Paper Tiger

Our culture pretends to be free and easy about sex, but we really aren’t. I was kind of astonished that all of Tiger Woods’ multitudinous endorsement ads have been pulled from prime time TV after his auto accident provoked some nine women (at last count) to admit committing adultery with the golf superstar. Our culture remains capable of moral disapproval over sexual sins! On the other hand, our culture remains pruriently interested in hearing the salacious details of those sexual sins, as evidenced by the current media frenzy over the matter. We are repelled and compelled at the very same time!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • rlewer

    This is really strasnge since most of the TV dramas are about trying to achieve what Tiger has done. The goal of the characters in TV dramas is to engage in sexual sin. This is what our children watch. Do we wonder why they have problems?

    The difference is that Tiger pretended to be a moral person.

  • rlewer

    This is really strasnge since most of the TV dramas are about trying to achieve what Tiger has done. The goal of the characters in TV dramas is to engage in sexual sin. This is what our children watch. Do we wonder why they have problems?

    The difference is that Tiger pretended to be a moral person.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I hate the gossip media.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I hate the gossip media.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    As I argue in one chapter of my new apologetics book (not so subtle plug), we actually have all sorts of rules when it comes to sex (things like the necessity of consent and “protection”, the wrong of adultery & cheating, and even imperatives to be unbridled and free, and so on). When you look for patterns in these rules, it turns out they support the Biblical ethic of “sex belongs only within marriage” much better than the humanist ethic of “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” Even in America, Biblical sexual morality is not nearly so bizarre as it is made out to be (even if it is not routinely practiced).

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    As I argue in one chapter of my new apologetics book (not so subtle plug), we actually have all sorts of rules when it comes to sex (things like the necessity of consent and “protection”, the wrong of adultery & cheating, and even imperatives to be unbridled and free, and so on). When you look for patterns in these rules, it turns out they support the Biblical ethic of “sex belongs only within marriage” much better than the humanist ethic of “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.” Even in America, Biblical sexual morality is not nearly so bizarre as it is made out to be (even if it is not routinely practiced).

  • http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com clearly

    Perhaps a fitting example of…

    Romans 1:32-2:1 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

  • http://seeingclearly.wordpress.com clearly

    Perhaps a fitting example of…

    Romans 1:32-2:1 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

  • DonS

    There is still, apparently, a sensibility in our culture against marital unfaithfulness, particularly when it is of the serial variety that this appears to have been. Tiger probably should have just stayed single. If his purpose in marrying was to have a legacy through children, there are plenty of ways to do that now without marriage, particularly when you have the fame and means that Tiger has. In today’s society, he not only would not have been condemned, he would have been celebrated for such a decision.

  • DonS

    There is still, apparently, a sensibility in our culture against marital unfaithfulness, particularly when it is of the serial variety that this appears to have been. Tiger probably should have just stayed single. If his purpose in marrying was to have a legacy through children, there are plenty of ways to do that now without marriage, particularly when you have the fame and means that Tiger has. In today’s society, he not only would not have been condemned, he would have been celebrated for such a decision.

  • Dan Kempin

    A devotional thought on Tiger and the Christmas narrative . . .

    It is amazing to see how quickly Tiger’s life has changed from the height of respectability to disdain. The voyeuristic and judgmental attitude now being showered in his direction are, no doubt, well deserved, but it is still cruel and a sad sight to behold.

    It opens my eyes to the fact that Joseph’s decision to take Mary as his wife went beyond the night the angel appeared to him in a dream. If anything can be assumed about human nature, the same type of judgment and disdain must have been a part of his daily existence. He had to live with that stigma–an unjust stigma–for the rest of his life, without the benefit of explanation.

    He certainly has the last word of vindication, but still, he sucked it up and went on to provide for his family and love them and lead them through things he didn’t understand.

    What a great dad.

  • Dan Kempin

    A devotional thought on Tiger and the Christmas narrative . . .

    It is amazing to see how quickly Tiger’s life has changed from the height of respectability to disdain. The voyeuristic and judgmental attitude now being showered in his direction are, no doubt, well deserved, but it is still cruel and a sad sight to behold.

    It opens my eyes to the fact that Joseph’s decision to take Mary as his wife went beyond the night the angel appeared to him in a dream. If anything can be assumed about human nature, the same type of judgment and disdain must have been a part of his daily existence. He had to live with that stigma–an unjust stigma–for the rest of his life, without the benefit of explanation.

    He certainly has the last word of vindication, but still, he sucked it up and went on to provide for his family and love them and lead them through things he didn’t understand.

    What a great dad.

  • http://uest fws

    we cannot help but love to hear stories that tell that outward righteousness is just that. outward.

    it tells us that we are not alone. and we pray that noone will catch us naked like they caught tiger woods.

    every story like this, for a christian, is an opportunity to reflect on our own sins and to not feel so secure that we won’t somehow sucumb to the same sins.

    this is true even for me.

    I am incapable, due to how God made me, of sinning in exactly the same way as Tiger. I could never do what he did. it would be impossible.

    But the patterns of deception and trying to hold things together rather than simply confess and turn to Jesus when the chaos of sin is unraveling my life looks very very familiar.

  • http://uest fws

    we cannot help but love to hear stories that tell that outward righteousness is just that. outward.

    it tells us that we are not alone. and we pray that noone will catch us naked like they caught tiger woods.

    every story like this, for a christian, is an opportunity to reflect on our own sins and to not feel so secure that we won’t somehow sucumb to the same sins.

    this is true even for me.

    I am incapable, due to how God made me, of sinning in exactly the same way as Tiger. I could never do what he did. it would be impossible.

    But the patterns of deception and trying to hold things together rather than simply confess and turn to Jesus when the chaos of sin is unraveling my life looks very very familiar.

  • http://uest fws

    #5 dons

    I am not sure it is sensitivity to sexual sinning as it is to adultery.

    What Lutherans call natural law, the conscience written in man’s heart, tells him that to hurt or harm his neigbor is wrong.

    I think maybe the difference Don is that society knows this, and yet they make a distinction between two consenting single adults having sex and someone betraying a spouse. They will, based on their conscience, decide what is right or wrong based on whether they can see harm is done to another or not. This is the general standard that conscience, the law written in the heart by God, follows.

    I am not saying by this that fornication is right. to use another person as a sexual object IS to not give that other human all they deserve.

    It just takes a finely honed sense of conscience, and some pretty rigourous to see this in the absence of Gods Word to guide them.

  • http://uest fws

    #5 dons

    I am not sure it is sensitivity to sexual sinning as it is to adultery.

    What Lutherans call natural law, the conscience written in man’s heart, tells him that to hurt or harm his neigbor is wrong.

    I think maybe the difference Don is that society knows this, and yet they make a distinction between two consenting single adults having sex and someone betraying a spouse. They will, based on their conscience, decide what is right or wrong based on whether they can see harm is done to another or not. This is the general standard that conscience, the law written in the heart by God, follows.

    I am not saying by this that fornication is right. to use another person as a sexual object IS to not give that other human all they deserve.

    It just takes a finely honed sense of conscience, and some pretty rigourous to see this in the absence of Gods Word to guide them.

  • http://uest fws

    #3 matt c

    “…much better than the humanist ethic of “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.”

    This is not a humanist ethic matt c. this is the golden rule that christ himself taught written into the hearts of men.

    the lutherans call this conscience “natural law”. which is different than the RC use of the term since a Lutheran will ONLY seek moral law in scripture and no where else, and not in reason dictated by fallen free will.

    we should be exceedingly hesitant as Lutherans to trash the outward righteousness of pagans because it is pagans doing the acts. in the earthly kingdom we judge men according to their outward righteousness and God promises them earthly blessings for this outward righteousness.

    faith is excluded here. this is all about works. and none of this has anything at all to do with being a christian. the outward works required of all men christian and pagan are identical and are worked in this kingdom in the same exact way… discipline, denial, sweat, running the race.

    In contrast, in the heavenly kingdom we are inwardly righteous because of who we are. works have nothing at all to do with what makes us a christian and allows us to be called christian, here it is faith alone in christ. here all works are excluded because they are already ALL included in what you call that earthly secular humanist kingdom.

  • http://uest fws

    #3 matt c

    “…much better than the humanist ethic of “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone.”

    This is not a humanist ethic matt c. this is the golden rule that christ himself taught written into the hearts of men.

    the lutherans call this conscience “natural law”. which is different than the RC use of the term since a Lutheran will ONLY seek moral law in scripture and no where else, and not in reason dictated by fallen free will.

    we should be exceedingly hesitant as Lutherans to trash the outward righteousness of pagans because it is pagans doing the acts. in the earthly kingdom we judge men according to their outward righteousness and God promises them earthly blessings for this outward righteousness.

    faith is excluded here. this is all about works. and none of this has anything at all to do with being a christian. the outward works required of all men christian and pagan are identical and are worked in this kingdom in the same exact way… discipline, denial, sweat, running the race.

    In contrast, in the heavenly kingdom we are inwardly righteous because of who we are. works have nothing at all to do with what makes us a christian and allows us to be called christian, here it is faith alone in christ. here all works are excluded because they are already ALL included in what you call that earthly secular humanist kingdom.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, Matt C. is correct that the humanist ethic is do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone. This is quite different from the Biblical Golden Rule of love your neighbor as yourself.
    The humanist ethic, while on the surface beneficial, allows individuals to do their own thing and judge for themselves what is harmful. Modern culture has become chaotic and decadent with this view.

    Matt is, also, correct with the fundamental Judeo- Christian ethic of confining the joy of sex within marriage, presumably that of a one flesh, lifelong marriage between a man and a woman.

  • Peter Leavitt

    FWS, Matt C. is correct that the humanist ethic is do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone. This is quite different from the Biblical Golden Rule of love your neighbor as yourself.
    The humanist ethic, while on the surface beneficial, allows individuals to do their own thing and judge for themselves what is harmful. Modern culture has become chaotic and decadent with this view.

    Matt is, also, correct with the fundamental Judeo- Christian ethic of confining the joy of sex within marriage, presumably that of a one flesh, lifelong marriage between a man and a woman.

  • Don

    I don’t think it is so much the act of what he did or the consequences of his spousal betrayal. I believe it lies in his public betrayal. The public was led to believe he was something other than what is now being portrayed.

    Other noted high profile figures have done the same without near the fall out. Clinton and Letterman come to mind, yet their actions were somewhat anticipated and their reputations preceded them. Not so with the Tiger.

  • Don

    I don’t think it is so much the act of what he did or the consequences of his spousal betrayal. I believe it lies in his public betrayal. The public was led to believe he was something other than what is now being portrayed.

    Other noted high profile figures have done the same without near the fall out. Clinton and Letterman come to mind, yet their actions were somewhat anticipated and their reputations preceded them. Not so with the Tiger.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    FWS @ 9,

    “This is not a humanist ethic matt c. this is the golden rule that christ himself taught written into the hearts of men.”

    There are at least two fundamental points at which the humanist ethic is not the same as the Golden rule. The first is that “whatever you want” is the fundamental basis of the humanist ethic; Christ says we ought to love God and neighbor before ourselves. Secondly, humanism has never provided an appropriate foundation for what “hurt” means–typically restricting it to violations of autonomy. The Golden Rule contradicts this by providing a different basis: “as you would have them do unto you.” One must remember that this is not some anonymous “you” that Jesus addresses, but His disciples. This once again places God’s Law (including natural law) rather than personal wants at the core of the ethic.

    The humanist ethic I quoted is light-years away from the Golden Rule.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    FWS @ 9,

    “This is not a humanist ethic matt c. this is the golden rule that christ himself taught written into the hearts of men.”

    There are at least two fundamental points at which the humanist ethic is not the same as the Golden rule. The first is that “whatever you want” is the fundamental basis of the humanist ethic; Christ says we ought to love God and neighbor before ourselves. Secondly, humanism has never provided an appropriate foundation for what “hurt” means–typically restricting it to violations of autonomy. The Golden Rule contradicts this by providing a different basis: “as you would have them do unto you.” One must remember that this is not some anonymous “you” that Jesus addresses, but His disciples. This once again places God’s Law (including natural law) rather than personal wants at the core of the ethic.

    The humanist ethic I quoted is light-years away from the Golden Rule.

  • http://uest fws

    #12 Matt C.

    I have to admit that I was entirely unclear.

    What I was trying to say, fully reflecting the Lutheran confessions, is that we need to concede to fallen free will and reason the FULL ability to keep ALL outward righteousness. there is NO outward righteousness AT ALL that requires one scintilla of faith in Jesus, or even faith in a small g god, or anything at all christian. talk of faith and christianity should be fully excluded when talking about these things.

    Since what the confessions call natural law (ie the law written in man’s heart or conscience), is a damaged xerox of what we find in the law revealed in God’s Word, of course we will find error. But also we can find men, like aristotle, who write about the law in such a complete way that the Lutheran confessions say that nothing would need to be added to what he wrote.

    Also, I know that you believe, as a Lutheran christian, that we are to look to find what pleases God, ans the confessions say, only and exclusively in the revealed Word of God, and not as roman catholics would have us do, which is to invent some sort of “natural law” that says we can or should look to see what is God’s Will and law somewhere else in addition to God’s Word.

    when we talk of faith, works are wholy excluded. the reverse is also true…

    when we talk about works, faith is also wholy excluded.

    I am sure that as a Lutheran christian you fully recognize these truths. I am sorry therefore if I implied a controversy between us that could not exist.

    The peace of the God who comes to us as powerless infant be with you Matt C!

  • http://uest fws

    #12 Matt C.

    I have to admit that I was entirely unclear.

    What I was trying to say, fully reflecting the Lutheran confessions, is that we need to concede to fallen free will and reason the FULL ability to keep ALL outward righteousness. there is NO outward righteousness AT ALL that requires one scintilla of faith in Jesus, or even faith in a small g god, or anything at all christian. talk of faith and christianity should be fully excluded when talking about these things.

    Since what the confessions call natural law (ie the law written in man’s heart or conscience), is a damaged xerox of what we find in the law revealed in God’s Word, of course we will find error. But also we can find men, like aristotle, who write about the law in such a complete way that the Lutheran confessions say that nothing would need to be added to what he wrote.

    Also, I know that you believe, as a Lutheran christian, that we are to look to find what pleases God, ans the confessions say, only and exclusively in the revealed Word of God, and not as roman catholics would have us do, which is to invent some sort of “natural law” that says we can or should look to see what is God’s Will and law somewhere else in addition to God’s Word.

    when we talk of faith, works are wholy excluded. the reverse is also true…

    when we talk about works, faith is also wholy excluded.

    I am sure that as a Lutheran christian you fully recognize these truths. I am sorry therefore if I implied a controversy between us that could not exist.

    The peace of the God who comes to us as powerless infant be with you Matt C!

  • http://uest fws

    #11 don

    brother, I would suggest that it is not really a sense of betrayal, it is finding that we are not alone.

    We all know that we all try to keep up appearances (not a bad thing!) and know that the reality is that behind the nice tidy appearance is a mess.

    when we find that someone else that has groomed a tidy public image is revealed to be a sinful mess, we either think “harumph, that hipocrite, I am not as bad as him!” or “well, so my being messy is normal. not to worry!”

    a christian, in contrast,I would suggest, sees the sins of others revealed, as an opportity to reflect upon and confess one’s own sins that look no different.

  • http://uest fws

    #11 don

    brother, I would suggest that it is not really a sense of betrayal, it is finding that we are not alone.

    We all know that we all try to keep up appearances (not a bad thing!) and know that the reality is that behind the nice tidy appearance is a mess.

    when we find that someone else that has groomed a tidy public image is revealed to be a sinful mess, we either think “harumph, that hipocrite, I am not as bad as him!” or “well, so my being messy is normal. not to worry!”

    a christian, in contrast,I would suggest, sees the sins of others revealed, as an opportity to reflect upon and confess one’s own sins that look no different.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    fws @ 13,

    Thank you for clarifying! I think I understand where we’re differing now, and it’s definitely not on the main point. For the record, I’m doing my MA thesis on natural law at an LCMS seminary, so this is a big topic of interest to me. So I’m going to post a lot even though we’re mainly in agreement); it’s what I do :)

    You wrote:
    “What I was trying to say, fully reflecting the Lutheran confessions, is that we need to concede to fallen free will and reason the FULL ability to keep ALL outward righteousness. there is NO outward righteousness AT ALL that requires one scintilla of faith in Jesus, or even faith in a small g god, or anything at all christian. talk of faith and christianity should be fully excluded when talking about these things.”

    I agree with everything you’re saying here except for the clause “or even faith in a small g god.” Some knowledge and regard for divinity is indeed a part of the natural law (Rom 1:19-23). The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). But like any works, of course, it cannot save.

    I love your xerox analogy, btw.

    You also wrote:
    “Also, I know that you believe, as a Lutheran christian, that we are to look to find what pleases God, ans the confessions say, only and exclusively in the revealed Word of God, and not as roman catholics would have us do, which is to invent some sort of “natural law” that says we can or should look to see what is God’s Will and law somewhere else in addition to God’s Word”

    We may also have a disagreement here which I believe is within the bounds of confessional Lutheranism. We should certainly not follow any human inventions, but what God placed in our hearts is written by Him, not Catholics. As we live our earthly lives in our vocations, natural law can indeed be useful–particularly since, as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living. There’s nothing meritorious about natural law, but if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility. Scripture trumps natural law if there’s a conflict, of course, but Scripture is not exhaustive on moral matters and cannot substitute for moral reasoning (for the day-to-day matters of this life–as you say, it has nothing to do with faith or salvation).

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    fws @ 13,

    Thank you for clarifying! I think I understand where we’re differing now, and it’s definitely not on the main point. For the record, I’m doing my MA thesis on natural law at an LCMS seminary, so this is a big topic of interest to me. So I’m going to post a lot even though we’re mainly in agreement); it’s what I do :)

    You wrote:
    “What I was trying to say, fully reflecting the Lutheran confessions, is that we need to concede to fallen free will and reason the FULL ability to keep ALL outward righteousness. there is NO outward righteousness AT ALL that requires one scintilla of faith in Jesus, or even faith in a small g god, or anything at all christian. talk of faith and christianity should be fully excluded when talking about these things.”

    I agree with everything you’re saying here except for the clause “or even faith in a small g god.” Some knowledge and regard for divinity is indeed a part of the natural law (Rom 1:19-23). The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). But like any works, of course, it cannot save.

    I love your xerox analogy, btw.

    You also wrote:
    “Also, I know that you believe, as a Lutheran christian, that we are to look to find what pleases God, ans the confessions say, only and exclusively in the revealed Word of God, and not as roman catholics would have us do, which is to invent some sort of “natural law” that says we can or should look to see what is God’s Will and law somewhere else in addition to God’s Word”

    We may also have a disagreement here which I believe is within the bounds of confessional Lutheranism. We should certainly not follow any human inventions, but what God placed in our hearts is written by Him, not Catholics. As we live our earthly lives in our vocations, natural law can indeed be useful–particularly since, as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living. There’s nothing meritorious about natural law, but if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility. Scripture trumps natural law if there’s a conflict, of course, but Scripture is not exhaustive on moral matters and cannot substitute for moral reasoning (for the day-to-day matters of this life–as you say, it has nothing to do with faith or salvation).

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “I agree with everything you’re saying here except for the clause “or even faith in a small g god.” Some knowledge and regard for divinity is indeed a part of the natural law (Rom 1:19-23). The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). But like any works, of course, it cannot save.”

    mat. sure it is part of what conscience says. “the fool has said there is no god.” but you are inserting more. cause and effect. that belief in a small g god promotes moral virtues. The confessions argue the exact contrary. outward earthly righteousness is strictly about serving our neighbor. it properly and completely horozontal Matt. talk of sin (where we fall short of what God requires) and small g gods is precisely the vertical dimension added by those who want this outward righteousness to avail before God. the confessions say aristotle developed a moral system to which “nothing can be added”. was his belief in a small g god a sinequanon of this?

    “but what God placed in our hearts is written by Him, not Catholics. As we live our earthly lives in our vocations, natural law can indeed be useful–particularly since, as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living. There’s nothing meritorious about natural law, but if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility. Scripture trumps natural law if there’s a conflict, of course, but Scripture is not exhaustive on moral matters and cannot substitute for moral reasoning (for the day-to-day matters of this life–as you say, it has nothing to do with faith or salvation).”

    the confessions say: “natural law=conscience”. period. further, they are most careful to distinguish “natural ordinance (ie the natural order of things)” (what catholics say reason can observe and extract moral law from) from revealed commands/law/will of God. The confessions clearly place this later category not as a moral category but rather as something that just is, like the law of gravity, that would be impossible to resist or countermand.

    “if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility.” the confessions are extremely clear in hundreds of places that the definition of outward righhteousness for christians, must ONLY come from revealed scripture and that that IS complete as to outward righteousness. period. no ifs ands or buts here. there is no room outside of this to be a confessional Lutheran. i can give you numerous cites on this. as well as the other assertions I have made dear brother. I am utterly devoid of original material to contribute I am afraid.

    we could maybe continue this offline matt c if you would find that useful. I am not a pastor or theologian, but if I could be of any small use, I am here.

    fwsonnek@gmail.com

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “I agree with everything you’re saying here except for the clause “or even faith in a small g god.” Some knowledge and regard for divinity is indeed a part of the natural law (Rom 1:19-23). The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). But like any works, of course, it cannot save.”

    mat. sure it is part of what conscience says. “the fool has said there is no god.” but you are inserting more. cause and effect. that belief in a small g god promotes moral virtues. The confessions argue the exact contrary. outward earthly righteousness is strictly about serving our neighbor. it properly and completely horozontal Matt. talk of sin (where we fall short of what God requires) and small g gods is precisely the vertical dimension added by those who want this outward righteousness to avail before God. the confessions say aristotle developed a moral system to which “nothing can be added”. was his belief in a small g god a sinequanon of this?

    “but what God placed in our hearts is written by Him, not Catholics. As we live our earthly lives in our vocations, natural law can indeed be useful–particularly since, as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living. There’s nothing meritorious about natural law, but if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility. Scripture trumps natural law if there’s a conflict, of course, but Scripture is not exhaustive on moral matters and cannot substitute for moral reasoning (for the day-to-day matters of this life–as you say, it has nothing to do with faith or salvation).”

    the confessions say: “natural law=conscience”. period. further, they are most careful to distinguish “natural ordinance (ie the natural order of things)” (what catholics say reason can observe and extract moral law from) from revealed commands/law/will of God. The confessions clearly place this later category not as a moral category but rather as something that just is, like the law of gravity, that would be impossible to resist or countermand.

    “if we seek to do good and avoid evil simply because good is good and evil is evil, then it has some utility.” the confessions are extremely clear in hundreds of places that the definition of outward righhteousness for christians, must ONLY come from revealed scripture and that that IS complete as to outward righteousness. period. no ifs ands or buts here. there is no room outside of this to be a confessional Lutheran. i can give you numerous cites on this. as well as the other assertions I have made dear brother. I am utterly devoid of original material to contribute I am afraid.

    we could maybe continue this offline matt c if you would find that useful. I am not a pastor or theologian, but if I could be of any small use, I am here.

    fwsonnek@gmail.com

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living.”

    well now. the just shall live by faith. so it is a rubric for living. but I DO know what you mean: the bible is not a rule book.

    from this fact matt, it does NOT logically follow tht the bible not contain EVERYTHING a christian must know to be able to tell if , in his station in life, he is pleasing God or not.

    so. IF natural law is merely that defective xerox of revealed law written in the hearts of men, just how would that fill in any missing stuff in revealed law? unless you define ‘natural law’ ala aquinas and not as the lutheran confessions narrowly define “natural law”.

    you will not find the confessions pointing christians to anything outside of scripture to know this, and in fact, you will find numerous places where they say that this is the wrong thing to do.

