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Seeing the Clear Difference Between Paul’s Law Preaching in Roman 1-3 and 12 ff

16 Dec
Is Luther really a Baptist in disguise? See this post for more.

Is Luther really a Baptist in disguise – or does he just distinguish between the second and third use? See this post for more.

In a recent post about “the third use of the law”, I made this claim:

It’s all about Christian’s Spirit-led and default inclination being to coerce and drag old Adam – some other Christian’s or our own – into the presence of God’s means of grace and beyond… i.e. into the straight paths that make life safe and good for straying sheep.

And this is what those who preach the law in it’s third use take into account.  Well… some remain quite unconvinced of this.  Therefore, this is part IV of my ongoing posts about “the third use of the law” (part I, part II. and part III The post that ties them all together however, identifying what I believe are the underlying issues, is this one: Can Confessional Lutherans Live in an “Imputation-Only World”? 

What many modern confessional Lutherans want to say is this:

[The article on the third use of the law in the Lutheran Confessions] indicates that “the preaching of the law is to be urged with diligence, not only among those who have no faith in Christ … but also among those who truly believe in Christ.”  Period.

Note the “Period”.  The desire is that the conversation ends here.  That is all there is to say.

No.

The sixth article of the Lutheran Formula of Concord is indeed about how the law should be urged on Christians. But in what way? What does it mean to urge the law on the Christian here?

I submit that this can be seen by looking closely at the fifth and sixth articles of the Formula of Concord, about “The Law and the Gospel”, which parallels Paul’s use of the law in Romans 1-3, and the “Third Use of God’s Law”, which parallels Paul’s use of the law in Romans 12 ff, respectively.

FC V is about how the law is revealed and taught to people (here we note it is mentioned that the law is unchangeable as well – V:17) so that they (believers to!: see V:2: “unbelief of the converted… is pardoned and forgiven”) may be led to the knowledge of their sins by the Law.  It is all about the Holy Spirit and the Church using the law in its second, or spiritual use: accusing, condemning, convicting, reproving, rebuking, etc. en route to repentance. FC V is about the preaching of repentance using the law of God, not the Gospel (the message of the cross can also convict). In other words, it is related to justification and continual justification. Note again, the second use of the law – its primary use – is to be continually applied to believers (as well as being needed to convert unbelievers), who here are understood to, as they stand before God, always remain totally sinners and totally saints (100% each).

This would be like what Paul is doing in Romans 1-3.

Lutheran saint Kurt Marquart: to not preach the third use of the law is break the bruised reed and snuff out the smoldering wick (see here)

Lutheran saint Kurt Marquart: to not preach the third use of the law is break the bruised reed and snuff out the smoldering wick (see here)

FC VI is, as the sainted Kurt Marquart says, about the laws “practical application to daily life” (think of Luther’s “Table of Duties” and the “Large Catechism”): how the law is used with people born anew by God’s spirit that they might live and walk in it. It is about the preaching not of repentance per se, but of obedience, addressing the old and new natures in the Christian. With the Gospel serving as the ground (“by the mercies of God”)*, the third use of the law encourages the Christian, according to his new man, to walk in the good works that God has appointed for him to do (“good works …encouraged from the law” – VI:2). The new man in the Christian, motivated [update: not a good word…let’s try….] having his anticipation aroused by (as in: “The law, after all, cannot motivate or inspire the obedience it demands – but the Gospel can inspire us to say “Amen!” when we hear the beauty that is God’s law/will!” ; also see the note from Dr. Philips below) this instruction and admonishment / exhortation (VI:6 ; 12: “He encourages them to this”), is eager to live according to God’s law, in which he delights, so much so that sometimes he will wield the law himself, accusing, threatening and even physically punishing the flesh, the old man, within him (I Cor. 9:27). Therefore, the law need not “confuse the regenerate with its coercion” (VI:5).

This would be akin to what Paul is doing in Romans 12ff “by the mercies of God” (based on all the sweet Gospel that comes before it, and including the discussion of the two natures in the Christian, chapters 7 and 8) and Ephesians 4-6.

Of course in discussing the Christian’s new obedience, the second use of the law – the law’s primary use! – cannot be irrelevant to this (neither is it the focus of article VI – as it is not dealt with in the Epitome of the article) but has some significance (see VI: 12 -14, 21-22). The written law continues to reveal to the believer how his good works always fall short, and how the Gospel, in the blood of Christ, covers even the sin that infects our good works. What is important to note here is that the strong believer, ever aware of this Gospel truth, will eagerly join in the rebuking and condemning of the old Adam in him. In sum, while the presence of the second use of the law in the article does address old Adam’s Pharisaical tendencies – showing him how his works are imperfect and impure and cannot stand before God – it also points out to the new man in the Christian how the fruit of obedience can and should become more pure (see VI:17, 18, 24), as sin is driven out and old Adam is “forced to obey Christ” (VI: 24). In other words, all of this serves the primary purpose of the article – the new obedience of the Christian – by addressing and countering old Adam’s Epicurean tendencies. In other words, it is related not just to our passive sanctification, but our active sanctification as well (see the end of Romans 6 in particular here).

"Progressive sanctification? The horror!" -- Kurt Marquart, sarcastically. What is holiness? See more here.

“Progressive sanctification? The horror!” — Kurt Marquart, sarcastically. What is holiness? See more here.

To add more detail: the law in its second use threatens persons with God’s wrath and temporal and eternal punishments (“God’s wrath, death, all temporal calamities, and the punishment of hellfire”- V:20). Here, we note that the law is used specifically to reveal sin and, with the Gospel, to produce repentance unto life.  In the case of the third use of the law, the law is used specifically to address the Christian as partially saint and partially sinner (Romans 6-8 unveils this reality in detail), urging the new man in the Christian on to obedience, as old Adam is driven out more and more. The threats, rewards, and punishments discussed here are more akin to the first use (VI: 19), with its focus on temporal, often immediate, carrots and sticks. As Luther says, the Holy Spirit makes the law enjoyable and gentle to the justified, and therefore, the preacher should not make the law overly harsh among the justified but should change into the gentler tone of exhortation.** Again, we note that here we have Christians taking steps themselves to tame, even through “blows”, the wild and disobedient old Adam within.

This is what the Holy Spirit encourages, and this is what proclaimers of the Word should encourage, imitating Paul, as he seeks to keep in step with the Spirit.

UPDATE: if you just can’t shake a sense of condemnation, I can identify with youI offer you this from Dr. Eric Phillips, over at the Just and Sinner site.

FIN

 

*A great quote from Dr. Eric Phillips, which helps us think more about this:

“The third use of the Law isn’t just an exhortation to the forgiven. It’s a promise. This is what you will be: like Christ. This is what you have already begun to be: like Christ. “Let the dead man bury its dead, and come follow Me. I have ordained good works for you to do, now and forever.”

The third use isn’t Law-Gospel-LAW. David Scaer is good on this. It’s the Christological use of the Law. It’s the Law we get to do, as fellow-laborers together with Him, haltingly but with increasing power, until we are made His perfect image in the Resurrection. It’s the Law promised in Jeremiah 31: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (v. 33). It is, whether you want to adopt his language or not, the promise St. Peter alludes to in 2 Pet. 1:4, that we have been freed from corruption and made to be like God.

2 Peter 1:5-8: For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Of course the 3rd use will convict us also by implication, just as the 2nd use also exhorts and instructs us, but its purpose is to rouse anticipation, not fear–to enlist the New Man happily to mortify the Old and taste “the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the Age to Come” (Heb. 6:5). The Law always accuses, but when we know we are forgiven, it can also comfort and encourage us.”

**Luther also says that too much condemning law can lead into despair and kill completely – the law “should be reduced through the impossible supposition to a salutary use”

 Note: some changes have been made in the original post for the sake of clarity.

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16 Comments

Posted by on December 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

16 responses to “Seeing the Clear Difference Between Paul’s Law Preaching in Roman 1-3 and 12 ff

  1. jamesbradfordpate

    December 16, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    ” As Luther says, the Holy Spirit makes the law enjoyable and gentle to the justified, and therefore, the preacher should not make the law overly harsh among the justified but should change into the gentler tone of exhortation.”

    This is the opposite of what I sometimes see within evangelicalism, which holds that people should be gentle in confronting the sin of non-believers so that they get won over to Christianity, while stronger in confronting the sins of fellow believers.

     
  2. Jon Alan Schmidt (aletheist)

    December 30, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Nathan:

    When I said “Period” in my comment over at Steadfast Lutherans, which you quoted above, I was merely answering your previous question, “And what does the Epitome indicate here?” I even acknowledged that “there are a bunch of additional sentences in FC VI, but this indicates the specific point that they are all intended to support.” So my desire was not “that the conversation ends here,” but that we pay close attention to what the text explicitly says (and does not say).

    Of course, the text does not just say that the preaching of the Law is to be urged among both unbelievers and believers; it also explains *why*. However, conspiciously absent are specific instructions about *how* the Law is to be preached; in particular, there is no indication that the Law is to be preached *differently* to the two types of hearers. That seems to be a fundamental disconnect; the three uses of the Law as identified in FC Ep VI:1 and FC SD VI:1 are not three different methods of *proclaiming* the Law, but three different *effects* that the Law has on those who hear it. In fact, the *only* One who is said in FC VI to “use” the Law at all is the Holy Spirit (SD VI:3 and VI:12), so it is going *beyond* the text to suggest that anyone else “uses” the Law in accordance with that article. For Luther, Melanchthon, Walther, etc., “properly dividing the Word of God” means rightly distinguishing Law and Gospel, not “using” the Law in distinct ways

    You subsequently claim that “the third use of the law encourages the Christian” and cite FC SD VI:2, VI:6, and VI:12. However, both Henkel and Bente/Dau have “urged” in VI:2, “urging” in VI:6, and “exhorts” in VI:12; Tappert has “urged” in VI:2, “exhortation” in VI:6, and “admonishes” in VI:12; and Kolb/Wengert has “presented” in VI:2, “exhortation” in VI:6, and “admonishes” in VI:12. Only McCain has “encouraged” in VI:2 and “encourages” in VI:12; it has “urging” in VI:6. That sends us back to the original German. The verb in VI:2 is “treiben,” which means “to push” or “to drive” (e.g., cattle or a plow); so “urged” seems much more accurate in context than “encouraged.” The verb in VI:12 is “vermahnen,” an archaic form of “ermahnen,” which (interchangeably) means “to exhort” or “to admonish.” There are actually lots of different German words that can legitimately be translated as “to encourage,” but neither “treiben” nor “vermahnen/ermahnen” is one of them.

    Blessings to you!

     
  3. infanttheology

    December 31, 2014 at 12:54 am

    aletheist,

    Thanks for your comment here – and the spade work. I appreciate your desire to make your intentions clear – it certainly was my wider impression in that conversation however (mostly with the other interlocutor) that this was the main thing… and that the points I was making (along with Pastor Sonntag, Pastor Surburg, Kurt Marquart, etc. : ) ) were really not of great significance.

    As for your comment here, I have already addressed your particular points at the BJS thread to some degree (for example, if the inner man delights in the law, why will exhortation not encourage him?).

    The most important comment I think may be this one: http://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=39228&cpage=3#comment-1069242

    and the one I recently made into a post:

    https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/god-became-man-to-grow-in-righteousness-that-we-might-grow-in-righteousness/

    It seems to me that this is part of the bigger picture that is being missed.

    +Nathan

     
  4. Jon Alan Schmidt (aletheist)

    December 31, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    What “part of the bigger picture” am I missing? My points were simply these:

    1. FC VI never says *how* the Law is to be preached to believers; only *that* it is and *why*.
    2. FC VI never says that anyone “uses” the Law except the Holy Spirit.
    3. In German, “exhorting” means “admonishing” (same word); it does not mean “encouraging” (different word).

    As far as I can tell, the Church Postil of Luther that is referenced in FC SD VI:9 and quoted by Pastor Surburg is fully consistent with these three statements. In fact, it does not really say anything more than or different from what FC SD VI:9 itself says: “Therefore, because of these lusts of the flesh the truly believing, elect, and regenerate children of God need in this life not only the daily instruction and admonition, warning, and threatening of the Law, but also frequently punishments, that they may be roused and follow the Spirit of God.”

     
  5. infanttheology

    December 31, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    aletheist,

    The key point is #2 I think. Think about this: the cross is Law and Gospel. But when preachers preach it they know how they are using it and why. We don’t just say the Holy Spirit decides. Why do you allow the preacher to make that distinction?

    Again, anyone who takes time to read Luther’s sermons will see that he very definitely preaches the law in different ways and that what he says in his Antinomian Disputations perfectly describes what he does in his sermons. And to say that all of this should not play into consideration of how one understands FC VI, is, I submit, remarkable.

    Marquart would have thought so.

    Again, aletheist – am I correct to remember that you have told me that you do not see any difference between what Paul is doing in Rom. 1-3 and 12ff?

    +Nathan

     
  6. Jon Alan Schmidt (aletheist)

    December 31, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    #2 is a simple statement of fact, unless FC VI actually says somewhere that someone other than the Holy Spirit “uses” the Law. After multiple readings, I have not been able to find it yet.

    Preachers absolutely should (must) distinguish between Law and Gospel per FC V. The question is whether they should (can) also distinguish between different “uses” of the Law per FC VI.

    I have never denied that people (including Luther) preach the Law in different ways. I am just pointing out that, based on #2, this is evidently not the same thing as “using” the Law in the three different ways identified in FC VI. Again, those are effects on hearers, not (necessarily) intentions of preachers.

    As I stated over at Steadfast Lutherans, even if Paul is “intentionally using the Law differently in Romans 1-3 and Romans 12ff,” he is doing so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; i.e., the Holy Spirit is using the Law differently, which I am not disputing. The issue is whether a preacher today can legitimately “use” the Law in different ways, or if he simply preaches the Law and the Holy Spirit takes it from there, which is what FC VI describes.

     
  7. infanttheology

    January 1, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    aletheists,

    “The question is whether they should (can) also distinguish between different “uses” of the Law per FC VI.

    I have never denied that people (including Luther) preach the Law in different ways.”

    I am glad that you have not denied that. I’m guessing that among those with your position, you are not alone in not denying that Luther, like the Apostle Paul, quite clearly was preaching the Law in different ways. Interesting, that among a whole slew of LCMS seminarians in the past 30 years, they were explicitly taught, on the basis of FC VI, that the way Luther and Paul preached was wrong, or at the very least, not the ideal (per Paul McCain).

    Again, I find it remarkable that you do not think that shepherds should strive at all times to keep in step with the Holy Spirit’s use of the Law with their flock. As I read Walther, this is preaching and pastoral care 101. Right from the beginning of my seminary career, I saw the disconnect with what he was saying and what persons holding your position were saying.

    I refer you back to part of my comment at BJS here:

    “I understand that you three men, when you read “God’s law is useful…” at the beginning of FC VI think that only means the Holy Spirit, but I think that is unsubstantiated and unsupportable. I believe it is a 20th century position made popular by Elert, who, of course in response to Barth (working from a Kantian framework), also intended to highlight the “law within” and focus on the Christian in an existential sense. Obviously, the foremost person who speaks the word of God in the world today is the one who reads the Scriptures, but also pastors as they preach, and even laypersons as they share God’s word as well. At least, this should be the case: if anyone speaks, let him speak the oracles of God, per Peter.

    This is especially important for pastors. As even a brief look at Walther’s Law and Gospel will show (but his pastoral theology is more specific here about how to preach specifically), Walther talks about properly dividing the word of God not in any abstract sense, but with particular people in mind. He talks about knowing one’s congregation and what they need. Obviously, when it comes to individuals, this application is taken to an even more personal level. Again, I don’t see how there is any way that the idea that God’s law is useful or should be useful only to the Spirit can be supported – but I am waiting to see if someone can give me some good reasons, preferably coupled with a good history lesson, of why I am wrong.”

    Perhaps it would help if you would give me another comparable circumstance – a demonstration from Scripture – where God’s messenger should not attempt to relay to a person what the Holy Spirit would want them to understand…

    “….I am just pointing out that, based on #2, this is evidently not the same thing as “using” the Law in the three different ways identified in FC VI. Again, those are effects on hearers, not (necessarily) intentions of preachers.”

    aletheist, where, specifically in the text of FC VI, do you see it explicitly equating the three uses of the Law are equivalent with “effects on hearers”?

    “As I stated over at Steadfast Lutherans, even if Paul is “intentionally using the Law differently in Romans 1-3 and Romans 12ff,” he is doing so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; i.e., the Holy Spirit is using the Law differently, which I am not disputing. The issue is whether a preacher today can legitimately “use” the Law in different ways, or if he simply preaches the Law and the Holy Spirit takes it from there, which is what FC VI describes.”

    I’ll tell you why this move does not work for me. It, on the basis of a purportedly high view of Scripture, insists that we cannot – and should not – imitate the preaching of Paul and others in the New Testament lest we think that our preaching of the “Word of God” is somehow equivalent to theirs in terms of inspiration and inerrancy. Of course that is not the case. We believe that God led the O.T. and N.T. authors, under the inspiration of God’s Spirit (see Acts 15 council, the first instance where anything is put in writing: “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us”), wrote down their teachings for safeguarding for the whole of the church (and indeed, most all of the N.T. was readily accepted by orthodox congregations in short time). So no – your viewpoint to me seems like something the devil would cook up. I am not saying you are intentionally drawing persons away from the Word of God, only that this is the inevitable practical effect of what you are saying.

    +Nathan

     
  8. infanttheology

    January 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    aletheist,

    Did you read this one: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/the-question-that-should-end-all-debate-about-the-third-use-of-the-law/

    I think it is important because it makes it clear that this issue of the third use of the law is not only about preaching. Its just basic common sense, in one sense.

    I force my kids – who I do not assume are not Christians – to go to church. Sometimes at home, I make them do things they don’t want to do. Sometimes I simply tell them what to do – things they should understand on the basis of who they are as members of our family and Christians. Sometimes carrots and sticks are involved. Luther is doing something similar in the LC.

    Perhaps you think: well, you are talking about your own children. Members of the congregation might be God’s children, but the pastor doesn’t treat them like that. On the one hand I agree, but on the other, I see the third use of the law as coming into play even here, for pastors are to shepherd and rule their congregations well. We Americans – and anti Stephanist-Missourians – certainly don’t like to hear this, but it is true. Excommunication is an important part of the church, and ultimately, pastors do have to make such calls. It should never be their pleasure to do so, but it is something that is to be utilized from time to time, in the best interests of all.

    What do you think about church discipline and excommunication? And in the context of our discussion here specifically? Definitely an “effect on the hearer”, but not in the way you are talking about it above….

    +Nathan

     
  9. infanttheology

    January 1, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    aletheist,

    If you never read Pastor Surburg’s post titled “Lutheran preaching – third use or agnostic use of the law?” give it a read. In it, he says the following:

    It seems that the discussion about the third use of the law with those who hold the new perspective on sanctification always ends up back at the same point. No Lutheran in the discussion will explicitly deny the third use – after all it is confessed in Formula of Concord article VI. But at the same time we are told that the preacher can’t control how the law strikes the hearer. The law always accuses and so we must assume that it will function in its second use for some, if not most, hearers. And so practically speaking there really is no third use of the law that the preacher can intentionally employ because we can never know that it will be used by the Spirit in this way. We are left with an “agnostic use of the law,” and so are told that we should just preach law – which means we should speak in ways that are most commonly associated with the second use. The third use of the law is confessed in principle, but functionally it is denied. Ultimately, the agnostic use of the law ends up being the second use of the law because it is assumed that this is what the law really does.

    Yet in fact, this approach stands contrary to the apostolic practice in Scripture and the position confessed in Formula of Concord article VI. In addition, it does not withstand examination as a theological argument. It should not be allowed to determine how we think about the law in the preaching task as Lutherans.

    The question arises because the New Testament in general, and Paul’s letters in particular, are filled with exhortation and admonition for Christians to live in new obedience. Within Paul’s letters these statements are always grounded in what God has done for us in the death and resurrection of Christ, and through the work of the Holy Spirit – they find their source in the Gospel….

    It should not escape our notice that Paul is no more able to control the Spirit’s use of the law than we are. Yet in spite of this fact he repeatedly engages in exhortation and admonition as he seeks to lead Christians to engage in new obedience. He shows no hesitancy about speaking in this matter. In fact, as Luther observes above, “Paul is so persistent in his admonitions that he actually seems to be overdoing it” (paragraph 3).

    In doing so, Paul provides the apostolic pattern that we need to follow. And in fact we can go beyond that assertion. For while Paul can’t control the Spirit’s use of the law, in the mystery of the inspiration of Scripture what Paul writes is exactly what the Spirit wants to be said. The apostolic model of exhortation and admonition affirmed by Luther and described by FC VI as the third use of the law is in fact the Spirit provided model and pattern of addressing Christians.

    Our theologizing about the nature of the law and the manner in which the Spirit may or may not use it cannot be allowed to become something that precludes pastors from speaking the way Scripture speaks. Theological constructs about the individual’s experience of the law that have their roots in the twentieth century cannot be allowed to preempt preaching and teaching that employs the language of the inspired, apostolic pattern.

    +Nathan

     
  10. Jon Alan Schmidt

    January 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Again, I find it remarkable that you do not think that shepherds should strive at all times to keep in step with the Holy Spirit’s use of the Law with their flock.

    Where did I say this? Striving “to keep in step with the Holy Spirit’s use of the Law” is perfectly consistent with FC VI, and not the same thing as striving to use the Law (in the same sense) in different ways oneself.

    where, specifically in the text of FC VI, do you see it explicitly equating the three uses of the Law are equivalent with “effects on hearers”?

    “Equating” and “equivalent” are your terms, not mine. The three uses of the Law as described in FC VI simply are effects on hearers, based on the grammar of the definitions given there.

    Ep VI:1 – “Since the Law was given to men for three reasons: first, that thereby outward discipline might be maintained against wild, disobedient men; secondly, that men thereby may be led to the knowledge of their sins; thirdly, that after they are regenerate and the flesh notwithstanding cleaves to them, they might on this account have a fixed rule according to which they are to regulate and direct their whole life …”

    SD VI:1 – “Since the Law of God is useful, 1. not only to the end that external discipline and decency are maintained by it against wild, disobedient men; 2. likewise, that through it men are brought to a knowledge of their sins; 3. but also that, when they have been born anew by the Spirit of God, converted to the Lord, and thus the veil of Moses has been lifted from them, they live and walk in the law …”

    Note that there is no mention of preachers, just three different effects that the Law has on people.

    I’ll tell you why this move does not work for me. It, on the basis of a purportedly high view of Scripture, insists that we cannot – and should not – imitate the preaching of Paul and others in the New Testament lest we think that our preaching of the “Word of God” is somehow equivalent to theirs in terms of inspiration and inerrancy … So no – your viewpoint to me seems like something the devil would cook up. I am not saying you are intentionally drawing persons away from the Word of God, only that this is the inevitable practical effect of what you are saying.

    Wow, not exactly best construction there. Again, all of this is in your words, not mine.

    Did you read this one:

    Yes, I read it. I also read Pastor Surburg’s post, and lots of other things. You keep wanting to throw more words at me. What is your objective here? I am just telling you what I see specifically in FC VI, and what I do not see there; nothing more.

    What do you think about church discipline and excommunication? And in the context of our discussion here specifically? Definitely an “effect on the hearer”, but not in the way you are talking about it above…

    Church discipline and excommunication are not the topic of FC VI.

     
    • infanttheology

      January 1, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      aletheist,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ll get back to you later. Happy New Years day.

      +Nathan

       
    • infanttheology

      January 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

      aletheist,

      You say I have not put the best construction on things. Let me just say I am infamous for putting the best construction on things, as my wife says, except for with her and my kids (take from that what you will). Re-reading our conversation, I do think I have been putting the best construction on things, given your position.

      You say I “keep wanting to thrown more words at [you]”. Everything I write is not necessarily for your eyes, but also for mine and others reading my blog who I think could potentially be misled by what I consider your errors. The quote from the Surburg post I thought was appropriate because I came across it again this morning and it seemed to sum up your position perfectly. Would you disagree with that?

      My objective here is to help you see the truth. Nothing more. Does that mean I can’t learn something new as well? Something true? Not at all.

