Society has little defense

Not too long ago, both liberals and conservatives were oriented to some kind of common social good.  Liberals pushed for what they considered to be “social justice.”  Conservatives emphasized patriotism and worked for cultural stability.  Today, both sides frame their arguments in terms of personal liberty and individual rights (gay rights, abortion rights, reproductive freedom, etc., vs. parental rights, religious liberty, gun rights, free markets, etc.).

Is that an advance?  Perhaps it is.  But did you notice that when we recently discussed Iceland’s attempt to battle pornography, hardly any of us–social conservatives mostly, me included–were able to come up with any way to oppose it legally.  Even as we were decrying pornography and admitting how socially harmful it is, we could only conceive of the issue in terms of first amendment rights.  On another blog that discussed Iceland’s policies, someone defended pornography on the grounds that we must not interfere with free market economics, that the demand must call forth a supply.

Then I was part of a discussion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s graduation address at Harvard University in 1978.  In that talk, the exiled Russian author who spent nearly a decade in the Soviet gulag and whose dissident writings helped bring about the fall of Communism, said why he would not recommend that his country, once free, emulate the modern West.  One reason he gave is that western societies have become “legalistic”; that is, our societies have replaced morality with laws.  And societies cannot protect themselves with laws alone.

From Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address:

Legalistic Life

Western society has given itself the organization best suited to its purposes, based, I would say, on the letter of the law. The limits of human rights and righteousness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert. Any conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the supreme solution. If one is right from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be entirely right, and urge self-restraint, a willingness to renounce such legal rights, sacrifice and selfless risk: it would sound simply absurd. One almost never sees voluntary self-restraint. Everybody operates at the extreme limit of those legal frames. An oil company is legally blameless when it purchases an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to buy it.

I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

In today’s Western society, the inequality has been revealed of freedom for good deeds and freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something important and highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; there are thousands of hasty and irresponsible critics around him, parliament and the press keep rebuffing him. As he moves ahead, he has to prove that every single step of his is well-founded and absolutely flawless. Actually an outstanding and particularly gifted person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind hardly gets a chance to assert himself; from the very beginning, dozens of traps will be set out for him. Thus mediocrity triumphs with the excuse of restrictions imposed by democracy. . . .

Society appears to have little defense against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror. It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people’s right not to look or not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

via Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address.

Of course, government with its laws is not supposed to be the only social institution, even though currently government tends to ascribe all social responsibilities to itself.  Other institutions–such as the family, the church, and the array of voluntary associations–seem to be weak and struggling right now.  But perhaps they can be revitalized.

So let’s reframe our earlier discussion.  Given that pornography is socially, as well as individually, harmful, what might be done to combat it other than the seemingly unthinkable task of making it illegal?  What can families, churches, and non-government organizations do?

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.

  • mollie

    With the admission that I’m a libertarian who regularly worries about the use of government force, I wish we would always think in terms of what institutions such as the church and family can do first and foremost. Pornography is something that people have always struggled with, obviously much more so now, but it comes from a variety of social ills. One major thing that should be done is to encourage people to marry younger than whatever we’re encouraging right now, and to encourage people to be marriage minded. We should treat respect for the other sex — and I do mean this both ways. I think that porn feeds off of male insecurity and that women could really do a lot to help men with this. It also, obviously, feeds off of the objectification of women as sexual objects to be used. Anyway, there are so many things we could do as individuals, families, congregations, etc. I would hope we’d try to do these things regardless of what the law permits or bans.

  • Grace

    Dr. Veith commented, including Solzhenitsyn’s remarks:

    “Then I was part of a discussion of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s graduation address at Harvard University in 1978. In that talk, the exiled Russian author who spent nearly a decade in the Soviet gulag and whose dissident writings helped bring about the fall of Communism, said why he would not recommend that his country, once free, emulate the modern West. One reason he gave is that western societies have become “legalistic”; that is, our societies have replaced morality with laws. And societies cannot protect themselves with laws alone.”

    Remembering that this graduation, Solzhenitsyn’s address and participation, took place thirty five years ago this June, is most important. He passed away 5 years ago, in 2008. Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia in 1994, that was 16 years after he made the address at Harvard. It must be noted that Solzhenitsyn never became fluent to speak the English language. He did however read English and had since his teen years.

    I’ve read most of what Solzhenitsyn has written, except for the last few books he wrote, and others.

    Many things have changed through all those era’s. The Vietnam war ended in 1975. When our troops started coming home, many of the moral fibers had been shorn to bits. Those who served felt they had been scorned by those here in the U.S. It left a heartache that still exists today. As one who saw the aftermath of that war, and the pain and suffering our troops endured, it took this country a short time to forsake the moral fiber it once had, and then embracing moral decay. Sexual decay, and abortion were embraced, and so were drugs. Not that this sort of behavior was unheard of before the war, it was, but now it was rampant.

