Thursday, October 31, 2013


The Concordia Theological Seminary Symposia series is a week-long celebration featuring lectures broken down into the symposium on Exegetical Theology (scripture) and on the Lutheran Confessions (the Book of Concord).  It is also a grand reunion of sorts, a wonderful get-together of classmates and pastors and professors and theological speakers that happens every year in January at the Fort Wayne seminary campus.

I just got the flyer for the 2014 symposia, and as usual, the line-up looks very interesting and intellectually stimulating.  Many of my colleagues are planning to be there.  There will also be additional meetings (apart from Symposia) by the editors of Gottesdienst and the Board of Directors of the Siberian Lutheran Mission Society (SLMS).

This year is the 29th annual Exegetical Symposium with the theme being "Where Does God Dwell? - A Real Presence Hermeneutics" and also the 37th annual Symposium on the Lutheran Confessions: "Lutheran Distinctives in an Age of Religious Change."

But here's the problem: it's expensive.  Very expensive.  Really expensive!

For my wife and I to attend (we often attend lectures and conferences, theological and others, together), the basic cost would be $270.  The banquet is $40/person, bringing the total to $350.  Breakfast is $6/person (very reasonable!) per day which will bring the total up to $410.  There is a Monday preaching workshop for $40 - which I would assume I would be attending alone as I am the preacher.  So we're up to about $450 - not counting lodging or travel.  Lodging is about $100/day, bringing us up to about $950.

For those of us not near Fort Wayne, there is the consideration of transportation.  If we were to drive the 944 miles each way (1,888 miles) at 30 miles per gallon (means buying 62.9 gallons of gas, which would add roughly $200 in gas - bringing the total up to about $1,150.  This doesn't count other expenses involved in travel.

There is an alternative that I considered: stream the lectures on the 'Net.  This doesn't allow for face to face visits and all the blessings of time spent with old friends, with comrades, teachers, and brothers in arms, but at least I would get to see and hear the interesting papers from this year's conference.

But in order to do that, CTS is charging a fee of $75.

Yes, $75 is better than a grand-plus.  But $75 is a lot of money in this day and age when iTunes University is free, when many lectures are posted to YouTube at no charge, when even the Tom Woods Liberty Classroom runs $100 for unlimited online use for an entire year.

$75 is a lot of money for four days of streamed lectures.

So, I'm proposing a SMPosia experience instead.

SMP is the low-cost alternative route to the Office of the Holy Ministry being offered by both of our seminaries.  It stands for Specific Ministry Pastor.  Instead of the traditional route in which a man physically moves (in many cases with his family) to the seminary for two years, then moves again to an unknown destination for a year of vicarage, followed by a move back to the seminary at the end of vicarge followed by a final year of onsite seminary study, to move one more time for his call, and instead of earning a rigorous Master of Divinity degree (with all the associated student debt), the SMP program places a man into a two-year vicarage immediately.  He is onsite at his home congregation - no moving.  He can remain in his secular job if he has one, as can his wife.  During this two-year vicarage, he must complete just eight online courses, after which he is ordained into the Office of the Holy Ministry without having to move even once, and without having to attend the seminary in person.  He is expected to do more coursework over the next few years.

But it goes without saying that SMP is a much easier and cheaper alternative.  If was initially sold as a way to attract more minorities and poor men into the ministry, but we're actually seeing rich mega-congregations being able to run men through the hoops quickly to get them into the Holy Office while bypassing the theological rigors of seminary training.  While my point is not to argue against this practice, I'm not a fan.  We certainly would not want our medical students to go directly into internship and take 8 courses online before being declared a full-fledged surgeon.  Nor would we want airline pilots or attorneys to be trained in this way.  In this day and age of the pastor glut and the shortfall of calls - especially calls that permit a man to make the district guideline salary - this shortcut program is not only unnecessary, but it also negatively affects pastors who are on CRM status, that is, able and qualified to serve but lacking a call.

But the SMP approach is certainly cheaper.

I'd actually like to see a SMPosia by having some guys with iPhones record the lectures and post them to YouTube.  It's free to upload, easy to access, and free to watch online.  There is no reason to charge $75 to stream the talks live when they can be posted basically right after they are delivered for free.  If we can offer a low-cost alternative for seminary education and ordination into the Office, why not this kind of option for a few symposia lectures?

So, what do you say, guys?  Any chance for a SMPosia?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sermon: Reformation – 2013

27 October 2013

Text: Matt 11:12-19 (Rom 3:19-28)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Our Lord Jesus Christ pointed out that John the Baptist “came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him!  A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

As Dr. Martin Luther wisely pointed out, one of the “marks of the Church,” one of the characteristics of being a Christian, is the cross.  Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow Me.”  Part of our Lord’s cross involved being lied about.  If you follow Jesus, if you are a disciple, you can expect your reputation to be assaulted and your faith misrepresented.  Our Lord Himself was accused of being a greedy drunk.  Every one of the apostles suffered death or exile for their confession of our Lord.  The red all around us today is a reminder of the blood of Christians shed for confessing the faith over the course of two millennia.  Even now, families are divided because of the Christian faith.  At this very moment, prisoners sit in lonely cells for believing in Christ.  There are more martyrs today than there were in ancient Rome.  And even if we are not put to the sword, we can expect to be lied about.

It is especially disheartening when the lies come from other Christians.

Just a couple days ago, a Roman Catholic lady explained to me that Martin Luther was insane, that he preached that people should sin, and that we whose churches have the name Lutheran on them have been deluded into following a “new religion.”  And yet, she will attend Mass today in English – thanks to the reformers.  She will hear a sermon preached as part of the worship service – thanks to the reformers.  She will likely be offered the Lord’s blood (which until recently was withheld from lay people) – thanks to the reformers.  She will sing hymns – thanks to the reformers.  She will hear the priest say aloud our Lord’s Words of Institution – thanks to the reformers.  Her parish may well have a Bible class – thanks to the reformers.  She is no longer told that it is a sin to eat a hamburger on Friday – thanks to the reformers. 

Many of the same reforms that Roman Catholics instituted in the 1960s were being practiced by those (whom they mocked by calling them “Lutherans”) in the 1530s.  Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters did not come up with these reforms on their own. 