      “Church discipline and excommunication are not the topic of FC VI.”

      Not directly, but certainly indirectly. It all ties together:

      11] For the Law says indeed that it is God’s will and command that we should walk in a new life, but it does not give the power and ability to begin and do it; but the Holy Ghost, who is given and received, not through the Law, but through the preaching of the Gospel, Gal. 3:14, renews the heart. 12] Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it, and to point out and show them in the Ten Commandments what is the [good and] acceptable will of God, Rom. 12:2, in what good works God hath before ordained that they should walk, Eph. 2:10. He exhorts them thereto, and when they are idle, negligent, and rebellious in this matter because of the flesh

      Here we see that it is only when believers are lazy and idle that we see reproof is brought up. But notice there is more involved as well:

      9] Therefore, because of these lusts of the flesh the truly believing, elect, and regenerate children of God need in this life not only the daily instruction and admonition, warning, and threatening of the Law, but also frequently punishments [see 19 and 24 (…also oftentimes by the club of punishments and troubles) also], that they may be roused [the old man is driven out of them] and follow the Spirit of God, as it is written Ps. 119:71: It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes. And again, 1 Cor. 9:27: I keep under my body and bring it into subjection, lest that, by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. And again, Heb. 12:8: But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons; as Dr. Luther has fully explained this at greater length in the Summer Part of the Church Postil, on the Epistle for the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

      Again, this whole third use of the law thing is eminently practical. As children are told – and then forced to go to church or do other good – the children who are becoming more mature in the faith will recognize, that, as Luther said, “the inexperienced and perverse youth need to be restrained and trained by the iron bars of ceremonies lest their unchecked ardor rush headlong into vice after vice… they are rather to be taught that they have been so imprisoned in ceremonies, not that they should be made righteous or gain great merit by them, but that they might thus be kept from doing evil and might more easily be instructed to the righteousness of faith.“

      This, of course, is what those in the mature in the faith are aware of more and more:

      17] But when man is born anew by the Spirit of God, and liberated from the Law, that is, freed from this driver, and is led by the Spirit of Christ, he lives according to the immutable will of God comprised in the Law, and so far as he is born anew, does everything from a free, cheerful spirit; and these are called not properly works of the Law, but works and fruits of the Spirit…” and 18]….”they delight indeed in God’s Law according to the inner man, but the law in their members struggles against the law in their mind; hence they are never without the Law, and nevertheless are not under, but in the Law, and live and walk in the Law of the Lord, and yet do nothing from constraint of the Law.;

      Those who find themselves noticing this reality in them more and more are those who even take responsibility for their own disciplining and punishment of their flesh/old man – even as they will gladly receive correction, admonition, reproof, and punishment for their own good shepherds. Since they, according to their new man, undertake this cheerfully and willingly, they do not do so by constraint of the law.

      So here, we see how matters of church discipline (which leads reluctantly to excommunication) begin in the home, and begin in accordance with the third use of the law. Hence, as the Epitome and Formula both end:

      Accordingly, we reject as a dogma and error injurious to, and conflicting with, Christian discipline and true godliness the teaching that the Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is not to be urged upon Christians and true believers, but only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent.

      I like this to, in the second to last paragraph: “But as they will behold God face to face, so they will, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, do the will of God [the heavenly Father] with unmingled joy, voluntarily, unconstrained, without any hindrance, with entire purity and perfection, and will rejoice in it eternally.”

      This kind of thing begins even now: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (II Cor. 3:18)”.

      This will be the last comment here from me today.

      +Nathan

       
      • Jon Alan Schmidt

        January 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

        Let me just say I am infamous for putting the best construction on things, as my wife says, except for with her and my kids (take from that what you will).

        My wife and kids would probably say the same about me. 🙂

        You say I have not put the best construction on things … Re-reading our conversation, I do think I have been putting the best construction on things, given your position.

        What “position” are you attributing to me that troubles you so much? I mentioned best construction specifically in response to this earlier comment (emphasis added).

        I’ll tell you why this move does not work for me. It, on the basis of a purportedly high view of Scripture, insists that we cannot – and should not – imitate the preaching of Paul and others in the New Testament lest we think that our preaching of the “Word of God” is somehow equivalent to theirs in terms of inspiration and inerrancy … So no – your viewpoint to me seems like something the devil would cook up. I am not saying you are intentionally drawing persons away from the Word of God, only that this is the inevitable practical effect of what you are saying.

        I have never insisted that we cannot or should not “imitate the preaching of Paul and others in the New Testament.” My point was that Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so we know that anything Paul was doing intentionally was also being done intentionally by the Holy Spirit. In any case, the book of Romans is a letter, not a sermon; Paul was not “preaching” – at least not in the ordinary sense of the word – when he composed it.

        The quote from the Surburg post I thought was appropriate because I came across it again this morning and it seemed to sum up your position perfectly. Would you disagree with that?

