An interview about “Family Vocation”

Christianity Today interviewed Mary and me about our new book:

For Gene Edward Veith Jr., provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College, Martin Luther’s doctrine of vocation undergirds a truly Christian theology of the family. Vocation, as he describes it, is “the way God works through human beings.” In his latest book, Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood (Crossway), Veith looks to Luther’s ideals of loving and serving our neighbor, and to his view of the family as a “holy order” unto itself. Coauthored with daughter Mary J. Moerbe, a deaconess in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the book applies Luther’s understanding to the various family vocations (marriage, parenthood, and childhood) and the “offices” within those vocations (husband, wife, father, mother, and child). Author and Her.meneutics blog contributor Caryn Rivadeneira spoke with father and daughter about Luther’s vision of family life.

Did writing this book together help you learn anything about your own family?

Veith: As I look back, I can see how God has been working through our family; how he brought Mary into her callings as wife and mother and everything else she does. Of course, that’s the part of vocation that is often forgotten: that God works through our vocations. God is present and active, and he works through fallen, weak, mistake-prone human beings to accomplish his purposes. It’s illuminating to see how even ordinary family life is really God’s working through us.

In terms of everyday life within the individual family offices, is there freedom to re-interpret or step outside of one’s roles?

Veith: We do say that there are roles within family. There is authority in family. But at the same time, Christian books tend to reduce things to, “Who has to obey whom?” It reduces roles to power relations, whereas the Scriptures and the doctrine of vocation teach that the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve your neighbor.

When we forget the mystery of how God works in vocation—that it’s about loving and serving—we end up with a legalistic set of rules. That’s what happens when the gospel is drained out of our view of vocation.

Moerbe: There’s also a tendency to oversimplify our understanding of vocation by prioritizing vocations. Yes, motherhood is great, and frankly, motherhood takes so much time that it’s often difficult to be active in a lot of other vocations. However, when I think about God being the source of vocations, he is Father, he is Son, and he is King. Do we say that God the Father is more important than God the King? No, he relates to us in different ways.

Veith: These differences make each vocation personal and unique. No two people have the same callings because no two people have the same neighbors, the same gifts, or the same tasks and opportunities.

You suggest that the proper and unique work of marriage is sexual intercourse. Can you explain?

Veith: Every vocation has its unique work, its defining work. Sex inside of marriage is sex according to God’s design, and thus sex becomes a good work within marriage.

Many of us are Victorian and prudish. It’s very uncomfortable to write about sex, but it’s so important. What the Bible says about sex inside of marriage is quite remarkable. It says we’re one flesh. There’s a mutuality: The husband doesn’t have control over his own body, but his wife does. And the wife doesn’t have control over her own body, but her husband does. Just the fact that the wife has control over the husband’s body was very radical in the ancient world. There is mutuality.

Indeed, the Bible says that sex is what creates marriage. The reason you’re not supposed to have sex with someone you’re not married to is because you’re not called to. You don’t have an authorization—it’s not part of your vocation—to have sex with someone you’re not married to, so it’s sinful.

Moerbe: Sex also reminds us that marriage is a vocation unlike other vocations. In marriage, you serve one neighbor. In parenthood, you might have more than one kid. If you work outside the home, there will be plenty of customers and plenty of co-workers. But marriage is unique in that it is one-on-one.

What do readers need to grasp about how the doctrine of vocation applies to family?

Moerbe: The message is simple: Love and serve your neighbor. Love and serve your family, not because of who is in your family, but because God is in your family. Christ is hidden behind our neighbors, and Christ is present with us in our neighbors.

UPDATE:  This was an hour-long conversation from which the reporter excerpted a few lines, often leaving out the context.  We do a lot with the concept of “one flesh,” which is intrinsic to marriage and parenthood in the family,and which Scripture discusses in term of sex.  We’re not saying that if someone has a sex with a prostitute then he is married to her, and we go on to say that one flesh unions can be broken.  One of the contributions of our book is to show why sex outside of marriage is wrong, beyond just breaking arbitrary rules.  We do consider the orders of creation, the fall, and the distinction between law and gospel.  And we do indeed say that marriage and family and everything we say about these callings are for non-Christians as well!

via Family as Calling: Finding Vocation In and Near the Home | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.

About Gene Veith

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

  • Joe

    Great interview! Looking forward to reading the book.

  • Joe

    Great interview! Looking forward to reading the book.

  • Rose

    John Temple Bristow explains the vocation of a wife in “What Paul Really Said About Women”. The Greek word Paul used for ‘be subject to’ is hupotasso (hoop-o-TASS-o) . Addressing wives, he used the ‘middle voice’ of hupotasso, indicating a voluntary action.
    Hypotassomai in this context means ‘give allegiance to’, ‘tend to the needs of’, ‘be supportive of’ or ‘be responsive to.’ Bristow’s book is a life changer.

  • Rose

    John Temple Bristow explains the vocation of a wife in “What Paul Really Said About Women”. The Greek word Paul used for ‘be subject to’ is hupotasso (hoop-o-TASS-o) . Addressing wives, he used the ‘middle voice’ of hupotasso, indicating a voluntary action.
    Hypotassomai in this context means ‘give allegiance to’, ‘tend to the needs of’, ‘be supportive of’ or ‘be responsive to.’ Bristow’s book is a life changer.

  • Rose

    Also, the Greek word Paul used for ‘head’ in writing that the husband is head of the wife is kephale (kef-ah-LAY). Paul did not use arche which would denote ruler. Kephale was the one who went before the troops, the leader in the sense of being in the lead, the first one into battle.
    Does anyone know the origin of the use of ‘obey’ in marriage vows?

  • Rose

    Also, the Greek word Paul used for ‘head’ in writing that the husband is head of the wife is kephale (kef-ah-LAY). Paul did not use arche which would denote ruler. Kephale was the one who went before the troops, the leader in the sense of being in the lead, the first one into battle.
    Does anyone know the origin of the use of ‘obey’ in marriage vows?

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Dr. Veith,
    I’ve just begun reading Vocation. The approach, though Biblical and historic, feels novel in today’s context, novel and needed. I would like to conduct a Bible class based on the book. Are there any plans to bring out supplemental material for a class?

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    Dr. Veith,
    I’ve just begun reading Vocation. The approach, though Biblical and historic, feels novel in today’s context, novel and needed. I would like to conduct a Bible class based on the book. Are there any plans to bring out supplemental material for a class?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Good question, Pastor Spomer, something the Cranach Institute board has been wondering about. Your request is duly registered and we might make that happen.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Good question, Pastor Spomer, something the Cranach Institute board has been wondering about. Your request is duly registered and we might make that happen.

  • fws

    Veith: …the part of vocation that is often forgotten: that God works through our vocations. God is present and active, and he works through fallen, weak, mistake-prone human beings to accomplish his purposes. It’s illuminating to see how even ordinary family life is really God’s working through us.

    Frank: This is incomplete in a really critical way dr veith!

    It is important to see here how God is working through us. He is working through our Old Adam here in ALL we can see and do by killing our Old Adam and extorting First Article Goodness and Mercy by extorting it out of our Old Adam with the Law. The Law always kills. The Law always accuses. The fruit of that is creaturely transitory life enhancement for our neighbor that is the fruit of this “deathing”.

    This is made clear by the Lutheran teaching of the Two Kingdoms that is exactly and only a casuistic version of the Distinction of Law and Gospel that the Lutheran Confessions say is THE key to properly understanding Holy Scripture precisely because only thussly can we allow Christ and his Work it’s proper place and honor.

    And Two Kingdoms states that God indeed is the Author of all goodness and mercy even in the works of Old Adam who is blessed and a blessing from God even though he is 1) “unworthy (ie: condemned) “, “indeed without prayer (ie faith)” and ” even all wicked (ie actively seeks to subvert God’s will for goodness and mercy to be done). A good picture for how God works this is found in the story of the Antinomian Judge nagged by a conscience dead to love. Luther and the Confessions call this the Earthly Kingdom of Law, or Man’s Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Old Adam. This kingdom FULLY includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies.

    Everything, therefore, about Vocation, falls into the category of this kingdom. Which is about the Law totally. Which therefore is about extorting goodness and mercy from recalcitrant asses called Old Adam. Which is about the death of one Old Adam for the creaturely transitory goodness and mercy being served to another Old Adam.

    Vocation is useful to avoid punishment and enjoy life but it all ends with life on earth. The eternal consequences of all vocation, even that of pastor or other churchly vocations is alone….. death! There is NO Life in any of this. That would be to confuse the thing itself with the fruit of that thing. Death of my old adam bears , God willing, the fruit of Goodness and mercy for others. Death for its own sake, ie virtue as its own reward, is absolutely useless. it is idolatry. it is a narcism of death itself.

    Accordingly Luther says : “Life is mortification”. Mortification is latinate for deathing.

    Also the Small Catechism on Holy Baptism says that this deathing, this contrition (latinate for ‘grinding down’) and repentence is what Baptism ‘signifies” not what it does. There is no Life in any of this. There is only our death that is mercifully held in that One Death that was the Death of Death because Life itself died.

    Then there is that other second kingdom. God rules in this kingdom ALONE by invisible faith in the Works of Another. there is nothing to do here! There is no vocation necessary. Goodness and mercy simply happens as “light from sun” “automatically” “spontaneously” “as the angels do God’s bidding” (cf formula of concord “third use of the Law).

    The important thing to note that in this kingdom, nothing can be included that is about vocation , that is, anything and everything we can see and do in our bodies. That would be impossible. why? Those things are already fully included in that other Kingdom.

    And this point is precisely where that casuistic distinction of Law and Gospel called the two kingdoms has it’s clarifying value!

    The earthly Kingdom is where God makes his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy happen by extorting it out of Old Adam by the sweet desirable carrot and the punishing stick of the Law.

    It is very important to include anything at all about Vocation in this Earthly Law kingdom therefore. To ascribe anything that is about vocation to the heavenly kingdom that alone is about eternal consequences that are other than death, would be to rob Christ and his Work of it’s proper place. it would be not to allow his work alone to be how we approach God. It would be instead to confuse the fruit of Goodness and Mercy with that Mercy alone that comes through the Death of another and not our death or sanctified good works.

    INTERVIEWER: In terms of everyday life within the individual family offices, is there freedom to re-interpret or step outside of one’s roles?

    Veith: We do say that there are roles within family. There is authority in family. But at the same time, Christian books tend to reduce things to, “Who has to obey whom?” It reduces roles to power relations, whereas the Scriptures and the doctrine of vocation teach that the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve your neighbor.

    When we forget the mystery of how God works in vocation—that it’s about loving and serving—we end up with a legalistic set of rules. That’s what happens when the gospel is drained out of our view of vocation.

    FRANK: In the earthly Kingdom, God works in Vocation precisely through the Law extorting Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam to his deathing. So this thinking is wrong. Without lots of rules Old Adam looks like hell itself.

    God works sacrifice through the Law. This is what the Law demands with its constantly accusing. Sacrifice is always where something or someone must die. This is not about loving and serving. it is about the extortion that the Law ALWAYS and ONLY works. Mortification is The-Law-in-action. Note that sinful Old Adam knows this human sacrifice is necessary, and the mayans made sure that it was someone else being sacrificed. We do the same dont we?

    But note then that God says that he desires the death of no man. Also note that Jesus says , accordingly, that God desires Mercy and not sacrifice. So this seems to be a contradiction right?

    Enter the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms! here is how Two Kingdoms resolves this seeming contradiction:

    God’s unitary Eternal Will is for Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to be done among mankind. In the Earthly Kingdom, unfortunately, this Goodness and Mercy can only be produced out of Old Adam by the sacrifice that the Law works! It must be forced out of Old Adam.

    But the God desired fruit of that mortification that is the Law-in-action is not death.

    Why?

    That would be useless to our neighbor! It would be to follow ome rule or Law merely because God says so and therefore to attempt to keep our moral ledger with God right by DOING something. And it would be done to try to appease or please God. Old Adam religion is all about that (rom 2:15).

    That would look like demanding celebacy of someone , or doing pilgrimages or self flagelation or virtue purely for its own sake in order to balance the moral ledger with the Almighty.

    The Lutheran Confessions, Jesus and the Prophets and the Apostles have a name for this exercise in death and sacrificial doing.

    Idolatry.

    the desired fruit of ALL mortification is not mortification for its own sake. It is for Goodness and Mercy to be done. Which is exactly the production of first and even second and third article gifts of God. These gifts all come to us through means! And those means are old Adams being driven and killed in order for goodness and mercy to be done to other old adams.

    this is what the Confessions mean when they say that “God always works through means”. this is not about the elements in the sacraments. It is about way more.

    And so what about the Gospel? What is it? Sanctified working in our vocations? nope. never that. That is all about our death.

