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163 Responses

  1. Jules Diner says:

    Thank you for linking!

  2. John 20:29 says:

    The ten steps are interesting, as always most of these links are interesting, but this link looks like the author has been lurking here on Michael’s site
    These links are such a service – another thank you … again. 😏

  3. Michael says:

    Thank you, Em…we got another modem just in time…

  4. Jean says:

    Julie Roys was an excellent moderator of an important program on Moody. It’s a shame to learn of the circumstances of her termination.

  5. Jean says:

    “Christian worship is no mystery”

    – Outstanding article.

  6. John 20:29 says:

    I suppose we have different ways of dealing with it, but Jean’s recommended link brings up a valuable point – IMHIO- our tendency to envision God as up there somewhere “behind the clouds” … For years, the Lord’s prayer: “Our Father which art in heaven”. … That very first declaration made me feel separated from Him, as if I was sending my prayer to some heavenly mailbox that God would get around to reading
    NO! I’m Christ He is right here in His Triunity, we are at the same table communing Spirit to spirit in prayer
    Of course, there’s more of interest in this link, but it is hard to conceptualize this immediacy … Prayer is so underrated…. or so it seems to me
    Someone who shall remain nameless here has said, “thinking God’s thoughts” is the key … I think that this website is moving us all, no matter our church, closer to the mind of God
    Dunno, tho do i? 😏

  7. John 20:29 says:

    sigh… I wasn’t declaring that “I’m Christ” … In Christ, in you stupid auto correct… I have to watch because this thing always changed Jean to Iraq. ? ?

  8. bob1 says:

    Wasn’t that impressed with the article Jean liked. The author indulges in a lot of black and white thinking to score points (ie, the Orthodox answer everything with, “It’s a mystery.” That’s not my experience with EOs). They have fewer answers that we Western Protestants, sure, but…

    I agree that God has supremely revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and that worship should
    be rational, though not necessarily rationalistic. Although, there, too, is saying Christ’s body and blood are present in the Eucharist not a mystery??

    Beyond that, sure, there are a million mysteries about God and His ways — as the author says, why was he born in Michigan and not Indonesia. That kind of stuff. Maybe speculation is our lot as mortals. Why do some suffer and others don’t. Etc.

    My questions are often about God’s ways, which usually wind up with me having a headache.

    I believe God’s ways and how He intersects with us and how He works out His will is quite often a mystery.

  9. John 20:29 says:

    bob1, you raise some good ponders on the link

    These days I am struck by how confused – chaotic – the world seems … yet as I step back and look at the big picture through what we have of history and prophesy, things seem to be steadily moving exactly as our Bible has described history will play out.. .
    Even though God can always rewind it, the clock seems to be close midnight… dunno… 😦

  10. Duane Arnold says:


    For what it is worth, I agree with your assessment. Actually, I think it is the ordinariness that he describes that IS the mystery.

  11. bob1 says:


    Never thought of it that way!

  12. Jean says:

    I am fine with the someone night liking an article I like. No problem there.

    What I appreciated about Hess’ article is that he emphasizes the fact that the Son of God became incarnate, and not just that, but humbled himself to the very lowest rung, so that we, creatures and sinners, would not fear God, but receive His forgiveness. In this way, we need not be befuddled or intimidated by mystery, but simply cling to Christ, His Word and His sacraments. He has given us elements in creation by which to apprehend him, not the least of with is the office of the ministry and the Sacraments, so that we need not look for him in his hidden majesty.

    I don’t know why he picked on the OE. I see other traditions emphasizing “mystery” when they set before us theological “gurus” who must unmask the victory for us. So we are driven to their lectures, books and programs.

    Christianity is much more physical and revealed than what some may say. Yes, the Trinity and 2 natures of Christ are in many respects ineffable. Yet, when it comes to worship, there is no mystery in who we worship in Spirit and truth.

  13. Jean says:

    A couple of typos in my #12:

    Fist paragraph: “night” should be not.”

    Third paragraph: “victory” should be “mystery.”

  14. Duane Arnold says:

    The mystery is shown liturgically when we perform a profound bow or genuflect at the incarnatio in the Creed. We can only bow in adoration of the mystery of God became man… the ineffable becomes the ordinary…

  15. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I agree with Hess that the liturgy / worship is to unveil the mysteries to us, not to celebrate mystery – which serves no purpose.

  16. JoelG says:

    Serves no purpose? Hmm… I think it keeps us awe-struck. I think we can, like Jean said, apprehend the mystery of God reveled in His Word, but we can’t comprehend the mystery of Jesus being slain before the foundation of the world, partaking in His body and blood, the Incarnation of the eternal Creator, etc.

  17. Anne says:

    Ahh, the night shift. Seriously was a life raft during my last days at the mothership behind the orange curtain. Friendships made those nights continue to this day.

  18. Theophilus says:

    Some one told me that the night crew was getting back together. I have been away from PP for many years but was a part of the original night crew group. Things got a little spicey at times, we pushed each other’s buttons once in a while but we were all friends, we learned and we had fun.

    I was Sola Fide back in those days.

  19. Theophilus says:

    It would be interesting to see if London,,, Filbertz, Dread, Dusty or any of the other original crew posts. Be fun to catch up with what every one has been doing

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    #16 Joel

    A great quote from Gregory of Nyssa –

    “Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.”

  21. JoelG says:

    Fascinating quote Duane, thank you. I think he’s exactly right.

    Perhaps Gods mysteries can be compared to beauty. Both result in wonder and glorifying God.

  22. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think you guys are short cited as to what has been revealed. You can’t say God has been revealed in his word and then claim ‘mystery’

  23. JoelG says:

    Doesn’t God revealing himself in His Word, in the ordinary, lead to mystery?

    When Mary received the news from the angel she apprehended it and accepted it willingly. At the same time she was in wonder at the mystery:

    “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

    “What is man that You are mindful of him,
    And the son of man that You visit him?”


  24. Jean says:

    May I make an attempt for consensus in “essentials?”

    Can we agree that:

    There is no mystery in what God thinks about you?
    Similarly in whom you are saved?
    Similarly how you are saved?
    At someone’s death the defense of “it was mysterious” won’t acquit an unbeliever?

  25. Duane Arnold says:

    I can agree that God is God and that his ways are above my ways…

  26. Anne says:

    The days when church leadership can placate their congregations about allegations & whistleblowing regarding abuses whether financial, sexual or other unethical behavior by saying “ never fear, we are looking into it and praying about it” or “we looked into it and are satisfied all is well” will hopefully come to an end sooner than later. Either because leadership will become truly accountable or churches and colleges will collapse under lack of ongoing support. Cynic that I am, I think the latter will be the overall trend.

  27. John 20:29 says:

    MLD says, “You can’t say God has been revealed in his word and then claim ‘mystery’”
    yeah, we can 🙂

    1Co 2:7
    But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: KJV what follows that colon in vs 8 is very interesting BTW
    “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” ESV

    and i think you meant short sighted….?

  28. John 20:29 says:

    Anne, amen to your #26 … amen again fellowships led by that mindset need to collapse

  29. John 20:29 says:

    #24 – another amen: “At someone’s death the defense of “it was mysterious” won’t acquit an unbeliever?”

    it is a sad fact – IMHO – that so many reject their salvation now saying, “I just don’t get it.” we run from naked truth like Adam and Eve ran from God to hide their naked bodies when they’d disobeyed Him

  30. Michael says:


    I can agree with you that it is Christ who is reconciling all things unto Himself.
    I doubt that our agreement would go far beyond that…but that’s enough for me.

  31. Jean says:

    I’m frankly astonished. I thought I set the bar for consensus at the very lowest rung of Christian orthodoxy in #24.

    Recall in #24 that I didn’t define the doctrine itself, but intended to seek consensus that those questions are answered in Scripture, so that it’s not a mystery. In other words, a pastor should be able to preach those topics with confidence that the Word reveals the answers. Not “Dearly beloved, your salvation is a mystery. You will have to wait until you die to see how things pan out.”

  32. Michael says:


    There are numerous reports that Christ has appeared to Muslims in dreams and visions resulting in their salvation.

    How would a confessing Lutheran explain this as (to my understanding) it doesn’t fit any of the ways that people get saved in your system?

    Does God ever act outside the normative ways spoken of in Scripture?

  33. Michael says:

    We are to preach and teach that which is set forth as the norm in Scripture.

    That is what has been revealed.

    That doesn’t handcuff God to the book…

  34. Jean says:


    “There are numerous reports that Christ has appeared to Muslims in dreams and visions resulting in their salvation.

    How would a confessing Lutheran explain this as (to my understanding) it doesn’t fit any of the ways that people get saved in your system?”

    First, I have seen the headlines, but have not followed this particularly closely. I don’t know what the Muslims in question may have heard or read before they had a dream or vision.

    I don’t know if anyone says the dream “result[ed] in their salvation,” or whether it prompted them to visit a church or talk to a Christian, who may have proclaimed the Gospel to them.

    But we know what Peter told the crowd at Pentecost, who were cut to the heart.

    The question isn’t “does God ever act outside of the normative ways…?” The question is “Are his normative ways a mystery?”

    I say, “no they are not,” otherwise none of us have any assurance in our salvation.

  35. Michael says:

    I can affirm those normative ways without discarding either mystery or God acting outside them as He pleases.

  36. John 20:29 says:

    well… i know God speaks to the unsaved – experientially, long before I openly confessed Him as Lord and Savior – Creator of the Universe…
    He searches hearts and He will not ignore anyone that He knows will respond – I am so grateful for that fact – He knows our hearts – as I also know that our hearts can be deceitful in a myriad of ways… “Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be….” a great hymn

  37. Michael says:

    Need I also point out that we all define assurance and it’s means differently?

  38. Duane Arnold says:

    “The question is ‘Are his normative ways a mystery?'”

    In his Dogmatics, Franz Pieper considered the whole doctrine of election a “mystery”…

  39. Michael says:


    I certainly couldn’t quote Pieper, but that was my understanding of Lutheran doctrine as well…mainly because they’ve always accused Calvinists of overstepping their bounds on the doctrine…

  40. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think you guys ignore scripture. Deut 29:29 says that those things revealed to us are for us and our benefit.
    What has not been revealed to us belongs to God and is not our business.
    Why Christians choose to live in the dark areas is a “mystery” to me.
    If it has been revealed it is no longer a mystery.

  41. Michael says:


    Who are “you guys”?
    That’s not a very charitable stance.

    I certainly don’t “live” in the dark areas…I simply acknowledge they exist.

  42. Duane Arnold says:

    #39 Michael

    Yes, most is in reaction to Calvinists. Actually, though, of the 56 times Pieper uses the word “mystery” in his Dogmatics, 22 instances are to do with the doctrine of election.

  43. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    They purposely exist and are none of our business. God could not be more clear “stay away.”
    We are a revealed religion – not one of the many mystery religions.

  44. JoelG says:

    Perhaps mystery should be defined in a religious sense:

    1 a : a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand the mystery of the Trinity

  45. Michael says:


    The problem with that is that your group defines the boundaries of mystery according to your own interpretation…and some of us disagree with where you place the boundary markers.