        Yes, I disagree with that particular characterization of “my” position. For example, the fact that the Law itself always accuses does not entail that we always have to “assume that it will function in its second use for some, if not most, hearers,” especially when the audience consists primarily of believers. Being “told that we should just preach law” does not entail that “we should [only] speak in ways that are most commonly associated with the second use.” These kinds of assertions reveal ongoing confusion between uses of the Law (by the Holy Spirit) and ways of preaching the Law (by people); they are different, and there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between them.

        Here we see that it is only when believers are lazy and idle that we see reproof is brought up.

        And Who is doing all of the teaching, exhorting, and reproving in FC SD VI:12? “Thereafter the Holy Ghost employs the Law so as to teach the regenerate from it … He exhorts them … He reproves them …” Please understand, this is really the only fundamental point that I have been making: the Holy Spirit is the only One who “uses” the Law, according to the actual text of FC VI. Therefore, insisting that preachers can and should “use” the Law in different ways, and claiming warrant for this from FC VI, is going beyond what the text actually says.

        Any other conclusions or implications that you are drawing from this are not coming from what I have explicitly stated here or over at Steadfast Lutherans. For example, there may very well be solid Biblical, confessional, theological, and/or practical arguments for preaching the Law in different ways to different audiences or on different occasions; they just cannot and will not be grounded in the “uses” of the Law as specifically defined by the text of FC VI.

        I hope that clears things up. Happy New Year to you and your family!

         
  11. infanttheology

    January 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    aletheist,

    Again, thanks for this conversation. Blessings to you and yours as well.

    You say that what I am saying ” just cannot and will not be grounded in the “uses” of the Law as specifically defined by the text of FC VI.” This, of course, is the fundamental disagreement. I say: of course you can, that is what it is all about, and your gloss on this is a new view on these matters, akin to what Pastor Surburg called the “new perspective on sanctification”.

    Again, specifically, the position I find most troubling (from the devil, I said, unbeknownst to you, I presume) was this:

    “The issue is whether a preacher today can legitimately “use” the Law in different ways, or if he simply preaches the Law and the Holy Spirit takes it from there, which is what FC VI describes.”

    Critical here are the last two paragraphs I posted from Pastor Surburg:

    “…Paul provides the apostolic pattern that we need to follow. And in fact we can go beyond that assertion. For while Paul can’t control the Spirit’s use of the law, in the mystery of the inspiration of Scripture what Paul writes is exactly what the Spirit wants to be said. The apostolic model of exhortation and admonition affirmed by Luther and described by FC VI as the third use of the law is in fact the Spirit provided model and pattern of addressing Christians.

    Our theologizing about the nature of the law and the manner in which the Spirit may or may not use it cannot be allowed to become something that precludes pastors from speaking the way Scripture speaks. Theological constructs about the individual’s experience of the law that have their roots in the twentieth century cannot be allowed to preempt preaching and teaching that employs the language of the inspired, apostolic pattern.

    So yes, I think your (and many other’s assertion) that the three uses is all about the three different effects of the law upon its hearers is fundamentally a false statement. And excessively harmful, in that it the end, it sets up a false framework of understanding that ultimately negates, minimizes, downplays and mitigates all the points that I have been making about the role of the Christian in teaching sanctification, new obedience, Christian discipline, etc (we see this today primarily in the worship wars, which I will be talking about this in an upcoming series of posts)

    And yes (to address your fallback argument), Paul may be writing letters, but I don’t think its debatable that his letters would be that different than his sermons. No one in church history has ever mentioned this as a point we should consider important.

    Let’s go back to what you said earlier: “However, conspiciously absent are specific instructions about *how* the Law is to be preached; in particular, there is no indication that the Law is to be preached *differently* to the two types of hearers” and ” FC VI never says *how* the Law is to be preached to believers; only *that* it is and *why*”

    I simply disagree with this, and am not really sure how to convince you that you are wrong here since all my efforts thusfar have failed. I again refer you to my comment about FC X at BJS where I note that there are many who clearly misinterpret the article on adiaphora (would you agree with me here?) saying that they are not misinterpreting the article because they are sticking with the text. Of course, if persons know more about what the text on FC X is based on, they should be able to readily discern what it really means. The text is not necessarily unclear, but its more shorthand nature is also a reality. As Rome often says, infallibility does not mean something was written as clearly or helpfully as it could have been! (not saying the BOC is necessarily infallible, even as I note Robert Preus did talk about the true church being infallible).

    For me, at least, this is very clear. Neither Luther, nor any of the Reformer, nor Walther, would understand, I submit, your insistence that FC VI never says that anyone “uses” the Law except the Holy Spirit. They would understand, like Marquart, Sonntag, Surburg and I have been saying, that ultimately the Holy Spirit is in control, and what the proclaimer intends to happen may not take effect, but not this strange notion that we should not try and use the laws in certain ways (which you are not necessarily saying, but you are necessarily saying that FC VI is not specifically talking about these matters). I believe the position that you are taking is basically unique to Lutheranism – a very recent idea – and that it, in its abstract nature – would have been unfathomable and unthinkable to earlier generations of Lutherans.

