overdoing this pal stuff.’” (pp. 289-90)
Gen. 18:19: Two of the six sections of August Pieper’s 1923-24 article, “Anniversary Reflections,” were not included when this article was published in Vol. III of The Wauwatosa Theology (NPH, 1997). While commenting on the church’s responsibility to its children in one of these sections, Pieper wrote: “We have God’s own Word. In the very first book of the Bible, Abraham is held before our eyes. Of him the Lord says that He has appointed him the father and the pattern of all believers of the Old Covenant and of the New, not as Luther most unfortunately has rendered it, ‘I know that he will command his children,’ etc., but, ‘For I have chosen him, so that (in order that, for this purpose, that) he may command his children and his household after him, to keep the ways of the Lord.’ The training of his descendants was thus an essential part of Abraham’s election and call, and all the promises that he received are bound to the fulfillment of this call and depend on that.” (Floyd Brand’s translation in Faith-Life, 1996-4, p. 13)
Eli: On the warning for us in his example, see Egbert Schaller’s sermon series, “From Ichabod to Ebenezer” (Booklet #12 in the under-signed’s The Writings of Prof. Egbert Schaller, pp. 16 & 20). “Our concern is occasioned by the ever-growing number of homes in which parents guide and rule their children as Eli did – with whining words, with empty scoldings, with inconsistency that betrays a lack of fixed standards. … Those who have said that there are no problem children, only problem parents, are significantly approximating the truth. … Though children may have learned the catechism by heart, this offers little assurance if homes fail by correct training to teach the children how to know and love their Savior. … Eli was an old man, it is true; but by no means too old to get up, bind his priestly garments about his loins, march out, and clean house. The day was far spent; but there was time to deal with the corruption that had begun in his own home, yea, in his own heart. It would not be as easy as it might have been had he taken steps much sooner. The cost of repentance always grows as it is put off.”
Psalm 78: “I have been telling Eugene [Alfred Rehwinkel’s son] Bible history stories for some time. He enjoys them very much and is keenly interested. Every evening after supper he comes with his Bible history and says, ‘Daddy, we haven’t had our Bible history lesson yet.’ He listens with rapt attention and his face vividly reflects the emotions he experiences. At times tears come to his eyes, and when the story is over he always says, ‘Daddy, is that all? That story is too short.’” (From the diary of Alfred Rehwinkel, as quoted on p. 124 of Salt, Light, and Signs of the Times by Ronald Stelzer)
Without denying the existence of situations such as that portrayed in Acts 18:24-26, where Apollos learned from Priscilla, we note how I Cor. 14:35 sets forth the scope of the activity of men as teachers. The responsibility to teach does not extend just to the children.
Eph. 6:1-4: From Egbert Schaller’s sermon on this text in Vol. II of his selected sermons, which should be digested in its entirety, we take the following (p. 143): “Obedient children are planted in Christ and draw their obedience out of Him. This duty is laid upon the parents, and nobody else is responsible – not the state, not the church, not the pastor. ‘Ye fathers,’ says the apostle, laying the burden directly where it belongs, upon the shoulders of the head of the house. He who is called upon to provide for the bodily support of his family through honest labor is also the one to whom the children must look for their ‘nurture and admonition in the Lord.’ Let no father shirk this responsibility, and let no one idly say that it is unfair to leave the mother out, because she is not left out. As the help-meet of the husband, she finds her share of the task of keeping a Christian home if the father leads the way. You fathers, the very existence of your Christian home depends upon your children [being?] obedient in the Lord through your bringing them up ‘in the Lord.’ It is your task to see that they not only learn to know Jesus and His Word, but to live in Him, drawing nourishment for their souls out of His Word, turning to His light for guidance as flowers turn their faces to the sun.”
Eph. 5:22-31: “The section from Eph. 5 has been more abused by husbands than misunderstood by wives. The Lord has a word for husbands and a word for wives. His word to husbands is to love, not to force their wives to obey. The Lord is not setting up dictatorships. He is interested in what husbands are willing to give up for their marriage, which is different from giving in. Husbands are inclined to blame their wives for the lack of love in their home. The Lord expects wives to love, and as Christians they certainly would be doing so. … [But?] in the family the Lord makes husbands responsible for love. ‘Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.’ (Col. 3:19) … For husbands the model of love is the one exemplified by Jesus, who was willing to, and did, sacrifice Himself for the benefit of His bride, the Church. So are Christian husbands willing to give of themselves for the benefit of their marriage. ‘Leadership without love is tyranny; love without leadership is sentimentality.’” (Michael Sydow, “A Lamb for Each Household,” 1981 paper, p. 14) As Schaller put it in the sermon referred to above: “The communion of saints and the Christian family are twin sisters.”
