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Monday, May 14, 2007

Aussie Christian Wisdom

This week, I am at Grace Lutheran Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm sitting in on a continuing education class for pastors on Leviticus. Our instructor is Dr. John Kleinig, Old Testament scholar at Australian Lutheran College.

He is quite fantastic and has me convinced that Leviticus is - by Christians - the most tragically neglected book of the Bible. My pastor, Rev. David Petersen, blogged several times recently about his experience with this course when it was offered in Fort Wayne.

The over-arching theme of Leviticus is holiness. The concept of holiness is the key for understanding the whole arrangement of worship in Israel and God’s involvement in worship. It has crucial implications for Christian worship as well.

First of all, only God is holy. No one and nothing apart from God is holy. There is no other sources of holiness. How do things and people become holy? Only by contact with God. The trouble is that sinful people who come into contact with God (without mediation) are destroyed, just as fire burns chaff and light scatters darkness. We sinful beings are in need of a means to access God (atonement; Great High Priest, Christ as intercessor).

I am attracted to this teaching, not only because I recognize the scriptural soundness of it, but because I am annoyed by the buddy/buddy informality that permeates much of contemporary Christianity. Nothing is sacred. God is a benign cuddly grandpa.

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Paul, in Bethel Park said...


My favorite description of yours came in a sermon at Concordia, I believe...many people see Jesus Christ as some sort of "benevolent hippie".

VirginiaLutherans said...

There is a country song out there called "Me and God" that displays this "buddy and me" approach. Unfortunately it removes the respect one has for a King of all Kings. Think of all of the pomp given the Queen of England recently in the US, then look at how we treat The King. Elvis gets more respect sometimes.

In a way, contemporary services that remove the Word do the same thing. They remove alludes to God as Lord of Lords and replace it with feelings and non-specific "theological inuendo." "God is your buddy" waters down God as Lord and King. Try being a buddy with a king (or queen), even one you know, and you will find out where you stand. Give God the respect He is do, not because it is Law but because we can as Christians.

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary