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Topics - Matt Staneck

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Your Turn / Concordia College New York To Close At End of Academic Year
« on: January 28, 2021, 10:32:47 AM »

I don't have much else to say, though I know many of you would probably like for me to say more (especially due to my public criticism of other closures). I just don't have much to add right now. Please pray for current students, staff, and faculty; please pray for Dr. Nunes and his family; please pray for alumni and community members; please pray for the church. Thanks.

M. Staneck

"Universalism And The Church: The Biblical-Christian Hope for Salvation Revisited" by Carl E. Braaten

Braaten begins by noting the recent David Bentley Hart book, That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation, but states that his piece is not a review of Hart's work. Braaten has himself engaged this topic over the years and makes use of renewed interest in the topic to revisit some old thoughts about it while attempting to forge some new ones. This article is at the Lutheran Forum website for free.

M. Staneck

ALPB Books, Tracts, and Web Resources / LF Fall 2019: Oswald Bayer
« on: November 13, 2019, 08:46:13 AM »
The fall issue of LF is coming, but here is an article by Oswald Bayer to hold you over.

M. Staneck

Your Turn / A Leap In The Dark (LF Summer 2019) by R. David Nelson
« on: August 07, 2019, 10:46:50 AM »
Hey everyone, hope your summer is going well. The summer issue of LF will be arriving in your mailboxes soon. In the meantime here is the first editorial from our new editor, R. David Nelson. I appreciate Dave's words on the enterprise that is writing theologically. Peace!

M. Staneck

Your Turn / Mobbing: Organized Spiritual Abuse in the LCMS
« on: January 09, 2019, 09:05:32 AM »
Lutheran Forum has published an article by Edward A. Engelbrecht that describes the practice of mobbing in the LCMS.

M. Staneck

Your Turn / Sarah Hinlicky Wilson's final LF editorial
« on: December 17, 2018, 12:55:10 PM »
Hello everyone. Please enjoy, free of charge, the latest and last editorial from our esteemed editor for eleven and a half years, Sarah Hinlicky Wilson.

And, if you're looking for a gift for a loved one this Christmas, give the gift of Lutheran Forum and Forum Letter:

M. Staneck, interim editor of LF (along with John Hannah).

Your Turn / The Gospel-Centered Christian
« on: February 09, 2018, 10:09:29 AM »

A very fine paper by Dr. Saleska of CSL. He encourages Lutherans to embrace being "Gospel-Centered," and cautions us against the pitfalls of Gospel-reductionism and Biblicism (Biblicism being a particular temptation for a conservative group like the LCMS). From the paper:
"This commitment to the reality behind the biblical assertions does not mean that faithful Lutherans will always agree on the exegesis of the details of individual texts. A person who disagrees with someone on how they interpret a text must not summarily label (and dismiss) that person as a Gospel reductionist. To do so is to misapply the label and misunderstand the nature of the problem. There are many details of texts over which faithful Christians can disagree without being Gospel reductionists. Our quia subscription to the Confessions for example, is a subscription to the doctrine they confess. It does not entail agreement with the interpretation of every particular text in the Book of Concord.

For Gospel-centered theologians, the Gospel is both the starting point and the goal of theology. Because while Scripture is the source of our doctrine, the Gospel is the source of our faith itself. The Gospel creates personal faith. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). As I said above, only after a person comes to faith in Jesus and confesses him as Lord, do they begin to read the Scriptures as they are meant to be read. And it is only after a person comes to faith in Christ that they see how our body of doctrinal teaching fits together into a coherent whole and how it is all related to and held together by the central doctrine, the Gospel."

M. Staneck

Your Turn / *New* Lutheran Forum Website
« on: September 29, 2017, 11:42:19 AM »
Hello everyone! Thought I would bring your attention to the new Lutheran Forum website. This site is not replacing but is supplemental to it and specifically has to do with the Lutheran Forum. Here it is:

The website has book reviews, archived articles, and even a way to subscribe to the Lutheran Forum for only $19. For those of you who have been on the edge, give yourself a break today and go for it!


