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Topics - Tom Eckstein

Somewrites, I have a sincere and honest question for you that I will clarify below (and others are welcome to comment as well):

Someonewrites, if I understand your postion correctly,  even though you are open to consider evidence for "God" (that is, a personal being or mind separate from space/time/matter), at this point your default position is atheism and that means, if I understand you correctly, you assume "materialism" (that reality is made up of impersonal space/time/matter with no separate Mind) is your view of reality until convinced otherwise.  Correct?

If my above understading of your position is correct, then my question for you is this:  If your default position is athiesm and, therefore, materialism, then do you agree that any experience you have whereby you are reflecting on the nature of reality is actually a meaningless illusion and nothing more than the meaningless result of the random interactions of a myriad of mindless molecules?  Therefore, if your default position is materialism, then we are waisting our time believing we are having meaninful discussions on this forum since any thoughts or assertions we may have are the meaningless result of the random interactions of a myriad of mindless molecules, correct?

However, if you want to assert that our discussios have objective meaning, then for that assertion to be meaningful you must assume a personal and rational and meaningful "God" or "Mind" outside of space/time/matter as the source of our meaningful assertions about reality, correct?

In other words, in order for you to have any kind of meaningful discussion with us, you must deny your atheism and, at least, assert the existense of a personal "Mind" who is separate from and the cause of space/time/matter.  Correct?

Someone, what are your thoughts on this?  If I understand your position correctly, I've always wondered how atheists who assert the objective reality of materialism due to the supposed lack of evidence for theism (irony?) can justify that their assertion has any meaning or purpose.

Some of you may be familiar with the "old earth creation" organization, Reasons to Believe ( see here: ).  The  primary spokesman for RTB is a man by the name of Hugh Ross.  Even though Hugh Ross asserts that neither Scripture nor Science supports the idea that all life evolved from a common ancestor, he believes that both Scripture and Science supports that the earth is billions of years old.  So, how does Hugh square this with Scripture?  He believes that the "days" of Genesis were long ages (millions of years) during which God intervened many times and created by fiat the various kinds of animals we find in the fossil record.  Here is a summary from their web page of what RTB believes about this:  "Hugh Ross has been on the frontier of making the biblical and scientific case against Darwinism for more than two decades. RTB scholars believe that God miraculously intervened throughout the history of the universe in various ways millions, possibly even billions, of times to create each and every new species of life on Earth."  This view is what many call "progressive creation."

With the above in mind, I have read other "old earth" views that believe that God created various life forms over the course of 6 NORMAL days, but that "Day 1" begins with Genesis 1:3.  This is known as the "Gap theory," that is, there is a "gap of time" (millions/billions of years?) between Genesis 1:1-2 and Genesis 1:3, and during this "gap of time" God created space/time/matter and a primordial earth.  During this "gap of time" God also supposedly created the angels and various other life forms -  which may or may not have been extinct by the time God started making earth habitable for human life on "Day 1," that is, Genesis 1:3.  So, the "Gap theory" would allow for an old earth as well as other life forms existing BEFORE God created other life forms by fiat during the normal 6 days of creation.

Now, as an LCMS pastor, I find these two views interesting, but not convincing.  However, would it necessarily be "heretical" for an LCMS pastor to hold to either of these views as long as they believed in an historical Adam and Eve and confessed with Scripture that there was no HUMAN death before the Fall?  (Just fyi, Hugh Ross of RTB believes there was ANIMAL death before the Fall, but no HUMAN death before the Fall.  See this article about animal death:

Below is an recent article by Dr. Robert Gagnon on whether faithful Christians should attend the gay "wedding" of their child or other loved one.  What are your thoughts on his advice?

Below is a link to a 2014 article from Christianity Today which states that Thrivent chooses to remain neutral on issues of "abortion, gays and guns."

However, below is a link to a 2023 article where it shows that Thrivent is one of several companies that are hosting the 2023 Twin Cities Pride Festival.

Have any of you heard of other examples where Thrivent is no longer neutral on "gay pride" or "abortion" ?
A friend of mine who identifies himself as a "faithful gay Christian" suggested I start this thread.

However, before you all start answering the question of this thread, allow me to make some clarifications and also offer some rules for posting on this thread:


1.  By "Faithful Lutheran Congregation" I mean congregations who believe God's will for sex is 1) being single and celibate 
       OR 2) sex between ONE man and ONE woman in marriage.

2.  By "Faithful Gay Christian" I mean a person who is sexually attracted to the same-sex but agrees with Scripture that ALL forms
       of same-sex lust or behavior are sinful and so this person is either  1) single and celibate  OR  2) married to
        person  of the opposite sex and has sex with only him/her.   Also, if this "Faithful Gay Christian"
        engages in same-sex behavior  during a  moment of weakness he/she would repent, trust in Christ for forgiveness and strive
        to do better rather that justifying or  affirming his/her sin.

3.  Some faithful Christians refer to themselves as "gay" or "homosexual" NOT because they affirm same-sex lust or behavior but
      because they use those terms to point out that they have always been attracted to the same sex.  This is not a choice they
      made.  It is important for them that we all understand that merely being "tempted" is not a sin. We sin when we
      engage in same-sex LUST or BEHAVIOR and especially when we affirm it without repentance.  But the notion that one cannot
      be a Christian and also be "homosexual" (that is, attracted to the same sex) has led many faithful gay Christians to feel
      condemned simply because they are tempted differently than most other people.


