I mentioned yesterday in the blog that I had slightly revised a sermon from Martin Franzmann that had to do with the fact that Christ came to earth without any friends and bound them with His love. It is a part of a truly wonderful sermon that was given to the students of Concordia Seminary St. Louis way back in 1969 at chapel. It is a marvelous piece of work. It is funny. It is deadly serious. It is right on with it’s descriptions of the human condition. It is spot on in its bringing to mind the way of the world back in 1969 that we are seeing rising up today when people scream in protest about an election that, “this is my country” and millions of dollars are spent on advertising to tell half of us that we are stupid and deplorable. When we watch rocks and bottles thrown in Ferguson and Balitmore we are back in the 60’s and suffering from Deja vu. I would like to say that all of the nonsense that we see today started back in those days because I was there. I wore bell bottomed jeans and an old Army field jacket as my uniform. I breathed the heady breath of rebellion on the campus at Boulder CO and cowered in the hall of a dorm when the real rebellion came calling in the form of the Black Panthers. I saw the bewilderment on the faces of stalwart Missouri Synod types as they entered their Synodical Convention in Denver Co wading among long haired types with gas masks on. I would like to say that it started then – in 1969 when all hell seemed to literally be breaking out but…… let Franzmann explain. I will add some translation. For instance when he lays down some Latin – “simul justus et peccator” . That was Luther’s famous phrase that we are at the same time saints and sinners, and Franzmann’s point is that we are also admitting that we are at the same time in English, slobs and kooks. This may seem long but it is well worth it.
CHAPEL ADDRESS – Concordia Seminary
Text-Isaiah 57:15 Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and revive the heart of the contrite.
In Christ Jesus dearly beloved: I have great admiration for the historical people who say, “Our age will undoubtedly go down in history as the age of something-or-other” -say the age of effeminate men and women in bell-bottomed trousers. But I cannot but view these predictions with considerable reserve, and it is with the consciousness that I speak as a fool that I venture one of my own: “Our times will go down in history as the age of the slob and the era of the kook.”
Not that there are more slobs and kooks now than there have been heretofore or probably shall be hereafter; the supply seems to be fairly constant. But they are noisier than they used to be, and are taken more seriously than they once were. And they have mastered the art of making all nonslobs and antikooks feel vaguely guilty for not being slobs and kooks also. You begin to feel that every year you have lived beyond thirty amounts to an accumulation of guilt. Both slob and kook live by simple creeds tenaciously held. The creed of the slob (according to the best texts) is: “I am as good as anybody; this is an undebatable proposition and a nonnegotiable position. Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, (Luther’s words at Worms – Here I stand I can do no other) so help me, I.” And the creed of the kook runs: “Any idea is valid so long as I entertain it. This is an incontrovertible proposition and a nonnegotiable position. Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders, so help me, I.” The fact that they cannot say, “So help me, God,” takes something from the solemnity of their affirmations, but they make up for this by repetition and the use of solid punctuation, like bricks or bottles. Slob and kook tend, of course, to crossbreed, with the result that one is confronted with many mixed types and it is rather difficult to obtain pure specimens for purposes of analysis. But the characteristics of the slob would seem to be these: He sees no face that has in it what he would fain call master. He sees no burning bush before which he is moved to remove the shoes off from his feet. He sees no daily beauty in another’s life that makes his ugly. He may have the sexual morals of an alley cat, the social responsibility of a barnacle, and the vision of an earthworm; but this does not deter him from his huge embracing contempt for other men’s morality. If someone demonstrates for decency, his answer is: “Why aren’t you demonstrating against the establishment?” His ideal is a world full of slobs all slobbing it up together in a littered slob clubroom, where the assurance that he is everybody’s equal is daily made double sure. The kook is in an enviable position; he is the center of the universe and the measure of all things. He has met all arguments in advance and can deal with all contradiction, either by not listening or by screaming: “I have said it thrice, and what I say thrice is true.” His ideal would be a world in which his voice is the voice of the guru, while millions sit cross-legged at his feet absorbing his syllable in meditative vacuity.
Neither slob nor kook is a new phenomenon. The first slob came into the world when man first heard and believed the words: “You shall be like God.” The first kook was born when man first listened to that first “Yea, hath God said?” -when man’s heart grew proud because of his beauty and he “corrupted his wisdom for the sake of his splendor” (Ezek. 28: 17). Slob and kook are religious phenomenon Both are fighting against God, and both know that it is a losing battle. Both are scared to death (which makes them cruel, of course). The slob will leap head first into the nearest manhole if he ever has to face facts and shed the convictions of his slobbery. The kook will become a wall-climbing maniac if he ever has to face the fact that his idee fixe (a fixed idea that is resistant to attempt to change by common sense or facts) may become unfixed. Poor slob. Poor kook. Poor us. You theologians have, of course, long recognized that we are not talking only of them; we are talking about us. If we say, as say we must, Simul justus et peccator, we are saying: Simul iustus et quod Anglice dicitur – slob; simul iustus et quod Anglice dicitur – kook. We document slobbery every time we answer a brother’s “Good morning!” with a weltschmerzlich grunt (weltschmerz = world misery), and we demonstrate our kookery every time a theological (or any other) discussion generates more heat than light. We are all interested in what God has done about the slob and the kook. Nostra res agitur (it is our business). The gospel of the Ascension (and incarnation) concerns us all. What has He done, this high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy? Between Him and the slob-kook there is a great gulf fixed; and it would remain forever fixed but for the one incredible fact that God is God and not man, that His love is like no other love we know. God did not take PoIonius’ advice: “Those friends thou hast, and their affection tried, fasten them to thy soul with hoops of steel.” (If you have friends and they have proven to be friends, hang onto them like grim death). God had no friends; He had only slobs and kooks to work with, and He knew their “affections” all too well-they were weak, ungodly, sinners, enemies. And yet, and yet He spoke in Christ the Yes to all His promises; He fastened us kooks and slobs to His soul with hoops of steel-hoops of steel forged on an earth whose very air was agony to His Son (“How long am I to be with you?”), forged in a fire which only One could endure, aIbeit with a cry; forged with the hammer of wrath, beaten out on the anvil of suffering love, annealed by blood and water from Christ’s riven side, finished with the power of love mightier than death, burnished with the shining splendor of the resurrection, made everlastingly bright and beautiful with the flashing finality of the ascension. Here are hoops of steel that no heat of hell and no fires of affliction can melt. Here is God’s ultimate Yes to all His promises. “Safety is no accident,” the slogan says. Peace is not fighting. It is as simple as that.
What is the “contrite and humble spirit” but the realization that the slob and kook are fighting a war that is over, are fearing a fear that is empty? God has set a higher value on the slob than even the most quintessential slob ever dreamed of putting on himself. He has given him the nonnegotiable position of being son of God (the position which the Son would not negotiate!). He has given the poor fighting, frightened kook an idee more fixe than any he has ever spun from his entrails: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He has revived all us walking dead. “God is gone up with a shout,” we sing at the Feast of the Ascension. The church is God’s reverberating shout, the shout of triumph of the Holy One, His triumph over all slobbery and kookery. That’s what the Reformation was all about -that God’s shout be heard again above the tinkling ornaments of ecclesiastical bravery. That’s what this school is all about; that’s what our ministry is all about. Shout! For heaven’s sake, for God’s sake, for the Ascension’s sake don’t get lost in argument about it and evermore come out by the same door wherein you went -shout! For the sake of all poor slobs and kooks on whom the blessing of the Ascension still falls – shout!