A book of unusual insight, candor, and sensitivity that deals at length with the truths in this Ephesians passage is He Her Honour and She His Glory by V.S. Grieger (published by the author; 3rd revised edition, September 1994). “In his admonition to husbands St. Paul does not even mention their headship, let alone imply that they should be concerned about it and insist on due respect and honour on account of it. His headship is expressed and shows itself rather in demonstrating that sort of love for his wife that makes itself fully responsible for all her needs and wants, and which is determined to have her presented before him in her fullest glory, as Christ does for his Church.” (p. 47)
On the website of the Hausvater project (hausvater.org) is a review of Emerson Eggerichs’ book, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He desperately Needs. According to the review, the book explains that the wife tends to react without respect if not loved, and that the husband tends to react without love if not respected. On the other hand, the husband’s love motivates the wife’s respect, and her respect motivates his love. As Grieger put it at one point (p. 103): “Someone has said, a woman needs to be loved, but a man needs to be admired.”
I Peter 3:7: “But the husband should also see to it that he treats his wife with kindness and consideration. He should be tender, and he should honor her as God’s weakest vessel. … She is weaker physically and also more timid and downhearted in spirit. Therefore you should deal with her and treat her in such a way that she can bear it. … Now it is impossible to give a rule for this. God leaves it to everyone to treat his wife considerately according to each wife’s nature. You must not use your authority arbitrarily; for you are her husband to help, support, and protect her, not to harm her. It is impossible to set specific bounds for you. Here you yourself must know how to proceed thoughtfully.” (American Edition of Luther’s Woks, Vol. 30, pp. 91-92) Regarding the statement about prayers not being hindered: How can a husband pray confidently for any gifts from God if he is setting God at naught by living in ingratitude for His wonderful gift of a wife through inconsiderate treatment of her?
Gilbert Sydow’s article, “Is Education the Solution to Our Problems – Or Is the Solution our Problem?” (Journal of Theology, 1988-3), has much to offer. To a considerable extent, it repeats and builds on thoughts Sydow had expressed in two articles in the Lutheran Spokesman. The first, dealing with the command, “Provoke not your children to anger,” is on pp. 2-4 of the June 1971 issue. “The flesh is not only inclined to disobedience, it is also inclined to tyrannize. … We adults should watch ourselves and examine whether as we grow older we tend to drift into arbitrary ways of dealing with the young. We have observed a tendency on the part of some to react with an immediate ‘No!’ to the wishes and suggestions of children. It almost appears as if pride comes into the picture because the idea didn’t originate with the parents.” The other article is on pp. 8-10 of the July 1972 issue. “But we do have serious misgivings about any method of education and training that leaves too much up to the whims and fancies of the flesh, knowing full well which way it goes. When the thought of discipline is introduced the objection might arise that this forces a harsh and joyless existence on a child. We dissent. The kind of discipline we have in mind has quite the opposite effect and leads toward happiness and contentment. It starts with an imposed discipline and seeks to develop a self-discipline …. It goes this way: As one’s self-discipline increases, so also does his sense of freedom and his feeling of happiness.”
Nor can we forbear quoting this: “We have but one course to pursue: to trust implicitly in the absolute power of Christ to drive out devils and to bring this Christ with His authority and love to the hearts of the children. Simply put Christ and a child together and keep them together by the Word, and regard the result as a foregone conclusion. If we short-circuit the mighty grace of the Redeemer by grounding it in our personal effectiveness, we exhibit the unbelief that results in failure even under the most favorable circumstances. …We have no child-problems. We have only personal problems: to adopt the best methods of work as God makes them available to us, and to be altogether faithful in the use of them; but above all, to believe without qualification, to believe implicitly and utterly, that Christ can and will put to rout the kingdom of darkness in the hearts of our youth and set up His rule of grace in them, under all conditions and by any methods, if we but faithfully speak and live the Gospel of Him before their ears and eyes in season and out of season.” (Conclusion of Egbert Schaller’s article, “The Failure of Unbelief – Mt. 17:1-20,” Booklet #19)
Aspects of family life are treated in the last four sermons in The Lutheran Hour by Walter A. Maier (CPH, 1931). Pp. 262-264 in Ewald Plass’s This Is Luther are relevant, as is the section on parents in his What Luther Says. George Gilder’s book, Men and Marriage, has been recommended to us. The book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – A Response to Evangelical Feminism, by John Piper and Wayne Grudem (1991), and the monthly periodical, The Family in America, are also deserving of mention. The latter, founded in 1987, is also available on the Internet. John Parcher frequently addressed family issues in his columns, as can be seen even from the few that we have already previously reprinted. Two articles by Pastor Fossum, “As a Father” and “Duties of Fathers in the Christian Home,” should most definitely not be forgotten. Originally published in the LCCF Newsletter in 1990 and 1991, they are readily available, along with other edifying material, in the booklet, “In the Nurture and Admonition of the Lord.”