    I sense that you are defining “natural law” differently than the confessions do. more in an aquinian sense. please correct me if I am wrong. so then tell me dear brother..

    how do you define natural law and where does it fill in “gaps” in the 10 commandments that without which, a christian cannot be sure that he is pleasing God in matters of outward righteousness? very curious.

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “as I am sure you know, the Bible is not primarily a rubric for living.”

    well now. the just shall live by faith. so it is a rubric for living. but I DO know what you mean: the bible is not a rule book.

    from this fact matt, it does NOT logically follow tht the bible not contain EVERYTHING a christian must know to be able to tell if , in his station in life, he is pleasing God or not.

    so. IF natural law is merely that defective xerox of revealed law written in the hearts of men, just how would that fill in any missing stuff in revealed law? unless you define ‘natural law’ ala aquinas and not as the lutheran confessions narrowly define “natural law”.

    you will not find the confessions pointing christians to anything outside of scripture to know this, and in fact, you will find numerous places where they say that this is the wrong thing to do.

    I sense that you are defining “natural law” differently than the confessions do. more in an aquinian sense. please correct me if I am wrong. so then tell me dear brother..

    how do you define natural law and where does it fill in “gaps” in the 10 commandments that without which, a christian cannot be sure that he is pleasing God in matters of outward righteousness? very curious.

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    one more thing. lets make sure we agree. the confessions and luther are quite clear that outward righteousness IS meritorius. God promises earthly blessings which blessings will perish with the earth. Further these works of outward righteousness are works of God through which , using both stick AND carrot of the law provides all first article blessings to us. vocation is PURE law. none of this, even outward keeping of the first table requires any faith at all.

    in fact faith is detrimental here. why? to qualify as love, as outward righteousness, the outward works MUST only serve our neighbor with no vertical bent. talk of sin and faith are utterly and completely excluded here. and any faith talk combined with works turns works into something that defines the word christian which they are not in any way.

    your say that works are not meritorious. I would say that they are on earth. they cannot stand before God in the heavenly kingdom as righteousness. I am certain that is what you mean, but we should not give the impression that outward righteousness is in a very real sense meritorius. why is this important? to place in the earthly kingdom ALL talk of any works and exclude any talk at all of faith or sin or god talk, so that when we talk of the heavenly kingdom works are entirely excluded. why? well because they are already ENTIRELY included in the earthly kingdom where faith is not in any way necessary. only will power, free will and reason are necessary to do ALL outward righteousness in that outward kingdom.

    so we are really touching on law and gospel here and 3rd use of the law.

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    one more thing. lets make sure we agree. the confessions and luther are quite clear that outward righteousness IS meritorius. God promises earthly blessings which blessings will perish with the earth. Further these works of outward righteousness are works of God through which , using both stick AND carrot of the law provides all first article blessings to us. vocation is PURE law. none of this, even outward keeping of the first table requires any faith at all.

    in fact faith is detrimental here. why? to qualify as love, as outward righteousness, the outward works MUST only serve our neighbor with no vertical bent. talk of sin and faith are utterly and completely excluded here. and any faith talk combined with works turns works into something that defines the word christian which they are not in any way.

    your say that works are not meritorious. I would say that they are on earth. they cannot stand before God in the heavenly kingdom as righteousness. I am certain that is what you mean, but we should not give the impression that outward righteousness is in a very real sense meritorius. why is this important? to place in the earthly kingdom ALL talk of any works and exclude any talk at all of faith or sin or god talk, so that when we talk of the heavenly kingdom works are entirely excluded. why? well because they are already ENTIRELY included in the earthly kingdom where faith is not in any way necessary. only will power, free will and reason are necessary to do ALL outward righteousness in that outward kingdom.

    so we are really touching on law and gospel here and 3rd use of the law.

