Pro-abortion theology

Katherine Jean Lopez quotes from “O, Beautiful,” a play by Theresa Rebeck, which is getting praise in the New York Times:

‘This is a loving, caring Jesus,” is how the director of a play involving abortion described a leading man to the New York Times.

The play, written by a Notre Dame grad, recently took to stage at the University of Delaware. The dialogue includes a gal asking Christ: “Did you ever say, ‘I’m Jesus, and I say that stupid girls who let guys talk them into going to the back seat of their cars have to have babies?’ Did you say that ever?”

“No,” Jesus replies.

“All you talk about is, be nice to each other!” the teenager continues. “You never said nobody’s allowed to have an abortion.”

The fictional Jesus confirms her assertion.

“So can I? Can I? Can I?” she asks.

“Honestly, I — I don’t really have an issue with it,” Jesus tells her.

Honestly?

Honestly. Rather than uplift and challenge, the hallmark of great art, this just seems to bring Jesus down to our broken level. Where’s the hope in that?

via Defining Divinity Down – Kathryn Jean Lopez – National Review Online.

What shallowness.  What bathos.  What flaming ignorance.  What a reduction of Christ’s teachings.  “Be nice.”  But no one has to be nice to the baby.

 

 

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.

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

    The author of that play is either blatantly ignorant of the Scriptures or blatantly rebellious against what is taught in them. That’s sickening.

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

    The author of that play is either blatantly ignorant of the Scriptures or blatantly rebellious against what is taught in them. That’s sickening.

  • mr moss

    Blasphemy. Let us pray that Ms. Rebeck might be brought to repentance, from death to life.

  • mr moss

    Blasphemy. Let us pray that Ms. Rebeck might be brought to repentance, from death to life.

  • Booklover

    Excellent comment, Dr. Veith.

    Jesus could have responded with a variation of what Joseph told his brothers, “Man intended it for harm, but I intend it for good.” or “I am all about the business of saving lives.”

  • Booklover

    Excellent comment, Dr. Veith.

    Jesus could have responded with a variation of what Joseph told his brothers, “Man intended it for harm, but I intend it for good.” or “I am all about the business of saving lives.”

  • Carl Vehse

    To no surprise,

    “… which is getting praise in the New York Times.”

  • Carl Vehse

    To no surprise,

    “… which is getting praise in the New York Times.”

  • Robin

    That is evil. That Jesus she is praising as being nice doesn’t seem so nice to me. I wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone who arbitrarily chose to be nice to some but then out of an act of “kindness” go and kill others. That persons sounds psychopathic.

  • Robin

    That is evil. That Jesus she is praising as being nice doesn’t seem so nice to me. I wouldn’t want to be friends with anyone who arbitrarily chose to be nice to some but then out of an act of “kindness” go and kill others. That persons sounds psychopathic.

  • Steve

    But honestly, are any of us surprised? Is it offensive? Yes. Inaccurate? Yes. Mocking? Of course. But what else do we expect from A.) the arts community and B.) The New York Times? We’re seeing more and more that to score in the performing arts community, talent sells, but not as much as pushing the right buttons and irking the right groups.

    And frankly, I’d say that it’s a stretch that even talent sells in most quarters now, with this excerpt as a prime example. Set aside its offensive nature, and look and the shallow, pedestrian dialogue. (Yes, I’m assuming that it doesn’t get any better than this.) David Mamet this girl is not.

  • Steve

    But honestly, are any of us surprised? Is it offensive? Yes. Inaccurate? Yes. Mocking? Of course. But what else do we expect from A.) the arts community and B.) The New York Times? We’re seeing more and more that to score in the performing arts community, talent sells, but not as much as pushing the right buttons and irking the right groups.

    And frankly, I’d say that it’s a stretch that even talent sells in most quarters now, with this excerpt as a prime example. Set aside its offensive nature, and look and the shallow, pedestrian dialogue. (Yes, I’m assuming that it doesn’t get any better than this.) David Mamet this girl is not.

  • Stephen

    Steve @ 6

    Please tell me why it is necessary to pile on to the entire “arts community,” which I assume means something like artists in general, because of this piece of misguided crap? Apparently you do expect better from the arts as you mention David Mamet (who recently produced and wrote a TV show about a military special operations unit called The Unit, by the way).

    Most artists, myself included, do not get mentioned in the NY Times or make enormous dollars for what they do, or even do work that is all that controversial, “in your face” or politicized. That is the media you’ve been exposed to telling you that. Otheriwse, the work of creative and artistic people is all around you and most of those people dedicated to making actual art are livign hand to mouth, month ot month, and/or working other jobs so they can do what they love for people who, in your example, little apreciate what they contribute.

    This one example does not stand for everything that makes for what art or artists are or do or give or make. It’s and aberration. And heaven knows, the media loves that sort of thing. It proves nothing about the arts community any more than what happens in NY is indicative of the entire USA. That is the same false perception as believing that every shallow fashion of Hollywood celebrity ought to matter. The best art is the stuff that shows us that they don’t.

  • Stephen

    Steve @ 6

    Please tell me why it is necessary to pile on to the entire “arts community,” which I assume means something like artists in general, because of this piece of misguided crap? Apparently you do expect better from the arts as you mention David Mamet (who recently produced and wrote a TV show about a military special operations unit called The Unit, by the way).

    Most artists, myself included, do not get mentioned in the NY Times or make enormous dollars for what they do, or even do work that is all that controversial, “in your face” or politicized. That is the media you’ve been exposed to telling you that. Otheriwse, the work of creative and artistic people is all around you and most of those people dedicated to making actual art are livign hand to mouth, month ot month, and/or working other jobs so they can do what they love for people who, in your example, little apreciate what they contribute.

    This one example does not stand for everything that makes for what art or artists are or do or give or make. It’s and aberration. And heaven knows, the media loves that sort of thing. It proves nothing about the arts community any more than what happens in NY is indicative of the entire USA. That is the same false perception as believing that every shallow fashion of Hollywood celebrity ought to matter. The best art is the stuff that shows us that they don’t.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    @Stephen- YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    I, too, am a member of the arts community, insofar as I make art. This is part of the reasons that so many artists are alienated from the church and why so many Christians are alienated from the arts community. If I recall, Dr. Veith wrote an entire book on the subject, “State of the Arts.” One of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    @Stephen- YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    I, too, am a member of the arts community, insofar as I make art. This is part of the reasons that so many artists are alienated from the church and why so many Christians are alienated from the arts community. If I recall, Dr. Veith wrote an entire book on the subject, “State of the Arts.” One of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject.

  • Booklover

    Stephen, some of the examples you cite are correct, Sarah in Exile being one of them, with her amazingly stunning sculptures.

    But it does seem that if one doesn’t push the boundaries in the art world, one just isn’t looked at as cool or as marketable. I live in the largest city in a very rural, “traditional” state. A new theatre opened in town, which consistently “pushed the envelope” with its racy productions. The other theatres in town entered the race, each vying to see which could produce the most up and coming controversial plays and musicals. So far, one of the oldest theatres is winning, with their upcoming performance of “Spring Awakening,” a very dark musical which portrays such things as rape, homosexual make-out sessions, and masturbation onstage.

    I also am in the art scene, musically directing or playing for various musicals and choirs. It seems that in order to avoid various dark performances, one must work with only the youngest children.

  • Booklover

    Stephen, some of the examples you cite are correct, Sarah in Exile being one of them, with her amazingly stunning sculptures.

    But it does seem that if one doesn’t push the boundaries in the art world, one just isn’t looked at as cool or as marketable. I live in the largest city in a very rural, “traditional” state. A new theatre opened in town, which consistently “pushed the envelope” with its racy productions. The other theatres in town entered the race, each vying to see which could produce the most up and coming controversial plays and musicals. So far, one of the oldest theatres is winning, with their upcoming performance of “Spring Awakening,” a very dark musical which portrays such things as rape, homosexual make-out sessions, and masturbation onstage.

    I also am in the art scene, musically directing or playing for various musicals and choirs. It seems that in order to avoid various dark performances, one must work with only the youngest children.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Alas, this evil has a long lineage, that of putting word in Jesus’ mouth. The Gnostics, the Koran, the book of Mormon, the Course on Miracles, and on and on.
    “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Alas, this evil has a long lineage, that of putting word in Jesus’ mouth. The Gnostics, the Koran, the book of Mormon, the Course on Miracles, and on and on.
    “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”

  • DonS

    The title of this post is misleading, as there is certainly no “theology” on display. The play is a social statement, not a theological one, it would seem. I am confident that the playwright would be the first to say that a work of art, and not theology, was intended. It is appropriate, of course, to debate the merits of that particular art.

    Stephen and Sarah make important points. The secular art world is indeed a dark place, as are most areas of secular society these days. But there are many fine artists who have not debased themselves or profaned God in the way this writer did, and who richly contribute to our culture, using the tremendous gifts God has given them. I have seen and appreciated some of Sarah’s work on her website. Incredible! I hope to also have the opportunity someday (maybe I already have :-) ), to experience Stephen’s someday.

  • DonS

    The title of this post is misleading, as there is certainly no “theology” on display. The play is a social statement, not a theological one, it would seem. I am confident that the playwright would be the first to say that a work of art, and not theology, was intended. It is appropriate, of course, to debate the merits of that particular art.

    Stephen and Sarah make important points. The secular art world is indeed a dark place, as are most areas of secular society these days. But there are many fine artists who have not debased themselves or profaned God in the way this writer did, and who richly contribute to our culture, using the tremendous gifts God has given them. I have seen and appreciated some of Sarah’s work on her website. Incredible! I hope to also have the opportunity someday (maybe I already have :-) ), to experience Stephen’s someday.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    The arts community is a community that needs to be redeemed, just as any else. I think that artists do transgress cultural norms, and the key for the Christian artist would be to “transgress in love” to quote Mako Fujimura. My nudes have caused a stir in certain conservative circles and some of my darker pieces live in my basement. The Bible is full of violence, sex, war, betrayal, and all sorts of horrible things, yet it is a story of redemption and beauty. Contemporary art can follow this example, sometimes causing horror and offense (think of the Cross! What an offensive and horrible sight!) while still “transgressing [the culture] in love,” offering redemptive images. You are all right, Jesus didn’t come here to teach us to “play nice,” and good Christian art doesn’t always look “nice.”

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Exile

    The arts community is a community that needs to be redeemed, just as any else. I think that artists do transgress cultural norms, and the key for the Christian artist would be to “transgress in love” to quote Mako Fujimura. My nudes have caused a stir in certain conservative circles and some of my darker pieces live in my basement. The Bible is full of violence, sex, war, betrayal, and all sorts of horrible things, yet it is a story of redemption and beauty. Contemporary art can follow this example, sometimes causing horror and offense (think of the Cross! What an offensive and horrible sight!) while still “transgressing [the culture] in love,” offering redemptive images. You are all right, Jesus didn’t come here to teach us to “play nice,” and good Christian art doesn’t always look “nice.”

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

    “nice”: from the Latin “nescius,” meaning “ignorant” or “silly,” also Middle English “foolish.”

    Great education she got at Notre Dame. And lessee….the play is showing at the University of Delaware, right? OK, how many tax dollars are being used to support this nonsense? I’m guessing Delaware residents through the U, and all the rest of us through the NEA or NEH.

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

    “nice”: from the Latin “nescius,” meaning “ignorant” or “silly,” also Middle English “foolish.”

    Great education she got at Notre Dame. And lessee….the play is showing at the University of Delaware, right? OK, how many tax dollars are being used to support this nonsense? I’m guessing Delaware residents through the U, and all the rest of us through the NEA or NEH.

  • K Carlisle

    Read the Times article, Bubs.
    The play surely does sound awful, but it appears to have been privately funded. Further, I found no praise for the play or its author in the Times, though I read no criticism, either. But the article is a feature story, not a review.

  • K Carlisle

    Read the Times article, Bubs.
    The play surely does sound awful, but it appears to have been privately funded. Further, I found no praise for the play or its author in the Times, though I read no criticism, either. But the article is a feature story, not a review.

  • Stephen

    Do I usually have all those typos? And how come when I type “an” it comes out “and”? Oh well, anyway . . .

    Don, I really appreciate the kudos for artists, and Sarah deserves much praise, but I think the “sacred/secular” distinction doesn’t hold. Or else how shall we slot the recent film “The King’s Speech” that Dr. Veith lauded here, or whichever valuable work that is not expressly evangelical or Christian that comes along and yet gives us something we value – whether it is something we can easily identify like visual beauty or something less easy to pinpoint, like a wrenching feeling in the gut that makes us reflect for days? This is also some thing Sarah was pointing to. How many great stories are told, pictures painted, music made, that we resonnate with for a whole range of reasons that may be completely beyond words or “lessons learned” but that we can still recognize as gifts?

    Art is about the goodness and mercy of God incarnate in the human experience sometimes boldly and blatantly and sometimes underneath the misery and torment of our temporal existence. And it is flawed and sinful just as every other human endeavor. I think it gets held up for great scrutiny because it is a microcosm of that existence, a laboratory as it were, often with a lot of the more complicated thing removed so we see things with better clarity. That is for purpose. And so we stand outside of it like priveledged judges of the good, right and true. When it does not suit us we damn it (maybe rightly, maybe not), but when it brings us joy we relish and praise it, and when it convicts us we feel lost or full of awe or deep longing and maybe love. We do the same with the artists who make it, agian, rightly or wrongly, and usually as a whole.

    And yet none of those sensations is a composite of art in itself just as none of them is comprehensive of what it means to be human. The same goes for artists, who live a multitude of lives and experiences. It irks me when they get lumped together because of one ridiculous comparison to something that is likely completely unrelated to what they do. And likewise, they are seen as robbing the public purse to boot, which is another exaggeration. Meanwhile they create so much value that is both obvious and subtle in a community, and usually for little or no thanks or recompense, from the pictures on your wall, to the furniture you sit on, to events and music and entertainment produced, to endless design features around all of us. It isn’t just things on pedestals in galleries (though it is that!!! Go Sarah!). They also finesse and shape the way the world is “styled” and shaped for your function, enjoyment, awareness and, yes, even sense of the divine.

    Thus concludes my lecture on art and artists. Thank your organist (and the Easter horn players).

    Here’s a Good Friday picture for all of you, painted by a homosexual murderer, Caravaggio. Strangely enough, he seems to have known something about the mercy of God in Christ. If anyone goes to Rome or Florence, seek out his work. He was the major weapon of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and yet Reason flounders on this dead Jesus. He feels Lutheran to me. Check out the dirty feet on Christ. The popes did not know what to do with this guy. He spent his life mostly on the run:

    http://www.artinvest2000.com/caravaggio_sepoltura-cristo.jpg

    DonS – I’ll let you know when I get some new work up on the web. My old website has been retired.

  • Stephen

    Do I usually have all those typos? And how come when I type “an” it comes out “and”? Oh well, anyway . . .

    Don, I really appreciate the kudos for artists, and Sarah deserves much praise, but I think the “sacred/secular” distinction doesn’t hold. Or else how shall we slot the recent film “The King’s Speech” that Dr. Veith lauded here, or whichever valuable work that is not expressly evangelical or Christian that comes along and yet gives us something we value – whether it is something we can easily identify like visual beauty or something less easy to pinpoint, like a wrenching feeling in the gut that makes us reflect for days? This is also some thing Sarah was pointing to. How many great stories are told, pictures painted, music made, that we resonnate with for a whole range of reasons that may be completely beyond words or “lessons learned” but that we can still recognize as gifts?

    Art is about the goodness and mercy of God incarnate in the human experience sometimes boldly and blatantly and sometimes underneath the misery and torment of our temporal existence. And it is flawed and sinful just as every other human endeavor. I think it gets held up for great scrutiny because it is a microcosm of that existence, a laboratory as it were, often with a lot of the more complicated thing removed so we see things with better clarity. That is for purpose. And so we stand outside of it like priveledged judges of the good, right and true. When it does not suit us we damn it (maybe rightly, maybe not), but when it brings us joy we relish and praise it, and when it convicts us we feel lost or full of awe or deep longing and maybe love. We do the same with the artists who make it, agian, rightly or wrongly, and usually as a whole.

    And yet none of those sensations is a composite of art in itself just as none of them is comprehensive of what it means to be human. The same goes for artists, who live a multitude of lives and experiences. It irks me when they get lumped together because of one ridiculous comparison to something that is likely completely unrelated to what they do. And likewise, they are seen as robbing the public purse to boot, which is another exaggeration. Meanwhile they create so much value that is both obvious and subtle in a community, and usually for little or no thanks or recompense, from the pictures on your wall, to the furniture you sit on, to events and music and entertainment produced, to endless design features around all of us. It isn’t just things on pedestals in galleries (though it is that!!! Go Sarah!). They also finesse and shape the way the world is “styled” and shaped for your function, enjoyment, awareness and, yes, even sense of the divine.

    Thus concludes my lecture on art and artists. Thank your organist (and the Easter horn players).

    Here’s a Good Friday picture for all of you, painted by a homosexual murderer, Caravaggio. Strangely enough, he seems to have known something about the mercy of God in Christ. If anyone goes to Rome or Florence, seek out his work. He was the major weapon of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and yet Reason flounders on this dead Jesus. He feels Lutheran to me. Check out the dirty feet on Christ. The popes did not know what to do with this guy. He spent his life mostly on the run:

    http://www.artinvest2000.com/caravaggio_sepoltura-cristo.jpg

    DonS – I’ll let you know when I get some new work up on the web. My old website has been retired.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 15: Thanks!

    I agree with you, by the way. I didn’t intend to make a “sacred/secular” distinction in my comment.

  • DonS

    Stephen @ 15: Thanks!

    I agree with you, by the way. I didn’t intend to make a “sacred/secular” distinction in my comment.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In the article, Ms. Lopez said, “Rather than uplift and challenge, the hallmark of great art …” Hmm. Does all great art really “uplift”? I’d be surprised if Dr. Veith agreed with that.

    Of course, like K Carlisle (@14), I’m not sure where Dr. Veith got the idea that the play is “getting praise in the New York Times” — I looked and couldn’t find any such “praise”. Presumably those who were so quick to take pot shots at the Times (@4, 6) can help me find the quotes that vindicate their outrage.

    And yes, for the record, the play sounds stupid — at least the part quoted for us.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    In the article, Ms. Lopez said, “Rather than uplift and challenge, the hallmark of great art …” Hmm. Does all great art really “uplift”? I’d be surprised if Dr. Veith agreed with that.

    Of course, like K Carlisle (@14), I’m not sure where Dr. Veith got the idea that the play is “getting praise in the New York Times” — I looked and couldn’t find any such “praise”. Presumably those who were so quick to take pot shots at the Times (@4, 6) can help me find the quotes that vindicate their outrage.

    And yes, for the record, the play sounds stupid — at least the part quoted for us.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen said (@7), “Most artists, myself included, do not get mentioned in the NY Times”.

    Without linking to the actual page that mentions your name, Stephen, is it possible that this snippet on NYTimes.com refers to a project you were once involved in? That’s kind of like getting “mentioned in the NY Times”, isn’t it? :)

    Booklover (@9), if you’re going to complain about “racy productions”, perhaps you could also refrain from announcing in other threads how much you and your husband have sex?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Stephen said (@7), “Most artists, myself included, do not get mentioned in the NY Times”.

    Without linking to the actual page that mentions your name, Stephen, is it possible that this snippet on NYTimes.com refers to a project you were once involved in? That’s kind of like getting “mentioned in the NY Times”, isn’t it? :)

    Booklover (@9), if you’re going to complain about “racy productions”, perhaps you could also refrain from announcing in other threads how much you and your husband have sex?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@11), I find this statement of yours to reflect an oddly compartmentalized view of the world:

    The title of this post is misleading, as there is certainly no “theology” on display. The play is a social statement, not a theological one, it would seem.

    So a play that features — by anyone’s estimation — the central figure the theology of a major religion, and has him weigh in as to whether something is right or wrong in the eyes of God … has “no theology”? Really?

    I find this claim of yours all the more odd, given that you yourself said that the writer of the play “profaned God”. How does one make a statement about God like that, without espousing a theology?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@11), I find this statement of yours to reflect an oddly compartmentalized view of the world:

    The title of this post is misleading, as there is certainly no “theology” on display. The play is a social statement, not a theological one, it would seem.

    So a play that features — by anyone’s estimation — the central figure the theology of a major religion, and has him weigh in as to whether something is right or wrong in the eyes of God … has “no theology”? Really?

    I find this claim of yours all the more odd, given that you yourself said that the writer of the play “profaned God”. How does one make a statement about God like that, without espousing a theology?

  • Stephen

    Ha! Todd has outed me. I was in that one (very briefly) many moons ago. Six degrees of David Byrne I guess.

  • Stephen

    Ha! Todd has outed me. I was in that one (very briefly) many moons ago. Six degrees of David Byrne I guess.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 15 Excellent!

    Interesting play. One could use this play as a point of departure in talking to pagans or weak christians and focus on the Law of God. “You shall not kill”.

    Or.,..

    One could give thanks that Jesus is dealt with in the play as God it seems. And one could give thanks that this God is portrayed accurately as one who would even embrace a murderer. I am pretty sure that the playwright has wrestled with the morality of abortion in the religious sense. In a way that playwright came to a good conclusion: there is a God, incarnate as Christ, who simply will not refuse anyone or turn them away.

    Now to teach that playwright the second table of the Law which is to love one´s neighbor, including the unborn, as one´s own self.

    Watching this play with a pagan or maybe a christian who has had an abortion could be the start of a really wonderful conversation. I don´t have trouble believing that God will work with this.

    To correct the notion that Jesus would have “no problem” with the slaughter of innocents is the least problematic thing.

    To not turn Jesus immediately into a new Moses in the ensuing discussion would be the art of being a Christian.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Stephen @ 15 Excellent!

    Interesting play. One could use this play as a point of departure in talking to pagans or weak christians and focus on the Law of God. “You shall not kill”.

    Or.,..

    One could give thanks that Jesus is dealt with in the play as God it seems. And one could give thanks that this God is portrayed accurately as one who would even embrace a murderer. I am pretty sure that the playwright has wrestled with the morality of abortion in the religious sense. In a way that playwright came to a good conclusion: there is a God, incarnate as Christ, who simply will not refuse anyone or turn them away.

    Now to teach that playwright the second table of the Law which is to love one´s neighbor, including the unborn, as one´s own self.

    Watching this play with a pagan or maybe a christian who has had an abortion could be the start of a really wonderful conversation. I don´t have trouble believing that God will work with this.

    To correct the notion that Jesus would have “no problem” with the slaughter of innocents is the least problematic thing.

    To not turn Jesus immediately into a new Moses in the ensuing discussion would be the art of being a Christian.

  • jgernander

    I love that in one form of the prayer of the church in use in our church we pray: “Sanctify the arts and culture, the rest and leisure of Your people.” (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary p. 96)

    The sanctified use of the arts is a worthy Christian pursuit.

    For the artists and playwrights among us, here’s something nice — from H. W. Longfellow’s “Nuremberg”:

    Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
    Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed.
    Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
    Lived and labored Albrecht Duerer, the Evangelist of art;
    Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
    Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
    Emigravit is th’ inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
    Dead he is not, but departed, — for the artist never dies.

    Vanished is thy ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye
    Wave these mingling shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
    Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world’s regard;
    But thy painter, Albrecht Duerer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler bard.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander (ELS), Princeton MN

  • jgernander

    I love that in one form of the prayer of the church in use in our church we pray: “Sanctify the arts and culture, the rest and leisure of Your people.” (Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary p. 96)

    The sanctified use of the arts is a worthy Christian pursuit.

    For the artists and playwrights among us, here’s something nice — from H. W. Longfellow’s “Nuremberg”:

    Here Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, laureate of the gentle craft,
    Wisest of the Twelve Wise Masters, in huge folios sang and laughed.
    Here, when Art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart,
    Lived and labored Albrecht Duerer, the Evangelist of art;
    Hence in silence and in sorrow, toiling still with busy hand,
    Like an emigrant he wandered, seeking for the Better Land.
    Emigravit is th’ inscription on the tombstone where he lies;
    Dead he is not, but departed, — for the artist never dies.

