By – John W. Hoyum
A kind of revisionist history has come to surround the issue of “radical Lutheranism,” taking aim especially at the theology of Gerhard Forde. Forde’s work has been particularly notable in recent years for his interpretation of Luther’s law-gospel distinction, the theology of the cross, and the relevance of proclamation for Christian theology. Unfortunately, Forde’s contribution has become a symbol of encroaching liberalism in confessional Lutheran circles. Yet this narrative of blaming Forde isn’t quite accurate. An examination of the origins of “radical Lutheranism” and the details of Forde’s own background will, I hope, help to set the record straight.
Every Sunday, she was distracted by that picture. Tried not to look for too long, because it made her uncomfortable, but she couldn’t get it out of her head. And there, just on a forgotten wall down the church hall. She thought maybe they should have covered up that picture years ago, like all the other ones. But for some reason, they forgot this one.
Today we are going to look at another great parable of our Lord, a parable that uses something we can understand, something of our physical world to explain or reveal more about the working of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Parable of the Weeds, as it is called, is also another parable Jesus unpacks for us. He interprets the details, so we know who all the players are in the story. As we look at this parable today, I think we will find it to be a bold and crucial reminder of the active rule and reign of God’s Kingdom.
For people in the middle of some trouble, trauma, or grief, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear very dim or non-existent. On the other side of the hurricane, though the damage remains to one degree or another, it can be hard to remember the full reality of that particular time (at least until something triggers the emotions again in a similar way). In the midst of all the lingering effects of various degrees of trauma, healing is an open question. Can these wounds be healed? How and where? By whom? Those questions are at least part of what the films The Way Back and Driveways are exploring.
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison (January 30, 1787), discussed the dangers of government and the balance of liberty and oppression. He warned against a government of wolves over sheep and famously said, “Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem,” which can be translated as, “I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” Or as we hear it more often these days, “I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.”
A couple of weeks ago some yahoo was threatening to destroy all the white Jesus paintings and statues because they fit the white supremacy narrative. My first reaction was the same as most over-exaggerations of our racial division in this country; how silly. But after further thought and listening, I came to see that his perception is not irrational. A black person might indeed have bad feelings toward the near unanimity of a European looking Jesus on the walls of homes and churches where African Americans were inhumanely treated up until the 60’s. Quite honestly, I would hate to let a white Jesus stop a person from believing in the real Jesus.
In a world where most people get their news from social media, anyone with a cell phone is an amateur cameraman, and individuals take to Facebook and Twitter to inform each other of current events, is it really a wonder that we have a hard time discerning what is true? Even our major news outlets read more like opinion than fact, intentionally leaning into overt biases and promoting their own agendas. In a recent interview on Hardcore History Addendum, former journalist Dan Carlin points out, “the democratization of the media has led to the democratization of truth.”
Hangs there. Invisible to the eye who looks upon. Heavy upon the chest of those who breathe it. She tries not to inhale that quiet air that she cannot see. It stings the back of her tongue thickly swamping shallow into her lung. Drowning in the quiet air, gasping at the hidden tears bleeding down the back of her throat. Concentrate and no one sees. Metal air in, hope breathed out.
The parable that begins the 13th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel is a familiar one to most of us. It is one of the parables our Lord not only gives to us, explaining the working of the Kingdom of Heaven, but He interprets it for us as well. He decodes the images He gives so we might have an accurate understanding of what is going on. Now, I know Jesus calls this the Parable of the Sower, but I have always thought that perhaps a better name would have been the Parable of the Soils,
By Rev. Dennis W. Matyas
Recently, Lutheran scholar John Bombaro wrote a powerful article for 1517.org here. Within, he argues that those who are justified in Christ have had their superficial and shallow identities replaced with the historical occurrence of their own baptisms and are free to love as Christ loves. Pursuits that aim to re-justify a self-image of virtue, therefore, are expressions of a Christian seeking to shackle themselves again to a law that does not fit and will not acquit. “The Christian is free from asinine, self-defined religion, of course, but also the dictates and pressures of every political, social, and ideological agenda the world has to offer.” Amen and amen.