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Author Archives: Nathan A. Rinne

No Theistic God, No Notion of Equality

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Thus saieth Liberal Christian Nationalism.

A couple days ago, I said that there are some kinds of inequality among human beings that we should embrace.

There is also a kind of equality that we should embrace, but without the God revealed in the Bible, this is impossible.

No God, No equality. Sorry atheists and Jordan Peterson-esque “Christian atheists”.* You can’t even have equality with every notion of God, or gods, as the case may be. Again, I give you Vishal Mangalwadi, administering some painful truth for our secularist friends:

“A postmodernist would be absolutely right in insisting that the Declaration of Independence was wrong. These ‘truths’ are not ‘self-evident’. Human equality is not self-evident anywhere in the world – not even in America. Equality was never self-evident to the Hindu sages. For them, inequality was self-evident. Their question was, why are human beings born unequal? Hinduism taught that the Creator made people different. The higher castes were made from his head, shoulders, and belly, and the lower castes were made from his feet. The law of karma accentuated these basic differences. The Buddha did not believe in the Creator, but he accepted the doctrine of karma as the metaphysical cause for the inequality of human beings….

Equality and human rights are not self-evident truths. In his original draft, Thomas Jefferson penned, ‘We hold these truths to be sacred and unalienable.” That was the truth. That is why the Declaration grounded the ‘unalienable’ rights in the Creator rather than in the state. The most honest declaration would have been, ‘We hold these truths to be divinely revealed.’ Revelation is the reason why America believed what some Deists ascribed to ‘common sense.’ To be precise, these truths appeared common sense to the American founders because their sense was shaped by the common impact of the Bible – even if a few of them doubted that the Bible was divinely revealed.” (391, 392)”

This is why, in this debate featuring Howard Dean and Melissa Harris-Perry against David Brooks and Robert George – which took place just a few days ago and is well worth experiencing — Robert George, pointing to that Declaration of Independence, is on the side of the angels:

 

Even if we don’t need to insist that God feels and acts the same towards each and every person (again, see yesterday’s post), we can indeed insist that we are all his offspring.

In one sense, it cannot be denied that we are equally His children (please note though: this does not mean that we His children cannot spurn Him).

And that of course, means something. It has implications for you and me. For us.

It gets even more extreme. As I noted in an old post from years ago:

I was listening to lectures from a Roman Catholic apologist and he talked about how we can’t say that human beings are children or sons of God by nature because that is pantheism. I think I have also heard Lutherans say that we can’t call human beings children of God, but from our tradition, it would be because this is reserved for believers, not fallen man in general.*

Interestingly, the Scriptures go so far as to say we are all not just sons of God, but gods ourselves. But it does not shy away from calling all men sons of God either, as Paul points out to the Athenians:

“…he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’  As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill…”

(Acts 17:27-29)

That is why God sheds His blood for all persons – especially, the Bible says, those who believe. This is why, the Bible insists, that He desires all persons to repent – to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth. This is why it says He has bound all of us over to disobedience – that He might have mercy on each and every one of us.

And all of the above is why I choose to be a Liberal Christian Nationalist as well.

You’ve joked about it, but now deeply ponder it…

Come to Jesus.

FIN

 

* And where, in the history of philosophy, has philosophical faith in “the force of the best reason”, for example, shown that “all humans are created equal and are entitled to equal rights”? Really, which non-Christians philosopher ever said this and what were his/her reasons? Yes, the silence is deafening….). Here, arguments like atheist Michael Shermer’s are shown to be lacking in an immense way (Incidently, Shermer also admits that most of his fellow atheists, like Dawkins, think it is impossible to ground morality in anything objective, or outside of human beings).

** Can we all be offspring of God but not children of God? In Luke 3, Adam is called “the son of God” and in Psalm 82:6 Jesus says “You are gods, all of you, sons of the Most High.” Man’s “relation” to God was that he was specifically created to be something different than the rest of creation (also note that Luther said people were created in God’s image before the beginning of time [see Luther’s works 1:75]).

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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Are Hierarchy, Inequality, and Patriarchy Opposed to the Love of God?

Icon of the evil patriarchy par excellence?

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Regarding the man in the picture (which I know is massively triggering to some persons), we’ll get back to him in a moment.

From a past post:

“I remember hearing a father say to his son: “I love all of you – but I have to, admit my feelings for your brother are stronger”. Why, according to him, was this the case? Because of all of his offspring, he felt that his son’s brother needed his love even more.”

Let me add to that now – this didn’t bother the son. Why? Simply because due to the father’s actions he never doubted that he was dearly loved and valued. He didn’t need to know that his father’s love for him was perfectly equal to that of his brother’s to know this. Just like Hagar so gladly rejoiced in the love of her God — and didn’t need to be Abraham’s or Sarah’s equal — he didn’t need to be his brother’s equal.

We can take this further. While there is no precedent for thinking that God does not favor any group of persons more than any other (well, OK, He did chose the Jews!), we know, for example, that each individual person will not be equally blessed in heaven. Here, perhaps, both God’s attitude and His actions towards this or that person is decidedly different!

How should we respond to this?

I, for one, suggest we not be resentful of those who are ruling cities or many cities! Good thing to start trying to squelch this resentment here on earth, right?

“Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

But wait – we can take this even further. What if God’s actions towards others are decidedly different solely because of the way He has constructed the world? What if, for example, men were to serve as the heads and spiritual leaders for their families and only certain men could serve as pastors? And what if, in general, the rule more often than not would be that He would have men, and not women, serve as the leaders of human beings (yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but it does seem to be a rule)?

These “binaries” (cueing the earlier post today by Matthew Garnett) above are not going to go away. On the other hand, the Christian world today seems obsessed with matters of gender and equality. Citing the image of the body of Christ (surely no one can be unimportant given this truth!), some say, for example, that we must strive for a world in which everyone is “equally important”.

That, for example, is what I heard when I listened to the latest podcast of the notorious (among Evangelicals) Peter Enns. In it, he talks with Carolyn Custis James about “Moving Beyond the Patriarchy”.

It might be tempting for some of us to not even listen to James. Why, we might think, is she throwing in her lot with feminism, clearly anti-man at its core? Why did she not more earnestly look to seek out and meet a good, strong man who found her appealing, courted her, took her as his bride, and was able/willing to take responsibility as a spiritual head of the home? Perhaps then she would have a different view of matters? Has she not simply been influenced by liberal professors and the stories of bitter women, and this has just created a victim mentality in her?

I think this would be too hasty – much like the disciples too quickly judging the man born blind. The Lord does uphold singleness after all — not marriage — as the higher calling and blessing the Christian should strive to obtain (again folks, this “binary” is not going away either). Should we think that every person who ends up serving the Lord as a single – and is content to do so – always strove for that goal?

Ultimately, I think the show is worth listening to for a few reasons: a) some of her content is really good and enlightening ; b) to hear and identify with Carolyn’s personal concerns (and to genuinely understand her, sympathize with her, and think about how you might try to help and encourage someone with her experiences) ; and c) to realize that these kinds of concerns aren’t going to go away – and also that we should not think that they ever really will this side of heaven.

Why? Because God loves hierarchy though hierarchy does not, and never will, function perfectly in a fallen world. The best that we can hope for in the world is hierarchs who care about their subjects as good parents care for their children. As good pastors care for their flocks. As Christians (yes, in the final judgment we are tasked with judging the world, even the angels) care about each and every one of their neighbors.

At the very least, we all need to recognize that there are “power pyramids” where “somebody’s at the top and there are a lot of people at the bottom” – things James evidently believes that the “patriarchy” — and not God — creates. She also says that this patriarchy is not really put forth as the message itself but is the ever-so-significant “backdrop to the message” — and so that, in part, is why it’s hard for us to talk about.

Let’s talk about it.

I’ll start with my two cents: I suggest that this kind of natural and social phenomenon is built into God’s world by design (see Luther’s comments on the fourth commandment – and hear this recent Issues ETC program with Bryan Wolfmueller) – every culture, and not just ours, “does [this] all over the place!” — and even those who try to destroy it end up creating it anew (even if, with the new hierarchy’s decreased competence, it will be far less effective and liable to be overthrown again). Furthermore, there is something decidedly different about the “soft patriarchy” of Christianity vis a vis that found in non-Christian societies (e.g., respect for the education of women [as James mentions] and consensual marriage enshrined in law arose where in space and time…?)*

And – wait for it — I see all of this as related to what is happening with the election today in Alabama. My more thought-out and succinct thoughts about Moore and the frenzy around him can be found today here. Yesterday though, I promoted a post on the Facebook group Confessional Lutheran Fellowship (CLF) from my [online] friend Boo Radley. That post got a lot of comments** before it was removed – evidently for being too political.

My main point, however, was to focus on masculinity in a culture that has gradually – perhaps very gradually — (so much so that we have not realized what has happened) lost the sense of the real value that men bring.

Clip from Boo’s piece (which yes, had an ill-chosen title – he himself admitted that to me):

Judge Moore likes to say, “If we’re going to Make America Great Again, we must first Make America Good Again.” Part of making America good, part of restoring our republic, must be a revival of American masculinity. Roy Moore alone can’t make this happen. But if he wins, perhaps that could help to galvanize the movement. A moment that helps inspire millions to rise up and Bring Back The Patriarchy.

There has been much chatter lately about open secrets. For example, prominent journalist Cokie Roberts recently told us all that “every female in the press corps knew” Congressman Conyers wasn’t safe to ride the elevator with: Really? Well, here’s another open secret: Most of the “men” at National Review are scared of their wives. Jonah Goldberg admitted to it in this recent installment of his new podcast. This is not hyperbole or slander. Listen for yourself: Relevant portion begins at about 21:30.

…it’s not just Goldberg, French, and the gang. For far too long much of the D.C.-centric conservative establishment, the so-called “conservative media”, and the leadership of the Republican Party have (with few exceptions) seemed to be suffering from a testosterone deficiency. They have frequently served as handmaids to the cause of progressivism. They’re afraid of feminists. Afraid of cultural bullies. Afraid of their own shadows. Roy Moore may be many things but, he is not afraid.

Judge Moore is despised not only by Leftists, scared conservatives, and the corrupt establishment. Some Christians on the Right (what currently passes for the Right) see him as the wrong kind of Christian. They have confused the cultural appetites and prevailing moral ethic of their upscale suburban bedroom communities and their hipster-y urban neighborhoods with the patriarchal Christianity of the Bible. I don’t know what Judge Moore did 40 years ago and neither do they. But they will break the 8th Commandment and bear false witness against their brother in order to signal their own virtue to the mob.

…We could be seeing that, as David Limbaugh argues, “the Trump movement transcends Trump”. I hope so. If the future of Trumpism is patriarchal Christianity combined with constitutional conservatism, there just might be a chance to save America.

… I would have preferred to see Mo Brooks in the Senate. But for the sake of Western Civilization and American masculinity, I hope Judge Moore crushes it on Tuesday. Will it happen? Well, like Dr. King, a man can dream.

Regardless of what our politics are, strong men who aren’t afraid and who fight – especially in a good cause – are appealing to us and always will be.

Can you have real religious freedom (and other freedoms) without a predominant Christian influence?

Why? They are always an echo of the One will return with a sword to take His children home – and administer the perfect justice that we only sometimes want but always need.

FIN

 

* As previously noted: “For example, we might be surprised to hear that world history, until re-oriented by Christian conviction, actually revealed a general lack of concern regarding children, women, and the practice of slavery.”

** The responses to the post on CLF really had nothing to do with the part of the article I quote in this piece. In general, persons had other things to complain about (some reasonable complaints to be sure) or simplistically boiled it down to the idea “that women have always been using their feminine power to destroy innocent men” which was, to say the least, a gross oversimplification.

I think a key point here is that nowadays society in general (including men) tends to want to see women as innocent victims and tends to underestimate their own willing participation in many a situation – and their corresponding willingness to stretch the truth when it suits them. But both men and women are sinners and liable to all manner of temptation.

Individuals from both sexes can, of course, impress us with their character and ability to resist the pleasures of the flesh, the desire for revenge, and the cultural currents (and mob justices!) of their times. And certainly, these are the kinds of people we want in our corner to testify for us and to help us when he need arises.

Image from: http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/10/18/alabama-senate-candidate-roy-moores-take-on-anthem-protests-is-wrong-heres-why

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Deconstructing Law and Gospel: How Postmodern Deconstructionism has Taken the Central Doctrine of Lutheranism Unawares

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The following is another arresting article by Matthew Garnett, posted on FB last night (Monday, December 11, 2017). As I read it I could not help but think about a quote from Karl Marx that I had recently read from Uri Harris, writing at Quillette, both here and here:

“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”.

As Christians, we don’t need to doubt that God is in the business of transforming the world in Christ, and that He does this through His people. I suggest that Marx, following Hegel, can only imagine doing this because his thought, like all Enlightenment thought, is parasitic on Scriptural truth. The ancient world — at least the influential thinkers we are aware of — simply did not think this way. All this said, our Lord not only means to change the world in His time and in His way, but for us to have real knowledge. We are to know Him and we are to know His creation as it was, as it now is due to sin, and as it will be again through Christ (we even see some of the firstfruits of renewal now). And we are to have all this with certainty (see, e.g. my posts here and here).

But what is happening now? Matthew Garnett does not use these words, but I will: “Theologians have hitherto only interpreted the Bible in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Because the Spirit of the Age (Hegel) — which demands that man must save the “vale of tears” — is the water in which we swim and in which we must fight.

Here’s Matthew:

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Postmodern, deconstructionism are the waters in which we swim in this day and time. We employ this philosophy almost like breathing when confronted with difficult issues and then appear shocked when the results manifest themselves. Like fish swimming in water – who don’t even know what “water” is – we are immersed in these postmodern waters and often, we’re caught completely unawares as to what we’re breathing in and breathing out. My aim here is to help us understand, in no uncertain terms, just what the post-modern “water” is when it comes to law and gospel. I am attempting to explain to us “fish” what “water” is.

So let’s begin with “deconstruction”.

“Literary Deconstruction” is an approach to literary criticism invented by French philosopher Jacques Derrida. “Literary criticism” is essentially the practice of learning how to evaluate writing. Take any undergrad lit course as an English major and you’re going to be taught how to “deconstruct” literature of all kinds.

Here’s how it works.

Take Mary Bysshe Shelley’s Frankenstein. In this story, we are schooled by Shelley in man’s quest to “play God” by becoming the Creator. Throughout human history (until very recently), “Creator” stands above “The Creature”. Right away, we recognize a binary relationship: “Creator” and “Creature”. It seems clear that Shelley is warning us creatures of attempting to take the role of ultimate creator. The results are literally monstrous.

If we are to “deconstruct” this work, the first step is to invert the binaries. We jettison Shelley’s warnings and elevate the creature above its creator and then proceed to re-read the story with this presupposition. We note the obvious flaws in the creator. We elevate the virtue of the creature.

The next step is blur the definitions of the binary. We might ask, “Who really created whom? Did Frankenstein really create the monster or did his creation really create Frankenstein to become the real monster?” This results in a complete loss in the definition of terms. “Creator” no longer has any real meaning, nor does “Creature”. The meanings of these terms can never be pinned down. They are always “deferred” – what Derrida called “la différance”.

Here’s how Derrida’s “deferred meaning” or “la différance” works. If you looked up the word “creator” in the dictionary, you’d find several other words describing what is meant by creator. According to Derrida, those words don’t solidify the meaning of “creator” but actually blur its meaning. The words to describe “creator” can also be found with other words describing those words ad infinitum.

To be sure, this is a fascinating manner in which to approach literature. But Derrida and his disciples, especially Michael Foucoult, did not merely stop with literature. They extended this principle into politics, culture, and religion. They did this, not because they actually believed in a meaningless nihilism, but as a slight of hand in order to wrest power and recreate culture and society as they saw fit.

Let me give you a practical example of this, how Derrida’s schema has infiltrated out culture, and has wildly succeeded.

Take the binary of “man” and “woman”. One of Derrida’s favorite words was “phallogocentrism”” – a word he invented. “Phal” meaning “male”; “logo” meaning “words” or “speech”; and “centrism” meaning, of course, “central”. So, “Male’s words are central.” Derrida’s aim, with “deconstruction” was to obliterate this notion.

One way to do this was to deconstruct the binary of “man” and “woman”. In order to accomplish this, you elevate the virtues of the woman over the man. In the name of “equality”, you actually so degrade the man as to accelerate the woman. So not only is the man lowered, but the woman is now exalted – hello “Third-Wave Feminism”. However, the deconstruction doesn’t stop there. The definitions of the binary must ultimately be blurred and dissolved. Hello transgenderism. Once the categories of “male” and “female” are lost, according to Derrida and his minions, we are one step closer to what I term as an “egalitarian utopia”.

Put simply, postmodern deconstructionism strikes at the heart of Western culture. It takes the terms and definitions of reality upon which the West has been built and it obliterates those categories. Ever hear someone say something like, “We need to destroy the white, male privileged system! We want justice!”? I’ve actually had people tell me when I’ve presented then with the flaws in their logic, “Well that’s just your white, cis-gendered logic and it doesn’t apply to me!”

Thus now, the waters we swim in are those which no longer privilege logic and reality in order to inform our epistemological conclusions. No. Instead, emotion and subversion are prioritized. For example, we Lutherans say at the end of every article of the Creed, “This is most certainly true.” For the postmodern, the question is not “Is this true?”, but rather “Does this subvert the dominant system of hierarchy?”

So they ask, “Does blurring definitions when it comes to terror attacks subvert?” Answer? Yes it does. “Does destroying the traditional family subvert?” Yes it does. “Does illegal immigration subvert?” Yes it does. And so it goes.

As stated, postmodern deconstructionism can be applied in virtually any arena of thought and life. The trick is to make utility of this philosophy to the end of attacking the heart or the foundation of what you are attempting to destroy. In popular culture, as has been demonstrated, postmodernism has arrayed its armaments at traditional sexuality and the family.

Unfortunately, the specter of postmodernism moves around us like some ghost; using and attacking those who are not on guard against it. In other words, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves using postmodern philosophy to inadvertently destroy even that which we hold most sacred. As stated, we are fish and this is the water in which we swim. As Dr. Gregory Shultz of Concordia University Wisconsin puts it, postmodernism is a disease like Shingles. It lies latent in the blood stream of fallen humanity and flares up as the opportunity presents itself.

One such opportunity is the preaching and teaching of law and gospel. Let me say here that I am convinced that very few pastors are consciously making utility of postmodern philosophy, but like Shingles, it often rears its ugly head unawares. Here the devil, the world, and our sinful nature attack the heart of our theology and here are the practical manners in which we can observe this happening.

Dissolution of the Law and Gospel Binary – Abstracting the Law/ Blurring the Gospel

There are several terms to which our modern culture is allergic, and it is no different for law and gospel preachers. Those terms are words such as “duty”, “responsibility”, “obligation”, and “discipline”. In an effort to “emphasize the gospel”, sometimes preachers will de-emphasize or downplay the law. They realize how important the gospel promises are, but fail to realize that the promises have no context without the law. Thus, by de-emphasizing the law in this way – by toning down the law with softer language – they inadvertently end up blurring the clarity of the gospel.

Practically speaking this is done by referring to the New Obedience (AC VI) and “growth in good works” (AP II, FC/SD IV), in generalities and abstractions. Terms such as “duty” and “discipline” are replaced with words like “love” (undefined) and “vocation” (similarly undefined). Indeed, in our cultural climate, telling someone they have a responsibility to say attend to and study God’s word or attend church is distasteful. Using terms like “love” and “vocation” aren’t wrong or unbiblical, but used to the exclusion of specific instruction in the law, the preaching of God’s commands lose their sting and become blurry. Once powerful and potent terms for describing God’s law are replaced with more culturally palatable terms. Unfortunately, while many well-meaning men are doing this in order to attract more people to the gospel, they are actually deconstructing the heart of our theology.

Examples of Deconstruction in Preaching

• “Live free in the gospel”

Like “love” and “vocation”, “freedom” is a positive, cultural buzz word. It is also a biblical word. However “freedom”, used biblically, has a much different meaning than it does especially in the West. Preachers and teachers who use this word without qualification generally will obscure its biblical meaning.

Imagine this scenario. A gay couple attend Pastor X’s divine service. The gay couple are wrestling with their consciences because of their lifestyles. They are expecting to hear X affirm what they already suspect – that they are living in sin. Instead Pastor X concludes his sermon with, “So go! Live free in the Gospel!”

“That was a relief!” says one man to his gay partner. “Yes,” says the other. “In the gospel we are free to be who we are!” Note well here how an ill-defined phrase, how what is supposed to be a preaching of the law, actually becomes the gospel for these two men and law and gospel is quite nicely deconstructed.

• “You cannot reform the old man” and/or “The new man is perfect”

This is a perversion of Luther’s quip, “Simul Justus et Peccator”. While technically true, this is used to soften the law by saying that doing the hard work of progressing in Sanctification is not really necessary or at least should not be emphasized. After all, if the old man cannot be reformed and the new man is perfect, improvement, progress, or growth is not needed. Now, it is true that the old Adam cannot be reformed and must “daily die” as Luther puts it. Also, in baptism, we are given Christ’s perfect righteousness. Thus, unaware of his bias toward the cultural zeitgeist, the pastor proclaims that improvement and change are not needed for the Christian. However, in contrast to this inadequate preaching, Pastor Paul Strawn puts it this way:

Think of a sapling of an apple tree that we would plant in our yard. Now there is nothing wrong with that sapling, it is exactly what it should be as a sapling. But as it grows into a mature tree, what does it do but provide shade for our lawn, beautiful flowers in the spring, a place for birds to nest, and squirrels to hide, pollen for the honey bees, ultimately fruit, good fruit for us to eat. Now there was nothing wrong with the apple tree when it was a sapling, it was just not fully matured into a fruit bearing tree. Similarly, there was nothing wrong with our New Man when it is created within us, we are baptized, or come to faith in Jesus Christ. But, we must say like the boy Jesus , Jesus according to his human nature: There is room to grow, room to bear fruit, room even to do those things which are pleasing to God.

Over and against this notion, the preacher who claims, “No change needed for the Christian” salves the conscious of their hearers, not with the gospel, but with a deconstructed version of the law.

• “Good works are a gift” and/or “Everything is gift”

Similar to the others, this too has some truth to it. Indeed it is a joy and a privilege to the Christian to participate with God in loving others. God does graciously give us this opportunity and it is helpful for us to see service to others as a gift. That said, it is disingenuous to say that it is a gift or a promise from Scripture. It is not. It is indeed a command. Commands are not bad things, but in current Western cultural milieu, “command” has a negative connotation and it seems that preachers and teachers are heavily influenced not to make anything in the Christian life appear to be negative or difficult.

Thus, they soften the law here by calling what is commanded and in fact demanded by God the Father of his children “gifts”. It is disingenuous because it makes sacrificing ourselves and suffering for the neighbor out to be something that is simply handed to us on the silver platter of the gospel. It is not. While we are given power to obey the self-sacrificial commands of our Father, following our big brother Jesus is not simply something that gets handed to us. It is something that is difficult and requires the utmost discipline.

• “Your good works are pre-destined”

Based on Eph. 2:10, we have at last a genuine misunderstanding of the text. This single verse is often used to encourage people not to trouble themselves with doing good because the fate of every true Christian is to do good works. According to these deconstructionist teachers, these works will simply fall in your lap, again similar to the “good works as gift” notion.

By now, hopefully we’re seeing a pattern here. These teachers use half-truths in order to portray the Christian life as something easy and not difficult. That is a form of good news to most people who formerly thought that if they became Christians, something might be required of them – even if that something had nothing to do with their eternal destiny. Put simply, it is attractive to people to hear that doing good is simply a fated thing; something for which or into which they’ll never have to try or put effort.

To be sure this is a popular “gospel” in our culture which was prophesied of 2000 years ago in, “…..the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (emp. mine)

Concluding Remarks

Fundamentally, deconstructing law and gospel is what has been commonly referred to as “confusing law and gospel”. Its primary problem is that it confuses Justification and Sanctification. Additionally, it makes the law sound like something we already want to do at best or, if that fails, makes the law sound impossible and not to be attempted. Furthermore, and most sadly, it locates elements of the law (i.e. “love”/ “fruits of the spirit”) in the category of gospel and not law.

For all of this, I’ve devised a cliché: “The degree to which one loses the law, he loses the gospel.” The greatest danger in all of this is when law is deconstructed – that is, loses its meaning and full force in the manners described – the gospel also loses its meaning. That is textbook postmodern, deconstructionism. Unfortunately, this deconstruction of law and gospel, just like political postmodernism, results in a most horrifying teleology.

In the vacuum that this softening of the law brings is not merely a trend toward lawlessness, but a trend toward an insipid and dark form of pietism; a pietism where the new law calls what is good, evil and that which is evil, good. It is a pietism where if you dare say that growth in good works is Christian, you are immediately branded a Pharisee and a legalist. Taken to its logical extreme, it demands what is called sin in the Scriptures must be held up as virtuous. Most sadly, the gospel slowly disappears into nothing. Just as surely as secular and political postmodernism leads to a nihilism replaced by an elite consolidation of power (viz Marxism), religious postmodernism – it all its forms – whether intentional or accidental – leads to a nihilistic ethical vacuum that will be replaced by some form of man made law and the true gospel will be lost. For, when postmodern deconstructionism reaches its full flower, there is no forgiveness for those who will not adopt its “ethics” and twisted “morality”.

Instead of this empty and vain philosophy that so permeates our culture, may God grant us so to hear the Holy Scriptures; read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life, which has been given to us in our Savior Jesus Christ.

FIN

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

We have come to believe that it is somehow the height of piety to say, “I can’t obey.” “I cannot be virtuous.”

Matthew Garnett, rolling over Fake Lutheranism. Listen to his podcast here.

 

So sayeth Matthew Garnett, in the Facebook group Confessional Lutheran Fellowship (which, if you are on Facebook, you might want to check out).

Matthew is a relatively new Lutheran, and as far as I’m concerned, is like the kid in the Emperor’s New Clothes. Breath of fresh air for me.

More from Matthew:

“Duty”, “obedience”, “obligation”, “discipline”, “virtue”, “effort”, “striving” …..these seem to be un -Christian, or at least un-Litheran words to us. They are certainly not positive words in our culture today. But I think these are very human words, especially for men. Men are attracted to these words.

However, sometimes life can wrestle us down to the point where we hate these words. Indeed that is precisely the state we find ourselves in without the gospel…..wanting to be these things, but having no power to do them. It’s a terrible and dark place to be sure.

But with the gospel – and all its gifts – I believe it is a great benefit to us to be restored to a state where men can be men again. We can love these words again. We can begin to be men marked by these words.

It seems most tragic to me when, especially we men, use the gospel, not as a power source to be dutiful or virtuous or obedient, but as an excuse to give up and check out of life. Having been so beaten down by life – mostly by our own sin – all we want to do is not try any more. And we think that part of the gospel is we get to stop trying to be men. That in fact, other men who still embrace their vocations in this regard fully, are just suckers who don’t really get it.

And, while, words like “defeat”, “despair” and “weakness” may have marked our lives thus far, we begin to embrace these words as some kind of new virtue. We have come to believe that it is somehow the height of piety to say, “I can’t obey.” “I cannot be virtuous.”

Men, this attitude is neither Christian nor Lutheran.

Consider the words of St Peter once again.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading kept in heaven for you who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice though now for a little while if necessary you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“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 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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

FIN

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Yes David French, We Should Seek Certainty in an Uncertain World

National Review writer David French

 

In an article published in National Review, “The Enduring Appeal of Creepy Christianity,” David French uses the news surrounding Judge Roy Moore to make some critical points about American Christianity.

The sub-title of his article — which definitely caught my attention — provocatively reads “the desire for certainty in an uncertain world yields terrible results.”

French states that Christians have two temptations rooted in the fear of men. One is the path that liberal Christians take: to “forsake Christian doctrine to seek the approval of a hostile culture.” The other path — which French distinguishes from the first by calling it “pernicious” — appeals to the “theologically orthodox: “the temptation to run toward a form of hyper-legalism as a firewall to protect your family from the sins of the world.”

He writes:

“Mothers and fathers are desperate for a way to guarantee that their children will grow up to love the Lord. They want to build high walls against sin, so they seek to create distinct communities that are free of the world’s filth and moral compromise.”

More:

“Theologically, [this temptation] fundamentally denies a very uncomfortable scriptural truth: that this side of heaven we can’t eliminate uncertainty or temptation. We “see through a glass darkly.” We simply don’t have all the answers — for raising children, for sustaining a successful marriage, for thriving in our careers, or for responding to sickness and adversity.

The scriptural response to this fundamental uncertainty is unsatisfying to some. Faith, hope, and love are vague concepts. The Bible doesn’t have a clear, specific prescription for every life challenge. But rather than seeking God prayerfully and with deep humility and reverence, we want answers, now. And thus we gravitate to those people who purport to offer more than the Bible.”

The thrust of French’s article is that there is much that is wrong with American evangelical Christianity, and that unless it “end[s] the cult of the Christian celebrity and the quest for certainty,” this world is “destined for ruin, and before it goes down, it will consume and damage the most vulnerable among us.”

 

I see much that is true in French’s article. His warnings about Christian celebrity are apt. As friend of mine says: “I am so done with celebrity pastors, so called “Christian” leaders, and pop-Evangelical Christian politicians.”

My friend goes on:

“I’ve made a couple of rules for myself.  1) Don’t trust any “Christian” leader who has a New York Times best seller.  2) Don’t attend conferences that attract more than 500 people in attendance or follow speakers that appear at that conference. And maybe 3) any “Christian” leader that appears regularly in the news.”

Perhaps a bit extreme, but he makes a great point.

In like fashion, even though I have not experienced them myself, I understand that there are communities of Christians who have a poor understanding of the law of God and who demand more from Christianity than it gives.

