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Contemporary Christian Thought

These classes will present a brief overview on topics of:

God, humanity, Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Son of
Man, the Lutheran view on worship and the Sacraments, and
the practice of the congregation. The course will emphasize
the insights of contemporary theologians. The course is
open to everyone without obligation.

I would like to thank Rev. Ed Peterman, retired Senior Pastor at Christ the King in Houston, who modeled the
priesthood of all believers by teaching classes on Contemporary Theology Seminar. His notes from these classes
have been invaluable in my class preparation.
Questions or Comments
If you have any questions or comments about this class,
contact myself or the Church Council.
Why are you here?
Faith journey
Why study?
And you shall love the LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your being and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:5.)

The author of Deuteronomy commands us to completely dedicate our entire being to the love of God. This
dedication is to be total. There are no limits. No part of our being, no part of the world, no time is excluded from
our love of God.
Theology is about understanding my relationships to God, to
others, and to myself.

Everyone here is a theologian because theology is not knowledge about something. Instead, theology is about
taking a position. When I step on a “Lego” block, I take a stance toward that event. This is what theology is all
about; it is about being deliberate about how I think about myself in relationship to others.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker
of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
Popular Models for God
Santa Claus
God created the world and then
left it alone to run.

But what happens when you

need Him?

Deism rejects most conventional forms of religion, accepting reason as the only guide to truth. It embraces the
concept of God, however, in the limited sense of a creator, or first cause, of the physical and moral laws of the
universe. Deists compare God's act of creation to that of a watchmaker who builds a watch, sets it in motion, and
then refuses to intervene in its actions. (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is credited with creating the image
of God as a clock-maker.)

The work of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626) helped to lay the basic framework for
deism since Galileo believed that “the book of nature is written in mathematical language” and Bacon described the
scientific method that phenomena had to be observed in a given order. (These types of arguments are apparent in
the intelligent design argument.) Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) was one of the first philosophers to support this
type of God because God's actions in creation were self-contradictory since God cannot both create the laws and
then break them. Spinoza's work was expanded to show that God is in all natural laws and God works through
these laws. In this theory, God's intellect and power were used during creation to accomplish everything that God
desired to do. Since God has planned for every possible outcome, miraculous events are not needed.

Deism became popular during the 1700's and was first developed as a systematic philosophy, by Lord Herbert of
Cherbury (1583-1648). Deist ideas appeared in the writings of such philosophers as Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712-1778) and Voltaire (1694-1778) of France and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831)
of Germany. Kant argued for the existence of God based on practical and moral reason. Hegel also reasoned that
everything in the universe can be understood by the “efforts of intelligence” and all that is needed is to find the
“Absolute Idea.” In America, deist ideas appear in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the
Constitution. Those ideas reflect the political influence of leading deists of the time: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

There are two major problems with deism. First, since God has preordained all actions, every action is God's will.
Thus, God is just as responsible for the birth of Jesus and the systematic murder of the Jews during World War II. A
second problem is that since God has given God's will to the natural laws, God does not need to be involved with
creation. We therefore no longer have a God who interacts on our behalf; we have a God who does not care about
our situation. This God does not speak to us in the Emergency Room when a loved one is about to die.
Santa Claus
He knows who has been
naughty and who has been

But what happens when bad

things happen to good people?

In this model, God is the great scorekeeper. He knows who has been naughty and who has been nice. The wicked
are punished and the good are rewarded. In a very gross simplification, God is seen in the bottom line. If you
have wealth, God loves you and if you do not, God is punishing you.

Luther coined the technical name for this model, which he called the theology of glory. The followers of this model
think that they can God in the actions of others. There are two basic reasons to reject the theology of glory. First,
the theology of glory uses general knowledge of God, which according to Luther is the knowledge that God created
the world. This general knowledge does not tell us what God does, nor does it tell us why God does anything.
Secondly, this theology attempts to see God face to face. God is only revealed in God's hiddenness (Deus
absconditus) and scripture says that no one may see God's face and live (Exodus 33:20.).

