Theological bankruptcy

Christianity Today has a thoughtful editorial on the bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral and what that means (or should mean) for contemporary Christianity:

This past October, the megachurch prototype of the late 20th century filed for bankruptcy. A 24 percent drop in donations and a $50-$100 million debt owed to more than 550 creditors forced the Crystal Cathedral to file. It was a poignant moment in the history of modern evangelicalism.

Robert H. Schuller’s famous Crystal Cathedral was built on a foundation of self-esteem. In a 1984 interview with Christianity Today, Schuller said that when he came to Garden Grove, California, in 1955, he asked himself, “What human condition exists here that I can have a mission to?” His answer was “emotional hunger.” “Because of that,” he said, “we have developed our present ministry.” . . .

Schuller was tapping into themes of the human potential movement, the rage in the 1960s and ’70s, when Abraham Maslow’s theories deemed self-actualization the highest expression of human life. . . .

It’s like building a state-of-the-art structure. Technology moves at such a rapid pace that as soon as you move into the new building, you immediately find yourself stuck with an architecture that is already technologically dated, if only in small degrees at first. It isn’t long before another developer announces plans for something even more state-of-the-art.

Today both the Crystal Cathedral and the theology that undergird it seem woefully inadequate buildings in which to house the gospel. In an age deeply sensitive to energy conservation, a glass house of worship is a sinful extravagance. In a culture increasingly addicted to the self, the gospel of self-esteem is clearly part of the problem. In short, the Schuller enterprise is filing for bankruptcy on more than one front.

Some are tempted to hit the man while he is down, but this is unwise. Robert Schuller is not the problem—contemporary evangelicalism is. Schuller was only leading the parade of those who believe they are responsible for making the gospel relevant. The lesson is not that Schuller got it wrong or that his theology is out-of-date; it is not that we just need to find a better, more current point of cultural contact. The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy. . . .

We must repress every fearful thought that suggests that making the gospel relevant and meaningful rests on our shoulders. The mystery of why and how people come to faith is just that—ultimately a mystery.  . . .

In fact, it is not only the listener who is deaf and blind to the gospel. The church is equally handicapped, especially regarding what will “work” to achieve genuine conversion. But—God be praised—we have a God who makes the deaf to hear and the blind to see! In every age and every culture, we are wise to trust the God who is rich in mercy and is able to accomplish through his Word that which he intends.

via Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

It’s significant that Christianity Today is saying this, since that magazine has not been all that critical of the various church growth movements–each with their attempt to be culturally relevant–up to now.  Do you think this heralds the end of the megachurch church-marketing concept?

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.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m not sure it signals the end, but it does point out the limitations of viewing the church through a marketing lens. It also points out the very real limitations of pastor-celebrity personality driven church concepts – once the visionary is gone or unable to carry on, the vision dies all too quickly.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m not sure it signals the end, but it does point out the limitations of viewing the church through a marketing lens. It also points out the very real limitations of pastor-celebrity personality driven church concepts – once the visionary is gone or unable to carry on, the vision dies all too quickly.

  • Morgan P. Yarbrough

    regrettably, no this is not a herald of the end of the movement of which you speak. the simon magus’s of the world will always try to mix God and mammon.

  • Morgan P. Yarbrough

    regrettably, no this is not a herald of the end of the movement of which you speak. the simon magus’s of the world will always try to mix God and mammon.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Schuller was only leading the parade of those who believe they are responsible for making the gospel relevant.”

    I understand what the commentator is saying. Sort of. But what is the converse of saying the church is responsible for making the gospel relevant? I think it better to say that Schuller’s attempt to relate to the culture was shallower and more ill advised than it seemed when the church was booming. (Something others, ahem, have been saying all along.)

    The usual evangelical way to reason this through is to say, “That’s why MY approach to make the gospel relevant is better. Look how my church is booming, and for your convenience I have published a book on how you can follow me.” (I realize that may sound sarcastic, but I am just painting in ludicrously broad strokes.)

    The commentator repents of this particular hubris, but he then goes to far. (Or rather he retreats, at last, to pure Calvinism.) How and why people come to faith is not a “mystery.” It is the means of Grace.

    The obligation still exists to “make the gospel relevant” to the culture, (It makes my fingers itch to even phrase it that way), but the gospel is found in the means of grace. Evangelicalism’s stumbling block is precisely that in their quest for relevancy, they loosened ties with the very substance of that which they were to relate.

    It is not for the church to say new things, but it is the perpetual struggle (and obligation) of the church to say the old things in a new way, and speak in a manner that the people will understand.

  • Dan Kempin

    “Schuller was only leading the parade of those who believe they are responsible for making the gospel relevant.”

    I understand what the commentator is saying. Sort of. But what is the converse of saying the church is responsible for making the gospel relevant? I think it better to say that Schuller’s attempt to relate to the culture was shallower and more ill advised than it seemed when the church was booming. (Something others, ahem, have been saying all along.)

    The usual evangelical way to reason this through is to say, “That’s why MY approach to make the gospel relevant is better. Look how my church is booming, and for your convenience I have published a book on how you can follow me.” (I realize that may sound sarcastic, but I am just painting in ludicrously broad strokes.)

    The commentator repents of this particular hubris, but he then goes to far. (Or rather he retreats, at last, to pure Calvinism.) How and why people come to faith is not a “mystery.” It is the means of Grace.

    The obligation still exists to “make the gospel relevant” to the culture, (It makes my fingers itch to even phrase it that way), but the gospel is found in the means of grace. Evangelicalism’s stumbling block is precisely that in their quest for relevancy, they loosened ties with the very substance of that which they were to relate.

    It is not for the church to say new things, but it is the perpetual struggle (and obligation) of the church to say the old things in a new way, and speak in a manner that the people will understand.

  • Dan Kempin

    Morgan, #2,

    Errors exist and are indeed grievous, but be very careful whom you declare apostate.

  • Dan Kempin

    Morgan, #2,

    Errors exist and are indeed grievous, but be very careful whom you declare apostate.

  • Stephen

    Faith comes by hearing. Where there is Jesus Christ, there is life and salvation. Word and sacrament. Preaching the cross. Dr. Veith and Dan’s correction @ 3 regarding “mystery” hit the nail on the head. And I suppose Dan’s warning @ 4 against labeling others apostate is worth paying attention to in some measure.

    However, with the creep of books like “The Purpose Driven Life” and such into Lutheranism (I know of LCMS pastors using this as a way to motivate their congregations and grow the roster) I do think that pointing out heterodoxy in various forms is a teaching role that is being neglected in the desperate attempt to combat the percentages in the fear that the membership is eroding.

    I know that in some cases, pastors believe they need to read more about management and people skills than studying the scriptures in Greek or learning beyond what they got from seminary. That’s okay as far as it goes, and I understand the pressure. Some of that is also the fault of the laity not doing their part to do ministry themselves. But when pastors begin to fill the shelves of their study with psychology and motivational books instead of say Bible commentary for instance, I think the jig is just about up.

    Please don’t misunderstand me! I love our pastors. Some are my best friends and we need more. I also believe we need more skilled lay theologians and interested church members to support them actually. It’s a focus issue that I think Dr. Veith pinpoints nicely and Don clarifies. We look for signs of success in numbers and quantity. How many “came to Christ” is Evangelicalism’s benchmark. I have to wonder if this isn’t simply a reflection of the materialism and consumerism that surrounds us.

  • Stephen

    Faith comes by hearing. Where there is Jesus Christ, there is life and salvation. Word and sacrament. Preaching the cross. Dr. Veith and Dan’s correction @ 3 regarding “mystery” hit the nail on the head. And I suppose Dan’s warning @ 4 against labeling others apostate is worth paying attention to in some measure.

    However, with the creep of books like “The Purpose Driven Life” and such into Lutheranism (I know of LCMS pastors using this as a way to motivate their congregations and grow the roster) I do think that pointing out heterodoxy in various forms is a teaching role that is being neglected in the desperate attempt to combat the percentages in the fear that the membership is eroding.

    I know that in some cases, pastors believe they need to read more about management and people skills than studying the scriptures in Greek or learning beyond what they got from seminary. That’s okay as far as it goes, and I understand the pressure. Some of that is also the fault of the laity not doing their part to do ministry themselves. But when pastors begin to fill the shelves of their study with psychology and motivational books instead of say Bible commentary for instance, I think the jig is just about up.

    Please don’t misunderstand me! I love our pastors. Some are my best friends and we need more. I also believe we need more skilled lay theologians and interested church members to support them actually. It’s a focus issue that I think Dr. Veith pinpoints nicely and Don clarifies. We look for signs of success in numbers and quantity. How many “came to Christ” is Evangelicalism’s benchmark. I have to wonder if this isn’t simply a reflection of the materialism and consumerism that surrounds us.

  • Morgan P. Yarbrough

    dan: point understood and taken. i repent of my insolent remark and unjust conjoining of the faithful with the apostate.

  • Morgan P. Yarbrough

    dan: point understood and taken. i repent of my insolent remark and unjust conjoining of the faithful with the apostate.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I do hope I am not the only one who sees the incredible irony of CT publishing an op-ed like this one.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    I do hope I am not the only one who sees the incredible irony of CT publishing an op-ed like this one.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “The lesson is not that Schuller got it wrong or that his theology is out-of-date; it is not that we just need to find a better, more current point of cultural contact. The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy. . . .”

