Saturday, 24 July 2010

Parlez-vous français? Bibliothèque en ligne d'oeuvres de théologie luthériennes!

Parlez-vous français?

Vérifiez ceci dehors:

Bibliothèque en ligne d'oeuvres de théologie luthériennes!

Le site de l'Église Évangélique Luthérienne Synode de France et Belgique:

En Afrique:
Eglise Lutherienne du Togo:

Le site de l'Église Luthérienne du Canada:

Liturgies et cantiques luthériennes:

Mise à jour Monday 26.07.10: Podcasts!
(À votre bon cœur Rev. Thomas Constantini, de l'Eglise Lutherienne en Poitou, Paroisse St Paul de Prailles-Beaussais.)

à venir:

Note - My recently sainted grandmother (101 years!) always told me some of our ancestors were French Protestant 'Huguenot' refugees who fled from France to Essex, England in the 17th century (a story which history backs up, btw). As I get older I become more and more interested in their story. I offer this promotion of Francophone Lutheran resources in honour of my French ancestors, who suffered so much at the hands of France's Roman Catholic authorities.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Giertz: The Origins of Liturgy in the Apostolic Age

"The relation of liturgy to the apostolic age is obvious. It has flowed through the centuries like a ceaseless stream. It had its first deep sources in the synagogue. It is not only that a few words have remained in continuous use since that time, such as Amen, Hallelujah, and Hosanna, but the whole structural form of our order of worship shows clearly its relation to that worship which Jesus Himself shared in the synagogue at Nazareth and in which, as a grown man, he officiated when He was invited to read and interpret the Scriptures. To the ancient worship of the synagogue the apostolic church added the Holy Communion, that new creation which she received from the Saviour Himself and which is the center of all liturgy. As it is celebrated still, with the traditional chants, the Preface and the Sanctus, it is essentially a contribution of the first century."

From Swedish Bishop Bo Giertz's Pastoral Letter to the Diocese of Gothburg in 1949 (Herdabrev), published in English as 'Liturgy and Spiritual Awakening' (trans. C.A. Nelson).

The origins of the traditional Western liturgy in the ancient synagogue and the Apostolic age may be well-known to scholars and pastors, but how many of our lay people are aware of it? It is Giertz's purpose here in this Herdabrev to educate the laity of his diocese, after all. Having acknowledged the legitimacy of the lay concern for spiritual awakening and its apostolic origins (so often opposed in his day and ours to the so-called 'dead formalism' of liturgy), he then also points out that the liturgy is also the work of the same Spirit who inspires all genuine awakenings, and thus ought to be reverenced as the Spirit's gift to the church just as much as are 'revivals' of faith and piety.
Needless to say, there is much of relevance here to our contemporary 'worship wars' and the relation of charismatic and revival movements to the life of the church in our day. Would that the bishops and church presidents of today might take up, like Bishop Giertz, the mantle of authoritative teaching that is so sorely needed in this confused time.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Archaeological Dig at Gat Confirms Biblical History

The northern summer is the optimal time for archaeological digs in Israel. The following report just came across the wires to the old manse, courtesy Maayana Miskin at Israel International News:
An ongoing archaeological excavation in Tel Tzafit continues to unearth the ruins of what was once the city of Gat – described in the Bible as the hometown of Goliath.

Professor Aren Maeir, who is directing the dig, spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news service to discuss the latest finds.
Recent finds from the Tel Tzafit excavation are “fascinating,” Maeir said. The site, inhabited at times by Canaanites and at other times by Philistines, has remnants from many periods of history. “We are focusing on the Canaanite period, the Philistine period, and the Israelite period, and for now we're primarily in the Philistine period,” he said.

One of the most interesting finds was a piece of writing containing, among other things, Philistine names, some of which were similar to the name “Goliath.”

"We've found a rich variety of artifacts” showing that Gat was a major city at that time, he continued. “We are now discovering remnants from metal craft and bronze, and from the destruction of the city at the hands of King Chazel of Aram as described in the second books of Kings.”

Findings show that Chazel and his army laid siege to the city until its residents had exhausted their food supply, then attacked. Dozens of buildings were found that were demolished by the invading army.

Other buildings appear to have collapsed in an earthquake, possibly the one mentioned at the beginning of the book of Amos, he said.

The relationship between the nation of Israel and the Philistines was more complex than people tend to assume, Maeir revealed. “The Philistines... were often more than just enemies. We can see this in the Bible as well, for instance, in the fact that Samson married a Philistine woman,” he said. There appears to have been crossover between the two cultures – for example, findings show that elements of Philistine cooking became common among the Israelites as well.

Click on the post title to go to the official website of the dig.
The pic is of the top of Tel es Safi/Tzafit, under which lie the ruins of ancient Gat/Gath.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The LC-MS Has A New President

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has a new president: Rev. Matthew Harrison. Congratulations Matt, and may God bless your presidency richly for the good of his faithful people everywhere. "This is the Lord's doing, and it is wonderful in our eyes."
Pr Harrison knows Australia and the LCA well, and has been a champion in the LC-MS for the revival of interest in the writings of the German-Australian Lutheran theologian, Dr Hermann Sasse.
He can be assured of the prayers of his many friends 'down under' on this momentous occasion.