The practical problem with this model is that when things go wrong, the only answer is that God is punishing us
for something that we did in the past. God's feelings have been hurt and He will extract His pound of flesh from
He’s easy to get along with.

But who will hold you


In this model, God appears to be an indulgent grandfather. This old man is hard to offend; he doesn't really have
any strength anymore so you can do just about anything before he gets mad at you. He might be a bit senile and
he is a little bit old fashioned. He's a great fellow that is concerned if you drink, dance, smoke, or play cards.

Since this God never holds you accountable for your actions, you will never live up to your potential.
What happens when these models
fail us?
When we lose our illusion of God, we will often blame God,
for our blindness.
Biblical Images of God
No thing
Not limited by location
No name
Creator not created

Ancient Israel had many of the same problems that we have today with our different images of God. They were
very careful in how they described their encounters with God to ensure that God was no thing, that God was
everywhere but tied to no one place, and that God had no name.

And He said, “You shall not be able to see

My face, for no human can see Me and
live.” (Exodus 3:20.)
Yet God is revealed in God’s actions on
the Cross.

Martin Luther is responsible for the development of the theology of the Cross. In this theology, the only knowledge
of God comes from God when and where God decides. Luther argues that the best revelation occurs when we see
God's actions on the Cross.
God is no thing
Not light
Nor anything else
Not the sun, moon, or stars

Light created on the first day (Genesis

But, the sun, moon, and the stars were
not created until the fourth day
(Genesis 1:14-18.)

God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. Genesis 1:3.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vaults of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and they shall be
signs for the fixed times and for days and years, and they shall be lights in the vaults of the heavens to light up
the earth.” And so it was. And God made the two great lights, the great light for the dominion of the day and the
small light for the dominion of the night, and the stars. And God placed them in the vault of the heavens to divide
the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:14-18.
Not a sun-god or a moon-god

The author is very careful not to use the

Hebrew for sun (‫ )ׁשֶםֶׁש‬since this word
also can mean sun-god.
Also the author does not use the Hebrew
word for moon (ַ‫ )יֵָרח‬because it can be
used for moon-god.
Things are not God

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence

does my help come? My help comes from
the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 121:2-3.)
According to the ancient Israelites, if you
can name it, then it is not God. This
approach removes every possible thing,
including all ideas about God, from being
God is not something to own

The Canaanite gods (ַ‫ )ּבַּל‬were tied to a

specific location, just like a deed to
rty. Buy the property and you get the god.
God is mobile

Go into a land that I will show you

(Genesis 12:1.)
Cloud (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19, 24.)
Fire (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:24.)
Even the Ark has poles to move it (Exodus

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob tells them to go. Not only does God tell them to go into a land that I will
show you but God also leads them with fire and a cloud.
No place for Jesus

Born in a manger (Luke 2:7.)

Has no place to lay His head (Matthew
8:20; Luke 9:58.)
After Ascension, He moves freely (Luke
At the burning bush
Moses has no sandals on
When God calls Moses, God tells him to
take off his sandals. The sandals must
come off because they indicate property
lines. We don't own God. God knows that
we are afraid and might run away into the
wilderness to try to escape from His
presence but we cannot run into the desert
without shoes. God knows we are also
fascinated by the mystery and might try to
fly into the flame like a moth, but without
the shoes we cannot move into the light.
God has no name

When Moses asks for God’s name, God responds

( ‫)אֶֽהְיֶה אֲׁשֶר אֶֽהְיֶה‬
Out of respect for the name, every time YHWH
(‫ )יהוה‬appears in the Bible we say LORD (‫)אַתָּה‬
What is ‫?אֶֽהְיֶה אֲׁשֶר אֶֽהְיֶה‬

God does not exist
God created being and existence, but God is not created.

Only the created exists and by definition God is not created. Therefore, God does not exist.
Not created means

God has no “isness”

God cannot be placed into categories
God is not omniscient, omnipresent, or
omnipotent since these medieval
philosophy terms describe existance
God only can be seen in what God does

An additional problem with the “omni” terms is that they give all the power to God, thus making man powerless
and thus not responsible for any of his actions.

