Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Judge Owen Quote

Islam's Future in America - a review

The Lord be with you

In the current issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly is an article titled “Islam’s Future in America.” It was written by Adam S.Francisco who is Professor and Chair of the History and Political Thought Department at Concordia University Irvine, Irvine, California. A link to the article is provided at the end of this review.

In this article, Adam Francisco covers the history of Islam in America, beginning with Muslim slaves brought here over two centuries ago and continuing through today. This review even covers the origin of the now politically correct idea that Islam is a “religion of peace” and that the radicals have “hijacked” the religion. One might wonder about the usefulness of such a review however, in my opinion, no one can have a hope of understanding the present, let alone what might be coming down the road, unless they know and understand history. He then examines current trends in the West from moderates to radicals.

In considering the future of Islam in America, Francisco thinks how everything will shake out “is hard to say, but the trends of the past that continue to shape the present will most likely persist into the future.” He also says “We should expect a great bit of diversity amidst Muslims. There will be Twelver, Sevener, Fiver, and every other sort of Shia Muslim alongside Sunnis who are progressivists, secularists, Islamists, and even jihadists. However, the institutions representing American Muslims and public discourse on the character of Islam in America will be predominantly Islamist of one sort or another.”

Francisco goes on to write, “Amidst America’s Muslims there will be and already is a contest for the soul and posture of Islam. Moderates and progressives are already battling with conservatives. This is mostly an internal debate, though it has been suggested non-Muslims should seize any opportunity to promote a moderate Islam.” Francisco, though, points out that others feel that such an effort is doomed to failure and why, at least some of them, so think.

Francisco also warns, “we should expect more of the violence happening across the globe to find its way here.” He reminds us, “For religions committed to a distinction between religion and politics or theology and civil law the first amendment poses little to no problem to the integrity of that religion or the state. For Islam—at least classical orthodox versions of it—it does. Herein lies one of the most basic problems associated with Islam in the West, particularly in a secular and pluralist democracy like America.”

Francisco ends his article by writing, “Regardless of all the trends, debates, policies, and postures associated with the problems of Islam and its future in America, we can count on the fact that Islam is and will continue to become a part of mainstream American culture. Whether it gets stirred up in the melting pot or not is anyone’s guess at this point. Whether it succeeds in influencing the broader culture or not will probably not be determined by Islam itself, though. Rather, the future of American culture will be determined by those, as it has been said, who show up for it. Muslims are poised to do just that. So are secularists. Are Christians? Only the future will tell.”

Islam is certainly a hot topic in America today. It is refreshing to read something that is balanced, historical, non inflammatory, and factual. I can easily recommend this article for all who are interested in how we got to where we are in America in reference to Islam, reasonable cautions, and a foundation for understanding the influences that are shaping American Islam for its future.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Commemoration of Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture

The Lord be with you

Today, on our church calendar, we celebrate the Commemoration of Jerome, Translator of Holy Scripture. Back in 2012 I made a post on this blog concerning Jerome. As I have nothing to add to what I wrote then, I’m simply providing a link to that article.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Free to Be Faithful Fall Newsletter

Free to be Faithful fall newsletter discusses recent Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty event in Washington, D.C.

Fall newsletter discusses religious liberty,
tax-exempt status, Boy Scouts of America

Members of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod who expressed interest in defending the issues of marriage, life and religious liberty in the public square were recently invited to join in a conversation about those topics Sept. 8–10 in Washington, D.C.

Read the fall issue of the Free to be Faithful newsletter to learn more about their candid conversation — and the experts who took part in it — about confessing the faith in the public square in a uniquely Lutheran way.

You will also find information on legislation that would protect churches from losing tax-exempt status based on their belief in one-man/one-woman marriage, as well as information on the recent Boy Scouts of America decision to allow openly gay adult Scout leaders.

Finally, read about four LCMS college students who will serve as Young Adult Ambassadors on behalf of Free to be Faithful, the Synod’s education and awareness initiative regarding marriage, life and religious liberty.