    I don’t know how to “prove” this to you. Note that at the end of both FC VI and its Epitome: “Accordingly, we reject as a dogma and error injurious to, and conflicting with, Christian discipline and true godliness the teaching that the Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is not to be urged upon Christians and true believers, but only upon unbelievers, non-Christians, and the impenitent.”

    Note that it does not say that “we reject… that the Law is not to urged upon Christians”, but it says “we reject… that the Law in the above-mentioned way and degree is not to urged upon Christians…”. That is, contrary to your assertion, talking about how the Law is used differently in FC VI, namely, with the new obedience in mind, not repentance unto life (FC V, where you do not disagree that the proclaimer should be intentional in “how” he proclaims)

    And not just by the Spirit either. This article is not to instruct and edify the Holy Spirit, but leaders in the church. This goes hand-in-hand with what I just wrote about discipline. The third use of the law also has to sometimes do with physical discipline/restraint being administered against the believer (by himself or others) – the Holy Spirit is involved here, but clearly human beings are going to need to be cooperating with Him.

    “I disagree with that particular characterization of “my” position. For example, the fact that the Law itself always accuses does not entail that we always have to “assume that it will function in its second use for some, if not most, hearers,” especially when the audience consists primarily of believers. Being “told that we should just preach law” does not entail that “we should [only] speak in ways that are most commonly associated with the second use.” These kinds of assertions reveal ongoing confusion between uses of the Law (by the Holy Spirit) and ways of preaching the Law (by people); they are different, and there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between them.”

    You see that there are different ways of preaching law (although please note that FC V specifically talks about how this way of preaching is also for believers), which I think is a significant step. I, of course, equate that with the uses of the Law mentioned in FC. I believe this is what the text says and means.

    All from me for today. Probably a week. : )

    +Nathan

     
  12. Jon Alan Schmidt

    January 3, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I think that the discussion has run its course. We agree that the Law should be preached to Christians, and that there are different ways in which people can preach the Law. We disagree on whether those different ways of preaching are what FC VI means by “uses of the Law.”

     
  13. infanttheology

    January 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Jon (perhaps I should start using your real name now that I don’t see aletheist anywhere : )),

    Let me give you a bit more food for thought, complements of a pastor friend who read our conversation and talked with me a bit about it.

    He first said, “Whatever happened to “he who hears you, hears me”?”

    Then, note this quote from a church order for Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel (1569) that Chemnitz and Andreae were responsible for. It is a clear explanation of what a sermon should be all about “in our Lutheran congregations”:

    “Preachers should be diligent not to preach in generalities, but always to arrange the material according to these parts: sin; God’s wrath and punishment of sin; contrition, remorse, anxiety of the conscience, etc.; the resolve to abandon and avoid sin; the person of Christ; His office and merit; God’s grace; the forgiveness of sin; faith; the good fruits of faith, such as the good resolve to do better, good works, patience in suffering, etc. This is done so that in the sermons, the teaching may always have its application or accommodation to use, as the doctrine should be used in the best way.”

    The pastor friend I speak of was able to get a sneak peek at this even though it won’t appear in print in English until it appears in a CPH book next fall.

    Here we see that for Chemnitz and Andreae (main authors of the FOC!) the idea that it is the Spirit who uses the law after the gospel does not mean the pastor should not carefully arrange the sermon in a certain way (as the quote indicates). He should, because he knows (from Scripture) how the Spirit wishes to use the law after the gospel (i.e. for instruction) and so he will arrange his sermon accordingly just like Paul arranged his letters accordingly.

    Also note that in Martin Chemnitz’s loci he has a section on how the Ten Commandments should be taught and preached. Its worth a look to (see 7, 8, and especially 10).

    Remember the criticism by Walther of the pious pastor who just wants to preach the word of God without being clear about what he wants to accomplish by that preaching (ie., not taking aim at certain errors, sins, etc.) that Pastor Sonntag mentioned in his paper on God’s last word. This seems to take direct aim at the position that I hear from you….

    And I see the logical conclusion being this: Basically, since we are not Apostles ourselves, inspired by the Spirit like Paul was, the preacher should never try to apply God’s word in a way that will “hit the spot”. All is abstracted and removed from reality, and then the ELCA pietist-types (many who loved Forde and love Paulson and their more readily hi-jackable modern abd existentialism-based theology) move in and do not hesitate for one moment – now that the saints are toothless – to vigorously apply their false law to us more intolerant types (in a very sophisticated and high brow way of course).

    The position I hear from you sounds like our words are never fully “capable” of God’s Word and Spirit. The linkage between Spirit and letter seems tenuous at best…. Perhaps here we fall into the Reformed / enthusiasm trap here for what are presumably pious / “monergistic” reasons… (see this post: https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/on-with-the-reformation-circa-1567-the-under-appreciated-matthias-flacius-illyricus-part-ii-of-iii/ )

    But again, I call it deception. It is all a way that Satan can use to gradually undermine the word of God and the true church of God on earth.

    +Nathan

     

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