Official Publication of the LMS-USA
Volume 8, Number 3
In this Issue:
The 2001 Conference/Convention
by Rev. Ralph Spears
Conferences of the Church are counted in many ways but most often in fellowship and yes, in numbers too. The Fellowship far from being under-rated is probably the best way to judge a Conference or any gathering of the Church as we realize The Body of Christ, gathered. The warmth is felt sometimes in the simplest ways in the prayers about the tables and the situations of casual reflection. When there is no opportunity to do this, something is truly missed which is an essential ingredient of the Church.
There were several inspirational presentations, devotions and even interview sessions with applicants. One, who was ordained by our body in July, spoke movingly of his experiences as a death row chaplain in the prison system of Virginia. In one instance he baptized a man just two hours before he was scheduled for execution. Later he recounted this experience to the Sunday morning Bible study of the Conference. The last words of the prisoner to Luther Baugham the Chaplain (who knew him to be innocent) were, "Well Chaplain, I'll see you on the other side!" Luther went on to mention as several eyes were dried, that if we ever really witnessed an execution, we would forever, think differently about capital punishment. Not that bad people are executed for their crimes either.
Two dozen plus one youth - had their own energetic Conference, concurrent with the adults to enthusiastic reviews by all. They did a special service project at Lutherwood - a lot of cleaning and weeding; eating, study, crafts, team games, some sleeping, in the Church, more eating and a delightful play which had the Good Samaritan lying in the ditch holding his sides with laughter along with the audience and the rest of the hapless cast of the most amusing and educational drama.
The Festival Communion Services are always most meaningful. This year was no exception. David Dietsche, our hospital Chaplain from upstate New York, preached to a near house full while Pastor John Erickson conducted a combined choir which filled the back loft, in Vaughn-Williams treatment of The Old Hundred Psalm Tune.
Conference Chaplain, Richard Horn, was timely with meaningful devotions to open sessions and meal time prayers.
As to the numbers, ten (10) states were represented all told. Three congregations and six pastoral candidates interviewed with the Committee. One each was placed on Provisional roll and on the Associate roll (Pastor Robert Hotes) and two on the Subscribing roll (Pastor Jim Stalder and Pastor Jeffrey Iverson restored) of Pastors.
Two men were approved for ordination, which will take place before their home churches, Frank Lukasiewicz in Wisconsin and the previously mentioned, Luther Baugham in Virginia. Two licensed as Lay Minister (Eric Gernert) and Lay Preacher (John McCawley) were again renewed in their licensure for the coming year, while three Congregations were admitted to Subscriptional status in Stanwood, Michigan; Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and Memphis, Tennessee.
All of these recommendations were approved with discussion by the Synodical body of the Church. Pastor John Erickson was continued as Chairman of the Synod, Dianne Boekankamp as Secretary and Jan Jerabek as Treasurer - with much thanks and gratitude from the entire body for their several years of faithful service. [Pastor Ralph Spears, remains as pastor/president of the body.]
The 2002 Conference was planned for June 21st Friday through Sunday the 23rd again at St. Matthew Church in Indianapolis. Again the Youth Conference will meet at the same time - as it did this year. The Women of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod met over lunch to plan cooperative ventures also for the coming year.
The numbers are important to understand something of the scope of the work. A budget of $3600 in receipts and $5450 in expenditures was approved for the coming year.
But the Fellowship is the most memorable and important for the life of the true Church - The Body of Christ which we celebrate in the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod - U.S.A.
back to top
Who is the Israel of God Today? - Part One of a Series on Prophecy
by Pastor Mark Dankof
In recent years the millennialistic scheme has been spun out into a fantastic system, known as dispensationalism. According to this rationalistic belief, the six-day creation week has its counterpart in a 'world-week' (cf. 2 Pet. 3: 8), every 'day' or dispensation beginning with a special revelation of God and ending with a catastrophe as a punishment because requirements were not met. . . . It is clear that with this undue emphasis on millennialistic or dispensationalist details the fundamentals of the Christian truth must either be ignored or denied, namely the preaching of repentance and remission of sins (Luke 24: 47). The Lutheran Augsburg Confession rejects the entire millennialistic scheme as a system of 'Jewish opinions' (Art. XVII). Christ's eschatological teachings (cf. Matt. ch. 24) leave no room for any millennialistic or dispensational hope, nor do any of the great Christian creeds profess chiliasm. It is a product of rationalizing enthusiasm which perverts Scripture and draws the minds of men away from the doctrines of sin and grace, justification and sanctification, which must be ever stressed, as the Christian is directed in Scripture to the inheritance in heaven and not to any millennial reign of Christ on earth (Phil. 3: 20, 21).
John Theodore Mueller in My Church and Ohers - A Summary of the Teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church as Distinguished From Those of Other Denominations. 5th edition. Rudolph Volkening: St. Louis. 1968: pp. 78-79.
I recently had a very late evening in suburban Philadelphia, accentuated by a serious bout of insomnia. Thinking of the Biblically recorded night of sleeplessness for King Xerxes, where the Persian king requested the Chronicles of the Kings of the Medes and Persians as reading material, I gravitated toward a particular volume in my own library and selected A. T. Olmstead's History of the Persian Empire (University of Chicago Press) as my companion for the wee hours of a seemingly endless night. In perusing the pages, the printed words and accompanying photographs reminded me not only of a wealth of material in Olmstead's work essential to any furtherance of understanding of the ancient Achaemenid kings of Persia, but of my own sojourns in modern Iran a quarter of a century ago during the final years of my father's career as an American military adviser in the Middle East.
It was my discovery, however, that reading History of the Persian Empire did not alleviate my symptoms of sleeplessness in the City of Brotherly Love on a particular night in the late spring of the first year of this new and exciting century. My next move, like that of the lion's share of Americans who share my late night problems with fitful rest, was to turn on the ever-present television set in search of something to momentarily escape the rigors of post-graduate work in theology and the pressures of writing deadlines and language study. It was my assumption that the local channel of religious programming might provide a temporary oasis for one unduly burdened with the demands of the moment and the cares of this temporal world. I was proven wrong.
Instead, I was treated in the darkness of my den to a most curious and remarkable telecast from San Antonio, Texas, and its Cornerstone Church, one of the nation's most recognizable Pentecostal and mega-church TV ministries. It was especially unique in that its famous pastor, John Hagee, was not the featured speaker on this particular night in the world of the far reaching tentacles of televangelism. Although present on stage, Pastor Hagee was treating his congregation, and a worldwide TV audience, to an evangelistic message promulgated by a substitute speaker, calling for unswerving Christian support for the modern nation of Israel and all of its political policies, supposedly mandated by Genesis 12:3. The speaker, amazingly, was Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Likud prime minister of Israel.
The televised Hagee/Netanyahu alliance is a powerfully symbolic microcosm of the political alliance between a large percentage of American Protestant Evangelicals and the State of Israel and its international lobby. The glue which cements this complicated, and often paradoxical relationship, is a system of prophetic interpretation of both the Old and the New Testament known as dispensational premillennialism. As a system of thought and an interpretive scheme, its origins can be traced to the early part of the 19th century, circa 1830, in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882) of Britain, the leader of the Plymouth Brethren movement. After the American War Between the States, dispensationalist understanding of prophecy and its accompanying insistence on a mandate for a repristinated Jewish state in Palestine, became a part of the diet of ever increasing numbers of American Evangelicals who became familiar with Darby in the latter's travels to
America and Canada between 1862 and 1877. By the end of the 20th century, names like Hal Lindsey, John Walvoord, and John Hagee have become synonymous with the basic tenets of the classic dispensationalist model for the events which will supposedly usher in the end of history and the second coming of Jesus Christ.
John Theodore Mueller, in My Church and Others, itemizes the twenty (20) distinctive events which dispensationalism claims will occur during the last seven years of the Church Age, through Christ's literal reign on earth for a thousand years after his return, to eternity itself. These include 1) Christ's invisible return; 2) the resurrection of the just and the translation of the living believers; 3) the rapture; 4) the judgment of the believers (the first judgment); 5) the war in heaven, when Satan is cast on earth; 6) the Church escapes the seven years of tribulation; 7) the great tribulation of the Jews and perhaps of the entire Christian Church; 8) the Jews return to Palestine; 9) Antichrist is revealed as the hater of Jews; 10) Gog and Magog; destruction of Antichrist; 11) the revelation of Christ; 12) His coming to the Mount of Olives; 13) the judgment of the nations as to their attitude toward the Jews (second judgment); 14) Satan bound (after Armageddon); 15) the millennium; fulfillment of prophecies concerning the supremacy of the Jewish nation; 16) Satan loosed (battle of Gog and Magog; Satan cast into hell); 17) the second resurrection (unbelievers raised); 18) the judgment at the "Great White Throne" (third judgment); 19) death and hell destroyed; 20) the new heaven and earth. It is important to see that throughout the system, the reestablishment of the Jewish nation and its reoccupation of Palestine and Jerusalem are the key eschatological signs around which all others revolve and emanate.
But are there compelling theological questions which orthodox Lutheran thought specifically, and Christian theology generally, might pose as a challenge to the often unquestioned acceptance of dispensationalism and its potentially dangerous application to the present situation in the Middle East and American foreign policy in that region of the world? What are the accompanying theological and political implications of its notion that the Israel of God today is comprised of the modern State of Israel with its physical borders and its occupation of Jerusalem? These compelling questions will be examined in this series and posed to dispensationalism in future issues of Table Talk. We will also examine the following quandaries:
The series will begin with an examination of the history surrounding the different schools of interpretation of Daniel, chapter 9, and the infamous Prophecy of 70 Weeks. What is the justification for seeing the first 69 weeks (483 years) in strict chronological order while postulating at least a 2000 year parenthesis between the 69th and the 70th week? Who is the individual identified in Daniel 9: 27? How does our handling of this important Old Testament prophetic text improve our present understanding of who constitutes the Israel of God today? What are the implications of our conclusions for our understanding of the Gospel of Christ? Stay tuned. . . .
Pastor Mark Dankof is on the subscriptional clergy roster of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod-USA. He is presently working on a thesis on the Council of Trent while in post-graduate study at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. He holds the B. A. degree from Valparaiso University and the M. Div. degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.)
back to top
Emotions Control Management: Anger, the Zohar and The Beatitudes
A paper presented at the 2001 LMS Annual Conference
(revised for this issue of Table Talk)
by Rev. Ralph Spears
When perfection is the standard, then that standard becomes the 'measure' against which every like thing is compared. Our government still has a department of weights and measures which defines an ounce or an inch within an Nth degree of accuracy measured at sea level in a certain metal at a constant of temperature and humidity. This is so that there is no possibility of even the tiniest fraction of stretching or contracting of that standard, a standard of near perfection.
But what is the standard for behavior? If the way one behaves is stretched or contracted from the ideal, then - this must be a missing of the standard.
We know where the standard for time is located for instance. It now emanates from a radio signal from an atomic clock in Colorado, using the steady oscillation of the cesium atom! Today you can buy a watch for only $59.95, which picks up that signal and will keep you punctual to within one one-millionth of a second- guaranteed!
But where does the standard of behavior come from? Is there an absolute? If so, where do we pick up the signals for that absolute?
We have to know this before we can define a deviation. You all know that a definition for sin is 'missing the mark' - so we must know what the mark is, so that we know when we are missing it. (That is, unless we are uncertain about what the meaning of the word IS, is.) Over three decades ago a book appeared which was titled, What Ever Happened To Sin? It was written to discover or re-discover a standard for behavior. But it was not written by a cleric, or a preacher, or a moralist. A behavioral therapist, who was attempting to deal with absolutes for counseling people, Dr. Karl Menninger, was the author.
And today, what ever happened to the idea of "missing the mark"? Has the target been moved out of sight or are all the arrows bent?
[Notice - we are not even asking the Social Psychology question of origins here which we might call the "Officer Krumpke question" from The West Side Story song, " is a person deprived because he is depraved or depraved because he is depriv-ed?"] We are asking a more basic question, a question of standards.
By the way, this is not preaching. That's not what I'm after here!
Standards are what we are after for now. What are they and where do they come from?
