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Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Popularity of Steven Paulson’s Adaptation of Luther’s Theology. Part 4.

And please God, bless me with this first: “Let the righteous man strike me; let his rebuke be an act of loving devotion. It is oil for my head; let me not refuse it…” – David

 

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Are some of you still wondering about the relative influence of 1517/2011 Legacy’s Steve Pauslon—who, again, confesses that Christ committed sin—in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (the LC-MS) (not to mention smaller Lutheran groups like the NALC or LCMC)?

If so, why in particular, are you hesitating?

That was good. Let’s hear it one more time: “Let no one become dismayed at the criticism that the Missouri fathers were a stern, unloving set of fighters, who forgot the gentler aspects of Christianity over their devotion to rigorous discipline. None that raise this charge come into court with clean hands. The love that can see some one err and not tell him of it is no love…” — W.H.T. Dau, 1922, at the LC-MS’s 75th Anniversary celebration

 

What I presented in part 2 in particular and at the beginning of part 3….

…certainly compels and concerns me, convincing me we can’t let up…

How much evidence do you need of his heresy? What will be enough for you?

And how can I prove to you his influence?

“Some may think Lutheranism is staid and respectable, but [Paulson’s Lutheran Theology] shows just how radical and mind-blowing Lutheranism — with its teachings about the Law and Gospel, the Word and Sacraments — really is.”– Gene Veith, in 2014 — but see right below!

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Like I noted in part 3, people do in fact change all the time. Pastor Wilken is one. Gene Veith is another. After I told Dr. Veith that the above quote from him about Paulson could be found on the LCMS website, he told me to share the following:

It was in reading your critiques of Paulson, Forde, and the “radical Lutherans” (as well as those of Pastor Cooper and others) that I became aware of their teachings on the atonement and other issues. I was not aware of those before! So, no, I don’t agree with these people anymore. Where is that quote from me on the LCMS website?!

It is the third hit from the bottom on a search for Paulson. Someone at the LCMS website might want to remove this…

 

There is so much I wish you, like Pastor Wilken! like Gene Veith! could see…

My view is that of John Warwick Montgomery’s back in the mid-1960s about the impending “Battle for the Bible” (“Seminex”):

“Only an inebriated mole would claim that the Missouri Synod is not in theological ferment.”

“Only an inebriated mole would claim that the Missouri Synod is not in theological ferment.” – John Warwick Montgomery, in 1966

 

We in the LC-MS have some waking up to do… Of course the past, to no small degree, has shaped and will shape our future…

And our challenges probably aren’t going to be getting any easier either

…but we, by God’s Spirit, can call one another to repentance… to perpetual repentance… to strengthen what remains!

There is much work to do. In this series of course, we are talking about Steve Paulson’s teaching and influence in particular.

And really, I don’t think that his kind of theology, carrying on the legacy of Forde’s “Radical Lutheranism,” is going away without an ongoing fight – even if his “brand” were sufficiently damaged that fewer people would feel free to be so open about their appreciation and love for it.

Maybe I won’t advertise that sticker after all…

 

I wish that it wasn’t necessary at this point, but let me say a bit more about why I am as concerned as I am:

Paulson is a very impressive, compelling, and likeable figure.

I myself have admitted on this blog, in the past, “I… am quite easily taken by the man… he is also a very interesting writer, to be sure, and I often find myself—against my better judgment, I think—wanting to agree with him…”

This is, in fact, the man who spoke at the LC-MS theological seminary in Fort Wayne a few years ago and received a standing ovation for a speech talking about some of the themes from his 2011 book, Lutheran Theology. As a friend put it For a guy with such heterodox understandings, he’s really got Confessional Lutherans’ number.

Robert Kolb’s recommendations for Gospel Coalition readers…

 

Here is something I said on my Facebook page not long ago to a man I had previously identified as firmly in the tank with the Radical Lutheranism (and who pleasantly surprised me, giving me his ear):

The influence of a man like Paulson is not in question. CPH has published his work. His books and/or articles are read in the seminaries. An Amazon review for the book containing the error says “I highly recommend this book. It also comes highly recommended by many highly respected Confessional Lutheran theologians as well, and was posted as a great introductory boom to Lutheran theology on the LCMS web site.” [This alone speaks…] to the overall prevalence of this teaching in LC-MS circles. It’s pretty systematic really. See this from Kolb: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/lutheran-theology/ ([the] citations at the end). The 2011 book mentioned above was popular for several years before I even heard about some of the horrible things it contained from other concerned pastors and laypersons: https://www.patheos.com/…/problem-steven-paulsons…/

Again, many more theologically-inclined pastors in the LC-MS know that “Radical Lutheranism,” a term coined by Paulson’s revered teacher, the late Gerhard Forde, has been a staple in the LC-MS colleges and seminaries for upwards of the last 30 years… (and see part 3 again as well)

I part 1 here, I talk about my own seminary experience (1998-2000) and the appeal of Forde.

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One man, in fact, described his recent LC-MS seminary experience this way:

“’Radical Lutheranism’ to me is like a mind virus. Especially for the more academic inclined. I’d say the largest influence is probably the Systematics core courses (at least as I experienced them). The younger profs, in the rush to kill [Francis] Pieper, grabbed what was ‘hot’ at the time – Forde. Specifically the Heidelberg Disputation. And there are parts of it that are useful and can be taken in a pious orthodox way. In small doses maybe. But if you marinate in it. It you want the “radical” label. That is where is becomes dangerous. It is the radical label that moves to a lutheran strain of liberation theology. The LQB (Lutheran Quarterly Books) are easy to grab and use. I had several already on the shelf from sem. They are more serious than your typically American Evangelical fluff, but they are usable. They are aimed as parish bible studies. And they are all law/gospel as marxist dialectic. https://amazon.com/s?i=digital-te

Francis Peiper, evidently the Scriptural-Inerrancy-Professing, Progressive-Sanctification-Pushing, Brief-Statement-Writing, Synodical-Conference-Supporting, Atonement-Upholding-Legalist we could all use a little bit less of?…

 

May it never be!

But it is.

 

Other pastors will tell you the same about what seminary taught them and also what vicars they have trained were taught… Forde, Forde, and more Forde (and Paulson carries Forde’s mission forward)!

As one put it: “There was a definite aversion to any 3rd use of the Law preaching. Don’t tell people how to live, trust the Gospel…” Nevermind that nothing squares with Paul’s epistles and the preaching of Luther, Gerhardt, and Walther! – if you have the nerve to care about sounding like the Apostle Paul in the latter half of his epistles, you are practically crazy and trying to “save the law”.