And if this sister in Christ’s pastors are ever permitted to be married, she should also thank the reformers – who understood that forced clerical celibacy is not only unbiblical and cruel, it is the source of terrible immorality and hurt in the church, and the cause of criminal cover-ups and lurid scandals to this very day.

In Luther’s day, the entire western Church was broken.  It was messed up.  It was corrupt.  It was filled with false doctrine and political intrigue.  It was not focused on the kingdom of heaven but on money and power.  Modern Roman Catholic scholars themselves admit it.  Churchmen like the gentle 12th century monk Bernard of Clairvaux – whom our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, like us, consider to be St. Bernard – was calling for reform.  A hundred years before Luther, the Bohemian priest John Huss, who taught many of the same reforms as Luther, was lied to by the Church, was promised safe conduct to talk about his call for reformation, but was instead burned at the stake.  He was murdered in cold blood by lying and corrupt church officials, from the pope on down.  “The kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,” says our Lord.  Pope John Paul II apologized to the people of the Czech Republic for this atrocity committed in the name of Holy Mother Church.  For in those days, she was an abusive mother.

We are yet to receive apologies for the many Lutherans who were burned at the stake.  We are waiting for the condemnation of Blessed Martin Luther to be retracted even as the condemnation of Joan of Arc (who was burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of 19 in 1431) was reversed, when she was canonized, declared a saint, in 1920. 

Dear friends, I’m not threatened with the stake, and none of you are imprisoned for being Lutheran Christians.  And again, we owe much of this freedom that we enjoy to the reformers, who risked life and limb, not so that preachers could tell you to go out and sin, not so that you could be free to hold God’s law in contempt, but rather so that preachers could freely call you to repent of your sins because, and only because, you have a Savior from your sins.  There is a Gospel, good news, that we proclaim in tandem with God’s law.

Listen to these words that would have made us all criminals in the sixteenth century just for confessing them: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”  That is not Martin Luther or the raving words of some “new religion.”  This is St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.  “We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

The Roman Catholic Church of the sixteenth century declared Luther a heretic for believing this.  They decreed at the Council of Trent: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to the obtaining of the grace of justification… let him be anathema.”

But again, dear friends, we stand with St. Paul, with the ancient catholic Church, with Dr. Luther, and with the many pastors and lay people who were burned at the stake by the violent who would take the kingdom by force: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”  We stand with St. Augustine and a thousand years of truly catholic teaching in confessing what St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and it is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  We stand with Christian confessors of every age who repeated the Gospel of forgiveness as St. Paul preached to the Romans: “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” and “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed in the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”

Luther did not encourage people to sin.  Neither do I.  Neither do you.  We simply state the shocking truth of Jesus, of Scripture, of the truly catholic faith of the Christian Church, that Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer.  We place our faith only in him and not in our deeds.  We do not trust in the merit of saints.  We do not trust in saying a quota of prayers, nor buying indulgences, nor making pilgrimages, nor in being a monk or nun or pastor, nor in bureaucratic proclamations by church officials, nor even in whatever good works we may do.

You have salvation by grace, a free gift, earned and won for you on the cross.  You receive this gift by faith, by laying hold of the promise in believing it, in trusting Christ to make good on His Word.  You believe this because it is true, whether it is taught faithfully or whether it is condemned.  And even if following our Lord and making a truly evangelical and catholic confession of the faith were to put us on a fiery stake or in a freezing dungeon, we follow Christ who has saved us, given us His Word, and who was Himself lied about and put to death by the violent who sought the kingdom by violence.

We do not use the stake and the inquisition, dear friends, for the Reformation restored the preaching of the Word.  We draw people into the kingdom not with threats of violence but rather only by peaceful persuasion.  We do not confuse and bully people into our churches with lies, but we draw them in by love, by making the good confession, and by telling the truth.

And the greatest truth is this: Jesus is God in the flesh; He died on the cross as a free and full payment for our sins; He rose from the grave and promises eternal life to each one of us who confess Him.  This Gospel is not for sale; it cannot be earned. The blood of Christ atones for you and for the sins of the world.  

“For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith…. Where is boasting then?  It is excluded.  By what law?  Of works?  No, but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

May this holy, catholic, scriptural, evangelical, and true confession and teaching ring out from pulpits all around the world, and may it echo from the lips of the faithful, the redeemed, those justified by grace through faith, now and forevermore!  Amen.

on the sickness of sinto the next - and d w liars and sons of the devil, tament, a bloodye people on In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

This is America, speak...

... whatever you want!

Part of being free means not being told what language to speak.  Countries and regional governments that mandate and micromanage the use of language in private homes, schools, and in commerce inevitably become tyrannical, and often resort to language police.  I knew of a middle-eastern restaurant in Hull (on the Quebec side of the river from Ottawa) who had an ongoing battle with the Quebec language police over the spelling of "donaire" on his wall.  After being threatened with fines, after repeated harassment over it, he tore the "e" off the end of the word to be in compliance - and left the torn poster on the wall.

Tax dollars at work...

Language is fluid, and it changes based on natural linguistic shifts and progressions, as well as changing demographics in any given place.  English itself is an amalgamation of Anglo-Saxon and French (following the 1066 Norman invasion).  French itself is a modified Gallic dialect of Latin seasoned with centuries of local and regional usage.  The American English we speak today is considerably different than the English spoken in England at the time of the King James Bible, and is an entirely different language than the Old English of the time of Beowulf.  It has changed through both slow evolution and rapid revolution.  And these natural processes simply can't be regulated or attenuated by government fiat.

But it never seems to prevent legislators from trying.

In the 1920s, Louisiana francophones had state-sanctioned cultural genocide that strove to impose English on Cajuns and Creoles - many of whose ancestors predated Louisiana's membership in the American union itself.  Children were punished for speaking French on the playground; schools were compelled to use English only, and French-Louisianians were shamed and humiliated.  Eventually, parents stopped teaching their children to speak French as they felt being bilingual would have impaired them.

What a terrible mistake now that we live in a global economy!  Look at what natural advantages Louisiana lost in world trade on account of small-minded people who wanted to control others.

