Another Christian politician caught in adultery

Is it any wonder that Christians are losing their credibility?

Indiana congressman Mark Souder’s resignation, announced Tuesday, came after anonymous tipsters called his aides and his opponents in a Republican primary to say he was having an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer, according to sources familiar with the calls.

The conservative Christian congressman’s chief of staff, Renee Howell, confronted him last week over the rumored affair with Tracy Meadows Jackson, according to a source in the office. On Tuesday morning, two weeks after winning the primary, Souder publicly admitted the affair — without naming the staffer — and said he would resign effective Friday.

The affair began after Jackson was hired in 2004, according to the source in the office. Jackson, who is married, was to be a guest host with Souder for a daily radio spot he recorded for WFCV, a Christian radio station in Fort Wayne, Ind. Jackson also at one point played host for a local cable-access show that served as a platform for Souder to discuss conservative issues, and she helped produce numerous videos of Souder’s speeches and positions, including one in which they discussed his strong support for teen abstinence.

via Rep. Mark Souder’s resignation comes after anonymous tips about affair.

That these two, both of whom are married, started their cheating while exercising their religiosity at a Christian radio station and while making videos on Christian sexual morality is just too much.

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.

  • Joe

    Very sad and disappointing. Glad to see he stepped down to pay attention to healing his family instead of trying to hang onto his seat. My question is why are we surprised? He is a sinner just like the rest of us. You can’t transfer belief in a set of values to a person who espouses those values and not expect to be disappointed. We live in a fallen world.

  • Joe

    Very sad and disappointing. Glad to see he stepped down to pay attention to healing his family instead of trying to hang onto his seat. My question is why are we surprised? He is a sinner just like the rest of us. You can’t transfer belief in a set of values to a person who espouses those values and not expect to be disappointed. We live in a fallen world.

  • fws

    “8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (St Paul Romans 8)

    As long as christians make the earthly righteousness about sacrificial works, there will be sacrifices that will need to be made. Human sacrifice. This is what passed through the mind of that cowardly and sinful anonymous tipster. And what are sacrificial works? Sacrificial works are anything we can do in our body with the intended purpose of pleasing God.

    The earthly kingdom righteousness that God demands is alone love for neighbor and pleasing him. ALONE. There is no vertical element to anything the body can do. We owe nothing to God in christ. sacrifice is unnecessary therefore. This excludes then trying to do things in order to please God. Even for christians. Especially by mislabelling these efforts “sanctification”. Loaf-of-bread-to-feed-hungry is God´s Will whoever does it and for whatever reason. There is not difference between christian and pagan then as to the works they do.

    The heavenly kingdom righteousness that God wants is invisible faith alone. ALONE. Visible Sacrifice/Works are not included here. How can they be?! they are already fully included in that Earthly Kingdom that has nothing to do with faith. Nothing.

    This heavenly righteousness is meaningless on earth to anyone but God and troubled consciences. As james says “tell me your faith and I will show you my works” and “you see: we are justified [on earth] by works and not by faith.” He is right when we are talking about life on earth. Luther agrees with this.

    If we lose that first ALONE, that works we have to work at exclude faith, then we will lose the far more important second ALONE that alone will not perish nor those who live in it.

    Then people will put on the “holy mask” and do what they really want when no on one is looking. They know god sees. Conclusion: they fear opinion of men more than God. There is a heart problem.

    Why? because by thinking that they can turn works and love into sacrifice, they will miss that they sin by breaking the first commandment. God sees everything. But sacrifice is about having the externals to show god and others in a way that someone broken by the first commandment never could do.

  • fws

    “8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (St Paul Romans 8)

    As long as christians make the earthly righteousness about sacrificial works, there will be sacrifices that will need to be made. Human sacrifice. This is what passed through the mind of that cowardly and sinful anonymous tipster. And what are sacrificial works? Sacrificial works are anything we can do in our body with the intended purpose of pleasing God.

    The earthly kingdom righteousness that God demands is alone love for neighbor and pleasing him. ALONE. There is no vertical element to anything the body can do. We owe nothing to God in christ. sacrifice is unnecessary therefore. This excludes then trying to do things in order to please God. Even for christians. Especially by mislabelling these efforts “sanctification”. Loaf-of-bread-to-feed-hungry is God´s Will whoever does it and for whatever reason. There is not difference between christian and pagan then as to the works they do.

    The heavenly kingdom righteousness that God wants is invisible faith alone. ALONE. Visible Sacrifice/Works are not included here. How can they be?! they are already fully included in that Earthly Kingdom that has nothing to do with faith. Nothing.

    This heavenly righteousness is meaningless on earth to anyone but God and troubled consciences. As james says “tell me your faith and I will show you my works” and “you see: we are justified [on earth] by works and not by faith.” He is right when we are talking about life on earth. Luther agrees with this.

    If we lose that first ALONE, that works we have to work at exclude faith, then we will lose the far more important second ALONE that alone will not perish nor those who live in it.

    Then people will put on the “holy mask” and do what they really want when no on one is looking. They know god sees. Conclusion: they fear opinion of men more than God. There is a heart problem.

    Why? because by thinking that they can turn works and love into sacrifice, they will miss that they sin by breaking the first commandment. God sees everything. But sacrifice is about having the externals to show god and others in a way that someone broken by the first commandment never could do.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    The duties and responsibilities of Congressman do seem to strain family life and often lead to these sins.

    As the power of Washington has grown, Congressman have spent more time in DC and out fundraising, and less time in their districts with their families.

    If Republicans retake Congress, I think they ought to consider reducing the number of days Congress is in session and lengthening the breaks where members can return home.

  • http://www.spaceagelutheran.blogspot.com/ SAL

    The duties and responsibilities of Congressman do seem to strain family life and often lead to these sins.

    As the power of Washington has grown, Congressman have spent more time in DC and out fundraising, and less time in their districts with their families.

    If Republicans retake Congress, I think they ought to consider reducing the number of days Congress is in session and lengthening the breaks where members can return home.

  • fws

    naw sg..

    families need to move to DC. Paul says that it is unsafe for married couples to abstain from sex for more than a few days and then only by mutual consent. His words mean what they imply about what he calls the irresistable power of the sex drive. How would they follow st pauls practical advice if the wife is in another state?

  • fws

    naw sg..

    families need to move to DC. Paul says that it is unsafe for married couples to abstain from sex for more than a few days and then only by mutual consent. His words mean what they imply about what he calls the irresistable power of the sex drive. How would they follow st pauls practical advice if the wife is in another state?

  • Louis

    In a more cynical vein, I tend to be highly sceptical of any religious/spiritual display done by a politician “for the audience” – ie on video’s, TV programs etc. I tend to see that as getting the Christian vote. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, I saw lots of that.

    Now, unless I investigated, I’d never have known that my current MP is a Mennonite minister with a doctorate. And does excellent work in helping families of Coptic Christians from areas in Africa where they are persecuted. But I found that out in speaking to him, not through any media campaign.

  • Louis

    In a more cynical vein, I tend to be highly sceptical of any religious/spiritual display done by a politician “for the audience” – ie on video’s, TV programs etc. I tend to see that as getting the Christian vote. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, I saw lots of that.

    Now, unless I investigated, I’d never have known that my current MP is a Mennonite minister with a doctorate. And does excellent work in helping families of Coptic Christians from areas in Africa where they are persecuted. But I found that out in speaking to him, not through any media campaign.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What Frank says. This is especially bad for Souder, as his kids were grown–he could have taken his wife to DC and still lived in an efficiency apartment, if money were an issue. If conservative politicians want to avoid embarassments like this, they need to take 1 Corinthians 7 seriously.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    What Frank says. This is especially bad for Souder, as his kids were grown–he could have taken his wife to DC and still lived in an efficiency apartment, if money were an issue. If conservative politicians want to avoid embarassments like this, they need to take 1 Corinthians 7 seriously.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I have always been skeptical about the claimed beliefs of politicians, too many have said what ever was needed to get elected.

    However, to borrow a turn of phrase from a sem professor, taking a public stand for the faith is the equivalent of painting a huge red target on your back. Satan is going to come gunning for you.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I have always been skeptical about the claimed beliefs of politicians, too many have said what ever was needed to get elected.

    However, to borrow a turn of phrase from a sem professor, taking a public stand for the faith is the equivalent of painting a huge red target on your back. Satan is going to come gunning for you.

  • Anon

    I am sorry fws…either I am having an off morning or this topic hits too close to home. Would you mind explaining your point in post #2 in simpler terms. Thank you.

  • Anon

    I am sorry fws…either I am having an off morning or this topic hits too close to home. Would you mind explaining your point in post #2 in simpler terms. Thank you.

  • Joe

    Before the Dems took the house, they were in session Monday afternoon through close of business on Thursday. They generally were on the floor until late into the evening all four nights. This allowed them to do a full weeks worth of business and still be home in there district Friday, Saturday, Sunday and (depending on flight schedules) Monday am. When the Dems took control they went to a 5 day a week calendar, but they spend less time on the floor now then they did under the 3.5/4 day calendar that was in place under the Repubs.

    I have a friend who is a congressman and the change to the 5 day calendar is putting a very heavy strain on his family. I asked him why the change and his response was that the Dems did not think it was a big deal because the vast majority of them lived in DC year round anyway.

  • Joe

    Before the Dems took the house, they were in session Monday afternoon through close of business on Thursday. They generally were on the floor until late into the evening all four nights. This allowed them to do a full weeks worth of business and still be home in there district Friday, Saturday, Sunday and (depending on flight schedules) Monday am. When the Dems took control they went to a 5 day a week calendar, but they spend less time on the floor now then they did under the 3.5/4 day calendar that was in place under the Repubs.

    I have a friend who is a congressman and the change to the 5 day calendar is putting a very heavy strain on his family. I asked him why the change and his response was that the Dems did not think it was a big deal because the vast majority of them lived in DC year round anyway.

  • Jon

    Louis, thoughtful perspective.
    Pity us here in the US, where the religious right and its patron saint, Elmer Gantry, define what it is to be a “Christian” politician.

  • Jon

    Louis, thoughtful perspective.
    Pity us here in the US, where the religious right and its patron saint, Elmer Gantry, define what it is to be a “Christian” politician.

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

    Well, I don’t know that I want to question the man’s faith. He is a sinner I am a sinner. And we all tend to be hypocrites at times.
    But I don’t want to make light of this either. It is absolutely ridiculous. By the way, it seems the affair didn’t start in Washington, but in Ft. Wayne, so what the congressional work week has to do with this case is beyond me. Perhaps, next we could blame his wife?
    No, this man while preaching morals had none. And his job is politician not preacher. He stepped out of his vocation to win votes, and told the people what they wanted to hear. We as Christians can’t afford to keep trusting earthly princes in this manner.

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

    Well, I don’t know that I want to question the man’s faith. He is a sinner I am a sinner. And we all tend to be hypocrites at times.
    But I don’t want to make light of this either. It is absolutely ridiculous. By the way, it seems the affair didn’t start in Washington, but in Ft. Wayne, so what the congressional work week has to do with this case is beyond me. Perhaps, next we could blame his wife?
    No, this man while preaching morals had none. And his job is politician not preacher. He stepped out of his vocation to win votes, and told the people what they wanted to hear. We as Christians can’t afford to keep trusting earthly princes in this manner.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Ah, well.. It’s disappointing that a “Christian” politician gets found out to be a sinner..

    I’m sure most of the puritanical finger-pointing will come from the antireligious left, though.

    Meanwhile, there are those that will give this guy a pass by quoting the Gospel According to the Bumper Sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Ah, well.. It’s disappointing that a “Christian” politician gets found out to be a sinner..

    I’m sure most of the puritanical finger-pointing will come from the antireligious left, though.

    Meanwhile, there are those that will give this guy a pass by quoting the Gospel According to the Bumper Sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

  • bunnycatch3r

    Adultery is no greater sin than working on the Sabbath. And since it doesn’t even incur the death penalty (unlike breaking the Sabbath) one could argue that it’s even less than a sin in God’s sight than mowing the lawn on Saturday.

  • bunnycatch3r

    Adultery is no greater sin than working on the Sabbath. And since it doesn’t even incur the death penalty (unlike breaking the Sabbath) one could argue that it’s even less than a sin in God’s sight than mowing the lawn on Saturday.

  • J

    Westfall, are you employed in the manufacture or testing of nuclear weapons?

  • J

    Westfall, are you employed in the manufacture or testing of nuclear weapons?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    J,

    I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I work as an engineer for the group that keeps the Linear Particle Accelerator running. Some of the uses of the Linac are secret, and I am not involved in those programs, but I am sure that among the purposes of the facility is support for the science and engineering of nuclear weapons.

    So, indirectly I suppose I am involved with nuclear weapons…

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    J,

    I work at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I work as an engineer for the group that keeps the Linear Particle Accelerator running. Some of the uses of the Linac are secret, and I am not involved in those programs, but I am sure that among the purposes of the facility is support for the science and engineering of nuclear weapons.

    So, indirectly I suppose I am involved with nuclear weapons…

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

    “Meanwhile, there are those that will give this guy a pass by quoting the Gospel According to the Bumper Sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.””
    Did you want to shoot yourself after reading that?
    It’s true to a degree, but man does it not come off right at all. “Glad god forgave me for cutting you off. now watch me do it again.” I love bumper stickers.

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

    “Meanwhile, there are those that will give this guy a pass by quoting the Gospel According to the Bumper Sticker: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.””
    Did you want to shoot yourself after reading that?
    It’s true to a degree, but man does it not come off right at all. “Glad god forgave me for cutting you off. now watch me do it again.” I love bumper stickers.

  • fws

    anon @8
    True (ie God pleasing) earthly righteousness is always seeking the good of our neighbor. How do we know we have done good for our neighbor? Simple: We let them be the judge of that! Our Old Adam hates that!

    Sacrificial works are about my personal goodness, and dutifully monitoring that of others. It is also about avoiding having others judge us. Our Old Adam loves this!

    How do we know we are good? Simple! We have followed a list of rules even if it seems to hurt our neighbor. And we have avoided the judgement of others, and so avoid being made to be the sacrifice. (hence sacrificers like the shadows. furtive love affairs and anonymous accusers) . The sacrificial god we worship wants sacrifice and not mercy.

    Since sacrificers know this is a fact, what they really want is to avoid, most of all, is to be made the sacrifice. So fear of what is known and judgement of others becomes more important that what God knows and thinks. Sacrifice dulls conscience.

    We sacrificers place our trust in rules that require bloody sacrifice. We imagine that this is really mercy since after all it is what our god demands and he is “loving”. We do this even if no one can see any mercy there, and we imagine that that is what righteousness is supposed to look like. Sacrifice. Usually the sacrifice is someone else who really deserves it because they are not good. Take homosexuals for example.

    Earthy righteousness that truly pleases God has only two tests: 1) does it do no harm? and 2) does it look (as judged by our neighbor) like love has been done? Like life looks better? (Dr Luther, Small Catechism, 10 commandments).

    Focusing on being good and the badness of others rather than the good of others is not good! Not according to God at least.

    Rather this is the worst idolatry. And this truly is an either / or choice! We cannot please God by being good, but God is so pleased to have us please our neighbor that he will make us do it if we do not do so willingly.