    Vanished is thy ancient splendor, and before my dreamy eye
    Wave these mingling shapes and figures, like a faded tapestry.
    Not thy Councils, not thy Kaisers, win for thee the world’s regard;
    But thy painter, Albrecht Duerer, and Hans Sachs thy cobbler bard.

    Pastor Jerry Gernander (ELS), Princeton MN

  • Stephen

    I like what Man Ray said about people who make art.

    “I have no problem with them, even if I don’t like what they make.”

    Fear no art, and likewise, fear no artist.

    What is it that gun owners say? “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Something like that perhaps.

    Art can certainly be judged on formal criteria that make works coherent. The comment above that the dialogue cited from the play in the aricle is banal I would agree with. That isa formal judgement that is not too hard to pick out. It’s not Tennesse Williams. The dull language struck me right away. But then not everything must be of the highest craft to be sufficient enough to value on some level.

    Beyond formal judgements we can assess things on other merits we think they offer that have to do with cultural and personal values. FWS is right that we can pull all kinds of things even out of bad art. I mean, let’s face it – there are worse things people could be doing with their time than putting on bad plays about controversial issues. At least they are taking a shot, bare-assing it. Chances are they are not getting paid all that much and are going to go back to waiting tables when they are done with this little run. Many of them will never pursue arts/theater for their livelihood. The 2% that actually do will not have an easy go of it.

    So it’s dumb. Anyone ever had too many beers and pontificated on a stupid soapbox? Anyone ever made a fool of themself for very good reasons with bad results because you said all the wrong things? Whoever has NOT done something like that has no idea what it is like to put yourself out there as an artist or a person with an idea. ALL ideas are flawed.

    Sorry, I’m all defensive.

  • Stephen

    I like what Man Ray said about people who make art.

    “I have no problem with them, even if I don’t like what they make.”

    Fear no art, and likewise, fear no artist.

    What is it that gun owners say? “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Something like that perhaps.

    Art can certainly be judged on formal criteria that make works coherent. The comment above that the dialogue cited from the play in the aricle is banal I would agree with. That isa formal judgement that is not too hard to pick out. It’s not Tennesse Williams. The dull language struck me right away. But then not everything must be of the highest craft to be sufficient enough to value on some level.

    Beyond formal judgements we can assess things on other merits we think they offer that have to do with cultural and personal values. FWS is right that we can pull all kinds of things even out of bad art. I mean, let’s face it – there are worse things people could be doing with their time than putting on bad plays about controversial issues. At least they are taking a shot, bare-assing it. Chances are they are not getting paid all that much and are going to go back to waiting tables when they are done with this little run. Many of them will never pursue arts/theater for their livelihood. The 2% that actually do will not have an easy go of it.

    So it’s dumb. Anyone ever had too many beers and pontificated on a stupid soapbox? Anyone ever made a fool of themself for very good reasons with bad results because you said all the wrong things? Whoever has NOT done something like that has no idea what it is like to put yourself out there as an artist or a person with an idea. ALL ideas are flawed.

    Sorry, I’m all defensive.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    As usual, if you need a Jesus who winks and shrugs at a sin that’s close to your heart, you need a fictional Jesus.

    For the record, if this sample is representative, then the play doesn’t portray Jesus as God. It portrays the author as God, for it is her own words that she places in Jesus’ mouth. She is trying to make herself incarnate as Christ in this work.

    Secondly, this play doesn’t portray a welcoming God at all. In certain contexts, “do whatever you want” simply means “I don’t care about you.” This is one of those contexts. As the author of Hebrews puts it, “For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” What kind of lover is indifferent to whether the beloved makes herself a murderer? Instead of saying “no biggie,” a truly welcoming God says that even though you seek to murder your own offspring simply for getting in your way, He nevertheless loves you enough to die in your place.

    Forget not having the Law right; she doesn’t even have the Gospel right–nor the God who gave us both.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    As usual, if you need a Jesus who winks and shrugs at a sin that’s close to your heart, you need a fictional Jesus.

    For the record, if this sample is representative, then the play doesn’t portray Jesus as God. It portrays the author as God, for it is her own words that she places in Jesus’ mouth. She is trying to make herself incarnate as Christ in this work.

    Secondly, this play doesn’t portray a welcoming God at all. In certain contexts, “do whatever you want” simply means “I don’t care about you.” This is one of those contexts. As the author of Hebrews puts it, “For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” What kind of lover is indifferent to whether the beloved makes herself a murderer? Instead of saying “no biggie,” a truly welcoming God says that even though you seek to murder your own offspring simply for getting in your way, He nevertheless loves you enough to die in your place.

    Forget not having the Law right; she doesn’t even have the Gospel right–nor the God who gave us both.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Matt @ 24

    Well now. I agree with everything you said.

    And besides the play seems pretty amateurish. I really wonder if it was even worth a blog post by Dr Veith. The word banal comes to mind.

    So ok Matt. How would I apply what you say practically? That was the point of what I tried to express.

    I am imagining a scenario where I would maybe casually run into the playwright or someone who has seen the play (assuming I could also sit through such a mess…which makes this a really flimsy scenario….).

    I guess I COULD point out to her her violation and sacrilege of the first table. Her image of God is very twisted, I could point out that her vision of the second table is also twisted. “Do as you please” for Old Adam is about a heart that hates God and hates the Law.

    Now I could bring her to a form of outward repentance. I could certainly use reason, which is what our Confessions define as “natural law” to convince her that a) she needs to accept the biblical idea of God , and b) she needs to repent of her false morality.

    This might not be so hard to do. “natural law” after all is the entrance point for all evangelism. Paul says in romans Ch 2 that the “work of the Law”, feelings of guilt is in all men. So that is really something that we can get to purely by reason.

    She might even shed a few tears.

    But the approach I just outlined would NOT change her heart . That would only happen if she were brought to Christ. And that would not happen with anything you said in your post or I in mine up to now eh?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Matt @ 24

    Well now. I agree with everything you said.

    And besides the play seems pretty amateurish. I really wonder if it was even worth a blog post by Dr Veith. The word banal comes to mind.

    So ok Matt. How would I apply what you say practically? That was the point of what I tried to express.

    I am imagining a scenario where I would maybe casually run into the playwright or someone who has seen the play (assuming I could also sit through such a mess…which makes this a really flimsy scenario….).

    I guess I COULD point out to her her violation and sacrilege of the first table. Her image of God is very twisted, I could point out that her vision of the second table is also twisted. “Do as you please” for Old Adam is about a heart that hates God and hates the Law.

    Now I could bring her to a form of outward repentance. I could certainly use reason, which is what our Confessions define as “natural law” to convince her that a) she needs to accept the biblical idea of God , and b) she needs to repent of her false morality.

    This might not be so hard to do. “natural law” after all is the entrance point for all evangelism. Paul says in romans Ch 2 that the “work of the Law”, feelings of guilt is in all men. So that is really something that we can get to purely by reason.

    She might even shed a few tears.

    But the approach I just outlined would NOT change her heart . That would only happen if she were brought to Christ. And that would not happen with anything you said in your post or I in mine up to now eh?

  • Stephen

    To continue fws’s thought . . .

    If the art was the vehicle and it provided the opportunity to have such a conversation about who Jesus really is “for you” then what? Why should we expect every work of art to be doctrinally seamless if it employs a Christian theme or even Christ? Jesus Christ is a cultural symbol apart from his meaning for believers. After all, is this play making any claims to being a proclamation of the Gospel? This isn’t happening in a church. It would be quite another thing if this play were making a tour of churches on Sunday mornings and being performed by youth groups as a sermon illustration. Then we could get our undies in a twist. But it’s not.

    I was amazed at the way Christians so willingly hitched their cultural wagon to that beastly “The Passion of the Christ” hunk of junk that Mel Gibson made simply because it was the passion narrative and it promised to be hyper-real. It turned out to be a mediocre film making endeavor with questionable cultural overtones, over-the-top gore, and inauthentic gloss of stylistic elements to give it the feel of a reality that was simply not factual. The whole thing was a sham and an example of Christians being used to hype a movie event for profits sake and for a man who turned out to be a drunken anti-semite who could not wait to run out on his family for a younger fashion model. Nowhere was there a concern for artistic or biblical merit among Christians. What was desired was publicity for Jesus.