    Christianity Today said this!?!?! That’s like the pot calling the kettle black in some ways! They’re right, but at times CT itself has fallen into this very trap.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    “The lesson is not that Schuller got it wrong or that his theology is out-of-date; it is not that we just need to find a better, more current point of cultural contact. The lesson is that our attempts to find and exploit a point of cultural contact inevitably end in bankruptcy. . . .”

    Christianity Today said this!?!?! That’s like the pot calling the kettle black in some ways! They’re right, but at times CT itself has fallen into this very trap.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    It is to the magazine’s crdit that they wrote this. We should commend editorial self-reflection, a rare thing in paper publishing.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    It is to the magazine’s crdit that they wrote this. We should commend editorial self-reflection, a rare thing in paper publishing.

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

    I’m not inclined to judge the style of the building. Are we seriously going to claim that energy use is going to be that big a deal in an area like Garden Grove–just a few miles from the massive heat/cold sink called the “Pacific Ocean”? You get a little air flow at any time of year, and you’re not talking about significant costs to either heat or cool it, I’d guess. There are many problems with Schullerism, but energy use is probably not one of them.

    The issues with Schuller’s ministry are first of all its lack of clear Gospel preaching–sorry positive thinking is not the Gospel of our Lord–and second of all the sheer scale of the “ministry.” Even if I granted that Schuller was another Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, or Peter himself, I’d have to warn him about the sheer impossibility of ministering to a flock of tens of thousands.

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

    I’m not inclined to judge the style of the building. Are we seriously going to claim that energy use is going to be that big a deal in an area like Garden Grove–just a few miles from the massive heat/cold sink called the “Pacific Ocean”? You get a little air flow at any time of year, and you’re not talking about significant costs to either heat or cool it, I’d guess. There are many problems with Schullerism, but energy use is probably not one of them.

    The issues with Schuller’s ministry are first of all its lack of clear Gospel preaching–sorry positive thinking is not the Gospel of our Lord–and second of all the sheer scale of the “ministry.” Even if I granted that Schuller was another Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, or Peter himself, I’d have to warn him about the sheer impossibility of ministering to a flock of tens of thousands.

  • Ken

    “Today both the Crystal Cathedral and the theology that undergird it seem woefully inadequate buildings in which to house the gospel.”

    To me this comment speaks volumes. Sometimes we spend way too much time and effort “housing” the Gospel on our property instead of bringing it to others and living it in our interactions with the community.

  • Ken

    “Today both the Crystal Cathedral and the theology that undergird it seem woefully inadequate buildings in which to house the gospel.”

    To me this comment speaks volumes. Sometimes we spend way too much time and effort “housing” the Gospel on our property instead of bringing it to others and living it in our interactions with the community.

  • DonS

    Let’s be clear — as Bike Bubba says, Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, Reformed Church of America, is not representative of modern evangelicalism. Schuller is a Norman Vincent Peale adherent, and his “gospel” is essentially the power of positive thinking. There is precious little Gospel preached. The stage of that church is littered with people who have little nexus to Christianity, including many pop celebrities who don’t claim to be Christians and religious leaders of other faiths. Schuller is an egotistical name-dropper who seldom mentions the word “sin” or actually teaches of our need of a Saviour.

    A significant reason why his church is in trouble is because Schuller won’t get off the stage. He was too egotistical to know that he needed to have a plan of succession. He also was unwilling to consider anyone outside of the family for any kind of significant role in the church. The staff roster is littered with Schuller’s, in every imaginable capacity. The bankruptcy filing brought to light the fact that Schuller family members collected over $1 million in tax-free housing allowances last year!

    There is a great danger and inaccuracy in attempting to over-generalize the lessons from the failure of the Crystal Cathedral to the larger Church. Sure, the modern evangelical church in America has many problems, but by and large they are not represented by the problems recently uncovered in connection with the Crystal Cathedral.

  • DonS

    Let’s be clear — as Bike Bubba says, Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, Reformed Church of America, is not representative of modern evangelicalism. Schuller is a Norman Vincent Peale adherent, and his “gospel” is essentially the power of positive thinking. There is precious little Gospel preached. The stage of that church is littered with people who have little nexus to Christianity, including many pop celebrities who don’t claim to be Christians and religious leaders of other faiths. Schuller is an egotistical name-dropper who seldom mentions the word “sin” or actually teaches of our need of a Saviour.

    A significant reason why his church is in trouble is because Schuller won’t get off the stage. He was too egotistical to know that he needed to have a plan of succession. He also was unwilling to consider anyone outside of the family for any kind of significant role in the church. The staff roster is littered with Schuller’s, in every imaginable capacity. The bankruptcy filing brought to light the fact that Schuller family members collected over $1 million in tax-free housing allowances last year!

    There is a great danger and inaccuracy in attempting to over-generalize the lessons from the failure of the Crystal Cathedral to the larger Church. Sure, the modern evangelical church in America has many problems, but by and large they are not represented by the problems recently uncovered in connection with the Crystal Cathedral.

  • Larry

    It’s a mixed bag and it doesn’t mean that the Gospel will finally be preached, in fact it may be denied even more in such denominations.

    Lutherans, of which I now count myself, are just now starting to experience what I/we saw as Baptist about 5 to 8 years back. The temptation to “not be small” and “irrelevant” is always a great temptation, it is in fact to bare a cross to wit: “Will one stay with the word even if the whole room empties out” or similarly “your numbers drop and show a declining trend”.

    This was the in the SB denomination that the majority report fell for and all the spiritual gurus came wandering in. From neo-charismatic stuff to marketing experts, all designed to “boost the numbers” and hence the excitement, growth, resources and power (there’s power in numbers, especially in an increasingly secular America). So the temptation is real to fall for no less than it was for Rome wishing to retain political power and relevance.
    But then some SB seeing how this was moving away from Scripture coupled with their “believers baptism” doctrine began to buck up against this, mainly in the more conservative and pseudo-calvinistic/reformed Baptist strain. So they wanted to get in and begin better biblical sermons and purge the roles of unbelieving members that were “baptized” (but not really, who could know, in any case dunked in water ritualized) and “get back to their anabaptistic roots of believers only baptism/church” (e.g. Piper, MacArthur). Thus, they got away from cotton candy gospel-less Opera sermons, e.g. Rick Warren and moved to gospel-less but more apparently exegetically distilled sermons, e.g. John MacArthur. It’s basically a move from another gospel that is cheaply purchased by you to one that is expensively purchased by you. The only real difference between the two is a move from a “Clown Show” to a “Pharisaical Preaching”, the Gospel is empty in both.

    So on one hand while one could hail the move from the buffoonery to a more serious religious mind set, don’t expect the religiousity to really preach or give the real Gospel. The good that CAN come from it is kind of like Luther saying that the devil and Pope (by God’s design) made him a better theologian, preacher of the Cross. By at least being more serious religiously people get put under that gospelless high law atmosphere that sets the stage for 200 proof Gospel. The down side is that they could despair as Judas did.

  • Larry

    It’s a mixed bag and it doesn’t mean that the Gospel will finally be preached, in fact it may be denied even more in such denominations.

    Lutherans, of which I now count myself, are just now starting to experience what I/we saw as Baptist about 5 to 8 years back. The temptation to “not be small” and “irrelevant” is always a great temptation, it is in fact to bare a cross to wit: “Will one stay with the word even if the whole room empties out” or similarly “your numbers drop and show a declining trend”.

    This was the in the SB denomination that the majority report fell for and all the spiritual gurus came wandering in. From neo-charismatic stuff to marketing experts, all designed to “boost the numbers” and hence the excitement, growth, resources and power (there’s power in numbers, especially in an increasingly secular America). So the temptation is real to fall for no less than it was for Rome wishing to retain political power and relevance.
    But then some SB seeing how this was moving away from Scripture coupled with their “believers baptism” doctrine began to buck up against this, mainly in the more conservative and pseudo-calvinistic/reformed Baptist strain. So they wanted to get in and begin better biblical sermons and purge the roles of unbelieving members that were “baptized” (but not really, who could know, in any case dunked in water ritualized) and “get back to their anabaptistic roots of believers only baptism/church” (e.g. Piper, MacArthur). Thus, they got away from cotton candy gospel-less Opera sermons, e.g. Rick Warren and moved to gospel-less but more apparently exegetically distilled sermons, e.g. John MacArthur. It’s basically a move from another gospel that is cheaply purchased by you to one that is expensively purchased by you. The only real difference between the two is a move from a “Clown Show” to a “Pharisaical Preaching”, the Gospel is empty in both.

    So on one hand while one could hail the move from the buffoonery to a more serious religious mind set, don’t expect the religiousity to really preach or give the real Gospel. The good that CAN come from it is kind of like Luther saying that the devil and Pope (by God’s design) made him a better theologian, preacher of the Cross. By at least being more serious religiously people get put under that gospelless high law atmosphere that sets the stage for 200 proof Gospel. The down side is that they could despair as Judas did.

  • Stephen

    DonS

    But they pray to Jesus and have a great choir. You might be surprised how many ill-informed Christians see what Schuller/ Crystal Cathedral is and understand it as “gospel” teaching. They have no idea. They try to integrate it into their lives and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work out. How many angry, ex-Christians has that stuff generated I wondered?