    The opposite of evil is not goodness. It is faith. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
    “The just shall live by faith” and not by love or goodness.

  • fws

    anon @8
    True (ie God pleasing) earthly righteousness is always seeking the good of our neighbor. How do we know we have done good for our neighbor? Simple: We let them be the judge of that! Our Old Adam hates that!

    Sacrificial works are about my personal goodness, and dutifully monitoring that of others. It is also about avoiding having others judge us. Our Old Adam loves this!

    How do we know we are good? Simple! We have followed a list of rules even if it seems to hurt our neighbor. And we have avoided the judgement of others, and so avoid being made to be the sacrifice. (hence sacrificers like the shadows. furtive love affairs and anonymous accusers) . The sacrificial god we worship wants sacrifice and not mercy.

    Since sacrificers know this is a fact, what they really want is to avoid, most of all, is to be made the sacrifice. So fear of what is known and judgement of others becomes more important that what God knows and thinks. Sacrifice dulls conscience.

    We sacrificers place our trust in rules that require bloody sacrifice. We imagine that this is really mercy since after all it is what our god demands and he is “loving”. We do this even if no one can see any mercy there, and we imagine that that is what righteousness is supposed to look like. Sacrifice. Usually the sacrifice is someone else who really deserves it because they are not good. Take homosexuals for example.

    Earthy righteousness that truly pleases God has only two tests: 1) does it do no harm? and 2) does it look (as judged by our neighbor) like love has been done? Like life looks better? (Dr Luther, Small Catechism, 10 commandments).

    Focusing on being good and the badness of others rather than the good of others is not good! Not according to God at least.

    Rather this is the worst idolatry. And this truly is an either / or choice! We cannot please God by being good, but God is so pleased to have us please our neighbor that he will make us do it if we do not do so willingly.

    The opposite of evil is not goodness. It is faith. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”
    “The just shall live by faith” and not by love or goodness.

  • fws

    bror @ 16

    cf my lead paragraph @17. This is what is wrong with that bumper sticker. We want to escape letting our neighbor be the judge of our goodness, when God is sending us exactly there in order to serve our neighbor. Our Old Adam loathes that. It looks like death. It IS death.

    Instead we pursue religious goodness. sacrifice.

  • fws

    bror @ 16

    cf my lead paragraph @17. This is what is wrong with that bumper sticker. We want to escape letting our neighbor be the judge of our goodness, when God is sending us exactly there in order to serve our neighbor. Our Old Adam loathes that. It looks like death. It IS death.

    Instead we pursue religious goodness. sacrifice.

  • Dana A.

    It’s worth noting that nobody credibly says AA members are hypocrites, yet they, as alcoholics, stand against alcholism. Why are they different from public scolds like Souder? Because AA members (1) frankly confess their trouble with alcohol; and (2) help others one-on-one conquer the same problem, rather than merely crusade against alcohol abuse legislatively. Compare that manner of life to Souder’s, or to any one else who’d rather made a living as a scold. There’s a reason Christ said to take care of the beam in your eye before going after the other guy’s speck. It’s so that you can see clearly to help the other guy. Is it really any more complicated?

  • Dana A.

    It’s worth noting that nobody credibly says AA members are hypocrites, yet they, as alcoholics, stand against alcholism. Why are they different from public scolds like Souder? Because AA members (1) frankly confess their trouble with alcohol; and (2) help others one-on-one conquer the same problem, rather than merely crusade against alcohol abuse legislatively. Compare that manner of life to Souder’s, or to any one else who’d rather made a living as a scold. There’s a reason Christ said to take care of the beam in your eye before going after the other guy’s speck. It’s so that you can see clearly to help the other guy. Is it really any more complicated?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (in light of what Dana said @19), I’m having a hard time reconciling what you’re saying with Jesus’ behavior, which makes me question what you’re saying.

    As I read your statements, it would seem that they condemn Jesus when he, in turn, condemned the sinners of his day. It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered. But he didn’t back off when it came to the self-righteous, the hypocrites, the political (and would-be religious) leaders who touted themselves as better than others, while at the same time telling everyone how they should be good. Now, given that, how is it wrong to note the same situation in our day?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (in light of what Dana said @19), I’m having a hard time reconciling what you’re saying with Jesus’ behavior, which makes me question what you’re saying.

    As I read your statements, it would seem that they condemn Jesus when he, in turn, condemned the sinners of his day. It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered. But he didn’t back off when it came to the self-righteous, the hypocrites, the political (and would-be religious) leaders who touted themselves as better than others, while at the same time telling everyone how they should be good. Now, given that, how is it wrong to note the same situation in our day?

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Um, bunnycatcher, adultery WAS a capital sin under the Mosaic dispensation, which would make Mr. Souder very glad for the new covenant, to put it mildly, I think.

    Bror, good point about politicians, though I would point out that at the very least, government has a responsibility NOT to provide perverse incentives to make the situation worse.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Um, bunnycatcher, adultery WAS a capital sin under the Mosaic dispensation, which would make Mr. Souder very glad for the new covenant, to put it mildly, I think.

    Bror, good point about politicians, though I would point out that at the very least, government has a responsibility NOT to provide perverse incentives to make the situation worse.

  • fws

    Todd @20

    Well my dear brother. I am so glad you asked that question. It seems that our Lord only condemned one kind of sin everywhere: Jesus condemned the sacrificial type of good works exactly as I have identified them eh? Show me one place where this is not the case?

    I love the woman at the well who tryed to evade her sin by talking about sacrifice. Jesus checks her. And checks everyone else in exactly the same way (“and who is my neighbor”?) And He checks each of us when we make works about being personally good or the badness of others, rather than only about the good of others. He destroys “me (good!) /them (bad!)” in favor of “us” in both law and gospel.

    A new commandment give I unto you: that you love one another, even as I have loved you.

    And how did that work out? Jesus doing his father´s will as a list of to do´s? Check. I did that one. Next. ok done. check.

    No. People were all very, very eager and happy to see him. People who were pretty screwed up were especially happy to see him. And he was happy to spend a huge slice of his valuable 3 year´s time visiting them at their place for dinner. My. It even looked like he liked (!) those kind of people. This is important eh? We can imagine “loving” the sinner and hating the sin in some sort of sickly religious and totally condescending sort of way, but to “like” that same sinner implies alot more intimacy that we are usually comfortable with in this area doesn´t it?

    Jesus had a reputation for being a “winebibber and glutton”. I think today we would maybe say “party animal”. Can I have permission to conjecture from this that Jesus was fun to be around? That life was more smiles and laughs when he was around? That his purpose, as one without sin, was about making others happy and that they always judged him as doing just that?

    Except for the party poopers. As in the pharisees/elder brother of prodigal son. And why? They were insisting on that sacrificial version of good works. You know. The one that says that man is made for the sabbath and the one that says God wants sacrifice rather than mercy.

    Imagine some LCMS synod president getting elected and there was a one term 3 year limit. And he would say “gosh! that is not alot of time to get what I want done! Let´s hurry and fill up my agenda with stuff that really, really matters. We must be about our father´s urgent business.

    So at the top of his list are dinner engagements with the local strip club owner, then that homosexual and lesbian couple down the street. (If you can dream up better standins for tax collectors and prostitutes, be my guest here). And so on. None of these folks have been to synogogue in years, and his purpose is just to hang out and have a drink with them. No particular capital letter p Purpose going on here. Is this crazy or is it just me?

    Or is this unreasonable love unleashed because there is now no need at all for the sacrificial system of works that always and alone is what Jesus comes down hard on?

    So I am proposing a radical idea here. I do not say new idea because the Lutheran Confessions and Paul are all over what I propose. And that is this:

    How do we judge whether our earthly works are God-Pleasing righteousness? Check against a written list? Yes. Since we are all self-centered little a**h*les at heart in our old adam, we need this recalibration. But this is what sacrificers do, and it is not a means to an end for them (recalibration). It is the end product. The entire point of things.

    So also no. The list is recalibration. Keeping the list is not the point. That would be man-made-for-sabbath. It would be cart before horse. It would turn means into end, and make following the rules what righteousness is.

    I propose that the posture that best reflects the end purpose of true righteousness on earth is summarized by the customer service golden rule : “the customer is always right”. And who is our customer? Whoever needs what we have to offer of goods and services. And who gets to judge who based on what?

    My proposal is that we can know that our works are righteous and God-Pleasing when we observe that we are allowing our neighbor to judge our works and tell us if they look like love or not. And let it matter when she informs us that they don´t look like love. This is what it means in spirit and practice in the catechism when it says “we should help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”.

  • fws

    Todd @20

    Well my dear brother. I am so glad you asked that question. It seems that our Lord only condemned one kind of sin everywhere: Jesus condemned the sacrificial type of good works exactly as I have identified them eh? Show me one place where this is not the case?

    I love the woman at the well who tryed to evade her sin by talking about sacrifice. Jesus checks her. And checks everyone else in exactly the same way (“and who is my neighbor”?) And He checks each of us when we make works about being personally good or the badness of others, rather than only about the good of others. He destroys “me (good!) /them (bad!)” in favor of “us” in both law and gospel.

    A new commandment give I unto you: that you love one another, even as I have loved you.

    And how did that work out? Jesus doing his father´s will as a list of to do´s? Check. I did that one. Next. ok done. check.

    No. People were all very, very eager and happy to see him. People who were pretty screwed up were especially happy to see him. And he was happy to spend a huge slice of his valuable 3 year´s time visiting them at their place for dinner. My. It even looked like he liked (!) those kind of people. This is important eh? We can imagine “loving” the sinner and hating the sin in some sort of sickly religious and totally condescending sort of way, but to “like” that same sinner implies alot more intimacy that we are usually comfortable with in this area doesn´t it?

    Jesus had a reputation for being a “winebibber and glutton”. I think today we would maybe say “party animal”. Can I have permission to conjecture from this that Jesus was fun to be around? That life was more smiles and laughs when he was around? That his purpose, as one without sin, was about making others happy and that they always judged him as doing just that?

    Except for the party poopers. As in the pharisees/elder brother of prodigal son. And why? They were insisting on that sacrificial version of good works. You know. The one that says that man is made for the sabbath and the one that says God wants sacrifice rather than mercy.