A more sophisticated “seeker-sensitive” attempt.

 

Another friend who read the article had some very challenging thoughts expanding on this:

“I think that the article is largely on target when it comes to the misguided quest of many Christians for certainty on worldly matters. God’s promises are absolutely sure, but they do not include children who will grow up to love the Lord, communities that are free of the world’s filth and moral compromise, successful marriages, thriving careers, proper responses to sickness and adversity, etc. For me, this is one of many manifestations of Western society’s embrace of technical rationality (techne) at the expense of practical judgment (phronesis); we want formulas and procedures with guaranteed outcomes for all aspects of life, but things just do not work that way within our fallen existence.

French quotes Ecclesiastes, which I consider to be the greatest philosophical treatise ever written, since it is the only divinely inspired one. My summary of its overall message is, “Your time is short, your understanding is shallow, and your control is shaky (at best). So fear God, because He rules all; keep His commandments, because He knows best; and enjoy His gifts, while you still can.”

There is much to take in here! Is it really true that the Lord does not promise us, e.g. successful marriages and children who will grow up to love the Lord? I hesitate to go so far in saying this, for it seems to me that passages like Proverbs 22:6 can definitely be taken as promises from the Lord. I know what my friend says above is meant to comfort, but such words make me very sad to. If God desires all persons to be saved, and I can’t be a conduit for His grace to efficaciously reach the flesh and blood who are under my own roof — especially when I beg Him for such mercy! — well, it is something I don’t even want to think about (….and I think, going to I Cor. 10:13 and John 16:12, that God knows what I as a father can bear!)

My kids with Jesus. More.

 

In any case, I think my friend’s words are wise words…(even as I supplement them!).

So David French is touching on some really good stuff.

At the same time, there is also something about the article that really made me uneasy. Maybe it’s this: when French says “[t]heologically, [this concern to protect one’s family] fundamentally denies a very uncomfortable scriptural truth,” I can’t not stop thinking about the following passage from 2 Corinthians (the end of chapter 6 and beginning of 7):

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”

Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

It seems to me that a lot of persons outside the church might read something like that, and think, “Yep, the enduring appeal of creepy Christianity.”

That, however, would be terrible way to read the Apostle Paul. After all, who among us has not identified with what the church has said about the world — namely, that it is a “vale of tears”? And what if there is indeed — as the Apostle insists — true “higher ground” to be found? (see Colossians 3:1-4)

A taste of heavenly fellowship, of un-fallen love… (The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Gerard van Honthorst, 1623)

 

The overall message? Christ is the light of the world, and therefore the church, His bride, is the light of the world.

Even if the light doesn’t look so much like a City on the Hill these days as a candle – maybe even a flickering candle — in the darkness.

I take great comfort in the way Paul begins his letter:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Yes! And note — this is the kind of certainty we are meant to have. He has loved us with an everlasting love in His Son Jesus Christ.

Exulting in this certainty, I certainly will come out and be separate!

FIN

 

Image: David French pic: CC BY-SA 3.0 ; by Gage Skidmore. 

 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Matthew Garnett’s Helpful Evaluation of Tullian Tchividjian’s Preaching

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Matthew Garnett, of the In Layman’s Terms podcast and the Federalist, shared an important piece last week on Facebook about Tullian Tchividjian’s Preaching. As I said there in reply to a critical comment (referring to “fear based heretic hunting“):

I’d say we owe Matthew our thanks for his very insightful and careful article here. Tullian does to, of course! — very kind of Matthew to listen to absolutely everything the man has said, and I detect no mallice towards Tullian from him as well, for which I am thankful.”

Matthew has given me permission to reprint his article here in full (and note that his last three podcasts have also been about Tullian’s preaching, here [most recent], here, and here [I’m on this one to]). Enjoy!

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Seven Reasons Why Tullian Tchividjian’s Preaching Is False and Its Dangers to the Gospel

By Matthew Garnett on Saturday, November 4, 2017

Having formerly been a major fan boy of Tullian Tchivijian, having listened to all of his sermons from his time at Coral Ridge, his lectures at “Liberate”, and now seeing him emerge again with his tullian.net site, I have realized I was dead wrong to embrace his teachings and here’s why.

1. He never warns his people of the dangers of apostasy.

Being trained at perhaps the finest Reformed seminary in the country, Westminster, Philly, Tchividjian is in that all too uncomfortable place of “unconditional election” and “limited atonement”. There, you have two options: 1) preach that you might be of the elect since you seem to be doing good works and hanging around the church, but then again maybe not because you might stop doing those things, or 2) preach “once saved always saved” like Tchividjian does in his oft quoted cliché “You’re in forever!”

The only problem with that is the bible warns of apostasy all over the place. Of the two options, the first seems the safest bet, albeit still inadequate. Going with the latter option, biblically speaking, gives a false comfort.

2. He never warns of the temporal punishments of sin.

Of all the people who should be acquainted with the natural consequences of sinful behavior, Tchividjian continues to cruelly withhold that information from people. While he certainly laments his behavior on the new “tullian.net” website, I have yet to find a sermon or blog post there that warns others of the inherent dangers of disobedience to God’s commands. Furthermore, he’s seen fit to post his sermons from Coral Ridge there. Not one of them warns people of the destructive consequences of sin.

I will agree with Tchividjian that there is hope for everyone who has made complete shipwreck of their lives. However, preaching that warns us of this in order that we may avoid such disastrous consequences should be an emphasis in instructing in God’s law. He does a fine job of letting people know that any sin, no matter how severe, is forgiven in Christ, however, he fails to warn people of these dangers. Both should be preached in proper law and gospel preaching.

(NB – the majority of my report here is dealing with Tchividjian’s sermons on the “tullian.net” site and not his blog posts)

3. He never teaches obedience.

In fact, he teaches against teaching on obedience. Yes friends, we are saved by grace through faith, and obedience to the commands of Holy Scripture is a part, in fact a requirement of the Christian life. To say otherwise (which Tchividjian does), is to make total non-sense of about a half to two-thirds of the bible. Tchividjian decries people who preach “clean up your act”, but you don’t have to read very far into 1 Corinthians to realize that St. Paul is preaching precisely this to the Corinthians.

