My, How Times Have Changed by Pr. Thomas Messer
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I recently received a wonderful treasure from a dear parishioner, Sharyn (a.k.a. Trixie), which she came across a couple of weeks back. It is an old copy of The Lutheran Witness, dated February 19, 1918. I finally had some time to read through it today. Wow! This is not The Lutheran Witness I have come to know in our day and age. The times, they have definitely changed. This old copy of The Lutheran Witness is filled with theological articles and all of them are most decidedly Lutheran through and through. There is no "fluff and puff" to this publication whatsoever. This is deep stuff. Theological stuff. Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions emphasized throughout. Quotes from Dr. Luther, other Lutheran theologians, and the church fathers. Warnings against embracing the surrounding culture. Warnings against following in the footsteps of the false teachers of the age (e.g. Billy Sunday). Decidedly Lutheran. Unashamedly Lutheran. Unapologetically Lutheran. Through and through! Heck, even the cover screams Lutheran, complete with a picture of Dr. Luther along with his bold confession: "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."
I read through this old copy of The Lutheran Witness and then scanned through the latest copy of The Lutheran Witness which I received recently. Simply no comparison. The content and focus is so decidedly different that it is a shame that they bear the same title. I'm not trying to be mean. I'm sure the folks who produce today's version of this publication mean well and work hard at putting out a quality publication. And, there are often some good articles in today's version. But, let's be honest. Today's version is not exactly deep on theology. The focus is more on promoting synodical projects and programs, highlighting "successful" congregations and synodical personalities, sharing testimonials and feel-good stories, and so forth. Today's version is more like synodical propaganda than bearing witness to the Lutheran confession of the faith. Not so with this version from 1918. Just take a look at the contents of this 1918 version and compare them with today's version:
"And they crucified Him." Sublime brevity! Divine eloquence! The most stupendous fact of all ages is recorded without the least tremor of emotion. Truly, the Evangelist was inspired by the Spirit to restrain his pen. "And they crucified Him!"
Yes, He was counted a transgressor that we might be counted free; for "God hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Cor. 5,21.
Naked hung He there - the Lord of heaven and earth. He was naked that we might be clothed with the garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness. The soldiers divided His garments among themselves and cast lots - raffled - for the cloak, that it might be fulfilled as the Psalmist prophesied in the 22nd Psalm, v. 18: "They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture."
Furthermore, Tertullian, in his Apology, states the circumstances of the crucifixion were announced by the Procurator himself in a dispatch to the Emperor Tiberius; and Justin, in his Apology to the Emperor Antonius, mentions the Acta Pilati, or public records, in which a full account may be found.
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