    Imagine some LCMS synod president getting elected and there was a one term 3 year limit. And he would say “gosh! that is not alot of time to get what I want done! Let´s hurry and fill up my agenda with stuff that really, really matters. We must be about our father´s urgent business.

    So at the top of his list are dinner engagements with the local strip club owner, then that homosexual and lesbian couple down the street. (If you can dream up better standins for tax collectors and prostitutes, be my guest here). And so on. None of these folks have been to synogogue in years, and his purpose is just to hang out and have a drink with them. No particular capital letter p Purpose going on here. Is this crazy or is it just me?

    Or is this unreasonable love unleashed because there is now no need at all for the sacrificial system of works that always and alone is what Jesus comes down hard on?

    So I am proposing a radical idea here. I do not say new idea because the Lutheran Confessions and Paul are all over what I propose. And that is this:

    How do we judge whether our earthly works are God-Pleasing righteousness? Check against a written list? Yes. Since we are all self-centered little a**h*les at heart in our old adam, we need this recalibration. But this is what sacrificers do, and it is not a means to an end for them (recalibration). It is the end product. The entire point of things.

    So also no. The list is recalibration. Keeping the list is not the point. That would be man-made-for-sabbath. It would be cart before horse. It would turn means into end, and make following the rules what righteousness is.

    I propose that the posture that best reflects the end purpose of true righteousness on earth is summarized by the customer service golden rule : “the customer is always right”. And who is our customer? Whoever needs what we have to offer of goods and services. And who gets to judge who based on what?

    My proposal is that we can know that our works are righteous and God-Pleasing when we observe that we are allowing our neighbor to judge our works and tell us if they look like love or not. And let it matter when she informs us that they don´t look like love. This is what it means in spirit and practice in the catechism when it says “we should help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need”.

  • fws

    Todd @20

    “It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered. ”

    I need to challenge you here. I am not seeing where we are told that the woman at the well, the prostitute, the tax collector,etc had “repented and knew their unworthiness”. How do we know this about any of them? And if we don´t, then maybe it is time to consider why we make this assumption and it is important to us. This would make it sound like “sure Jesus could pal around with sinners, on the condition that…..” This ain´t in the Bible. This is us reading our sacrificial thinking.

    So what is the difference then? Was it that the pharisees were unrepentant sinners and the other sinners were repentant? And that Jesus had his advance men inform whoever was sending out dinner invitations that a visible humbling was the price of having dinner with the Divine One? That does not sound right. What about Nicodemus then? The real problem here is that in this view righteousness=repentance.

    Sinners are sinners. This is regardless of faith or repentence. And Jesus receives them. Regardless of faith or repentence. Sometimes in spite of it.

    And loaf-of-bread-given-to-starving-man is God´s Will and pleases Him (ie IS righteousness) regardless of repentence, motive or who does it or why.

  • fws

    Todd @20

    “It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered. ”

    I need to challenge you here. I am not seeing where we are told that the woman at the well, the prostitute, the tax collector,etc had “repented and knew their unworthiness”. How do we know this about any of them? And if we don´t, then maybe it is time to consider why we make this assumption and it is important to us. This would make it sound like “sure Jesus could pal around with sinners, on the condition that…..” This ain´t in the Bible. This is us reading our sacrificial thinking.

    So what is the difference then? Was it that the pharisees were unrepentant sinners and the other sinners were repentant? And that Jesus had his advance men inform whoever was sending out dinner invitations that a visible humbling was the price of having dinner with the Divine One? That does not sound right. What about Nicodemus then? The real problem here is that in this view righteousness=repentance.

    Sinners are sinners. This is regardless of faith or repentence. And Jesus receives them. Regardless of faith or repentence. Sometimes in spite of it.

    And loaf-of-bread-given-to-starving-man is God´s Will and pleases Him (ie IS righteousness) regardless of repentence, motive or who does it or why.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@23), I don’t think you closely read what I wrote. Here’s what I wrote (@20, just copying from your quote, actually): “It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered.”
    There are examples of people who are clearly aware of their sin in the Bible (Simon Peter in Luke 5). Frankly, I have a hard time seeing how “the prostitute and the tax collector” are not also repentant (or at least contrite) — if by them you’re referring to the woman with the alabaster jar and Zacchaeus, respectively. She, after all, was weeping the whole time and wiping Jesus’ feet with her tears, and Zacchaeus promised to pay back what he’d stolen. Jesus does not condemn these people. Nor did he condemn the woman caught in adultery, though he clearly pointed out her sin to her and told her to stop.

    But let’s not lose focus here. The question, at least for me, is how do we Christians respond or react when we read about hypocritical Christian politicians in the news? And maybe I’ve misunderstood, but it seems that your answer is to say: we shouldn’t react, shouldn’t respond. Say nothing.

    And my point is that answer seems to preclude our ability to do what Jesus did. You seem to suggest that, while Jesus was right in condemning people’s sin, we should not follow him in that vein.

    Now, to a degree, I will agree with you. If our condemnation only sounds like us saying, “He is a sinner, and a bad man. Too bad he wasn’t a real Christian,” then we should, in fact, shut up. Because of what value is that to anyone?