4. The only sin in his book is only a certain kind of self-justification.

There are three forms of self-justification. 1) You believe obedience to God’s law will justify you before Him. (think “Pharisaical legalism”), 2) You’re struggling to overcome a sin. So instead of continuing to repent of that sin, calling that sin a sin, believing that it is forgiven for Christ’s sake, and wanting to do better, you just stop calling that sin a sin. (Sexual sins tend to fall into this category) 3) Thus, you begin creating your own rules by which you can justify your existence.

Tchividjian fails to preach #’s 2 and 3. And not only this, while he recognizes that this is the ultimate sin, he fails to realize that other, perhaps “lesser” sins act as “gateway sins” to the ultimate sin. For instance, if I have a problem with stealing pens from my company. Instead of recognizing that theft, at any level, is a sin against the 7th commandment, I justify that sin saying, “Oh well. My company doesn’t pay me enough anyway so I’m justified in stealing their property.” Now I will admit that he does attempt to preach #3 on occasion. He does warn of dumbing down the law, but not for the purposes of instructing in obedience, but for the purposes of demonstrating that you cannot obey. The problem there is, if we do not hold ourselves behaviorally to the standard of Scripture, then we’re going to default to some lesser standard. Tchividjian seems to think that most people, even most Christians trend toward #1 when in fact it is quite the opposite. Most realize they aren’t cutting it when it comes to obeying God’s law, so instead of repentance, they self-justify their evil misdeeds.

5. False teaching of the “light life”

Strewn throughout his sermons is this notion of the “light life”. When confronted with the commands of Scripture in certain passages, Tchividjian will say something to the effect of, “This is what it looks like to lead a lighter life.” This is yet another twist on the Osteen quip of “Your Best Life Now”. Nowhere in Holy Scripture will you find that the Christian life is one of ease and “lightness”. In fact, as a baptized believer in Christ, the war and struggle has just begun. If you’re looking for an easy and light life, I would not recommend becoming a Christian. Note well, this is not the gospel. The calling of a Christian is one of struggle and discipline and self-sacrifice in this life. To preach this only gives a person a false sense of comfort.

6. The false gospel of “God’s perfect demands” and “you’re not pulling it off”

When Tchividjian attempts to preach the law, he preaches it as something that must be done perfectly or not at all. Here, he, at least partially, misunderstands what God’s law is. The law is not a description, even in theory, of how one attains eternal life. It is a description of what man was created to be and how he was created to act. It is how Adam and Eve behaved in the garden before the fall. It is how we will behave in the hereafter.

To preach the law as something given in order to gain eternal life, in any sense, is a confusion of law and gospel. The only remedy for our rebellion against God’s created order is the person and work of Christ. Thus, Jesus restores us, in part now and fully in the resurrection, to what we were created to be. Having been raised from death to life with Him means that we now can make a beginning of being alive as we were meant to be and cease to exist as dead people.

So for Tchividjian to preach, “God demands perfection and you’re not pulling it off” is to say that you’re dead and all you’ll ever be is dead. But that’s not what St. Paul preaches is it? (viz Rom 6) And this “gospel” of Tchividjian’s sounds really good to the itching ears of dead people. “What?”, they’ll ask, “I don’t have concern myself with living how God created me to live? That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long time! I was so tired of struggling to be alive. I’m much happier being dead!”

The really sad irony in this preaching is that, while it’s meant to be comforting, just like any false gospel, it leaves the person in bondage to sin, death, and the devil. It tells you that you’re simply going to keep existing as a dead person in this life and there has not been nor will there ever be something done about this sad state. It is in fact a denial, in part, of the gospel.

7. Preaching gospel to unrepentant sinners

Over and again in Tchividian’s sermons, we find him recommending that if someone is living an unclean life and is happy doing so, the answer is not to “tell them to clean up their act”, the answer is to preach the gospel to them. His final solution to all of this is to say (and this is in summary form), “Be perfect” then “You can’t be perfect” then “It doesn’t matter because Jesus was perfect for you”.

That is a far cry from calling people to genuine repentance. “Being sick and tired of trying at life” does not equal biblical contrition. Being terrified at the wrath of God you deserve for your sinful, destructive life and sorrowful for your rebellion against Him and how you’ve hurt others with your sin is biblical contrition that leads to true repentance. Telling someone essentially that “nobody’s perfect but Jesus was” is a watered-down version of law and gospel preaching at best.

Perhaps what is most deceptive is that Tchividjian and others of his ilk frequently insist that preaching the free gift of grace in the gospel does not carry the risk with it that people will misunderstand it and use it as an excuse for licentiousness. Over and again, all of the New Testament writers warn of this, but Tchividjian’s answer to this is much different. He maintains that the answer to this problem is “going deeper into the gospel”. As with any sin, this misbelief should be met with the law which is precisely what St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. James do in their epistles. Not so with Tchividjian. Here again, he preaches gospel when the biblical move is to preach the law to correct this misunderstanding.

The Dangers of Tchividjian’s preaching and teaching

1. Licentious living

Tchividjian all but gives permission to his audience to continue in living destructive lives. Let’s not forget what sin is and what it does. First of all it is a “high handed rebellion” (a Hebraism for what we would call “flipping the bird”), to God. “God you created me to be this way? Well forget that! I’m going to act however I want to act….” is the idea here.

Secondly, when Tchividjian flippantly says, “You’re not pulling it off” think about what that means for those around you. If I’m not pulling off being a good employee for my employer, that means not only will he suffer, but my wife and children are going to suffer. “Not pulling it off” when it comes to obedience to God’s commands means you are wreaking destruction on everyone around you. It also places your faith at risk. As stated, he fails to warn people of these dangers.