    We, as the United States, have no other recourse than to make laws, to protect moral integrity, and the population at large. No, we “cannot protect ourselves with laws alone” but we also have no other choice. The fabric of family, and guidance from parents, is at an all time low, it just keeps sinking.

    Referring to Solzhenitsyn’s remarks, in his address:

    “People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert.”

    The laws which refer to stealing, murder, rape, pedophilia are not hard to understand, neither is cheating, or robbery, killing the unborn, include within the mix, pornography which isn’t completely illegal, but is damaging, not only to the one who absorbs it through film, magazines, etc.

    It’s the moral fiber that has been thrown out the window, it’s not the laws. The laws are there to protect the innocent from further damage.

    God is no longer honored nor believed for the most part – that is the KEY issue, not the laws and morals. When men and women love and have faith in God ALMIGHTY, their hearts are changed. We have a country with a hard, Godless heart. What could one expect from such a grave situation.

    The entire world for the most part has turned their hearts and minds against the LORD and HIS Word. Solzhenitsyn took umbrage with laws, and in essence didn’t see that it’s God that was missing from mans life – God changes lives, but man has to be willing to follow HIM, through faith, and only belief in Christ, will one see the error of his ways.

  • Grace

    I’m sorry the blockquoting was in the reverse, in post 2.

  • Erick

    As a libertarian, I am all for getting government out of our lives, however, our overall problem today is that we live in a society with no moral compass. The church has become a weakened institution socially, theologically, and philosophically. Churches that are thriving are nothing more than consumeristic malls which cater to self-serving appetites and produce numerous idols. Meanwhile, orthodox churches which carry the torch of true Christianity are seen as relics from America’s rich heritage, much like a fine work of art, but not a powerful institution with a Voice from above. We live in a Romans 1 society and when morality is legislated without a moral ground, future horrors are inevitable. There’s no telling what may become of us as a nation. May the gospel find a home in our country and the sweet savor of Christ win our hearts away from evil doing. May God have mercy on us.

  • Tom Hering

    We change our society by making things socially unacceptable. And we do this with propaganda campaigns that focus on the practical, negative consequences of the current situation. Think anti-smoking or pro-gay marriage. These campaigns succeeded by eventually ostracizing smokers and homophobes for the way, it was argued, they caused harm to others. Maybe the first step with pornography is to run commercials that question the image of Hugh Heffner, as it was the glorification of his image (beginning in the 1950s) that made pornography socially acceptable.

  • elizabeth

    I was reading some quotes from Sasse’s “Law and Gospel” and there seemed to me to be a connection to this post and how the church might help. Sasse acknowledges this is not easy,
    “Between the Scylla of legalism and Charybis of antinomianism leads a narrow and dangerous path which the church must follow in her ethical thought. Whether she finds the way depends on the purity of her proclamation and on this depends her existence”.
    and,
    “The Apology of the Augsburg Confession is not endorsing a conservative, uninvolved, laissez faire attitude for Christians to take in political or civil sphere, as if everything that happened there was of equal moral value. Rather the Apology wants it self-understood that the Gospel is something entirely different from the Law. Where this is forgotten, the Gospel ceases to be the Gospel and the church ceases to be the church. That’s the way it is, whether one likes and knows it or not. “

  • kempin04

    “But did you notice that when we recently discussed Iceland’s attempt to battle pornography, hardly any of us–social conservatives mostly, me included–were able to come up with any way to oppose it legally?”

    I did notice, and I found it passing strange. It seemed as though our patterns of thought were established more by the structure of political thought and legal practicality than the doctrine of vocation or the two kingdoms in that discussion.

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

    I agree with Tom. We can only restore morality by changing hearts and minds, but we’ll need the help of the Holy Spirit through prayer.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Here is an appropriate quote from an article (link bel0w)
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/fareforward/2013/02/a-higher-view-of-evil/

    “For those who bemoan the loss of morals with each successive generation, perhaps the task at hand, then, is not to make sin look darker, but to illuminate the background of good against which sin is preformed. All sin is, in a sense, a grasping for the good”

    The best defense (or offense depending upon who you look at it) against pornography is the strengthening of healthy sexuality. Pornography is a cheap substitute for the real thing.

  • fjsteve

    I like Tom’s idea @5 but, unfortunately, I don’t think it will succeed if it comes from socially conservative voices. It will be met with labels of puritanical and prudish and some famous actor will be featured in a commercial telling the Christian Right to stay out of our bedrooms. Unfortunately, we live in a twisted society which sees women using their bodies to make money or to otherwise get their way as a sign of female empowerment.

    They will listen to academic studies, though (as if one needed a study to determine that porn is bad). So the more studies about such things that can be funded, the better. Just so long as they aren’t funded by Focus on the Family or the Family Research Center, which will automatically cast doubt on the outcomes.

    Unfortunately, popular culture is like rebellious teenagers who won’t do anything their parents say. Perhaps in this case, Icelandic society is the young adult who passed his rebellious stage and is coming to the same conclusion as his parents (but who still won’t give credit to them). In this case, I say.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Speaking like others as a “soft libertarian,” the proper approach in my view is to emphasize what our host notes about the Dutch; that prostitution and drug use are not truly victimless crimes because they are not truly voluntary. In short, it’s sex and drug slavery (rock & roll slavery?), and therefore society ought to approach these as the wisest of anti-slavery activists did.

    And in “individual life”, what we do is to ask those who partake if they’re willing to partake in the enslavement of the women and men they’re viewing, because that’s exactly what they’re doing.

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

    I have serious qualms about a person who thinks all sin is a grasping after good. That is just simply not true. It is true of some sin, perhaps even a grand majority of it. But it is certainly not true for all of it. Sin is evil, it corrupts us, it can make us think that what we are doing is for good, that it is even morally upright, but the sin itself acts for evil purposes. Often times it doesn’t even need to convince us that it is for good.

  • Steve Billingsley

    Bror Erickson @ 13
    That view of sin goes all the way back to Augustine at least. Sin certainly does corrupt- but in it’s beginnings it appeals to us based upon a distorted appeal to a good that we desire. We can certainly come to the point where we “enjoy” (not that joy has anything really to do with it) sin and evil for its own sake – but I don’t think that is ever the case in its beginning. There is always an element of deception (including self-deception) in it.

  • http://www.intrepidlutherans.com Douglas Lindee

    In a previous comment on Cranach, I made the statement:

    In a democracy like ours, Law is not imperial edict… rather, it is a reflection of the aggregate morality of the people

    I think that it is important to note that our society does not enact laws that are purposely reflective of a given system of morality — whether that system is one of libertine hedonism, perfect altruism, strict Calvinism or whatever. It is a reflection of the variety of moral positions taken by a society of sinful individuals, positions which they are, in theory, free to take. The moral choices people freely make ultimately have a profound impact on the feasibility of liberty itself.

    “Freedom” actually does mean that individuals are “free.” That is, in a free society, the idea is that individuals carry on their lives unencumbered by laws which would direct their decision making. When presented with a moral choice, they have the freedom to choose their own best interest at the expense of others, to choose the interests of others entirely at their own expense, or make some moral choice that reasonably balances their obligations to themselves, their families, their businesses, their fellow citizens, etc. Our society, recognizing man’s capacity for evil, also recognizes that government is a necessary evil with respect the ideal of a perfectly free society, and recognizes that fallen mankind must have some laws to govern him. Thus, in a “free society” which nevertheless accepts the necessity of laws and of government, the idea is that individuals carry on their lives minimally encumbered by laws, and that those laws are made only at the request of the people themselves. But what happens in such a society when, more often than not, an unbalanced fixation on the rights of the individual results in vaunted self-centeredness? Individuals, in aggregate, become more unrestrained in their exploitation of others, do they not?, while at the same time they become more eager to identify injustice committed against them. In short, “freedom” becomes intolerable, and the people petition the government for more laws — in this way trading their liberty for tyranny, on small piece at a time, in order to simply make life more tolerable.

    If the idea is to minimize laws and government intrusion, what general influence in society would encourage a voluntary individual restraint and a voluntary willingness to be forbearing toward others? Answer: a general religious influence. At least this was the answer given by President John Adams, who stated as much with respect to the kind of people for which our system of liberty is most suited:

    While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    TO THE OFFICERS OF THE FIRST BRIGADE OF THE THIRD DIVISION OF THE MILITIA OF MASSACHUSETTS, 11 October, 1798

    There is no hint in this that a moral or “Christian” nation is one which is intent upon codifying Christian Doctrine, or any specific religious teaching, as civil law. On the contrary, such a nation is one without the need for many laws at all because the aggregate morality of the people is one which generally impels to them to live out their Christian faith with fidelity, considering others before themselves for the sake of Christ. Such requires a vibrant religious life among the people, and a healthy Church functioning in society. To the extent that the Visible Church in the West is in decline — whether by the natural sinfulness of the humans who occupy and lead it, or the withering onslaught it has endured at the hands of the World (one of the great enemies of the Christian) — then to that extent I see that liberty is also in decline, the increasingly unchecked sinfulness of man more and more making “liberty” an intolerable proposition, driving the people to petition government for more and stronger restrictions on the words, actions and, yes, now even the thoughts that are permissible in society.

    How do we begin to re-strengthen our religious institutions — institutions that are necessary in our “free” state — without making laws that essentially codify religious teaching as civil law? There are a couple things that I can think of. (1) Eliminate laws that interfere with the ability of religious institutions to fully engage society as conscience would have them, especially laws that would erect barriers preventing religous organizations from taking on various missions of social welfare (feeding/clothing the poor, rendering medical aid, delivery of educational services, convalescent homes, orphanages, etc.), and (2) Civic leaders and politicians should go out of their way to speak well of America’s churches and religious institutions, rather than go out of their way to say nothing at all. Maybe, on occasion, they could even go so far as to encourage people to “go to church on Sunday,” in this way planting and reinforcing the idea that religion is good thing, not a bad thing, that it is not a matter of indifference in a free society, and that folks ought to seek out its influence.

    My Opinion.

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

    I’m not sure I really care how far back it goes. Or even who espouses it. And, no there isn’t “always” a deception in it saying that it is good.

  • dust

    sorry to sound so apocalyptic (it’s not very lutheran, boo hoo) but can’t help but think of “The Hollow Men” by T. S. Eliot…here’s a link to a reading; listen and see if you agree, if just a little?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwcP3NOCeiE

    it also reminds me of the story about the frog in cold water, slowly heated to boiling, versus the frog put into hot water, straightaway…..the latter is the one that jumps out and is saved, while the first one figures out his impending demise, but too late.

    sometimes that’s how i think of our times….people have warned about this and that, and were mocked and ridiculed for various reasons (many of which am sorry to say, you can read right here on this blog), the main one, my guess is to sound hip and intellectual, and modern.

    not very flattering, but it’s my opinion…from a straw man if there ever was one :)

    cheers!

  • fws

    we could tax pornography and earmark the taxes to deal with the concretely identifiable bad consequences of pornography.

    Here is the problem: where would those taxes go?

    treatment for sex offenders? no direct proven linkage….
    treatment for sexually transmitted diseases? no direct linkage..
    and taxing… who? the producers? ok we simply drive it all underground and expend and misdirect scarce law enforcement resources and create yet another bureaucracy/cost to society.

    or… we could simply forbid pornography. But what is pornography and what is not? victorias secret catalogs? the statue of vênus de milo? and that too would simply create more social cost that any prohibition Always produces.

    “pro ” pornography arguments…

    on the other hand, pornography does provide a sexual outlet for those who are not married who want to avoid socially irresponsible actions.
    There are those free Market arguments….
    It contributes to employment opportunities.
    it can be a valuable aid to those married with sexual problems perhaps

    I suggest none of those are very good arguments.

    We all are dehumanized by separating sex from the rest of who we are. And our sex, like ALL of what we are and what we have, is intended by God, in a perfect moral world, to be used to serve the needs of some other person in a way that truly serves their real needs and creaturely transitory perishable (romans 8 flesh) happiness. That´s why masturbation is less than what God desires . God desires mercy (which Always requires 2 or more persons) rather than sacrifice.

    So how to fix all these ills?
    I disagree with solzhenitzen!
    “Legalism” is what the government is supposed to do!

    All three governments God has established upon Earth, the household, society, and church, are there to make us feel the consequences of any and all of our thoughts, words and deeds that adversely effect our neighbor, and also to burden our consciences as to what we fail to do to serve others.
    These 3 governments all use “legalism ” to achieve this goal.
    We need to remember that legalism employs both carot and stick.
    Reward and punishment.
    Without the self sacrifice that these three governments demand, there would be NO mercy on Earth.
    What ELSE would they use?

    And if these 3 governments fail, then God will STILL make his Eternal Will, that is that Mercy (not self sacrifice) happens among mankind. God WILL make it happen. This will of God will happen indeed without our prayer, to the unworthy, and to even all the wicked who seek to subvert God´s will.

    In the Lord´s Prayer, please note that the 7 petitions will be done whether we are with God´s program or not!

  • fws

    and that argument about a “religious” populace.

    Everyone is religious. Even atheists. Only a fool says there is no God or god.
    Why is that?
    Romans 2:15! God has etched his Divine Law into the Reason of ALL men.
    And the Law simply will NOT go away. it cannot be dismissed.
    It will demand , then demand some more, until it requires our very life.
    so Luther: “life is death”
    This is why older people tend to mellow out and become more moral over time. Life grinds us all down. It is actually the Divine Law that is grinding us all down. contrition is latinate for to grind down.

    We do not need to worry that God´s will will not be done.
    We DO need to, each of us, fear God and his punishment if we do not do his will.
    We can leave the results to God in Faith.

    We will not be successful in fretting about the morality of others when we fall far short, every day, at doing what we are to do. It is the judges, parentes and government and churches (with their law called doctrine) which are to deal with the immorality of us or others.

    We are to attend to the vocations where God has placed us and mind our own business!

  • Grace

    fws @ 18 and 19

    You are again arguing for nothing, thinking you can split morals and sin apart, leaving what you think is law, and omitting God as the accuser.

    Another RELIGIOUS MALT, but this time you used a ‘washing machine, thinking it made things clearer. I can’t help but laugh at this latest contraption of words.

    What kind of SOAP did you use this time?

  • Grace

    “Candle in the Wind” is one of my favorite works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, although there are others as well. My copy is tucked away in a box. I hope to find it this week and read it again.

    Below is an article by by HARRISON E. SALISBURY from the New York TImes (1973) regarding the play by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “Candle in the Wind”

    September 9, 1973

    Hypothesis: We Need Science Also as a Conscience

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/03/01/home/solz-candle.html

  • Grace
  • sg

    Speaking of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, was his Two Hundred Years Together ever translated into English? I have looked and have only found it in Russian and German. Does anyone here know? I could read it in German. I just wonder why no one has bothered to publish it in English yet. Seems like it would make plenty of money.

  • Grace

    sg,

    The book you’re looking for, “Two Hundred Years Together” by Solzhenitsyn, was published in German and French, but not as yet in English. I have no idea why it hasn’t been translated into English.

  • Grace
  • Abby

    Dr Veith: “What can families, churches, and non-government organizations do?”

    I like this by C.S.Lewis about how we are to act towards our neighbors within our churches and outside of them.:

    “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.

    The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

    It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

    All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

    It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

    There are no ordinary people.

    You have never talked to a mere mortal.

    Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

    But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

    This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.

    We must play.

    But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

    And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

    Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
    —The Weight of Glory (HarperOne, 2001), pp. 45-46.”

    That’s how the early church spread the Gospel as well as by preaching and teaching God’s Word.

    We are not a country that is based on God’s Word for its law-making. We are not a theocracy. As Christians we can only affect the world from the inside out.

    Erick@4 “The church has become a weakened institution socially, theologically, and philosophically. Churches that are thriving are nothing more than consumeristic malls which cater to self-serving appetites and produce numerous idols. ” Watered down Gospel. 5-steps to everything. Even devoid of the Cross.

    “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” http://www.esvbible.org/search/1+Corinthians+2/

    fws@18 “And if these 3 governments fail, then God will STILL make his Eternal Will, that is that Mercy (not self sacrifice) happens among mankind. God WILL make it happen. This will of God will happen indeed without our prayer, to the unworthy, and to even all the wicked who seek to subvert God´s will.

    In the Lord´s Prayer, please note that the 7 petitions will be done whether we are with God´s program or not!”

    Love God. Keep our message pure, and love our neighbor. I think that is our calling in this world. That is enough to keep us busy.

  • Abby

    “What can families, churches, and non-government organizations do?” About pornography specifically?

    I knew a man who had a wife and family. He kept a mistress on the side for over 20 years. He also used prostitutes. His wife even worked alongside of the mistress at 2 of his businesses, and knew it.

    He owned a bar. Our town was religiously conservative. He took relish in ever expanding the limits of what he could do at his place of business. He took pride in bribing the “vice squad” who came to check out what he was doing. He illegally swapped cheap liquor for the expensive kind. (His bartender was the mistress.) He hired young single mothers on welfare (he paid them in cash) to also serve as prostitutes for customers. Soon he brought in strippers. He brought them home for dinner with the family.

    He was also a member of a church but did not attend except on Easter. Some of his best friends and clients were members of this same church.

    He took great joy in flaunting his “freedom” to do this. He had no shame in it. He expected his family to support his endeavors and work for him at these places. Which some of them did.

    Some of his family would not engage with this and were faithful and active members in their church. They were mocked and derided all the time. Even called names. All the while, they maintained an attitude of respect, honor, and love for him. But they would not participate with him at his businesses.

    Then he lost everything. It all came crashing down. Very near the end of his life he began soaking up Christian programs on TV. He donned a cross necklace. He did not return to church. Was he converted? I do not know. But it seemed like it might have happened. There was nothing verbal, but there were other signs.

    A person who wants a life of pornography will get it. The industry is so huge, we can see that many people want it. If a person has a lust for sex it borders on insanity. It is near impossible to break free from it.

    What to do with it on a massive scale? I have no idea. I wish it could be shut down. I don’t believe the devil will allow that to happen. It has catastrophic effects on families. It is hard and painful. It causes people to hurt people devastatingly. It is abusive. It is evil and will not be allowed to enter heaven unrepented. Is that fair? Yes.

  • dust

    another poem appropriate for our times:

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172062

    cheers?

  • Grace

    Abby @ 21

    “I knew a man who had a wife and family. He kept a mistress on the side for over 20 years. He also used prostitutes. His wife even worked alongside of the mistress at 2 of his businesses, and knew it.

    He owned a bar. Our town was religiously conservative. He took relish in ever expanding the limits of what he could do at his place of business. He took pride in bribing the “vice squad” who came to check out what he was doing. He illegally swapped cheap liquor for the expensive kind. (His bartender was the mistress.) He hired young single mothers on welfare (he paid them in cash) to also serve as prostitutes for customers. Soon he brought in strippers. He brought them home for dinner with the family.

    He was also a member of a church but did not attend except on Easter. Some of his best friends and clients were members of this same church”

    Abby, this is quite a story. Just how do you know FOR FACT that this man actually did all these things?

    You say your “Our town was religiously conservative” – if that’s true, why did they stand by and “allow prostitutes for customers” ETC, ETC, ETC. All the time, his wife KNEW? and your town allowed such unlawful behavior – and his wife never left, and knew as well? Are you also intimating that he had children who had to endure such embarrassment? I ask again – “Just how do you know FOR a FACT that this man actually did all these things?”

    You then state that ” Some of his best friends and clients were members of this same church” – …….

    Abby, I’m a pastors daughter. Stuff happens in many cities, towns, and anywhere. However, illegal activities as the ones you state here, I have never heard of, even in the big city of which my father was a pastor. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, but I wonder, just how you have ALL THESE DETAILS? Your pastor never made a move to remove those who attended the church were Some of his best friends and clients were members of this same church”

  • Abby

    Grace @29 “Your pastor never made a move to remove those who attended the church”

    Not my pastor.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Not to the extent of Abby’s story, but I’ve personally seen unrepentant adulterers ushering at the church I grew up in. I don’t know about Abby’s church, but in mine, church discipline was difficult because there were any number of other areas where they had compromised. Put differently, it’s hard for a pastoress ignoring Paul’s admonitions to elders and overseers to hold someone to the Scripture in terms of Paul’s words on marriage.

    So I don’t doubt Abby’s story. In a small town, word gets around.

  • dust

    fws….can’t help but chuckle a bit and wonder what kind of response your comments would get from an OT prophet :)

    cheers!

  • fws

    dust @ 32

    God called the OT prophets into their vocation as prophets.

    The problem is that some think they have the same vocation and call as Jeremiah and … they do not.

  • fws

    dust @ 32

    There is a story in the OT where king saul was ready to do battle. the prophet was late and a sacrifice needed to be made. what to do?

    king saul made the sacrifice.

    God didnt like it. “It is better to obey than to sacrifice”. we are to mind our own business, which is to mind to the vocation in which God has placed us and trust God when there is something needing done that God has not given us the responsibility for.

  • George A. Marquart

    A few words about Solzhenitsyn: He was a wonderful observer and chronicler, but a terrible philosopher – his ego was just too large for that. The first person whom Solzhenitsyn wanted to see after he was exiled from the USSR was Fr. Alexander Schmemann. They went on a retreat together near Zurich for several days. They became very close friends. But over the years, they became practically estranged, because Fr. Schmemann, the great orthodox preacher of joy in the faith, could not tolerate Solzhenitsyn’s intolerance and belief in his own infallibility. You can read all about that in Fr. Schmemann’s diary, which is available, in English, on line.

    Solzhenitsyn wrote a great deal about morality, but he never offered a way to acquire it. We Lutherans aren’t even quite sure about it, because we have become estranged from the Holy Spirit. We no longer teach that it is only the new creature, who rises from the waters of Baptism, who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, who is capable of improving his moral behavior. Instead we go through the “because He loved us, we respond with love” rhetoric.

    The last book by Solzhenitsyn that I read was “August 1914”. (As an aside, what I think is a very significant quote from that book. I don’t recall who said it to whom, but the gist of it was, “But you understand that the soul of the Russian people has never been Christian.”) I read a few excerpts of later works, but after the Harvard speech, it became clear to me that Solzhenitsyn did not understand what was happening in America, because he did not understand the changes that had taken place in this country since its foundation. He criticized a great deal of what he did not understand, and he offered no solutions. Simply saying, “Thou shalt not” does not help people to do the right thing. I did not read “200 Years Together” (Dvesti Let Vmeste), but I did read Semen Reznik’s “Vmeste ili Vroz?” (“Together or Apart”), an excellent refutation of Solzhenitsyn’s book. It clearly demonstrates that Solzhenitsyn was a simple anti-Semite, who had convinced himself that he was not.

    Unfortunately neither book is available in English. Even if “200 Years Together” is never translated into English, Reznik’s book should certainly be. It explains why anti-Semitism has remained endemic in Russia to this day.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • dust

    fws….ah yes, vocation! such an ambiguous word….who decides who’s vocation is what? and who decides what one does in that vocation?

    hey, am a cobbler, so i make shoes….hopefully good ones! hey, am a citizen, so my vocation is to mind my own business? isn’t the vocation of a citizen a bit more than just that?

    so it just seems so ambiguous…..how do we know our vocation? how do we know the details of the “job description” for my self-ascribed vocation?

    but at least it sounds good :)

    cheers!

  • SKPeterson

    Frank @ 34 – I thought that the lesson of King Saul and the illicit sacrifice was to show Saul’s lack of trust in the promises of God. Saul’s problem was that he never could take God at His word, so he continually sought to do his own thing and then try to excuse it afterwards as doing “what God would have wanted” even when he as in direct contravention of God’s explicit instructions.

    George @ 35 – Good point. We Lutherans tend to take the gift of regeneration throught the Holy Spirit granted in Baptism and … leave it alone. We often do ignore the fact that now that we have become regenerate we are essentially slaves to Christ and free now to do His bidding. And what to do? The Law, as Frank so ably reminds us. We are freed now to concern ourselves with our neighbor, not only through our vocations, but also through our witness to others in living lives of holiness and righteousness. What we need to do, though, is clearly discern what is holy and righteous living – the difference, say, between drinking wine and engaging in drunkenness – and always, always, undertaking our discernment and attempts at righteous living with humility and repentance.

  • dust

    fws….many laws and standards in our country have changed over the past many years (drug laws, obscenity laws, civil rights, etc) some for good and some for bad, depending upon your position and interest in them.

    most likely, many of the changes were the results of “citizens” acting upon their understanding of that “vocation” and would guess that many of those changes would not have happened if they had listened to the folks who told them to just “mind their own business”?

    seems like folks want to tell others to “mind their own business” when it serves their interests, at least in my humble opinion and observations.

    wish people who go around crying mind your own business, would mind their own business…but they probably won’t, and that’s ok, they may feel it is their vocation :)

    cheers!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    dust @ 38 – that is quite a good observation.

  • Grace

    George @ 35

    “Solzhenitsyn wrote a great deal about morality, but he never offered a way to acquire it. We Lutherans aren’t even quite sure about it, because we have become estranged from the Holy Spirit. We no longer teach that it is only the new creature, who rises from the waters of Baptism, who has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him, who is capable of improving his moral behavior. Instead we go through the “because He loved us, we respond with love” rhetoric.”

    The HOLY Spirit is within me. How did you become estranged from the HOLY Spirit?

    13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 1 John 4

    “The last book by Solzhenitsyn that I read was “August 1914”. (As an aside, what I think is a very significant quote from that book. I don’t recall who said it to whom, but the gist of it was, “But you understand that the soul of the Russian people has never been Christian.”) “

    George, — it is of utmost importance who made that statement, otherwise it doesn’t mean anything. I have the book “August 1914″ – It would be wise George, to accurately state the phrase, and the author, before throwing it out, for whatever reason you had in mind!

  • George A. Marquart

    SKPeterson @37. Thanks for your kind comments. I have always thought that the formula, “we are free to …”, doesn’t quite get it. Because being free to do something does not provide the motivation for doing it. Regeneration makes us new creatures who are not only “free to …”, but it also gives us the motivation, as St. Paul argues in 1Cor.2:16, “but we have the mind of Christ.” I have always been suspicious of bringing the Law into this equation, because I have never heard a pastor telling of a parishioner who had killed someone because he had forgotten that “thou shalt not kill” and needed to be reminded.

    But that we are “free to …” is probably the most joyful aspect of the Gospel, because we are free from worry about our own eternal destiny and are, therefore, able to devote ourselves to the care of others – as our Lord would have us. “When did we see Thee hungry, or thirsty …”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Grace @40 I should know better than to respond to your taunts. The last time you insulted me, I had the good sense to simply not respond. But I have been an optimist for all of my 76 years, and, just like Charlie Brown, I will try to kick the ball again.

    It was Hermann Sasse in “On the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit”, Letters to Lutheran Pastors, No. 51, July/August 1960 (see how careful I am documenting this) who approvingly quoted Otto Henning Nebe, “If indeed the true doctrine of the Holy Spirit has lost its place (Heimatrecht sic) (Heimatrecht actually means citizenship –GAM) in church and congregation (he was writing about the Lutheran Church, GAM) , then it cannot be long before the reality of the Holy Spirit is also lost to us, just as Christ ceases to be present when He is not truly taught, when His Gospel and sacraments are falsified.”

    I personally believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of the children of God. I certainly have not become estranged from Him. But I know that many Lutheran pastors are not very clear in what they believe about the Holy Spirit.

    As to my quotation from August 1914, I don’t know why it is of “utmost” importance for me to cite who said it to whom. I wrote it as an “aside”, because it had something to do with how Solzhenitsyn viewed Christianity in Russia. I read the book in 1971 and, for some reason, remembered the quotation verbatim for all those years, “Ведь ты же знаешь что душа русского человека ни когда не была христианской.” I no longer own the book, but if you think it is that important, please feel free to look for it.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Grace

    George @35 and 42

    This is what you stated @ 35

    ““The last book by Solzhenitsyn that I read was “August 1914”. (As an aside, what I think is a very significant quote from that book. I don’t recall who said it to whom, but the gist of it was, “But you understand that the soul of the Russian people has never been Christian.”) “

    Now you post @ 42

    “As to my quotation from August 1914, I don’t know why it is of “utmost” importance for me to cite who said it to whom. I wrote it as an “aside”, because it had something to do with how Solzhenitsyn viewed Christianity in Russia. I read the book in 1971 and, for some reason, remembered the quotation verbatim for all those years, “Ведь ты же знаешь что душа русского человека ни когда не была христианской.” I no longer own the book, but if you think it is that important, please feel free to look for it.”

    I see, first it’s a “gist of it was” and NOW, it’s “remembered the quotation verbatim” – You do know the difference between “gist” and “verbatim” don’t you? “Verbatim” is stating someing in exactly the same words; word for word. “Gist” is a central idea, not at all the same, it can be misconstrued, which happens all too often, when someone wants to make a point they don’t have – and then plead, not knowing who stated it.

    “Ведь ты же знаешь что душа русского человека ни когда не была христианской.” I no longer own the book, but if you think it is that important, please feel free to look for it. – - I don’t read, or speak Russian – I have looked for the quote, and it cannot be found. Why don’t you look for it, and then give it in English, along with info as to what page it can be found.

    It is IMPORTANT to KNOW who wrote the quote, if it actually exists. It appears you might like to link Solzhenitsyn to the quote, but evidently you can’t, nor can you ascribe it to anyone else.

    Your “Charlie Brown” act is sophomoric, to say the least!

  • Grace

    George @ 42

    “I personally believe that the Holy Spirit dwells in each one of the children of God. I certainly have not become estranged from Him. But I know that many Lutheran pastors are not very clear in what they believe about the Holy Spirit.”

    I’m sorry to hear that regarding Lutheran pastors. Anyone, be they a pastor, or layman, can see how clear it’s stated in Scripture.

    13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

    14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

    15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 1 John 4

    Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

  • SKPeterson

    Grace, please. Try to be charitable. Your grousing adds nothing to this discussion. What point are you making in attacking George? Is this revenge for the faux De Tocqueville fiasco of a few weeks ago?

    George is quoting verbatim from the Russian to the best of his memory and providing the gist in English. You have heard of meaning being “lost in translation” don’t you? Solzhenitsyn wrote the quote, or at least its approximation. When George is referring to who said what to whom, he is referring to the characters in the novel. Sort of like remembering if it was Starbuck or Queequeg who said something in Moby Dick after recalling a passage from being read 40 years ago and then translating it into passable Russian.

    And you are being just like Lucy and yanking the ball away again.

    Patience, Grace, please.

  • George A. Marquart

    Grace @43. Yes, I do know the difference between “gist” and “verbatim.” This was gist, ““But you understand that the soul of the Russian people has never been Christian.” This was verbatim, “Ведь ты же знаешь что душа русского человека ни когда не была христианской.”

    You need not respond to any more of my postings, because I will not respond to them.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • SKPeterson

    Grace @ 44 – This is probably due to a focus by Lutheran pastors almost exclusively on the holiness/justice of the Father and the salvific work of Jesus Christ in the Atonement. Between those two, the Holy Spirit unfortunately gets some undeservedly short shrift by pastors. It is not that the pastors don’t have a clear conception of Who the Holy Spirit is or His purpose, but that they too often do not communicate much about Him because they are focusing almost exclusively on the first two Persons of the Trinity. In doing so, they actually then let the Third Person do His work in the conviction of sins, the encouraging of repentance, and pointing the hearer of the Word to The Word Made Flesh.

  • Grace

    SKP

    George is quoting verbatim from the Russian to the best of his memory and providing the gist in English. You have heard of meaning being “lost in translation” don’t you? Solzhenitsyn wrote the quote, or at least its approximation. When George is referring to who said what to whom, he is referring to the characters in the novel. Sort of like remembering if it was Starbuck or Queequeg who said something in Moby Dick after recalling a passage from being read 40 years ago and then translating it into passable Russian.”

    Your support SKP, is a poor excuse. There is no “translation” lost. The quote cannot be found. Until it is, along with the page number in Solzhenitsyn’s “August 1914” I don’t accept what is not there. If it’s found, that’s great. Something as important as this subject, deserves more than a “gist” without any substantial proof.

    blockquote>
    And you are being just like Lucy and yanking the ball away again.

    Get over the cartoons SKP – it’s childish! You don’t have a ball to play with, nor does George, all you’ve done is “gist” it, which doesn’t work, and then, change course for “verbatim” – LOL, however it really isn’t funny at all.

  • tODD

    George (@46), much as I think Grace is going about this her all-too-typical way, I must say that I couldn’t find that quote anywhere, either — in English or Russian. Except, of course, as quoted by you (both on this post and an earlier one at this blog).

    I’ll admit that I don’t speak Russian, and my knowledge of how to search the texts of Russian books is limited to whatever Google may turn up. But I tried lots of subsets of the quote in both languages, and found nothing.

    Clearly, you have the phrase memorized (you quoted it the same, several months ago). But it’s not clear where the quote can be found, aside from your quotes. Again, