Sunday, August 27, 2017

Faith in Absolutely Nothing


I happened upon The Lutheran Hour ( @LutheranHourMinistries ) again this morning and heard Rev. Ken Klaus reciting a sermon on Absolutely Nothing. He spoke of how one day when he was a junior in high school, his grandfather passed away leaving his father as executor of his estate. There was a box of what was important papers. "The greatest number of papers in that box was stock certificates from various companies. The one thing those stocks had in common was this: they had been issued before the stock market crash of 1929." As it turned out, there was one set of stocks from a company which was still in business - and that stock was valued at a couple hundred dollars. Then there was a huge stack of other stocks for which all of the companies had ceased to exist after the stock market crash... the were worth "Absolutely Nothing." Rev. Klaus tells a couple other stories about "Absolutely Nothing" and then gets to his point.  "As a believer, I have absolutely nothing to believe in. Yes, you heard that right. I have absolutely nothing to believe in. Please, allow to me to explain."  Rather than me paraphrasing, allow me to quote the next section verbatim:
                       Nowadays, most believers and unbelievers who have studied history agree that there was a man by the name of Jesus who was crucified under the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate. Most don't have any difficulty with the events after Jesus' death. 
                        Here's what the evangelist Matthew wrote: "The chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and, referring to Jesus they said, 'Sir, we remember how that imposter said while He was still alive, 'After three days I will rise.' Therefore, order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples go and steal Him away and tell the people, 'He's risen from the dead.' The last fraud will be worse than the first.' Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard of soldiers go, make it as secure as you can.' So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard."
                           Those Jewish leaders knew Jesus had promised that He would rise from the dead. They also knew that if the Christ's body disappeared things could get a bit dicey for them. People might believe on Him. They might trust Him. They might even claim He was the promised Messiah. To prevent that, these civic leaders asked for and received the Roman ruler's permission to lock down Jesus' grave. A great stone at the entrance of the grave made it difficult for Jesus' body to be stolen. The guards outside the tomb made any attempt a suicide mission. 
                          A guarded and inaccessible tomb is what the women should have found that Sunday dawn when they went to finish preparing Jesus' body for His final rest. As they progressed to that borrowed grave, they would have had absolutely nothing to comfort them. Their Rabbi, their Friend, their Teacher was dead. Yes, He had talked about repentance, forgiveness, and salvation, but that kind of talk had ended on Friday's cross when a Roman spear had ripped into His heart. They had heard Jesus say "It is finished." They had watched when He breathed His last. All that was left for this sorry funeral procession is for them to pay their final respects to the memories, the hopes, and the dreams of what once had been. Yes, that's the way it should have been. Now, let me tell you the way it really was. 
                         Sometime before the women's arrival, an angel from heaven came down to earth. Fear of his presence threw the armed guards to the ground after which they ran away to report to their bosses. Shortly after, the women arrived and were taken aback to see an angel sitting on the stone. Knowing what was in their hearts, the angel began: "Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here for He has risen as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He is also risen from the dead."
                        For the first time that Resurrection Sunday, people poked their heads into Jesus' borrowed tomb. Not long after, two disciples, Peter and John, also ran to Jesus' grave to see if there was any truth to what the ladies had told them. John waited at the entrance to the grave, but Peter raced right on in. John soon joined the big fishermen, and together they looked at-well, there's no other way to say it-they looked at absolutely nothing. Oh sure, the embalming cloths, which had wrapped Jesus' body and face were still there. Yes, they were there, but Jesus was gone. If there had been a traffic cop there that day, he probably would have said, "Move along. Move along. There's absolutely nothing here to see." That cop would have been right. On Resurrection Sunday there was absolutely nothing to see. 
So, Rev. Klaus, using a clever play on words, justifies the sentiment that the Christian Faith is based on "Absolutely Nothing." 

What I found a bit disturbing was a couple of things. First off, I used the word "reciting" earlier because I don't believe this sermon to be Rev. Klaus'. He made it sound like this sermon was his own creation - but I heard almost the exact same sermon at Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) in Phoenix, Az at least ten years ago! I don't recall the exact date - but I do recall it was Easter Sunday and Fr. Bonavitacola had a guest priest celebrating Mass that day and the guest priest also gave this sermon. The point here is, in an open letter to Rev. Klaus, I've heard this sermon before. I recall being a bit offended then too - this priest was preaching that our Faith is built on nothing. I realize he was saying this for shock value, much like Klaus is too, I'm sure, but, it's simply not a true statement.

While it is a somewhat clever play on words - it is simply NOT TRUE! Well, it IS true that on that first Easter morning the women and then Peter and John, found the empty tomb, but the didn't find "Absolutely Nothing!" What the DID find was Jesus' burial cloth - but no Jesus. Also remarkable was the fact that the Roman guard had fled their post. For them to leave their post would mean death to them, for their orders were to stand guard, period, and abandoning their post would result in capital punishment. Their absence is a significant "something." Then, over the next 40 days, Jesus would appear to His Apostles first and then to many others.  That again is not "Absolutely Nothing." We have their testimonies on this. St. Paul too has an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul, previously known as Saul, was a persecutor of Christians - doing whatever he could do to destroy the Church which Jesus had built.

This brings us to the key point which Rev. Klaus (and sadly, that guest priest at OLMC) missed completely. The Resurrected Jesus was there, walking and dining with others for 40 days and teaching them how to build His Church. Most of what went on during those 40 days is not recorded in Scripture - but it is clear, Jesus was instructing them. This is far from "Absolutely Nothing." They were to - and DID build His Church.

Now what we have "Absolutely Nothing" to show - for over 1500 years - is a "Lutheran" church! Okay, it is a bit anachronistic to expect a Lutheran church to exist before Martin Luther, but the point is - there was no "church" which held the Protestant beliefs - like "the Five Solas" or "once saved, always saved," no Calvinism or Baptist or Methodist, etc. The FACT is, for over 1000 years after Christ, if you were a true Christian - you were Catholic. In 1054 AD, the Eastern Orthodox split with Catholicism - but Catholicism continued and continues to this day! 

Likewise, in the Lutheran church there is "absolutely nothing" for the forgiveness of sins since their clergy separated from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Forgiveness of sins is a charism given ONLY to the bishops (originally given ONLY to the Apostles, our first bishops).  
John 20:22-23 And with that he breathed on them (The Apostles) and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Thus ONLY those whom the bishop has given faculties can hear confessions and grant absolution. Outside the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church - there is absolutely nothing for the forgiveness of sins.

So, while there is some truth in what Klaus and that guest priest preached - the bottom line is, they missed it "by that much" (to quote Maxwell Smart).
Missing it, even "by that much" can have serious and eternal consequences.

AMDG,
Scott Windsor<<<

You can hear Rev. Klaus' entire sermon here:  http://media.lhm.org/lutheranhour/mp3s/8452.mp3 









No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep in mind while posting:
1) Please respond ON TOPIC to the article at hand.
2) Posts more than 4 weeks old are set to automatically save new comments for moderation - so your comment may not show up immediately if you're responding to an older post.
3) The "Spam Filter" is on - and randomly messages get caught in that filter. I have no control over which messages get caught in the spam filter and those that do must wait for me to mark them as "not spam." A message caught by the spam filter may show up for a moment, making you think it posted, and then disappear. Do not assume I have deleted your comment, it's probably just the spam filter and it will show up.