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My issues with Issues ETC.

24 Jul

I love Issues ETC.  Several years ago, it was arguably this show (and Wallace Schulz’s Good News magazine) that solidified me in my Lutheran convictions and kept me from other churches.  The only reason I don’t have an Issues ETC. widget on my blog is because I’ve tried several times but have always been unsuccessful.

That said, the other day I was really surprised at a show they had.  The guest, Pastor Tim Lorenz, was talking about the Substitutionary Death of Christ in the story of David and Bathsheba which was based on an article he had written for the Lutheran youth magazine Higher Things. Some of what he had to say was very in insightful, for example, comparing Uriah to a type of Christ (the makers of this excellent video should update it with this info!).

On the other hand, there was also what I can only call a blatant assertion of error – though unintentional I am sure.  The guest asserted that God was not actually punishing David by taking the life of his son, because he had been forgiven!  Of course, I agree that we can’t assume that if bad things happen God is punishing us, but in David’s case did he not tell him that this was the case?  I checked.  He did so explicitly (all this reminded me of this excellent post I saw years ago: Vengeance is mine, but I will not repay!)

I emailed the Issues ETC folks a couple times about it, but haven’t heard back.  So I thought I’d blog about it instead.  I hope that this is not a violation of the eighth commandment, but my excuse is that when I requested the new Issues ETC. Journal with the Pastor Wilken’s article “My Problem with the eighth commandment” they never sent it to me (as they say they will here – minor gripe! : ) )

Which brings me to my last issue, a bigger one.  They had the well-known Pastor, Bill Cwirla on, to talk about Simultaneously Saint and Sinner (also based on a Higher Things article – I’d include them in the title to if I had journal complaints about them!) the other day (7/23/12) and he said that there is no progress (growth) in the Christian life!  I was surprised to learn that the only progress we can speak of is the progressive death of old Adam.  He says we are supposed to “catch up with the death certificate” which ultimately happens when we die – but I guess not “catch up to ourselves in Christ” in the life we live in the body?  I mean, I might not feel like I see growth in my life, but I know Scripture says that I (there is an “I”, right? – or is Jesus alone the “New Man”?), working with the Holy Spirit, can and should grow (see here)

Now let’s say that in this post I have indeed committed a particular sin.  If I have, I should repent of it, correct?  Well, another thing Pastor Cwirla said is that we should stop focusing on ourselves and our sin and focus on Jesus.  I agree!  But I think it looks like this: call what you know God calls sin “sin”, and *immediately move on to call grace “grace”.  Pastor Cwirla may believe that is a good way of putting it, but that’s not what he said.  I’m afraid what he said potentially gives comfort to persons who reason in the following fashion: since even all my good works are sinful (true), then there is no need to ever repent of specific particular sins (false), so I should just get on with (false) serving my neighbor who really needs my good works (true).

Sadly, more and more persons in the LC-MS are thinking this way today.

This is especially important since individuals like Pastor Cwirla evidently do not understand something like marriage in a Gospel-sense at all!  (see comment # 196 here)  I always thought that marriage was a picture of God’s love not just for fallen human beings but for humanity period.  In other words, it was a free gift which brought intimacy, pleasure, and procreation between men and women and was a joyful “get to” right from the start – in an environment where there were *no* negative prohibitions, save that one…. (in other words, only later, post-fall, does marriage also function as a curb).

Therefore, I think Issues ETC. needs to ask harder questions.

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4 Comments

Posted by on July 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

4 responses to “My issues with Issues ETC.

  1. Jon B

    July 28, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Regarding David and Bathsheba, it seemed to me that the point they were trying to make was that David didn’t receive punishment in the sense of his son dying due to God releasing His anger on David, but David did receive this as a temporal consequence of his action (which could in some way serve a good purpose, such as leading David to repentance in the future as a painful reminder, but not because God’s wrath remained). TLSB includes a reference to Ap XIIA 56-57, and the Apology does still call what David received a punishment (“Here a punishment is also added, but this punishment does not merit the remission of sins. 57] Nor are special punishments always added, but in repentance these two things ought always to exist, namely, contrition and faith”)

    It seems like an example of what I think they were saying might be if two people each commit adultery, repent, and are forgiven, but one acquires a disease as a direct result of their actions while the other does not. That doesn’t prove that one didn’t receive God’s forgiveness or that one was punished worse (as neither were punished in the sense of meriting forgiveness of sins because Christ bore their sins).

     
  2. infanttheology

    July 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Jon,

    First of all, I will have to listen to the podcast again, but I didn’t think they were even saying that! (also, must listen to last Friday’s show, as Jeff told me they might address it).

    Second, when you say “but David did receive this as a temporal consequence of his action (which could in some way serve a good purpose, such as leading David to repentance in the future as a painful reminder, but not because God’s wrath remained)”, all I can say is that this is hardly what happened, thought that is evidently *now* (not in times of Trent) Rome’s position:

    http://upstatelutheran.blogspot.com/2007/12/vengeance-is-mine-but-i-will-not-repay.html
    (link from above).

    Currently, I guess : )

    +Nathan

     
  3. Matt Jamison

    April 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    I’m quite sure that Pr. Cwirla has never said that there is no need to repent of specific sins. Those are your words that you are trying to put in his mouth.

     
  4. Nathan

    April 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Matt,

    Please look at what I said:

    ” I’m afraid what he said potentially gives comfort to persons who reason in the following fashion: since even all my good works are sinful (true), then there is no need to ever repent of specific particular sins (false), so I should just get on with (false) serving my neighbor who really needs my good works (true).”

    I do not believe that Pastor Cwirla believes there is no need to repent of specific sins. Where did you get that from my post?

    +Nathan

     

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