Archive for August, 2012

God keep me from impenetrable prose. Give me more fruit than chaff. And should I become overpleased with my wit and work, then come, dear Lord, and smack me about the head. Amen.

– m.b.

There are few things I like better than sitting down with a cup of tea, a pen in hand, and a good book or article on theology. The trouble is (if you’re anything like me) your bookshelves are all pretty much full already. So where exactly are we supposed to store the back issues of theological journals that we subscribe to?

Well, there’s now a solution for at least one such publication. Logos Bible Software has informed me (and asked me to pass on the info to my readers) that 20 years of the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly (WLQ) is soon to be made available for your computer through Logos.

The Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly is the theological journal of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the seminary of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) in the United States, the third largest Lutheran body in North America. While there are theological positions that WELS takes which I would not, I’m more than happy to read their journal of theology. In fact, engaging the deep thinking of a church body is (in my opinion) the most honest way of doing ecumenicism. As I’ve written on another site, I believe “truly fruitful ecumenical dialogue only occurs when we recognize (and do not ignore) theological differences between Christians.” And as I note elsewhere on this site, I agree with the reformers that “God works in the vocations of all people (Christian or otherwise), meaning that there are things to be learned from those outside our own tradition.”

That’s perhaps the reason why the Emmaus Conference is such an interesting concept. This conference (which draws together representatives from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod) brings together people to discuss theology in a “free conference.” Free and open theological discussion is the basis for worthwhile conversation.

So dig in to WLQ (and any number of other theological journals for that matter). When you learn something new, thank God for the new insight and knowledge. And when you come across something you’re not quite sure about, thank God for the opportunity to sharpen your own mind—“as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another,” after all.

The following comes from Logos and gives a bit of the history of WLQ. It also explains some of the features available to users who get WLQ through Logos.

Since 1904 the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has published a theological journal, originally called Theologische Quartalschrift, now the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly. This journal is issued by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary as a testimony of its theological convictions, as a public witness to the saving truths of Holy Scripture, and in the interest of the theological and professional growth of those whom the seminary is training for the public ministry and of those already active in this ministry.

With the Logos Bible Software edition all Scripture passages in Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly are tagged and appear on mouse-over. What’s more, Scripture references are linked to the wealth of language resources in your digital library. This makes all 84 issues more powerful and easier to access than ever before for scholarly work or personal Bible study. With the advanced search features of Logos Bible Software, you can perform powerful searches by topic or Scripture reference—finding, for example, every mention of “justification,” or “Paul.”

Check it out at Logos here.

We’re currently experiencing some technical difficulties with the site, but never fear: the original version of the site (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) should be back online in the next few days.

Update: And we’re back!

I’ve forgotten to mention a few of my recent articles, so this is somewhat of a clean-up post. These three articles appeared in The Canadian Lutheran between March and June, 2012. The titles and a brief selection appear below, followed by links to the articles online. Given that my column for the July/August issue will be appearing online soon, it makes sense to mention these older ones now.

Let’s start with the most recent article (appearing in the May/June issue). Entitled “A key named ‘Promise,'” the piece uses John Bunyan’s struggle with despair to encourage Christians today who struggle with guilt and worry whether God might not forgive them. Author and scholar Gene Veith had a positive response over at Cranach when this article first came out.

A key named ‘Promise’

Bunyan could find no cure for despair in himself. No, the cure could only be found in the promises of Christ—in the Gospel. And so it is that, in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian only escapes Giant Despair when he remembers he carries a key in his bosom. The key’s name is ‘Promise,’ and it opens the prison doors.

Despair was not Bunyan’s problem alone. It existed long before Bunyan, and it continues to plague people long since. We see glimpses of it in ourselves when we worry that we have finally sinned too much. When we fear our faith is not strong enough to save. When we’ve let God down one too many times. But just as it did with Bunyan, Scripture comes running after us in these moments, reminding us of the promises of Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work in the Word, drawing us ever to Himself, opening our hearts to believe the promises of God.


The other two articles appeared in the March/April issue of The Canadian Lutheran. The first, “Gospel-motivated love,” is my column for the issue. It attempts to demonstrate how, in loving our neighbour, we can open the door to evangelism. The second, “Into Africa,” is a feature piece discussing how the Gospel gives us the desire to do social ministry in the first place, drawing on my (then) recent trip to Mozambique, Lesotho, and South Africa. The latter piece (“Into Africa”) was also reproduced in part in Canadian Lutheran World Relief’s May newsletter.


Gospel-motivated love

‘I thought I was in the the Twilight Zone,” he told The Christian Post. “These people are acting like what the Bible says a Christian does.” He saw genuine concern for his well-being, despite his opposition to Christianity. And so he turned to the Scriptures, eager to find what could motivate such selfless love. There, by the grace of God, he found Christ.

Let’s be clear: acts of love didn’t convert the man. But they did drive him to the Word of God, the very tool the Holy Spirit uses to engender faith. The good works of Christians pointed him back to the God who motivates good works.


Into Africa

Just as Christ took pity on the countless sick, the mourning, the poor, and the hungry, we too are called to show compassion to those less fortunate than us, and to share with them the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Indeed, it’s in acknowledging how good He has been to us that we find the impetus to love our neighbour. God first loved us—without our ever deserving it. That selfless love inspires us by the Holy Spirit to love others….

While thanks for salvation may motivate Christians to care for and love each others, that shouldn’t be the only role the Gospel plays. ‘In doing humanitarian work, we must do it in such a way that the world knows that the aid does not just fall from the sky or come out of our pockets,’ Dr. Neitzel explains. ‘We must be clear that there is is Someone who is the provider. And this Someone is the Creator who created us, sustains us, and gave His Son to die for us and save us.’ Loving our neighbours means caring for them in both body and soul. And caring for the soul means proclaiming the Gospel.