May our fathers, knowing their own great weakness, boldly seek and thankfully obtain from their Heavenly Father the strength and wisdom to carry out their high calling in a way that will glorify Jesus’ saving name.
Also from Grieger’s book: “Deep down in the heart of every woman, unless it has been cruelly suppressed, by brainwashing through the media, or by bitter abuse in life, is a deep feeling and conviction that she really does not want to be the head ….” (p. 144)
“It is more likely that something has happened in the process of their [some women] becoming highly educated and qualified academically which spoils their chances of marriage. Other things being equal, it would seem that this finally has got to be related to what man needs and looks for in a wife. It has got to be related to a woman’s willingness to giver herself to a man in self-surrendering love. In some subtle way this charming feminine quality has probably been compromised or reduced, so that, while man generally may respect her, yet she does not appeal to him as a wife.” (p. 93)
PATRIOTIC SERVICE David Murry spent a lifetime studying the X various cultures around the world. He says that women tend to domesticate the men they marry. The word “groom,” as in “bridegroom,” comes from the word “guma,” which means “servant.”
But Murry’s chief premise is: “Cultures differ in many ways, but all societies that survive are built on marriage.”
Wedding ceremonies may vary from place to place, customs of courtship and notions of beauty, but the basic building block of society does not change.
That is not surprising. Marriage is not the result of social engineering or sexual experiment; it is no accident of convenience or coincidence.
God set it up that way: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.”
What got Murry into academic trouble was the conclusion he drew from his findings. He lambasted the substitutes.
We’re wasting our time on better child care and health care, improved educational programs, more cops, and courts, and jails, and social workers.
If we’re not going to take care of first things first, then all the secondary things won’t make a bit of difference.
Then we’re just fooling around with symptoms instead of treating the disease which is poisoning the body of society.
A simple marriage and home don’t seem like much compared to grandiose government agendas and vast schemes of social restructuring.
The plainest couple on earth, if they can hold together, accomplish something that multiplied billions in money cannot buy.
The poorest pair who outlast the stormy seas of matrimony are serving their country better than all the experts put together.
The smallest child who helps make his own home work outshines all the geniuses of his generation.
It is so easily overlooked, but the family is still the original Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
The teachings of the Bible are wonderfully encouraging to folks struggling to live out their relationship according to the original blueprint.
Better than doing it for each other and our country, it’s our nearest and best chance of doing something beautiful for God.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES “If you are a single parent, you are z as capable as any two parents of raising healthy, happy children.” So says the popular columnist John Rosemond in his book Parent Power. The man often hits the nail on the head, but not this time. In an excellent article, Ken Cherney of Louisiana strongly disagrees.
“The results are in,” Cherney says. “John Rosemond, and others like him, are dead wrong, and a nation that believes them is in denial.”
“Single parenting” is usually a euphemism for a home with no father, Cherney says, and the results are fairly predictable.
They include every sorry feature you would expect when the legitimate, built-in “authority figure” is removed from a child’s life.
In fact, the best indicator of a community’s crime rate is the number of single-parent homes, regardless of predominant race or income levels.
Cherney is only saying what, until recently, everybody already knew. A “family” is a mother and a father who are married and rearing their children together.
Trouble is, if you say this out loud, people complain: “What are you trying to do? Single parents need help, and not guilt trips.”
They most certainly do! Single parents and the children they are trying to raise need all the support they can get, and we can give. Their wounds are already painful enough, and nobody gains by rubbing salt in them.
But perpetuating the lie, and trashing the Bible precepts in the process, only aggravates the wounds.
Pretending there’s a substitute in a child’s life for a “mama” and a “daddy,” or that divorce turns spouses into better parents, is a lie.
How is a child helped when a father is replaced by a slice of his paycheck, or by a relative, or by some government agency?
A family is not what society says it is, nor is it one of many “alternative lifestyles.” It is God’s creation, and what He meant it to be.