    The Gospel is alone about that Sacrifice of Death that restores Mercy in creation apart from the workings of the Law. That is alone trust in the Works of Another. In the middle of a life that is ALL Old Adam in ALL we can see and do that is ALL about our death, the Gospel tells us that our deathing is being worked out in that one Death that was the death of Life Itself that the darkness of death could not overcome. But those “legalistic sets of rules” must remain in order to kill our Old Adam. And the Gospel is drained when we imagine that the mercy and goodness worked out of US is somehow the same as that One Mercy that is alone, alone, alone worked by the Works of Another.

    Here is a point of confusion:

    mercy, by definition is always the opposite of what we deserve. it is undeserved. What we deserve is what the Law produces. That is justice. Justice can only happen with a sacrifice. Sacrifice demands a death. So mercy sounds and looks alot like “gospel”. but it is NOT that. Only that One Sacrifice that was the Death of Life itself is the Justice that frees us from the need of the Law to produce out of us Goodness and Mercy.

    But here on earth, any goodness and mercy done is totally the Law doing it’s deathly work. That Goodness and mercy that is new man in Christ is yet alone of faith and can alone be known, measured, seen, and proven by alone faith that is wholy invisible. ALL we can see and do is about our death.

    mercy, in all we can see and do is a Law word!

    INTERVIEWER You suggest that the proper and unique work of marriage is sexual intercourse. Can you explain?

    Veith: Every vocation has its unique work, its defining work. Sex inside of marriage is sex according to God’s design, and thus sex becomes a good work within marriage.

    FRANK: God said: “it is not good for man to be alone.
    THEREFORE [he made eve].” There is no work that defines marriage as to its essence anymore than there is a work that defines male or female such that one is not that if one does not do that work. The work is the fruit of that order of God. It is not the essence of the think itself.

    Let me put this another way:

    Marriage itself is not the Vocation. The work of a husband , wife, father, mother, son, or daughter is the vocation.

    In exactly the same way and sense, The Judiciary or Society is not a vocation. Being a judge , court clerk, barrister, etc are vocations within that “ordo” .

    and finally in exactly the same sense, The church is not a vocation. Being a pastor, communicant, etc, are vocations within that “ordo” or earthly Law Kingdom Government God has set in place.

    In the same manner Marriage/Family is not a vocation. It is the third “ordo” or earthly government God has set in place. And within that ordo are various vocations.

    See the difference here? it is an important distinction. This is why Lutherans do not call marriage a sacrament.

    Dr Veith is reading too many Roman Catholic books me thinks….

    VEITH Indeed, the Bible says that sex is what creates marriage.

    FRANK: No. The bible says that the result of sex between anyone , even between a man and a prostitute, is a one flesh union. Therefore it does not follow that one flesh union=marriage does it?

    VEITH The reason you’re not supposed to have sex with someone you’re not married to is because you’re not called to. You don’t have an authorization—it’s not part of your vocation—to have sex with someone you’re not married to, so [THEREFORE!] it’s sinful.

    FRANK: Nope. Something is sinful because a) we place our fear love and trust in that thing and look to it to receive Goodness and Mercy independent of God, and b) it hurts or harms our neighbor and does not provide Goodness and Mercy to our neighbor.

    Further Dr Veith, your conjecture is based on the idea that sin is breaking some codified rule in the Bible.

    God’s Law doesnt work that way!

    finally: the conjectures foundation is that one flesh union= sex= marriage, then in that case the conjecture is wrong.

    see what Luther says about how God’s Law works in his wonderful preface to his romans translation of 1545 that is cited by our Confessions as an amplification of what they say. Read it here:
    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html
    and here you can read what Luther says about the Law codified in the Old Testament nd New Testament and how it applies to us:
    http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/LutherMoses.htm

    One does not need a Bible to know how to be a moral person. The Confessions declare that what Aristotle says about ethics is all that can be demanded. it is sufficient.

    Moerbe: Sex also reminds us that marriage is a vocation unlike other vocations. In marriage, you serve one neighbor. In parenthood, you might have more than one kid. If you work outside the home, there will be plenty of customers and plenty of co-workers. But marriage is unique in that it is one-on-one.

    FRANK This is clearly in direct opposition to our Lutheran Confessions: cf the Small Catechism . The section titled “Table of Duties” subtitle “The Holy Orders”. there is nothing at all more holy or special about marriage than there is to being a plumber or cleaning toilets. yes Christ uses marriage as a metaphor. As he does vines, pig stomachs, and lots of other stuff.

    Marriage is not a sacrament. “Holy ” matrimony is no more or less holy than holy toilet cleaning. This is what the Lutheran Confessions insist upon. holiness is not about our doing. It is about our doing being hidden in the Works of Another.

    INTERVIEWER What do readers need to grasp about how the doctrine of vocation applies to family?

    Moerbe: The message is simple: Love and serve your neighbor. Love and serve your family, not because of who is in your family, but because God is in your family. Christ is hidden behind our neighbors, and Christ is present with us in our neighbors.

    frank: God is hidden , in with and under the works of our neighbor that result in Goodness and Mercy and justice that is a sacrifice that demands death being done. When Jesus say in the King James Bible “the Kingdom of God is within you” we know from the context that that must be wrong. Jesus is addressing the Pharisees. Better ” The Kingdom of God is right here right now in your midst. ” And the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms breaks down exactly what this mean both as to Law and to Gospel. For the Kingdom was there for the Pharisees in both a Law and a Gospel sense. And that Gospel sense was not about vocations or a doing at all. It was in the very Person and Works of Another.

    Those neighbors may or may not have Christ within them! And further, this is about first article LAW fruiting. it is not about Gospel fruit. Yes Christ said “whatever you have done for other you have done unto me”. This is not the same as what this person is saying .

    Further it is important to note this. Reformed do NOT believe this. Neither do roman catholics. But Lutherans do believe it because it is taught in scriptures and in our Confesssions:

    The fruit of Goodness and Mercy that is God’s Eternal Will is the SAME fruit that is produced by the Law and the Gospel! there is NO distinction to be made between fruit that is produced by the Law and that produced by the Gospel! cf formula of Concord “third use of the Law”.

  • fws

    Veith: …the part of vocation that is often forgotten: that God works through our vocations. God is present and active, and he works through fallen, weak, mistake-prone human beings to accomplish his purposes. It’s illuminating to see how even ordinary family life is really God’s working through us.

    Frank: This is incomplete in a really critical way dr veith!

    It is important to see here how God is working through us. He is working through our Old Adam here in ALL we can see and do by killing our Old Adam and extorting First Article Goodness and Mercy by extorting it out of our Old Adam with the Law. The Law always kills. The Law always accuses. The fruit of that is creaturely transitory life enhancement for our neighbor that is the fruit of this “deathing”.