  • http://uest fws

    correction:

    but we should not give the impression that outward righteousness is NOT in a very real sense meritorius. and infact Gods will (ie in conformity to God´s Law and desire)

  • http://uest fws

    correction:

    but we should not give the impression that outward righteousness is NOT in a very real sense meritorius. and infact Gods will (ie in conformity to God´s Law and desire)

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). ”

    this is prima facie evidence for sin.

    if there were no sin in the world, ALL manh]kind´s outward righteousness would be directed horizontally right? it would look like the life of Jesus, which Luther describes thusly:

    ” 79. To further understand how Christ was put under the Law: Observe, he placed himself in subjection in a twofold manner. In the first place, he put himself under the works of the Law. He permitted himself to be circumcised and to be presented and purified in the temple. He was submissive to his father and mother, and all those things, when no obligation required. For he was Lord over all laws. He acted voluntarily in this respect, unprompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward as far as he was himself concerned. When we consider the question of mere external works, we can perceive no difference between his conduct and that of individuals actuated by compulsion and restraint. His liberty and free will were concealed from men, just as the imprisonment and unwillingness of others were not apparent. Thus Christ acts under the Law, though properly not under the Law. He conducts himself like those in bondage to it, but he is himself free. His will being free, he is not under the Law. In the matter of works, which he voluntarily performs, he is subject. ”

    every time we see mankind direct works vertically, even as christians, we should smell rank idolatry and sin.

  • http://uest fws

    #15 matt c

    “The absurd effort mankind has put into false and un-saving religions is evidence enough that regard for divinity is a moral imperative for humans (and it’s not completely independent of the other imperatives). ”

    this is prima facie evidence for sin.

    if there were no sin in the world, ALL manh]kind´s outward righteousness would be directed horizontally right? it would look like the life of Jesus, which Luther describes thusly:

    ” 79. To further understand how Christ was put under the Law: Observe, he placed himself in subjection in a twofold manner. In the first place, he put himself under the works of the Law. He permitted himself to be circumcised and to be presented and purified in the temple. He was submissive to his father and mother, and all those things, when no obligation required. For he was Lord over all laws. He acted voluntarily in this respect, unprompted by fear of punishment or expectation of reward as far as he was himself concerned. When we consider the question of mere external works, we can perceive no difference between his conduct and that of individuals actuated by compulsion and restraint. His liberty and free will were concealed from men, just as the imprisonment and unwillingness of others were not apparent. Thus Christ acts under the Law, though properly not under the Law. He conducts himself like those in bondage to it, but he is himself free. His will being free, he is not under the Law. In the matter of works, which he voluntarily performs, he is subject. ”

    every time we see mankind direct works vertically, even as christians, we should smell rank idolatry and sin.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    fws,

    Thank you for such a long and thoughtful response! I’m going to take you up on your offer to correspond on this over email; the blog format doesn’t really suit the discussion at this point. I’ll send you an email (hopefully) in a few days.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    fws,

    Thank you for such a long and thoughtful response! I’m going to take you up on your offer to correspond on this over email; the blog format doesn’t really suit the discussion at this point. I’ll send you an email (hopefully) in a few days.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Oh, and yes, citations would be helpful — particularly for the definitions of natural law in the confessions.

  • http://wipfandstock.com/store/As_Though_It_Were_Actually_True_A_Christian_Apologetics_Primer Matt C.

    Oh, and yes, citations would be helpful — particularly for the definitions of natural law in the confessions.

  • http://uest fws

    #2 matt c

    I will be most happy to forward cites. hope I can be of some small service there.

  • http://uest fws

    #2 matt c

    I will be most happy to forward cites. hope I can be of some small service there.


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