May 092017
 

When denominations think they’re God’s chosen group…

The living and the dead in Christ…

Weeds and crap sandwiches…

A Democrat walks into a church…

Why pursuing sanctification is more than just remembering justification…

A tale of two pastors…Mark Driscoll and a medieval…

If contentment feels elusive, read this book…

How liturgy simplifies worship for the cognitively impaired…

Why conservatives shouldn’t celebrate Trump’s religious liberty order…

The cure for an identity crisis…

The religious origins of fake news and alternative facts…

Survivor blogging trends 2017…

Why the church doesn’t need anymore coffee bars…

Goodbye, left and right…

Is suicide the unforgivable sin?

God’s not angry with you…

Why sharing is not the answer…and what is…

Violence is a formation issue…

Do Christians overvalue empathy?

When writing is all we’ve got…

Religion based hate crimes on the rise…

Biblical authority after Babel…

A matter of providence…

Cleaning up the UMC…

Luther and Calvin’s quiet discussions in heaven…

Love trumps everything…

The three necessary societies…

Just because I try to be fair… progressive evangelicals health care shaming…

One mans departure from evangelicalism…

Hurtful sheep and bullied shepherds…

As always, support EricL at top right…especially if you have a book you want to publish…

  141 Responses to “Linkathon!”

  1. The Coffee Bar story? I am still wiping a few tears away.

  2. My friend Rick gave us that one…good call.

  3. From the article, “Cleaning Up the UMC…”

    “Because of the current crisis over sexuality that threatens to destroy this once-vibrant connection, we are at the ideal time to clear away the clutter, clean out our closets and rid ourselves of anything but the essentials of serving together.”

    The article is an absolute travesty.

    When was the UMC last “vibrant”?
    Is it the folks who believe in marriage between a man and a woman at fault for the loss of this vibrancy?
    Since when did the “essentials” of a church boil down to “serving together”?

    And to top it all off, let’s clean out our closet of things like “relying on the Bible.”

    I hope no one comes to my door unaware during the next 15 minutes. 🙂

  4. Jean,

    The Lord told me you needed increased blood flow… 🙂

  5. #3 Jean

    The Episcopal Church tried this first… and two-thirds of the people left.

  6. Duane,
    I actually saw a discussion on FB among some UMC folks talking about joining forces with the Episcopal Church if inclusion doesn’t win the day, so they can have some where to go where the liturgy is still used.

    Man how I wish God would raise up a Jonah…to scare the living s**t out of these dear straying sheep.

  7. – The Coffee Bar. Yes. Oh yes. I’m not saying there’s a dichotomy, but your kickin’ worship band (as Michael Spencer used to say) and cutesy sermon illustrations are worthless if the church puts widows and fatherless on the back burner.

    – The religious right’s role in the creation of alternate facts. Sorry, I had the opposite reaction it this — more eye rolling and laughing. Anyone remember 20 years ago when a President committing perjury didn’t matter because we can’t determine what the meaning of “Is” is? Remember the strained explanations because Ken Starr was teh evil? Remember progressive Christians reading alternate takes into David and Johnathan to insinuate a homosexual relationship? Remember liberal Christians telling us to vote for Hillary because her lying was more manageable?

    I do not trust Trump and I think the people that were early supporters of him have much to answer for. The prosperity/dominionist circles were willing to commit spiritual seppuku to get next to the new President. But please spare us the theatrics Mr. Douglas.

  8. [The French election] featured the leader of a longtime and once-marginal nationalist party against a political chameleon who presented himself as an earnest technocrat.

    _______________________________

    The frightening thing is that no one is even ashamed to admit they are a technocrat anymore. Might as well run with the slogan “Elitists will save your unwashed self from itself!” or “Vote either way – it doesn’t matter!”

  9. #6 Jean

    The downward spiral has its own momentum. It’s remnant theology, but from the liberal side. As the people leave, the chorus becomes, “We’re better off without them…” Suddenly, 20 years down the line, they look around and see empty churches and empty bank accounts. Then they throw up their hands and say, “How did this happen?”

    I’m not a fan of remnant theology whether from the right or from the left…

  10. My youth pastor from my jr. high and high school days has since moved on to be a pastor at a Methodist church. I have seen him only a couple times since, but am connected on Facebook and he would seem to still be quite orthodox and conservative in his theological beliefs. His current church would seem to be the same in beliefs as far as I can tell.

    I am one to think that we are too quick to divide in the church over issues of secondary importance. However, I find it difficult to see how the apparent divergence of views that exists in a denomination with codified doctrine, rules, and structures such as the UMC can last for much longer.