M. Staneck
Associate Editor

Your Turn / Harassed and Helpless: Matthew 9:35-38
« on: June 16, 2017, 12:34:51 PM »
I was struck this week by a comment Jeff Gibbs makes in the audio posted over at CSL's "Lectionary at Lunch." Here is the link: (warning it may download an mp3 to your computer):

Gibbs translates the harassed and helpless (ESV) of 9:36 (passive participles) as "they had been whipped and thrown." He makes some commentary suggesting that we can think of sinners as people who are helplessly tossed about and attacked, instead of bad people who should know better (He also seemingly makes this commentary based on the grammar, so tip your exegete). I was struck by this for a couple of reasons. The first and obvious is that that'll preach, the second has to do with a mood I am sensing that we do not like tension in theology. We need to either show the sinner compassion OR we can help them heal (and by heal I mean not make excuses for their sin).

Gibbs suggests that showing sinners compassion isn't excusing their sin, but it is instructive to remember that though sinners own their sin that they are also under constant attack (from inside and outside). Do others find this insight from Gibbs to not only be helpful, but also sound theologically? Maybe this is just too abstract of a topic or an idea, but I want to wade into the deep end a bit here and see what others think.

M. Staneck 

Your Turn / Christmas Eve & Day Services
« on: December 24, 2016, 10:56:28 AM »
Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I couldn't find an old thread specifically on this topic so I figured I would start one. What is church like today and tomorrow by you?

At True Light in Lower Manhattan we have services at 5:00PM (Chinese), 8:00PM (Bilingual), & 11:00PM (English). All three have candlelight and the 11:00PM has Holy Communion. On Christmas Day we gather at 10:30AM (English) and 12:30PM (Chinese). I'm really looking forward especially to the 11:00PM tonight, our musicians have been working really hard on putting some special things together.

Anyway, curious to see what others are up to!

M. Staneck

Your Turn / A Conversation
« on: March 18, 2016, 02:09:27 PM »
I was hoping to start a new topic that can invite a conversation about ministering to certain people in the local church. While this thread's inspiration comes from the memory of our dear friend on this board, I specifically started a new thread to hopefully encourage more honest conversation without being under the assumption of prayer/memoriam. 

In the fall our circuit read and discussed Wesley Hill's book Washed and Waiting (found on Amazon here: The book is a memoir of a Christian who identifies himself as gay, yet does not believe it is faithful to practice his sexuality. It is a stirring account of the struggle to remain faithful to Christ even and especially when identity, sexual or otherwise, pulls you in another direction. The long and short of it is Wesley Hill gave up the idea (after years of trying) to get rid of his sexual inclination towards other men. He decided to embrace his identity as a gay man as a way of walking that road from brokenness to holiness in Christ. While he would not consider his living out a gay existence as a gift, he does consider his sexuality, not acted upon, as a gift for his life in Christ, again a life described as moving from brokenness to holiness in Christ.

Anyway, I could go on about the book, it is well written and a wonderful reflection. Hill suggests that there are many people like him in many local churches. In light of recent revelations of our dear friend from this forum it got me thinking again about Wesley, his book, the people he suggests are in our midst, and perhaps even the others who identify with being gay and, through struggle or not, have chosen to pursue and live in that existence. In starting this thread I was hoping we could have a conversation regarding pastoral care for people like Wesley, and those who go beyond Wesley. How can we, pastors and laypeople alike, best serve those who hold within their lives a gay identity? Not only that, and this assumes much, but how are we as Lutherans, and confessional ones at that, best suited to serve in this way?

I understand the personal nature of starting such a thread, but I seek in no way whatsoever to disparage the memory of our friend. Instead, I would like for us to have an important conversation regarding pastoral care. I hope many of you find this appropriate and will take up this invitation to engage in a respectful conversation.



Your Turn / Singleness in the Parish
« on: February 17, 2014, 12:42:30 PM »
Does our theology, or way of talking about theology, promote marriage (not just as a good itself) to the detriment of the singles in our parish (church workers and lay alike)?

I was struck by President Harrison visiting our fourth year class after call day last Spring. President Harrison was every bit the pastoral theologian and was so good taking time out of his schedule and during the evening no less to be with us on campus. It was wonderful having him with us. One classmate asked him if he had any advice for the single guys. President Harrison seemed unable to give a helpful response (I say unable because the man certainly is not looking to degrade singles, he really is far too pastoral for that), but he talked about "waiting" for marriage, and even pointed to his friend who is single and enjoys canoeing. It was almost as though he did not know how to theologically engage the question. Whereas the then seminarian asked him for a theological question about singleness, President Harrison suggested a model that anticipated not being single at some future date and said in the meantime, you can go canoeing with my friend (or perhaps that is your future).

I think the anecdote is useful for two reasons: 1) Only the most ardent non-supporter of Harrison would suggest he is not a deeply thoughtful, theological, and pastoral man and 2) he IS the LCMS President. If he cannot articulate a theology of singleness, does that say something about our church body (or extending it to the wider church) as a whole?

There are some in the LCMS who suggest the way or model for Christian discipleship and growing the church is through having babies which not only nudges out going to "the nations," but also renders singles as unable to fulfill this task for the church. There has also been study on the topic of "millennials" and why they leave the church. It has been suggested by some that there is a "return" (albeit a small one) of these folks who have left, but only after they are married and have children. Are we neglecting singles? I will lay my cards on the table and say, "Yes we are." I think we do not invite singles to contemplate their lives in the church already now, and push them towards some future which may very well come, but also does not come for some.

Does, "It is not good for man to be alone," necessitate marital union and make that relationship between a man and a woman normative to an end itself, OR, does it point to the marriage feast of the lamb as "this plus more" in the eschaton? In other words, does the eschaton point to marriage in the way we talk, or does marriage point to the eschaton when God finally dwells with ALL of his people?

I'm not really interested in discussing "exceptions to the rule/norm," I am suggesting singles feel out of place in church and want to raise awareness to this and also ask if you have noticed this, or ask how you are ministering to singles besides, "Here's how to wait until you are married someday (maybe)."

M. Staneck

Your Turn / Call Day and other related yet miscellaneous items
« on: April 25, 2013, 09:05:03 PM »
Call Day 2013 is rapidly approaching for yours truly.  It occurred to me recently that I have been on these boards a good six years.  Throughout that time I have said some incredibly stupid things and in most other times I have been unable to adequately articulate what I was working through.  So I guess thanks to all for (mostly) being gentle on me, and also for encouraging me towards this day which will come on Wednesday (May Day). 

I wanted to share with you all a bit of good news.  This Saturday, while the final placements are being put in place by the COP, students from both fourth year classes of Concordia Seminary St. Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary will be gathering at a halfway house of sorts in Terre Haute, Indiana.  We will both arrive late morning, share some coffee, and then celebrate the eucharist together at a local church with the local pastor preaching and presiding.  Following that we will share in a bbq fellowship before returning to our cities.

I share this with you because I think it is a wonderful thing, and it encourages the hell out of me that we are able to get together in this way and celebrate life together.  Please please please keep both school's candidates in prayer these last several days before Call Day.  Fort Wayne is Tuesday night, we are Wednesday night.  Also pray that we all be faithful to the callings which we will be blessed to serve.  Appreciate it.

M. Staneck

Your Turn / Lutheran Synergy
« on: February 23, 2013, 05:01:40 PM »
I love subject lines because I'm sure before folks click they have already pre-determined how they will feel about the thread.  I honestly did not know what else to call this thread, so I'm going with the above.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is I have a few moments of down time before heading off to a preaching engagement.  Since Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, and since it is also Lent, I figured I would order his Jesus of Nazareth Volume II, Holy Week.  I have not much of anything from Ratzinger before and I am finding that I am enjoying this read even with the inevitable disagreements.

