Our Dangerous Reformation
Taming How We Read the Bible
October 27th we will be celebrating Reformation Sunday. On that
day we will celebrate Luther’s discovery that Law and Gospel are
at the heart of the Bible – and that any view contrary to this
one is false.
Alister McGrath’s popular book, however, entitled
Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution
– a History from the Sixteenth Century to the
(Oxford, 2007), he disagrees. He says that the heart of
the Reformation is a “spiritual democracy” – where all
Christians are free to make of the Bible whatever they
want – “as they saw fit.” McGrath says this was a
dangerous idea because it created space for
“entrepreneurial individuals to redirect and redefine
Christianity” (pp. 2-3).
But this isn’t the whole story – as McGrath knows it.
There were also the Lutheran Confessions. Now they were
designed to rein in our freedom and help us understand
the Bible properly. But McGrath argues that they never
caught on “in that biblical statements were accommodated
to existing doctrinal frameworks rather than being
allowed to determine them, and even challenge them” (p.
103). But that’s not quite right. The Bible always
trumps the confessions, but the confession always
question any divergence from them, so that a robust
argument is required to change them, rather than a
person’s creativity alone.
gives thanks for the freedom of the Gospel on
Reformation Sunday – but also for the faithful
curtailment inherent in the Lutheran Confessions.
What a Relief to Read Luther
Kierkegaard’s Love for Luther’s
By Pastor Marshall
No one else loved Luther’s
sermons – and studied them – as Kierkegaard did. “[What] a
relief” he says it is “to read Luther” (JP 3:2464). This is part
of what endears him to me – and what should also endear
Kierkegaard to all Lutherans everywhere.
Kierkegaard loved Luther’s sermon on the poor, faithful
Lazarus and the corrupt rich man in Luke 16:19-31. In that
sermon Luther imagines the wayward rich man thinking: “If a
man’s poor, that’s his curse; if rich, he’s blessed; I am rich,
and, therefore, I am blessed and have kept God’s commandment;
Lazarus, on the other hand, is poor, and that’s because he is a
sinner and God has punished him” (Luther’s
House Postils, 2:229). In Luke 16, God sends that rich man
to hell for thinking that way – something Luther is in full
agreement with. On this point Kierkegaard notes: “Christianity’s
promise of eternity is glowing because it requires such a
complete forsaking of temporality, and further, that
Christianity teaches specifically that to suffer in the temporal
[realm] is the very mark of God’s grace…. [Success] in
everything here in the world [is] the mark of the ungodly man.
Everything comes his way as if he were in a state of
enchantment; he becomes more and more confident and finally
entirely confident in the delusion of being in the grace of God,
of being God’s favorite – and then he dies and goes to hell.
Humanly speaking, it is almost as if God were too cruel to the
ungodly man by letting him have success in everything this way”
(JP 1:843). May we with Kierkegaard cherish this passage from
Luke 16 and Luther’s sermon about it.
by Larraine King
As saints of old their firstfruits brought of orchard, flock,
and field to God, the giver of all good, the source of bounteous
yield; so we today firstfruits would bring, the wealth of this
good land, of farm and market, shop and home, of mind and heart
This is the first verse of Hymn #404.
Very appropriate words as we enter our Pledge Card Drive,
our Stewardship effort.
We all have things we can give, “our selves, our time,
and our possession,” as our Offertory prayer states.
We work to divide up our talents, time, and treasures in
the best way possible.
That is what stewardship is all about.
To what are we giving priority?
How do we spend our time and money?
How do we decide what gets priority in our lives?
These are important questions to ask ourselves, because
if we are honest, the answers reveal what matters most to us.
Stewardship asks us to give of ourselves, to help others,
to support the work of the Church.
It is not always easy, but it is part of being a
Christian…. A world in
need now summons us to labor, love, and give; to make our life
an offering to God, that all may live.
The church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come
true: a world
redeemed by Christlike love; all life in Christ made new.
Take some time to prayerfully consider your commitment to
the life of the Church, your financial giving, and ways you
might be of more service to her mission.
Plan to complete your new Pledge Card for 2014 and return
it to church by Sunday, October 20, 2013.