No. You will, must, conform to their method, and hence learn to be comfortable with seemingly reasonable-sounding false dichotomies like the following:

  • God’s law is not a window through which we inspect other people’s sins, but a mirror to reveal our own.
  • You may use your conscience to guide your behavior. You may not use your conscience to guide my behavior
  • Martin Luther believed that the Old and New Adam, or Eve, are clearly bound in a life and death struggle within each person…

Note in that last one how even the fact that Christians are saints and sinners at the same time is being abused, as a theology is now emerging which is applying it to human beings in general (and not just by Nadia Bolz-Webber):

And we saw Steve Paulson do this application of “the Simul” to Christ himself in part 2Christ not just as the one who becomes a sinner by the imputation of our sin but by committing his own actual sin.

“Christ shares in our misery, but does not take our place under God’s wrath. If this were the case, so it is argued, law would become superior to God. According to Forde and Paulson, this cannot be allowed, because law is not eternal and does not belong to who God is. Christ shares in our sin, not by imputation but by becoming one with us. – David Scaer, on Comrade Christ’s solidarity with us replacing the Father’s true wrath, p. 12

 

In the LC-MS Reporter article “ELCA’s Paulson to speak at Ft. Wayne seminary,” Dr. John Pless has said of Dr. Paulson that he “is an outstanding theologian with a deep grasp on insights from Martin Luther for contemporary Christians.”

“Dr. Paulson is an outstanding theologian with a deep grasp on insights from Martin Luther for contemporary Christians.” — John Pless

 

And, as David Scaer reports, in 2018 Dr. Pless also wrote an article titled “Twenty-Five Titles in Twenty-Fives Years,” that touts Paulson’s 2011 Lutheran Theology book: “Paulson’s Lutheran Theology is listed by Logia as one of the twenty-five best books in the last twenty-five years” (in Scaer, David, “Is Law Intrinsic to God’s Essence?”, p. 11).

Et tu, LOGIA?

 

We have some big problems here.

Paulson and a plethora of Forde-friendly-fellows within. Read the above and below. A little cognitive dissonance?

 

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Or do we? Remember how I started parts 1 and 2 of this series with this statement?: I firmly reject as extremely wrong and unhelpful the notion that any severe criticism of Steven Paulson is alarmist and divisive.

There is a good reason for that.

In spite of men like Brent Kuhlman, Paul McCain, Jordan Cooper, Eric Phillips, Mark Surburg, David Scaer, Christopher Jackson, Peter Scaer and Todd Wilken sounding the alarm, few seem to want or be willing to make a huge stink about this issue…

“This bizarre and totally unacceptable interpretation cannot go unanswered. Jesus’ plea to God in the moment of his greatest desperation was the most profound expression of faith ever spoken.” – David Scaer, on the Radical Lutheran heresy, p. 14

 

So… how bad can it really be? Just one little popular pastor teaching that Christ committed His own personal, actual, original sin?

Indeed, some proponents of Forde and Paulson might try that route (“It is only a few who are mildly protesting this…”), or, even say the following: “Shouldn’t pastors be exposed to this stuff? Shouldn’t they understand what the best inerrancy-denying (or inerrancy-de-emphasizing) theologians are able to pull off in the secular academy? What better place to do all of this than a seminary?”

ELCA/LCMC/NALC –friendly, academically respectable, and more Marxist-friendly Lutheran Theology – access practically guaranteed at a University near you!

 

One pastor, for example, said this to me:

“It shouldn’t be an ‘either/or’ but rather a ‘both/and’. I remember when the new ELCA dogmatics came out way back when I was at [LC-MS] sem[inary]. We spent some time comparing and contrasting it with [Francis] Pieper and [John Theodore] Mueller. It was quite helpful to see both, side-by-side, and has proved to be an invaluable endeavor in being able to show lay-folk the differences, succinctly….”

I replied:

“Of course. At the same time, there is only so much time for reading. And you know the story about the [government agents] who study the real money so they immediately know the fake money. If we are taking so much time to read the unorthodox and even heretical, there is less time to devote to the reading of very good books and to lay a firm foundation. Those book Kolb recommends in his article should not be at the top of anybody’s list. [And, also,] to the best of my knowledge, th[e] kind of comparison and contrast [that you are talking about] is not happening today. Nor are false teachers who are being read being primarily identified as false teachers. Again, see Kolb’s recommendations above. See any caveats? No. And this is the way it usually goes. Names could be named, but because those in the know know who these persons are, it is not really necessary to do so on this public forum. For now, [I want to] deal with the influence of Paulson.”

“A student who does not want his labor wasted must so read and reread some good writer that the author is changed, as it were, into his flesh and blood. For a great variety of reading confuses and does not teach. It makes the student like a man who dwells everywhere and, therefore, nowhere in particular. Just as we do not daily enjoy the society of every one of our friends but only that of a chosen few, so it should also be in our studying.” — Luther

 

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Because of all of the things that I have presented in parts 1-3 and in this post, I recently came to the realization that all my own efforts to kindly and patiently persuade Radical Lutherans were not having the needed effect.

It was a particular event that pushed me to do this:

I started being even more aggressive in my attacks on Radical Lutheranism, and on Good Friday, I posted the following on my Facebook page early in the morning:

 

And, very interestingly, on the face of it, I appear to have gotten what I wanted shortly after I posted that meme (at least that is when someone tipped me off).

Steve Paulson responded to one of his friends–another 1517/2011 Legacy pastor Craig Donofrio–who asked him at my prompting about his teaching that Christ committed sin.

Paulson responded (his response was in part 2 also) and Pastor Donofrio posted the following in the Lutheran Facebook group that he runs:

It is my prayer that this will put the controversy regarding the theology of Steve Paulson to rest. In keeping with the 8th commandment, I approached Dr. Paulson directly – like a grown-up and in an attempt to avoid gossiping.

I received an answer from The Rev. Dr. Steve Paulson regarding that article on Patheos which takes him out of context. If any of you are in touch with Nathan, please share this with him at will.

I asked Dr. Paulson what he meant by Christ sinning and if Jesus actually committed sin or if he was referring to the imputation of our sins to Christ’s account even as Christ exchanges and imputes His righteousness to ours.

This is his response in his own words…

“Craig, the sins are really ours and never Christ’s, until he takes the sins, and becomes sin. He is innocent, sinless. Yet became sin.

We can understand this a little, since even now others can take our sins in their bodies, but not each and every one. And then not only took them, but became them. Who can believe that?