    And Jesus got all the ugly publicity there was to be had, and an ugly movie to go with it. It was ironic to me that the film was so big on the suffering of the cross and did not depict the shame of the cross. That, as I experienced it, had more to do with the way Christians orbited that atrocious carnival as if they loved the idea of Jesus being crucified as a spectacle for the masses. Finally going to the movies at the mall, something we’ve been doing all along, could be sanctified and made into worship.

    And so even there is an opportunity to say to my artist friends “Hey, you know that’s not who Jesus really is.” Boy, are they ever relieved to hear that good news.

  • Stephen

    To continue fws’s thought . . .

    If the art was the vehicle and it provided the opportunity to have such a conversation about who Jesus really is “for you” then what? Why should we expect every work of art to be doctrinally seamless if it employs a Christian theme or even Christ? Jesus Christ is a cultural symbol apart from his meaning for believers. After all, is this play making any claims to being a proclamation of the Gospel? This isn’t happening in a church. It would be quite another thing if this play were making a tour of churches on Sunday mornings and being performed by youth groups as a sermon illustration. Then we could get our undies in a twist. But it’s not.

    I was amazed at the way Christians so willingly hitched their cultural wagon to that beastly “The Passion of the Christ” hunk of junk that Mel Gibson made simply because it was the passion narrative and it promised to be hyper-real. It turned out to be a mediocre film making endeavor with questionable cultural overtones, over-the-top gore, and inauthentic gloss of stylistic elements to give it the feel of a reality that was simply not factual. The whole thing was a sham and an example of Christians being used to hype a movie event for profits sake and for a man who turned out to be a drunken anti-semite who could not wait to run out on his family for a younger fashion model. Nowhere was there a concern for artistic or biblical merit among Christians. What was desired was publicity for Jesus.

    And Jesus got all the ugly publicity there was to be had, and an ugly movie to go with it. It was ironic to me that the film was so big on the suffering of the cross and did not depict the shame of the cross. That, as I experienced it, had more to do with the way Christians orbited that atrocious carnival as if they loved the idea of Jesus being crucified as a spectacle for the masses. Finally going to the movies at the mall, something we’ve been doing all along, could be sanctified and made into worship.

    And so even there is an opportunity to say to my artist friends “Hey, you know that’s not who Jesus really is.” Boy, are they ever relieved to hear that good news.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    fws @ 25,

    So you agree despite posting the opposite previously. Interesting point of view, but I’ll run with it.

    Since we are posting on a blog about the play rather than talking with the author of the play, the content of our posts should be more appropriate to the the former than the latter. You may find the conversation banal, but the content of the play didn’t spring fully formed from the author’s forehead–it highlights very common arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

    If I were applying what I said in a personal conversation, it would remind me that it is not the healthy that need a physician but the sick. This would in turn indicate that pretending she is healthy will be as harmful to her as a doctor pretending a cancer patient is healthy. I would therefore contrast the false love from the Jesus in her play with the real love shown by the real Jesus. I would try to be loving and honest rather than trading one for the other. You seem to present a false alternative–proclaim either the law or the Gospel. Why not both?

    I would do the same if I were talking to a woman who had or was seeking an abortion. I wouldn’t reinforce the lies she’s been fed by pretending the guilt she’s suffering is somehow fake. I would acknowledge it as real and then tell her that it was Christ’s payment for it is equally real.

    Stephen @ 26 wrote
    “Why should we expect every work of art to be doctrinally seamless if it employs a Christian theme or even Christ? Jesus Christ is a cultural symbol apart from his meaning for believers. After all, is this play making any claims to being a proclamation of the Gospel? This isn’t happening in a church.”

    I seriously doubt that anyone here expects that. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take issue with error when it arises. Jesus may be a cultural symbol, but he is not merely a cultural symbol–he is also a real person who had real teachings. These teachings are being misrepresented. Accommodating falsehood by remaining silent will only harm both those outside the church and those Christians whose vocations take them outside the church.

    Even routine tasks still need to be carried out.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    fws @ 25,

    So you agree despite posting the opposite previously. Interesting point of view, but I’ll run with it.

    Since we are posting on a blog about the play rather than talking with the author of the play, the content of our posts should be more appropriate to the the former than the latter. You may find the conversation banal, but the content of the play didn’t spring fully formed from the author’s forehead–it highlights very common arguments and pretensions that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

    If I were applying what I said in a personal conversation, it would remind me that it is not the healthy that need a physician but the sick. This would in turn indicate that pretending she is healthy will be as harmful to her as a doctor pretending a cancer patient is healthy. I would therefore contrast the false love from the Jesus in her play with the real love shown by the real Jesus. I would try to be loving and honest rather than trading one for the other. You seem to present a false alternative–proclaim either the law or the Gospel. Why not both?

    I would do the same if I were talking to a woman who had or was seeking an abortion. I wouldn’t reinforce the lies she’s been fed by pretending the guilt she’s suffering is somehow fake. I would acknowledge it as real and then tell her that it was Christ’s payment for it is equally real.

    Stephen @ 26 wrote
    “Why should we expect every work of art to be doctrinally seamless if it employs a Christian theme or even Christ? Jesus Christ is a cultural symbol apart from his meaning for believers. After all, is this play making any claims to being a proclamation of the Gospel? This isn’t happening in a church.”

    I seriously doubt that anyone here expects that. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take issue with error when it arises. Jesus may be a cultural symbol, but he is not merely a cultural symbol–he is also a real person who had real teachings. These teachings are being misrepresented. Accommodating falsehood by remaining silent will only harm both those outside the church and those Christians whose vocations take them outside the church.

    Even routine tasks still need to be carried out.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    “So you agree despite posting the opposite previously. Interesting point of view, but I’ll run with it.”

    You think that what I posted in 25 is the contrary or opposite of what I posted previously. That tells me dear Matt that you missed my entire point.

    “I would try to be loving and honest rather than trading one for the other. ”

    as in” I really love you sister, but it is my christian duty to point out that you are fat and overweight and you need to do something about your gluttony”.

    1) It´s the truth 2) obvious sin (you saw here devouring multiple jelly donuts during bible study), 3) it might not be given to you to tell her that truth. Why not: You a) don´t know her at all b) you want her to return to bible study c) you are not making a choice between love and truth telling d) you said you would be “loving”. love is in our actions. What would that look like Matt? What is it you would be doing to sense-ibly make her judge that what she was getting from you was love? And she would be your judge in both these cases. Right?

    You seem to present a false alternative–proclaim either the law or the Gospel. Why not both?

    No. I am not. Both of us have been talking pure Law here. No Gospel anywhere. Where is it in what you or I wrote? Not there. Our difference is as to what the Lutheran Confessions call the “natural law” Matt and what it does to all of us.

    The natural law, reason driven by that Law God has revealed within it by writing upon it, does us.

    We don´t do it.

    Saint Paul says the effect of Reason as Law is in the form of a heart full of rebellion.

    This is true whether you point it out or not. To me this play is diagnostic proof that that Law is, in fact, at work in who wrote it.

    And if I do point out the truth of the Law, the heart will and must agree with it. There is no “new news” in what you propose to offer the woman.

    Fact: God has revealed his Law in the minds of all men. That Law is inescapable. It always accuses. It cannot be erased by self justification, reinterpretation, or by calling sin what it is not.

    The Law even cannot be erased by imagining that goodness and conformity to the Law is the opposite of sin. That belief would be moral sin in fact (ap art II,III,IV).

    So what has God not revealed that alone “new heart movements” that are faith alone in Christ alone can reveal? That Reason is blind or “veiled” to? 1) What I just wrote about sin and the Law in the immediately preceeding paragraph which is not something you would reveal to the playwright (ie where our difference really is as to the Natural Law revealed by God) , and 2) Christ as Propitiation.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    “So you agree despite posting the opposite previously. Interesting point of view, but I’ll run with it.”

    You think that what I posted in 25 is the contrary or opposite of what I posted previously. That tells me dear Matt that you missed my entire point.