Ancient purveyors of Truth who today could not be classified only as therapists, or theologians, prophets, philosophers or metaphysicians (or even physicians) spoke of a Divine Logos, and ineffable Word which by an active movement of benevolence WAS all that was benevolent, creative and true. They (like we) struggled to put a proper or fitting name to this, such as; First Cause, Prime Mover, Infinite - Omniscient -Omnipresent - Ancient of Ancients, Light Of Lights, Lord Shabot, Adoni (Lord) or Ground of All Being. Some thought it sacrilege even to attempt to say or speak a name for such and only four italicized letters YHVH - stood for this First Cause.
One thing we know all too well in the present day is that one terribly thread -bare word in English is substituted when we try to represent this presence God!
It is interesting that as we talk of the movement known as creation, the terms are appropriate to human nature, for how else can we illustrate it?
This God creates by Ruach or breathing out and so breathing the essence of life into forms that become living things. Stretching out His hand, is another way that this creative force works to "bring into being, the things that are not", as one source so nicely puts it. (creation ex nihilo) And it also speaks of the "eye" of God which sees or the "ear", which hears!
We are rather stuck with the term - GOD - even though we know it to be inadequate. But that's alright because it is known and believed, in fact we teach it - that GOD is all wisdom, beauty, truth and majesty. And GOD is LOVE as most Sabbath School kids could tell us. What a marvelous way to summarize all of the teaching in three words of ultimate truth. There is excellent reason for that summary as Christ explained a standard for all behaviors in the First Command; "Love the Lord - your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and a second like it (Love) your neighbor as yourself". (There was a Rabbi Gamelial who also taught the same teaching at the same time.) That was to make a person to be one with God and man!
(Optional Joke; Nathan's hotdog!)
This sets up a virtue and its opposite. Really rather easy you see!
Love and ____, Grace and __, Mercy and __, Peace and __, Got it? ?
Good let's try Impatience and ___, Greed and ___, Lust and ____. Now, how about Anger and _____, What do we put with anger?
As you know there is so much said about anger these days, and it is often put with the word control.
It is bad to be angry or so it would seem these days. But is it -always?
I have counseled with many kids through the County Juvenile Court and I can see why they might be angry; parents who don't care, schools which regularly uphold unfair standards while not educating, a society which seems to reward bad behavior while punishing them when they act even to do the right thing - is often what they face! Going to Court for things that in our generation was dismissed with a wink and a nod might be added to the list...
Back in the late 60's a Civil Rights leader by the name of Stokley Carmichel said, that if you were young and black, you should be angry. And one Rabbi who developed quite a reputation for repartee with the Scribes and Pharisees said, "BE angry, but DO NOT sin!" In other words even anger might be righteous if it doesn't go too far!
So it isn't always wrong to be angry, to get up the adrenaline, to motivate. Why I know one wife who gets her husband angry just to get him out of his chair, and I wish she would stop it. There are better ways to motivate me.
Of course we have examples lately of an expanding society that puts people too close together and brings on reports of prison riots, dangerous melees at soccer matches and that new favorite - road rage! So, yes, there is a concern for negative emotions and for ANGER which is not appropriate!
Yet there is a tradition from Old Testament times, which speaks of virtues (for lack of a better term) but lifts them from the level of mere virtues to the realm of lofty constructs - building blocks of thoughts and things. This should not be too hard for us, for we know of that euphemism of Love-creating.
Well this tradition of the ZOHAR which means = the Splendor, would say that there are Ten divine 'lights' which are responsible for all of creation. As the written Torah has Ten principles or Laws, so there is the truth that could not be captured by mere words in writing which also has ten divine lights of truth and not just one. The rabbis would say that as the Law was given on Mt. Sinai - etched on the tablets, there were also the "divine sparks", which emanated at the same time which could not be captured in the same manner by written words. These were the Ten Divine Lights of the Sephiroth, the Splendor.
[Interestingly enough scientists today speak of anti-matter that was created at the same time as matter. There is truly nothing new under the sun as Ecclesiastes says.]
These Divine Lights come down from a Circle of Light or Kether meaning Crown or Light of Lights. If that sounds familiar, it should! And from this Light of Lights - representing the One God, come the Lights such as Wisdom, and Beauty and Truth, Radiance, Justice, Grace, Constancy, Knowledge, and Judgement, all from that Crown.