A few years ago, Louisiana realized how detrimental this abuse of state power was to the cultural and economic landscape, and backed off of the English Only bandwagon.  Thus there are many public schools offering French immersion classes, and they are quite popular.  French is being re-cultivated in Louisiana, and being a Cajun is no longer something to be ashamed of.

I saw something yesterday that I did not know existed: a French language licence plate that includes the name of our state written in French.  I am somewhat surprised that the federal government permits states to have non-English plates (since the federal government micromanages everything from local education to toilet bowl sizes).

You can read more about the plates, about the legal hassle involved in their approval, and how to get one here.

At least until someone who doesn't value freedom but who likes to tell everyone else how to live complains about it, and until some black-robed villain arbitrarily outlaws them, Lousianians can indeed have French license plates on their cars.

Vive La Différence: chez nous autres!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fred Hates Good Music

HT: Trent Demarest

If you are unable to read the 2005 missive from Westboro Baptist "Church" - here is a link to a pdf.

One of the greatest honors that I've ever had was to be selected to sing in the CTS Fort Wayne Seminary Kantorei.  I was in the choir for two years and participated in four tours.

Here are a few posters I made up featuring my classmates in the Kantorei.  And here are some tour pics.  Here are some audio files on YouTube.  And if you would like to buy some fine Kantorei music, you can find them here.  Some of them are available at Amazon.

So, the folks at Westboro Demonic don't like us.  Boo hoo.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod is one of the few large American church bodies that defends traditional marriage.  But I guess that since we do so by a sober submission to the Scriptures and out of love for all people everywhere for whom Christ died - we're not on Fred Phelps's ghey-hatin' list.

Well, thanks be to God!

The flyer is a scream, though!  I wonder if they picketed the church.  This is the first that I have heard of this.

There is the old Shakespeare line "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."  For Fred Phelps and his cult members to be so obsessed with "teh ghey" can only make one wonder.  I believe the word of the day is "latent."

Maybe Fred is just more comfy-cozy with this guy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Increasing Hatred of Children and Familes

What an increasingly ugly and hateful culture we have become - and it is getting worse.

Here is the account of how a pro football player - Phillip Rivers, a Roman Catholic with a wife and six children - was treated by a "fan" and by the multi-gazillion-dollar bread-and-circus media outlet ESPN.

And here is a mother who is finding herself being charged with a crime for not being able to show up for jury "duty" with her nursing child.  What kind of savage judge and culture would treat a mother and infant in this way?

In the first case, the player is being "asked" - more accurately "berated" for following his religious dictates which do not permit him to practice contraception.  And the usual canard that people should not have children they can't "afford" does not apply to a quarterback in the NFL.  I would find it hard that he has trouble keeping the food on the table.  And yet there is unveiled resentment and hostility toward a man who, had he been a single father or the practitioner of some alternative lifestyle - or even if he had no children - would have been treated like a war hero.

Furthermore, think of all the professional athletes that father children out of wedlock by multiple women, in some cases not even knowing about all of the seeds he has sown across the fruited plain, regular Johnny Appleseeds.  How many "fathers" end up beating around their children's mother, divorcing them, or never marrying them in the first place?  Where is the outrage in those cases?  Often, such athletes are deemed role models for young people.

The issue isn't so much about large families, but large "traditional" families.  Rivers is married, a Christian, and has chosen, in accordance with his faith, to have a large family.  He is not asking anyone else to pay for his family through welfare payments or other force-based government programs.

In the second case, Laura Trickle is up against a wall.  When a baby is nursing, you cannot simply leave the child with someone else.  The child nurses from his mother.  If she is used to pumping breast milk, she might be able to leave the child with someone else for a time - so long as the mother is able to excuse herself every few hours to pump more milk - something that would be rather distracting in a courtroom setting.  Of course, even then, some children will not take to a bottle.

Moreover, she may simply have no relatives or friends whom she feels she can leave her child with while her husband works.  And in the case of jury "duty," she could be stuck with a long period of forced "service" - thus creating a real dilemma that goes well beyond one day.  The mid-boggling order of the court cited Mrs. Trickle because she "willfully and contemptuously appeared for jury service with her child and no one to care for the child."  Willful?  Contemptuous?  That is indeed how the state sees the exercise of liberty (will) and devotion to one's family (considered contemptuous).

Once again, this is a young, married mother.  She is not having children by numerous men out of wedlock and expecting the taxpayers to foot the bill.  She is also nursing her child - which has health benefits for the child and costs the taxpayers nothing.

How is she rewarded for her responsible behavior?  She is being treated as a criminal.  She is not bowing down and worshiping the state.

In an increasingly fascistic culture that is not only vapid, but also antagonistic against confessed Christianity, traditional families, and children themselves - this is precisely the kind of thing one would expect.

Some of the comments from readers are also illustrative.  It is often said that one gets the government one deserves.

You can glean a good deal about a nation and its people by how it treats its most vulnerable, as well as which behaviors and attitudes are rewarded and which are penalized.  It also speaks volumes how a society views motherhood, womanhood, and those who defend and nurture life.  All too often, wives and mothers are seen as impediments to "progress."

One can only wonder if this culture can be rehabilitated, or have the moochers and looters, the dull and the vile, the base and the barbarous - won the day?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Excuses, Excuses!

My last post "What's Your Excuse?" generated some comments that I have chosen not to publish.  Not because they express disagreement with me, but rather because they mischaracterize the argument and are attacking a straw man.  I'm also going to protect the identities of several people because it is the right thing to do.

Let me clarify a few things:

1) I am not equating eternal salvation with being physically fit.  In eternity, we will be bodily resurrected and our physical beings will be perfect.  Life in this fallen world is different.  We struggle with many things beyond our control - especially in matter of physical health.  Having said that, we also abuse our bodies by making poor choices.  Sins are indeed committed in our bodies.  All ten commandments are broken in "thought, word, and deed" - in our thoughts as well as in actions in our sinful flesh.  We do not own our own bodies; we are stewards of God's creation.  Some of those commenting seem to be under the impression that anything and everything we do with our bodies is okay.  I do not believe Scripture teaches this at all. Baptism forgives sin; it does not turn sin into a virtue, nor does it absolve us from the need to resist temptation.  Being baptized is not license for vice.  Being baptized calls us to take up our cross and to confess when we stumble into sin, as we all do.  The catholic faith is not "do what you want on Saturday night because you'll go to confession anyway on Sunday morning."

