Author Topic: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go  (Read 8325 times)

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #45 on: September 10, 2008, 05:30:22 AM »
Agreed. But, insofar as some out in the world have criticized the preaching of the Law (e.g., in the form of condemning unrepentant homosexual behavior, or condemning abortion and a political candidate's/party's support of it),
So, where in that preaching does the Gospel show up?

The law also condemns the unrepentant heterosexual bigot and those who are self-righteous because they are pro-life. I think that it is a misuse of the Law to single out only certain sins for condemnation without also condemning the sinners on the other side. We all are sinful and fall short of the glory of God. If the Law hints that only "they" are sinners and we are not, it is being misused.

If a preacher preaches 52 sermons a year, at 20 minutes per sermon, that means that the preacher is preaching to his congregation for 17 hours and 20 minutes a year. Over the course of the three year lectionary, that's 52 solid hours of preaching.

In the course of 156 sermons, doesn't a preacher have to pick and choose (guided by the Holy Spirit and constrained to some degree by the lectionary) which aspects of the Gospel or which aspects of the Law he is going to concentrate on for each particular sermon? Over the course of 156 sermons, isn't it proper to have some of them that place more emphasis on points of The Law and others that emphasize aspects of the Gospel, with the understanding that a preacher can't cram everything in every sermon every Sunday, but over the course of time everything that needs to be covered gets covered?

As others have pointed out, there are times when events in the news raises issues that should be addressed in sermons. When the issue of whether or not the family should pull the plug on Terry Schiavo was in the news, I strayed from the lectionary to preach about Solomon praying for wisdom, and about the importance of seeking the guidance of the Holy Sprit when faced with a difficult decision. I don't see a problem with focusing on that one narrow topic within the broader range of the entire Bible because it was something that was on peoples' minds at the time.

I'm not advocating preachers turning first to the news to determine what to preach about. But sometimes that seems like it is the right thing to do.




Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 44630
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #46 on: September 10, 2008, 11:27:20 AM »
If a preacher preaches 52 sermons a year, at 20 minutes per sermon, that means that the preacher is preaching to his congregation for 17 hours and 20 minutes a year. Over the course of the three year lectionary, that's 52 solid hours of preaching.
If I preach for 15 minutes, I hear about the "long" sermon when I get home.

Quote
In the course of 156 sermons, doesn't a preacher have to pick and choose (guided by the Holy Spirit and constrained to some degree by the lectionary) which aspects of the Gospel or which aspects of the Law he is going to concentrate on for each particular sermon?
Absolutely. In the method of Bible study that I use, it includes these three related questions (and sub-questions) about the text:

1. How does it understand my/our plight? What's the "bad news" it is addressing?
a. What human failure or sin does it expose?
b. How does the word pulverize me/us?
c. What aspect of my/our lost condition does it speak to? e.g. bondage, sin, guilt, alienation, weakness, darkness, etc.

2. How is that plight resolved? What's the "good news" in this situation?
a. What hope does it give in my/our lost condition?
b. How does it heal and make whole? e.g. liberation, cleansing, forgiveness, reconciliation, power, enlightenment, etc.

3. How is Jesus involved in affecting the resolution?
a. How is this solution unique to Christians?
b. Where in my/our life/lives does Jesus meet me/us?

Quote
Over the course of 156 sermons, isn't it proper to have some of them that place more emphasis on points of The Law and others that emphasize aspects of the Gospel, with the understanding that a preacher can't cram everything in every sermon every Sunday, but over the course of time everything that needs to be covered gets covered?
A sermon without the Gospel is not a Christian sermon. It may be wise advice. It may be good psychology. It may even be a wonderful exposition on the first use of the law -- but such preaching doesn't bring salvation to anyone. We must talk about what God does for us sinful, broken, guilty, people in our sermons or we nullify Jesus' painful death.

Quote
As others have pointed out, there are times when events in the news raises issues that should be addressed in sermons. When the issue of whether or not the family should pull the plug on Terry Schiavo was in the news, I strayed from the lectionary to preach about Solomon praying for wisdom, and about the importance of seeking the guidance of the Holy Sprit when faced with a difficult decision. I don't see a problem with focusing on that one narrow topic within the broader range of the entire Bible because it was something that was on peoples' minds at the time.

Certainly -- and the same questions can be asked of contemporary events: What aspect of our sinful plight does it expose? How does God overcome that plight? How is Jesus involved in the resolution? In fact, the next question (and sub-questions) in the method is:

4. What in our world functions in the same way?
a. How has the biblical story been re-enacted in my life or in the life of someone I know?
b. What metaphors, images, stories does the text produce?

If the message of the biblical story is true, we should see evidence of that in people's lives today.

Quote
I'm not advocating preachers turning first to the news to determine what to preach about. But sometimes that seems like it is the right thing to do.
I agree; but whether preaching from a biblical text or from the daily news, the gospel -- what God has done, is doing, and promises to do for us sinners -- must be part of our proclamation. Otherwise it is not a Christian sermon. We have been called to proclaim the Gospel. We are called "ministers of the Gospel". Without the Gospel we become just another self-help guru.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

TravisW

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #47 on: September 10, 2008, 04:37:20 PM »
TravisW writes:
At least one day per week I need to hear about how I'm a sinner, how Christ died for me, how I am joined in His death and resurrection through the waters of baptism, and how I am saved by grace through faith.

I comment:
I need to hear that, too (and actually, more than one day per week). But I also need to hear how Christ died for others, and I need to hear how my being saved by grace through faith links me to those others - the saved and unsaved - and how my relationship with Christ's death and resurrection impels me, through every means at my disposal (including political ones) to seek their good.
Otherwise, I will languish in a me-and-my-Jesus fog that will make me feel good, but will not help me be a blessing to those others or share Christ with them.

Were you reading something into my post that wasn't there, or am I just not understanding how this post relates to churches promoting partisan rhetoric?  Please elucidate.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2008, 04:43:11 PM by TravisW »

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #48 on: September 10, 2008, 04:54:28 PM »
You said that you needed to hear how Christ died for you. I only wanted to point out the need to hear that Christ died for all, and that the care of those others is given to us. This inevitably takes us into the messy world, including the political world.

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #49 on: September 10, 2008, 06:23:18 PM »
If I preach for 15 minutes, I hear about the "long" sermon when I get home.

I was a called and installed Lay Worship Leader. Since I couldn't preside over communion, when the Synod sent me to supply, there was no communion. That enabled me to get away with longer sermons. When I spoke at the senior citizens' home where I was a volunteer lay chaplain, if I spoke for less than 40 minutes, the seniors complained I was "shorting" them.

I agree; but whether preaching from a biblical text or from the daily news, the gospel -- what God has done, is doing, and promises to do for us sinners -- must be part of our proclamation. Otherwise it is not a Christian sermon. We have been called to proclaim the Gospel. We are called "ministers of the Gospel". Without the Gospel we become just another self-help guru.

As a mere "called and installed Lay Worship Leader", I only had maybe 40 hours of direct training on preparing a sermon. But the things you mentioned were included in the first hour of that training. It was the most basic and fundamental part of my training. If that was the most fundamental and basic part of my meager training, then surely every called and ordained pastor in here already knows it as well or better than I do. Therefore, isn't that pretty much one of those "it goes without saying" things that everyone in here already understands and doesn't really need to be reminded of?

TravisW

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #50 on: September 11, 2008, 12:57:28 AM »
You said that you needed to hear how Christ died for you. I only wanted to point out the need to hear that Christ died for all, and that the care of those others is given to us. This inevitably takes us into the messy world, including the political world.

I agree that there is a certain degree of overlap between church and state, particularly with a representative government.  The government is tasked with defining certain moral principles for the purpose of upholding the best interests of the populace.  The church is obviously more directly and deeply involved with the moral affairs of society.  So, there is definitely that crossover.  That being said, I believe that the church can and should take firm stands on social issues; but I don't think this means that the church should necessarily take a partisan stand on those issues, or preach partisanship from the pulpit.  I guess by "politics" I meant something more along the lines of "partisan endorsement". 

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #51 on: September 11, 2008, 05:27:40 AM »
To TravisW:
What constitutes "partisan" when the church tackles social issues?
Is arguing for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions "partisan"?
How about arguing against such an amendment?
Is it "partisan" to favor legislation aimed at providing breakfasts for elementary school children? Or is it "partisan" if only one party in the district favors such legislation?
Is it "partisan" to suggest that we should bring all our troops home from Iraq?
The ELCA's social statement on education seeks more support for public education. Is that "partisan"?
Tough world, ain't it?  ;D ;D

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #52 on: September 11, 2008, 07:34:13 AM »
What constitutes "partisan" when the church tackles social issues?
Is arguing for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions "partisan"?
How about arguing against such an amendment?

As long as one political party holds one view, and the other party holds the other view, then it is a partisan issue.