Seeing God in God’s actions is just another variation on the theology of the Cross.
A contemporary model
God is the ground of our existence
When you see that all in your life is limited and every thing
around you is finite and created you are coming to the great
abyss of nothingness. In this nothingness there is God. This
mystery can kill you. Praise be to God because God does
not let us see this mystery in its fullness because it would kill

Karl Bart
Where is the mystery?
All of us, just like Moses, are afraid of the mystery that has
been presented to us but unlike Moses, who took off his
sandals and stayed in the presence of the mystery, we have
kept our shoes on, we have run away from God's mystery,
and we have created our own riddles to worship.
Ground of our being
In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28a.)

God is our foundation

In Him, we exist
The lack of existence does not matter to
God since God created it
Encounters with God
Greek model
Model of ancient Israel
Contemporary model

world people
• gods can live, die,
and be resurrected
• Function of ritual is
to revive gods death
• Sacrifice one’s life to
the gods
• Influences slavery
and fertility rites
Ancient Israel
• God created the
universe for people
• Nothing is divine in
this world
• God is totally other
• Good News of
freedom that we are
not slaves to gods
House of God (‫ּבֵֽית־‬
‫( )אֵל‬Genesis
This is where God is, out in the
wilderness. He is there even
though we do not know it.

And he (Jacob) came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set, and he took one of
the stones of the place and put it at his head and he lay down in the place, and he dreamed, and, look, a ramp was
set against the ground with its top reaching the heavens, and, look, messengers of God were going up and
coming down it. And, look, the LORD was poised over him and He said, “I am the God of Abraham your father and
the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie, to you I will give it and to your seed. And your seed shall be like the
dust of the earth and you shall burst forth to the west and the east and the north and the south, and all the clans
of the earth shall be blessed through your seed. And, look, I am with you and I will guard you wherever you go,
and I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken to you.”
And Jacob awoke from his sleep and he said, “Indeed, the LORD is in this place, and I did not know.”
Contemporary House of God
God, riding in on a Harley, not only arrives late to the
worship service but also disturbs it with His loud pipes. As
He rushes into the nave, He unsettles the preacher with His
presence and wakes up the sleepers. When He sits down, He
makes the children laugh and the old folk nervous. During
Communion, He dashes up to be with us and runs out before
He finishes eating since He has work to do. We chase after
Him, following in the Breeze that He left.
It’s difficult to talk about God
When we talk about God it is like trying to describe a sunset,
the smell of your home, the sound of Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony, the taste of wine, and the touch of a lover. Now
imagine trying to describe these experiences to someone
who is missing one or more senses.

That’s why we use poetic language to talk about God.

For us

Now for something that we know a bit more about...

Why are we here?
We are here by chance

Everything that happens to us is all for naught

We are put here by a god that
hates us
Everything that happens is because we are hated
We are put here by a God that
loves us
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and
2 Peter 1:3a.
What moves us on?
Care for the future
Truth and beauty
Love and friendship
Work and duty

This is from “The Crisis of Faith” by Rudolf Bultmann

What holds us back?
Finite limits
Death Limits Isolation Guilt Ignorance
Care for Truth and Love and Duty and Knowledge
the future beauty friendship work

Where are we?

Care Death

It’s not wrong to care about yourself and

But the rich man with the barns forgot
about the possibility of death

Where have we seen this before?

Beauty Limits

We experience beauty in sunsets, people,

and art
But it just does not last and we cannot
force eternity on beauty either

Where have we seen this before?

Love Loneliness

We like to be accepted for who we are

But we know that love will not last forever

Where have we seen this before?

Duty Guilt

We know what we should do

But it is should hard to do it

Where have we seen this before?

Knowledge Ignorance

No matter what we learn

There is always more to learn

Where have we seen this before?

Common Problems
Nothing will change
Nothing will limit me

Nothing can be changed

Nothing is worth living for

Nothing can limit me

Limits are the work of the devil
Biblical view of Humans
Defining terms
The two creation stories
What does created in God’s Image mean?
Genesis 3.

I am assuming that everyone knows the literal interpretation of the creation stories in Genesis. This approach will
look at the meaning and the implication of the stories.
Genesis 1-11.

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are

stories that apply to every human
They are are similar to other stories in
the ancient New East
The collection in Genesis is larger than
other collections of Mesopotamian texts
Attracts converts

Tells people how creation functions

How to be blessed with land and children
How to add members to the community

One of the functions of these stories are to attract converts.

Creation is about relations
The stories of creation found in the Bible are very similar to
the creation stories found in many other ancient cultures.
The Bible's stories differ from other ancient stories and from
contemporary views on the creation of the universe in that
the Biblical stories discuss relationships: God to the
universe, God to humanity, humanity to creation.
Basic concepts
Adam and Eve are not proper names, they do not refer to
some prototype male or female, nor do they refer to males
and females in general. Instead the names refer to all
humans, how they act, and their paradoxes.

Adam is made from the adamah. (Genesis

2:7) ‫אֲָדמָה אָָדם‬
We are made up from the basic building
blocks of the universe
We “return” to these elements when we
Adam is created, is limited, and will die

Eve ‫( חַּוָה‬chavvah) means life not women

We get the name Eve from the way
Greek speakers around 250 BCE heard
the ‫ חַּוָה‬pronounced and transliterated
it into Greek.

Zoe in Greek.

We are pro-creators and co-creators with

Male and Female

The Hebrew word for female is ‫אִּׁשָה‬

The Hebrew word for male is ‫`( אִיׁש‬iysh)
The words may appear to look and sound
the same but they are not the same
Women and men have different in being
even though they may look the same
First Creation Story
Genesis 1:1-2:4a.
In this story, creation happens in “logical” groups. God
creates by placing things into categories: creation by
separation. God controls the water and brings the cosmos
out of chaos.

The development is by groups (phylogenetic). Movement from chaos to cosmos

In this story, water is the enemy. Because of this fact, it is
generally assumed that this story came from a community
that was threatened by water.
Second Creation Story
Genesis 2:4b-25.
In this story, the God creates man after the earth is watered
by a mist.
Due to the desert imagery, a community that had limited
access to water probably wrote this story.
Let us make man in our image

Genesis 1:26. We are responsible

Genesis 2:15. Our vocation is work
Genesis 2:18. We live in community
Genesis 2:19-20a. We bring order into the
Genesis 2:21. God uses us to create new
God had an idea, an image, a plan for humans.
Genesis 2:19-20a. Creation is always happening and God must always work on bringing order out of chaos
Image of God means

Free to make decisions

Can freely eat of all trees but one
God does not tell us what to do
We are responsible
We name creation
We take care of it
Image of God means

We live in community
It is not good to be alone
What about science and the image
of God?
In 1809 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed the
theory of the survival of the individual
(Lamarckanism). Where is the neighbor in
this theory? The neighbor is gone since the
only individual that matters is the self.
Charles Darwin in 1859 published his theories
on the evolution that promoted the theory of the
survival of the species through natural selection
of the superior attributes (Darwinism). Where is
God if we, through time, can perfect ourselves?
Do we really believe that in our brokenness we
can become gods in the future? What do we say
to the poor, the downtrodden, the handicapped if
we accept this movement to perfection? Do we
not need to care for our neighbor?
Science brings out the worst
Lamarckanism and Darwinism bring out the
negative attributes of the commands to have
dominion over (Genesis 1:26, 1:28.) and to
subdue (Genesis 1:28).
What happens next?

Who tempted Eve?

Not the devil who does not appear in
the story
A serpent (Genesis 3:1a.)
Wild and subtle
Remember that we are all Eve, so the
serpent is addressing everyone
Doubt is introduced

“Did God say...” (Genesis 3:1b.)

We respond that we should not eat and
not touch when God told us not to eat
(Genesis 3:2-3)
Some truth is told
(Genesis 3:4.)
The serpent tells us that we will not die. There is some truth
in this statement. Physical death does not always happen
right away when we learn something. That’s one of the
things we like about temptation; we think we get something
for nothing. But other deaths have occurred: our
relationships, our innocence and our physical death will
happen. You can count on that.
To be like God
(Genesis 3:5b.)
God knows everything because God has created everything.
Thus, there are no secrets for God.
The knowledge of good and evil
(Genesis 3:5b.)
This phrase means understanding the entire range of human
experience. But this phrase does not include understanding
the difference between what is right and wrong, for if it does
then God has just set us up for a fall. Of course, this phrase
includes technical information. But it also includes knowing
about existence: how cancer feels, what it is like to be
blown up in your HMMWV, how it feels to be betrayed.
Eve and then Adam eats
(Genesis 3:6.)
We give into our desires and we take the risk of knowing
everything. We all have taken the risk and I think that we
would all agree that knowing more is better than knowing
less. But in doing this we have traded in our innocence and
have changed our relationships.

We always think that we will be better off after we eat the fruits of temptation. This is what makes it so tempting.

The serpent really wasn’t needed. We had already started looking at the tree and we wanted to take the fruit.
It was good for food
(Genesis 3:6.)
It is not the longing after the fruit nor the looking at the fruit
that condemns us; it is when we eat from it. Despite
knowing what will happen to us and despite other choices,
we take the fruit, knowing full well of the consequences.
It was good to look at
(Genesis 3:6.)
The fruit also appeals to out sense of beauty and art. We
want to keep the fruit and make it our own.
It was good to be wise
(Genesis 3:6.)
Humans have always wanted to know everything and to
control everything so that we can be in charge of our lives.
Only this tree, out of all of the plants in the garden, has the
ability to make us wise.
Took - Ate - Gave - Ate
(Genesis 3:6.)
Notice that the Adam is never tempted by the Eve. We all
have taken the fruit, eaten of it, and have passed it on to
others. However, when we do this we impact the world
around us in ways that we cannot imagine.

Everything in the cosmos is interrelated. We are are in relationship with others. Thus, our actions will cause both
intended and unintended changes in the cosmos. (Just like a ripple in a pond from a stone’s throw.)
Eyes are opened
(Genesis 3:7.)
We now can see in our relationships a portion of what is
good and bad. So, the Adam and the Eve see their state
differently now. We see that our fragile nature needs to be

Of course, these relationships include everything in the cosmos.

God comes calling
(Genesis 3:8.)
Our relationship with God has been changed due to our
actions. No longer do we walk and talk with God. Instead
we try to hid from the One who created creation.
Where are you?
(Genesis 3:9.)
God still comes to us even though we have broken our
relationship with God. God calls out and asks us to answer
while we are hiding in God’s creation.
I’m afraid
(Genesis 3:10.)
Our taking of the fruit has made us afraid of the One who
created us.
Who told you and what have you
(Genesis 3:11.)
God asks us how our relationships have changed.
I haven’t changed
(Genesis 3:12-13.)
We want to believe that our relationship with God and with
ourselves has not changed, when in fact it has. In order to
shift the blame, the Adam blames the Eve. Ironically, we
blame ourselves for the breakdowns in our relationships.
The Eve blames God. When we place blame, we destroy
both relationships and community.
We deserve to be completely removed from the cosmos since
our promised punishment is death. God instead grants us
grace and allows us to live.

When God forgets us, we no longer exist.