    You’re right that Schuller won’t get off the stage. It’s his daughter’s now playing the role after the “coupe” it would seem. They’ve got an enormous cross they don’t know what to do with except shoot dramatic camera cutaways for effect. I watched the show a few weeks ago during the holidays. It IS mainstream evangelicalism as far as I can see I’m afraid. I have never read CT except an excerpt or occasional article republished somewhere, but I have been to lots of churches in that realm – lots and lots and lots. You will have to take my word for it. Call it research. So I would agree that it is perhaps a move toward self-reflection, even if they still make an “appeal to mystery.”

  • Stephen

    DonS

    But they pray to Jesus and have a great choir. You might be surprised how many ill-informed Christians see what Schuller/ Crystal Cathedral is and understand it as “gospel” teaching. They have no idea. They try to integrate it into their lives and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work out. How many angry, ex-Christians has that stuff generated I wondered?

    You’re right that Schuller won’t get off the stage. It’s his daughter’s now playing the role after the “coupe” it would seem. They’ve got an enormous cross they don’t know what to do with except shoot dramatic camera cutaways for effect. I watched the show a few weeks ago during the holidays. It IS mainstream evangelicalism as far as I can see I’m afraid. I have never read CT except an excerpt or occasional article republished somewhere, but I have been to lots of churches in that realm – lots and lots and lots. You will have to take my word for it. Call it research. So I would agree that it is perhaps a move toward self-reflection, even if they still make an “appeal to mystery.”

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

    Don, you make a lot of great points in #12, but I don’t believe you can give me too much credit. :^) You’ve obviously learned a lot more than I have about the Crystal Cathedral, and the nepotism angle is interesting–though nowhere near as significant, IMO, as Schuller’s downplaying of the Gospel.

    (thanks, though!)

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

    Don, you make a lot of great points in #12, but I don’t believe you can give me too much credit. :^) You’ve obviously learned a lot more than I have about the Crystal Cathedral, and the nepotism angle is interesting–though nowhere near as significant, IMO, as Schuller’s downplaying of the Gospel.

    (thanks, though!)

  • DonS

    BB @ 15, I live within 25 minutes of the place, and have a good friend who was a former senior staffer there. However, the nepotism stuff, which came out in all its ugliness because of filings related to the bankruptcy, has been splashed all over the local news, of course. I absolutely agree with you that the main issue with the church has been Schuller’s deliberate decision to downplay the Gospel.

    Stephen @ 14, I agree with you, even to the point of acknowledging that Schuller’s church looks like a lot of other mega churches, particularly those caught up in the prosperity gospel movement. Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen) particularly comes to mind. But it is painting with far too broad of a brush to insist that Schuller is representative of all or most of mainstream evangelicalism. Lutherans have a tendency to lump all non-Lutherans together as “evangelicals”, but there are vast differences between those Protestant churches identified as “evangelical”, both denominationally and individually. My church is all about preaching the Gospel, for example, or I would not attend there.

  • DonS

    BB @ 15, I live within 25 minutes of the place, and have a good friend who was a former senior staffer there. However, the nepotism stuff, which came out in all its ugliness because of filings related to the bankruptcy, has been splashed all over the local news, of course. I absolutely agree with you that the main issue with the church has been Schuller’s deliberate decision to downplay the Gospel.

    Stephen @ 14, I agree with you, even to the point of acknowledging that Schuller’s church looks like a lot of other mega churches, particularly those caught up in the prosperity gospel movement. Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen) particularly comes to mind. But it is painting with far too broad of a brush to insist that Schuller is representative of all or most of mainstream evangelicalism. Lutherans have a tendency to lump all non-Lutherans together as “evangelicals”, but there are vast differences between those Protestant churches identified as “evangelical”, both denominationally and individually. My church is all about preaching the Gospel, for example, or I would not attend there.

  • Porcell

    So what else is new. Jesus well understood the reality of false prophets and warned against them. Schuller’s emphasis in the final analysis was on himself. Of course, some of his adherents have come to understand the real truth and power of Jesus’s teaching despite Schuller’s egotism and pizazz.

  • Porcell

    So what else is new. Jesus well understood the reality of false prophets and warned against them. Schuller’s emphasis in the final analysis was on himself. Of course, some of his adherents have come to understand the real truth and power of Jesus’s teaching despite Schuller’s egotism and pizazz.

  • Larry

    I think the BIG divide between all evangelical churches (as a lump and differentiated) and Lutheran churches (or at least those suppose to be according to the confessions) lay in this:

    1. Some evangelical churches have entirely lost the Gospel and preach another gospel,
    2. Some evangelical mingle Gospel and Law so much it get de facto lost and preach another gospel,
    3. Some evangelical churches, damn few, get back around to a rather decent law gospel distinction and do PREACH a pretty fair Gospel as Don points out.
    4. BUT Lutheran (again what one is SUPPOSE to be) doesn’t just “preach” the Gospel, it DOES the Gospel to you.
    And that’s the big difference and paradigm shift that occurred to me in moving from basic heterodoxies to confessional Lutheranism. Now I’m not saying there is not many Lutheran churches that are so in name only, that can and does occur. But the real dividing line is between only PREACHING the Gospel versus DOING the Gospel to a person. That’s why Luther points out that without the ‘pro me’ there can really be no Gospel nor faith.

    An evangelical church can get the content words of the Gospel exactly right and so preach it. But they have not “for me” in it. In fact their intrinsic doctrine explicitly removes the pro me. E.g. The Word says, “this baptism saves you”, “one is baptized into Christ’s death and life (actually)”, “this is My body/blood…given/shed….for the forgiveness of YOUR sins”, etc… = PRO ME = Gospel = Gospel DONE to someone. Then comes the intrinsic doctrine of the various evangelical churches, “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified” (pro me removed doctrinally), “it’s only symbolic” (pro me removed doctrinally), “baptism doesn’t DO anything” (pro me removed doctrinally). Thus, is the way all forms of gnosticism operate, they remove God enfleshed from coming all the way down to the sinner, back then or today so that no “pro me” is had. If they can now more or less symbolize said sacraments and the Word, into a philosophical sign (the sign of a thing absent or similarly ‘don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified’ or ‘is means represents’) as opposed to a theological sign whereby it is a sign of the real and actual presence of the thing signified; then the soul, mind and conscience MUST of necessity search out by other means ‘the thing signified’. After all no one stops at a road sign that states “Disneyland 200 Miles Straight Ahead” and says, “WOW look at this place”. THAT doctrinally forced movement of the soul, mind and conscience creates the hidden works righteousness that then ensues, but it is a works righteousness that doesn’t say, “I’m works righteousness” and in fact denies that it is. This kind of works righteousness is like an addict that says, “I’m not an addict”.

    Thus, to preach the Gospel, even 100% accurately as to raw content is not the same as doing the Gospel to the person and in the end NOT REALLY the Gospel, in this way another gospel comes in under the content of the true Gospel (Satan has crafted this trick with great skill). E.g. Stephen winning a million dollar lottery is as to content “good news” but it is not GOOD NEWS to anyone else until the lottery is DONE to them. Christ’s Word and Gospel are DO words not just information words, just like “let there be light” was a creative DO word and not just a news report of what happened. That’s why absolution (which is really another Word for the Gospel, e.g. Christ FORGAVE or absolved the prostitute) and the sacraments are critical if there is to actually be Gospel, the “do” must be done.

    This is why Luther can say most emphatically and truthfully of the sacrament of the altar that “the sacrament IS the Gospel” and why he likewise said any alteration toward Christ’s words of institution is in fact a direct attack on the Gospel.

  • Larry

    I think the BIG divide between all evangelical churches (as a lump and differentiated) and Lutheran churches (or at least those suppose to be according to the confessions) lay in this:

    1. Some evangelical churches have entirely lost the Gospel and preach another gospel,
    2. Some evangelical mingle Gospel and Law so much it get de facto lost and preach another gospel,
    3. Some evangelical churches, damn few, get back around to a rather decent law gospel distinction and do PREACH a pretty fair Gospel as Don points out.
    4. BUT Lutheran (again what one is SUPPOSE to be) doesn’t just “preach” the Gospel, it DOES the Gospel to you.
    And that’s the big difference and paradigm shift that occurred to me in moving from basic heterodoxies to confessional Lutheranism. Now I’m not saying there is not many Lutheran churches that are so in name only, that can and does occur. But the real dividing line is between only PREACHING the Gospel versus DOING the Gospel to a person. That’s why Luther points out that without the ‘pro me’ there can really be no Gospel nor faith.

    An evangelical church can get the content words of the Gospel exactly right and so preach it. But they have not “for me” in it. In fact their intrinsic doctrine explicitly removes the pro me. E.g. The Word says, “this baptism saves you”, “one is baptized into Christ’s death and life (actually)”, “this is My body/blood…given/shed….for the forgiveness of YOUR sins”, etc… = PRO ME = Gospel = Gospel DONE to someone. Then comes the intrinsic doctrine of the various evangelical churches, “don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified” (pro me removed doctrinally), “it’s only symbolic” (pro me removed doctrinally), “baptism doesn’t DO anything” (pro me removed doctrinally). Thus, is the way all forms of gnosticism operate, they remove God enfleshed from coming all the way down to the sinner, back then or today so that no “pro me” is had. If they can now more or less symbolize said sacraments and the Word, into a philosophical sign (the sign of a thing absent or similarly ‘don’t confuse the sign with the thing signified’ or ‘is means represents’) as opposed to a theological sign whereby it is a sign of the real and actual presence of the thing signified; then the soul, mind and conscience MUST of necessity search out by other means ‘the thing signified’. After all no one stops at a road sign that states “Disneyland 200 Miles Straight Ahead” and says, “WOW look at this place”. THAT doctrinally forced movement of the soul, mind and conscience creates the hidden works righteousness that then ensues, but it is a works righteousness that doesn’t say, “I’m works righteousness” and in fact denies that it is. This kind of works righteousness is like an addict that says, “I’m not an addict”.