“They are articulate and eager to confess the faith,” LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison explains. “And there are thousands more just like them in our church body.”

If you would like to stay informed on upcoming news and issues related to marriage, life, religious freedom or the establishment of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, please send your name, address and phone number to

If you have questions about this email or need assistance, please contact the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267) or
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Divine Presence within the Cloud - a review

The Lord be with you

Concordia Theological Quarterly is a peer reviewed journal that I receive. In the most recent issue (Volume 79; Number 1-2; January/April 2015) is an article by Walter A. Maier III titled The Divine Presence within the Cloud (pages 79-102). This post is a review of that article. A link to the article is found at the end of this post.

A Theophany is an appearance of God to people but the presence of God is veiled in some fashion to protect the people. To put that another way, theophanies both reveal and conceal God. They are, then, marks of God’s great mercy in at least two ways. First, God appears to someone. Second, God ensures that that person is not harmed by the appearance. All theophanies may also be considered foreshadows of the Incarnation for in Jesus God indeed dwelled among us in a visible way, but the divinity was veiled so that being in the presence of Jesus caused no harm. There are numerous theophanies in the Bible, such as the burning bush in Exodus 3 or the appearance of the “Divine Angel” to Abraham in Genesis 18.

This article by Maier deals specifically with ones in which God’s presence is manifest with/in cloud/s. Maier examines five different cloud theophanies. First is the pillar of cloud that accompanied Israel during the Exodus. Second is the cloud of Mount Sinai when the Law was given. Third is the cloud over the Ark of the Covenant. Fourth is the cloud that appeared at the Transfiguration of Christ. The fifth is the cloud(s) of Judgment Day. To do this he examines over forty Bible passages, not counting references in the footnotes.

From these various cloud theophanies Maier finds, aside from the standard Theophany deductions found above, that they “conveyed the reality of the immanence and transcendence of God, that is, his nearness to, and distance from, the Israelites.” He also writes, “The pillar of cloud, the mountain cloud, and the atonement-cover cloud reminded the Israelites that God could be at different locations at the same time. They could speak of Yahweh’s presence being localized but also confess that Yahweh was omnipresent.” He also finds that the Sinai event foreshadowed both the Transfiguration of Christ and his Second Coming.

He concludes, “We see, then, a fundamental relationship among the clouds examined in this study; the pillar of cloud, the Sinai cloud, the atonement-cover cloud, the transfiguration cloud, and the cloud(s) of Christ’s second advent. Within each was, or will be, the divine presence. That was a blessed reality for the Israelites and for the apostles, and it will be for us on the Last Day.”

This article would be an excellent source for a Bible study on this topic. As is common in the articles for Concordia Theological Quarterly, Maier is actually writing for pastors, seminary professors, and like professionals. Therefore he refers to the Hebrew and Greek texts, considers certain textual questions as they impact the passages examined, and so forth. If you are not familiar with such things, one point to keep in mind that will make the reading of the article easier is the abbreviation “ET.” ET stands for English Text. There are times when the breakdown of chapters and verses in the Masoretic Text (Hebrew text) and the English Text, as found in a standard English Bible, are not the same. When this happens, the letters “ET” tell you where to find the reference in your English Bibles.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

St. Michael and All Angels

The Lord be with you

Today, September 29, is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. I did a nice post about this day back in 2012, and the link below will take you to it. There is also a nice pod cast concerning this day and the ministry of angels in general, that I posted yesterday. You can just scroll down, or click on the second link.

I should make a correction in the 2012 post. In that post I call the day a "Festival." In reality, in our church, it is a "Feast."

I say nothing about the use of the word "saint" in reference to Michael. The podcast does a good job covering that point.



Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Rickert

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sound Theology

Podcast: St. Michael and All Angels

Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. I thought some might be interested in this podcast concerning Michael.

Dr. Charles Gieschen of Concordia Theological Seminary-Ft. Wayne, IN, is the person being interviewed. Aside from being a professor at CTS, he has written numerous articles and has had published at least two books, Angelomorphic Christology and the Revelation commentary in the Concordia Commentary series.