But what people really can’t believe is that there and then the law ended. But that is what faith is, which is faith in Christ, not law. I hope that helps, especially when you are defending me out there. But it is more important to defend Scripture.

Steve”

Now may we never heard disparagement of this man or any other again. If someone seems to be at odds with the Gospel, please approach that person directly and with humility that we might reason together and come to the joy of God’s grace and mercy for sinners as one.

God’s Peace be with you all!!!

– Craig

The question I would have for people who were upset with me about pressing this issue the way I did during holy week and finally on Good Friday is this:

Do you think I should be satisfied? Are you? Again, like I said at the end of part 2: “eventually, you have to take men’s words — yes, in their full context — seriously…

And you will need to decide.

I understand that Pastor Donofrio, who is LC-MS, thinks that everything is just fine (just like John Hoyum, and presumably Caleb and Scott Keith [see parts 2 and 3]).

In fact, before he even posted that response from Dr. Paulson, he warned me and those sympathizing with me about my persistent posting and vigorously defending my posts in his group:

 

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So, what can we learn from posts like part 2,3, and now part 4? It is pretty obvious, isn’t it? The attitude seems to be:

“Be assured that I am a Förde and Paulson fan and will defend them (knowing a problem or two in them, to be sure) to any audience, anytime, anywhere. If LCMS folks see that as somehow ‘confused,’ I don’t care! I will not be an un-loving meanie like you!”

(in other words, we can learn nothing from presumably narrow-minded pastors Mark Surburg, Brent Kuhlman, Paul McCain, Jordan Cooper, Eric Phillips, David Scaer, Christopher Jackson Peter Scaer and Todd Wilken about what it means to be the body of Christ).

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After Pastor Donofrio posted this, I asked the following:

Pastor Donofrio, I interpret this to mean that you don’t think my recent posts here have been particularly helpful. I can try, I suppose, to better regulate the meat and milk I try to bring. If you would though, please let me (and others) know where you stand: if a pastor teaches that Christ committed sin, is that Lutheran? If I as a very concerned layperson insist on calling attention to this fact — and insist on telling those who appreciate and love said pastor (and want to defend him) that I won’t speak with them until they contact said pastor themselves and ask for clarification — *is that beyond the pale for this group?* Furthermore, if I continue to bring up this point from time to time and in less bombastic ways — and am nevertheless hounded about doing so — will I be allowed to defend my position (and sometimes my reputation) so long as I do not resort to name-calling?

I was then banned from the group on the basis of the rule about being a jerk.

 

I do want to point out that I had joined the group by the invitation of a friend and had been under the impression the group would be favorable to the kinds of matters I was bringing up.

Honestly and truly, it is not my nature to go into people’s China shops like a bull…

But what is done is done.

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So, what, ultimately, should we think about all of this? In my mind, this shows what happens when the “missional” impulses of the church overwhelm the “confessing” impulses…

And, perhaps, all in the name of evangelism? No!

 

In truth though, there is no need for contradiction here.

If you are concerned what the world thinks—and let us admit that all of us should and must be to one degree or another, in one context or another—note that even many more clear-headed people in the world will certainly will have no respect for you if you as a Christian won’t even fight back against a fundamental doctrine like the sinlessness of Jesus Christ.

Paulson opponent: We have the victory in the ever sinless and innocent Son of God! He bore our sin and its punishment, just as much as if He himself had committed them!
Paulson proponent: Congratulations, you just denied the atonement, the Bible and Luther.

 

If that is your orientation, why should they ever take you seriously? And why, even more importantly, would your own people?**

Is not the sinlessness of Jesus Christ at the absolute heart of the Christian faith?

I don’t know how many times in the past I have heard 1517/2011 Legacy’s grandfatherly Rod Rosenbladt say that his approach is to begin with the most central truths of Christianity, and to work outward from those (going then to specifics about creation through eschatology, inerrancy, etc.).

Rosenbladt, with sound advice: “Begin with the most central truths of Christianity, and to work outward from those…”

 

Well?

Evidently then, either Daddy Rod does not know what Steve Paulson really teaches or, alternatively, has very little influence in the organization his son Ted founded!

In any case, whatever your view of the church’s public relations vis a vis proclamation (and the sadly necessary task of heresy-hunting*), of course we can’t be satisfied with the explanation Dr. Paulson has offered, which is no explanation at all (again, see part 2 if you want to dig very deeply).

I gravitate towards pastor and professor Peter Scaer’s very direct and honest approach, and it seems like I am not the only one!:

 

That is the kind of bold and joyful leadership that I–and I know many others–will follow!

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Again, what can I do to convince you that this is no small issue?

See here again, from part 2, for a piercing theological critique of Steve Paulson’s book from Dr. Eric Phillips.

Or see here for my own personal efforts to understand and talk with Dr. Paulson.

This issue can’t go away…

The voices of great saints like Ignatius, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine Cyril, Luther, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and Walther will continue.

The remnant, much to the disdain or “modernizing theology,” will indeed live.

But what kind of “confessional Lutheran” LC-MS church are my kids going to know? What kind of tradition will they receive? Legacy inherit?

Can this, indeed, be stopped?

 

Paulson and 2011 Legacy are basically doubling down on the teaching that Christ committed actual sin.

And the “clarification” we saw Paulson issued is anything but.

Let’s be honest: everyone can see that. To not see that is to not show his own words, born of his own serious convictions, the proper respect.

And so, why play games?

I’m not OK with anyone saying my Lord committed sin.

Period.

I don’t care how popular or charismatic, compelling, creative, or even compassionate—in the world’s judgement—you are. I don’t see how pastors can want to be associated with that kind of a teaching, by being unwilling to make an issue of it.

Got issues like me? We are blessed…

 

Or anyone, for that matter.

Anyone who knows and loves our good and innocent Lord who took our own punishment on Himself!

In the event that this issue seems to have gone away, ending with a whimper, you will know that church bodies like the LC-MS have hit the road of no return, and that you will need to look elsewhere to nourish those you love with the pure milk of God’s Word…

“For behold by the wood of your cross joy has come into all the world…”

 

FIN

 

*”Heresy-hunting” – what does this mean?:

I’d say the goal of the heresy-hunter is to hunt down and kill the heresy…

This does not mean that the heresy-hunter has to look very hard or that others don’t see the job that needs to be done. It is just that others are unwilling to do it, perhaps for the reasons given in my original post and re-iterated here by me recently. It’s not really anything like a full-time job that anybody wants or should want. So the heresy-hunter then is very unlike the inspector [] whose job it is to go into a building and find something wrong that no one else can see. Rather, he is willing to be persistent in fighting, through a variety of methods and means – perhaps some respected by wider society and some frowned on by society (and perhaps depending on the nature of the heresy hunted and also the amount of Christian influence in society) — what others all see but do not address.