Just as the Ten Commandments create - THE LAW, this great gift of God, so these TEN Divine Lights are the essence of all things good, which are perceived by FAITH. "Faith is the essence of things unseen!" and "the substance of things hoped for" remember - from Hebrews? Now you're getting it ! But remember that God is not TEN, God is ONE - and ever more shall be so!
Well, what's my point here? The point IS, that these magnificent radiances, which bring us Love and Joy and Peace, are not just nice words or things to teach in Sunday School, they are building blocks of all good things and they are all good things. They are not merely virtues - they are substantive constructs of Divine nature!
We do them a great dis-service in a way, when we couple Wisdom with ignorance, or Love with hate, Light with darkness, or Anger with an opposite; as if they were even on the same level, except in a false word game of comparisons. The Zohar is right, these are Divine Splendors and they are deserving of much more respect even reverence - in our thinking!
Scientists are prone to speak of The Big Bang Theory! Some people get so bent out of shape over this. However, when God said, "Let there be Light"... there was a 'big bang' - there WAS light. And light rapidly expanded from a single point of light! And yes, there was quite a lot of heat, and color, sound and fragrance with it too as "The Morning Stars sang together!"
Back in 1960s when the first radio telescopes were being deployed, two scientists by the name of Wilson and Penzias kept noticing a background radiation or noise of sound which was coming from every direction at once at a constant level of 3.5 degrees, Kelvin (in radiational temperature). Others noticed the same thing until now they actually believe that this is the remnant of sound from the Big Bang coming from every direction (as it should)! That's exciting because if they are correct, this is an amazing left over from the act of creation itself. If we could really analyze this remnant, like so much space dust residue, we might find that it is made of wisdom, and knowledge, beauty and truth.
Now of course there are remnants of all of these attributes of divine Splendor in both Old and New Testament, not surprisingly.
Sefiroth = means 'Cause of Causes' and the Ten are again; Kether or Crown, Hokmah or Wisdom, Binah or Intelligence, Chesed or Grace, Victory, Beauty, Glory, Judgement, Kingdom and Foundation. These are the Divine attributes, which in interacting manifest all things.
Crown or the " Father of Lights" is mentioned in James 1:17, in Psalms 85, 89 and 104 (You send forth your Spirit, They are created! 104:30). [Comment on James 1:17 "Coming down from the Father or Circle of lights in which there is no variation or shadow - due to change!"]
Wisdom the first to be created from that Crown of Light is mentioned 106 times in the Wisdom literature and over fifty times alone in Proverbs "The Lord created (Wisdom) at the beginning of his work - the first of His acts of old!" Prov. 8:22. Or Paul in his exercise to the Romans, remember, "O the Depth of the Riches and Wisdom and Knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His Judgements and how inscrutable His way!" (Rom. 11:33) Where did THAT come from except a profound conviction of the incredible make-up of the Divine! And twice as Luke tells of the maturing Messiah, he describes Him as filled with Wisdom in 2:40 and 2:52.
Glory mentioned several times as "Glory - above the heavens" Psalm 8:1 and "The heavens are telling the Glory of God" Psalm 19:1.
Beauty Psalm 27:4 "Behold the Beauty of the Lord!" And Psalm 50:2 "From Zion the perfection of Beauty, God shines forth" which is reflected also in the last chapter of Revelation.
You see from these brief references the magnificent way in which these Divine attributes were seen - not just as virtues - but as interactive building blocks. That which we know as Scripture - comes alive with transcendent meaning that is not Just words. And again, the negative opposites; anger, hate and malice, are no match for these. They are not on the same level at all. Therefore, the darkness will never overcome the light for so says, Isaiah.
What this means is tremendously helpful in dealing with anger then, and the other negative emotions. They are not permanent but remain as lower level rebellions to high, lofty and tangible principles, which are a part of God and Creation, itself.
Of course there is still the matter today of a real antipathy between religion and science which is unfortunate and unnecessary in most cases, in my opinion.