Another Look at Imago Dei - A Review

The Lord be with you

In classical Lutheran theology, the “Image of God” that humanity was created in is typically defined as original righteousness, holiness and blessedness. Other adjectives may be used, but this type of thinking is the essence. Therefore Adam and Eve were completely without sin, like God. They were pure, like God. They were completely righteous, like God, and so forth. When Adam and Eve sinned they lost this Image of God. Now Adam and Eve are not sinless but sinners. Now they are not pure but polluted, and so forth.

Most passages dealing with the Image of God can comfortably fit with this understanding. However there are a few which are more difficult. This leaves one with the feeling that, while “original righteousness” as the meaning of the “Image of God” is correct and necessary to the point where to omit it from ones definition is to have a false definition, it may not be full. Therefore, I read with real interest the article “Another Look at Imago Dei: Fulfilled in the Incarnate One,” by Burnell F. Eckardt Jr. in the latest issue of Concordia Theological Quarterly.

As anyone who knows me and how I read the Old Testament can testify, I’m always looking for Jesus on those pages. I feel so strongly about it that I have often said, if you aren’t finding Jesus in the Old Testament you aren’t reading it correctly. One of the things I like about Eckardt’s “wide” understanding of the Image of God is that it leads him to write, “In short, the creation of Adam is the first and most prominent of all the ways in which Scripture foretells the coming of Christ the perfect man.”

While I shall ponder the implications of this article for awhile, I can certainly recommend the article as worth reading. I should say that it isn’t for novice theologians. If the extent of your theological training is Jr. Confirmation class or an Adult Instruction class, the subject may prove a bit challenging. He quotes Church Fathers, refers a bit to the words in the Hebrew text, uses some Latin, refers to some big-player theologians from modern times (1500 to the present) and assumes you have an understanding of a classical Lutheran approach to the Image of God. However, if you value grappling with the richer meanings of biblical concepts, you will value this article.

You can download it at this link: ANOTHER LOOK AT IMAGO DEI

Back issues of CTQ, including the ones reference in the Imago Dei article, can be found by clicking on this link: CTQ 

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Hero of the Faith, Maggie Karner, Goes to Heaven

Many of you may remember this remarkable lady when she made national headlines by refusing our cultures death fixation while another individual with the same ailment committed suicide. This press release is from the Reporter and, if you click on the article's title, you can go to the article.

on September 27, 2015 in New This Week, People, Reporter 2

The Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, recalls the life and death of Dr. Maggie Karner in the following statement.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

In His perfect timing, the Lord saw fit Friday, Sept. 25, to draw Dr. Margaret Ann Karner, former director of LCMS Life Ministries, to Himself.

Maggie served for 12 years, first under LCMS World Relief and Human Care and then in the Office of National Mission, as a leading voice for life. Whether promoting abstinence in a classroom or leading a mercy medical team to a small village in Africa, Maggie confessed with certainty that each life — from conception to natural death — is a gift from our gracious God.

In 2014, she was diagnosed with a stage-four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor. But in between doctor visits and chemo treatments, the Lord used her voice yet again, through writing and interviews, to combat a culture and even a media fixated on promoting death. “I want my girls to learn servanthood and selflessness as they care for me,” she wrote in an article for The Federalist. “And I also want them to know that, for Christians, our death is not the end.”

And they do. Maggie’s girls — Mary, Heidi and Annie — along with her husband of 30 years, the Rev. Kevin Karner, did just that: caring for their mother and wife with grace and confidence until Jesus called her to Him.

Those of us who met or worked alongside Maggie, who watched her videos or heard her speak can commend her for all these things and countless more, but today we simply commend her body and soul to the One who gave Maggie life: Jesus Christ.
He put death to death on her behalf. He took her suffering to the cross so that she would be comforted in Him in her own trials. He made good on His promise – even in her final days — never to leave her, never to forsake her.

Christ has died and is risen. And because He is, Maggie will rise again too. So we grieve but we do so with resolute hope. With all the Church on earth, we rejoice in the certainty of the Resurrection, confident that our Lord will rejoin us to our dear sister, this time for eternity.

