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!)
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.