That being said, good health is not an indicator of salvation; bad health is not an indicator of damnation.  No-one should infer such a conclusion from what I have written.

In fact, some of the attitudes of the responses make the very point I was making about our oversensitive culture that lashes out at the messenger instead of taking a look in the mirror.

2) I am equating the reaction to Mrs. Kang to how preaching is often received in the current culture.  Mrs. Kang is not preaching.  She is not addressing the Gospel at all.  She is not broaching the topic of the Christian faith.  But she exists in the same culture that we 21st century American preachers live and work in.  There is a cultural parallel.  She wrote "A," but in their sensitivity and narcissism, her readers understood "B" and then attacked her for things she did not say.  What pastor hasn't had this happen to him?  Political correctness and emotional sensitivity have clouded the view of reality in our culture.

Mrs. Kang's clear message is "Look, I accomplished my goal; you can too."  But many readers misheard heard her say: "I'm better than you" - which is the unforgivable sin in our postmodern and egalitarian culture.  In the persona of the demon Screwtape, C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, argues that this is one of Satan's chief weapons: to draw people into that kind of defensive and reactionary "I'm as good as you" thinking.
The feeling I mean is of course that which prompts a man to say I’m as good as you. 
The first and most obvious advantage is that you thus induce him to enthrone at the centre of his life a good, solid, resounding lie. I don’t mean merely that his statement is false in fact, that he is no more equal to everyone he meets in kindness, honesty, and good sense than in height or waist measurement. I mean that he does not believe it himself. No man who says I’m as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did. The St. Bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. The claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept. 
And therefore resents. Yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. Presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority. No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food: “Here is someone who speaks English rather more clearly and euphoniously than I — it must be a vile, upstage, la-di-da affectation. Here’s a fellow who says he doesn’t like hot dogs — thinks himself too good for them, no doubt. Here’s a man who hasn’t turned on the jukebox — he’s one of those goddamn highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were honest-to-God all-right Joes they’d be like me. They’ve no business to be different. It’s undemocratic.”
One can only imagine how St. Paul was received when he wrote and preached, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Cor 11:1).  We have become such a sensitive culture that preachers are sometimes castigated - even to the point of removal - for "you" preaching instead of "we" preaching (meaning: "You need to repent" instead of "we need to repent").

It has always been hard for people to hear unpleasant truths.  Both Old and New Testaments testify to this ad nauseum.  But the people living in biblical times did not have social media and television to spur them on in their attitudes.  People did not have 'Christian' pastors and churches rewriting the Ten Commandments and promoting a "Gospel" of antinomianism.  They did not have bishops denying the resurrection and the virgin birth.  They did not have mainstreamed popular preachers - in some cases with a cultlike following or audiences in the millions - endorsing homosexuality as compatible with Scripture.

Our particular American culture is typified by Oprah Winfrey - emotional and postmodern.  This is why people look upon Maria Kang's challenge as the worst of all "sins" - insensitivity - instead of a call and invitation to do better.

I find calling people to repentance to be the most difficult pastoral obligation in our current culture.  Perhaps it has always been that way.  But it is hard to deny the emotional oversensitivity that typifies our culture, thus making it especially resistant to the Christian faith.

3) This is a blog post, not a sermon.  Again, it is an observation on the whiny culture we live in, and it is the culture into which we pastors are called to proclaim both Law and Gospel, while shortchanging neither - which is a challenge in a culture in which everybody gets a trophy, nobody loses, everybody goes to heaven, nobody is sinning, our job is to make people feel Easter Sunday good without introducing all that Good Friday talk of sin.

I am in no way telling people how to eat.  You are free to do as you wish.  If Mrs. Kang's reflections and story prompt you to reconsider your eating habits (as my trip to Russia did in 2011, when I was the "fat American" surrounded by fit Russians), then that should be a good thing.  And if you think she is wrong, well, maybe she is.  My point, once again, is not so much Maria Kang, but rather the fascinating way in which people responded to her - which I believe were so out of proportion and emotional and even manipulative as to indicate that we have become a thin-skinned culture of self-pity and bullying by playing the victim card.  This has implications to our preaching of both Law and Gospel.  It may tempt us to gut the former and preach only the latter.  But that is not what we are called to do.

One respondent to me took issue with this paragraph of mine:
"But the good news is this: God continues to call us to confess and repent, to be forgiven and live in the mercy He has given us by the work of His Son on the cross.  And we have the power to resolve to eat and live our lives more responsibly in accordance with the bodies we have been given by our Maker - which is a blessing not only to us in the form of better health, but also a temporal benefit to our families, congregations, and nation."
This person wrote in response:
There is no Good News in that paragraph. It is telling me that I am fat (which I am) and to get busy not being fat (which I do in fits and spurts).As for me, I eat or don't eat like I am baptized. Let's all be careful (yes, even me) that we don't preach virtue gospel or, far worse, despair gospel. Your paragraph is despair gospel. Christ died for my sin of eating and drinking too much. I struggle daily with it. Christ has overcome it. For the sake of my neighbor, I do try to do something about it, but have failed. Nevertheless, I am baptized. Amen.
However, the paragraph this person cited includes both the call to repent and being "forgiven," as well as the gift of the Lord's "mercy," the atoning work of the "Son," and the sacrificial "cross." That is the very beating heart of the Gospel! This blind-spot reveals the very issue I am raising, the issue that stunned Maria Kang.  To those whose hearts are hardened to any correction, they cannot even see the good news.  Sometimes people react so emotionally to the Law that they shut down, effectively blinding themselves to the Gospel.

Moreover, Holy Baptism is not a substitute for repentance; it is not an either/or proposition.

Baptism and repentance go hand in hand; they are both/and.  If eating and drinking too much is a sin (and in some cases it can be), Jesus died for that sin.  But he did not die so that you can willfully and defiantly continue in that (or any other sin).  We have been baptized to be forgiven - not as a free pass to act like swine - figuratively or literally.