Lately I have noticed what can only be described as the Battle of the Bumper Stickers. Of course most are acquainted with the IXTHYS or fish, from the early years of the first Christian Century which have sprouted up in so many forms on bumper stickers and tags. Well recently there has appeared this same "fish symbol" which has sprouted evolutionary legs and carries the word, "Darwin" in the center of the symbol. But wait, not to be outdone, the latest development is an even larger primitive Christian fish swallowing the Darwin fish, legs and all!
But let's get back to ANGER. As counselors, pastors, therapists and people, we find that we need to deal with it. What is it - this anger?
Anger is usually a compound not an element. In other words, it is a combination of things, not just a single thing in itself. Anger often begins with fear, to which is added other elements such as surprise, and hurt and a little jealousy thrown in for good measure. So there are different angers depending on the ingredients.
[Illustration of fear and anger in what dogs sense!]. So the questions to the client; "when did you first become angry," "what really made you so," and "what are you angry at, yourself, another, an inadequacy?" Was it an insult? Was it an affront? Was it a recognition of something that should not be?
When we tear anger down, it's not so scary - it makes sense. Most importantly anger is not the opposite of a virtue. In fact sometimes, anger can almost be a virtue. People often try to destroy virtues by down sizing them or making them trivial. Money changers in the temple did it for one Rabbi - mentioned earlier and He became quite angry!
I had an experience of road rage at an early age. My father like many others, would shout at the other drivers who couldn't hear him nor did they care. Dad simply made himself madder. (Often I experienced anger about my father like heat of a dark red nature, like left over elements of a big bang! As a kid I imagined that I saw a dark red about him.)
Well, I soon determined that I would never do such a thing myself, how ridiculous! But, I did! The first time that I began to drive, I re-acted in the exact same way as Dad, until - I caught myself in a true cognitive moment. It was a learned reaction and I had followed right along! We teach our own kids reactions of negative emotions by our own actions in given situations.
The important thing is that most often, these negatives can be un-learned or replaced by the spin off of one of those loftier virtues, such as patience, self-control, long-suffering and the like. (Against which there is no law, according to St. Paul!)
How about HATE? Oh, yes, it's easy to hate hate! Or to hate people who hate! Like anger, hate stirs up the adrenal glands, releasing adrenaline and activating the body for a fight in the famous 'fight or flight' mechanism which centers about the adrenal glands. And it can produce its own high! And hate easily spreads and multiplies like cancer cells.
As General Patton said while trying to motivate his Third Army for the conquest of Europe, "Why, we Americans love nothing more than a good fight! And we love to win!"
But that can go too far as 'Old Blood and Guts' found out, when he slapped a soldier for lack of courage, and found himself repeating Psalm 63 as an anecdote before a very public apology ordered by a superior General by the name of Eisenhower.
One notable example of a person refusing to be drawn into the negative of hate is the Dalai Lama of Tibet in his public and apparently, private refusal to hate the imperial nation responsible for the complete disruption of his native land. Rightly he received the Nobel Prize for Peace. 'It takes too much energy to hate,' he says, 'and it forces you to maintain that energy and remain on the same level as the one you hate!' It's a trap, in other words, and that's one thing that is the matter with hate!
When a person is caught up emotionally in a given situation, it is very easy for a counselor to ask the person to "ignore it" and very difficult for the person to withdraw the hate! We have all seen our charges caught up in animosity which spins the person into its web like a revolving door. A man approaching 100 recently called me to intervene with him in a dispute with a member of his family. He had spent days reliving a supposed hateful incident from which he found it impossible to extricate himself.
Grief is something that must be endured. It is very different in a way, from the other negative emotions, because in its purest form, it is noble - almost a virtue. Like the other negatives, grief can be reduced further into common denominators. Grief may mix with guilt, regret, self-recrimination and some anger, self-pity and did I mention guilt? The pastor/chaplain is at a disadvantage because often it is difficult to talk openly about grief especially when the person is in the midst of their grief.
Those in the first throes of grief are in shock. They are often hit hard, overcome with a wave of grief like homesickness, without warning! Much does not register, time is distorted in their view - they may have trouble functioning or even wanting to function. In the case of a death, they go over unresolved material, past events which may prompt guilt even anger over what - now appears to be impossible to solve because the person who is the subject of the grief, is gone. A large pot of mixed feelings has been set astir and the job of real therapy may have to be put aside for the time.