Today Maggie sees her Savior face-to-face. She is gathered with all the saints around His throne. Her beautiful voice is lifted with those of the angels and the faithful: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” And because Jesus lives, Maggie has life too. She knew it. She believed it. She confessed it. “Because our Savior, Jesus Christ, selflessly endured an ugly death on the cross and was laid in borrow tomb (no ‘death with dignity’ there), He truly understands our sorrows and feelings of helplessness,” she wrote. “I want my kids to know that Christ’s resurrection from that borrowed grave confirms that death could not hold Him, and it cannot hold me either—a baptized child of God!” May it be so for us, even as the Lord has done for Maggie.

Posted Sept. 27, 2015

Reporter Online is the Web version of Reporter, the official newspaper of
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Content is prepared by LCMS Communications.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Prayer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia

Prayer for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia (ELCL), Rev. Amos Bolay, Bishop

Dear Jesus, you have blessed the Missouri Synod with many sister denominations around the globe who share our love for you, your truth, your people, and those who have not yet come to know you as their Savior. Today we remember before your throne the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Liberia, and their Bishop, Rev. Amos Bolay, with whom we have been in fellowship since 2013. We especially thank you that this denomination, whose roots reach back to 1860, was the first Christian denomination to reach beyond the coastal region with your gospel, caring for both the body and souls of those they encountered. We rejoice that they continue in this, having built the first hospital in the nation, now maintaining two hospitals and numerous clinics along with numerous schools, all sharing your divine love. We are inspired by their work of caring for both spiritual and physical needs. We are especially inspired by their recent efforts to reach beyond the borders of Liberia, continuing the outreach zeal that first inspired their workers to reach beyond the coast. We ask that you continue to protect and bless them, and that they might inspire us to reach out with your life-giving Gospel. In Your Name, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Tough Times

The Lord be with you

Today's sermon, Tough Times, has been posted on the sermon page. You can go there simply by clicking on the the word "sermons" on the list of pages found on the right-hand side of the blog.

Blessings in Christ,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

March for Life, Jan. 22

Join LCMS Life Ministry at the 2016 March for Life! For those of you on the East Coast, join other LCMS Lutherans at the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. A Divine Worship service will be held beginning 9 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 1801 Russell Road, Alexandria, Va., 22301, at 9:00 a.m. Participants will then ride the metro to the Washington, D.C. march. For more information, email

Lutherans to provide help for persecuted Christians, refugees | LCMS News & Information

Lutherans to provide help for persecuted Christians, refugees

on September 21, 2015 in News, Reporter, Top Story 8

By Roger Drinnon

Ongoing violence in the Middle East has led to a mass exodus of refugees — an estimated 4 million people have been forced to leave their homes in Syria alone. Others have fled Iran, Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern countries due to persecution by militant groups like the Islamic State.

More than half of those fleeing the Middle East are children, according to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

The most recent news headlines report hundreds of thousands of people — mostly from the Middle East and Africa — streaming into Europe. A large portion of these asylum-seekers look for sanctuary in European countries like Germany. As Germany readies for as many as 800,000 more refugees in the coming year, the Selbst√§ndige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK), an LCMS partner church, is preparing to respond, not only by providing for the immediate physical needs of the refugees but also by providing for their spiritual care through the Gospel.  As they do, the LCMS will be walking alongside them.

Mercy and a new mission field

The SELK already has been caring for refugees for some time now, and one of its congregations recently garnered international media attention for its ministry of mercy.

“We have about 860 members; more than 600 of them are former Muslimsbwho have become Christians during the last [few] years,” said the Rev.Dr. Gottfried Martens, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church inbBerlin-Steglitz. “About 100 more people from Iran and Afghanistan are in the process of preparation in order to receive Holy Baptism during the next couple of months.”

In response to media reports mentioning refugees converting to Christianity to improve chances of being granted asylum, Martens said...

To read the rest of the story follow this link:

Lutherans to provide help for persecuted Christians, refugees | LCMS News & Information