  11. Kevin H,
    The problem is not always with the individual churches and pastors but the denomination. It is the same with the ELCA – they have gone to seed, and they are apostate. However, some churches and pastors give the denomination the finger and carry on.

  12. MLD,

    But the ELCA and the LCMS, etc., etc. are all separate denominations. There is not just one central Lutheran denomination that houses all the varying views and beliefs. With the UMC, at this point, they are all within the same denomination. That’s what I don’t see as sustainable. Especially as the way you put it, some churches and pastors are giving the denomination the finger. (Or they are trying to significantly change the denominations codified doctrine and rules to their own beliefs.)

  13. #10 Kevin

    As in the Episcopal Church, there are many in the UMC who are holding on. I’m afraid, however, that in 30 years you will have to look in a dictionary to find out what an Episcopalian might have been. The UMC, unfortunately, will not be far behind…

  14. Are all Methodists a part of the UMC?
    Are Southern Methodists UMC?

  15. Duane,

    I’m not real familiar with the UMC, but I see the example of my former youth pastor and his current church and then I read articles like the one posted here today and I wonder how they can co-exist within the same denomination. Unfortunately, you’re probably right in how you see the future of the UMC.

  16. MLD,

    I’m not sure what all official Methodist denominations there may be. But within what is the official UMC denomination, there sure seems to be quite a variation in beliefs. The UMC may be the 1954 Philadelphia A’s. 😉

  17. #14 MLD

    There is a small Southern Methodist Church denomination – it has about 100 churches with 6000 people.

  18. Kevin H
    “The UMC may be the 1954 Philadelphia A’s. 😉”

    Did you read the article this morning?

  19. Duane – but they play football right – that’s all that matters? SMU

  20. #19 MLD

    Nope, SMU is UMC…

  21. MLD,

    Yeah I read it, thus the reference. The 1954 Philadelphia A’s usually aren’t on the top of my mind and otherwise wouldn’t have made it to the PP today. 🙂

  22. Hopefully Calvin repented of his persecution and murders or he might not make it to heaven when Christ comes to raise the dead

  23. same goes for Luther and his persecution of anabaptists and satanic antisemitism

  24. Mariner,

    It’s been ages since someone posted that sort of inane comment about Calvin here…can’t say I’ve missed it much…

    Could you point me to the church historians you must be noting that spout such nonsense before I rip your statement?

  25. Mariner,

    I see now…it’s from the same volume that branded Luther as anti-Semitic…which is a very lame understanding of Luther.

  26. Once again, we have banjoes as background music…

  27. of course you will make excuses for your idols. Martin Luther did write “the Jews and their lies”

  28. I guess for a Protestant all that matter is right theology not right living

  29. Mariner,

    My idols are Fran Tarkenton and Jerry Lee Lewis…lets talk history first…

  30. Well let’s not forget that the Anglicans killed my boy Robert Barnes. Now we are all in 🙂

  31. they espouse systematic theology but not focus on being Christlike

  32. Mariner,

    Let’s talk about why Luther wrote that…it wasn’t because he was anti-Semitic…it’s indefensible, but lets get the motivation correct…

  33. Mariner,

    How much of Calvin have you actually read?
    Luther?

    Do you understand that they lived in a much different world than we do?

  34. Mariner,

    Please tell me who Calvin murdered and by what authority he did so.
    We’ll wait while we listen to Buck Owens as you gather your thoughts…

  35. Michael Severtus, Christians are not authorized by Christ to put heretics to death.

    The Anabaptists lived in the same time period and with the exception of the munsterites they were peaceful

  36. ” he might not make it to heaven when Christ comes to raise the dead” soul sleep? isn’t that a doctrine of SDAs?

  37. the first Anabaptists were soul sleeprs

  38. Mariner,

    I knew that was coming.

    Let’s talk about what really happened…

    In the 16th century European nation state (or city-state in the case of Geneva) “heresy” was equal to “treason” as the government and the religion were usually one and the same. If you opposed the state religion, you were acting in opposition to the state.

    Both heresy and treason were capital offenses.

    We bristle at such today… it’s easy to impose our values on other times,but it bears little fruit.

    Servetus was already condemned by the Roman Catholic church…he escaped a prison in France the night before they were set to hang him…and made a beeline for Geneva.

    He was arrested and set for trial…and as the chief pastor of geneva, Calvin would have to prosecute the theological side of the charges.

    He had neither the power to arrest, convict, or sentence anyone…that was a very tightly held privilege of the city council.

    Servetus was found guilty of both charges and burned…by the city council.

    Calvin spent much time begging Servetus to repent and pled for a more merciful execution when he refused.

    That’s the real story…while it is regrettable indeed that this was the way of the church then, it certainly doesn’t equal murder on the part of Calvin.

  39. fine, now i’ve got dueling banjos and that strange fellow Buck O in my conscious thinking… got to go find me some Placido Domingo music to rinse my brain 🙂

    sometimes it seems to me that we should let sleeping theologians … sleep
    a little bit of Calvin, a little bit of Luther and so on – line upon line and precept upon precept
    i love the Psalms, but David killed an innocent patriot – he was a man

  40. Now, let’s deal with Luther…

    Luther wasn’t against the Jews based on their race, which would be anti-Semitic.

    He was enraged that they wouldn’t convert to Christianity and thus in his mind became enemies of the faith.

    Luther had end times madness…he believed the return of Christ was imminent…the Gospel had been recovered and the Anti-Christ had been revealed in Rome.

    The time was short and conversions had to happen now…but the Jews would not.

    So…let’s indict Luther for all manner of things, but let’s also understand his true motivation.

    We can still celebrate and learn from the things he wrote which were wondrous.

  41. “now i’ve got dueling banjos and that strange fellow Buck O in my conscious thinking…”

    Sorry… I may have Buck playing in my mind all day now too…

  42. what about what Jesus told James and John when they wanted to bring fire on their enemies?

  43. Mariner,

    The history of the church is littered with violence and scandal.
    My point is not to excuse any of it, but to understand it in it’s context so that we can learn from both our mistakes and our triumphs.

    To try to erase giants like Luther and Calvin based on their sins and mistakes is the work of an ignoramus…to try to minimize the impact of their works because of their sin is the same.

    When you come on this blog and say that Calvin cared nothing about holy living, all you’re really saying is that you’ve never read Calvin or the records of the Genevan churches and the consistory.

    To imply that one sect is superior to another purely on the worst examples of their founders lives is foolish as well.

    You’ve taught us nothing about being an Anabaptist (which I assume you are) you’ve only taught us that you don’t own any history books worth reading.

    May I suggest that you will further your cause more by telling us what is positive about your group…

  44. Thank you for posting the Democrat walking into church article. Articulates what I think/feel.
    Been seriously contemplating a church across town because it identifies itself as a “social justice” church.
    I’m just not sure what that means theologically, so haven’t gone.
    Plus, I think I still am not as liberal as being ok with everything “open and affirming” means. But, I’m thinking I just another guest at the table, I don’t get to make up the guest list or tell the Host who He should or shouldn’t have invited in.

  45. London,

    Thanks for reading it!
    Hope you find a comfortable church home…I’m not quite that liberal myself,but sometimes those places are better than the alternative…

  46. Michael

    Not to ignite an argument, but I’ve always been more concerned about Luther and the Peasants Revolt…

  47. weeds and crap sandwiches…a fresh, unpolished voice.

    simple, helpful article on suicide.

    coffee bar article…home run.

    carry on.

  48. Duane,
    I would have gone there if Mariner did…along with helping Phillip’s bigamy. 🙂

  49. Duane,

    From my perspective, anything about Luther is fair game. I think he was a brilliant theologian, but lived at a time when there was no separation of church and state. In such an environment, the same man may be speaking one minute as a pastor and the next as a state citizen and adviser to princes on temporal matters.

    The other think is that the whole notion of peasantry is abhorrent to us today in America, as is the fact that there was no religious liberty back then.

    On the other hand, Luther was a sinner and knew he was a sinner, and was saved by his recovery of Pauline theology of salvation by grace through faith.

    Imagine opening your Bible one night and finding something (something important) that runs contrary to everything you’ve ever been taught, the beliefs of all your friends, your own beliefs, the beliefs of colleagues and family, and the church you’re a part of. What would you do?

  50. #48 Michael… yes…

    #49 Jean

    Yes, I know, but he translated the political to the spiritual… always dangerous. Then or now…

    In answer to your last question, that’s what happened to this poor Calvary Chapel pastor when he first read the Lightfoot translation of the Apostolic Fathers!

  51. Duane,

    Could your clarify this: “Yes, I know, but he translated the political to the spiritual… always dangerous. Then or now…”

    I’m not sure what you meant, but in my reading of Luther, he is consistent that neither the church nor the state may compel anyone to believe the Gospel or go to church. He wanted the state to stay out kingdom matters (i.e., the spiritual kingdom of Christ’s reign by faith). Similarly, he was clear that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and therefore in the left hand kingdom, government ran under the Law and not under grace.

  52. I think what Luther spoke of in a sense of spiritual freedom, the peasant leadership took to apply to the political and civil realm — which really was more in the wheelhouse of Zwingli and Müntzer.

    But Luther was the big dog and the fingers pointed towards him. But if I remember right, Luther told the peasants to back down or they would be crushed by the civil government – and they were.

    Luther’s mistake was he should have just walked away from the beginning.

  53. #52 MLD

    Agreed. He should have just walked away….
    Not all can be explained by Law and Gospel.

  54. “Not all can be explained by Law and Gospel.”

    All scripture can, well actually all scripture must be explained by the proper distinction of law and gospel.

    Civil unrest? not so much. 🙂

  55. Liked the article about Trump’s religious executive order. Much ado about very little.

    Fortunately, this tin-pot tyrant is showing his true colors.

    He’s more like a performance artist, not a president.

  56. Love the links a few observation strictly emotional and old mind tapes no relation to reality.

    Fill in about 14 paragraphs of brian “isms” with some of my very best negative nasties with some wonderful tidbits about pragmatism and other such rhetoric.
    note select all then hit the backspace.

    What I really wanted to say, I am glad God holds on to us, even when we dont Want Him To.

    I hope you all have a wonderful evening.

  57. #51 Jean

    Wanted to give you an answer… Luther attributed the rebellion of the peasants to an underlying rebellion against God. That was the unfortunate transfer of the temporal to the spiritual. Using the same approach, all rebellions or revolutions against tyranny or injustice, could be viewed the same. In addition he suggested the remedy in the most severe terms – “Let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly … nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel. It is just as one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him he will strike you.”

    This does not necessarily diminish him as a theologian, but it shows that he was clearly a man of his own time and committed to the social order of the nobility which had provided his protection through the years.

  58. Duane,

    You wrote:

    “Using the same approach, all rebellions or revolutions against tyranny or injustice, could be viewed the same.”

    Has it been established that the peasants to whom Luther referred suffered from tyranny or injustice within the context of that time?

    One also has to remember that Luther took the Bible as the Word of God and believed God was sovereign over creation. I don’t just mean “Word of God” as a slogan. I mean he really believed it and therefore, took Romans 13 very seriously. The bar for rebellion is quite high. It is difficult for the church to proclaim the Gospel and administer the Sacraments in the midst of anarchy. Not to mention that the Ottoman Empire was threatening Europe. So, I am not surprised Luther was committed to social order.

  59. “Not all can be explained by Law and Gospel.”

    Duane speaks my language.

  60. https://www.danielakin.com/5-things-you-should-always-do-before-you-preach-a-sermon/

    Wonder if the preachers here might have a thought on this?

  61. #58 Jean

    With the break from Rome, the German princes introduced Roman Civil law, replacing the old feudal system. Under the feudal system, property was help in trust for the lord with obligations on both sides. Under Roman Civil law, all property reverted to the nobles and princes, reducing peasants and yeoman farmers to the level of serfs (one step removed from slavery). During the revolt between 100,000 – 300,000 peasants were killed. Interestingly, the peasants used Luther’s idea of the priesthood of all believers as their rallying cry.

    Using Luther’s principles in opposing the revolt, one would have to apply it as well to the English Civil War (and the rise of the Puritans) as well as the American Revolution, the French Revolution, all of the south American Revolutions, the 1848 revolutions in Europe and the Russian Revolution.

    It is simply to say that Luther was a social conservative when it came to the political order.

  62. “the peasants used Luther’s idea of the priesthood of all believers as their rallying cry.”

    They were probably wrong and misapplied the teaching … which in hindsight I think we would all agree.
    Hitler did the same – misapplying a 400 year old teaching to his present day political life.

    Luther needed the princes on his side – no question about that. Had he supported the peasants, the reformation would have been dead.

  63. #62 MLD

    Yes, there are a load of historical “what ifs”. Karl Marx thought if Luther had embraced the peasants, it would have transformed Europe.

  64. Josh,
    ““Not all can be explained by Law and Gospel. Duane speaks my language.”

    Can you offer the alternative of how God speaks in his word aside from his commands and his promises?

  65. Josh,

    He missed the biggest point in my opinion.
    Take out #4 and replace it with “where is Christ and His Gospel in this passage?”

  66. MLD,

    “Can you offer the alternative of how God speaks in his word aside from his commands and his promises?”

    Well, there’s the Beatles hermeneutic:

    [He] loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah

  67. “Can you offer the alternative of how God speaks in his word aside from his commands and his promises?”

    Before I answer, you do know I’m not Lutheran…but to answer you question:

    Historic narrative, prophecy, poetry…I’ll stop there.

  68. @ 65 – Good Catch Michael. I can’t leave out #4 though. I have a tendency to preach very boring, detached bible lessons. Forcing myself to think about #4 makes my lesson useful for other people.