In my view learning God’s truth more leads to a greater appreciation of the same and a desire to fight against forces that would mean to undermine the Word of God, particularly from within. This is done first and foremost by confessing the truth which gives us life but also by recognizing error and countering it.

You will have nothing to give if a foreign disease penetrates the body and kills the organism.

[More:]

One may become a reluctant heresy hunter. For example, one attempts to have such conversations and really does have some such conversations for years. And one sees that conversation doesn’t help much, either because the one trying to start the conversation is resented, seen as being an annoyance, not really having the place to question them, etc, or, alternatively, because it becomes more clear how deep the rabbit hole goes, and how deeply the heresy is held….

And then, it dawns on them that the heretic has really been quite clear all the long! And all this talk about conversation, following Matthew 18, etc, while well-intentioned, is really not all that helpful. It would have been more helpful if, right from the beginning, you had enough respect for the theologian to take his words seriously. To believe of the heretic-theologian that they said the words they said and meant what they said because they have a very well-developed theological outlook, even if they are not John Calvin. There are very good reasons why they said what they said.

And what they said, again, on the face of it, was clearly heretical. And now, like the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, no one is saying much about it, and people are letting it slide because of power, position, charisma, indifference, apathy, whatever.

And the heresy hunter is born… Why must I do this? Why must I defend my Lord in this way?

And wait… I can’t say that. I can’t make myself out to be the victim! I just must do this. I just must see this as a strange honor, as something that perhaps I should do. I now must fight. Until the scourge is removed.” (originally posted on the ALPB Forum)

** I am encouraged rather, by the comment of my friend Keith Horrigan, who said: “As a layperson, it is actually comforting for me to know that even among the academics there are conflicting opinions being worked out among you…”

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

The Popularity of Steven Paulson’s Adaptation of Luther’s Theology. Part 3.

 

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So, just in case the last post wasn’t clear enough in the point it was trying to make…

There is still a lot of work to do regarding the 1517, er, I mean 2011 Legacy Project.

More and more people need to know who Steve Paulson is, what he teaches, and that such teaching will cannot be tolerated.

On the other hand, for the 2011 Legacy Project though — at least for some of them! — Steven Paulson’s #FakeLutheranism really shows the way forward for Lutheran theology…

Don’t back down, double down. Message from 2011’s John Hoyum: Gerhard Forde has his problems when it comes to the atonement, but here Paulson shows us a helpful way forward…

 

 

Paulson opponent: We have the victory in the ever sinless and innocent Son of God! He bore our sin and its punishment, just as much as if He himself had committed them!
Paulson proponent: Congratulations, you just denied the atonement, the Bible and Luther.

 

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In some ways, this post is just going to read like an advertisement for all things Steven Paulson, the man who has taught us that Christ committed sin.

 

No, he doesn’t have the influence of Christian celebrity pastors in America who hold sway over tens of thousands, even millions, but he is heavily influential among important and highly visible conservative Lutheran theologians.

In spite of what some folks, including some people I like very much, might tell you.

“No Forde and Paulson don’t matter. People don’t know them. People don’t care.” — LC-MS pastor George Borghardt (please see note below, at the end of this post, at *).

 

No, Paulson has the ear of many people who exercise a lot of influence in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LC-MS). And in this respect, he is just like Gerhard Forde, the father of Radical Lutheranism…

And yet, “Hallelujah!”

We all know change can, and does, happen. Will happen.

Finally, before jumping into the flurry of tweets below, I also want you to know that what follows was not easy to do, given that on my main computer I am now blocked from most of these Steven-Paulson-pushing accounts…**

…but we make sacrifices, don’t we?

Love wins.

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Tweets are chronological. Keep in mind that these tweets are simply meant to show Paulson’s influence and appeal.

And Paulson too.

 

Oh, another thing: many of the statements below, on the face of it, are unobjectionable or even good.

It is only when one understands them through the lens of “Christ committing sin” though, that one sees they do not necessarily mean what they appear to mean.

Oh, and yes, by the way, for those of you who cannot get enough of my wild-eyed and evilly evil heresy-hunting, fear not!

“Let no one become dismayed at the criticism that the Missouri fathers were a stern, unloving set of fighters, who forgot the gentler aspects of Christianity over their devotion to rigorous discipline. None that raise this charge come into court with clean hands. The love that can see some one err and not tell him of it is no love…” — W.H.T. Dau, 1922, at the LC-MS’s 75th Anniversary celebration

 

There will be a part 4 as well…

Tweet interlude — see here.

 

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Again, there isn’t anything wrong with a lot of those tweets. The issue, however, as is often the case, is what is not said or said very little… you need to listen carefully to everything that is being said in the sometimes not-so-prominent places…

To end this post with some good tweets, I’d like to commend these recent ones from Pastor Todd Wilken and layman Lex Lutheran:

FIN

 

*I let Pastor Borghardt know about this quote and he said the following: “I believe the context of my quote is important.. If memory serves I said this on Good Friday evening during a pandemic, correct?” I replied: “Every other day would be OK, huh? : ) Seriously, let me know, and I will add whatever information or clarification you want me to add…” The full context of the quote can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/pjscaer/posts/10163365005320252

**@1517, @ThinkingFellows, @Caleb_E_Keith, @JohannesFlacius, @birdchadlouis, and @dan_vanvoorhis. Also Radical Lutheran sympathizers and those who sympathize with them and more modern Lutheran forms of theology like @TullianT, @RevMattRichard, Steve “The Old Adam” Martin (@pudicat11), Jack Kilcrease, and Peter Malysz (on Facebook)

Note: Radical Lutheran and Radical Lutheran sympathizing friends, I have never blocked anyone and can’t see myself blocking you in the future (by the way, I don’t think there is anything wrong with blocking someone, its just not something I plan on doing or have ever wanted to do). You can block me all you want (you are a growing number), but it won’t change me. Again, to be clear, any Christian is certainly permitted to do this, but I won’t do it to you. I’ll always listen to you and your concerns. I might not respond or change, but I will listen and take your words with the utmost seriousness.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

The Popularity of Steven Paulson’s Adaptation of Luther’s Theology. Part 2.

What does he mean? How difficult is it to discern?

 

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First of all, I want to repeat: “I firmly reject as extremely wrong and unhelpful the notion that any severe criticism of Steven Paulson is alarmist and divisive.” And, furthermore, I want to thank everyone who has offered public or private support for my unauthorized holy inquisition. It is greatly appreciated!