    Thus, to preach the Gospel, even 100% accurately as to raw content is not the same as doing the Gospel to the person and in the end NOT REALLY the Gospel, in this way another gospel comes in under the content of the true Gospel (Satan has crafted this trick with great skill). E.g. Stephen winning a million dollar lottery is as to content “good news” but it is not GOOD NEWS to anyone else until the lottery is DONE to them. Christ’s Word and Gospel are DO words not just information words, just like “let there be light” was a creative DO word and not just a news report of what happened. That’s why absolution (which is really another Word for the Gospel, e.g. Christ FORGAVE or absolved the prostitute) and the sacraments are critical if there is to actually be Gospel, the “do” must be done.

    This is why Luther can say most emphatically and truthfully of the sacrament of the altar that “the sacrament IS the Gospel” and why he likewise said any alteration toward Christ’s words of institution is in fact a direct attack on the Gospel.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 16

    Whatever I say pales in comparison to Larry’s most excellent post.

    For my part and in regards to you, I’m sorry if you feel lumped. I don’t know what denomination you are affiliated with. I have about half my immediate and extended family by marriage in non-denom, SB, and EV free church, while I grew up LCMS pastor’s kid. In this case, I speak not only from those experiences, but out of my own searching as well, which includes the visits I mentioned that continue to this day to other churches, as well as years at seminary and a degree in theology and NT if that matters. (But just so you know, I don’t trust any of that for my salvation as some might misconstrue.) I’m glad to hear your church preaches the Holy Gospel that brings faith in Jesus Christ alone, or as Larry reminds us, does the Gospel to us.

    But I stand by what I said. Based on my experience and my theological knowledge, I see little distinction on any essential level between Schuller and all the other evangelical “ish” denominations or non-denominations I listed at base. Schuller may be a one note wonder, but that note rings right out of Calvin and/or to a lesser degree Arminius, as does the entire evangelical movement as far as I can tell. If there is any harmony, it is with contemporary American culture, which makes a virtue of personal experience above all else.

    I read this article recently and I think it is very good at explaining a fundamental difference between Luther and Calvin, particularly in regards to election, out of which springs the obsession (my word) in all the various progeny of Calvinism with personal faith experience. I’m not to keen on his latter reflections in the essay, but he nails it on this theme of election and the focus of faith, especially when he talks about Anfechtung in Luther. It opens to a PDF.

    http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/carysolafide.pdf

    Best,

    S

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 16

    Whatever I say pales in comparison to Larry’s most excellent post.

    For my part and in regards to you, I’m sorry if you feel lumped. I don’t know what denomination you are affiliated with. I have about half my immediate and extended family by marriage in non-denom, SB, and EV free church, while I grew up LCMS pastor’s kid. In this case, I speak not only from those experiences, but out of my own searching as well, which includes the visits I mentioned that continue to this day to other churches, as well as years at seminary and a degree in theology and NT if that matters. (But just so you know, I don’t trust any of that for my salvation as some might misconstrue.) I’m glad to hear your church preaches the Holy Gospel that brings faith in Jesus Christ alone, or as Larry reminds us, does the Gospel to us.

    But I stand by what I said. Based on my experience and my theological knowledge, I see little distinction on any essential level between Schuller and all the other evangelical “ish” denominations or non-denominations I listed at base. Schuller may be a one note wonder, but that note rings right out of Calvin and/or to a lesser degree Arminius, as does the entire evangelical movement as far as I can tell. If there is any harmony, it is with contemporary American culture, which makes a virtue of personal experience above all else.

    I read this article recently and I think it is very good at explaining a fundamental difference between Luther and Calvin, particularly in regards to election, out of which springs the obsession (my word) in all the various progeny of Calvinism with personal faith experience. I’m not to keen on his latter reflections in the essay, but he nails it on this theme of election and the focus of faith, especially when he talks about Anfechtung in Luther. It opens to a PDF.

    http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/carysolafide.pdf

    Best,

    S

  • Stephen

    Larry @ 18

    Wow!

    So it’s a an ersatz Gospel. With one hand we giveth and the other and we taketh away, or we set you several feet away, or an eternity perhaps.

    You are killing me.

  • Stephen

    Larry @ 18

    Wow!

    So it’s a an ersatz Gospel. With one hand we giveth and the other and we taketh away, or we set you several feet away, or an eternity perhaps.

    You are killing me.

  • Grace

    DonS says it best in post #12. I’m not sure where Don lives, but I too live very close to the Chrystal Cathedral – we live in a beach community.

    DonS comment in #16:

    “Lutherans have a tendency to lump all non-Lutherans together as “evangelicals”, but there are vast differences between those Protestant churches identified as “evangelical”, both denominationally and individually. My church is all about preaching the Gospel, for example, or I would not attend there.”

    I agree with the statement above. All too often, not only Lutherans, but others “LUMP” Evangelicals together as though they are in agreement, but that is far from the truth – Sometimes it appears as though this “LUMPING” is a way of undercutting what other Evangelicals are doing to spread the Word of God which is wrong, not knowing of what they speak.

  • Grace

    DonS says it best in post #12. I’m not sure where Don lives, but I too live very close to the Chrystal Cathedral – we live in a beach community.

    DonS comment in #16:

    “Lutherans have a tendency to lump all non-Lutherans together as “evangelicals”, but there are vast differences between those Protestant churches identified as “evangelical”, both denominationally and individually. My church is all about preaching the Gospel, for example, or I would not attend there.”

    I agree with the statement above. All too often, not only Lutherans, but others “LUMP” Evangelicals together as though they are in agreement, but that is far from the truth – Sometimes it appears as though this “LUMPING” is a way of undercutting what other Evangelicals are doing to spread the Word of God which is wrong, not knowing of what they speak.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 19: I appreciate your thoughtful response. You bring a certain civility in your style of commenting which is refreshing, and you do so without taking any punch out of your intended point. Or, at least that is how it appears to me.

    I have been participating on this Lutheran blog for several years now. I thoroughly enjoy its eclectic nature, the community of commenters, which is unparalleled in the blog world, in my view, and its Lutheran flavor. When I first came on, I engaged in some theological discussions concerning the tenets of Lutheranism, because of my desire to understand its creeds better, and some of those got pretty detailed and passionate, especially if Bror was involved :-) . I feel like I have a good handle on things now, so I don’t comment very often, though I still read the Lutheran-specific threads with great interest. I am always mindful that I am a guest on a Lutheran blog and have a genuine respect for the Lutheran faith and its rich history in Christianity.

    I do believe that Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as “Lutheran” and “non-Lutheran”. Which, as I stated, is very much a broad-brush view. So that is where I still speak out. But, I made my point, and will say no more.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 19: I appreciate your thoughtful response. You bring a certain civility in your style of commenting which is refreshing, and you do so without taking any punch out of your intended point. Or, at least that is how it appears to me.

    I have been participating on this Lutheran blog for several years now. I thoroughly enjoy its eclectic nature, the community of commenters, which is unparalleled in the blog world, in my view, and its Lutheran flavor. When I first came on, I engaged in some theological discussions concerning the tenets of Lutheranism, because of my desire to understand its creeds better, and some of those got pretty detailed and passionate, especially if Bror was involved :-) . I feel like I have a good handle on things now, so I don’t comment very often, though I still read the Lutheran-specific threads with great interest. I am always mindful that I am a guest on a Lutheran blog and have a genuine respect for the Lutheran faith and its rich history in Christianity.

    I do believe that Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as “Lutheran” and “non-Lutheran”. Which, as I stated, is very much a broad-brush view. So that is where I still speak out. But, I made my point, and will say no more.

  • DonS

    I should have added: “at least on this thread” :-)

  • DonS

    I should have added: “at least on this thread” :-)

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 22

    Thanks. Having to tread lightly, sometimes in my own home, I get some practice. And I think that’s probably a fair assessment about Lutherans and Lutheranism to some degree. We do take it pretty seriously. I think that’s okay, even warranted at times. We’ve been given something quite unique I think. Having drifted far afield (and I mean faaaaaaar afield) I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of what that is. But I’m just a fallen man, with the same emotional attachments and such. I do think something particular happened back there in Wittenberg, something particular and “special” if I can go that far without running aground of making some claim to anything beyond that foundational stuff we all say we want to be about – namely Jesus himself – his life, his mercy, and his cross. It all rises and falls on Christ alone. Lift high the cross Don. Let everything else fall away.

    Peace be with you.

  • Stephen

    DonS @ 22

    Thanks. Having to tread lightly, sometimes in my own home, I get some practice. And I think that’s probably a fair assessment about Lutherans and Lutheranism to some degree. We do take it pretty seriously. I think that’s okay, even warranted at times. We’ve been given something quite unique I think. Having drifted far afield (and I mean faaaaaaar afield) I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of what that is. But I’m just a fallen man, with the same emotional attachments and such. I do think something particular happened back there in Wittenberg, something particular and “special” if I can go that far without running aground of making some claim to anything beyond that foundational stuff we all say we want to be about – namely Jesus himself – his life, his mercy, and his cross. It all rises and falls on Christ alone. Lift high the cross Don. Let everything else fall away.

    Peace be with you.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@22), “I do believe that Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as ‘Lutheran’ and ‘non-Lutheran’.”

    I won’t deny that, nor will I deny that it is a “broad-brush view”, as such. But then, I think the degree to which such a view is voiced is the degree to which it is called for — namely, when viewing things at a very broad level. You will note that those same Lutherans painting with such a broad brush are perfectly apt at giving fine-point details as to what distinguishes them from this or that group, when called for.

    And yet, I get the idea that you reject this “broad-brush view” as ever being apt, Don. Of course, I think it stems quite naturally from what Lutherans teach. I’ll try to explain.

    Essentially, this comes from Lutherans believing that what Lutherans confess is faithful to the Scriptures. Of course, this should not be surprising, nor should it, in itself, be perceived as offensive.

    Ah, but since it is obviously true that Lutherans believe differently than other groups, it is necessarily true that Lutherans believe that, to some degree, those groups are not faithful to the Scriptures. This offends people, though frankly, I’m not sure why. After all, if those non-Lutherans believed that Lutherans were faithful to the Scriptures, wouldn’t they be Lutherans?

    At the root of this is the doctrine of fellowship, which Lutherans believe in explicitly. All Christians believe in this doctrine at some level, but it is quite often not explicit.

    The Baptist, Presbyterian, Four-Square, “non-denominational”, etc. people I have known all bristle when talking about fellowship in an exclusive sense, almost always taking a (literally) fundamentalist approach in which one should, rather than observe that there are differences in belief, instead focus on the fundamentals of faith that unite various believers.

    Of course, this is, in itself, just a different kind of broad brush, though it is a little more socially acceptable, since it is perceived as lumping people together in a positive way, not a negative one.

    But I have not a few non-Lutherans that are members of a denomination in spite of the fact that they disagree with one or more beliefs of that denomination, or at least what is preached in their church. This does not appear to bother them, because they either believe that it’s the best teaching available, or because other factors (good thus-and-so ministry) outweigh the problematic teachings.

    That is the outcome of fundamentalism, and it’s not surprising that it would produce umbrage at the broad brush you describe, nor that the Lutheran doctrine of fellowship would lead to the use of such a broad brush.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS said (@22), “I do believe that Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as ‘Lutheran’ and ‘non-Lutheran’.”

    I won’t deny that, nor will I deny that it is a “broad-brush view”, as such. But then, I think the degree to which such a view is voiced is the degree to which it is called for — namely, when viewing things at a very broad level. You will note that those same Lutherans painting with such a broad brush are perfectly apt at giving fine-point details as to what distinguishes them from this or that group, when called for.

    And yet, I get the idea that you reject this “broad-brush view” as ever being apt, Don. Of course, I think it stems quite naturally from what Lutherans teach. I’ll try to explain.

    Essentially, this comes from Lutherans believing that what Lutherans confess is faithful to the Scriptures. Of course, this should not be surprising, nor should it, in itself, be perceived as offensive.

    Ah, but since it is obviously true that Lutherans believe differently than other groups, it is necessarily true that Lutherans believe that, to some degree, those groups are not faithful to the Scriptures. This offends people, though frankly, I’m not sure why. After all, if those non-Lutherans believed that Lutherans were faithful to the Scriptures, wouldn’t they be Lutherans?

    At the root of this is the doctrine of fellowship, which Lutherans believe in explicitly. All Christians believe in this doctrine at some level, but it is quite often not explicit.

    The Baptist, Presbyterian, Four-Square, “non-denominational”, etc. people I have known all bristle when talking about fellowship in an exclusive sense, almost always taking a (literally) fundamentalist approach in which one should, rather than observe that there are differences in belief, instead focus on the fundamentals of faith that unite various believers.

    Of course, this is, in itself, just a different kind of broad brush, though it is a little more socially acceptable, since it is perceived as lumping people together in a positive way, not a negative one.

    But I have not a few non-Lutherans that are members of a denomination in spite of the fact that they disagree with one or more beliefs of that denomination, or at least what is preached in their church. This does not appear to bother them, because they either believe that it’s the best teaching available, or because other factors (good thus-and-so ministry) outweigh the problematic teachings.

    That is the outcome of fundamentalism, and it’s not surprising that it would produce umbrage at the broad brush you describe, nor that the Lutheran doctrine of fellowship would lead to the use of such a broad brush.

  • Grace

    The article below with LINK was published today. I might add, … I know NO ONE who is impressed, or supports such expenditures or doctrine. Obviously there are those who do, otherwise the monies for such a church and salaries would not exist.

    I hope the eyes of many will be opened to the Biblical teachings of God’s Word.

    Schuller son-in-law gets vacant Crystal Cathedral job
    By DEEPA BHARATH
    THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Published: Jan. 13, 2011

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/-284013–.html

  • Grace

    The article below with LINK was published today. I might add, … I know NO ONE who is impressed, or supports such expenditures or doctrine. Obviously there are those who do, otherwise the monies for such a church and salaries would not exist.

    I hope the eyes of many will be opened to the Biblical teachings of God’s Word.

    Schuller son-in-law gets vacant Crystal Cathedral job
    By DEEPA BHARATH
    THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

    Published: Jan. 13, 2011

    http://www.ocregister.com/news/-284013–.html

  • Grace

    We are called to be good stewards of what we have, checking facts about salaries, compensation of any kind.

    For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7

    We all need to consider how we give and spend the money which God has graciously given us. I know there are times when I have bought things that were ‘over the top’ …. how that must appear to others? – I don’t need the answer, it’s shameful!

    God help us all to look within ourselves as to how we spend money, and also our time, it’s a gift of God, not to be squandered.

  • Grace

    We are called to be good stewards of what we have, checking facts about salaries, compensation of any kind.

    For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7

    We all need to consider how we give and spend the money which God has graciously given us. I know there are times when I have bought things that were ‘over the top’ …. how that must appear to others? – I don’t need the answer, it’s shameful!

    God help us all to look within ourselves as to how we spend money, and also our time, it’s a gift of God, not to be squandered.

  • boaz

    Lutherans place great emphasis on the teaching part of the great commission. We try to teach what Christ taught.

    The confessions reject using human reason to close the gaps where Scripture is silent, unlike Calvinists and now liberal Lutherans, and we reject institutionalism that is the foundation of Rome and eastern churches, where faith and obedience in the institution trumps faith given by the spirit. And enthusiasm, which expects and seeks revelation beyond what Christ and the apostles taught in scripture, the basis for the Pentecostal church. The three great enemies of true faith, rationalism, moralism, and mysticism.

    People can’t help themselves, those who preach faith as human work to be found in human effort will always find listeners. Lutherans will always be a remnant, and will always appear insular, as we must be to protect true faith.

  • boaz

    Lutherans place great emphasis on the teaching part of the great commission. We try to teach what Christ taught.

    The confessions reject using human reason to close the gaps where Scripture is silent, unlike Calvinists and now liberal Lutherans, and we reject institutionalism that is the foundation of Rome and eastern churches, where faith and obedience in the institution trumps faith given by the spirit. And enthusiasm, which expects and seeks revelation beyond what Christ and the apostles taught in scripture, the basis for the Pentecostal church. The three great enemies of true faith, rationalism, moralism, and mysticism.

    People can’t help themselves, those who preach faith as human work to be found in human effort will always find listeners. Lutherans will always be a remnant, and will always appear insular, as we must be to protect true faith.

  • boaz

    Good point Grace, that’s the same point Luther made in the large catechism when discussing the fifth commandment and tells us we are all murderers. If we can help someone who is hungry or sick and don’t do it, we are responsible for anything bad that happens to them.

  • boaz

    Good point Grace, that’s the same point Luther made in the large catechism when discussing the fifth commandment and tells us we are all murderers. If we can help someone who is hungry or sick and don’t do it, we are responsible for anything bad that happens to them.

  • Grace

    Boaz

    “Good point Grace, that’s the same point Luther made in the large catechism when discussing the fifth commandment and tells us we are all murderers. If we can help someone who is hungry or sick and don’t do it, we are responsible for anything bad that happens to them.”

    That is Luther’s rendition of the 5th Commandment:

    “We must fear and love God, so that we will neither harm nor hurt our neighbor’s body, but help him and care for him when he is ill.”

    We can then go back to WORKS.

    I believe this is what Jesus was speaking of regarding “good works” – believing, having “faith”, but forgetting and ignoring “works”

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

    What is a WORK?

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    Matthew 25

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

  • Grace

    Boaz

    “Good point Grace, that’s the same point Luther made in the large catechism when discussing the fifth commandment and tells us we are all murderers. If we can help someone who is hungry or sick and don’t do it, we are responsible for anything bad that happens to them.”

    That is Luther’s rendition of the 5th Commandment:

    “We must fear and love God, so that we will neither harm nor hurt our neighbor’s body, but help him and care for him when he is ill.”

    We can then go back to WORKS.

