Tag Archives: theology

We Believe

Because I feel like we always need to present the Lutheran theological viewpoint on every novel, you must know this:  Unlike the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons, we don’t believe in preforeordestination.

I don’t think.

Well, I’ll research Chapter XVIII a bit more, ask my Pastor, and get back to you.  But mind you, his preaching isn’t exactly what I’d call ornery, so I don’t know if he’ll really have the answer.


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I know I was really harsh on a bit of Bad Theology the yesterday, so I want to make up for it by posting this quote of really awesome stuff:

“We does for the Lord when we does for his critturs,” said Tom.
“Good theology, Tom; better than Dr. B. preaches, I dare swear,” said St. Clare.

I don’t know who Dr. B is, but I agree, wholeheartedly!  We Lutherans have a fancy name for it:  vocation.  But, Tom sums it up nicely.


Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Every Time a Bell Rings, blah, blah, blah . . .

That’s it.  It must be said, it just must.  I can’t sit idly by and read this bad theology any longer without raising an objection:

When people die they do not become angels.

There, I said it.  I feel better now.

Sadly, Ophelia did not share the same opinion in her words of comfort to Topsy.

“Get up, child,” said Miss Ophelia, in a softened voice; “don’t cry so.  Miss Eva is gone to heaven; she is an angel.”

I loved Evangeline, but friends, she did not earn her wings at her death.  No, instead she went to be with the Savior who was and is the Good News for which she was named.

So, why is this distinction so important?  Because Christ did not become an angel on Christmas morn, no, he became a human.  Angels are His messengers, and in spreading God’s word Eva did her part.  But Jesus is the God Man.  He is our brother, in human flesh, to redeem the fallen human nature that has enfleshed us since Eve’s first bite.  

“But I can’t see her!”  said Topsy.  “I never shall see her!”

This is where a right understanding would have been very helpful, because something even better than angelfying occurs to those who die in the Lord:

In the Resurrection Jesus will raise their bodies

and make them whole, and for the rest of eternity they will remain with him in perfect union.  And with your eyes, you shall see Him, Tospy.  You shall see Evangline, but more importantly you shall see The Evangline – The Good News.


Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncle Tom's Cabin


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Little c colloquy.

colloquy – n. a conversation, often about theological questions

Classical Usage:  The untamed woods are a picture of Hester’s life, and a place foreign to the religiously restricted Arthur, yet here they sit discussing the future.  “She had wondered, without rule or guidance, in a moral wilderness; as vast, as intricate and shadowy, as the untamed forest, amid the gloom of which they were now holding a colloquy that was to decide their fate.”  As Dimmesdale wrestled with his conscience, God’s word, and his love for Hester this conversation took on decidedly theological tones.

Classically Mad Usage:   This is actually a word that I’ve been using for years.  You see, in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod the Colloquy Program is a series of courses designed to bring those trained professionally outside the church’s education system into a degree of theological instruction.  I never actually gave any consideration to the origin or meaning of the word outside of its practical application.  I like it.

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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in The Scarlet Letter


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And on a lighter note . . .

There’s so much humor in Swift.  Tons. Yet here I am, barely posting, and now when I do finally get around to a post it’s going to be about as humorless as possible.  Really dark.  Dark, dark, dark.  Brace yourselves.

When Gulliver visits the Island of Luggnagg he discovers that some of it’s natives, the Struldbrugs, are born immortal.  After waxing eloquent about what a joy he believes it must be to know that you will never die he is confronted with the grim reality that although these people never die they do age and decay just as mortals, yet without the release of death.

Swift, whether intentionally or not, illustrated hell here in a way that even Bunyan could covet.  It is the presence of death in our world that causes sickness, memory loss, and our failing senses.  And so while Swift says that these people didn’t have a death, what they really had was death everlasting.  They had hell.  Yet for believers death is the portal to life everlasting.

And that, my friends, is satire.

(I think.)

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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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The Gate Inscription

     “Now when they were come up to the Gate, there was written over it, in letters of gold, Blessed are they that
     do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life; and may enter in through the Gates into
     the City.”

The right to the Tree of Life? 
Christian and Hopeful followed all the Commandments?

What about Christ taking away Christian’s burden?
What about grace being sufficient?

What about “The Tree of Life”?

What mercy God showed to our race,
A plan of rescue by His grace:
In sending One from woman’s seed,
The One to fill our greatest need–
For on a tree uplifted high
His only Son for sin would die,
Would drink the cup of scorn and dread
To crush the ancient serpent’s head

Now from that tree of Jesus’ shame
Flows life eternal in His name;
For all who trust and will believe,
Salvation’s living fruit receive,
And of this fruit so pure and sweet
The Lord invites the world to eat,
To find with in this cross of wood
The tree of life with ev’ry good.


From Lutheran Service Book  Hymn 561
text c 1993 Stephen P Starke; admin. Concorida Publishing House

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Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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Dream a Dream

Bunyan falls asleep on the job. Again.

That Bunyan, he’s a clever one.  First he places the entire story in a dream, then he reveals dreams within the dream.  It’s enough to make a sleeping person wake up, but more likely to tempt this semi-conscious reader into a few winks.