Now….this longer post is all business — for the seriously theological types. 

The last part of the post (the seventh part!) will definitely look at the influence Steven Paulson’s theology has had on some up-and-coming theologians of 1517 Legacy, which again, I am re-labeling as 2011 Legacy (the year Paulson’s widely acclaimed Lutheran Theology was published)

The first several parts of this post, however, will take the time to look at some of Steve Paulson’s words as well as interpretations and severe critiques — which I believe are fully justified — of the same.

First however, we will take a look at a bit of what Luther said about Galatians 3:13, since this is where those who defend Steve Paulson’s remarks that “Christ committed sin” go first.

“Whenever someone tries to out-Gospel the Gospel, it always destroys the Gospel.” — Todd Wilken (tweet out the quote)

 

One Paulson proponent offered the following passages:

“Without any doubt, the prophets in the Spirit saw that Christ would be the greatest transgressor, assassin, adulterer, thief, rebel, and blasphemer that ever existed on earth. When He was made the sacrifice for the sins of the entire world, He is no longer innocent and without sin. He is no longer the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary but a sinner…”

“I answer, if you deny Him as a sinner and accursed, you should also deny that He was crucified and put to death because it is no less absurd to say that the Son of God (such as our faith confesses and believes) was crucified and suffered pain of sin and death than to say that He is a sinner and damned.”

“Every sin that I, you, and we all have committed, and will commit from here on, are Jesus’ own sins, just as much as if He himself, had committed them. In brief, our sin should become Jesus’ own sin Otherwise, we are lost forever” – Martin Luther, Commentary on Gal. 3:13 (emphasis mine)

These passages of course, which in turn echo and amplify certain Biblical passages, have always been interpreted by serious Lutherans — and not only them! — as Jesus bearing the whole weight of the sins of the world, as they are credited, or imputed, to Him.

Passion of the Christ, 2004

 

Those who would like to read more quotes like this from Luther’s Galatians commentary can also see my blog post “Jesus Became Sin – But Did He Also Become a Sinner According to God’s Law?”

So, to underscore the reason for beginning the post in this fashion: A big question about this debate — in the minds of Radical Lutherans, at least — is whether a special degree of latitude is being offered to Martin Luther that is not being offered to Steve Paulson. I’d contend that that is most definitely not the case, and I hope that this post better helps you to answer that question as well.

+++

Second, we move onto what Paulson says, beginning with what Pastor Jordan Cooper quoted from Pages 103-105 in his book Lutheran Theology in his post “My Problem with Steven Paulson’s Theology” (all italics are Pastor Cooper’s):

“[Jesus] wants to take your sins and leave it to no one else; so he sins against the Golden Rule.” (Lutheran Theology, 103).

“When Christ took sin by association, he not only transgressed the law, but placed himself “under an evil lord.” (Lutheran Theology, 104).

“Here Paul’s point is exact: the law is no respecter of persons, it does not identify Christ among sinners as an exception to the rule. Law as “blind lady justice” executes its judgment regardless of race, color, creed—or divinity.” (Lutheran Theology, 104).

“Christ comes to believe he was guilty.” (Lutheran Theology, 105).

“Confessing made it so, and thus Christ committed his own, personal sin—not only an actual sin, but the original sin.” (Lutheran Theology, 105).

“Fifth, Jesus could not seem to stop himself once this sin began rolling downhill, not only did he confess our sins as his own (and believed it), but he proceeded to take on every single sin ever committed in the world: “I have committed the sins of the world” (“Ego commisi peccata mundi”).” (Lutheran Theology, 105).

Pastor Cooper ends his brief post: “Read the section yourself, and come away with whatever conclusion you will, but as far as I know, Paulson has not publicly corrected these comments.”

+++

Third, Pastor Todd Wilken offers his own quote from Paulson’s 2011 book with the following view and appraisal:

Again:

  • “Confessing made it so, and thus Christ committed his own personal sin–not only an actual sin but the original sin.”
  • “He felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him.”
  • “He looked upon himself on the cross and believed in his own belief!”

Does one really need anything more than this?

Why!?

Are these not plain words that are going far beyond anything Martin Luther would have said, dared to say, or ever dreamed of saying?

+++

Fourth, in his journal article, “Lutheran Theology by Steven D.Paulson: A Review Essay”, Dr. Eric Phillips gives Steven Paulson’s careful words (this is an academic book folks) the attention they deserve, and goes on to interpret Paulson in the following way:

Because Paulson is a gifted communicator, you can usually follow him from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph, but when it comes time to summarize and evaluate his big-picture ideas, the reader has to do a lot of synthesis, drawing from all over the book and figuring out how to resolve the contradictions that arise….

How did Jesus save us? By breaking the Law Himself:

Christ goes deeper yet into flesh to take our sin. Although he did not commit a sin, he not only ate with sinners, but acknowledged sins as his own, that is, he confessed (confessio) them. This is like a man whose son has committed a crime, and out of selfless love the father steps in to take the punishment, but then goes too far— he irrationally comes to confess this crime so vehemently that he believes he has committed it— and as Luther famously said, “as you believe, so it is.” …Unfortunately, Christ suffered on the cross the cost of anthropological projection of the heart’s faith, where he came to believe that his Father was not pleased with him, thus multiplying sin in himself just like any other original sinner who does not trust a promise from God. …Then finally in the words on the cross, “My God, my God…” he made the public confession of a sinner, “why have you forsaken me?” Confessing made it so, and thus Christ committed his own, personal sin—not only an actual sin, but the original sin. He felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him (“This is My Son, with whom I am well pleased”). (104-5)

Here is a contradiction much more confounding than the one mentioned above. “He did not commit a sin,” Paulson writes, and then less than a page later, “Christ committed his own, personal sin.” The first statement is what we expect to hear any Christian confess, but the second statement, the blasphemous one, is carefully justified and explained much differently than the confusing stuff in the middle about “irrationally coming to confess” the crime of a loved one. “He felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him.” That’s exactly how Paulson defines Original Sin in another part of the book: “It is to receive a word from God in the form of a promise, and then to accuse God of withholding something of himself—calling God a liar” (152). Paulson attempts to resolve the contradiction by distinguishing between obedience to the Law and obedience to God: “This does not change the fact that the Son was obedient to the Father; it only confirms the fact that obedience to his Father is not the same thing as obedience to the law…” (107). But even that doesn’t work, because he has accused Jesus not only of violating a commandment, but of “calling God a liar.” That is, the sin Paulson accuses Him of was committed directly against the Father, so what does he hope to gain by suggesting that Jesus could disobey the law while obeying the Father? It seems he must mean that the Father told Him to sin, and so by sinning He was really obeying the Father, even if the Law had to condemn Him, not being in on that little secret.