Dr. Luther teaches us in our Small Catechism that baptism and good works are interconnected, that sanctification flows from justification:
[Baptism] indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.... St. Paul writes in Romans, chapter six: 'We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life' (Romans 6:4).
I recall an incident many years ago in which I saw a group of pastors (I will not say what church body or where this occurred) in a bar.  Being in a bar is not sinful.  They were drinking alcohol.  That is not sinful either.  One of the pastors (who had his clerical tab in his pocket) openly and publicly gave another pastor "the finger" and dropped an f-bomb.  Some would say this is not sinful.  For the sake of argument, let's assume that it is not sinful to behave this way in a crowded barroom.  Is this why we have been baptized?  Is this a good witness and confession of the faith?  Shortly thereafter, another pastor (a colleague of the bird-flipping cleric) was on hands and knees at the doorway of the bar puking his guts up.  "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"  In later discussions about the incident, I was informed that any critique of this behavior was (of course...) a manifestation of "Pietism."  I was assured that this was all okay because of baptism.  In fact, I was the one who was sinning by being disturbed by the behavior.  I needed to repent because I wasn't "gospelly" enough or some such.  I may have even been accused of "worshiping a different Christ" at that time, though it might have been a later incident when that card was trotted out.

Interestingly, Dr. Luther makes a "different Christ" reference in his repudiation of the antinomianism he struggled with as a pastor and preacher in the post-Reformation 16th century, a perversion of the Gospel ideally positioned for a postmodern 21st century revival:
That is what my Antinomians, too, are doing today, who are preaching beautifully and (as I cannot but think) with real sincerity about Christ’s grace, about the forgiveness of sin and whatever else can be said about the doctrine of redemption. But they flee as if it were the very devil the consequence that they should tell the people about the third article, of sanctification, that is, of new life in Christ. They think one should not frighten or trouble the people, but rather always preach comfortingly about grace and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, and under no circumstance use these or similar words, “Listen! You want to be a Christian and at the same time remain an adulterer, a whoremonger, a drunken swine, arrogant, covetous, a usurer, envious, vindictive, malicious, etc.!” Instead they say, “Listen! Though you are an adulterer, a whoremonger, a miser, or other kind of sinner, if you but believe, you are saved, and you need not fear the law. Christ has fulfilled it all! . . . They may be fine Easter preachers, but they are very poor Pentecost preachers, for they do not preach… “about the sanctification by the Holy Spirit,” but solely about the redemption of Jesus Christ, although Christ (whom they extol so highly, and rightly so) is Christ, that is, He has purchased redemption from sin and death so that the Holy Spirit might transform us out of the old Adam into new men . . . Christ did not earn only gratia, grace, for us, but also donum, “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” so that we might have not only forgiveness of, but also cessation of, sin. Now he who does not abstain from sin, but persists in his evil life, must have a different Christ, that of the Antinomians; the real Christ is not there, even if all the angels would cry, “Christ! Christ!” He must be damned with this, his new Christ (On the Council and the Church, AE 41:113-114).
Is this how our catechism characterizes Holy Baptism?  As license to raise the middle finger in public and vomit in a drunken stupor while wearing clerical garb?  Is this really what Luther and St. Paul are talking about?

Do we really need to argue about the propriety of such things?  Isn't it possible to agree that this is behavior that is indeed forgiven by our Lord's blood and by baptismal water, but at the same time, we are called to repent of our sins and to "walk in newness of life"?  Are pastors not held to a higher standard of conduct as well?

Whether we are preachers or hearers, we are Evangelicals, people of the Gospel, of Ephesians 2:8-9:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
That is the Good News.  But lest we stop there, fellow Lutherans, let's not forget that St. Paul immediately follows with verse 10:
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Indeed, all throughout his epistles, the blessed apostle engages in "exhortation" - which is the pastoral equivalent to Maria Kang putting you in front of a mirror (the Ten Commandments) and challenging you to live out this baptismal "newness of life."

So, whether the messenger is Maria Kang challenging us to do better physically and to quit making excuses, or it is your pastor exhorting you (now that you have been forgiven as a baptized and justified child of God) to live a life of repentance, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, don't shoot the messenger.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

There is a firestorm in Internet Land over this.

Maria Kang is a 32-year old mother of three young children who is obviously very physically fit.  Not only, but particularly to, women in their thirties who have had weight issues - especially after having children - she should be an example of encouragement, a role model of sorts concerning what can be done to achieve optimal health in spite of the challenges of age and station in life.  This is especially true given her history of eating disorders, genetic tendency toward obesity, and recent pregnancy.

She lays down a challenge, an encouragement to engage in some tough-self-love, an opportunity to look at oneself and resolve to eat and exercise in a more healthy manner, and to carry out one's plan because there is a payoff.  She is encouraging people to be honest with themselves, to engage in self-discipline, and to rise to self-improvement.  She also provides help for people interested in replicating her success.  She is, after all, only human, and if these methods work for her, there is a good chance that many people who currently suffer the effects of poor diet and exercise habits can be helped.  She might even save lives.  Maybe she can help you.  People ought to be grateful.

Instead, she is being attacked and maligned.

The responses are an interesting window into our culture - which has become whiny, narcissistic, excuse-ridden, envious, and enraged at anyone who succeeds.  We live in a culture of "victimolatry." Those who fail make excuses for themselves, and malign those who succeed - even to the point of trying to tear down the successful as a means to "even the playing field."  This is the very cultural phenomenon Ayn Rand saw coming down the pike half a century ago in her dystopic novel of politics and economics, Atlas Shrugged.

Maria Kang, who lost 40 pounds of post-pregnancy fat in eight months of eating right and exercising, was gobsmacked by the responses - all of whom came from people she had never met.
She was accused of "bullying" and "shaming" fat people.  She was accused of being insensitive to people suffering serious diseases, not to mention being a bad mother.  She is being abused by self-righteous people whom she has "stung" by her call to repentance of a sort.

She is sticking to her guns, and writes:

"The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn't create them. You created them. So if you want to continue 'hating' this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life. You can either blame, complain or obtain a new level of thought by challenging the negative words that come out of your own brain.
"With that said, obesity and those who struggle with health-related diseases is literally a 'bigger' issue than this photo. Maybe it's time we stop tip-toeing around people's feelings and get to the point."

Good for her!  She is right.  We are a country that is way too fat.  We do not eat well as a nation.  We suffer from self-inflicted diseases.  We spend far too much time indoors.  We eat too much junk food.  We depend all too much on drugs and symptom management instead of holistic health.

We don't need to be lectured by privileged politicians or their pampered wives.  We don't need legislatures and councils to take away our liberties regarding what we can buy, eat, or drink.  What we need is voluntary self-discipline, role models, genuine encouragement, and a challenge to push ourselves.  But to change, we must admit that something is wrong.  We must look in the mirror and accept responsibility.  We can delude ourselves right into an early grave, or we can admit and confess our shortcomings, repent, and make changes that will allow our bodies to react the way God designed them to: with healing and strengthening.

In this fallen world, we are mortal beings, and we cannot defeat death with running or giving up cigarettes and Twinkies.  But we can maximize our effectiveness in God's kingdom and in the world in the time we have on this side of the grave by maximizing our bodies' effectiveness.  Our bodies are indeed temples.  The Lord Jesus Christ sanctified the bodies of all men by becoming Man Himself.  Maria Kang is an inspiration, and is living proof that amazing self-improvement can be done.  I would add that the mind can be made sharper and stronger as well as the physique.

A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, as well as the true success stories of those who have achieved their goals.

And she is correct that the firestorm is not really about her, but is rather in the eye of the beholder.  The person looking at the picture can react in different ways.  One is to admire her accomplishment, and to ask: "How can I get into good shape too?"  Or, we can make excuses ("I could never do that!") or accuse her of either lying, doctoring pictures, getting liposuction, or just plain spitting sour grapes at her picture.  We could lash out at her for her alleged "crimes" against women, her "hypocrisy" or her inflated ego.

And the Christian Church serves her Lord and her neighbor in this very same self-centered, oversensitive culture.  This is indeed a difficult culture to minister in.

We pastors, we holders of the "Preaching Office" are called to proclaim the whole counsel of God.  While we are not called to preach a gospel of physical fitness, we pastors, when proclaiming Law and Gospel, routinely run up against the same self-defeating and lashing-out attitudes as has Maria Kang.

As Luther is reputed to have said, "When you throw a stick into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit."  When a preacher proclaims the Law in its fullness, he often gets pushback from his hearers, sometimes to the point of antagonism and virulent hatred to the pastor and his family.  This is so common in my many conversations with brother clergy as to be cliche.  The ones who complain are inevitably the ones that the stick of the Law has hit.  A few years ago, I was actually confronted by a former parishioner who wagged a finger in my face and told me that in New Orleans, it is not acceptable to preach against gluttony.

Maria Kang is running up against this same attitude.  It is perilous to refuse to repent spiritually when called to repentance of ones sins, and it may well be physically dangerous not to heed Maria Kang's warning against making excuses not to be in good physical condition insofar as one is able.

There is another angle on this story that is a window into our culture: envy.  Envy is (along with gluttony) one of the seven deadly sins of medieval theology.  Envy is the root of the 9th and 10th commandments against covetousness - and thus impels our Old Adam to further sinful behavior.  Envy sees someone else succeed and responds with anger borne of an inflated sense of self.  Envy is grounded in self-pride and is the very opposite of the humility that produces repentance, that opens the door to faith, that pushes down the sinful flesh so that one may be built back up - whether in Holy Absolution, or in physical fitness.

Either way, a self-righteous, arrogant, and hostile attitude is a sure way to failure, sickness, death, or even hell itself.

But the good news is this: God continues to call us to confess and repent, to be forgiven and live in the mercy He has given us by the work of His Son on the cross.  And we have the power to resolve to eat and live our lives more responsibly in accordance with the bodies we have been given by our Maker - which is a blessing not only to us in the form of better health, but also a temporal benefit to our families, congregations, and nation.

I've had a lot of success by altering my own diet and habits.  But I do not have the muscle tone that I could, and should, have.  I'm grateful for people like Maria Kang, whose success is an inspiration and whose challenge is a breath of fresh air in this politically-correct culture that refuses to say that we can do better, that coddles the lazy, and rewards those who stubbornly make excuses for the fruits of their own actions.

My excuse?  I don't have one.  I need to push my body and mind harder.  How about you?

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Gretna Centennial History: Confederate Edition...

...From the Times Picayune:

There are four major women's national lineage organizations active in our area. They are Colonial Dames of the 17th Century, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Society of 1812 and the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

These women are direct descendents of the men of the David Crockett Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, and member s of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose local chapter is named for the company. Seated, from left, are Patsy Artigues Butts, Laverne Hepting Bordelon, Glenda Hepting Bonneval and Judy Kleinpeter Lotz. Standing are Kathy Weigel Billings, Ursula Ramm, Mary Thorning Coludrovich, Val Maness Coles, Laurie Hourgettes Ledet and Mary Grace Curry. 
To be accepted into any of the groups, women must be able to provide indisputable proof of birth, death and marriage, dates and places for every man and every woman in every generation between the member and their ancestor who fought, died or gave material aid to the respective cause.

Although many Jefferson Parish women have been members of these four organizations in the past 100-plus years, only the United Daughters of the Confederacy has ever had a chapter domiciled in Jefferson Parish. Chartered in 2003, it is named for the David Crockett Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 Chapter 2631.

“In 1861, exactly 151 years ago on this very night, Dec. 11, 45 men who were members of the David Crockett Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 met next door in their 1859 fire station to form Company G of the Fire Battalion of the Louisiana Militia, also known as the Gretna Fire Guard, and the fire station was designated as the official armory,” UDC Chapter Founder and President Mary Curry said.

“There are some ladies in this chapter who are direct descendents of the men of Company G, thus descendents of the volunteer fire company. Some of these ladies have been friends their whole lives and their ancestors three, four and five generations prior were also friends. To me that’s what makes this chapter so amazing and incredible. One of our ladies, Kathy Weigel Billings descends from two of the men, Martin Moll and Peter Weigel,” Curry said.