    “I would try to be loving and honest rather than trading one for the other. ”

    as in” I really love you sister, but it is my christian duty to point out that you are fat and overweight and you need to do something about your gluttony”.

    1) It´s the truth 2) obvious sin (you saw here devouring multiple jelly donuts during bible study), 3) it might not be given to you to tell her that truth. Why not: You a) don´t know her at all b) you want her to return to bible study c) you are not making a choice between love and truth telling d) you said you would be “loving”. love is in our actions. What would that look like Matt? What is it you would be doing to sense-ibly make her judge that what she was getting from you was love? And she would be your judge in both these cases. Right?

    You seem to present a false alternative–proclaim either the law or the Gospel. Why not both?

    No. I am not. Both of us have been talking pure Law here. No Gospel anywhere. Where is it in what you or I wrote? Not there. Our difference is as to what the Lutheran Confessions call the “natural law” Matt and what it does to all of us.

    The natural law, reason driven by that Law God has revealed within it by writing upon it, does us.

    We don´t do it.

    Saint Paul says the effect of Reason as Law is in the form of a heart full of rebellion.

    This is true whether you point it out or not. To me this play is diagnostic proof that that Law is, in fact, at work in who wrote it.

    And if I do point out the truth of the Law, the heart will and must agree with it. There is no “new news” in what you propose to offer the woman.

    Fact: God has revealed his Law in the minds of all men. That Law is inescapable. It always accuses. It cannot be erased by self justification, reinterpretation, or by calling sin what it is not.

    The Law even cannot be erased by imagining that goodness and conformity to the Law is the opposite of sin. That belief would be moral sin in fact (ap art II,III,IV).

    So what has God not revealed that alone “new heart movements” that are faith alone in Christ alone can reveal? That Reason is blind or “veiled” to? 1) What I just wrote about sin and the Law in the immediately preceeding paragraph which is not something you would reveal to the playwright (ie where our difference really is as to the Natural Law revealed by God) , and 2) Christ as Propitiation.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    “Even routine tasks still need to be carried out.’

    And that is our difference dear Matt.

    Those tasks will be carried out. We really have no say at all in that matter. Fatherly first, second and third article Goodness and Mercy will be done by the Holy Spirit extorting this Goodness and Mercy out of the Old Adams of all men whether we are with that program or not Matt.

    This happens by the Law literally extorting that Goodness and Mercy out of us. God does not need you to make this happen Matt is what that means.

    So why should you then study Ethics and the Law of God and encourage others to do so as you chosen Vocation and offering of Goodness and Mercy? For this reason:

    If we refuse to do Goodness and Mercy to others willingly and freely, God will still make us do that Goodness and Mercy. But in that case we must fear God, for he will send pestilence, punishement , judgement and suffering our way until we do what the Law demands of us. Then we will learn to keep the Law.

    But we will still perish without movements in our hearts that are alone of faith in Christ.

    And there is NO Christ at all in anything we are talking about thus far. This conversation between us is entirely about the Law Matt.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    “Even routine tasks still need to be carried out.’

    And that is our difference dear Matt.

    Those tasks will be carried out. We really have no say at all in that matter. Fatherly first, second and third article Goodness and Mercy will be done by the Holy Spirit extorting this Goodness and Mercy out of the Old Adams of all men whether we are with that program or not Matt.

    This happens by the Law literally extorting that Goodness and Mercy out of us. God does not need you to make this happen Matt is what that means.

    So why should you then study Ethics and the Law of God and encourage others to do so as you chosen Vocation and offering of Goodness and Mercy? For this reason:

    If we refuse to do Goodness and Mercy to others willingly and freely, God will still make us do that Goodness and Mercy. But in that case we must fear God, for he will send pestilence, punishement , judgement and suffering our way until we do what the Law demands of us. Then we will learn to keep the Law.

    But we will still perish without movements in our hearts that are alone of faith in Christ.

    And there is NO Christ at all in anything we are talking about thus far. This conversation between us is entirely about the Law Matt.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    Try this:

    The playwright´s problem is not that she is trying to turn Jesus into an antinomian Jesus that is Love-means-no-Law-or-Judgement.

    I am seeing the exact opposite. She is turning Jesus into Moses.

    Jesus comes to us in two ways. He comes to us as Example (a new moses) and he comes to us as Savior (our Propitiation).

    We don´t need Jesus as example, God has already revealed that Jesus in our Reason.

    We desperately need Jesus as our Savior. There is no other Name under heaven by which we can escape the wrath of the Law that our Reason testifies to.

    The playwright needs to be terrified of her sins Matt.

    She doesnt merely need instructions on her behavior or even her understanding of the Bible. And no, I am not saying those two things are unnecessary or trivial. But I am saying this and I hope you are able to hear it for what it says:

    Only the Holy Gospel will enable the Law to terrify her with a real and unveiled knowledge of the Law of God in her heart and not just her reason. That same Gospel will also alone comfort her in that perfect keeping that is found alone in faith alone in Christ alone.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    matt @ 27

    Try this:

    The playwright´s problem is not that she is trying to turn Jesus into an antinomian Jesus that is Love-means-no-Law-or-Judgement.

    I am seeing the exact opposite. She is turning Jesus into Moses.

    Jesus comes to us in two ways. He comes to us as Example (a new moses) and he comes to us as Savior (our Propitiation).

    We don´t need Jesus as example, God has already revealed that Jesus in our Reason.

    We desperately need Jesus as our Savior. There is no other Name under heaven by which we can escape the wrath of the Law that our Reason testifies to.

    The playwright needs to be terrified of her sins Matt.

    She doesnt merely need instructions on her behavior or even her understanding of the Bible. And no, I am not saying those two things are unnecessary or trivial. But I am saying this and I hope you are able to hear it for what it says:

    Only the Holy Gospel will enable the Law to terrify her with a real and unveiled knowledge of the Law of God in her heart and not just her reason. That same Gospel will also alone comfort her in that perfect keeping that is found alone in faith alone in Christ alone.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Matt @ 27

    Matt, as you know, ome propose this idea of the Law:

    1) The Law of God is a Law written , by nature, in the hearts of all men that is a shattered remnant of the revelation of the very Image of God which is his Eternal Will. Because of sin, fallen man simply cannot know this Law of God without bending it towards evil. The Law written in man´s heart is a fallen version of the Law of God then. The Law of God , written in Adam´s heart, fell with Adam´s fall.

    This fallen version of “God´s Law” therefore becomes one of love-as-self-indulgence, or a capitulation of Reason, as the seat of this form of God-revealed Law, to the emotions and so to man´s baser and natural appetites in a way that does not separate men from beast. This fallen version proposes an “antinomian” (latinate for “law-less”) version of the Law that is about love driven by emotion and ‘natural’ appetites (ie hunger, sex, maslow´s lower needs, etc etc) unchained from any reason or self-restraint.

    2) Because of this corruption of “natural law”, man is robbed of the dignity of being truly human that comes from conforming to God´s original design for mankind (aristotle´s “telos”), which is alone and only revealed , in it´s fullness, in the inerrant Word of God.

    3) Mankind therefore must return to and acknowledge the Holy Scriptures to have their fallen Reason instructed.

    So the routine task of every christian then is this : We are to reaffirm that same Law, re-revealed in the written Scriptures.

    4) The Law of God is lost to fallen man, therefore the Church must, of necessity, not only affirm what is already known to pagans. Of necessity the Church, in order to preach the Holy Gospel must do far more: it must urgently, in fact, reveal a Law of God that cannot be known by pagans apart from the revealed Word of God found in Holy Scriptures.

    I am proposing that our Lutheran Confessions explicitly and categorically oppose this view of the Law. So what alternative do they propose?

    1) When they speak of the Law of God, they mean that Law that is written and divinely revealed in the minds of fallen man. The Law is not found in the heart of fallen man. Only faith is found in the fallen heart.

    2) That Law of Reason is the same Law found in the Decalog and so agrees with the Decalog. And so when Reason turns to the Holy Scriptures, it will , according to “natural law” turn the Gospel into Law. Faith will become about something we can do, reason, and believe. And so that Law will agree with our fallen heart that is full of faith in such Law. And this Law IS the Law of God. So belief in an inerrant Scripture and the Law it declares is good, right and salutary, and is , in fact, necessary for life on earth. It is also Mortal Sin.