And how is this supposed to work salvation for sinners, that the spotless Lamb should join them in the mud? Paulson says that by identifying so deeply with human beings as to take their sin and actually experience the act of sin, He confessed not just that He was a sinner, but that He was every sinner, the only sinner. The result of this confession, for some reason, was that “once the Law accused Christ, it looked around and found no other sin anywhere in the world and suddenly, unexpectedly, when Christ was crucified, its proper work came to a halt” (110). It is not clear at all by what principle this works. It seems a bizarre and inadequate theory to prefer to the Substitutionary Atonement taught in the Lutheran Confessions, but this is what Paulson means when he says that Christ “fulfilled the law” (e.g. 183).

His use of this terminology is misleading at best, because the way you fulfill a law is by obeying it, and that is the opposite of what he means. He means only that the law is spent, used up, passed away. “The law is eternally in the past for those who have been put to death in baptism; it is a memory. Their future is without any law, since a good heart does the works of the law—without any law at all— perfectly freely” (225).

Note that this interpretation coincides with Pastor Cooper’s and Pastor Wilken’s points and concerns. And note also that this interpretation certainly appears to do justice to all of Paulson’s words, also taking into context the rest of what he says in the book.

“To call Christ a sinner, and to treat Him as such, is to number Him with sinners. To call Christ sin is to call Him a sin offering, because this is how the OT sacrifices consistently speak of it (“sin offering” is simply the word “sin”).” — Pastor Eric Phillips

 

+++

Fifth, in my own blog post, “What Does the 1517 Legacy Project Believe Concerning the Nature of God’s Law and the Atonement?” I offer the following summary of what I believe to be Paulson’s viewpoint, and bring in other Luther quotes and Radical Lutheran beliefs as well:

Luther tells us that “the law’s proper effect…you always ought to remain in the chief (principal) definition of the law, that it works wrath and hatred and despair…”

According to [Paulson], Jesus Himself felt this wrath: “[Jesus] felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him”

By its own standard, which cannot be violated (as a friend once told me “When the Law says ‘stone’ you stone!), the law “justly” but falsely accuses Jesus of being a sinner.

([As [Paulson] say[s]:] “Here Paul’s point is exact: the law is no respecter of persons, it does not identify Christ among sinners as an exception to the rule. Law as “blind lady justice” executes its judgment regardless of race, color, creed—or divinity.”)

Why? Is this perhaps where we say that the law, though good, is weak? It is “good” temporally, and has a practical function for the time being, but ultimately is a creation of this world that is passing away?

Is it because the Law, focused on externals, can’t distinguish between a cry of dereliction that dishonors God and one which, though without faith, was, given the circumstances, in some sense justified?

When[, as [Paulson] say[s],] Christ “irrationally comes to confess this crime so vehemently that he believes he has committed it— and as Luther famously said, “as you believe, so it is,” does God, seeing this occur, change His mind about sin?

Is this where the will of God accepts Christ’s lack of trust and cry of dereliction that results when Christ personally takes on the sin of the whole world? – i.e. this unbelief is somehow understandable?!

For [Paulson] then, does the law falsely accuse Jesus of sinning when, in fact, by God’s judgment (which makes it so!) “ontologically Christ didn’t sin” (not sure where this quote is from, but someone claimed it for [Paulson])? [update: see Lutheran Theology, 109]

If so, the law of God here, on the other hand, does not accept this. Because, ultimately, the law of God is not the will of God – in the end it is distinct from, apart from, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

[As [Paulson] say[s]:] “As long as God’s anger at sin, his law, is his righteousness, then his righteousness is in the process of destroying the whole cosmos”

“[A]ll laws that regulate men’s actions must be subject to justice [Billicheit], their mistress, because of the innumerable and varied circumstances which no one can anticipate or set down.” (LW 46:103; WA 19:632)

When it comes to law, good decisions are made “as though there were no books.” “Such a free decision is given, however, by love and natural law, with which all reason is filled ; out of books come extravagant and untenable judgments” (LW 45:128 ; WA 11:279)

In the end then, Jesus did not just, as the Scriptures say, “Become sin” for us – He also became a Sinner according to God’s law, which now passes away…

E.g. [as [Paulson] say[s]:] “The law is eternally in the past for those who have been put to death in baptism; it is a memory. Their future is without any law, since a good heart does the works of the law—without any law at all— perfectly freely.”

My conclusion: Per [Paulson], God’s will does not see Him as a sinner. The law falsely does. What happens here though? What is the inevitable result? Now is it harder for us to see Him as God to…. Or is that just our theology of glory talking, which can’t stomach weakness in God, who should be strong?”

+++

Sixth, before moving on to what the 1517/2011 Legacy folks say about this, I should also point out that Steve Paulson, when asked about this by Pastor Craig Donofrio, said the following:

“…the sins are really ours and never Christ’s, until he takes the sins, and becomes sin. He is innocent, sinless. Yet became sin.

We can understand this a little, since even now others can take our sins in their bodies, but not each and every one. And then not only took them, but became them. Who can believe that?

But what people really can’t believe is that there and then the law ended. But that is what faith is, which is faith in Christ, not law. I hope that helps, especially when you are defending me out there. But it is more important to defend Scripture.”

This seems to be in line with what he said in another one of his books, “Luther for Armchair Theologians”:

“Jesus knew no sin, but for our sake God made him to be sin. Luther saw the problem in the subsequent Bible commentaries. They agreed Jesus knew no sin, but balked at the bald assertion that Jesus became sin for us. Yet if you take that out then you remove forgiveness itself. Then heaven is dependent on your finding ways to get rid of the sin you still bear (like the church’s system of penance).”

And, *significantly* I think:

“Luther said, Jesus is not only a sinner, but he became a ‘curse for us’. On top of that he ‘has sinned or has sins’. Moreover, Jesus was ‘sinner of sinners’ and ‘the highest, the greatest, and the only sinner’. And in near madness (were forgiveness itself not at stake) Christ became sin itself. If your trust lies elsewhere, such as in logic’s fundamental principle of ontology (that a thing cannot have one attribute and its opposite at the same time), then Christ who is sinless and sinful at the same time must be rejected.” (italics mine)

Paulson seems to be wanting a specific kind of “two natures in Jesus Christ”… sinner and saint… perhaps making our life-and-death struggle his life-and-death struggle? Is this how He becomes like us in every way, even, in some sense, with sin? Even committing actual and “the original” sin?

I think it is clear that none of this novel theology would be possible if men liked Paulson believed, like Luther, that “only the Decalogue is eternal” (see my Concordia Theological Quarterly paper on this topic, vs, Paulson’s student Nicholas Hopman, here).

Luther had some very direct words about this, which he uttered in his dispute with the antinomians of his day: “These true disciples of Satan seem to think that the law is something temporal that has ceased under Christ, like circumcision.”

Seventh, and finally, what do some of 1517/2011 Legacy’s people have to say about this? One can find hints of what they believe, but not in any one place or article. Here are some examples of what you can find if you know where to look…

First of all we see Pastor John Hoyum, challenging Pastor Jordan Cooper on his promotion of Dr. Eric Phillip’s article, in part quoted above:

What also is clear is that John Hoyum believes that Paulson has support for his teaching in LC-MS seminaries:

Here is 1517/2011’s Caleb Keith on the topic:

As one can clearly see, Keiths’s interpretation, though on the face of it perhaps believable, does not really deal in any seriousness with the fuller picture that Paulson painted in his 2011 book Lutheran Theology. When challenged, he, like Paulson himself, simply refuses to address the very clear and controversial remarks (for the whole thread where these tweets appeared, see the original post/tweet)

John Hoyum also presumably thinks that Paulson’s critics have been less than fair, and is not shy about saying so…

Again, whatever you think about it, Hoyum says this theology is now in the very heart of LC-MS theological formation:

At the end, eventually, you have to take men’s words — yes, in their full context — seriously…

And you will need to decide.

Part 3 in a few days…

FIN

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 24, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

The Popularity of Steven Paulson’s Adaptation of Luther’s Theology. Part 1

Shows just how radical and mind-blowing Lutheranism really is? Or no?

 

+++

To begin, a word to those who don’t share my goals, much less my recent approach:

Yes, despite this blogs new banner (temporary!), I talk about lots of other stuff besides Steve Paulson.

There are about 750 posts on this blog from over 10 years!

So, in any case, yes, I agree — I wish I wasn’t doing this…

If you want to know what I really delight in focusing on and talking about, all you need to do is watch these videos (or do a search for “sermon text”)

That said, I really do think that someone doing this is extremely important, so…

I firmly reject as extremely wrong and unhelpful the notion that any severe criticism of Steven Paulson is alarmist and divisive.

+++

Quickly quoting now from some excerpts from some of the Amazon reviews of Steve Paulson’s popular 2011 book titled Lutheran Theology, where he made the claim that Christ committed sin.

I have put what I consider the most important information in bold:

“Dude” is in the minority among reviewers:

Some good thoughts, but overall this is a confusing book that does not accurately reflect the historical Lutheranism that is found in the Lutheran confessions. At times Dr Paulson even embraces heterodox positions outside the bounds of historical Christianity. I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately I was very disappointed.

And Paul, sadly, gives us hope:

Very good book touching on almost every aspect of Lutheran theology. Thanks to this work I understood Lutheranism and hence rejected it completely, as a theology with which I would never agree.

Then there is Matt though, who embodies the tone for most of the other reviews:

This book is a journey more than a seminar. It accomplishes what any theology calling itself Lutheran should do – bring clarity, freedom, and faith. It should be read and re-read.

Stephan says:

“This is hard reading for a layman, but worth it. Raised Lutheran but having left the church while in college, I had in-depth understanding of neither modern Lutheran theology nor Luther’s original scriptural teachings, so this book was a real eye-opener. The text is organized around Paul’s letter to the Romans in the New Testament, while shedding considerable light upon when/where/how those who came after Luther deviated almost immediately from the simplicity and power of Luther’s interpretation.”

Peter Nordquist raves:

It’s been said the Bible is the most widely published book since the invention of the printing press, precisely because it changes the lives of its readers. Still, much of the Bible is hard to understand with all its metaphorical imagery and historical context. Having read Paulson’s “Lutheran Theology” I now understand more of the Bible than at any point in my 50 years of Biblical reading. My only objection is the books title… it really should be something like “The Uniqueness of Christian Theology”, or “The Words of God Come Alive”! If you want your faith to make a difference in your everyday life, do yourself a huge favor and read this book. Of the 300 some books in my personal library… I consider this the second most important one, right behind the Bible.

Scz writes about the main theme, the big “aha!,” of the book:

You have no idea how rooted you are in the legal scheme until your thinking is examined in light of a right and thorough dividing of law and gospel. (Dr. Paulson mentions at the beginning that this book, among other things, is a history of the repeated return of Lutherans to the legal scheme. In that sense, it is about all of us.) This book is a gift to the church!…

Larry helps unpack that key theme, “the legal scheme”:

This is one of those top two or three books that should be read more than once to grasp. Not due to a difficult or overly high style of writing, quite the contrary it is very well written and graspable. Rather due to our natural proclivity to the “legal scheme” it takes to some slow digesting. It’s like trying to explain to a fish who experientially knows nothing else with a Word that “he’s all wet” and “salvation is this other thing he knows absolutely nothing about but he is to trust the word on this”. The fish, much like us in our natural legal scheme proclivity wishes to discuss everything in terms of the wet world he only knows but does not know its “wet”, he just understands this atmosphere he’s in. That’s how the bondage of the will is, dead and utterly blind and needing an external Word to speak to it.

Frank is overcome:

I have never read a better exposition of Lutheranism by a modern theologian. It is not polemic. It does not define Lutheranism by attacking other christian sects. Yet, at the same time, it takes no prisoners. Awesome.

Judith has new questions:

If this book doesn’t knock your socks off, you aren’t paying attention. It is electrifying, exciting — am I talking about a theology book? Yes. The sad thing is that it makes me wonder if there are any real Lutherans out there.

Kenneth, knows not what he says:

This book does not delay in making its point. From the first sentence, Dr. Paulson makes sure the reader “gets” what Lutheranism is. I wish all systematics texts were this lucid and this faithful to the Lutheran Confessions.

Finally, another reviewer, from 2017, makes this surprising claim:

I’ve read this book about five or six times already. Dr. Paulson does an incredible job at articulating the gospel preached by Luther, and the church as a whole. Interested in Lutheran Theology? I highly recommend this book. It also comes highly recommended by many highly respected Confessional Lutheran theologians as well, and was posted as a great introductory boom to Lutheran theology on the LCMS web site.

