The Glory Has Departed
Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence
Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Herman Sasse on the church, which was undergoing severe troubles in the 1950s,
"Consider the single fact that the vast expanse of China, with its soon to be 600 millions people, one of the largest and most promising mission fields of the earth, is not closed to Christian missions, insofar as this is not carried out by brave and faithful Chinese confessors and martyrs. It is a catastrophe as large as the decline of the old Nestorian church once was, which endured from the Near East to the Far East for centuries, until the late Middle Ages. It is one of church history's divine mysteries, which we will never understand in this life, why God leads His church through such declines. Perhaps the martyrdom which is running its course behind the Iron Curtain and other curtains is, in His eyes, much greater than everything which missions have done for building the church. And perhaps, even here, the blood of the martyrs will be the seed of the church.
"But what must shock us even more deeply than the fact that the church is led through martyrdom--the Lord did, after all, predict that--is something else. THE CHURCH IS NOT DYING FROM MARTYRDOM, BUT FROM APOSTASY." [Herman Sasse, Letters to Lutheran Pastors Vol 2, CPH, St Louis, 2014, pg 316, emphasis mine]