About a third of the chapter’s 80 members descend from early members of the Crockett Company.

“Crockett’s is the oldest continuously active volunteer fire company in the United States and it is believed by some fire company historians to be the oldest continuously active fire company worldwide,” Curry said.

Prof. Alan Ludwig's Oct 2013 Siberia Newsletter

is available here.

Faith and Hope Newsletter (From Siberia) #224

Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
During the festival of Saint Michael the Archangel and the angels, the confirmation of three children was held in the parish of Saint Andrew in Novosibirsk. Children received their first Holy Communion.
After the service Bishop Vsevolod Lytkin said to “Faith and hope”, This is very important that our children from the very early age partake of that grace which the Lord gives to His Church. Because we -- adults -- we want our children to grow up as Christians. So we have to bring them as soon as possible to the Eucharist -- the most important graceful sacrament of the Church. And, of course, we must teach our children in the faith before the confirmation and after it. Because we gave ​​a promise to do this when our children were baptized. The Lord gave us our kids that we rear them as Christians.  We -- adults -- we have full responsibility for our children, not only for their earthly life, but for their eternal life.
In his sermon during the Divine service Pastor Alexey Streltsov said, It was especially pertinent to conduct confirmation of children on this day of St Michael the Archangel and the Angels, since the Lord speaks about “these little ones” in the Gospel of Matthew [The Gospel reading was: Matthew. 18: 1-6, 10-11]. You heard today in the same Gospel reading that "their angles in the heavens always see the face of My Father in heaven.” These words serve as a basis for understanding that every child has his own guardian angel. And this is the better fulfillment of the Lord's words, that we “do not look down on these little ones.”  Therefore, we admit these little ones to the Lord's altar to which they can come now in order to eat His Body and drink His Blood for the forgiveness of their sins. This is a truly joyful event.
Please pray for the Siberian Lutheran adults and children.
“Faith and Hope”
Please see attached photos.

We're Blockheads!

One of the neglected aspects of Christian doctrine in recent years has been Natural Law.  It is making a comeback, however, and it is a basis for making an argument for human freedom, human rights, and the opposition of tyranny.  The American Revolution was imbued with Natural Rights theory.  In fact, the Declaration of Independence is a classic statement of Natural Law political theory attempted to be put into practice in the newly independent states.

The basis of Natural Law is the right to life (5th Commandment), which also presumes the right to property (7th Commandment).  How property is acquired and traded, how it is distributed and used in society - given the post-Fall scarcity of resources - is the basis of Economics.  And so Economics is a crucial part of human freedom and dignity - especially for Christianity.

Economics is fascinating, as it is really the never-dull study of human action.  In Economics, you can see the stark difference between liberty and tyranny, between the almost miraculous machinations of the division of labor within the free market over and against the stultification and starvation that government command economies produce.  The 19th and 20th centuries were virtual laboratories in the cause-and-effect of government intervention in the economy and where it leads: tyranny, oppression, and the concentration camp.

And now, the United States is at a crossroads.  

Will be return to the Natural Law understanding of the right to life, liberty, and property that raised the American standard of living to unheard-of heights and made the United States a beacon of liberty around the world, or will we continue to press forward into the direction of Big Government, the warfare-welfare state, imperialism, socialism, fascism, deficits, debt, bankruptcy, bureaucratic control, and top-down micromanagement of every aspect of our lives?

One of the most exciting things to hit the study of Economics in recent years is the rise from the dust of the once-neglected Austrian School.  Although it has not quite gone mainstream, it is on the ascendancy after decades of obscurity, marginalization, and even rejection. The current worldwide economic malaise of the world (the fiat-currency-based debt economy), kicked into high gear following the housing bubble and market crash of 2008, was predicted by Austrian School economists who were laughed at at the time.  The laughter fell silent after the bubble burst (as predicted solely by Austrian economists), and so the world is finally listening.

One can get a remarkable free education in Austrian economic theory by reading Lew Rockwell and availing oneself of the vast free library at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.  Additional study is available in History and Economics for a mere $100 a year at Liberty Classroom.

Mrs. H. and I are fortunate to have Loyola University - New Orleans close by.  The entire Economics Department is comprised of Austrian School economists - headed by the legendary Walter Block.  Dr. Block is a former Marxist who became an advocate of free markets under the guidance of Ayn Rand and her "inner circle" of associates.  He moved on from this group, and under his professor Dr. Murray Rothbard, was "converted" to Austrian Economics and libertarianism.  He has gone on to become a leading lecturer and writer on these topics.

Dr. Block is not content to hole up in the Ivory Tower. He loves to lecture, to discuss, to debate, to read, write, and publish, and most of all, to teach and engage!  He is never shy from taking on controversy, and can take jabs as well as give them.  There is a true joy in academic give and take, as his face lights up in the heat of battle.  And no matter what is said or argued, in agreement and disagreement, Dr. Block is a gentleman, he is cordial, friendly, humble, and genuinely fun to sit around the table with.

Mrs. H. and I are blessed to be studying under Dr. Block with a group of Loyola students and interested adults from all walks of life, taking part in the Human Action Seminar.  We are in the midst of reading Murray N. Rothbard's Economic Controversies.  Thanks to a donor, the group meets every other week for two hours of study and discussion, followed by a paid-for dinner at a local restaurant.  The cost of the hardback book is also reimbursed based on student attendance (it is available free as a pdf or ebook download through

I would like to dispel a couple myths off the bat.

1) Antisemitism.  I once lost a facebook friend over this ugly accusation.  I've been blessed to have been published at Lew a few times over the years.  Lew is the former chief of staff of congressman Ron Paul.  So, as the last presidential campaign descended into its perennial diabolical darkness, the Father of Lies began using his human shills to circulate the lie that Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, and the entire Austrian School of Economics was somehow "antisemitic."  Of course, such accusations need not be true to be effective.