Update: An interview with Pr Harrison can be found on Issues Etc. here:

Monday, 12 July 2010

Giertz on Liturgy & Awakening

More from the sainted Bishop Bo Giertz's 1949 Pastoral Letter to his diocese. Here he circles in on his main subject, the relationship between 'liturgy' and 'awakening' in the history of the church:
Both liturgy and awakening were found in the apostolic church. They are spoken of already at Pentecost. "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?" That is awakening. "And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple" and "Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour." That is liturgy.

Both liturgy and awakening have been with the church throughout her entire history. The manner in which they appear is of course very unlike. Awakening is like a flickering flame above a bed of coals. It gleams forth, spreads itself, rises toward heaven, and then seems to be gone again. Its connection with the ancient church seems to be broken by intervals of darkness. And yet the connection is there, because the Spirit is one and the same, even He who pricked the hearts on the day of Pentecost; and the Word, which lights the mysterious flame, is the same Word of power that once passed over the lips of the apostles.

[Portrait of Giertz by Helene Martenson; check out her work at]

Go Figure: US Church Attendance Increasing

According to a recent Gallup poll based on c. 800 000 interviews, church attendance in the US has increased by 1% since 2008. Gallup attributes the rise not so much to the desire for spiritual succour in the midst of hard economic times, as one might expect, but rather to the increase in the ranks of baby-boomers, who are known to attend church more regularly than other segments of the population.

What does it tmean? The results would seem to indicate that when people retire from the workforce, their minds turn to spiritual matters, and they are more likely to become regular worshippers if they haven't been so in the past. I know that the US is somewhat unusual in the Anglosphere in that its population is consistently more 'religious' across a range of indicators than more secular societies like the UK and Australia, but this finding would seem to tally with my own anecdotal experience as a pastor 'down under'. I've lost count of the number of retired folk I've seen return to regular worship during my time in the ministry.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the evangelisation of young people outside of the church seems less and less fruitful, and pastors and parents alike grieve over the loss from regular worship of university age young people who have been raised in the church. Who has a panacea for this? Why this is so is inscrutably wrapped up in the mysteries of God's grace and human resistance to it. Lord, have mercy! is all we can pray - with tears.
But the results of the US survey, if they indicate a definite, long-term trend in similar societies, might mean that many of those young people and presently middle-aged people who've at least been given a foundation in the faith will return to the church in their later years...if there is still a church for them to return to, that is.

Click on the post title to read a report on the survey.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Giertz on the Three Great Heritages of the Church

"If we wish to know what true Christianity means, how the church of Christ lives and works, and how a soul is saved, we must seek to understand three great heritages of the church. We must go back first to the days of the apostles, martyrs and church fathers; then we must ponder the message of the Reformers; and lastly, bring to remembrance the blessed spiritual leaders in the last century through whom God gave the church great awakenings from which all future generations may learn.

This is the threefold heritage of which we have been made stewards and which is to be made a living possession. It is ours to preserve and to pass on. We are to learn lessons from the past that are to be a vital force in the present. It is the risen and living Lord who wrought all this in the past. To hold fast the old heritage is to abide in Him. For then it is at the same time something new, renewed by the Resurrected Christ Himself. In the measure that we live by the resources which built the church in days of old, will Christ give us clear instruction for the way we must walk today.

This, then, is our program: to learn of the past that we may be prepared meet the coming day; to immerse ourselves so deeply in the great life stream of the church that we may be equipped to proclaim the Word of God in a new age, and to modern men and women, and to live His life in the manner which the new century in the history of the church demands."

From the Pastoral Letter of Bishop Bo Giertz to the Diocese of Gothenburg in the Church of Sweden, 1949 (ET by C.A. Nelson published as 'Liturgy & Spiritual Awakening').

Pic: A young Bo Giertz preaching(courtesy

Note the order of the questions Giertz raises in his first sentence - 'what true Christianity means' leads to 'how the church of Christ lives and works', which leads on to 'how the individual soul is saved'. One can glimpse here already at the beginning of this programmatic address to his diocese how Giertz effortlessly combined the typical Swedish high-church 'catholic' concern for churchliness and order with the once also typically Swedish low-church 'evangelical' concern for times of awakening (the more usual English term here might be 'revival', although it is tainted by misuse) and personal salvation. That Giertz seems to be a rare 20th century embodiment of these traditions perhaps only indicates how far the church had fallen from health at the time.

Without the concern for personal salvation, 'high-churchism' tends towards a preoccupation with the outward form of church life which comes to present only a mask of piety to the world, while without the concern for churchliness, evangelicalism tends towards becoming sectarian and individualistic, wreaking havoc upon the body-life of the church. The health of the church in any age surely depends on keeping the current of its life alternating between these two polarities in a creative and positive manner; when the current runs in only one direction for a lengthy period of time, impoverishment of the church's life results.

The dissolution of Anglicanism before our very eyes is the outcome, in my view, of the failure to keep the catholic and evangelical currents of that church's life in positive contact, while the future of the Lutheran Church, humanly speaking, depends on avoiding that mistake.