The dreams in Part 2 have really been jumping out at me.  Both Christiana and Mercy have experienced revelations in their dreams.  In fact, Christiana sets out on her journey partially because of the images of her sin and those of her dear husband amongst the saints in heaven.

(Stupid Question Tangent:  Who is Secret?  And don’t tell me you aren’t allowed to say.  Is he a Pastor, a door-to-door evangelist, an angel?  My only leaning toward the angel answer is that she refers to him as a “messenger” when telling Mrs. Timorous about him.)

Mercy’s dream occurs while they’re on the Straight and Narrow, and apparently she’s a bit of a sleep-laugher.  Better than a sleep-walker, I suppose.  Her nighttime vision was very similar to Christiana’s.  First she was confronted with her sin and then saw the beauties that await in heaven.  Both demonstrate little miniatures of law and gospel.

But here’s the quote from Christiana about Mercy’s dream that made me start wondering about Bunyan’s use of dreams:

God speaks once, yea twice, yet Man perceiveth it not, in a Dream, in a Vision of the Night, when deep Sleep falleth upon men, in slumbering upon the bed.  We need not, when abed, lie awake to talk with God; he can visit us while we sleep, and cause us then to hear his Voice.  Our Heart oftentimes wakes when we sleep, and God can speak to that, either by Words, by Proverbs, by Signs, and Similitudes, as well as if one was awake.

Is this allegorical, or does Bunyan believe that God still talks to his children in their dreams?  While Christian came to know his sin and the Way by means of the Book and the guidance of Evangelist, Christiana and Mercy have never been directed to God’s written word.

I certainly have more questions and open-ended thoughts here than answers and explanations, so do you have any?

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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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I have a few friends that have struggled with depression and despair.   I think I read the section of P.P. where Christian is trapped in Doubting Castle, imprisoned by Giant Despair more carefully as a result, thinking of those I have known in similar imprisonments.  I wondered what light Bunyan’s allegory would shed on this situation.

I found some of his conclusions interesting.  Not sure if I agree with everything, but interesting, none-the-less.

Christian stumbles into Despair’s clutches of his own accord due to climbing out of The Way.   There he is beaten and starved.  Not only that, he is tempted by Despair to abandon life and end it.   Suicide is the answer, according to Despair.   Christian is close to agreeing, but, (and I love this), his companion in Doubting Castle is HOPEFUL!   What a great companion when in Despair!  Hopeful counsels him to be patient, trust in God, reminds him that although choosing the Grave seems easy, Hell might be worse,  tells him to endure, reminds him that others have escaped Despair, and puts in mind how they have been rescued from many other trials.

As they are on the verge of Death, Christian remembers that he has “a Key in (his) bosom, called Promise, that will …open any lock in Doubting Castle.”  Sure enough, it does open the doors and they are able to escape.   Did I miss something, girls?  When did he get this Key?   What exactly is the Promise?  I could think of several scriptural promises that would be comforting in this situation, but I’m not sure if there is a specific one being referenced here.   Any thoughts, Readers?

So, we stumble into Despair all on our own, but only the Promise will enable us to get out.  Hmm..

I was also remembering that the Interpreter had shown Christian a man named Despair in an Iron Cage before he set out on his journey.  This man said that he could not escape and had no Hope because he had “shut himself out of the Promises”  because of the “Lusts, Pleasures and Profits of the World” and implies that God had denied him Repentence.   Now I think I’m really confused.  I like Doubting Castle’s conclusions better, I think.

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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Tis good to have a Convoy!

Christian and Hopeful talk of hardships on the King’s Highway, and Christian mentions that 2 things are prudent:

1.  Take the Shield along.  (Shield of Faith – Eph. 6:16)

2.  Remember your Convoy!   Guess who is in our Convoy?  The King himself!  What a blessed reminder!  “The Lord is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?”  Ps. 27:1  “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”  Ps. 3:8   Christian says, “…if He will but go along with us, what need we be afraid of ten thousands that shall set themselves against us?”



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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress



Shame – a very modern weapon

During part of P.P., Christian is able to journey with a man named Faithful.   As they are walking and talking together, Faithful mentions meeting with a character named Shame in the Valley of Humility.  He indicates that this name is inappropriate for the character, as he is very “bold-faced” in trying to turn Faithful from The Way.   His tactics include:

1.  Attacking Faithful’s manhood (Religion and a tender Conscience being very un-manly),

2.  Ridiculing him for voluntarily giving up freedoms and liberties of the times,

3. Comparing him (unfavorably) to the Mighty, Rich and Wise of the times – none of whom would ever follow this Way,

4. Insulting his intelligence as believing thus would go against current views of Modern Science, and

5. Shaming him for asking for Forgiveness, making Restitution, and a number of other things.

These accusations strike me as very modern, despite being written down in 1600-something.   How many times in the news or media or among the academic community are Faithful Christians ridiculed for these same reasons?  The modern world seems to have an agenda to Shame Christians from their Way.  I pray we would not succumb!



Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Pilgrim's Progress


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