  46. Jean says:

    I think MLD and I would place the boundary markers at “revealed” on one side and “unrevealed” on the other.

    On the “revealed” side, Christ has told us everything necessary for our redemption, life and salvation.

    On the “unrevealed” side, we leave that to the heavenly classroom.

  47. Michael says:


    Except you get to decide what is revealed and unrevealed for the rest of us…and some of us aren’t going along with that.

  48. Duane Arnold says:

    “Accordingly also the non-fundamental doctrines are necessary and must be inculcated with
    becoming earnestness and emphasis.”

    Franz Pieper

    So where are the boundary markers?

  49. Michael says:

    I’m good with Lutherans (and anyone else) holding to their doctrines and distinctives.
    I can respect and honor their choices.
    What I won’t do is claim that any of us from the historical branches of the faith are “unbiblical” or “ignore scriptures” or any other epithet to raise my choices in interpretation above theirs.

    We disagree…and we can define those disagreements with both clarity and respect.

  50. Duane Arnold says:

    #49 Michael

    Exactly so…

  51. Michael says:

    I just saw this online…

    “The Anglican tradition rejoices in the great mysteries of our faith, not using “mystery” as an excuse for ignorance or indecision, but recognizing that all of our attempts to explain how God does what God does are going to be partial and incomplete.”


  52. Duane Arnold says:

    As I’ve said in the past about education, the more we learn, the more we begin to realize what we don’t know…

  53. bob1 says:


  54. JoelG says:

    #51 – Keeper!

  55. Theophilus says:

    Interesting article from the Gospel Coalition that may address some of what may be discussed here.

  56. Michael says:

    That is a good article…now I want the book… 🙂

  57. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Michael, your Anglican quote goes to my point. Jesus revealed to us that he is bodily present in the communion elements – direct revelation by Jesus.
    Many will use the disclaimer saying “NO!” because Jesus let us with the mystery of “How” as if there is a mystery. No, go back to Deut 29 – it has been revealed.

  58. Michael says:

    “Jesus revealed to us that he is bodily present in the communion elements – direct revelation by Jesus.”
    That is your interpretation.
    Millions of bible believing brethren have looked at the same set of facts and believed otherwise.

    I’m closer to your view than theirs…but I respect that they are being honorable and honest in how they come to their conclusions.

    Anybody that doesn’t wonder “how” Christ is present in bread and wine probably doesn’t think very deeply about other things…

  59. John 20:29 says:

    #51 reminds me of my late grandmother who would often begin a declaration with, “well, it’s a mystery to me why……” there are lots of observable truths/facts that we can affirm, but still are a mystery as to “why” …. or so it seems to me (and my grandmother) 🙂

  60. John 20:29 says:

    further, it is a mystery to me why it is so important to believe that Christ’s literal body and blood are ingested … I say that with respect as well as puzzlement… it is our souls God has saved and He’s promised resurrection bodies… there is very deep and reverent gain at the the communion table (shame on anyone who makes it just ritual – not anyone here BTW) and I don’t mean that I qualify as the final word on the subject, but “it is a mystery to me” nonetheless

  61. JoelG says:

    Jesus does say this IS my body and blood. I’m not going to argue with Jesus. But I will leave it as mystery as to how it works. I will do it in remembrance of Him and be thankful.

  62. Jean says:


    “further, it is a mystery to me why it is so important to believe that Christ’s literal body and blood are ingested … I say that with respect as well as puzzlement…”

    This is not to start and argument, but only to answer to your question:

    Holy Communion was instituted by Jesus, so the simple answer is that it’s important to believe…because it comes by the command of Jesus.

    Holy Communion carries both a blessing and a warning:


    “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”

    “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”


    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.”

    So, whether anyone here believes Christ’s words are important is on them, but it is no mystery as to why it is important for those who believe Christ’s words.

    Xenia or MLD may have other insights with regard to the importance of our belief in the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the elements.

  63. Jean says:

    Is there any other worship practice anywhere in the NT which comes with this warning:

    “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

    That ought to be a clue that something extraordinary is going on in Holy Communion.

  64. JoelG says:

    Brother Jean, I don’t want to get into an argument with you about your #64 because I’d be over matched. However, isn’t there other interpretations of the phrase “discerning the body”? Such as the body of believers who are gathered to partake?

  65. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I do not for a minute hold that there is a Christian stance that if there is a disagreement that it is to be considered no harm no foul for the sake of ‘love’s.
    Some Christians do not hold to an actual bodily resurrection. They read from the same documents as we do and come to a different conclusion (check out Murray Harris I think from Trinity in the 70 and 80s.
    The same with those who read and deny he’ll.

  66. Jean says:


    I’m sure there are any number of other interpretations, and we won’t argue those. But can we agree that there is a severe warning here? In what other context is such a warning given? Paul does not countenance several other church practices in the Corinthian church in other chapters, and in other epistles, but in those rebukes he does not lay down such a serious warning. Why might that be?

  67. JoelG says:

    Severe warning – yes no doubt, no argument

    Why might that be? I need to ponder / research this.

  68. JoelG says:

    MLD you are heard. Doctrine is important to keep us from riding off the rails.

  69. John 20:29 says:

    We are in agreement that it is a sacred communion … from my viewpoint the “unworthily” defines one who is not redeemed or one who is redeemed and comes to the table with sin – known and unknown – not confessed (and there again we part company as I would confess to God alone, but I would have the burden to right any wrongs I have done that can be righted).
    If anyone has taken communion as snack time, they need to rethink and – FWIW I will not take communion that is served with leavened bread…. so….? perhaps, I too am a legalistic. 😯

    Again a viewpoint expressed with no need to be proven or debated… God keep

  70. JoelG says:

    My anxious self that wants to do everything Jesus wants me to do hears the warnings and and wants to go run to a Lutheran Church right now. My logical self tells me there are too many Spirit filled believers with varying Eucharist theologies to believe that Jesus withholds His Self from any one them.