    I believe this is what Jesus was speaking of regarding “good works” – believing, having “faith”, but forgetting and ignoring “works”

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

    What is a WORK?

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    Matthew 25

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

  • Larry

    “Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as “Lutheran” and “non-Lutheran”. “ But its not due to sectarianism but rather sectarianism in order to hide its (true) sectarianism makes this charge.

    And that’s as it should be. It’s like seeing the world as Christian versus non-Christian or theologies of glory versus theology of the Cross. It’s why Luther would sometimes lump the Pope, enthusiasts and Islam into one group. The Lutheran confession do not confess thus, “our confessions are right in so much that they agree with Scripture” (which is really to say you don’t have a true confession at all), but rather “our confessions are right because they confess exactly what Scripture confesses”.

    In fact any single confession (denomination) that gives A confession (observing from a “neutral” point of view for the sake of this analysis of whether it is really true or not) MUST indeed think of itself that way, otherwise it is (1) hypocritical by definition, (2) a functioning unbelieving form of agnosticism with Christian labels really confessing nothing at all, and (3) that groups separation from others is by definition shear sectarianism.
    In other words Baptist ought not be worshipping with the PCA and Reformed nor Calvinist, nor should the PCA, Reformed or Calvinist be worshipping with the Baptist, nor any other group. Because when they do then foist their confessions out there otherwise they basically do items 1 – 3 above and show forth their obvious sectarianism. If you are not separating on a doctrinal issue that is considered, preached, taught and confessed as absolutely essential to the Christian faith in order for it to BE the Christian faith, then all you are left with is the very sectarianism you pretend you are not. I.e. If its not essential doctrine at least in belief realm one is in then all you separating on is the very accusation you make to a Lutheran, who does separate on essential doctrine (or at least should) by condemning all other contrary doctrines as false, of Satan and sourced out of hell. You will note that THAT is the separation point for Lutheran confessions, they do not say, “I am separating from the Baptist because I don’t like them as people or the cut of their jib.” No, they condemn the doctrines. That is not sectarianism.

    However, many evangelicals in our day speak out of two sides of their mouth by saying (this is especially true in Baptist and Reformed ecumenical movements like “Together For The Gospel”), we don’t believe in baptizing babies (Reformed say, “we do”) but we will quasi mingle and worship together, yet retain our separation. Well its one or the other, either your doctrine is essential and you MUST separate and condemn, OR you are false and basically saying, “the only reason we separate is “I like the name Baptist (or Presbyterian)”, which is a shear sectarian spirit.
    Now I live in SB central and it is a fact, not hyperbole that SB and baptistic churches down here pop up like pop corn. In the city in which we live, and nearly every city I’ve ever lived in Kentucky it is nothing to find 5, 10 or more baptist churches within a stones throw of one another. One has to wonder “why the separation”, because technically all are baptist and most are SB specifically. Was the separation truly doctrine, which at least in principle would be right even if error exist or is it sectarian? More often than not it is the later.
    So the question is:

    Do your confessions confess that they are right in so much that they agree with Scripture (which is really to say you don’t have a true confession at all), or do they confess “that your confessions are right because they confess exactly what Scripture confesses”? Because if it’s the former and you remain in your doctrine dogmatically (e.g. won’t baptize infants and insist upon BB, or insist upon Calvin’s or Zwingli’s supper) you are hypocritically deceitful about your confession and sectarian. If the later, then at least in principle you are in the right track and should separate from Lutheranism and finally see yourself as “…. universally viewing the Christian world as “Baptist” (or Reformed) and “non-Baptist (or non-Reformed)”.

    There’s an essential reason Lutheran confessions see the Christian world that way, because that’s precisely the way all Scripture see it. The very baptism of my children, when we moved denominations, that is to say confessions, is an open witness against believers baptism before God and the world and the very confession we will make at the judgment seat of God, same thing with the Lord’s Supper, the Trinity, etc…

    When one moves churches other than changing living locations, what criteria is used in deciding “what denomination/confession” one should attend? It must be doctrine and holistically; not just “8 things I agree to and 2 that I can choke down and live with even though I don’t agree with”. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to confirm Paul’s CONFESSION, today that hardly goes on at all because (1) most churches and denominations hardly have a confession anymore but rather if at all some dusty tome of a confession in the coffee shop room hardly ever taught from and (2) doctrine doesn’t seem to matter all that much if at all to laity.

  • Larry

    “Lutherans seem to universally view the Christian world as “Lutheran” and “non-Lutheran”. “ But its not due to sectarianism but rather sectarianism in order to hide its (true) sectarianism makes this charge.

    And that’s as it should be. It’s like seeing the world as Christian versus non-Christian or theologies of glory versus theology of the Cross. It’s why Luther would sometimes lump the Pope, enthusiasts and Islam into one group. The Lutheran confession do not confess thus, “our confessions are right in so much that they agree with Scripture” (which is really to say you don’t have a true confession at all), but rather “our confessions are right because they confess exactly what Scripture confesses”.

    In fact any single confession (denomination) that gives A confession (observing from a “neutral” point of view for the sake of this analysis of whether it is really true or not) MUST indeed think of itself that way, otherwise it is (1) hypocritical by definition, (2) a functioning unbelieving form of agnosticism with Christian labels really confessing nothing at all, and (3) that groups separation from others is by definition shear sectarianism.
    In other words Baptist ought not be worshipping with the PCA and Reformed nor Calvinist, nor should the PCA, Reformed or Calvinist be worshipping with the Baptist, nor any other group. Because when they do then foist their confessions out there otherwise they basically do items 1 – 3 above and show forth their obvious sectarianism. If you are not separating on a doctrinal issue that is considered, preached, taught and confessed as absolutely essential to the Christian faith in order for it to BE the Christian faith, then all you are left with is the very sectarianism you pretend you are not. I.e. If its not essential doctrine at least in belief realm one is in then all you separating on is the very accusation you make to a Lutheran, who does separate on essential doctrine (or at least should) by condemning all other contrary doctrines as false, of Satan and sourced out of hell. You will note that THAT is the separation point for Lutheran confessions, they do not say, “I am separating from the Baptist because I don’t like them as people or the cut of their jib.” No, they condemn the doctrines. That is not sectarianism.

    However, many evangelicals in our day speak out of two sides of their mouth by saying (this is especially true in Baptist and Reformed ecumenical movements like “Together For The Gospel”), we don’t believe in baptizing babies (Reformed say, “we do”) but we will quasi mingle and worship together, yet retain our separation. Well its one or the other, either your doctrine is essential and you MUST separate and condemn, OR you are false and basically saying, “the only reason we separate is “I like the name Baptist (or Presbyterian)”, which is a shear sectarian spirit.
    Now I live in SB central and it is a fact, not hyperbole that SB and baptistic churches down here pop up like pop corn. In the city in which we live, and nearly every city I’ve ever lived in Kentucky it is nothing to find 5, 10 or more baptist churches within a stones throw of one another. One has to wonder “why the separation”, because technically all are baptist and most are SB specifically. Was the separation truly doctrine, which at least in principle would be right even if error exist or is it sectarian? More often than not it is the later.
    So the question is:

    Do your confessions confess that they are right in so much that they agree with Scripture (which is really to say you don’t have a true confession at all), or do they confess “that your confessions are right because they confess exactly what Scripture confesses”? Because if it’s the former and you remain in your doctrine dogmatically (e.g. won’t baptize infants and insist upon BB, or insist upon Calvin’s or Zwingli’s supper) you are hypocritically deceitful about your confession and sectarian. If the later, then at least in principle you are in the right track and should separate from Lutheranism and finally see yourself as “…. universally viewing the Christian world as “Baptist” (or Reformed) and “non-Baptist (or non-Reformed)”.

    There’s an essential reason Lutheran confessions see the Christian world that way, because that’s precisely the way all Scripture see it. The very baptism of my children, when we moved denominations, that is to say confessions, is an open witness against believers baptism before God and the world and the very confession we will make at the judgment seat of God, same thing with the Lord’s Supper, the Trinity, etc…

    When one moves churches other than changing living locations, what criteria is used in deciding “what denomination/confession” one should attend? It must be doctrine and holistically; not just “8 things I agree to and 2 that I can choke down and live with even though I don’t agree with”. The Bereans searched the Scriptures to confirm Paul’s CONFESSION, today that hardly goes on at all because (1) most churches and denominations hardly have a confession anymore but rather if at all some dusty tome of a confession in the coffee shop room hardly ever taught from and (2) doctrine doesn’t seem to matter all that much if at all to laity.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Do you think this heralds the end of the megachurch church-marketing concept?

    ¡Ojalá que!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Do you think this heralds the end of the megachurch church-marketing concept?

    ¡Ojalá que!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace @ 30

    “I. The passions of anger and revenge, of which the Fifth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.” This Commandment has one work, which however includes many and dispels many vices, and is called meekness.

    “We shine resplendently and excessively, as if we were the most holy Christians there ever were. And so because of these mirrors and masks we allow God’s Commandment to go to complete ruin, and no one considers or examines himself, how near or how far he be from meekness and the fulfilment of this Commandment; although God has said, that not he who does such works, but he who keeps His Commandments, shall enter into eternal life.”