To put this ugliness to rest, some things to keep in mind: Ludwig von Mises was Jewish.  Lew Rockwell is the founder of the Ludwig von Mises Insitute, and worked closely with Dr. von Mises's widow to start the Institute.  Murray Rothbard, the most prolific writer of the Austrian School and teacher and close ally of Lew Rockwell, was also Jewish.  Finally, Dr. Block, long-time close friend of Lew Rockwell, Ron Paul, and friend and student of Dr. Rothbard is also Jewish.  Antisemistism is on its face contrary to libertarian philosophy.  But it makes for good talking points in National Review for people to parrot in order to win primaries and lose general elections.  You can see Dr. Block speak on this himself.

People who make such assertions should be ashamed of themselves and repent of them.

2) Austrianism as a Cult - There is a stereotype that Austrian School adherents march in lockstep under a sort-of Cult of Personality.  Being in live discussions with Dr. Block and his faculty has clearly shown this to be as ridiculous as the antisemitism charge.  The members of the faculty seldom agree on any specific point, approach, philosophy, or assessment of any individual academic idea or individual person we're discussing.  While they are all members of the same "school" and have the basic philosophical and economic underpinnings in common (free markets), there is a swath of diversity of opinion regarding the role of government, the role of coercion, the Non-Aggression Principle, and even the discipline and methodologies of academic Economics itself.  Dr. Block especially enjoys the give-and-take ("bloodletting") and also knows that undergraduate students enjoy seeing their professors taken down a peg or two in discussions.

Having said that, there is great collegiality and amity among the faculty and the attendees.  It is great intellectual stimulation, and the readings are daunting - at a pace akin to graduate level study.  Many of us have never formally studied Economics (I had two undergraduate classes in Economics thirty years ago), while others in the seminar are current students or have graduate degrees.  This is the best environment to learn.  It is drinking from a fire-hose instead of being spoon-fed.  It is genuinely fun, interesting, and stimulating, and Dr. Block's shimmering and rascally personality keeps things moving with joyful intensity.

If you live in the New Orleans area and are interested in these issues, please contact Dr. Block and get on his e-mail list!  If you live somewhere else, you can avail yourself of lectures by Dr. Block and other Austrian School professors on YouTube (such as this Walter Block lecture at a local high school) and you can basically give yourself a graduate-level education free of charge by frequenting  There are also vibrant local libertarian groups forming in our area, such as Liberty on the Rocks run by Noelle Mandell (whom we met at the seminar) and we're really excited about this.  

We have come a long way from where we were 20 years ago as lonely libertarians meeting with a few middle age men once a month at Denny's in Philadelphia, packing heat and silver dollars and studying the Constitution and American History.  We are seeing an entire generation of young people educating themselves in the study of liberty and free markets.

Thanks to Dr. Block for his steadfastness and willingness to teach anyone who wants to learn.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Wittenberg Academy!

I'm honored to be on the faculty of Wittenberg Academy.  It may be the world's only online classical Lutheran high school.

WA was established in 2011, and is recognized by the state of Minnesota.  WA allows students to take individual classes, either as an enhancement to their public, parochial, or home school experiences, or students may earn 28 credits from WA and thus earn a high school diploma.  WA is in the process of securing accreditation through the Consortium of Classical and Lutheran Education (CCLE).  Faculty members are also in the process of securing certification from the CCLE, and they attend ongoing educational training as members of CCLE.

Being an online academy, classes are available anywhere on the planet that has Internet.  Classes are offered asynchronously, which means that they are not in real time, thus allowing incredible flexibility for students and their families.  Classes also include an hour a week of live recorded interaction over the Internet (audio or video).  Technology has made classical Lutheran education accessible to the many when it used to be available only to a few.

This methodology combines the features of classical education (Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric; Quadrivium: mathematics, the sciences, and the arts) - including the use of original sources as textbooks and the incorporation of classical languages (Latin and Greek) - blended with the model of homeschooling. Students are taught to think and write rigorously and precisely.  They are not taught to appease a standardized test.  They are taught in an unabashedly Christian paradigm, and not according to politically-correct dictates of bureaucrats and those seeking a lowest common denominator experience.  Wittenberg Academy students know how to think, because we teach them to do so, lovingly, with encouragement, and according to our vocations as Christian instructors commited to the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

All courses are taught from an apologetically confessionally Lutheran and traditional perspective.  Pastors teach all theology classes, and the leadership of WA includes both pastors and lay educators, all on the same page theologically and working together within their holy vocations. Virtual chapel services are also an important part of WA life, and all chapel services are conducted by ordained Lutheran pastors incorporating services from the hymnal.

Although WA focuses on high school, plans are underway to begin expanding the curriculum to middle and grade school.  Already, some Latin courses are available to younger students (as well as a Latin course for adults!).

WA blends the advantages of homeschooling with expertise in some areas parents may want help with.  It is a less expensive option than most private schools, and there are no hidden costs, building fees, expenses for uniforms, constant fundraisers, etc. that one experiences in a brick-and-mortar school.

This past summer, I attended a retreat at Concordia Theological Seminary - Fort Wayne with other faculty members.  It was held in conjunction with the CCLE conference, which I also attended.  I'm genuinely impressed with the leadership of WA - including the Board and the Administration.  I'm also impressed with the faculty - many of whom include classmates of mine at the seminary.  The faculty displays intellectual acuity in combination with a genuine love for the work they are doing, and a dedication to their students.  The bar is set very high, but not to "weed out" students, but to encourage and nurture them to scale over it!  No student at WA is "just a number".  Our students are treated as individuals, with respect and Christian love.

If that's for you or your children, please consider joining the Wittenberg Academy family!

I'm five weeks into my first of three trimesters that make up the Paideia IV course.  Paideia is a Greek word that means "instruction" and is closely related to the concept of discipleship.  My students continue to impress me with their diligence and insights.  We are studying Christian Apologetics by means of works of C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Sayers, and others.  I assign podcasts from Issues, Etc. and YouTube videos (including lectures that I give and record myself).  We will also be reading Marx, Hitler, Darwin, the Koran, and the Book of Mormon as distinct challenges to the Christian faith.  In subsequent trimesters, we'll study Economics and Political Theory as well as modern Literature - all within the Christian worldview.  We'll be reading some very interesting works, and the vast majority of them are available for free download.

For more information, please visit Wittenberg Academy online.  Check out the Frequently Asked Questions.  Here's what some WA parents and students are saying!