    I’d included yours with #1.

  69. “Can you offer the alternative of how God speaks in his word aside from his commands and his promises?”

    Poetry, verse, narrative, history, allegory…

  70. #67 Josh

    We passed in the night… but had the same thought!

  71. Like I said, Duane speaks my language.

  72. Josh, those explain genre – but say nothing of what God is communicating in his word.

    So, I say that God is speaking either in his commands or his promises and he does so with various genres – but it is always about interpreting which voice he is using.

    It is like the preacher who is teaching ‘Love God with all your heart … and love your neighbor as yourself.’ closes his Bible and says this is the gospel of our Lord!”

    No it’s not – that was the Law of our Lord — and it makes a difference to know the difference.

  73. “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
    (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

    How would you interpret this, MLD?

  74. Or…
    “Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.”

  75. or:

    “To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.”

  76. Michael as I am sure you are aware that the preaching of the law and the gospel actually depends on the circumstance and who you’re talking to. in this circumstance I would say that it is law. I can’t see how you’d make a gospel statement out of this.
    Otherwise it comes out if you do your part God will do his. That is not my kind of gospel.

  77. I think the Bible taken as a whole is good news.

  78. You guys are funny but Josh the god-giving the lineage of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament is definitely gospel – there’s nothing but promise there

  79. MLD,

    I use that passage because I don’t think the issue is whether it’s law or Gospel.

    My response to that command is supposed to be “I will “… not to parse it out according to hermeneutics.

  80. #79 MLD

    The lineage has some gaps…maybe the gaps are people left out… that could be Law.

  81. Josh you’re a hundred percent wrong- if you’re not a believe then the Bible is 100% law, 100% condemnation its 100% death to you and that’s the part that we need to make clear as we need to distinguish between talking about the law or talking about the gospel. God talks in his law and God talks in his gospel.

  82. So there is NO Gospel in the bible for an unbeliever?

  83. Duane – it could contain both and we need to be able to distinguish so it is properly applied.

    But I asked earlier, if God is not speaking his commands or his promises – what is this third alternative?

  84. “what is this third alternative?”

    Teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

  85. #84

    Comfort, encouragement, love, beauty, awareness of history, covenant…

  86. “Duane – it could contain both and we need to be able to distinguish so it is properly applied.”

    Or, we could take the text for what is says…

  87. A joke from seminary days:

    “Why don’t you take a LCMS seminarian out for dinner?”

    Answer,

    “They spend the first half an hour dividing the menu into Law and Gospel.”

  88. Josh – Teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, – if these are all what the Christian must do or learn – then it is law.

    Duane – Comfort, encouragement, love, beauty, awareness of history, covenant… – if these all point to the promises of God, then they are gospel. Comfort and encouragement come only in God’s promises.

    My old standby baseball example – 10 – 12 yrs ago when Eric Gagne was running his streak to 55 straight saves for the Dodgers – when he would come in in the 9th inning the scoreboards would light up GAME OVER.

    So, a statement of Law or a statement of Gospel – it depends which bench you are sitting on. 🙂

  89. MLD

    100% law for the unbeliever

    Reminds me that there have many among us who read the scriptures, played at church, taught, preached, served, and when crisis or sin crept up, they went out from us more of an unbeliever than when they came.

  90. Michael, I missed your #80
    “My response to that command is supposed to be “I will “… not to parse it out according to hermeneutics.”

    But your “I will” is a response to a command – and as Luther said in his Heidelberg Disputation – the commands of God are never done (so even though you say you will, you won’t) and all of the promises of God are sure and done.

  91. MLD,

    This is where I jump off the Lutheran bandwagon.

    “I will”…not perfectly, or even consistently…but I will “strive”.

    In any case, the command is a command…and it should provoke us to change.

  92. I would have bet money yesterday that the first link would get all the attention…shows what I know…

  93. I think we can be obedient. Not perfectly of course, but obedient at times.

  94. Michael – let me try the law gospel thing this way. God is speaking to us in his word – is he telling us what we should do or is he telling us a promise and / or what he has already done?

    This is the whole of scripture in a nutshell. You listen to much preaching in America and you find that a whole laundry list of do and don’t items will get preached as the gospel of Jesus.
    To your verse, being commanded to strive for anything cannot be gospel and that is how I answered your question.

    But hey, this is why there are Lutherans and there are Protestants. 😉

  95. ” what he has already done”

    All Old Testament is Gospel? He already done it.

  96. “God is speaking to us in his word – is he telling us what we should do or is he telling us a promise and / or what he has already done?”