In one such area Benedict is combing through the scene at Gethsemane and gets into a good discussion on "Not my will but your will."  If you have the book I'm at p. 157ff.  B16 uses this text to develop a discussion on the human will, and whose will was this that gave in to the Father's will?  Was it the human will, was it the Logos' will?  Who fixes their will on the Father?  He traces the history of Christological heresies arriving at monotheletism.  Then he cites Maximus the Confessor (though not formally) as saying,

that the human will, by virtue of creation, tends toward synergy (working together) with the divine will, but that through sin, opposition takes the place of synergy: man, whose will attains fulfillment through becoming attuned to God's will, now has the sense that his freedom is compromised by God's will. He regards consenting to God's will, not as his opportunity to become fully himself, but as a threat to his freedom against which he rebels.
The drama of the Mount of Olives lies in the fact that Jesus draws man's natural will away from opposition and back toward synergy, and in doing so he restores man's true greatness. In Jesus' natural human will, the sum total of human nature's resistance to God is, as it were, present within Jesus himself. The obstinacy of us all, the whole of our opposition to God is present, and in his struggle, Jesus elevates our recalcitrant nature to become its real self. 

We Lutherans (rightly) get excited over the use of the word "synergy."  However, my question is, does what Benedict say above here have no usage for the already justified and baptized believer?  In other words, can we not say that our wills are being attuned to the will of the Creator?  It seems that folks get hung up over the measurement aspect of all this.  Am I doing enough?  I think measurement is involved in the life of the baptized, but it is not that of a bean counter, rather it is shaped like a cross.  How we are being attuned to God's will is a cruciform "measurement" if you will, and not one inwardly focused regarding the amount of works, etc.

I'm not aware that our Confessions would condemn such an approach from a being made holy/sanctified sense.  Could we rightly use language similar to Benedict here?

M. Staneck

Your Turn / 5th Commandment: Capital Punishment and the 2nd Amendment
« on: December 19, 2012, 02:25:25 PM »
Just spitballing and would like to see a well thought out conversation amongst friends here:

We have a really good understanding of the 5th Commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."  According to Luther, "This commandment is easy enough to understand, and it has often been treated because we hear Matthew 5 every year in the Gospel lesson, where Christ himself explains and summarizes it: We must not kill, either by hand, heart, or word, by signs or gestures, or by aiding and abetting" (K/W, 411).  Of course Luther goes on to eloquently state how there are no ifs, ands, or buts, for citizen to citizen, that is person to person, to kill another.

Backing up to the previous page (in K/W), we see that Luther excludes this commandment from the Government because as we know and understand from the 4th commandment, the state has been given the sword to exercise God's authority on his own behalf.  One such use of authority is to bear the sword.

The reason I bring this up is because I see an issue with an insistence on a 2nd Amendment right as Christians living in America.  An often used defense of the need for guns is to protect the self from the government.  Of course there are those law-abiding citizens who hunt for sport so this is not part of the discussion at all.  I just mean to bring up that the defense of the 2nd Amendment on the basis of protecting yourself from the Gov't, who holds the sword given to it by God, may not be defensible as Lutheran Christians. 

The Gov't has the sword and exercises God's right to kill in that arena.  We as citizens, as person to person, do not have the right to "bear arms" as Christians and we certainly do not have this right to bear arms against the Gov't, who from God has the sword.  It seems as though Capital Punishment is legitimate in our Lutheran understanding, but a well-regulated militia and armed citizens for the use of protection against the government is not warranted by Scripture or the Confessions.

I bring this up because the LCMS has an interesting relationship with Church/State and many hold fast to the 2nd Amendment and this right to defend yourself from the Gov't.  What are some of your thoughts?

M. Staneck

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