    This is made clear by the Lutheran teaching of the Two Kingdoms that is exactly and only a casuistic version of the Distinction of Law and Gospel that the Lutheran Confessions say is THE key to properly understanding Holy Scripture precisely because only thussly can we allow Christ and his Work it’s proper place and honor.

    And Two Kingdoms states that God indeed is the Author of all goodness and mercy even in the works of Old Adam who is blessed and a blessing from God even though he is 1) “unworthy (ie: condemned) “, “indeed without prayer (ie faith)” and ” even all wicked (ie actively seeks to subvert God’s will for goodness and mercy to be done). A good picture for how God works this is found in the story of the Antinomian Judge nagged by a conscience dead to love. Luther and the Confessions call this the Earthly Kingdom of Law, or Man’s Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Old Adam. This kingdom FULLY includes ALL we can see and do in our bodies.

    Everything, therefore, about Vocation, falls into the category of this kingdom. Which is about the Law totally. Which therefore is about extorting goodness and mercy from recalcitrant asses called Old Adam. Which is about the death of one Old Adam for the creaturely transitory goodness and mercy being served to another Old Adam.

    Vocation is useful to avoid punishment and enjoy life but it all ends with life on earth. The eternal consequences of all vocation, even that of pastor or other churchly vocations is alone….. death! There is NO Life in any of this. That would be to confuse the thing itself with the fruit of that thing. Death of my old adam bears , God willing, the fruit of Goodness and mercy for others. Death for its own sake, ie virtue as its own reward, is absolutely useless. it is idolatry. it is a narcism of death itself.

    Accordingly Luther says : “Life is mortification”. Mortification is latinate for deathing.

    Also the Small Catechism on Holy Baptism says that this deathing, this contrition (latinate for ‘grinding down’) and repentence is what Baptism ‘signifies” not what it does. There is no Life in any of this. There is only our death that is mercifully held in that One Death that was the Death of Death because Life itself died.

    Then there is that other second kingdom. God rules in this kingdom ALONE by invisible faith in the Works of Another. there is nothing to do here! There is no vocation necessary. Goodness and mercy simply happens as “light from sun” “automatically” “spontaneously” “as the angels do God’s bidding” (cf formula of concord “third use of the Law).

    The important thing to note that in this kingdom, nothing can be included that is about vocation , that is, anything and everything we can see and do in our bodies. That would be impossible. why? Those things are already fully included in that other Kingdom.

    And this point is precisely where that casuistic distinction of Law and Gospel called the two kingdoms has it’s clarifying value!

    The earthly Kingdom is where God makes his Fatherly Goodness and Mercy happen by extorting it out of Old Adam by the sweet desirable carrot and the punishing stick of the Law.

    It is very important to include anything at all about Vocation in this Earthly Law kingdom therefore. To ascribe anything that is about vocation to the heavenly kingdom that alone is about eternal consequences that are other than death, would be to rob Christ and his Work of it’s proper place. it would be not to allow his work alone to be how we approach God. It would be instead to confuse the fruit of Goodness and Mercy with that Mercy alone that comes through the Death of another and not our death or sanctified good works.

    INTERVIEWER: In terms of everyday life within the individual family offices, is there freedom to re-interpret or step outside of one’s roles?

    Veith: We do say that there are roles within family. There is authority in family. But at the same time, Christian books tend to reduce things to, “Who has to obey whom?” It reduces roles to power relations, whereas the Scriptures and the doctrine of vocation teach that the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve your neighbor.

    When we forget the mystery of how God works in vocation—that it’s about loving and serving—we end up with a legalistic set of rules. That’s what happens when the gospel is drained out of our view of vocation.

    FRANK: In the earthly Kingdom, God works in Vocation precisely through the Law extorting Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of Old Adam to his deathing. So this thinking is wrong. Without lots of rules Old Adam looks like hell itself.

    God works sacrifice through the Law. This is what the Law demands with its constantly accusing. Sacrifice is always where something or someone must die. This is not about loving and serving. it is about the extortion that the Law ALWAYS and ONLY works. Mortification is The-Law-in-action. Note that sinful Old Adam knows this human sacrifice is necessary, and the mayans made sure that it was someone else being sacrificed. We do the same dont we?

    But note then that God says that he desires the death of no man. Also note that Jesus says , accordingly, that God desires Mercy and not sacrifice. So this seems to be a contradiction right?

    Enter the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms! here is how Two Kingdoms resolves this seeming contradiction:

    God’s unitary Eternal Will is for Fatherly Goodness and Mercy to be done among mankind. In the Earthly Kingdom, unfortunately, this Goodness and Mercy can only be produced out of Old Adam by the sacrifice that the Law works! It must be forced out of Old Adam.

    But the God desired fruit of that mortification that is the Law-in-action is not death.

    Why?

    That would be useless to our neighbor! It would be to follow ome rule or Law merely because God says so and therefore to attempt to keep our moral ledger with God right by DOING something. And it would be done to try to appease or please God. Old Adam religion is all about that (rom 2:15).

    That would look like demanding celebacy of someone , or doing pilgrimages or self flagelation or virtue purely for its own sake in order to balance the moral ledger with the Almighty.

    The Lutheran Confessions, Jesus and the Prophets and the Apostles have a name for this exercise in death and sacrificial doing.

    Idolatry.

    the desired fruit of ALL mortification is not mortification for its own sake. It is for Goodness and Mercy to be done. Which is exactly the production of first and even second and third article gifts of God. These gifts all come to us through means! And those means are old Adams being driven and killed in order for goodness and mercy to be done to other old adams.

    this is what the Confessions mean when they say that “God always works through means”. this is not about the elements in the sacraments. It is about way more.

    And so what about the Gospel? What is it? Sanctified working in our vocations? nope. never that. That is all about our death.

    The Gospel is alone about that Sacrifice of Death that restores Mercy in creation apart from the workings of the Law. That is alone trust in the Works of Another. In the middle of a life that is ALL Old Adam in ALL we can see and do that is ALL about our death, the Gospel tells us that our deathing is being worked out in that one Death that was the death of Life Itself that the darkness of death could not overcome. But those “legalistic sets of rules” must remain in order to kill our Old Adam. And the Gospel is drained when we imagine that the mercy and goodness worked out of US is somehow the same as that One Mercy that is alone, alone, alone worked by the Works of Another.

    Here is a point of confusion:

    mercy, by definition is always the opposite of what we deserve. it is undeserved. What we deserve is what the Law produces. That is justice. Justice can only happen with a sacrifice. Sacrifice demands a death. So mercy sounds and looks alot like “gospel”. but it is NOT that. Only that One Sacrifice that was the Death of Life itself is the Justice that frees us from the need of the Law to produce out of us Goodness and Mercy.

    But here on earth, any goodness and mercy done is totally the Law doing it’s deathly work. That Goodness and mercy that is new man in Christ is yet alone of faith and can alone be known, measured, seen, and proven by alone faith that is wholy invisible. ALL we can see and do is about our death.

    mercy, in all we can see and do is a Law word!

    INTERVIEWER You suggest that the proper and unique work of marriage is sexual intercourse. Can you explain?

    Veith: Every vocation has its unique work, its defining work. Sex inside of marriage is sex according to God’s design, and thus sex becomes a good work within marriage.

    FRANK: God said: “it is not good for man to be alone.
    THEREFORE [he made eve].” There is no work that defines marriage as to its essence anymore than there is a work that defines male or female such that one is not that if one does not do that work. The work is the fruit of that order of God. It is not the essence of the think itself.

    Let me put this another way:

    Marriage itself is not the Vocation. The work of a husband , wife, father, mother, son, or daughter is the vocation.

    In exactly the same way and sense, The Judiciary or Society is not a vocation. Being a judge , court clerk, barrister, etc are vocations within that “ordo” .

    and finally in exactly the same sense, The church is not a vocation. Being a pastor, communicant, etc, are vocations within that “ordo” or earthly Law Kingdom Government God has set in place.

    In the same manner Marriage/Family is not a vocation. It is the third “ordo” or earthly government God has set in place. And within that ordo are various vocations.

    See the difference here? it is an important distinction. This is why Lutherans do not call marriage a sacrament.

    Dr Veith is reading too many Roman Catholic books me thinks….

    VEITH Indeed, the Bible says that sex is what creates marriage.

    FRANK: No. The bible says that the result of sex between anyone , even between a man and a prostitute, is a one flesh union. Therefore it does not follow that one flesh union=marriage does it?

    VEITH The reason you’re not supposed to have sex with someone you’re not married to is because you’re not called to. You don’t have an authorization—it’s not part of your vocation—to have sex with someone you’re not married to, so [THEREFORE!] it’s sinful.

    FRANK: Nope. Something is sinful because a) we place our fear love and trust in that thing and look to it to receive Goodness and Mercy independent of God, and b) it hurts or harms our neighbor and does not provide Goodness and Mercy to our neighbor.

    Further Dr Veith, your conjecture is based on the idea that sin is breaking some codified rule in the Bible.

    God’s Law doesnt work that way!

    finally: the conjectures foundation is that one flesh union= sex= marriage, then in that case the conjecture is wrong.

    see what Luther says about how God’s Law works in his wonderful preface to his romans translation of 1545 that is cited by our Confessions as an amplification of what they say. Read it here:
    http://www.ccel.org/l/luther/romans/pref_romans.html
    and here you can read what Luther says about the Law codified in the Old Testament nd New Testament and how it applies to us:
    http://www.wordofhisgrace.org/LutherMoses.htm

    One does not need a Bible to know how to be a moral person. The Confessions declare that what Aristotle says about ethics is all that can be demanded. it is sufficient.

    Moerbe: Sex also reminds us that marriage is a vocation unlike other vocations. In marriage, you serve one neighbor. In parenthood, you might have more than one kid. If you work outside the home, there will be plenty of customers and plenty of co-workers. But marriage is unique in that it is one-on-one.

    FRANK This is clearly in direct opposition to our Lutheran Confessions: cf the Small Catechism . The section titled “Table of Duties” subtitle “The Holy Orders”. there is nothing at all more holy or special about marriage than there is to being a plumber or cleaning toilets. yes Christ uses marriage as a metaphor. As he does vines, pig stomachs, and lots of other stuff.

    Marriage is not a sacrament. “Holy ” matrimony is no more or less holy than holy toilet cleaning. This is what the Lutheran Confessions insist upon. holiness is not about our doing. It is about our doing being hidden in the Works of Another.

    INTERVIEWER What do readers need to grasp about how the doctrine of vocation applies to family?

    Moerbe: The message is simple: Love and serve your neighbor. Love and serve your family, not because of who is in your family, but because God is in your family. Christ is hidden behind our neighbors, and Christ is present with us in our neighbors.

    frank: God is hidden , in with and under the works of our neighbor that result in Goodness and Mercy and justice that is a sacrifice that demands death being done. When Jesus say in the King James Bible “the Kingdom of God is within you” we know from the context that that must be wrong. Jesus is addressing the Pharisees. Better ” The Kingdom of God is right here right now in your midst. ” And the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms breaks down exactly what this mean both as to Law and to Gospel. For the Kingdom was there for the Pharisees in both a Law and a Gospel sense. And that Gospel sense was not about vocations or a doing at all. It was in the very Person and Works of Another.

    Those neighbors may or may not have Christ within them! And further, this is about first article LAW fruiting. it is not about Gospel fruit. Yes Christ said “whatever you have done for other you have done unto me”. This is not the same as what this person is saying .

    Further it is important to note this. Reformed do NOT believe this. Neither do roman catholics. But Lutherans do believe it because it is taught in scriptures and in our Confesssions:

    The fruit of Goodness and Mercy that is God’s Eternal Will is the SAME fruit that is produced by the Law and the Gospel! there is NO distinction to be made between fruit that is produced by the Law and that produced by the Gospel! cf formula of Concord “third use of the Law”.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Frank, seriously, in you haste and desire for thoroughness I think you missed the point and what they were saying.

    On marriage as unique. She said nothing that would give the idea it was a sacrament. It’s uniqueness was solely in the number of neighbors served, not that it was of more value than anything else.

    Second, this is a brief article to promote a book. Not an in depth theological missive.

    Seriously, chill, take the article for what it was and go read the book itself before jumping on incomplete theological dialogue.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Frank, seriously, in you haste and desire for thoroughness I think you missed the point and what they were saying.

    On marriage as unique. She said nothing that would give the idea it was a sacrament. It’s uniqueness was solely in the number of neighbors served, not that it was of more value than anything else.

    Second, this is a brief article to promote a book. Not an in depth theological missive.

    Seriously, chill, take the article for what it was and go read the book itself before jumping on incomplete theological dialogue.

  • fws

    dr luther @ 7

    if the point is that the vocations within the government/ordo of marriage are each unique, then there is no there there.. It is a point that is point-less. All vocations are unique in the same sense.

    There were lots of other points made in the interview. I suggested in my post that some of those points were fatally flawed theologically.

    I was commenting on the points made in the interview. Why do I need to read to book in order to comment on the interview ? And why am I the opposite of “chill” for doing so dear esteemed Dr Luther.

    My point was that all vocations, including yours as a pastor and those within the ordo of marriage are about… death.

    the death of Old Adam. there is nothing at all in any of this that is sacramentally or as to our being sanctified that is about anything else but death.

    the eternal consequences of all we can do in those vocations is about mortification. About death.

    Vocation is completely about the Law extorting Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of our Old Adam for the transitory perishable goodness and mercy of other Old Adams. period.

    it would have been so very nice for someone in the interview to make this uniquely Confessional Lutheran and theological point.

    I am sure you agree being a Confessional Lutheran right?

  • fws

    dr luther @ 7

    if the point is that the vocations within the government/ordo of marriage are each unique, then there is no there there.. It is a point that is point-less. All vocations are unique in the same sense.

    There were lots of other points made in the interview. I suggested in my post that some of those points were fatally flawed theologically.

    I was commenting on the points made in the interview. Why do I need to read to book in order to comment on the interview ? And why am I the opposite of “chill” for doing so dear esteemed Dr Luther.

    My point was that all vocations, including yours as a pastor and those within the ordo of marriage are about… death.

    the death of Old Adam. there is nothing at all in any of this that is sacramentally or as to our being sanctified that is about anything else but death.

    the eternal consequences of all we can do in those vocations is about mortification. About death.

    Vocation is completely about the Law extorting Fatherly Goodness and Mercy out of our Old Adam for the transitory perishable goodness and mercy of other Old Adams. period.

    it would have been so very nice for someone in the interview to make this uniquely Confessional Lutheran and theological point.

    I am sure you agree being a Confessional Lutheran right?

  • fws

    reduced to a bumper sticker: Vocation=death. Vocation=mortification. Vocation=Law. Vocation is not even a little bit about the Gospel.

    and most this is all to drive home this most important point of all:

    the Gospel=(alone!) the Works of Another.

  • fws

    reduced to a bumper sticker: Vocation=death. Vocation=mortification. Vocation=Law. Vocation is not even a little bit about the Gospel.

    and most this is all to drive home this most important point of all:

    the Gospel=(alone!) the Works of Another.

  • fws

    “Martin Luther’s doctrine of vocation undergirds a truly Christian theology of the family.

    Respectfully: there is no such thing.

    Pagans can know as much about having a God-pleasing family life as well as or better than any christian. Cf. Romans 2:15.

    This is true especially where Christ uses family and bride and groom as a metaphor and St Paul uses Christ as an example/lawgiver/Moses.Pagans fully accept Christ as Example. And he IS that. There is nothing said in the interview that a Mormon our JW would take issue with is there? But Aristotle and Ghandi are just as good here.

    However only Christ can serve as Savior. So it is him alone, alone, alone we need to be that.

    Yeah. I know this is Christianity Today.

    Fact: there is nothing christian about vocation ie the Holy Orders. There is not a single small thing a christian does in vocation, including those in marriage, that is a single bit different than what a pagan does.

    Further, what drives that doing, even in the believer, is the same thing: The Law. And the Law always accuses.

    What makes any keeping of any Order (read Law!) holy, can be said by sinectoche only. Alone.

    cf the Apology’s treatment of the Story of the Woman who was saved because she loved much in the section entitled “On love and the fulfilling of the Law” for more on this thangy about sinectoche. I know that is a fancy word for all of us. at least it is for me.

    It is faith alone in the Works of Another, alone, that makes any work holy. alone alone alone.

  • fws

    “Martin Luther’s doctrine of vocation undergirds a truly Christian theology of the family.

    Respectfully: there is no such thing.

    Pagans can know as much about having a God-pleasing family life as well as or better than any christian. Cf. Romans 2:15.

    This is true especially where Christ uses family and bride and groom as a metaphor and St Paul uses Christ as an example/lawgiver/Moses.Pagans fully accept Christ as Example. And he IS that. There is nothing said in the interview that a Mormon our JW would take issue with is there? But Aristotle and Ghandi are just as good here.

    However only Christ can serve as Savior. So it is him alone, alone, alone we need to be that.

    Yeah. I know this is Christianity Today.

    Fact: there is nothing christian about vocation ie the Holy Orders. There is not a single small thing a christian does in vocation, including those in marriage, that is a single bit different than what a pagan does.

    Further, what drives that doing, even in the believer, is the same thing: The Law. And the Law always accuses.

    What makes any keeping of any Order (read Law!) holy, can be said by sinectoche only. Alone.

    cf the Apology’s treatment of the Story of the Woman who was saved because she loved much in the section entitled “On love and the fulfilling of the Law” for more on this thangy about sinectoche. I know that is a fancy word for all of us. at least it is for me.

    It is faith alone in the Works of Another, alone, that makes any work holy. alone alone alone.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What I think, is that you are over analyzing a promotional interview.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    What I think, is that you are over analyzing a promotional interview.

  • fws

    dr luther @ 11

    Ok. fair enough. Let’s expect then that the marketing doesnt reflect the actual content of the book.

    Dr Veiths books are always well crafted and theologically confessional and Lutheran. I would not expect any different with this latest book.

  • fws

    dr luther @ 11

    Ok. fair enough. Let’s expect then that the marketing doesnt reflect the actual content of the book.

    Dr Veiths books are always well crafted and theologically confessional and Lutheran. I would not expect any different with this latest book.

  • Michael B.

    off topic, but did you know that Joachim Gauck used to be a Lutheran pastor?

  • Michael B.

    off topic, but did you know that Joachim Gauck used to be a Lutheran pastor?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Frank, this was an hour-long conversation from which the reporter excerpted a few lines, often leaving out the context. We do a lot with the concept of “one flesh,” which is intrinsic to marriage and parenthood in the family,and which Scripture discusses in term of sex. We’re not saying that if someone has a sex with a prostitute then he is married to her, and we go on to say that one flesh unions can be broken. One of the contributions of our book is to show why sex outside of marriage is wrong, beyond just breaking arbitrary rules. We do consider the orders of creation, the fall, and the distinction between law and gospel. And we do indeed say that marriage and family and everything we say about these callings are for non-Christians as well!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Frank, this was an hour-long conversation from which the reporter excerpted a few lines, often leaving out the context. We do a lot with the concept of “one flesh,” which is intrinsic to marriage and parenthood in the family,and which Scripture discusses in term of sex. We’re not saying that if someone has a sex with a prostitute then he is married to her, and we go on to say that one flesh unions can be broken. One of the contributions of our book is to show why sex outside of marriage is wrong, beyond just breaking arbitrary rules. We do consider the orders of creation, the fall, and the distinction between law and gospel. And we do indeed say that marriage and family and everything we say about these callings are for non-Christians as well!