2. The Gospel is lost

This is the greater consequence to this false teaching. As I am wont to say, “The degree to which you lose the law is the degree to which you lose the gospel.” The most deceptive false teachers preach part of the truth with some key lies sprinkled in among what is right. Tchividjian preaches rightly that we will not be perfect in this life, but then turns and says tying to live as we were created to be is not to be attempted. Preaching the law in its full sternness means preaching that, yes, God demands perfection *and* that we should strive, struggle, and fight to be that, even though failure is guaranteed. Only in this context does the gospel make sense and enter into our lives in its full sweetness.
Indeed, we merely assume that “failure is guaranteed”. The Scriptures don’t speak this way. Jesus, St.Paul, St. James, and the rest do not add the tag line “but you’ll surely fail in this” to their many exhortations and commands to us. Why? Well first of all, if we take those passages seriously, our Lord and these men writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit expect obedience from us as once dead and now alive men. Secondly, this kind of preaching is sure to do the work of driving us again and again to the cross of Christ and His saving power. Most tragically, Tchividjian’s preaching utterly fails in this task for the reasons stated.
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In addition to Matthew’s article, I also offer this recent post from Jon Alan Schmidt at my blog, The Lutheran Catechism: Law, Gospel, Discipleship, as well as this recent talk from Pastor Cooper, Good Works in the Christian Life, which I think complement Matthew’s points very well:
FIN
Images: Tullian Tchividjian, preaching at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church on March 13, 2011, User:DashHouse. The original uploader was StAnselm at English Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
 
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Posted by on November 8, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Lutheran Catechism: Law, Gospel, Discipleship

 

Guest Post By Jon Alan Schmidt

Contrary to common usage among Lutherans, the term “Catechism,” strictly speaking, refers to neither of the two documents (Large and Small) first published by Martin Luther in 1529 and included in the Book of Concord in 1580. By the time of the Reformation, it was well-established in the Western Church as designating the standard content for basic instruction in the faith: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, often in that order. Luther’s most obvious innovation was revising this sequence, and he explained his rationale for doing so as follows in his 1522 Personal Prayer Book (from Luther’s Works, American Edition, vol. 43, pp. 13-14):

Three things a person must know in order to be saved. First, he must know what to do and what to leave undone. Second, when he realizes that he cannot measure up to what he should do or leave undone, he needs to know where to go to find the strength he requires. Third, he must know how to seek and obtain that strength. It is just like a sick person who first has to determine the nature of his sickness, then find out what to do or to leave undone. After that he has to know where to get the medicine which will help him do or leave undone what is right for a healthy person. Third, he has to desire to search for this medicine and to obtain it or have it brought to him.

Thus the commandments teach man to recognize his sickness, enabling him to perceive what he must do or refrain from doing, consent to or refuse, and so he will recognize himself to be a sinful and wicked person. The Creed will teach and show him where to find the medicine—grace—which will help him to become devout and keep the commandments. The Creed points him to God and his mercy, given and made plain to him in Christ. Finally, the Lord’s Prayer teaches all this, namely, through the fulfilment of God’s commandments everything will be given him. In these three are the essentials of the entire Bible.

Luther then added discussions of Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar, since these are the means by which the Great Physician dispenses the medicine of grace to those afflicted by the sickness of sin. These “six chief parts” together comprise The Lutheran Catechism, and its structure reflects the following:

  • The Law instructs us how to think, speak, and act, and reveals our inability to do so perfectly as God the Creator demands.
  • The Gospel offers us forgiveness through the redemption of Jesus Christ, and new life through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit.
  • Discipleship is our exercise of faith in constant prayer, daily repentance as a return to Baptism, regular Confession and reception of the Lord’s Supper, and conscientious discharge of our various vocations at home and in the world.

As illustrated by the diagram below, the first six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer recapitulate key aspects of the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed, while the seventh petition serves “as the sum of all” by asking God for deliverance from evil. The Sacraments are then His efficacious answer!

Although now widely perceived to be a one-time doctrinal manual to prepare youths for the rite of confirmation, Luther advocated sustained employment of his Small Catechism by people of all ages. Each part is explicitly intended, not primarily for pastors or other church workers, but “as the housefather should teach it in a simple way to his household.” In sixteenth-century Germany, that would have included not only his own immediate and extended family, but also any servants or other employees, and perhaps even their families—a genuine “house church.”

Out of a desire to facilitate such consistent usage, I have decided to create a daily devotional that pairs each item and explanation in the Small Catechism with passages from the corresponding section of the Large Catechism. I am now in the process of arranging the content accordingly, as well as preparing questions to prompt meditation—within one’s own mind, through journaling, or perhaps in conversation with others—and brief accompanying prayers, all of which I am posting each morning at http://twitter.com/LutherCatechism. Since Luther did not include Confession as a distinct topic in the Large Catechism, those readings will instead come from relevant portions of his 1537 personal confession of faith, the Smalcald Articles, which was also included in the Book of Concord in 1580.

I began the daily tweets on October 1, so it is not too late to start following them and get caught up. The material will be spread out over twenty-six weeks, such that it can be covered in its entirety twice per year; by comparison, Lutheran pastors in the sixteenth century routinely preached on the Catechism as many as four times per year. I am omitting later additions to the Small Catechism that were likewise left out of the 1580 Book of Concord; these include Andreas Osiander’s 1531 insertion regarding “The Office of the Keys,” as well as “Christian Questions with Their Answers,” which debuted in 1551, five years after Luther’s death.

Luther strongly recommended memorizing not only the basic texts themselves, but also his short explanations in the Small Catechism. I encourage taking his advice, either as an initial step or over the course of the first six months. One helpful discipline for cementing the words in the mind is to recite the six chief parts in their entirety on a weekly basis—for example, the Ten Commandments on Monday, the Apostles’ Creed on Tuesday, the Lord’s Prayer on Wednesday, Holy Baptism on Thursday, Confession on Friday, and the Sacrament of the Altar on Saturday; perhaps appending “Christian Questions with Their Answers” on Sunday, as preparation for receiving the Lord’s Supper.

My hope is eventually to publish the results of this labor of love as a book. The project is dedicated to my wife, Irene, my partner in all things, but especially in training up our children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6); and to those children, Timothy and Cristina, to whom I have sought to teach The Lutheran Catechism in a simple way throughout their lives. May God richly bless them and all who use this resource as they read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the truths of His holy Word, and then put them into practice as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

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Jon Alan Schmidt is a professional engineer, amateur philosopher, and LCMS layman who lives in Olathe, Kansas and is a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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