The council will be contacting those who miss the
deadline. We will
be using the information gathered from the pledge cards to craft
the 2014 budget, so it is important to get the cards back as
soon as you can.
The Fall schedule is underway with education classes for all
ages on Sunday mornings, as well as the Deo Gloria Cantores back
rehearsing on Thursday nights and singing at the 10:30 am Sunday
Eucharist. The St.
Nicholas Faire preparations are progressing nicely.
If you have yet to deliver your item(s) from the
“Christmas in July/August” tree, please see to that.
We need everything by early October, so the baskets can
be assembled. Call
me if you have any questions or concerns.
Financially, the church is striving to keep expenses down.
But as members we still need you to meet your pledges so
that money is available to pay bills and meet payroll.
We are keeping up with our budget needs, although early
September offerings were a bit low.
Thanks to Tilden, the parsonage
carport roof and gutters have been replaced and the
This is one of the projects that they did for us during the past
Part of their commitment to being tenants is doing
projects that will benefit the church as well as enhance the
school. We are
delighted with their contributions.
El Camino de Emaus will again be the extended ministry featured
in October. They
provide a needed haven for worship and fellowship to the farm
workers in the Skagit Valley.
Check out the bulletin board for a look at their
the last verse of Hymn #404 be our prayer…In
gratitude and humble trust we bring our best today to serve your
cause and share your love with all along life’s way.
O God, who gave yourself to us in Jesus Christ your Son,
teach us to give ourselves each day until life’s work is done.
Year to date (Jan-August)
Recently I read a short article
about the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini.
As a young teenager in the 1940s during World War II, I
was introduced to classical music on the radio with Toscanini
directing the National Broadcasting Orchestra of America.
Toscanini was well known for his quest for perfection
which often brought emotional outbursts on the podium.
For example, at the conclusion of one of his
unforgettable performances, this time a Beethoven symphony,
which everyone, including the critics, thought was truly
perfection, he thanked the musicians and said simply: “We shall
try to do better next time.”
Perhaps Toscanini’s remark to his orchestra can apply to
us at First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.
We are entering the month of October, a time when we
renew our yearly pledges for the new year ahead of us.
It would be appropriate for each of us to say:
I will try to do better
this year with my pledge, not only in my giving but also in
other ways. I can
help by giving my time and using my talents I have for the Glory
of God. Prayerfully
consider what you can do, what you can give, and how you can
We’re aware that everything we have belongs to God.
We use our wealth for the Glory of God.
Our Christian lives should be lives of sacrifice.
Give this some serious thought when you consider your
Louis Koser, Former Church Council Member
the Mind: Readings in Contemporary Theology
pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, October 26th
The book for October is
Marriage (2012), by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. “This
book is a debate about marriage as a legal and social
institution: should it include same-sex couples? It is not about
whether there is a constitutional right to such marriage, or
about whether particular religious denominations should bless
same-sex unions, although some of its content will be relevant
to those debates…. This debate is challenging in part because of
its implications for other large issues: the role of government,
the significance of sexual difference, the needs of children,
the function of social norms, the freedom of religion, and
indeed, the nature of marriage itself. All of these are touched
on here” (p. 2).
A copy of this timely book is in the church library. If
you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor
Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss this
hot-button social issue confronting Americans today.
will meet on Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th of
October. Join this
group for the last meeting in 2013.
A four-week guided reading of the Koran begins October 3rd at
206-935-6530 to register or
FOOD BANK DONATION
suggestion for October is tuna and mayonnaise.
NEW MEMBER CLASSES
will be starting on Sunday, October 6th at 11:45 am in rm D.
If you are interested in becoming a member please let
Pastor Marshall know.
I do want to write a late note to our dear
Golden Fellowship friends!
We have decided to change our luncheon
schedule for this year.
We will meet only twice: once in
December, and once in May.
I hope you can make these “gourmet
luncheons” which only cost $5!
Many thanks go to all of you, and the
Kitchen Staff: Jane Collins and hubby
Ken, Doris & Chuck Prescott, Howard Storhoff and
Joan Olson for occasionally filling in,
she used to be in charge and did all of this
And Pastor Ron for the prayers, and did
you know he is the “fastest waiter” in the west?
Thank you Pastor for all that you do!
Thank you all! God Bless!