1.  NO arguments about why you think same-sex behavior between consenting adults is NOT sinful.  Start another
        thread if you want to make that argument.

2.  NO arguments about why faithful Christians should NOT call themselves "gay" or "homosexual" as though this is
       wrong or confusing.  I realize that good arguments can be made for this, but this is NOT the thread for that.  Start another
       thread if you want to have that discussion.

So, in view of the clarifications and rules for posting above, feel free to answer the question:  "How Can Faithful Lutheran Congregations Better Serve Faithful Gay Christians?"
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe one thing that Lutherans, Roman Catholics and the Orthodox have in common is that we believe God wants ALL to be saved and that His Son died for ALL.

With that in mind, what do we do with Jesus' words in Matthew 11:21, which reads:  "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."  This gets us into the whole mystery of what some call God's "middle knowledge."

Simply put, if God really wants ALL to be saved, then why did He not do what WOULD HAVE resulted in the salvation of Tyre and Sidon?  (Or Judas?)

Of course, the answer Calvinists give is that God really does NOT want all to be saved.

But for Lutherans, Roman Catholics and Orthodox who DO believe God's wants all to be saved (and we also believe God allows us to RESIST His Holy Spirit and His desire to save us), how do we answer the mystery of Tyre and Sidon?

Some have suggested that since God allows us sinners to RESIST His grace (WHY He does that is another discussion!), He then used His foreknowledge to create the "best possible universe," that is, a universe where the circumstances are such that the "most possible amount of people" would NOT resist His grace.  This means that if we assume that the CURRENT universe is the "best possible universe" for the "most possible amount of people" to be saved, then it is the "best possible universe" for the ELECT but NOT for Tyre, Sidon or Judas, etc.  In other words, in an alternate universe where circumstances were such that Tyre, Sidon and Judas would have REPENTED, then maybe many others who DID repent in THIS universe would NOT have repented in the alternate universe where Tyre, Sidon and Judas WOULD HAVE repented.

Of course, this is all speculation for those who attempt to understand how God's desire that ALL be saved harmonizes with Matthew 11:21.  Thoughts?
Many of you many know of Dr. Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice (see here: )  Gagnon agrees with the LCMS on abortion and sexuality. 

However, Gagnon recently gave a lecture wherein he challenges the Lutheran view of the Lord's Supper and also argues that the LCMS practice of "closed communion" (as well as the same practice among Roman Catholics and the Orthodox) is sinful sacrilege.   

Below is a link to a Youtube view of his lecture on these topics.  His actual lecture starts around the 5:30 mark and ends around the 49:00 mark, after which he takes Q & A.  So it's about a 43 minute lecture.

I thought it would be interesting to read what Lutherans (as well as Roman Catholic and the Orthodox) on ALPB think of Gagnon's arguments AGAINST 1) the "real presence" of Christ's Body and Blood in the Lord's Supper and 2) the practice of "closed communion."
Your Turn / A Christian view of Thanksgiving
November 23, 2022, 12:30:32 PM
Here is an article I wrote that will appear in this Saturday's (11/26) edition of our community's paper, The Jamestown Sun.
Interesting article.  Many believed that "bound conscience" was a joke and would never last.
As Christians, we support civil laws against things like murder, theft, rape and even slander/defamation.  I'm curious, how many of you think our nation should have laws against fornication and adultery?  If so, what would such laws look like and how would they be enforced?  What should be the penalty for breaking such laws?  Would it be better or worse for our society if we had such laws?
Many who believe abortion should be legal have given up attempting to deny that a "fetus" is a human being because science shows that from the moment of conception we have a developing human being with a unique DNA all her own.  Therefore, such pro-abortion people argue that just as we can't be FORCED to save another human's life by donating one of our kidneys a woman also can't be FORCED to donate her uterus to save the life of her child.   There are many problems with this argument, but the article linked below does as good a job as any.
"As Priestess Witch for herchurch, Christine offers magical gifts to share and enhance the support and development of herchurch. The monthly astrological reading provides guidance from the stars and is a favorite among many. Together we honor the natural cycles of the year, the Solstices and Equinoxes, and thank the Earth for her bounty. Small group gatherings provide inspiration and direct our attention to instinct and intuition helping us to discover ways to connect to the divinity of nature and thereby the Divine."
In light of the fact that we just celebrated Reformation Sunday I thought I would mention the following:

In McGrath's famous book "Iustitia Dei" he argues that Luther's doctrine of justification was an historical novelty.

How would we Lutherans respond to this assertion?  The Lutheran view of justification is seen by some as a "legal fiction" - as though God declares us righteous without any actual change taking place within us.  McGrath asserts this is Luther's view of justification.  However, I think McGrath is in error.  Luther and Lutherans believe that the justification that is "extra nos" results in a new birth, that is, that one is changed from being an unbeliever into a repentant believer - although we still have a sinful nature this side of the parousia.  Therefore, we are "sinners and saints" at the same time - but only SAINTS before God in Christ!

Simply put, we are righteous before God because of Christ's work alone, but this does not mean that there has been no change IN US.   However, this change IN US is not part of the "process of justification" but the RESULT of a justification before God that is full and complete in Christ.  This view of justification can certainly be found in the early Church Fathers - albeit not explicated with the same systematic language as found in the Reformers.  The book "Long Before Luther" addresses that issue:

In case you're interested, this debate takes place tomorrow (7/24) at 2PM central time:
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