But it is so very important that the grief - come out, that the one who grieves is given attention when they can deal with it sometimes much later. In some traditions, such as the Jewish, a certain time for grief is assigned and thereby also, limited.
There is a scene in the movie, Ordinary People, where the younger brother of a boy who dies, played by Timothy Hutton, is surprised to realize that he is angry at his older brother for dying. He had promised to his younger brother, that he would hang onto the capsized boat, and live. Instead, he let go and drowned, leaving Hutton's character to survive and deal with all of the baggage of emotion and grief. (The same thing is sometimes detected in the case of married partners when one survives and wonders "Why has he or she left me with all of this"?)
Negative attitudes and emotions generally are important indicators of conflicts within those we would help. Tracing them back to their origin and understanding them for what they are in a person's life, reveals valuable insight.
Anger and other negative things and the Sepher Hazohar (Zohar) known as the Book of Splendor, come together quite strikingly in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5. Why? Because evil is overcome by good. Because evil is no match for the marvelous constructs of Wisdom, Beauty and Love, which compose Goodness in its highest form, that's why!
In a long standing tradition Rabbi Akiba (2nd Century) and Rabbi Joseph ben Sirach up to Moses De Leon (12th Century A.D.) taught that Moses gave this Book of Splendor on Mount Sinai at the same time as the Torah. That the Ten Divine Lights were the proper commentary on the Ten Commandments. It is little surprise then that the next great teacher predicted by Moses, in a few simple verses, makes use of these great lights of truth. With the setting on another Mountain, this set of teachings is given just to the Apos-tles and introduced by the word - Blessed! Blessings truly flow to you' He says, 'when those typical evils of life are overcome with the great truths of heaven'. Each one of these relate to one of those Divine Lights of the Shifiroth that we have been studying: Humbleness and meekness, mourning with grief, anxiety for Justice and Righteousness, Mercy and Purity, making Peace by overcoming conflict, and undergoing persecution. "The troubles of this (present) world, are not worth comparing to the splendors that are yet to be revealed fully." (An actual quote from trained Rabbi, Paul in Romans 8:18!) See - we all need to preserve those Splendors, those constructs of Creation itself, to guide us through mundane pain and suffering because they far exceed and transcend them.
Again this is not preaching! I am simply pointing out that Jesus like Moses was into this Book of Splendors as the very ingredients of the Godhead, as practical monuments to meet the negative experiences and emotions of life. Too often we allow our minds to lapse into thinking of 'pretty words' rather than perceiving much greater truth that lies beneath them. For the very foundations of Divine Light are being shown here, those Ten Divine Lights that have manifest from the beginning as the "worlds began to be." The teachings are stated in such simple practicality - such an economy of words, so that we might look carefully on them and take in their meaning.
This may not always help the people that we deal with in counseling and teaching, but as we have this knowledge, we are hopeful. And as we are hopeful, then our clients and friends cannot help but sense that hope and feel that they too, can touch the Splendors that we see!
But where is the Cognitive element here and how can it be of help? If we go back to its Latin root - cognito - (and I always pronounced it incorrectly in 9th Grade Latin apparently, it was cog-ni-TO' with the accent on the last syllable rather than - cog- NI '- to) it bears the meaning - to know, or I know! Looking at the faith model as it has been handed down from those Ancients that we have previously cited, to know is not a part of faith so much - as to have faith itself - is to know. In fact having faith is truly - to know!
Again the profound citing of that persistent Rabbi, "Blessed, (there's that word again) blessed are those who have not seen - yet believe!" Can it be then that the real process of believing or shall we ask instead, can it be that the real act of having faith, gives greater insight than seeing? In other words, possessing faith is better than a rationally based process that we call seeing. "Blessed are those who have not seen - yet - believe!" Far from being just a Sunday School lesson, this defines the basis of a solidly cognitive process.
