Friday, January 25, 2008

The Book Club and Martin Luther

The No Inklings Book Club met last evening, determined to finish off LUTHER ON VOCATION, and failing that, to finish off the great chocolate cake Mike brought.

We managed one or the other. The cake would definitely have been finished off but that in the fullness of time I started the whiskey bottle around the table. However, that in turn aided in our finishing our discussion of the Luther book. Balance, you see.

The Luther Quote of the Night:

"A cross will very soon be lying on the shoulders of such an undertaking"
Luther here is discussing the ideal prince, true to his vocation, whose characteristics include "prayer and faith, love and service, judgment and common sense, earnestness and strictness." Wingren footnote, P. 209
Such a prince will "...have to encounter much envy and suffering on that account."
When I read that quote aloud, I was immediately struck by its usefulness and applicability. Thinking of starting a prison ministry? How about maybe getting that quartet together to sing in church? A cross will very soon be lying on the shoulders of such undertakings, I assure you.

Do you think that if you approach your life and vocation with prayer, faith, love, good judgment and common sense, that all will go well? Ha. A cross will very soon be lying on the shoulders of your undertakings, no doubt.

Well, that wasn't all we discussed. Luther has this great concept of Stundelein: God's "little hour" when, using us as his masks, he takes action. There is a time to every purpose under heaven, and nothing in man's power or will can change, speed up, or delay The Time. A sample quote:

"When a man makes up his mind to do as simple a thing as seeking amusement, he finds that joy is not won this way. Joy has its hour, which is not at man's command....From that we might learn that we cannot control matters by our own decisions. Man is not to rack his brain about the future, but live in the hour that has come. That is the same as living in faith, receptive to God, who is present now and has something he will do now." LOV, P. 214.

Well, we've finished our discussion of Luther On Vocation. It was a tough little book to read together. As a book club we're going to swing back in another direction: a few more Flannery O'Connor short stories, and the poetry of George Herbert is next on our plate. After that we're considering an anthology recently published by CPH entitled WOMEN PASTORS? We may also take a look at some of the recent atheists' writings that are making little splashes in the secular world. A blind watchmaker, anyone?

As always, we will eat well. And a cross, no doubt, will soon be lying on the shoulders of that undertaking as well...


Anonymous said...

I have heard of this new book on women and the ministry. I will follow your postings. The book on vocation is a bit formidable and I have plowed through some of it. Gene Veith has a good blog.

I am thinking about adiaphora and what that means. I am in favor of women voting in church assemblies but I am dragging my feet about women pastors.

Norman Teigen
ELS layman

Bruce Gee said...

Hi Norman!

Ed Veith has a book on vocation called GOD AT WORK that is more accessible and clearer than the Wingren book. Have you read it?

Adiaphora refers to "indifferent things" i.e. those things not essential to salvation. This in turn has opened up a Pandora's Box of opinions about what is indifferent and what isn't. IOW, the discussion is almost guaranteed to divide us rather than unite us. Paul refers to these things in Romans 14 an 15. It is noteworthy that he makes no reference to the role of women in his discussion, but spends a lot of words emphasizing that what we choose and what we do, we do for Christ and for others. That should be the basis for the discussion, not who has the "right" to vote.

There are many who have observed that the major stepping stone to women's ordination has been women's sufferage in church assemblies. Perhaps you ought to consider reading the "new book", WOMEN PASTORS?. It could help you perhaps thinking about the comples issues.

May Christ our Lord guide you in your search.