    But is there no good response that can be given in a case of public sin? What am I missing in your reply? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    And while I think I understand what you’re trying to get at with Jesus the “party animal”, you really do have to read selectively to think that Jesus didn’t call out hypocrites and sin in his time on earth.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    FWS (@23), I don’t think you closely read what I wrote. Here’s what I wrote (@20, just copying from your quote, actually): “It is worth noting, however, who he devoted his energy to condemning. Was it the repentant sinners? No. They knew their unworthiness, and they welcomed the forgiveness he offered.”
    There are examples of people who are clearly aware of their sin in the Bible (Simon Peter in Luke 5). Frankly, I have a hard time seeing how “the prostitute and the tax collector” are not also repentant (or at least contrite) — if by them you’re referring to the woman with the alabaster jar and Zacchaeus, respectively. She, after all, was weeping the whole time and wiping Jesus’ feet with her tears, and Zacchaeus promised to pay back what he’d stolen. Jesus does not condemn these people. Nor did he condemn the woman caught in adultery, though he clearly pointed out her sin to her and told her to stop.

    But let’s not lose focus here. The question, at least for me, is how do we Christians respond or react when we read about hypocritical Christian politicians in the news? And maybe I’ve misunderstood, but it seems that your answer is to say: we shouldn’t react, shouldn’t respond. Say nothing.

    And my point is that answer seems to preclude our ability to do what Jesus did. You seem to suggest that, while Jesus was right in condemning people’s sin, we should not follow him in that vein.

    Now, to a degree, I will agree with you. If our condemnation only sounds like us saying, “He is a sinner, and a bad man. Too bad he wasn’t a real Christian,” then we should, in fact, shut up. Because of what value is that to anyone?

    But is there no good response that can be given in a case of public sin? What am I missing in your reply? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    And while I think I understand what you’re trying to get at with Jesus the “party animal”, you really do have to read selectively to think that Jesus didn’t call out hypocrites and sin in his time on earth.

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    thanks for your patience brother. I did not actually get your question it seems. I could chat about some of your interesting sub points. but I will be a good boy and try to answer your question.

    Do we call out people like this? should we? WWJD anyone?

    Like Luther and the conservative reformation, we are best to strike at the root of the problem and maybe not focus on the excess this root provokes. And also remember that we are not Jesus. So maybe following his example in our own lives is an excellent suggestion, but goin down to St Mary´s with a cat-o-nine-tails to whip the blue haired ladys selling religious stuff or playing bingo might not be a great idea.

    And what is the root? The idea that being personally good is what earthly righteousness is about and what pleases God. This is religious sacrifice. It is an insult to the Holy Gospel. It is the root sin.

    What is true earthly righteousness and so pleases God is where we alone focus our efforts on the good of others. And the proof that we are doing this I am arguing, and so are righteous on earth, is when we invite others to tell us how we are doing with this: to judge us.

    The aim of every sacrificialist. this is the congressman and the anonymous accuser is to avoid being judged. So secrets are important then, and sacrifice is made of other sinners to feel that God is satisfied even if our secret lives are wanting.

    knowing that we died with christ frees us from this. we can die in the process of serving our neighbors and letting those neighbors sit in judgement on us. Naming out sins kills our old adam. new man says “bring it on!” Our old adam avoid this like the plague.

    Proof: The last time you had a performance evaluation at work and your boss said 20 good things about you and one critical thing, what was the one thing you walked out of his office bothered about?

    So we preach the gospel. We say to the congressman: “come over here, we will tell you that you are forgiven. ” Maybe we will bring some cookies over to his house if we are his physical neighbor. This is not done to change him. That is for God to do. We make as huge a public show over this as possible, to the extent that people sniff “harumph, cheap grace!” rinse and repeat wherever sin is found. When God calls the sins of others to our attention, that is our call to go and apply love. To do what we can that will make him see our part in his life as a +.

    God has placed others in society to apply law to the old adams of the congressman, his family and the anonymous tipper. If God has placed you in one of those positions then have at it by all means! Do your duty!

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    thanks for your patience brother. I did not actually get your question it seems. I could chat about some of your interesting sub points. but I will be a good boy and try to answer your question.

    Do we call out people like this? should we? WWJD anyone?

    Like Luther and the conservative reformation, we are best to strike at the root of the problem and maybe not focus on the excess this root provokes. And also remember that we are not Jesus. So maybe following his example in our own lives is an excellent suggestion, but goin down to St Mary´s with a cat-o-nine-tails to whip the blue haired ladys selling religious stuff or playing bingo might not be a great idea.

    And what is the root? The idea that being personally good is what earthly righteousness is about and what pleases God. This is religious sacrifice. It is an insult to the Holy Gospel. It is the root sin.

    What is true earthly righteousness and so pleases God is where we alone focus our efforts on the good of others. And the proof that we are doing this I am arguing, and so are righteous on earth, is when we invite others to tell us how we are doing with this: to judge us.