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    And, Frank, if you are going to attack me for calling marriage, parenthood, and childhood vocations, you are also going to have to attack Luther, who developed much of his doctrine of vocation talking about these “estates.” (Much more than he did for what we call “vocations” as “jobs.”) The Bible teaches lots about family and the different offices within family. And calls them “callings” (see 1 Corinthians 7:17 and following). (“Vocation” is just the Latinate word for “calling.”) They certainly relate to law, pass away with death, and are operative for everyone, Christian or not. So I don’t see why you are so against what we say, especially since it is obvious that you haven’t read what that is.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    And, Frank, if you are going to attack me for calling marriage, parenthood, and childhood vocations, you are also going to have to attack Luther, who developed much of his doctrine of vocation talking about these “estates.” (Much more than he did for what we call “vocations” as “jobs.”) The Bible teaches lots about family and the different offices within family. And calls them “callings” (see 1 Corinthians 7:17 and following). (“Vocation” is just the Latinate word for “calling.”) They certainly relate to law, pass away with death, and are operative for everyone, Christian or not. So I don’t see why you are so against what we say, especially since it is obvious that you haven’t read what that is.

  • FWS

    Gene Veith @ 15

    You are telling me you felt attacked and for that I deeply and sincerely apologize .. Full stop.

    There is nothing you said in the interview that would warrant that. So I do apologize if that is the tone or content that came across dear Doctor.

    Further, it absolutely appears that we are in complete agreement! So what follows is an attempt to sum our forces by saying an amen to each point you have made in your interview and your clarifying responses to me!

    you said:

    [All that is done in vocation] certainly relate to law, pass away with death, and are operative for everyone, Christian or not.

    AMEN!

    … Christian books … reduce things to, “Who has to obey whom?”

    [in contrast the true] the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve your neighbor. When we forget…[that vocation is] about loving and serving—we end up with a legalistic set of rules. That’s what happens when the gospel is drained out of our view of vocation.

    Those Legalistic rules are what the Law uses to work mortification or death. it is what the Law does. it is the Law in action. We know this by the name Justice or Sacrifice. Both require someone or something to die to happen. To obey and become subordinate is a real form of death. And we are called, vocationed, to die this death daily in subordination to the needs of others. You repeat this over and over and over… and over again in all your books!

    And you are absolutely right that , in spite of that, the true purpose of that Law in action is to produce fatherly Goodness and Mercy.

    And you are right as well when you state that this killing work, what Luther calls “God’s foreign or strange work” is not the Will of God. He desires the death of no man, and he desires mercy rather than sacrifice. This does seem to be a contradiction in fact.

    But the way to reconcile this is not to “un-drain the Gospel.”

    Why not? There is simply no gospel here at all! That Mercy that God desires as the fruit of sacrifice and Old Adam death is NOT the Gospel. The Law is what is working mercy in vocation, not the gospel.

    Lutherans reconcile things this way:

    On earth, mercy cannot happen in Old Adam without the justice of sacrifice being done that is our death. Yet…. Gods ultimate purpose in even this sacrifice and death is for Mercy and goodness to be done among men. Again: that is precisely your point isnt it? No criticism there!

    Yet,,,,,Mercy is not the Gospel. Note that Justice is to get what we deserve. that is the sacrifice of death. Those rules are not just legalistic, they are the Law at work killing us. They are legal. Legitimate. Nothing istic about them.

    Yet,,,,Mercy is to receive the precise opposite of what we deserve. Mercy is the opposite of Justice even though it cannot exist , by definition, without justice. it is to receive undeserved love or kindness. It is to be forgiven or pardoned, or made dead to the debt the Law demands. That debt is Just and justice. So there can be no Mercy from that without Justice first being established.

    This mercy sounds like the Gospel doesnt it?

    It is NOT! It is , instead, the God Desired Fruit of the Law. and that Fruit is the SAME identical fruit the Gospel also produces, which is Mercy and Goodness. This mercy is the entire point and purpose of Vocation , which I suspect is what makes you passionate about the topic eh? But our task in OUR vocation is to work out our death with every legalism and law at our disposal so that we can then make our Old Adam bear the fruit of Mercy for our NEIGHBOR. We die by the Law, so our neighbor gets a dollop of mercy.

    So here on earth, Mercy is always a Law word. it is what happens when the Law is truly resulting in what God desires. Usually, the religi0us tell us that virtue is its own reward. Legalism is the point whether mercy happens or not. And you reject that. That is your point. but still….. there is no gospel involved in any of this!

    So where is the gospel in this? No where! It is something other. It is not about that mercy that is the “sum of the Law” as Jesus said it is. It is not about God desiring mercy and not sacrifice for both of those things are things that the Law makes happen.

    The Gospel is ALONE the Vocation or Work of Another and faith that we receive to trust in that Vocation of Another. When that faith is restored in mankind, then Mercy and Goodness once again flow from this New Man with no vocation-as-work being necessary at all. This is the fulfillment of jeremiah 33 where the Law is once again written in regenerate hearts. And in a regenerate heart, the fruit of Goodness and Mercy, the same fruit the Law also produces, simply now happens as though no Law even existed!

    But … when we talk about vocation, we are talking, just as you have clarified, about Old Adam that is in the believer and pagan alike.

    This is why the Confessions say that todo that Law sacrificially, that is to do the Law merely to follow a set of rules (what we are authorized to do or not do in 0r outside of marriage for example) is useless and idolatry. It is to think we can balance our ledger with God by a Holy Order or Vocation rather than to trust in the Work and Vocation of Another to do that.

    The intent of God , even in legalistic rules, is for the fruit of Mercy to happen . Unfortunately, legalistic rules, sacrifice and death are the only way God can wrest this fruit out of Old Adam. So there is not an either or choice here….

    Again, I deeply appologize for you feeling attacked by what I said. We actually agree in complete unity of faith!

    All we do in OUR vocation is hidden in the Vocation of Another. There is no gospel that can be drained out of our vocation since there is no gospel there. but in, with and under our vocation, alone in the believer, is faith in the Gospel, in the Vocation of Another in which we are to hide our own vocation from the judgement of God and so receive mercy and not the justice our work in our vocation demands. And that too is precisely what you meant as well. I appologize for not instead clarifying this.

    All we can see and do in our vocations should terrify us is what the Confessions tell us. And so our vocations literally drive us to hide all we do in them in the Vocation of Another. Again I am absolutely certain this too is a huge point in your book.