    But NO faith in Christ is necessary for any of this kind of faith and love. For this kind of faith and love, nothing more can be demanded than exactly what Aristotle discovered by Reason apart from Holy Scriptures and the Church. True Aristotle did not believe in an inerrant Holy Scriptures, but this is too something that Reason alone can know and affirm. No faith in Christ or new movements in the heart are necessary for this. (Ap II, III, IV, XVIII; FC VI)

    3) But then there is the Law of God that cannot be known by “natural law”. This Law of God deals with movements of the heart. This Law of God is uniquely found only in the First Table of the Decalog which can only be found in Holy Scriptures.

    “Natural Law is blind to this Law of God. It is “veiled ” with the opinion of Reason that the Law of God is kept by an outward obedience to a list of do´s and don´t that are done with a right heart as in “an attitude of gratitude” or “done without thought of earthly or eternal reward”. “outward” in the Confessions describes all we can do.

    Please note especially that that word “outward” in the Confessions especially includes faith and will and what we can do spiritually as well. .

    So mankind does not need the Church to inform it of this Law of God. Reason can both fully know and do this Law of God.

    4) So it is urgently necessary for the Church to teach the world this Law of God, uniquely found only in Holy Scriptures, and only in the 1st Table of the Decalog that deals with invisible movements of the Heart and not with just the “outward” keeping of the Law of God that fallen Reason can fully know and do according to the second table of the Law found not only in the Decalog, city ordinances, fed tax codes, a baby demanding a diaper change, and a cabinet demanding to be made square by a cabinet maker.

    So how is this unique 1st table Law revealed by the Church?

    We follow Christ´s example in the Sermon on the Mount and everywhere he teaches the Law to those seeking to be justified by that Law. This is the “work” of the Law that St Paul says is written in the heart. It is that work that drives the heart to seek it´s justification where? By escape from the Law? No. By seeking justification precisely in the Law of God found in Reason.

    We point out that no one will go to heaven or hell by what they do, believe, will, or trust in. Man will only find that keeping of the Law that God demands in the works of Christ and the Holy Spirit that are found only in new movements of the heart and not in what we are able to believe or whip into some emotional state or do.

    The Playwright here is oddly attempting to do this by just creating some fantasy about the Giver of the Law ignoring his own Law. It is still to seek justification by the Law. It is a manifestation of the work of the Law in the heart of the Playwright, at once accusing and seeking to self-justify. It is the war and argument waged in all fallen men between the Law of Reason and the fallen emotions and “natural appetites” of the heart. It is what consumes all Old Adams till it completely devours them in death and Death.

    So we point out that the Christ she is depicting will not save here. Not even an adjusted version of that Christ that sees the Law correctly can save her. We could fully logic her into believing in that Christ, fully apart from the Word of God and saving faith.

    The woman needs the Law to terrify her. Her learning to conform to the Law in faith and actions would condemn her to Mortal Sin and eternal damnation. She needs Christ. Only then will she be terrified by the Law, accept it´s judgement of her without fleeing from that judgement, fear God, turn to him for all her needs, accept suffering when it comes to her.

    Only then can God become an object of Love. A Jesus who judges her and accuses her can never be an Object of Love. The playwright must first have the Holy Spirit plant new heart movements.

    Only the Holy Gospel has the power to do this Matt.

    This is nothing that is routine task.

    It is a miracle.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Matt @ 27

    Matt, as you know, ome propose this idea of the Law:

    1) The Law of God is a Law written , by nature, in the hearts of all men that is a shattered remnant of the revelation of the very Image of God which is his Eternal Will. Because of sin, fallen man simply cannot know this Law of God without bending it towards evil. The Law written in man´s heart is a fallen version of the Law of God then. The Law of God , written in Adam´s heart, fell with Adam´s fall.

    This fallen version of “God´s Law” therefore becomes one of love-as-self-indulgence, or a capitulation of Reason, as the seat of this form of God-revealed Law, to the emotions and so to man´s baser and natural appetites in a way that does not separate men from beast. This fallen version proposes an “antinomian” (latinate for “law-less”) version of the Law that is about love driven by emotion and ‘natural’ appetites (ie hunger, sex, maslow´s lower needs, etc etc) unchained from any reason or self-restraint.

    2) Because of this corruption of “natural law”, man is robbed of the dignity of being truly human that comes from conforming to God´s original design for mankind (aristotle´s “telos”), which is alone and only revealed , in it´s fullness, in the inerrant Word of God.

    3) Mankind therefore must return to and acknowledge the Holy Scriptures to have their fallen Reason instructed.

    So the routine task of every christian then is this : We are to reaffirm that same Law, re-revealed in the written Scriptures.

    4) The Law of God is lost to fallen man, therefore the Church must, of necessity, not only affirm what is already known to pagans. Of necessity the Church, in order to preach the Holy Gospel must do far more: it must urgently, in fact, reveal a Law of God that cannot be known by pagans apart from the revealed Word of God found in Holy Scriptures.

    I am proposing that our Lutheran Confessions explicitly and categorically oppose this view of the Law. So what alternative do they propose?

    1) When they speak of the Law of God, they mean that Law that is written and divinely revealed in the minds of fallen man. The Law is not found in the heart of fallen man. Only faith is found in the fallen heart.

    2) That Law of Reason is the same Law found in the Decalog and so agrees with the Decalog. And so when Reason turns to the Holy Scriptures, it will , according to “natural law” turn the Gospel into Law. Faith will become about something we can do, reason, and believe. And so that Law will agree with our fallen heart that is full of faith in such Law. And this Law IS the Law of God. So belief in an inerrant Scripture and the Law it declares is good, right and salutary, and is , in fact, necessary for life on earth. It is also Mortal Sin.

    But NO faith in Christ is necessary for any of this kind of faith and love. For this kind of faith and love, nothing more can be demanded than exactly what Aristotle discovered by Reason apart from Holy Scriptures and the Church. True Aristotle did not believe in an inerrant Holy Scriptures, but this is too something that Reason alone can know and affirm. No faith in Christ or new movements in the heart are necessary for this. (Ap II, III, IV, XVIII; FC VI)

    3) But then there is the Law of God that cannot be known by “natural law”. This Law of God deals with movements of the heart. This Law of God is uniquely found only in the First Table of the Decalog which can only be found in Holy Scriptures.

    “Natural Law is blind to this Law of God. It is “veiled ” with the opinion of Reason that the Law of God is kept by an outward obedience to a list of do´s and don´t that are done with a right heart as in “an attitude of gratitude” or “done without thought of earthly or eternal reward”. “outward” in the Confessions describes all we can do.

    Please note especially that that word “outward” in the Confessions especially includes faith and will and what we can do spiritually as well. .

    So mankind does not need the Church to inform it of this Law of God. Reason can both fully know and do this Law of God.

    4) So it is urgently necessary for the Church to teach the world this Law of God, uniquely found only in Holy Scriptures, and only in the 1st Table of the Decalog that deals with invisible movements of the Heart and not with just the “outward” keeping of the Law of God that fallen Reason can fully know and do according to the second table of the Law found not only in the Decalog, city ordinances, fed tax codes, a baby demanding a diaper change, and a cabinet demanding to be made square by a cabinet maker.

    So how is this unique 1st table Law revealed by the Church?

    We follow Christ´s example in the Sermon on the Mount and everywhere he teaches the Law to those seeking to be justified by that Law. This is the “work” of the Law that St Paul says is written in the heart. It is that work that drives the heart to seek it´s justification where? By escape from the Law? No. By seeking justification precisely in the Law of God found in Reason.

    We point out that no one will go to heaven or hell by what they do, believe, will, or trust in. Man will only find that keeping of the Law that God demands in the works of Christ and the Holy Spirit that are found only in new movements of the heart and not in what we are able to believe or whip into some emotional state or do.

    The Playwright here is oddly attempting to do this by just creating some fantasy about the Giver of the Law ignoring his own Law. It is still to seek justification by the Law. It is a manifestation of the work of the Law in the heart of the Playwright, at once accusing and seeking to self-justify. It is the war and argument waged in all fallen men between the Law of Reason and the fallen emotions and “natural appetites” of the heart. It is what consumes all Old Adams till it completely devours them in death and Death.