    “This high, noble, sweet work can easily be learned, if we perform it in faith, and as an exercise of faith. For if faith does not doubt the favor of God nor question that God is gracious, it will become quite easy for a man to be gracious and favorable to his neighbor, however much he may have sinned; for we have sinned much more against God. Behold, a short Commandment this, but it presents a long, mighty exercise of good works and of faith.”

    Quotations excerpted from:

    _A treatise on Good Works
    together with the
    Letter of Dedication_
    by Dr. Martin Luther, 1520
    Published in:
    _Works of Martin Luther_
    Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.
    (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol. 1, pp. 173-285.

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/work-06.txt

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Grace @ 30

    “I. The passions of anger and revenge, of which the Fifth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.” This Commandment has one work, which however includes many and dispels many vices, and is called meekness.

    “We shine resplendently and excessively, as if we were the most holy Christians there ever were. And so because of these mirrors and masks we allow God’s Commandment to go to complete ruin, and no one considers or examines himself, how near or how far he be from meekness and the fulfilment of this Commandment; although God has said, that not he who does such works, but he who keeps His Commandments, shall enter into eternal life.”

    “This high, noble, sweet work can easily be learned, if we perform it in faith, and as an exercise of faith. For if faith does not doubt the favor of God nor question that God is gracious, it will become quite easy for a man to be gracious and favorable to his neighbor, however much he may have sinned; for we have sinned much more against God. Behold, a short Commandment this, but it presents a long, mighty exercise of good works and of faith.”

    Quotations excerpted from:

    _A treatise on Good Works
    together with the
    Letter of Dedication_
    by Dr. Martin Luther, 1520
    Published in:
    _Works of Martin Luther_
    Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.
    (Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol. 1, pp. 173-285.

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/work-06.txt

  • Grace

    SG,

    I look to the Word of God, as in Matthew 25. Martin Luther was but a man – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Luther sought to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)

    Man either follows Christ’s teachings as Jesus makes clear in Matthew 25 or they suffer the consequences, made clearly in Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Lest we forget read post #30:

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

  • Grace

    SG,

    I look to the Word of God, as in Matthew 25. Martin Luther was but a man – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Luther sought to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)

    Man either follows Christ’s teachings as Jesus makes clear in Matthew 25 or they suffer the consequences, made clearly in Matthew 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

    Lest we forget read post #30:

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

  • Larry

    I look to the Word of God, as in John 6, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. Grace is but a woman – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Grace seeks to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)

    Man either follows Christ’s teachings as Jesus makes clear in —— or they suffer the consequences.

    For these words of Christ are exceedingly very very very crystal clear JUST SCRIPTURE, that is right up the Lutheran defense way.

    Pretend I’ve just written these in chalk on a table:

    John 6:53-57

    “Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”

    Matthew 26:26-28, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

    Mark 14:22-25, “While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

    Luke 22:17-20, “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

    1 Corinthians 11:23-25, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the)new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

    Matthew 3:13 – 15, “Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.”

    Acts 2:38-39, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

    Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

    Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism;”
    Colossians 2:12, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

    1 Peter 3:21, “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

  • Larry

    I look to the Word of God, as in John 6, Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22. Grace is but a woman – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Grace seeks to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)

    Man either follows Christ’s teachings as Jesus makes clear in —— or they suffer the consequences.

    For these words of Christ are exceedingly very very very crystal clear JUST SCRIPTURE, that is right up the Lutheran defense way.

    Pretend I’ve just written these in chalk on a table:

    John 6:53-57

    “Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”

    Matthew 26:26-28, “While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

    Mark 14:22-25, “While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

    Luke 22:17-20, “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

    1 Corinthians 11:23-25, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the)new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

    Matthew 3:13 – 15, “Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.”

    Acts 2:38-39, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”

    Romans 6:4, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

    Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism;”
    Colossians 2:12, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

    1 Peter 3:21, “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

  • collie

    Larry – Appreciate your emphasis on scripture and how we are to believe Jesus’ words. I used to think that The Lord’s Supper was a thing reserved for “good” people. That category certainly excluded me, so I never really liked taking communion; in fact, when out-of-town trips meant we missed the quarterly administration of it, I was relieved!

    One cannot ignore Jesus’ words which say “Do this” – “This is my body” – “This is my blood of the new covenant”.

    The literal, biblical understanding of this sacrament is the primary reason I became a Lutheran. It is all about the gifts of God, which he gives in abundance to believers, over and over, through physical, tangible means: words and sacramental elements. It’s all gift, and only requires that one believe it.

  • collie

    Larry – Appreciate your emphasis on scripture and how we are to believe Jesus’ words. I used to think that The Lord’s Supper was a thing reserved for “good” people. That category certainly excluded me, so I never really liked taking communion; in fact, when out-of-town trips meant we missed the quarterly administration of it, I was relieved!

    One cannot ignore Jesus’ words which say “Do this” – “This is my body” – “This is my blood of the new covenant”.

    The literal, biblical understanding of this sacrament is the primary reason I became a Lutheran. It is all about the gifts of God, which he gives in abundance to believers, over and over, through physical, tangible means: words and sacramental elements. It’s all gift, and only requires that one believe it.

  • Stephen

    And here’s a couple more scriptures:

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

    Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’

    Which question are you asking Grace? Is it “did he really say?” or is it an affirmation “Yes, he really said these things!” and then believing on his name?

    Yes, God really did say those things from the Holy Scriptures. Larry pointed this out before, and it is truly at the very heart of the matter.

    And, as our Confessions state in the explanations to the Lord’s Supper, we are completely passive in receiving them. So we stumble on the word “require’ when it is used at all. I would add to what Larry says that even the faith “required” to receive is itself a gift. This is what is meant by “Faith comes by hearing” and when Larry emphasizes that the Gospel is something that is “done to us” and “for us” and not with the help of our reason or efforts he is showing the full measure of grace. It is complete. We do not assent to it or agree with it. It is Christ alone. God comes and gets us in Jesus Christ and there’s nothing we can “do” about it – like it or not. Christ alone. Rejoice!

  • Stephen

    And here’s a couple more scriptures:

    Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

    Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’

    Which question are you asking Grace? Is it “did he really say?” or is it an affirmation “Yes, he really said these things!” and then believing on his name?

    Yes, God really did say those things from the Holy Scriptures. Larry pointed this out before, and it is truly at the very heart of the matter.

    And, as our Confessions state in the explanations to the Lord’s Supper, we are completely passive in receiving them. So we stumble on the word “require’ when it is used at all. I would add to what Larry says that even the faith “required” to receive is itself a gift. This is what is meant by “Faith comes by hearing” and when Larry emphasizes that the Gospel is something that is “done to us” and “for us” and not with the help of our reason or efforts he is showing the full measure of grace. It is complete. We do not assent to it or agree with it. It is Christ alone. God comes and gets us in Jesus Christ and there’s nothing we can “do” about it – like it or not. Christ alone. Rejoice!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I look to the Word of God, as in Matthew 25. Martin Luther was but a man – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Luther sought to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)”

    Yeah, I agree. However, most pastors go to seminary or Bible college to learn more and while they are there, they read commentary from numerous authors. Most pastors own many multiple volumes of commentaries. Why would Luther be any less than say Gill or any other commenter? What is wrong with reading Bible commentary?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “I look to the Word of God, as in Matthew 25. Martin Luther was but a man – Jesus is God the Son, his statements are what I strive for, not what Luther sought to translate (as if the LORD’s words were not enough)”

    Yeah, I agree. However, most pastors go to seminary or Bible college to learn more and while they are there, they read commentary from numerous authors. Most pastors own many multiple volumes of commentaries. Why would Luther be any less than say Gill or any other commenter? What is wrong with reading Bible commentary?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What is wrong with reading Bible commentary?

    Further, how is it different from listening to a sermon? Yeah, a sermon is based on Bible passages (I hope) but there is much more said than just verbatim scripture reading.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    What is wrong with reading Bible commentary?

    Further, how is it different from listening to a sermon? Yeah, a sermon is based on Bible passages (I hope) but there is much more said than just verbatim scripture reading.

  • Stephen

    sg –

    Interesting note along those lines -

    The first historian of the church Eusebius who wrote in the 4th c. before there was a canon of scripture, or at least not quite the one we have today, says in his writings that he preferred the oral traditions to the written ones. They did not see the “book” as the entity that we make it out to be now. That is not to say that we should not honor the Bible as the proper tradition given to us by the Holy Spirit through history that we have now. But what we lack today is an appreciation for how the Word has always been a preached and spoken word of promise – always. In fact, it is/was a preached word first.

    “I have seen the Lord!” – Mary Magdalene, first evangelist of the resurrection of Jesus.

  • Stephen

    sg –

    Interesting note along those lines -

    The first historian of the church Eusebius who wrote in the 4th c. before there was a canon of scripture, or at least not quite the one we have today, says in his writings that he preferred the oral traditions to the written ones. They did not see the “book” as the entity that we make it out to be now. That is not to say that we should not honor the Bible as the proper tradition given to us by the Holy Spirit through history that we have now. But what we lack today is an appreciation for how the Word has always been a preached and spoken word of promise – always. In fact, it is/was a preached word first.

    “I have seen the Lord!” – Mary Magdalene, first evangelist of the resurrection of Jesus.

  • Larry

    Luther writes several things concerning heretics I fear in our day is often lost.