  71. JoelG says:

    “The prescribed ritual of the Supper has three levels of meaning for participants. First, it has a past reference to Christ’s death which we remember. Second, it has a present reference to our corporate feeding on him by faith, with implications for how we treat our fellow believers (1 Cor. 11:20-22). Third, it has a future reference as we look ahead to Christ’s return and are encouraged by the thought of it. Preliminary self-examination, to make sure one’s frame of mind is as it should be, is advised (1 Cor. 11:28), and the wisdom of the advice is obvious.“

    – Packer

  72. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    JoelG – Packer is a nice old man. However he rejects the real bodily presence in the supper. The other stuff sounds goods, but…

  73. Michael says:

    I have a line that damn well better not be crossed.

    I suggest that any references to Dr. Packer be very respectful…actually,it’s not a suggestion, it’s a demand.

    When you have a one hundredth of his scholarly accomplishments and moreso, his irenic spirit, then you can comment freely about him.

  74. JoelG says:

    Yikes MLD. The Lutheran view would be better served in kindness rather than disrespect.

    From the article:

    “Christ through the Spirit grants worshippers true enjoyment of his personal presence, drawing them into fellowship with himself in heaven (Heb. 12:22-24) in a way that is glorious and very real, though indescribable.”

    This doesn’t sound too far from the Lutheran view. I think it takes us back to the “mystery” of it… indescribable. This is what I believe right now.

  75. Michael says:


    That is the standard Reformed view of the Supper.

    I don’t agree with Dr. Packer on everything at all times…but to dismiss one of the greatest theologians of the last century as a “nice old man” is so arrogant as to beggar description.

    By the way, he is a very nice man as well as a great Reformed theologian with an Anglican heart.

  76. John 20:29 says:

    Dr. Packed is a nice old man full of the fruits of the Spirit gained. over a lifetime of love and sacrifice through devotion to God….
    So I just have to say…
    I would urge MLD to repent of his patronizing post for the sake of his own standing with God…. we all need to remember that the sin of the Sanhedrin is always waiting as we debate and discuss here….. I know that MLD loves God and His salvation and his Lutheran Faith… God keep him close

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well that is a watershed difference and shows the great gulf Lutherans have with the reformed in the area of Christology. A huge gulf.

  78. JoelG says:


    I guess that makes me Reformed evangelical with Lutheran leanings. What a mess!

    I’m not sure anyone totally agrees with anyone else. I love Buechner. I read him almost everyday these days. But I can’t get with his liberal view of same sex marriage. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have nuggets of truth to learn from.

  79. Michael says:


    Buechner is a treasure…

    I suspect you’re an Anglican who doesn’t know it yet…we have room for people to think and even disagree and still be in fellowship….

  80. JoelG says:

    I understand that MLD. But does the Risen Lord not love us if we’re wrong about Him. Does He abandon the relationship we have with Him. Does He ignore us when we cry out to Him in prayer because our whatever-ology is off? I don’t believe so.

  81. JoelG says:

    Agreed Em… I know MLD loves God and I am grateful that MLD loves us enough to always be here to teach. It really says something about his heart.

  82. JoelG says:

    Michael I think I might be Anglican, too. There’s an ACNA plant here in Vancouver called the Iona Community that I’ve been thinking of check out.

  83. Michael says:


    There’s a book called “The Anglican Way” by Thomas Mackensie that is excellent for inquirers…I heartily commend it to you.

    I’m not sure, but I might even be able to loan it to you if you have a Kindle device…

  84. JoelG says:

    I don’t have a Kindle but thank you my friend. I will order it through the Amazon link on the PhxP.

  85. Michael says:

    Thank you, JoelG…I pray you find it helpful.

  86. Jean says:

    My favorite Anglican theologian is Wright, although I don’t agree with everything he says. He is a gentleman and a very positive spokesman for the Christian faith, as is Keller from the Reformed tradition.

  87. Michael says:

    I like some of Wright’s stuff…but he is barely Anglican. He still claims to be Reformed as well as Anglican…

  88. bob1 says:

    Packer is a nice old man


    Kind of akin to saying, “Luther was a salty SOB.”

  89. Duane Arnold says:

    Let me see… son of a railroad clerk who won a scholarship to Oxford and went through to a DPhil. Sat under CS Lewis. 64 years as a priest in the Anglican Church. Taught theology at a graduate level for 62 years. Executive editor of Christianity Today. The General Editor of the English Standard Version of the Bible. The author or co-author of almost 70 books – some recognized as classics in their field. A Reform theologian, he has also written with Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics, including Richard John Neuhaus.

    Perhaps J.I. Packer is a little more than “a nice old man”…

  90. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    My apologies. I have never considered describing someone as ‘nice old man’ as a slight.
    But it does seem to have distracted from my disagreement with him.

    Bob1 – Luther was a salty SOB. We don’t take offense. 😉

  91. bob1 says:


    You’re missing my point. What a shock.

    To describe Packer like you did is the equivalent of summarizing Luther as a salty SOB,
    ignoring (in each case) the bigger picture of their life’s accomplishments.

  92. John 20:29 says:

    FWIW – Packer and Luther both mirror the society in which they lived (those Germans were very earthy people)… or so it seems to me, but i really haven’t focused much of my time on the personal lives of either man…

    #89 – amen… to patronize a life and character such as Packer’s doesn’t please God, of that i’m pretty convinced

  93. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Bob1 – it’s a good thing I was not apologizing to you.