Is it "partisan" to favor legislation aimed at providing breakfasts for elementary school children? Or is it "partisan" if only one party in the district favors such legislation?

Yes, that is partisan if one political party holds one view and the other party holds another. Also, in a Federal Republic like the United States, there is no Scriptural foundation that indicates whether breakfasts for elementary school children should be funded at the Federal, State, or local level, or if breakfasts for elementary scholls students should be provided at local churches before the children go to school!

Is it "partisan" to suggest that we should bring all our troops home from Iraq?

Yes

The ELCA's social statement on education seeks more support for public education. Is that "partisan"?

Yes.

Tough world, ain't it?  ;D ;D

If we choose to make it so, yes it is.

TravisW

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #53 on: September 11, 2008, 02:18:31 PM »
To TravisW:
What constitutes "partisan" when the church tackles social issues?
Is arguing for a constitutional amendment to ban all abortions "partisan"?
How about arguing against such an amendment?
Is it "partisan" to favor legislation aimed at providing breakfasts for elementary school children? Or is it "partisan" if only one party in the district favors such legislation?
Is it "partisan" to suggest that we should bring all our troops home from Iraq?
The ELCA's social statement on education seeks more support for public education. Is that "partisan"?
Tough world, ain't it?  ;D ;D

All of the above are partisan.  What taking a directly partisan angle does is divert attention from other ways that we may serve our neighbor.  There are many ways that the poor can be fed and clothed; the unborn protected; good stewardship of our planet encouraged; and a just foreign policy pursued. 

Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #54 on: September 11, 2008, 03:33:45 PM »
Well, with that approach, we would all be paralyzed by "partisan" views and unable to take part in any public issue. No thanks.

Richard Johnson

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 10656
  • Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #55 on: September 11, 2008, 03:46:24 PM »
If I preach for 15 minutes, I hear about the "long" sermon when I get home.

A lot of preachers, 5 minutes seems an eternity.  ;D
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

TravisW

  • ALPB Forum Regular
  • ****
  • Posts: 463
    • View Profile
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #56 on: September 11, 2008, 03:46:33 PM »
Well, with that approach, we would all be paralyzed by "partisan" views and unable to take part in any public issue. No thanks.

Not really.  People can do what they will.  If they are being taught to love their neighbors as themselves, and it is being taken to heart, they will do so in the manner that they see fit.  For some, it may be voting for a particular candidate with a particular idea.  For others, it may be voting for a different candidate with a different idea.  

Is it better that the church enact a program of political proselytizing in an effort to create a voting bloc?  

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #57 on: September 11, 2008, 04:07:30 PM »
Well, with that approach, we would all be paralyzed by "partisan" views and unable to take part in any public issue. No thanks.

TravisW has it right. There is nothing preventing a pastor from preaching from the pulpit that hungry children should be fed. If a pastor presents that case, then it's up to his flock to determine what action they should take to implement that agenda. He just can't expressly tell his congregation that God wants them to vote "Yes" on a certain referendum.

However, there is nothing to stand in the way of a Pastor using a bullhorn at an outdoor gathering of people to bear Christian witness.

Do you understand the difference between "taking part" in public discussion and preaching it from your pulpit during your sermons? It strikes me that anyone who cannot figure out a way to work for influencing the secular government other than preaching from the pulpit lacks imagination, and isn't listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.



Charles_Austin

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #58 on: September 11, 2008, 04:38:12 PM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
Do you understand the difference between "taking part" in public discussion and preaching it from your pulpit during your sermons? It strikes me that anyone who cannot figure out a way to work for influencing the secular government other than preaching from the pulpit lacks imagination, and isn't listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


I respond:
I do. But Presiding Bishop Hanson gets excoriated here not for his sermons, but for his pastoral messages, sort of "using a bullhorn at an outdoor gathering of people to bear Christian witness." Right?

Layman Randy

  • Guest
Re: More proof Law/Gospel is only way to go
« Reply #59 on: September 11, 2008, 04:47:27 PM »
Mr. Erdner writes:
Do you understand the difference between "taking part" in public discussion and preaching it from your pulpit during your sermons? It strikes me that anyone who cannot figure out a way to work for influencing the secular government other than preaching from the pulpit lacks imagination, and isn't listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


I respond:
I do. But Presiding Bishop Hanson gets excoriated here not for his sermons, but for his pastoral messages, sort of "using a bullhorn at an outdoor gathering of people to bear Christian witness." Right?

Perhaps it is not his method but the construct of the message?