    Both.
    His actions compel a response…

  97. Michael – yes in the entire bible he is telling both – but as you read passages, at least for a Lutheran pastor, he must distinguish if he is reading / preaching God’s Law or God’s gospel.

    Otherise you end up with a sermon designated a golawpel.

    What does this mean? “His actions compel a response…”

  98. What did Jesus preach? Law?

  99. Nevermind. I’ve had this conversation to many times. Suffice to say, I am not Lutheran.

    Although, I do think the Law/ Gospel is a helpful, but limited, hermeneutic.

  100. “What does this mean? “His actions compel a response…”

    This is obvious.

    The Scriptures are full of commands and exhortations to those who are following Christ…one who is truly following Him will want to respond to those positively.

    We aren’t debating our success rate, simply acknowledging what the Word says…

  101. “Although, I do think the Law/ Gospel is a helpful, but limited, hermeneutic.”

    Indeed…very helpful.

  102. Either Michael and Duane are pulling MLD’s leg for some good Wednesday morning fun, or else there is a communication chasm so vast that we would need Lt. Uhura’s universal translator to bring the sides together.

    Because I would rather laugh than cry today, I will assume they are pulling his leg (God knows he probably deserves it).

    But seriously, Michael, you wrote:

    “In any case, the command is a command…and it should provoke us to change.”

    You will remember from your monergistic background that “change” or Christian sanctification is the work of God alone. That work comes not from the letter, which kills, but from the Spirit who makes alive (i.e., from the Gospel). This is why Lutherans insist that Christians be fed the Gospel weekly through the preaching and administration of the Sacraments.

    To be clear, the Gospel is what God gives and we receive by faith, not what He commands and we do.

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,[e] as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” ”

    I am not antinomian. Christians need to hear the Law also. But it never works change. It curbs evil in the civil law with threats of punishment; it reveals our sinfulness and humbles us, so that we turn and receive the Gospel for salvation; and it teaches us the will of God for our lives. But the Law never gives us the power to do it.

    Unless one knows how to rightly divide the Scriptures, he is not prepared to properly care for souls.

  103. Josh,
    Yes… and he preached gospel.
    Commands and promise.
    He preached the law to those who needed to hear the law (those who were proud in their sin and the gospel to those broken by their sin.

    What I am saying is if you do not properly distinguish between the two you screw up the people. Can you imagine preaching to the person who is broken and in dispair over their sin to go out and strive to meet God’s holiness standards? They would commit suicide or go become a Buddhist.

  104. Michael, my question was more the ‘by his actions’

  105. Jean,

    I haven’t abandoned monergism… and in the Reformed view, sanctification is a cooperative endeavor that God initiates and completes,but that we participate in.

    I have not argued here that the law empowers us to do anything.

    I am saying that in reading a passage like the one I posted, a stark division isn’t necessary…it tells us to do something and by the power of the Holy Spirit we should endeavor to obey.

    One of the very liberating elements of coming into Anglicanism is that I’m free to use all the hermeneutics inside a broad framework without being chained to one.

    Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again.

  106. MLD,

    Let’s look at the passage I noted.

    “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”
    (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)

    My personality is such that, (to put it mildly), I don’t always strive for peace.
    I strive to do everything but that at times.
    Through the third use of the Law (if we want to get technical) this passage informs me that I have something I need to be mindful of and work on.
    By the power of the Spirit, I’m getting better.

    What the passage does not say is that this is a “law verse” and you can go ahead and ignore it…

  107. Michael,
    There is a sharp divide between law and gospel in your posted passage. It is all law, no gospel. Which is my point. So if you preached or taught that thinking you are giving the gospel, you are wrong.

  108. MLD,

    I’m not an idiot.

    I know the nature of the passage.

    What I’m saying is that it’s more important to teach what it says than to teach it’s place in a strict Lutheran law/Gospel hermeneutic.

  109. Michael,

    “I am saying that in reading a passage like the one I posted, a stark division isn’t necessary…it tells us to do something and by the power of the Holy Spirit we should endeavor to obey.

    One of the very liberating elements of coming into Anglicanism is that I’m free to use all the hermeneutics inside a broad framework without being chained to one.”

    It’s not about being chained. It’s about soul care. Let’s take a quick panorama of God’s work in the Bible:

    He kills; He makes alive.
    He humbles; He raises.
    He exiles; He restores.
    He condemns; He forgives
    He dies; He rises from the dead.

    He does all these by the power of His Word, all throughout the Bible

    You can’t receive what’s in the right-hand column without first receiving what’s in the left-hand column. This is because of sin.

    But you have to know which column your preaching. You don’t hammer the broken hearted with more law. Neither do you console the hypocrite with the Gospel.

