I am writing this late in the evening from my hotel room. I am sitting here at my computer, trying to put into words the day’s experiences. We have heard and learned so much; it will take some time to really digest it all.
After Matins, Rev. Todd Wilken gave the first half of his plenary address entitled “What Lutheran Education Need to Teach Regarding the Gospel.” Although the second half of this two-part lecture was given later in the day, I will summarize both parts at once.
Rev. Wilken stated that the Gospel is (1) historical, (2) textual, and (3) personal. The Gospel is historical because the death of Jesus on the cross is a real, historical event. In fact, the death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of human history, and the purposeof human history. He said that the Gospel is historical in a way that no other historical event is historical. It is the only historical event that is still accessible to us today. This pivotal event in human history, the fulcrum of human history, is brought forward in time to those who hear the Gospel. Rev. Wilken pointed out that the essence of Lutheran theology is the presence of Jesus Christ. In other words, Lutheran theology is a sacramentaltheology. (Rev. Wilken quoted the words of our Lord at the end of Matthew 28: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”) Jesus is present every time we receive His Body and Blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. The Sacraments connect the historical event of Jesus’ death to us here and now. Therefore, we need to teach our children that the Gospel, even though it is a historical event, is found on Sunday morning in church.
The Gospel is textual because it is found in the words of Holy Scripture. We know no Jesus apart from the one we find in Scripture. He explained the term “plenary verbal inspiration” of Scripture. “Inspiration” means “spoken by God.” “Verbal” refers to “words.” And “plenary” pertains to “all.” Therefore, the Lutheran understanding is that all words in the Bible are spoken by God. Each word is important, especially the little ones! This really speaks for the importance for pastors to study God’s Word in its original languages as they prepare their sermons.
The Gospel is personal. By this Rev. Wilken means that the Gospel is the person of Jesus Christ.
It was a very thought-provoking lecture, and what I will be left pondering for the next few days or more is what this all means in the context of schooling our children.
I will not go into detail about any of the breakout sessions right now, but will hopefully have a chance to blog a bit more about some of them when I get back home. I do have some excellent news for all those who are interested in hearing some of these sessions, including the two by Rev. Wilken: all of today’s sessions were recorded! I believe they will be made available sometime after the conference on the CCLE website.