There’s His blueprint, and the world’s, which has mother and child and a string of men who come and go in and out of their lives.
You make the call. We are free to make a choice. But we are most assuredly not free to choose the consequences.
NATURAL AFFECTIONS The local newspaper recently ran a zzzz series of articles which stirred up a hornets’ nest. The series featured excerpts from a newly published book by a homosexual congressman who proudly “came out of the closet.”
It wasn’t for literary value that this book, of the thousands published each year, was reviewed as extolling the sodomist lifestyle. The percentage is small of those who “exchange natural relations for unnatural ones … and receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion,” Rom. 1.
Another series appeared this summer which was even more shocking, and tragic in its long-range consequences. And scarcely anyone raised an eyebrow! The articles focused on the staggering number of parents in the county who orphan, abandon, and dump their children in the name of “Day Care.”
The series wasn’t about single parents who, through no fault of their own, struggle each day to keep body and soul and family together.
These parents are searching for “quality care” when they are not willing to give either “quality” or “care” to their own children. Brother, are they vocal and demanding about the “handling” and “attention” and “needs” that somebody else is supposed to supply their child!
Over and over again they sound the egotistical lament: “Too much stress at home … I like the intellectual stimulation of adults … We just bought a house ….”
“Honor thy father and thy mother” is part of it, as well as, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.” The other part is children must have parents who are there for them to honor and obey.
Samuel Sava is a teacher, and he is only echoing the principles of the Scriptures when he says: “It’s not better teachers, texts, or curricula that our children need most; it’s better childhoods.
“And we will never see lasting school reform until we first see parent reform!”
The buck still stops where it ever has: “Ye fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
Churches may get into the act, relieving parents of their responsibilities and giving the self-centered what they want. But that dog won’t hunt.
“If any provide not for his own, especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
THE NON-MEMORIES A woman tells about shopping in a large zz OF MOM store when she heard a wee voice shriek, zzz “MOM!” She turned around at once, and the thing was, she said, other women reacted the same way to the helpless little voice.
Her own children were gone, but she would never outlive the response to “Mom,” or the accusatory “Mo-hom,” or the exasperated sigh, “Oh Maawwwm.”
Grown children have a knack for recalling stories from childhood, and stunts they pulled – some they got away with and some they didn’t.
But they don’t remember the truly sacrificial things at all. An infant daughter of ours, for example, had the colic. We took turns walking the floor with her night after weary night, burping her, rocking, singing, humming, and praying – and still she wailed and wailed.
She ate and grew in spite of it all, and one day the colic simply stopped. But today the daughter doesn’t remember a bit of it.
Did I scream in bad dreams at night, throw temper tantrums and food from a highchair, and cry from skinned knees, pinched fingers, and earaches? I must have. But only Mom would know because she was there, and I don’t remember it at all.
A child, in the crawling stage, will creep toward his mother on his own. Ten times. In an hour. If she is there. A five-year-old will speak 15,000 words to his mother. In one day’s time. If she is there.
Child psychologists are almost frightening when they tell us what is going on during the first three years of a child’s life.
Yet today’s child care culture, in the name of economic “enhancement” and “self-fulfillment,” recklessly entrusts children to total strangers.
They demand “quality care” when they are not willing to give “quality” or “care” to their very own children.
The Spanish painter Goya charged as much to paint the hands as the face, because the hands are so difficult to paint. Delsarte got so good at it, he could sit in a park and tell whether a baby was held by a maid or by its mother by the tension in the hands.
If you had a mother in whose arms you were entirely loved and secure, you received all kinds of priceless gifts you do not even remember.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed,” the Lord has so designed it, even though they may not remember exactly why.
I Samuel 18:1-16
When we study the account of David’s encounter with Goliath, we see that Saul is ineffective, even paralyzed, because he focuses on himself. The name and glory of God mean less to him than his own name and glory. But David is wonderfully effective and successful because he is not interested in his own glory and achievements, but solely in the wonderful saving name of his God. In considering the first part of the next chapter, we will focus on two thoughts: 1) Evil is always closer than we think. 2) Help is always closer than we deserve.
One of Luther’s more interesting writings, directed to the Elector Frederick of Saxony when he was quite ill, is entitled “The Fourteen of Consolation.” Following a medieval pattern, it discusses seven kinds of evil and seven kinds of good. Six of the evils Luther discusses are the evil in front of us, the evil behind us, the evil to the left, the evil to the right, and the evils above and below us. And what is the remaining evil in the list? The evil within us.
There is indeed great evil within us. “Behold,” the psalmist says, “I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:5. The tide of evil in the world waxes and wanes to some extent. But even in times – and don’t we yearn for such – that are not characterized by the plunges into the depths of wickedness that so appall us today, each of us must still reckon with a force that does not change: our sinful nature.
One aspect of this evil is envy, the envy that we see at work in Saul as he watches David’s success and hears the refrain sung by Israel’s women: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” We all know that Saul ultimately suffered spiritual shipwreck. Are we all aware that there was really nothing singular about what brought this about? Are we aware that what was at work in him is also at work in us? Do we realize that the evil that was so close to Saul is also close to us? Can we deny that we often experience feelings of envy?
When man acts in envy – a force that, left unchecked, can ravage a society – he is acting in perfect harmony with his essential nature. Envy is not transplanted in with great effort from the outside. It springs up naturally from the soil of man’s selfishness, which wants all for self and which will not allow to others what they have. So it is always closer than we think. And if we do not suppress it, it will grow stronger and stronger and make firmer and firmer its grip upon us, just as it did with Saul. Much activity in the political realm has its roots in envy.
At one point, Saul thinks to himself: “What more can he [David] get but the kingdom?” How badly do you suppose David wanted the kingdom? That question is answered as soon as we realize how fully David was aware that as a child of God by faith in the promised Savior, he already possessed all things. David exulted, no less than we do, in a salvation effected through Jesus, “who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. He knew that he was an heir of everlasting life. And he was happy to serve His Savior God in any capacity in this life. So what difference did it make whether he was king or not? See I Cor. 7:21-22 & 29-31.
But Saul imputes his own evil way of thinking to David. And he cannot let go of something God has resolved to take from him: the kingdom. But if we quarrel with God in His taking, how much sovereignty will we allow Him in His giving? How much wisdom is there in adopting a stance of disputing with God when God is the ultimate and supreme Giver? How much wisdom is there in being at odds with Him who poured out the blood and offered up the life of His only-begotten Son to effect salvation for undeserving sinners?
No, a child of God is content to let God be sovereign – whether in giving or in taking. And if, in the matters of lesser importance, God withholds from us and gives to others, we are content. We rejoice in whatever happiness and good fortune are enjoyed by others. These things we learn from the Holy Spirit, who overcomes the evil within.
Is there, then, no remedy for Saul? Is there no hope of any turning back? Our text also directs our attention to this truth: Help is always closer than we deserve.
Ultimately, of course, there is only one real source of help whenever the matter of sin is concerned: the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin. There is no stain so deep and dark that it has not been washed away and made white by Christ’s atoning suffering and death. There is no evil so close that it has not been buried with Christ and sealed in oblivion by the Father’s raising of Him from the dead.
But another person’s example can be used by God to lead us to repentance, and it is of that kind of example that the beginning of I Samuel 18 speaks when it tells of Jonathan’s covenant with David. Here is the man who stands to lose the throne because of the anointing of David, and yet we read of Jonathan: “He loved him [David] as himself.”
Consider the terrible isolation into which Saul is more and more locking himself. He has the most splendid example within his own household to rebuke him for his envy. But he pays no attention to it. How often this happens. How many there are who do not do much better when it comes to using undeserved help that is close to us. Wholesome counsel and healing are as close to us as our own family members as well as the wider family we have in our Christian brothers and sisters. When the varied and sharp pressures of daily existence bring out the evil within and trap us into responses that are not God-pleasing, do we draw on this resource? Or do we, pridefully, withdraw into isolation, and erect barriers? If we talk to God, can we not talk to men? If we are open with Him, can we not be with men? If we are humble before God, recognizing that all depends on His helping us, shall we not also swallow our pride when it keeps us from seeking help in the example of others?
Saul will soon direct his hatred beyond David to the one who befriended him, Jonathan. He will refer to Jonathan’s mother as a “perverse and rebellious woman” (I Sam. 20:30). Meanwhile, separating himself more and more from wholesome company, he will keep sinister company with a weapon: that spear. It is not to be passed over as meaningless when the Holy Spirit calls our attention to it on repeated occasions (19:9-10, 20:33, 26:7).
Help was also very close to Saul in the form of a striking example recorded previously in the pages of Holy Scripture. If ever a man was in a position to experience bitter envy, it was Moses. God had taken a privilege from him, the privilege of seeing the promised land. This was because of the sin of striking the rock in anger when directed to speak to it. But the Children of Israel were not at all free of guilt in this: “By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them; for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips,” Ps. 106:32-33. Moses alluded to this when addressing the Children of Israel: “Because of you the Lord became angry with me also and said, ‘You shall not enter it, either,’” Deut. 1:37. Cf. also Deut. 3:23-29. But though Moses felt the loss severely, and pleaded with God about the matter, he accepted God’s will.
A post-Easter introit utilizes the verse from Peter: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word.” Saul failed to drink of the milk of the Word to counteract the evil within. May God, for Jesus’ sake, graciously preserve us from that grievous error.
We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of Northwestern Publishing House of the Wisconsin Synod to reprint the articles that Prof. Schaller wrote for the Northwestern Lutheran. This, the first of a number of editorials appearing over his initials in 1950, was published in the April 23, 1950, issue.
We have reason to be deeply gratified, to thank and praise God for the steady, unwavering course which our church has pursued over a period of many years in fulfilling its divine calling under the Gospel.
This is impressed upon us when we note the confusion in which the Protestant world flounders to the right and left of the God-given directive. A recent article in a liberal church periodical calls attention to the report that of late the young pastors and students of theology are no longer greatly interested in social issues, but are turning more to theology, doctrinal study, and cultivation of a devotional life. The article points out that, a generation ago, churches were sold on the belief that the well-being of the world could be effected through social action in accordance with Christian teachings. That means, in effect: Teach people their social obligations, the observation of the royal law of love, pacifism and cooperation, and the church has resolved the world’s difficulties. We well recall the days when any church whose message was not studded with socialistic phrases and political economics was considered dead and worthless.
But gradually, we are now told, it became clear that socialism was not the cure for the world’s ills. Now the emphasis is shifting to the problem of bringing the individual to reform himself from within. Young preachers are speaking more of the evil of sin and seeking the goal of a better world through individual inner improvement, a sort of spiritual redemption.
All of which, of course, is quite a hopeless babble of confusion. So long as men conceive the duty of the church and the hope of the world as lying in a solution of “the perplexing problems of society – economic justice, racial brotherhood, world peace,” it makes little difference whether the professed leaders are advocates of “a change from without” or “a change from within”; there will not be any change except for the worse. A great proportion of the Protestant church is wandering hopelessly in a labyrinth of human philosophies. The Gospel of Jesus Christ remains a great mystery to them. That is the major reason for the increasing darkness upon the land.
It can be stated very simply: Unless we begin with the doctrine of sin and grace, sin which damns eternally every soul conceived and born therein, and grace which forgives sin, which persuades men to throw themselves unconditionally upon the mercy of God and accept the sacrifice of his Son who atoned for all sin, being raised again for our justification – and unless we end our program as a church with the proclamation of that gospel and its entire body of doctrine, we contribute nothing to the cause of saving the world. It is to this proposition that our church is dedicated and to which it has hitherto held.
You Fathers……………………………………………………………p. 4
To the Point!
Patriotic Service……………………………………………………p. 10
Truth or Consequences……………………………………………p. 11
Natural Affections………………………………………………..p. 12
The Non-Memories of Mom………………………………….….p. 13
We gratefully acknowledge the kind permission of
John Parcher to reprint, from Christian News, columns
that he originally wrote for his church bulletin.
Meditating Day and Night …………………..…………….…………p. 14
Utter Confusion………………………..………………………………p. 17
In connection with the emphasis in this issue, we should like to call attention to the website, parentalrights.org, which explains that parental rights are indeed “hanging by a thread,” and to point out that one of the topics at an annual homeschooling conference this April in Minnesota is “Parental Rights: It’s Now or Never!” As this is being prepared for publication (in March), phrases like “cradle to career” and “zero to five,” to our dismay but hardly to our surprise, are being used in connection with the never-ceasing expansion of governmental control of education. The highest office in the land is occupied by someone who, if he had his way, as can be seen from his support of the Freedom of Choice Act, would not give people the option to refuse to commit a heinous act of murder. Something more antithetical to the very existence of society itself could hardly be imagined. But instead of being restricted from having any impact on society, as would be appropriate in the case of anyone of such a way of thinking, he has now been made chief executive by the American people, a position through which he may well be able to extend even further the government’s already frightful measure of control over the nation’s children. May our Heavenly Father, for Jesus’ sake, graciously thwart those working for still more state usurpation of parental prerogatives. RW
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, payable to the Reformation Lutheran Conference. The editor’s addresses are 1121 S. Jefferson St., New Ulm, MN 56073; firstname.lastname@example.org
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