  94. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    It’s so funny that everyone is so certain what pleases and what disturbs God yet no one can be certain of anything but the 3 creeds.

  95. Michael says:


    The point is that you can be certain about whatever you choose…but brethren can and do have places where they will be certain that you are wrong using every bit as much Scripture and theological acumen as your tribe does.

    Some of us can disagree charitably…

  96. Michael says:

    Dr. Packer on the Eucharist from an article by Sam Storms;

    Packer is no fan of transubstantiation of the elements or even any notion of a special, somehow localized attachment of Christ’s glorified body to the bread and wine. There simply is no physical presence of Christ’s body as, in, with, or through the bread and wine.

    When Jesus spoke the words of institution (“this is my body . . . this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”), the verb “is” clearly means represents or symbolizes. “The idea that Jesus’s words worked like a wizard’s spell,” notes Packer, “changing bread, and perhaps wine too, whether through addition or transmutation, into something other than what they were, has had a good run for its money, but seems impossible, if only because Jesus himself as he spoke was still with them, personally unchanged” (Taking God Seriously, 152).

    Is there any sense, then, in which Christ may be said to be “present” in communion? Yes, says Packer, in much the same sense in which he promised to be with us in Matthew 18:20 and 28:20 (“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”). Packer’s own explanation at this point is important to note, so I cite him at length:

    “It is the presence of the triumphant, sovereign Savior, who is there in terms of his objective omnipresence and here in terms of being always alongside each believer with a sustaining and nurturing purpose. Clarity requires us to say, then, that Christ is present at, rather than in, the Supper. Though not physical, his presence is personal and real in the sense of being a relational fact. Christ is present, not in the elements in any sense, but with his worshippers; and his presence is effected, not by the quasi-magic of ritual correctly performed by a permitted person, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, who indwells believers’ hearts to mediate Christ’s reality to them. It is not a passive but an active presence, known not by what it feels like (often it is, in any ordinary sense of the word, unfelt), but rather by what it does” (ibid., 162).

    Thus when we together, in faith, partake of the bread and wine the latter are understood as a pledge or divine assurance of the reality and provision of the beneficial spiritual effects to which they point. We remember Christ in his atoning death, which is to say we call him to mind in joyful praise, prayer, and gratitude for the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

    Packer contends that when we take the elements we should envision them coming from Christ’s hand as his guarantee that in love he will continue to nourish us spiritually forever.

    This is no abstract intellectual reflection on past events. Packer directs our attention to 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 where Paul’s use of the word “participation” indicates that “the ritual eating and drinking that Christ prescribed brings spiritual nourishment to us through unitive involvement with him in the shedding of his lifeblood and the giving of his body to be broken” (ibid., 153).
    In this way Christ draws believers into identification with his own risen life. From this union, through the Holy Spirit, “spiritual vitality flows: health and strength for devotion and service; inner resources of love, ability, and power that we continue to discover within ourselves throughout our lives” (ibid., 153-54).

    There is, therefore, something profoundly transformative that occurs in the Christian. The sacrament sanctifies!

  97. Michael says:

    Now, that is an entirely reasonable and Scriptural take on the Eucharist.

    It would be what the Reformed branch of the Anglican community would hold to.
    The Anglo-Catholic branch would believe in a “bodily” presence.

    We would still take the meal together…

  98. Michael says:

    Every week, Duane and I discuss theology in some depth as he prepares me for Anglican orders.

    Duanes mentor (+Michael Ramsey) and mine, (Dr. Packer) were known to have substantial disagreements on some things.

    Duane has never (and I mean never) said anything about these places of strife, nor has he ever attempted to diminish Packer in my eyes in any way.

    What he has done is introduce me to the works of Ramsey… who has greatly enriched my understanding and spiritual life.

    Theological and spiritual growth isn’t always about taking a side…it’s about hearing what the Spirit has told His servants through the ages and taking what we can to heart and life.

  99. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The Storms piece again emphasizes what I spoke of yesterday. The wide gap in our Chritology. The fact that Storms / Packer / the reformed in general deny Christ has a local presence or can do anything locally is huge and although we can be nice and disagree agreeable – there can be no communion.

    For Packer to liken our position as magic, sounds rank enough to have come from me. 🙂

  100. Michael says:

    Yes, there can be communion.
    Packer and I would both agree that Christ is present…and that is enough.

  101. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well you and Packer can have communion, but those of us who practice wizardry will be required to sit it out.

    Also, Packer cheats and usesslight of hand when he says the passage clearly means symbolizes or represents without bringing into the picture that the Greek has fully capable words that mean symbolize and represent. Perhaps Jesus was weak in the Greek language.

  102. Josh the Baptist says:

    “Greek has fully capable words that mean symbolize and represent. ”

    It wouldn’t be a metaphor if He used those words.

  103. Duane Arnold says:

    And as a scholar of koine Greek you know much better, I assume…

  104. Josh the Baptist says:

    Metaphors say “is”.

  105. Duane Arnold says:


    #103 was directed to MLD…

  106. Michael says:

    I have to go to the chiropractor…perhaps she will straighten me out… 🙂

  107. Josh the Baptist says:

    Duane – So were both my posts 🙂 You got caught in the crossfire.

  108. Xenia says:

    Yes, there can be communion.<<<

    With those who consider us to be magicians? I don't think so.

  109. Jean says:

    From Packard:

    “When Jesus spoke the words of institution (“this is my body . . . this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”), the verb “is” clearly means represents or symbolizes. “The idea that Jesus’s words worked like a wizard’s spell,” notes Packer, “changing bread, and perhaps wine too, whether through addition or transmutation, into something other than what they were, has had a good run for its money, but seems impossible, if only because Jesus himself as he spoke was still with them, personally unchanged” (Taking God Seriously, 152).”

    When our Christian faith becomes about believing only the possible (in our estimation), all sorts of things are in jeopardy of being thrown out the window.

  110. bob1 says:


    You can’t even spell his name correctly?


    I just don’t get dividing over our view of Holy Communion. Didn’t Jesus pray for the unity of the entire Church? The world is going down in flames and we can’t even get along. We don’t have to agree on everything, do we? Makes you wonder…

  111. John 20:29 says:

    FWIW – I trust the scholarship and mastery of the koine Greek (including some who were actually Greeks) of teachers who have concluded that “this is” my body translates “this represents” my body and, Jean, that conclusion in no way negates a belief in miracles, supernatural acts (by both God and the trickster) that have been recorded down through history…. although God seems to me to use them more where folks are less sophisticated, educated…

  112. Josh the Baptist says:

    For the record – The language does not translate to “represents”. That would be a paraphrase if found in a modern translation. The language says “This is my body.”

    The only question is whether or not this is a metaphor, which I think it obviously is, and others think obviously not.

  113. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    So you and I go out on the missions field together and we are proclaiming the gospel in the deep dark jungles of LA.
    When it comes time to baptize, are you with me to baptize unto salvation or are you going to cause division by telling people that baptism is only an act of obedience?
    When it comes to the Lord’s supper are you with me telling the people they are receiving the true body and true blood of Jesus for the actual forgiveness of their sins or are you going to cause division and tell them they are receiving bread and wine for a remembrance. If you are not with me on this, who is causing the division?

  114. Josh the Baptist says:

    Do you have to stay on the mission field so that a proper Lutheran priest can turn the elements into body and dlood?

  115. John 20:29 says:

    Butting in to comment on 113… Neither is “causing” the division – there simply is a division
    Now, if you two were to say to those new Believers, “we differently interpret certain aspects of these two things that we both agree we are commanded to observe and here is how we differ. You will study, learn and grow and will come to your own conclusion…” Would the Lute then add, ” choose my way as the correct way or be damned again? “. Sigh

  116. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh, I am glad I am here and you should be too. God turns the elements to body and blood. Now do you feel better about it?

  117. Michael says:

    Packers use of words like “magic’ were disrespectful.

    It is certainly possible that God could supernaturally change the elements.
    There are excellent linguistic and logical reasons to believe that doesn’t happen.

    I believe something happens, that God is present and acting…but I shudder to define anything beyond that.

  118. Duane Arnold says:

    Here is the absurdity… when it comes to sacramental theology, I am way, way closer to MLD’s view than I would be to Josh’s view. Yet Josh and I have a respectful dialogue and, dare I say it, real fellowship.I love to hear what he is learning and reading. On the other hand, for MLD, it is not enough to simply have that high view of the Sacrament. For MLD, I must have the precise view of the Sacrament as put forward by LCMS. Yet, even this is not enough… I must sign on to all their confessional distinctives and even then I might be considered suspect. I’m sorry, this is not dialogue. It’s a one-way conversation…

  119. Jean says:

    Another source of disrespect is to caricature your conversation partner:

    “Do you have to stay on the mission field so that a proper Lutheran priest can turn the elements into body and blood?”

    No one here has intimated such.

  120. Josh the Baptist says:

    Honest question though MLD – Can the foreign church plant have communion without an LCMS priest ?

  121. Michael says:


    It’s a legitimate question…can anyone speak the words of institution and have the elements change?

  122. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane, you do not need to agree with anything I say. In fact if you look back I doubt I have ever suggested that. However, if we are going to have a conversation I will tell you what I believe, why I believe it and why I may think your view is wrong.
    How is this wrong?

  123. Jean says:

    First, for Lutherans:

    (1) The elements do not change.
    (2) It is the Word of God that promises Christ’s presence.
    (3) He is present in, with and under the elements.
    (4) The Word of God does not say that only an ordained clergy can officiate Communion. In Lutheran Congregations, the public preaching of the Word and administration of the Sacraments is delegated to the pastor.

  124. Xenia says:

    Honest question though MLD – Can the foreign church plant have communion without an LCMS priest ?<<<

    I can only speak for the Orthodox but the answer is "No."

    This is why Orthodox and RC missionary projects have always been different from Protestant missions. We plant a Church with a priest first- even in the middle of a wilderness- and bring people into church.

    If there's no priest available, the congregation will hold reader services until a traveling priest- a circuit rider- can serve. Sick folks who cannot attend church at all are visited by their local EO priest.

  125. Jean says:

    We have been over the Sacraments ad nauseum, yet some folks still do not get that it is the Word that blesses, conveys grace. In other words, the Word does everything for our salvation.

    It is only in the non-Sacramental churches where it is man doing everything, such as making decisions for Christ, using free will, exercising logic and human reason in his evaluation of What God says and does, baptizing in obedience, toasting Jesus from a stage, etc.

  126. Xenia says:

    Em’s #111

    Yet the historic Church, which has been dominated by Greek speakers for 2000 years, does not agree with you.

  127. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Xenia – my point with bob1 was to make the point why we cannot have worship fellowship together nor do missions work together – because we do not have that commonality. Bob1 would cause division just as readily as he would accuse me of the same.

  128. John 20:29 says:

    Is there anyone among the pastors and teachers posting comments that would disagree with the fact that the word (I prefer Word) of God is alive and imbued with supernatural power? That it is contained within our written historically recognized texts, but can be expressed through other means… including spoken by an unbeliever? That the truth of God posses a power beyond what man’s words intend at times?
    Just wondering…

  129. John 20:29 says:

    Xenia, point taken, but are the majority always right? 😇

    That said, there is something odd about a group of 21st century Christians allowing this difference of interpretation to take up so much time and space, let alone cause separation…. Is God trying to make a point? To teach a spiritual principle? Am I missing a larger truth?
    There have been some odd, some insulting accusations and conclusions concluded by some in these discussions… IMO. (Observation not directed at Xenia)

  130. bob1 says:


    The LCMS Lutherans on here, ironically, seem to me a lot more sectarian than Josh the Baptist. I’m also a sacramental Xn, yet I’d much rather fellowship with someone like
    Josh, any day of the week. Ironic because usually Baptists and others are seen as the sectarian ones.

  131. dusty says:

    Missions work can be a mix of differing people without division. ..we did it in Detroit for years with NO division… would be the individuals problem not because of difference in beliefs.

  132. Jean says:


    “That the truth of God posses a power beyond what man’s words intend at times?”

    This is why Lutherans will accept a baptism from a non-Lutheran, non-sacramental, church if it is done according to Matthew 28:19.

    Why do you ask?

  133. JoelG says:


    I’m curious… What denomination of Sacramental Christian? If too personal a question then disregard…

  134. Jean says:

    Bob1 at #130,

    MLD and I rarely bring up the LCMS, though we are not ashamed of our affiliation. However, we are in communion with many non-LCMS Lutheran church bodies worldwide, so I think a more accurate identification would be the Confessions in the Book of Concord.

    From almost day 1, as seen in Paul’s epistles, the Gospel of Christ is a very offensive teaching, and it was under attack from various super apostles and other enemies of the cross (Paul’s words not mine) at nearly all his church plants.

    He wasn’t willing to surrender nor adulterate the Gospel for anything. Paul: “I do not nullify the grace of God”.

    Luther and many others throughout history have placed their lives on the line, and many have died, for this Gospel.

    Because the Gospel is offensive, it is painted by some as “sectarian, and by others with even less charitable words and phrases. MLD and I will bear those reproaches. What else can we do?

    We will press on with the Gospel, which is a most inclusive doctrine; heck even babies are welcome. I’m not aware of any Lutheran anywhere who would not welcome you or anyone else into our tradition.

  135. John 20:29 says:

    #132 … Why do I ask? Why do you ask why? Thank you for responding 😊

    I ask because it would surprise me if anyone doubted the power, beyond the natural, that God’s words have – even if those words are used by an unbeliever, the words may still reach a hungry heart or one that needs conviction …….

  136. The New Victor says:

    So now only the Lutherans are preaching the Gospel, hence the offense of some, *sigh*

    Still never received an answer as to whether Judas Iscariot was/is saved if he was baptized…

  137. dusty says:

    Good words John20:29

  138. Jean says:


    I read an article, I don’t remember where, if it was a Link or some other source, but very recently, where the author claimed that a majority of the contemporary Christian music bands are non-believers. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it claimed to have been researched with interviews and personal experience. Perhaps Duane or others here may have further insight on this.

  139. John 20:29 says:

    It has often occurred to me that the fact our Lutherans will accept a non Lutheran baptism as legitimate, but not a non Lutheran communion or communicant is illogical 😏

  140. John 20:29 says:

    #138 – I recall that my Presbyterian church ca 1950+ hired professional singers as soloists – operatic voices and they were really good – in fact our choir director (minister of music?) was a a full time music director of the local college and I seriously doubt his commitment to the Faith

  141. John 20:29 says:

    Dusty, you are kind – thank God for your presence here

  142. Josh the Baptist says:

    Thanks jean. So no preist is necessary for lutheran communion. Did not know. Thanks to xenia too for her clarity.

  143. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Victor, the Lutheran position is that people such as Judas neglect their faith, turn from their baptism and the gift associated with it.
    A believer turns back to an unbeliever.

  144. Jean says:


    “It has often occurred to me that the fact our Lutherans will accept a non Lutheran baptism as legitimate, but not a non Lutheran communion or communicant is illogical”

    I thought that was where you were going. That’s okay though. Here’s the difference:

    (1) Communion is the only means of grace that comes with a warning, regarding partaking in an “unworthy manner.”

    (2) Lutherans follow the Scriptural words of Christ in the Sacrament. Whenever I’ve been to a non-Sacramental churches, they do not, or they mix them with other words. If I’m in a non-Lutheran church listening to the pastor speak the words of institution, can you imagine how I would feel if the pastor said “what I’m saying is just a metaphor” or some other such thing. That would not be a spiritually healthy environment.

    (3) Baptism is performed by Christ on one individual. Communion is a banquet at the Lord’s Supper among His body. One of Paul’s criticisms of the Corinthians was: “For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.” You can read the whole passage, but we believe that the participants at the Lord’s table should be in agreement about what is happening there.

  145. Jean says:


    That’s not what I said. But thanks for being a good reader.

  146. JoelG says:

    “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”

    From Matthew’s account Judas sounds repentant.

  147. bob1 says:

    The Gospel is the opposite of sectarian. We were even discussing this on here recently. The Gospel is plain and straightforward. It’s catholic in that it belongs to all in the Church, at all times and places.

    What’s sectarian is when the LCMSers on here insist that everyone who names the name of Christ see it their way, or it’s the highway. To imply that the Lutherans are the only ones or even the main ones who’ve put their lives on the line for the Gospel, is, well, kinda silly.
    A cursory reading of church history would dispel that notion.

    That’s one reason I love Michael’s stance on things. And I think it’s a great advertisement for Anglicanism, too! Let’s not let specifics divide us — when we have Jesus Christ the Crucified and Risen in common!

  148. Jean says:


    Repentance is contrition + faith. A change of mind or turn around.

    Judas was contrite, but it was only despair. He did not apparently turn to God for forgiveness.

  149. John 20:29 says:

    #144 – Jean, so it all hinges on “unworthy” … as you know the “rest of us” also agree with that warning and I’ve never seen communion served without a clear warning
    Once again it is interpretation of a word: “unworthy”
    I would never call someone unworthy who saw the elements as symbols, but I would see danger in coming to the table in any frame of mind that was less than penitent and reverential

    But you are clairvoyant as I didn’t know that was where I was going. 😳

  150. Jean says:


    I can’t speak for every denomination or non-denomination, but I was a member of the UMC for 10+ years. It was not a liberal church, as some of the UMC have not followed.

    Here is the official statement:

    “Our Book of Worship says, “All who intend to lead a Christian life, together with their children, are invited to receive the bread and cup. We have no tradition of refusing any who present themselves desiring to receive” (page 29). This statement means that in practice there are few, if any, circumstances in which a United Methodist pastor would refuse to serve the elements of Holy Communion to a person who comes forward to receive.”

    Consistent with that statement, I never heard any warning, any confession before, and no discussion at all of “unworthy.” What was said is “come forward if you desire to receive.” So, since the UMC is the second largest Protestant denomination, I’m confident that you are incorrect about the “rest of us.”

  151. Josh the Baptist says:

    Jean, sorry i misunderstand. So a lutheran priest is neccesary? Its an honest question.

  152. John 20:29 says:

    It’s very amateur psychology, I know, but I think Judas was consumed with ambition. Hed been with Jesus. He knew the man’s power and I think that he thought he’d force Jesus’ hand. ” Let’s get the show on the road here. You be king and I’ll be Treasurur. ” I think his declaration was remorse, but as much for his own miscalculation as for the cost to Jesus.
    But God knew all along, didn’t He? Satan thought he’d defeated God when in reality he implemented God’s plan – little did the serpent know what he launched in the Garden…
    Like the Most High God? Uh uh…. How many blinks of God’s eye has this scenario taken? Sure seems long down here… sigh
    But thinking on it makes me want to shout … Hallelujah err something

  153. John 20:29 says:

    Okay, Jean – I’ve never attended a Methodist worship service… We Girl Scouts used to love skating in their basement roller rink, tho – our Scout leader was a good Methodist from Iowa – half of Glendale was from Iowa back then…

  154. Jean says:


    Per Paul:

    “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”.

    Shepherd (i.e., pastor) and teacher is a “called” vocation in the church. Jesus calls men to function as pastor to preach and teach in the congregation. He didn’t call me to do that, but he called me to be a lay person and serve in a different vocation.

    So, it’s not that the Word only works from the lips of the pastor, it’s that Christ calls men to mouth His Word to the congregation. But this says nothing about emergencies where there is no church and no pastor. However, the exceptions to not swallow up the regular order of things.

  155. The New Victor says:

    Thanks for the answer, MLD.

    It leaves more answers about baptism, and even degrees of punishment in hell, perhaps, but I’ll leave it for now. Agree with the despair. If repentant, he might have gone to Golgatha instead of killing himself.

  156. Josh the Baptist says:

    Thanks Jean. Got it this time.

  157. descended says:

    James Dobson: Giving credence to the insanity of the leftist.

  158. Dan form Georgia says:

    I once looked up to James Dobson, but since Trump seems like he’s lost his moral compass…anyone remember “Character Counts” from the early 1990s…I guess a man of high moral character…nevermind.

  159. Kevin H says:

    Although I’m sure some will disagree, I think Dobson has done much good when it has come to teaching and giving guidance on family issues and relationships. We should not discount this matter. Unfortunately, his heavy foray into politics has led to much lamentable behavior and has really stained his standing.

  160. Dan form Georgia says:

    Hi Kevin,

    I agree with you in part, that he’s been great with family counsel and relationships. It is indeed the political stance he’s taken that has personally turned me way off, and I don’t say that as someone who is morally blameless. It really seems inconsistent with what he was concerned about when Bill Clinton was running for office.

    In my comment 158, I stated “since Trump”, but when I think about it, I could see it even way back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, during his radio show. Frequently, there were pleas to “call your Representative/Senator”.

    My tipping point with James Dobson and right-wing political involvement came when one such plea was aired about some lengthy bill that supposedly had wording in it that supposedly would threaten families or harm Christians (can’t quite remember). I thought that I would “fact-check” this, so I emailed Focus On The Family and asked them to help me find where in the bill that this language was. I never received a response.

    In all fairness, perhaps I didn’t contact the right people, but overall my thought was that if you are going to want people to call their reps in government about something that concerns you, please at least give specifics about what is offensive so that you can sound like you now what your are talking about. They seemed to never point out specifics. And I couldn’t get behind that.

    Thanks for the gentle pushback!

  161. bob1 says:

    Dobson has apparently lost his mind.

  162. Kevin H says:


    I agree that the genesis of Dobson’s downfall in politics goes back many years. It has seemingly grown worse over the years with the Trump stuff now being the pinnacle. A lot of the stuff he now says in defense of Trump completely contradicts the stuff he was saying back during the Clinton years.

    Now as for pushback, if it ends up being Vikings vs. Eagles in the NFC Championship next week, don’t expect the pushback to be so gentle. 🙂

  163. Dan form Georgia says:


    Agreed and, as far as Vikes Vs. Eagles…that one will be interesting!

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