    So we point out that the Christ she is depicting will not save here. Not even an adjusted version of that Christ that sees the Law correctly can save her. We could fully logic her into believing in that Christ, fully apart from the Word of God and saving faith.

    The woman needs the Law to terrify her. Her learning to conform to the Law in faith and actions would condemn her to Mortal Sin and eternal damnation. She needs Christ. Only then will she be terrified by the Law, accept it´s judgement of her without fleeing from that judgement, fear God, turn to him for all her needs, accept suffering when it comes to her.

    Only then can God become an object of Love. A Jesus who judges her and accuses her can never be an Object of Love. The playwright must first have the Holy Spirit plant new heart movements.

    Only the Holy Gospel has the power to do this Matt.

    This is nothing that is routine task.

    It is a miracle.

  • http://upphouse.com Mark

    What if we made our own play? Let’s pretend it goes like this: “And the Sadducees asked Jesus if it were lawful for someone to have an abortion. [alteration mine of the text] Jesus replies, ‘For the hardness of your hearts abortion was given to you. But from the beginning it was not so. For Man and Woman shall be united and the twain shall become one flesh.’” Any thoughts?

    I got into a conversation concerning abortion on a blog site and really offended many, including one Christian whom I have known for a long time. I believe she was at base defending abortion but she claims not to be. Many are hacked off at me because I claimed she could hardly be Christian if she defends places like Planned Parenthood. I want to reconcile but am not sure of what to do… to say one thing might be to give on a position. However, something about it is just eating me up. Maybe I am just a loose tongue with worthless religion. (James) Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • http://upphouse.com Mark

    What if we made our own play? Let’s pretend it goes like this: “And the Sadducees asked Jesus if it were lawful for someone to have an abortion. [alteration mine of the text] Jesus replies, ‘For the hardness of your hearts abortion was given to you. But from the beginning it was not so. For Man and Woman shall be united and the twain shall become one flesh.’” Any thoughts?

    I got into a conversation concerning abortion on a blog site and really offended many, including one Christian whom I have known for a long time. I believe she was at base defending abortion but she claims not to be. Many are hacked off at me because I claimed she could hardly be Christian if she defends places like Planned Parenthood. I want to reconcile but am not sure of what to do… to say one thing might be to give on a position. However, something about it is just eating me up. Maybe I am just a loose tongue with worthless religion. (James) Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Mark @ 32

    Rather today Mark the saducees would point out that 1) abortion is legal/lawful 2) the basis for this Law is that the constitution is understood to read that a woman has complete sovreignty over what happens in her body , even over another person inside of her body. This is what “consistent ” is based upon in the fact that a woman can kill her own baby inside of here, yet she cannot commit infanticide nor can others kill that same baby.

    Jesus, in response, might very well respond that God has allowed this same identical situation to exist both now and in biblical times.

    In biblical times it was the male head of house who had this complete life-and-death sovreignty over all in his household. This is really the same thing isn´t it? And according to that sovreignty, women, children and slaves were identically chattel. Rape was about taking someone else´s property. It had nothing to do with the volition of the female. And if you raped a single gal, you were to marry her and move her in with your wife. Ditto for the wife of your dead brother. You were to marry her and have sex with her along with your existing wife. God allowed that. In the last case, he demanded that it be done. Polygamy and divorce were sanctioned and legal in God´s Theocracy of Israel. Perhaps in the early church polygamy was allowed with the exception of bishops.

    Further the Law in God´s Theocracy was based on retribution. Take someone´s eye, life, or animal and you must repay, in kind with your own. God put in place Laws that exactly were opposed to the spirit that is the “sum” or “totality” or “purpose” of the Law which looks instead like turning the other cheek, giving someone the rest of your wardrobe if he demands your coat.

    None of the things that God allowed and even declared to be legal were pleasing to God or his original intent.

    The Sermon on the Mount in fact can be seen as a total repudiation of this do-it-by-the-numbers, go-through-the-outward-motions, appeal to the written Word of God to self justify sort of morality.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Mark @ 32

    Rather today Mark the saducees would point out that 1) abortion is legal/lawful 2) the basis for this Law is that the constitution is understood to read that a woman has complete sovreignty over what happens in her body , even over another person inside of her body. This is what “consistent ” is based upon in the fact that a woman can kill her own baby inside of here, yet she cannot commit infanticide nor can others kill that same baby.

    Jesus, in response, might very well respond that God has allowed this same identical situation to exist both now and in biblical times.

    In biblical times it was the male head of house who had this complete life-and-death sovreignty over all in his household. This is really the same thing isn´t it? And according to that sovreignty, women, children and slaves were identically chattel. Rape was about taking someone else´s property. It had nothing to do with the volition of the female. And if you raped a single gal, you were to marry her and move her in with your wife. Ditto for the wife of your dead brother. You were to marry her and have sex with her along with your existing wife. God allowed that. In the last case, he demanded that it be done. Polygamy and divorce were sanctioned and legal in God´s Theocracy of Israel. Perhaps in the early church polygamy was allowed with the exception of bishops.

    Further the Law in God´s Theocracy was based on retribution. Take someone´s eye, life, or animal and you must repay, in kind with your own. God put in place Laws that exactly were opposed to the spirit that is the “sum” or “totality” or “purpose” of the Law which looks instead like turning the other cheek, giving someone the rest of your wardrobe if he demands your coat.

    None of the things that God allowed and even declared to be legal were pleasing to God or his original intent.

    The Sermon on the Mount in fact can be seen as a total repudiation of this do-it-by-the-numbers, go-through-the-outward-motions, appeal to the written Word of God to self justify sort of morality.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Mark @ 32

    I hope you get my point which is this:

    We cannot determine if an action is moral and God pleasing by checking the list of do´s and don´t in the Holy Scriptures, doing exactly what they say, and then justify our actions because God in the Bible allows or even commands that we do something. We still must repent of the fact that we do not do anything out of love with our whole heart as God demands it. Instead we imagine that God´s Law looks like the Law we would find in a court of law. God demands our all, our very heart and soul. We must confess that we resent God for that very reason. The Law always accuses us. It demands and gives nothing in return.

    God commanded that a man have sex with the wife of his dead brother. The penalty for the rape of a single woman was to marry her. God enshrined laws that treat women and children as chattel. While it would not be illegal, scripturally, for our government today to reinstitute these Laws, they would not be truly moral Laws. The would be mortal sin.

    Baptism is commanded by God. But to do that good work and rely upon the outward act, separated from the Promise in it, for salvation would be mortal sin.

    To keep the 10 commandments and the entire Law and rely on it to propitiate God is mortal sin. This is true even though God indeeds commands that we do exactly that in Holy Scripture. This command includes that we have faith in God, that we have right and intense emotions in response to God and his word which are to Love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as our selves. It is mortal sin to do these things trusting in them as a propitiation to God.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    Mark @ 32

    I hope you get my point which is this:

    We cannot determine if an action is moral and God pleasing by checking the list of do´s and don´t in the Holy Scriptures, doing exactly what they say, and then justify our actions because God in the Bible allows or even commands that we do something. We still must repent of the fact that we do not do anything out of love with our whole heart as God demands it. Instead we imagine that God´s Law looks like the Law we would find in a court of law. God demands our all, our very heart and soul. We must confess that we resent God for that very reason. The Law always accuses us. It demands and gives nothing in return.

    God commanded that a man have sex with the wife of his dead brother. The penalty for the rape of a single woman was to marry her. God enshrined laws that treat women and children as chattel. While it would not be illegal, scripturally, for our government today to reinstitute these Laws, they would not be truly moral Laws. The would be mortal sin.

    Baptism is commanded by God. But to do that good work and rely upon the outward act, separated from the Promise in it, for salvation would be mortal sin.

    To keep the 10 commandments and the entire Law and rely on it to propitiate God is mortal sin. This is true even though God indeeds commands that we do exactly that in Holy Scripture. This command includes that we have faith in God, that we have right and intense emotions in response to God and his word which are to Love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as our selves. It is mortal sin to do these things trusting in them as a propitiation to God.