Now before the 'rational' part of ourselves gets overly excited -over against the 'spiritual' part - and begins to 'sprout legs of evolution onto our fish'- let's remember that the basic foundation stone of cross-over connections is attributable to a couple of philosophers, Descartes and Kant.
You may remember the famous nexus point, in the statement; "I think, therefore, I am" - which came from Rene Descartes -and became a sort of foundation for all cognitive reasoning. This is a monumental principle that has affected us more than we might realize. Here the very fact that one can think - becomes their cognitive base. Notice it has nothing to do really with what one thinks, but that one thinks or is a part of rational process. However, Descartes believed that all rational sciences were linked together as branches of a tree including morals and physics (it was too early for psychology as yet) but that it had - metaphysical roots.
In short then, being aware of being rational, becomes proof of existence. This marvelous process might be summed up in the statement, ' I know that I exist in the very process of knowing'. Of course we have stumbled upon the seismic event that has caused the Great Rift Valley of all time - between the rational/mental and the faith/spiritual.
To be fair, Immanuel Kant more than a century after Rene Descartes, was attempting to extend a bridge from the spiritual to the rational in a complex system of processes in his Critique of Pure Reason. He was not trying to eliminate or abrogate the spiritual as some have assumed.
This then would seem the basis of the cognitive method of a Richard Brandt who, just a couple of decades ago, advocated the adjusting of one's attitudes in the rationality which justifies morality in a knowing, or cognitive, way.
It is important to understand the roots of the modern Cognitive thrust in these philosophical and moral antecedents! The cognitive was not "born yesterday", but is a part of a 'connected-ness' that stretches all the way back, well, to Creation, itself!
We might say in the style of Descarte, "I know within myself, therefore, I can change!"
Therefore, we can appreciate that the so-called 'leap of faith' (as suggested in "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe"), is established legitimately, in the cognitive realm of the cognitive process.
No, we are not just playing word games. Further it can be seen in the intimacy of the "I and Thou" relationship of a Martin Buber as well! The "I" is known in the "Thou".
Such knowledge (Binah) is too wonderful, then as Psalm 139 says, "It is high, I cannot attain it!" it's terrific stuff, I can't fully understand it, it's a mystery! For knowledge or intelligence is an important light of those Ten Divine Lights and sometimes, it stretches tantalizingly just above the reach of us mere humans and is attainable only by Faith!
Clearly the Ancients, were very well aware of what we today call the rational and the spiritual. They had no problem with it and saw no real conflict between the a priori and the a posteriori, the pre- experience and the post experience, the spiritual and the rational, faith and reason. Nor should we in the important process of the treatment of people, for in this process, we are enabled to treat the "Whole Person in a Broken World" as the title and the thesis of Dr. Paul Tournier's book would suggest.
And just as importantly, in this process, we become whole ourselves!
back to top
Women of the LMS Move to Organize
The women who were in attendance at the LMS annual Conference/Convention this year met and decided to organize nationally. Several shared from their positive past experiences with national church organizations. Just getting together on occasion, a newsletter sharing 'goings on' in other church women's groups, all involved in the same Bible Study, coordinated mission outreach, were a few of the things missed in not being part of an organization on a church wide scale.
Plans were made to begin now sharing ideas through a newsletter. For now this newsletter will be handled via email. Congregations present designated a contact person, and when the letter arrives, it can then be photocopied off for local distribution. (As with our national church, we are doing what we can to keep communication going, but at the same time, to keep costs down.)
Plans are already underway as to the theme/topic for next year's annual gathering, and the thought is to pick up on this theme for the women's 2002 Bible Study. More on this in the next issue of Table Talk.
back to top
The LMS-USA is a Biblical, Confessional, Evangelical, Liturgical, Congregational
expression of the universal (catholic) orthodox Church on earth. It is a
'Forum by Subscription.' As a 'Forum' the intent is that there will be an
ongoing discussion of theological issues and concerns among clergy and lay
alike. The LMS-USA meets annually for a Theological Conference and this
publication, besides carrying news of the Ministerium and Synod, functions
also as a vehicle for this continuing dialogue.
For information or to make comment contact:
2837 East New York St.,
Indianapolis, IN 46201
P. O. Box 31
Chetek, WI 54728
email - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
back to top