The serpent is cursed
(Genesis 3:14-15.)
The serpent is cursed: not the Adam, not the Eve, and not
Intensity increases for the Eve
(Genesis 3:16.)
Not only will childbirth be more painful, but also our
relationships be more intense.
(Genesis 3:17-19.)
Even before we broke our relations, we had to work in the
garden. Work will continue but it will be more difficult
because the ground is cursed.
The Eve is named
(Genesis 3:20.)
The Adam returns to the job of naming creation.
God as seamstress
(Genesis 3:21.)
God recognizes that we cannot take care of ourselves, so
God gives us clothing. By clothing us, God continues to
show us that we are to be protected and God gives us a way
to remain in relationship and thus in community.
God remove our temptation
(Genesis 3:22-24.)
God grants us another measure of grace by removing us
from the garden so that we do not commit the same sin
Direct or Indirect article?
If the story in Genesis 3 is about a person named Adam and
a person named Eve, then this story has happened only one
time. However, if the Adam and the Eve represent each and
everyone of us, then this story is repeated over and over
Changes in our image
When we took-ate-gave-ate we impacted not only our
relationships, but we also modified God’s image in us. We
were free to choose any fruit but we did not. We were to be
responsible for creation but we have been sent from the
garden. We were to be in relationship but we denied all of
our relationships.
God saves ‫הֹוׁשֻע‬
The name Jesus is the transliteration of the Hebrew name
(Yahowshuwa`) into Greek ('Ihsou) and then into English
The Word of God
Unlike other words which are created and finite, the Word of
God was not created and will last. Other words also give
some meaning to our lives but the Word gives true meaning
to our existence.
Historical Perspective
The oldest documents in the New Testament, Paul’s Letters,
say nothing about the birth of the Christ. Neither does the
earliest Gospel, Mark. Out of the 27 books found in the New
Testament, only Matthew and Luke tell of the Birth.
However, the stories are different: wise men or shepherds,
flight to Egypt or not.
Apostle’s Creed
Conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the Virgin Mary
Divine Intention
This pregnancy was planned by God and was not an
Jesus was a human and was born just as any other human.
When we emphasize the divinity of Jesus we often forget that
He was human. The inverse also holds. The author of the
Augsburg Confession, Philipp Melanchthon, states that we
cannot separate the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.
Christ’s Mission
Restoring broken relations and community
Create and re-create life
Jesus shows and tells us about freedom, forgiveness, and
loving our neighbors. We are held accountable for our
actions and when we fail, we are given release through
forgiveness and absolution. We have been given permission
to live since death too has been overcome.
New names
(Matthew 16:17.)
In this new creation, Jesus gave new names. Cephas
(Simon) Bar-Jona who was a lowly fisherman became Peter,
the rock on which the Church is built.

Rocky Johnson.
Where have you seen this?
Life over death
(Matthew 14:22-33.)
One evening after feeding the five thousand, Jesus went to
the mountains and prayed. He had sent the others ahead
using a boat and Jesus decided that it would be quicker to
walk over the chaos of the water rather than to try and find a
boat in the storm.
As He passed the boat, He calmly called out “It is
I” as if everyone walked on water. Peter asks to
join the Lord’s Party and Jesus tells him to come on
in, the water’s fine. No matter how dangerous the
world may seem, He invites all of us to come along
with Him. But Peter is just like all of us since he
focused his attention on the chaos instead of the
Christ. And when he does this he sinks. Jesus asks
us why we doubt when the Lord is at hand.

Where have you seen this?

Pick up your past
(John 5.)
There was this man at the Pool of Bethsaida that has waited
38 years to be cured. He cannot even see the water since he
has been flat on his back. So, he will never know when the
spirit moves the water except through the commotion that
happens. When Jesus sees him, does Jesus ask him if he
No! Instead Jesus cuts to the chase and asks if he
wants to get well. The invalid does not answer the
question and blames others for miracles not
happening to him.
Carefully notice that Jesus does not offer to carry
the man to the pool nor does Jesus agree with the
man’s story.
Jesus tells him to “Get up, take your bed, and
Can you imagine the man’s surprise. Jesus even
told him to pick up his bed and take it with him even
though it was the Sabbath.

Where is God telling you to get up and walk? Where is God telling you to move on, even with 38 years of your past
at your side. What laws are we to break for Christ’s sake?
Rebuilding of relationships
Jesus gave us examples of how we are to reconstruct our
broken relationships. He gave us a new way to look at God,
as a Father. He gave us the Law that we must love others.
He gave us forgiveness so that we can stand ourselves.
Healing of society
In His interactions with the social outcasts, Jesus shows us
how we are to live. He talked with the half-breeds
(Samaritans) and told us that they are our neighbor. He
healed those who we wish would be dead (Samaritans) and
they thanked him for it.
He dined with the powerful and with the worst
members of society. His tomb was given to Him by
a Pharisee that should have shunned Jesus since
Jesus stopped the stoning of a prostitute. Even in
His death on the Cross, He associated with the other
Healing of the sacred/secular
God sent Jesus to save all of creation. God did not send
Jesus to save just the religious or what we might think of as
holy. Not once in the Bible, does Jesus tell us that this or
that action is religious and we should do it.
God approved of this activity by His Son. Not only
was Christ raised from the dead, but on Good
Friday when Jesus died, God ripped the curtain that
hid from the world the most sacred thing in the
universe, the most holy of the holy, the ark of the
God wants to end the artificial segregation of the
world into the sacred and the secular. And to prove
that God did it, the veil was ripped from the top to
the bottom.
God is more concerned about what we do. (Matthew
Jesus never tells us how to fast, how to order
worship, what to wear, what to eat or drink, or what
portions of the Bible to quote. Instead, He just asks
us how we have responded to the need that
surrounds us.
Jesus set out to show us how to build community by building
relationship among the 12 and their family members.
He came to tell us that we need to live in God’s Kingdom.
He has granted us forgiveness so that we can.

What is keeping you from living in God’s Kingdom?

The Sacraments are small dramas about the human
condition. Baptism is a play about death and birth. The
Eucharist is a drama about eating, drinking, having a party,
and obtaining nourishment for life’s journey.

These notes on the sacraments are from Rev. Ed Peterman’s lectures on the subject at Christ the King Lutheran
Church in Houston, TX.
What is a Sacrament?
Ritual Promise Christ’s Command Element
Penance Yes Repent None
Ordination Yes Peter the rock None
Marriage Yes Affirmed it None
Anointment of the Did it but not
sick Yes normative Oil
Taught it but not
Confirmation Yes normative None
Baptism Yes Go and Baptize Water
Communion Yes Remember me Bread & Wine
Lutheran definition of Sacrament
A ritual that contains God’s Promise, Christ’s Command,
and an earthly element.

The others which do not meet this definition are valued and
cherished rites.
Baptism is ordinarily necessary for salvation. Baptism is for
our sake and not for God. God can send the Holy Spirit to
anyone God wishes and God can save whomever God

Thief on the cross.

Cornelius and those who heard the Word were given the Holy Spirit before Baptism (Acts 10)
Baptismal Themes
Dying and Rising
Baptism washes the sins of the past and removes their stains.
In Baptism we anticipate the future, we are given
refreshment, and we are renewed.

As Christians (and especially Lutherans), we should think of Baptism every time we see water.
Dying and Rising
When the Israelites when through the Red Sea, they were
slaves who were doomed to die. When they came out on the
other side, they were free and alive. This dying and rising is
normal and proper. God keeps the waters of chaos away
from us and thus keeps us from drowning. Christ’s light in
you will never be put out.

The Baptism and the early church in Rhodes was in a trench that was dug in the shape of a cross. We die and we
Adoption into God’s family
When a person is Baptized into the Church, the biological
family gives control of the individual over to the Church.
The individual’s primary relationship is no longer with their
family but with the Church. At the altar, the Church assigns
the congregation its mission: the role of the parent.
Baptism as adoption
The whole community needs to be present during the
Baptism. This is seen when an emergency lay Baptism is
dedicated later in the midst of the congregation.
Holy Communion
Comes from several different traditions: Passover, the
feeding of the 5000, and informal meal eaten with a teacher
and students.
Celebrates the freedom from slavery in Egypt. Passover is
celebrated every year in the Jewish year (April 23-24,
2005.). The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke
indicate that the Last Supper was held during this festival.

Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22

Feeding of the five thousand
In the Gospel according to John, around the time of the
Passover Jesus was feeding the 5000, Jesus was washing the
feet of the disciples, Jesus was praying to God like a high
priest, and then after the Resurrection, Jesus cooked a meal
fish that they ate with bread.

John 6:1-15 - Feeding of the 5000

John 13 - Washing the disciples’ feet
John 14 - High Priestly Prayer
John 21 - Post resurrection meal of fish
Chaburah meal
This meal was traditionally eaten the day before Passover by
the teacher and his students.
Paul’s record
It seems that what Paul describes in I Corinthians 11:23 is a
Chaburah meal. One also can see Paul’s writing change
from a rhetorical style into a liturgical style. Since the
liturgy is so “polished” most writers assume that Paul is
quoting from an earlier tradition.

Since this is the oldest tradition, it probably is the most accurate.

I Corinthians 11
22 What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you
show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have
nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this
matter I do not commend you! 23 For I received from the Lord
what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when
he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given
thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do
this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup
also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my
blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim
the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the
bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be
answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.

The italic text describes a Chaburah meal. The teacher is present, the students are present, a meal happens, and
then the wine is finished off.
Changes to the Chaburah
This is my body.
In the Greek, it says “soma,” which indicates a person, that
is somebody. The Greek does not say “sarx,” which means
flesh or carcass. So Jesus is telling us that He is really
present in the meal.

If this statement was in Aramaic, it would be rendered as “This me.” since the language has not form of the verb
to be.
Traditionally, Chaburah started around 10:00 am and
continued to sundown.

This could be viewed as a long staff conference.

This Cup
At the end of the meal, whatever wine was left over was
poured into a single bowl and everyone was expected to
drink from it. This last drink was called the “cup of
blessing.” It tops off the occasion and it is a toast to the
next meal that we have together.
Cup saying
This cup (of blessing) is the new relationship between God
and humanity that is found in Christ’s blood. When we drink
from this cup (of blessing) with others, we have a full share
of God’s blessings.

This cup --- new covenant in my blood (if Jesus was speaking Aramaic)
otherwise: This cup, which is the cup of blessing, is the new covenant in my blood.
The changes in Holy Communion are seen in the New

Location Bread Wine

I Corinthians New covenant in my
11:23-26 blood
my blood of the
Mark 14:22-24 person
my blood of the
Matthew 26:26-28 person

Luke 22:17-19 person divide and share

John 6:51-59 flesh blood

Mark 14:22-24

22 While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after

blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is
my body." 23 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he
gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24 He said to
them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for
Matthew 26:26-28

26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after
blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take,
eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took a cup, and after giving
thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you; 28
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for
many for the forgiveness of sins.

Communion is not for the forgiveness of sin. Christ’s blood is shed for the forgiveness of sin.
Luke 22:17-20

17 Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said,

"Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you
that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom of God comes." 19 Then he took a loaf
of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and
gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given
for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And he did the
same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup that is
poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Communion is not for the forgiveness of sin. Christ’s blood is shed for the forgiveness of sin.
John 6:51-59
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this
bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world
is my flesh." 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can
this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell
you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have
no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal
life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and
my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide
in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because
of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread
that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they
died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 59 He said these
things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.
Themes of Holy Communion
Commonality: The elements are common. The meal is
shared in a community.
Themes of Holy Communion
Past is the Present: Jesus is our contemporary.
Celebration and Thanksgiving: We look to the future and
toast the Kingdom of God since this is a foretaste of the feast
that will come.

Communion is not for the forgiveness of sin. Christ’s blood is shed for the forgiveness of sin.
Benefits of the Meal
You do not have to know how the bread is made nor do you
need to know about its composition to get nourishment. In
other words, you do not need the recipe to receive God’s

Not waiting until you feel worthy is like only going to the doctor after your broken arm has healed.
Infant Communion
No one understands Holy Communion. I do not need the
recipe of a hamburger to eat it. I eat for the benefits that the
hamburger brings.