INSPIRED LIVING AWARD
Every year for the past 20+ years Foss Home and Village
has gone out into the community in search of “senior
citizens” who inspire us by making life easier for
everyone around them, who selflessly give to others in
need, who model generosity, share their talents and
skills with others, who show compassion, and who make a
difference in the lives of others.
This year, one of our church members,
will be honored for all she has done for her family,
friends, and church.
She will be one of the several individuals to be
These honorees also serve as inspiring role models for
all of us as we grow into active and productive older
members of our society.
Age should not prevent us from being a force for
good in our neighborhoods, nor should it keep us from
Those being honored come from diverse backgrounds
and experiences, but each share a fierce love of life
and of helping members of their community.
And thanks for being such a quiet and consistent
servant of others, always cheerful and always willing.
ST. NICHOLAS FAIRE
Sunday, December 8 from 4pm to 7pm
sheets will be posted this month and preparations are underway.
Be thinking how you would like to help.
There are plenty of opportunities, but the most important
action is to
MARK YOUR CALENDAR –
INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND
It will be a spectacular party with good food and
beverages, creative and practical gift baskets you could give as
presents, prizes to win at the wine toss game, and wine tasting
courtesy of Maryhill Winery.
A super way to start off the holiday season supporting
our local charities, and having an awesome experience, all at
the same time!!!
especially need donations of wine for prizes from the Wine Toss
Game, and home baked Christmas cookies and Scandinavian
sweets. We had a great response to “Christmas in July and
August,” and most of the ornaments were taken from the tree.
If you haven’t already brought your “ornament” item to
the church, I will be giving you a reminder call.
And you can always still
that will help cover the cost of completing the themed gift
baskets that will be sold and any other expenses that we have.
that the money we
raise with your help from the St. Nicholas Faire, will be
donated to the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle
Helpline. Help us
make this event fun, memorable, and successful!
Monthly Home Bible Study,
October 2013, Number 248
The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall
Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as
a congregation in this home study. We will
study alone then talk
informally about the assigned verses together as we have
opportunity. In this way we can "gather
together around the
Word" even though physically we will not be getting together
We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851
Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous
book.... [because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the
whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a
prodigious scale" (For
Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we
all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved
in the Bible" (Opening
the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because
we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans,
however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's
Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW
30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW
29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW
25.261). Before you study, then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused
all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so
to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that
we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of
everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus
Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall,
Making A New World: How
Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12).
Read Psalm 119.19 noting
the line I am a sojourner
on earth. What does this mean? On this read Deuteronomy
10.19 noting the reference to
Egypt. What does that
suggest? On this read Joshua 5.9, noting the word
reproach. And what
was the reproach suffered in Egypt? On this read Exodus 6.9
noting the line broken
spirit and… cruel bondage. How was this bondage so cruel? On
this read Exodus 1.11-13 noting the line
afflict them… with heavy
burdens…. and made their lives bitter with hard service, in
mortar and brick. What does this say about the earth? On
this read Genesis 3.17-19 noting the words
till. Does this mean
that paradise is now inhospitable? On this read Job 14.1 noting
the line that life is of
few days and full of trouble. What else is bothersome? On
this read Exodus 23.28-29 noting the
wild beasts. Note
also the scorpions in
1 Kings 12.11 and the
poisonous snakes in Number 21.6. As Isaiah 11.8 makes clear,
this world is not a place where it is safe yet for babies to
play with snakes (asp
and adders) – or wild
dogs for that matter,
as in Jeremiah 15.3. What do you think of that?
Read again Psalm 119.19 noting same word
sojourner. So are we
sojourners here because of the inhospitality of nature? Or are
there other problems too? On this read Psalm 14.3, noting the
good. Read as well
Psalm 116.11, noting the line
men are all a vain hope.
How so? On this read Psalm 12.2, noting the words
heart. So is that why
we’re all sojourners – due to nature and people being
unwelcoming as they are? On this read Psalm 39.5 noting the
words nothing and
breath. Does that
mean that this world is not the place for us? Is that why we are
so flimsy and ephemeral – merely a breath? On this read Psalm
42.1 noting the words
soul, longs and
God. Is it ever said
in the Bible anywhere that we should also long for people and
nature? Why isn’t that the case?
Reread Psalm 119.19 noting again that word
sojourner. So if we
don’t belong here, where do we belong? On this read Philippians
3.20 noting the line our
commonwealth is in heaven. Does this mean that heaven is our
real home? On this read John 14.2 noting the word
house. Note also Luke
9.58 about Jesus having
nowhere in this world
to lay his head. Why is heaven a better home? On this read
Revelation 21.4 noting the absence of
pain. Without those
culprits plaguing us – death and pain – life clearly would be
much better in heaven. Note also Romans 6.7 about being
freed from sin. That
also is a big plus. No wonder Hebrews 11.13-16 calls heaven a
better country, and
Hebrews 13.14 says that’s because it is a
lasting city. Do you
Read Colossians 2.5 one last time noting again that word
sojourner. So as
sojourners, how do we get into heaven? On this read John 14.2-3
noting the two words
prepare and take.
How does Jesus prepare a home for us? On this read 1 John 2.1-2
noting the words advocate
and expiation. What
do these words mean? On this read Romans 5.9 noting the words
blood. So by dying in
our place for our sins, or being punished instead of us – being
our expiation, or sacrifice – Christ becomes our advocate and
reconciles God, or satisfies his anger, so that we won’t be
blocked from going to heaven. On this point read Romans 5.1-2
noting the words peace,
sharing. None of this
can be assumed in any way as coming to us easily. No, Luke 16.16
says no one goes to heaven except by violence – that is, through
the death of Jesus on the cross and the reconciling of God. But
how does Christ take
us to heaven? On this read Ephesians 2.8 noting the words
gift, and John 6.44
noting the word draws.
So we need to move from unbelief to belief – but God gets that
going – not us – as John 15.16 and Romans 9.16 say. But then,
after that, we are to ratify what God has done to us – by
following John 14.1 and believing in Jesus. Galatians 5.25 also
calls us to walk in the spirit by living righteously, after we
have ratified God’s call by believing in Jesus. Is this whole
scenario, your joy, then, as Galatians 6.14 says it be should?
Why or why not?
Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your
brothers and sisters through baptism.
Gerry Moulton, Leah Baker, Florence Jenkins, Jim Coile, Agnes
Arkle, Clara Anderson, Peggy & Bill Wright & Wendy, Bob &
Barbara Schorn, Ion Ceaicovschi, Cameron Lim, Luke Bowen, Dano,
Karen & W. Erick, Mary Lou Jensen, Tabitha Anderson, Max
Richardson, Gloria Belarde, Dee Grenier, Lou & Lori Landino,
Richard Uhler, The Jones Family, Deems Tsutakawa, Ginny
Mitchell, The Khamiss Family, Kirsten Christensen, Jerry
Hollenback, Kurt Alfano, Dave West.
Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them
Anderson, Agnes Arkle, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian,
Vera Gunnarson, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Olive Morrison,
Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Vivian Wheeler,
Pray for our bishops Mark Hanson and Brian Kirby Unti, and the
bishop elect Elizabeth Eaton, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our
deacon Dean Hard and our cantor Andrew King, that they may be
strengthened in faith, love and the holy office to which they
have been called.
Pray that God would give us hearts which find joy in service and
in celebration of Stewardship.
Pray that God would work within you to become a good
steward of your time, your talents and finances.
Pray to strengthen the Stewardship of our congregation in
these same ways.
Pray for the hungry, ignored,
abused, and homeless this Fall.
Pray for the mercy of God for these people, and for all
in Christ's church to see and help those who are in distress.
Pray for our sister congregation:
El Camino de Emaus in the Skagit Valley that God may
bless and strengthen their ministry.
Also, pray for our parish and it's ministry.
Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints:
Saint Frances of Assisi, renewer of the Church, 1226;
Saint Luke, Evangelist; Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles.
Treasury of Prayers
O God, I confess that,
content in my dimness, I shrink from your Light.
Comfortable in my coolness, I withdraw from your Fire.
Forgive me for begrudging the coming of your Spirit, or
for accepting your Fire, only to smother it selfishly.
Forgive me and visit me again. I pray for a burning
heart and not just warm thoughts. For there is much to
see and much to do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
[For All the
Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols.,