    In “What Luther says” in an excerpt titled “Heretics Profess to Be in Harmony with the Bible” he writes, “All the others also say that they are teaching the Word of God. No devil, heretic or sectarian spirit arises who says: I, the devil, or a heretic, am preaching my own views. On the contrary, all know how to say: This is not my doctrine; it is God’s Word. Everyone wants to have it said that what he is preaching is God’s Word.”

    Inverting and Perverting the Order of God, “The manner of all the prophets is first to attack ungodliness as the fountainhead and spring of all evil works and thereafter to prescribe godliness. After this has been taught and inculcated, good works follow in proper sequence. This it the right order – the order employed by the prophets and apostles, as may be very clearly seen from the epistles of Paul. But the false prophets do not do this. They merely prescribe morals, criticize vices and promise rewards, while the doctrine of godliness pertaining to the justification of the heart is omitted.”

    Luther in his explanation of the11th Psalm remarks that the holy fathers have understood this psalm as speaking of heretics, The Heart of Heresy, “We must take ‘heretics’ to mean all who teach a righteousness that is different from the righteousness that avails before God, such as the Jews and all who deal in works (operarii) or try to justify themselves by works (justitiarii). Nowadays Christendom is full of these, especially of those who are persecuting the “heretics”.

    “He who would have people believe him must mix truth with his errors and must use the name of God if he wants to sell his lies as the truth, as some are zealously and shamelessly doing in our day. This is the way of all heretics, enthusiasts, and sects who can prate a great deal about Christ.”

    “This is the nature of all sectaries they conceive an opinion of their own, without and apart from the Word. This opinion is forever dangling before their eyes, lie a blue glass; then all they see looks blue to them and appears to be in harmony with their opinion. But they are sharpers, as Paul call them in Ephesians 4, when he admonishes Christians not to let themselves be tossed to and from and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men. Here the little word “sleight” is chubeia in Greek, in German diceplay or the game of sharpers. For just as sharpers control the dice, and the cube must turn up what they want, so the sectaries and enthusiasts handle the Scriptures. Every on lays claim to all Scripture and uses sharpers’ tricks in an effort to make good his claim.”

    “We dare not be conciliatory when we deal with heretics. What they need is God’s Law. It will show them the evil of their ways. Paul made use of the Law against the false prophets who were troubling the Galatians. But he was considerate toward those who had been misled by the heretics. Luther speaks about this in his comment on Gal. 1:6, “Be relentless toward heretical leaders. This example of Paul we, too, must follow, that for the miserable and misled disciples we may have ht sort of affection parents have for their children, to the end that they may perceive our fatherly zeal and our motherly affection toward them and may see that we seek not their destruction but their welfare. But toward the devil and his ministers, the authors of seduction and sects, we must, according to the example of the apostle, have no patience. Toward them we must be proud, sharp, and irreconcilable; we must score, detest, and condemn their frauds and deceptions with the utmost severity. So parents are wont to chase only the dog when their child has been bitten, but they fondle the weeping child itself, comforting it with the tenderest words.”

    Excerpts from “What Luther Says”

  • Larry

    Luther writes several things concerning heretics I fear in our day is often lost.

    In “What Luther says” in an excerpt titled “Heretics Profess to Be in Harmony with the Bible” he writes, “All the others also say that they are teaching the Word of God. No devil, heretic or sectarian spirit arises who says: I, the devil, or a heretic, am preaching my own views. On the contrary, all know how to say: This is not my doctrine; it is God’s Word. Everyone wants to have it said that what he is preaching is God’s Word.”

    Inverting and Perverting the Order of God, “The manner of all the prophets is first to attack ungodliness as the fountainhead and spring of all evil works and thereafter to prescribe godliness. After this has been taught and inculcated, good works follow in proper sequence. This it the right order – the order employed by the prophets and apostles, as may be very clearly seen from the epistles of Paul. But the false prophets do not do this. They merely prescribe morals, criticize vices and promise rewards, while the doctrine of godliness pertaining to the justification of the heart is omitted.”

    Luther in his explanation of the11th Psalm remarks that the holy fathers have understood this psalm as speaking of heretics, The Heart of Heresy, “We must take ‘heretics’ to mean all who teach a righteousness that is different from the righteousness that avails before God, such as the Jews and all who deal in works (operarii) or try to justify themselves by works (justitiarii). Nowadays Christendom is full of these, especially of those who are persecuting the “heretics”.

    “He who would have people believe him must mix truth with his errors and must use the name of God if he wants to sell his lies as the truth, as some are zealously and shamelessly doing in our day. This is the way of all heretics, enthusiasts, and sects who can prate a great deal about Christ.”

    “This is the nature of all sectaries they conceive an opinion of their own, without and apart from the Word. This opinion is forever dangling before their eyes, lie a blue glass; then all they see looks blue to them and appears to be in harmony with their opinion. But they are sharpers, as Paul call them in Ephesians 4, when he admonishes Christians not to let themselves be tossed to and from and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men. Here the little word “sleight” is chubeia in Greek, in German diceplay or the game of sharpers. For just as sharpers control the dice, and the cube must turn up what they want, so the sectaries and enthusiasts handle the Scriptures. Every on lays claim to all Scripture and uses sharpers’ tricks in an effort to make good his claim.”

    “We dare not be conciliatory when we deal with heretics. What they need is God’s Law. It will show them the evil of their ways. Paul made use of the Law against the false prophets who were troubling the Galatians. But he was considerate toward those who had been misled by the heretics. Luther speaks about this in his comment on Gal. 1:6, “Be relentless toward heretical leaders. This example of Paul we, too, must follow, that for the miserable and misled disciples we may have ht sort of affection parents have for their children, to the end that they may perceive our fatherly zeal and our motherly affection toward them and may see that we seek not their destruction but their welfare. But toward the devil and his ministers, the authors of seduction and sects, we must, according to the example of the apostle, have no patience. Toward them we must be proud, sharp, and irreconcilable; we must score, detest, and condemn their frauds and deceptions with the utmost severity. So parents are wont to chase only the dog when their child has been bitten, but they fondle the weeping child itself, comforting it with the tenderest words.”

    Excerpts from “What Luther Says”

  • Larry

    What the false prophets and teachers of our day who more or less “champion James” and such forget is that without that assured naked nude trust alone in Christ such that my sin is imputed to Christ and I’m entirely forgiven and His righteousness is purely imputed to me such that all He said, thought, did, suffered was just as if I/you did it myself (= justification and the righteousness of God per Rom. 1:17, et. ali.) is that all and any such “good works” done and performed are utterly worthless. If they think they can then push by way of the Law using James this way, then all they have is Satanic religion and paganism labeled “biblical” and the Gospel assumed is the Gospel denied.

    Their idea of faith is that faith that is like the faith of a mobster who must prove his faith to the mob boss, or in a word all they really and truly have are Satanic faith, Satanic grace, Satanic good works, etc…

    Luther points out that such pietist really and truly hate the Law of God though they quote it much and devise for themselves false good works. They talk much of themselves with a “I thank you God” or “by the grace of God” so that they may piously pretend to be Christian, yet they are not as Christ said, “justified” but rather “condemned” – going to hell with their good works in hand and walking on the “clean side” of the broad road that leads to hell.

    Thus, they need 200 proof Law to kill this false old Adam.

  • Larry

    What the false prophets and teachers of our day who more or less “champion James” and such forget is that without that assured naked nude trust alone in Christ such that my sin is imputed to Christ and I’m entirely forgiven and His righteousness is purely imputed to me such that all He said, thought, did, suffered was just as if I/you did it myself (= justification and the righteousness of God per Rom. 1:17, et. ali.) is that all and any such “good works” done and performed are utterly worthless. If they think they can then push by way of the Law using James this way, then all they have is Satanic religion and paganism labeled “biblical” and the Gospel assumed is the Gospel denied.

    Their idea of faith is that faith that is like the faith of a mobster who must prove his faith to the mob boss, or in a word all they really and truly have are Satanic faith, Satanic grace, Satanic good works, etc…

    Luther points out that such pietist really and truly hate the Law of God though they quote it much and devise for themselves false good works. They talk much of themselves with a “I thank you God” or “by the grace of God” so that they may piously pretend to be Christian, yet they are not as Christ said, “justified” but rather “condemned” – going to hell with their good works in hand and walking on the “clean side” of the broad road that leads to hell.

    Thus, they need 200 proof Law to kill this false old Adam.

  • Stephen

    In other words, did he really say? . . .

    Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  • Stephen

    In other words, did he really say? . . .

    Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

  • Grace

    Back to WORKS.

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

    What is a WORK?

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    Matthew 25

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

  • Grace

    Back to WORKS.

    And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1 Peter 1:17

    What is a WORK?

    32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

    33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

    36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

    46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
    Matthew 25

    For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26

  • Grace

    You can forget “works” if you like, but the LORD Jesus Christ says something very differently in Matthew 25.

  • Grace

    You can forget “works” if you like, but the LORD Jesus Christ says something very differently in Matthew 25.

  • Grace

    13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

    14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

    15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

    16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

    17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
    1 Peter 1:17

  • Grace

    13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

    14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

    15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

    16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

    17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
    1 Peter 1:17

  • Stephen

    Oh yeah, you’re right. He didn’t really say Ephesians 2:8,9. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Now, can I have some of that fruit you’re passing out?

  • Stephen

    Oh yeah, you’re right. He didn’t really say Ephesians 2:8,9. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Now, can I have some of that fruit you’re passing out?


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