    The aim of every sacrificialist. this is the congressman and the anonymous accuser is to avoid being judged. So secrets are important then, and sacrifice is made of other sinners to feel that God is satisfied even if our secret lives are wanting.

    knowing that we died with christ frees us from this. we can die in the process of serving our neighbors and letting those neighbors sit in judgement on us. Naming out sins kills our old adam. new man says “bring it on!” Our old adam avoid this like the plague.

    Proof: The last time you had a performance evaluation at work and your boss said 20 good things about you and one critical thing, what was the one thing you walked out of his office bothered about?

    So we preach the gospel. We say to the congressman: “come over here, we will tell you that you are forgiven. ” Maybe we will bring some cookies over to his house if we are his physical neighbor. This is not done to change him. That is for God to do. We make as huge a public show over this as possible, to the extent that people sniff “harumph, cheap grace!” rinse and repeat wherever sin is found. When God calls the sins of others to our attention, that is our call to go and apply love. To do what we can that will make him see our part in his life as a +.

    God has placed others in society to apply law to the old adams of the congressman, his family and the anonymous tipper. If God has placed you in one of those positions then have at it by all means! Do your duty!

  • fws

    todd @ 24
    my brilliant post did not.

    so. ,… let me try to answer your question.

    WWJD anyone? going down to st marys with a cat-o-nines and whippin on the bingo players… okayyyy. yes Jesus did that.

    the root is that some feel righteousness looks like being good and that this pleased God. This is the root problem. this is sacrificial works

    Solution: law, then gospel. Rinse and repeat.

    The whole point of sacrifice is to avoid being judged even if our lifes look so not righteous. So secrets help in this. Normal.

    We however, know that real righteousness is not about our goodness but only about the good of others. So what would we do that would make the congressman and his family say “wow what Todd says on Veith´s blog made my life better. I feel better now! Thanks Todd!”

    My radical proposition, and that of the Lutheran Confessions, is that THIS is how we measure earthly righteousness and can know that it pleases God. We consider that it is given , by God, to the object of our words and actions to be the judge over whether we gave them love. Or not.

  • fws

    todd @ 24
    my brilliant post did not.

    so. ,… let me try to answer your question.

    WWJD anyone? going down to st marys with a cat-o-nines and whippin on the bingo players… okayyyy. yes Jesus did that.

    the root is that some feel righteousness looks like being good and that this pleased God. This is the root problem. this is sacrificial works

    Solution: law, then gospel. Rinse and repeat.

    The whole point of sacrifice is to avoid being judged even if our lifes look so not righteous. So secrets help in this. Normal.

    We however, know that real righteousness is not about our goodness but only about the good of others. So what would we do that would make the congressman and his family say “wow what Todd says on Veith´s blog made my life better. I feel better now! Thanks Todd!”

    My radical proposition, and that of the Lutheran Confessions, is that THIS is how we measure earthly righteousness and can know that it pleases God. We consider that it is given , by God, to the object of our words and actions to be the judge over whether we gave them love. Or not.

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    religion says; sacrifice! righteousness is to conform ourselves and others to what God wants. and God wants sacrifice. man made for rules. not rules made to serve man and make him happy on earth.

    God says: I want you to conform to your neighbor and his needs. Your righteous job is your neighbor´s happiness. Who gets to be the judge as to whether we are being righteous or not then?

    Whoever is at the receiving end of our words and actions. that´s who! So act and speak accordingly. That is what God-pleasing righteousness looks like.

    And we don´t get to harm our neighbor in his bodily needs just because he thinks that will make him happy. Let´s not be silly here.

  • fws

    Todd @ 24

    religion says; sacrifice! righteousness is to conform ourselves and others to what God wants. and God wants sacrifice. man made for rules. not rules made to serve man and make him happy on earth.

    God says: I want you to conform to your neighbor and his needs. Your righteous job is your neighbor´s happiness. Who gets to be the judge as to whether we are being righteous or not then?

    Whoever is at the receiving end of our words and actions. that´s who! So act and speak accordingly. That is what God-pleasing righteousness looks like.

    And we don´t get to harm our neighbor in his bodily needs just because he thinks that will make him happy. Let´s not be silly here.

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  • http://www.2believe.net Tim

    What does the Bible say?

    And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:5-8

    Those who go on and practice sin are false converts. Please check out a message entitled “True and False Conversion” (you can do a search and find it from Living Waters or Ray Comfort).

  • http://www.2believe.net Tim

    What does the Bible say?

    And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:5-8

    Those who go on and practice sin are false converts. Please check out a message entitled “True and False Conversion” (you can do a search and find it from Living Waters or Ray Comfort).

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tim @ 28

    Ok Tim. Are you saying that you no longer sin? John does not say “practices sin”. He says “sins” he does not say “does not practice sin” he says “does not sin”.

    Brother are you telling us that you do not sin? That´s great! Later in the same chapter that same John says that “if we say we have no sin we are a liar and the Truth is not in us.”

    So tell us more please! Personally. No need to send us to a site.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tim @ 28

    Ok Tim. Are you saying that you no longer sin? John does not say “practices sin”. He says “sins” he does not say “does not practice sin” he says “does not sin”.

    Brother are you telling us that you do not sin? That´s great! Later in the same chapter that same John says that “if we say we have no sin we are a liar and the Truth is not in us.”

    So tell us more please! Personally. No need to send us to a site.


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