    I am sorry I commented on what you said about sex and marriage and all that. Those are really extremely minor points by comparison? And as you said, they pertain alone to this life and will perish with it. Pagans can do these things just as well, so there is nothing really christian about them They are useful for avoiding punishment and making earthly life better only.

    You stated that in your very last sentence in response to me didnt you? and I am glad to read it.

  • FWS

    Gene Veith @ 15

    You are telling me you felt attacked and for that I deeply and sincerely apologize .. Full stop.

    There is nothing you said in the interview that would warrant that. So I do apologize if that is the tone or content that came across dear Doctor.

    Further, it absolutely appears that we are in complete agreement! So what follows is an attempt to sum our forces by saying an amen to each point you have made in your interview and your clarifying responses to me!

    you said:

    [All that is done in vocation] certainly relate to law, pass away with death, and are operative for everyone, Christian or not.

    AMEN!

    … Christian books … reduce things to, “Who has to obey whom?”

    [in contrast the true] the purpose of every vocation is to love and serve your neighbor. When we forget…[that vocation is] about loving and serving—we end up with a legalistic set of rules. That’s what happens when the gospel is drained out of our view of vocation.

    Those Legalistic rules are what the Law uses to work mortification or death. it is what the Law does. it is the Law in action. We know this by the name Justice or Sacrifice. Both require someone or something to die to happen. To obey and become subordinate is a real form of death. And we are called, vocationed, to die this death daily in subordination to the needs of others. You repeat this over and over and over… and over again in all your books!

    And you are absolutely right that , in spite of that, the true purpose of that Law in action is to produce fatherly Goodness and Mercy.

    And you are right as well when you state that this killing work, what Luther calls “God’s foreign or strange work” is not the Will of God. He desires the death of no man, and he desires mercy rather than sacrifice. This does seem to be a contradiction in fact.

    But the way to reconcile this is not to “un-drain the Gospel.”

    Why not? There is simply no gospel here at all! That Mercy that God desires as the fruit of sacrifice and Old Adam death is NOT the Gospel. The Law is what is working mercy in vocation, not the gospel.

    Lutherans reconcile things this way:

    On earth, mercy cannot happen in Old Adam without the justice of sacrifice being done that is our death. Yet…. Gods ultimate purpose in even this sacrifice and death is for Mercy and goodness to be done among men. Again: that is precisely your point isnt it? No criticism there!

    Yet,,,,,Mercy is not the Gospel. Note that Justice is to get what we deserve. that is the sacrifice of death. Those rules are not just legalistic, they are the Law at work killing us. They are legal. Legitimate. Nothing istic about them.

    Yet,,,,Mercy is to receive the precise opposite of what we deserve. Mercy is the opposite of Justice even though it cannot exist , by definition, without justice. it is to receive undeserved love or kindness. It is to be forgiven or pardoned, or made dead to the debt the Law demands. That debt is Just and justice. So there can be no Mercy from that without Justice first being established.

    This mercy sounds like the Gospel doesnt it?

    It is NOT! It is , instead, the God Desired Fruit of the Law. and that Fruit is the SAME identical fruit the Gospel also produces, which is Mercy and Goodness. This mercy is the entire point and purpose of Vocation , which I suspect is what makes you passionate about the topic eh? But our task in OUR vocation is to work out our death with every legalism and law at our disposal so that we can then make our Old Adam bear the fruit of Mercy for our NEIGHBOR. We die by the Law, so our neighbor gets a dollop of mercy.

    So here on earth, Mercy is always a Law word. it is what happens when the Law is truly resulting in what God desires. Usually, the religi0us tell us that virtue is its own reward. Legalism is the point whether mercy happens or not. And you reject that. That is your point. but still….. there is no gospel involved in any of this!

    So where is the gospel in this? No where! It is something other. It is not about that mercy that is the “sum of the Law” as Jesus said it is. It is not about God desiring mercy and not sacrifice for both of those things are things that the Law makes happen.

    The Gospel is ALONE the Vocation or Work of Another and faith that we receive to trust in that Vocation of Another. When that faith is restored in mankind, then Mercy and Goodness once again flow from this New Man with no vocation-as-work being necessary at all. This is the fulfillment of jeremiah 33 where the Law is once again written in regenerate hearts. And in a regenerate heart, the fruit of Goodness and Mercy, the same fruit the Law also produces, simply now happens as though no Law even existed!

    But … when we talk about vocation, we are talking, just as you have clarified, about Old Adam that is in the believer and pagan alike.

    This is why the Confessions say that todo that Law sacrificially, that is to do the Law merely to follow a set of rules (what we are authorized to do or not do in 0r outside of marriage for example) is useless and idolatry. It is to think we can balance our ledger with God by a Holy Order or Vocation rather than to trust in the Work and Vocation of Another to do that.

    The intent of God , even in legalistic rules, is for the fruit of Mercy to happen . Unfortunately, legalistic rules, sacrifice and death are the only way God can wrest this fruit out of Old Adam. So there is not an either or choice here….

    Again, I deeply appologize for you feeling attacked by what I said. We actually agree in complete unity of faith!

    All we do in OUR vocation is hidden in the Vocation of Another. There is no gospel that can be drained out of our vocation since there is no gospel there. but in, with and under our vocation, alone in the believer, is faith in the Gospel, in the Vocation of Another in which we are to hide our own vocation from the judgement of God and so receive mercy and not the justice our work in our vocation demands. And that too is precisely what you meant as well. I appologize for not instead clarifying this.

    All we can see and do in our vocations should terrify us is what the Confessions tell us. And so our vocations literally drive us to hide all we do in them in the Vocation of Another. Again I am absolutely certain this too is a huge point in your book.

    I am sorry I commented on what you said about sex and marriage and all that. Those are really extremely minor points by comparison? And as you said, they pertain alone to this life and will perish with it. Pagans can do these things just as well, so there is nothing really christian about them They are useful for avoiding punishment and making earthly life better only.

    You stated that in your very last sentence in response to me didnt you? and I am glad to read it.

  • Jon

    Interesting comments here.

    It’s obvious most haven’t yet read the book yet.

    I am really enjoying the book, getting a lot out of it.

    Wish it was available way back when.

    It will make a super gift for an engaged couple.

    I second Pr. Spomer’s call for Bible study materials.

  • Jon

    Interesting comments here.

    It’s obvious most haven’t yet read the book yet.

    I am really enjoying the book, getting a lot out of it.

    Wish it was available way back when.

    It will make a super gift for an engaged couple.

    I second Pr. Spomer’s call for Bible study materials.


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