    Some preachers say: Now that you’re in Christ, by his grace the Gospel says you should now stop doing x, y or z, or you should start doing 1, 2 or 3. That’s just disguising the Law under the the Gospel. It doesn’t work like that. The person listening still hears: I must do; I must stop doing.

  110. #103 Jean

    No communication chasm… I just see the Law/Gospel hermeneutic as simply one tool among many. It is very German, very precise (although not always as precise as it is advertised), but it is only one tool. It also does not take account of 1500 years of previous Biblical interpretation. It also, I might say, does not take account of 500 years of Biblical interpretation since the Reformation. I am afraid that I am beyond convincing (Preus, Scaer, all tried long ago) but I am always open to conversation and dialogue.

    AND… I’d gladly take either you or MLD to dinner, but only if you promise not to try and rightly divide the Menu into Law and Gospel!

  111. “But you have to know which column your preaching. You don’t hammer the broken hearted with more law. Neither do you console the hypocrite with the Gospel.”

    Jean, my friend… I’ve been teaching for almost twenty five years.

    I know how to console and rebuke and I can’t remember preaching a message that didn’t end with the truth of what Christ has done that we can’t do.

    Lutherans do not have a corner on real Gospel preaching…though I would never say that they don’t do it very well, consistently.

    That emphasis is the gift they bring to all of us.

  112. Michael,

    The word “you” is sometimes very imprecise. I know Michael, does, but I was speaking to the collective “you.” Apologies if my comment seemed directed specifically to Michael.

    “Jean, my friend…” Whoops! Red alert. 🙂

    As you have often reminded me, there are a lot of lurkers who may be following this thread. And we would both agree that Gospel preaching is desperately lacking in many pulpits today in American churches.

  113. Michael,
    “What I’m saying is that it’s more important to teach what it says than to teach it’s place in a strict Lutheran law/Gospel hermeneutic.”

    No one teaches / preaches a passage as law / gospel, and you probably know that – but it is how you handle the passage.

    Look, your original question back at #74 asked “How would you interpret this, MLD?” – which I assume you are asking Law or Gospel. I said law and later added No Gospel.

    When you bring up the 3rd use of the law – well law is still law whether 1st, 2nd or 3rd use. Now in Calvinism I know the expectation is direct change from the law (I guess I may not know the Anglican pitch) but in Lutheran doctrine, all 3 uses of the law of to point out you sin and shortcoming and turn you back to the cross.

  114. “Jean, my friend…” Whoops! Red alert.”

    I know when Jesus calls someone friend, he doesn’t mean it in a nice way. 😉

  115. “And we would both agree that Gospel preaching is desperately lacking in many pulpits today in American churches.”

    Absolutely…

  116. “No one teaches / preaches a passage as law / gospel, and you probably know that – but it is how you handle the passage.”

    That nuance often gets lost in these discussions…

    “Now in Calvinism I know the expectation is direct change from the law (I guess I may not know the Anglican pitch) but in Lutheran doctrine, all 3 uses of the law of to point out you sin and shortcoming and turn you back to the cross.”

    Actually in classic Calvinism, it turns you back to the cross as well. An Anglican liturgy is always an abbreviated presentation of the whole Gospel narrative…

  117. I agree too, but I’m not sure “law” preaching is the biggest culprit.

    I’d say just empty feel-good preaching is the biggest leach on the modern church.

  118. The Baptist idea is the same ‘Start with the text and make a bee-line to the cross.”

  119. Michael,
    But you said that the law causes change. I don’t think the law is capable of that.

    Josh – how do you make a bee line to the cross – don’t you need to stop, preach some law so people know why they need the cross? Believers and unbelievers?

    I gotta get back to work.:-)

  120. OF course, that is a Spurgeon quote.

  121. I explicitly said that the law in of itself cannot make change…explicitly…

  122. MLD and Jean

    I don’t see this sharp distinction in the Apostolic Fathers. I don’t see it referenced in the Ante-Nicene Fathers. I don’t see it in Athanasius. I don’t see it in the Councils. In Augustine, he uses the distinction but in a general manner dealing with Original Sin. I don’t see it in Chrysostom. I don’t see it in Benedict. I don’t see it in the sermons or writings of Bernard of Clairveaux. There are hints in Aquinas, but only as he references Augustine. I don’t hear it in the preaching of Francis of Assisi, nor in Jan Hus, nor in Wycliff.

    It is a tool… a hermeneutic tool – but for most of the planet’s Christians, it is only one among many.

  123. It sounds like you are saying that the law makes change.

    “The Scriptures are full of commands and exhortations to those who are following Christ…one who is truly following Him will want to respond to those positively.”

  124. Duane,
    You read all of those ‘fathers’ and you don’t hear in their preaching both law and gospel? You don’t hear that they properly use each for their intended purpose? If you don’t, you need to go back and read them.

    You don’t see in the fathers that they preach law as if it is used to kill and that they preach the gospel as if the gospel itself is to bring back alive?

  125. You can hear the distinctions you wish to hear (Law/Gospel being only one among many) but they don’t set it as the singular hermeneutic principle.

  126. “Some preachers say: Now that you’re in Christ, by his grace the Gospel says you should now stop doing x, y or z, or you should start doing 1, 2 or 3. That’s just disguising the Law under the the Gospel. It doesn’t work like that. The person listening still hears: I must do; I must stop doing.”

    …by His grace the Gospel says stop (or start) doing? hmmm… somehow, i can’t get my mind around the idea that all is law or gospel… God created the heavens and the earth… was that declaration law or gospel? guess it’s law, eh? oh no, wait, it was a gift… or is it a stage? … John 8:10-11 … is that law or is that gospel? hmmm… must be law, cuz it says “stop” doing that sin… sigh …

    not trying to make light of the topic, but i guess i’m getting old as i don’t have a razor sharp mind to split these hairs with….

  127. I think you make too much of the H principle. It is a lens that you read, preach or hear through and even then the key is the proper distinction.

    Hey, no one can ever accuse me of hiding the fact that I think Lutherans are different. 🙂

  128. #128 MLD

    With all possible respect, now you are wanting me to read the sermons of the Fathers and the other writings through a post-facto lens to find evidence that they adhered to a system of understanding synthesized in that very same post-facto lens in the 16th century!?!

    I think this is circular reasoning, to say the least…

  129. Not at all as I would claim that is the direct meaning of the biblical admonition to rightly divide the word.

    But hey, you brought up the topic much earlier today – so I figured you wanted conversation.

  130. #130

    “Rightly divide” is no longer the preferred translation of the text…

  131. OK, tell me what your copy of the message says. 😉

    Correctly teaching, properly handling – it’s all the same thing.

    The idea is that there is a right way and a wrong way. Ouch! I said it – there is right and wrong in how you handle scripture.

  132. I would like to back up a minute.

    What is God’s Word for? I would suggest one reason only, which may be exemplified in two overarching verses:

    1) “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

    2) “When [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict the world, concerning, sin…, concerning righteousness…, and concerning judgment….”

    Who does all Scripture point to? I would suggest Christ.

    Gerhard Forde wrote a book, Theology is for Proclamation. That I suggest should be the function of theology: Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No other purpose.

    The only function of preaching is to apply the Gospel to penitent souls. I.e., to facilitate the Spirit’s work of birthing and growing and preserving little Christs.

    The Law/Gospel distinction services the purpose of theology, is carrying out the purpose of Scripture, and is Christocentric. I have not found a more effective and accurate portrayal of God’s work through the Word.

    What I have seen is pop psychology lessons, history lessons, bogus end times prophesy, magic shows, homecoming dance like worship services, geopolitical lecturers, therapeutic deism and plenty of moralism. Thank God Christ rescued me from all of that nonsense.

  133. In other words, we should never be spectators to God’s Word. It is a living and active Word that has power. The Spirit works through the Word in two ways.

  134. “In other words, we should never be spectators to God’s Word. It is a living and active Word that has power. The Spirit works through the Word” now to that much this evangelical can say a hearty amen? … but in two ways only the Spirit works thru the Word?
    John 16:7-15 … are your saying that all is either instruction or conviction? … or? …

  135. John 16;7-15 is Gospel. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now the work of the Holy Spirit in preaching will consist of Law and Gospel.

  136. #136 – okay… then… the Holy Spirit either ‘gives’ or ‘works?’

    thank you, Jean…

  137. The Holy Spirit works by convicting (i.e., accusing, condemning, humbling, killing) and/or giving (e.g., faith, comfort, wisdom, consolation, life).

  138. Jean

    “What I have seen is pop psychology lessons, history lessons, bogus end times prophesy, magic shows, homecoming dance like worship services, geopolitical lecturers, therapeutic deism and plenty of moralism. Thank God Christ rescued me from all of that nonsense.”

    There is more out there than what you describe… Some wheat, some tares… but definitely more.

  139. Happened by again – read em’s “God created the heavens and the earth… was that declaration law or gospel? guess it’s law, eh? ”

    In both creation accounts, Genesis and John 1, it is pure gospel!

  140. “A tale of two Pastors” was a pretty weak comparison.

    I mean using the so-called accountability structure of the medieval Catholic church in the 1400’s probably wasn’t the best choice.

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