Can confirm.

FIN

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

My Own Efforts to Understand and Contact Dr. Steve Paulson

Grrrrrr….

+++

So, some of you might be aware that I have had a recent change of perspective…

Someone in a Lutheran Facebook group I am in though asked me why I was putting the onus on them to contact Dr. Steven Paulson about his statement that Christ committed sin. “SINCE YOU ARE THE ONE WITH THE BEEF, WHY HAVE YOU NOT SENT A PERSONAL APPEAL TO REV. PAULSON?

Well… this post is for people who are of that general opinion.

And folks, remember as you read these, that in our current academically respectable context, knowledge is only “knowledge”.

Thank you.

+++

Oct 13, 2017:

Pastor Paulson,

…I posted something on the patheos site today that calls into question your theological approach. This is not the first time I have done it, but it is the first time I felt compelled to write to you, largely because I saw Jack Kilcrease provide your email address the other day on a public forum.

I figured that since I had the address now, and this was a rather serious piece, I would drop you a line.

Hello. May the Spirit of the living Christ dwell in you richly!

I trust you’ll understand my being hesitant to do so. In my experience, evil heresy hunters like myself don’t get much of a warm reception — even if things start with my personally contacting persons and sharing my concerns (even offering to buy lunch on one occasion!).

Anyhow, not to take up too much of your time. The piece is here, and I also hope to have something published in LOGIA soon countering [your student] Pastor [Nicholas] Hopman’s Lex Aeterna piece in [Lutheran Quarterly].*

Kind regards,

+Nathan

+++

Oct. 20, 2017:

Dr. Paulson,

I have tried as best I can to discern what you are saying theologically, from your writings. Where might I be going wrong? I really do want to know, as I have no interest in misrepresenting you.:

Luther tells us that “the law’s proper effect…you always ought to remain in the chief (principal) definition of the law, that it works wrath and hatred and despair…”

According to Paulson, Jesus Himself felt this wrath: “[Jesus] felt God’s wrath and took that experience as something truer than God’s own word of promise to him” (Lutheran Theology, 105).

By its own standard, which cannot be violated (as a friend once told me “When the Law says ‘stone’ you stone!*), the law “justly” but falsely accuses Jesus of being a sinner.

Why? Is this perhaps where we say that the law, though good, is weak? It is “good” temporally, and has a practical function for the time being, but ultimately is a creation of this world that is passing away?

Is it because the Law, focused on externals, can’t distinguish between a cry of dereliction that dishonors God and one which, though without faith, was, given the circumstances, in some sense justified?

When Christ “irrationally comes to confess this crime so vehemently that he believes he has committed it— and as Luther famously said, “as you believe, so it is,” does God, seeing this occur, change His mind about sin?

Is this where the will of God accepts Christ’s lack of trust and cry of dereliction that results when Christ personally takes on the sin of the whole world? – i.e. this unbelief is somehow understandable?!

For Paulson then, does the law falsely accuse Jesus of sinning when, in fact, by God’s judgment (which makes it so!) “ontologically Christ didn’t sin” (not sure where this quote is from, but someone claimed it for Paulson)?

If so, the law of God here, on the other hand, does not accept this. Because, ultimately, the law of God is not the will of God – in the end it is distinct from, apart from, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“As long as God’s anger at sin, his law, is his righteousness, then his righteousness is in the process of destroying the whole cosmos” (Lutheran Theology, 41).

“[A]ll laws that regulate men’s actions must be subject to justice [Billicheit], their mistress, because of the innumerable and varied circumstances which no one can anticipate or set down.” (LW 46:103; WA 19:632)

When it comes to law, good decisions are made “as though there were no books.” “Such a free decision is given, however, by love and natural law, with which all reason is filled ; out of books come extravagant and untenable judgments” (LW 45:128 ; WA 11:279) – see http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/pmalysz/files/malysz_-_nemo_iudex_in_luther.pdf

In the end then, Jesus did not just, as the Scriptures say, “Become sin” for us – He also became a Sinner according to God’s law, which now passes away…

E.g. “The law is eternally in the past for those who have been put to death in baptism; it is a memory. Their future is without any law, since a good heart does the works of the law—without any law at all— perfectly freely” (Lutheran Theology, 225).

My conclusion: Per Paulson, God’s will does not see Him as a sinner. The law falsely does. What happens here though? What is the inevitable result? Now is it harder for us to see Him as God to…. Or is that just our theology of glory talking, which can’t stomach weakness in God, who should be strong?

* “Here Paul’s point is exact: the law is no respecter of persons, it does not identify Christ among sinners as an exception to the rule. Law as “blind lady justice” executes its judgment regardless of race, color, creed—or divinity.”

+++

Jan. 6, 2019:

Dr. Paulson,

Hello from Nathan Rinne, one of the men in the LC-MS who has been a big critic of Gerhard Forde’s theology on the online world for the past seven or so years. You may have seen my recent article critical of Nicholas Hopman’s LQ article on the Antinomian Disputations in the new CTQ.

In any case, I truly hope this short note finds you well.

I wanted to let you know that even though I think your theology is wrong and harmful, I don’t have any ill will against you. If you are up in the Twin Cities area and can make a spare moment, I would be happy to meet up for lunch, and to take you out for lunch even (I recently asked an online acquaintance to consider passing on a similar message to Dr. Pless for me).

Even though many of my recent writings on social media have been very critical of Radical Lutheranism in general and your own work in particular, I do continue to read the work of Radical Lutherans regularly and try to take them very seriously, looking to understand your concerns and matters as you understand them as best I can.

This morning’s post is a true attempt to get a conversation going about your new book, particularly about the sections that I think get to the real heart of the matter (whether or not you would agree with that, I do not know, though I would like to know):

https://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/some-honest-questions-about-steve-paulsons-book-luthers-outlaw-god/

Thanks for taking the time to read this, if you have gotten this far. I hope that I might be blessed enough to have a productive conversation with you.

God’s richest blessings to you and yours,

Nathan

+++

Since many might be wondering about this, I published this piece on Jan. 9, 2019: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/justandsinner/the-biggest-radical-lutheran-straw-man-of-them-all/

Dr. Paulson replied to me on Jan. 11, 2019.

Dr. Paulson,

Since you will in all likelihood be taking a look at this post, I will be happy to get your public clarification on your teaching that Christ committed sin in the comments below.

Or, alternatively, to have shared with everyone the response you gave me to that last email above.

Thank you.

FIN

 

*That is here: https://media.ctsfw.edu/Text/ViewDetails/16413

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2020 in Uncategorized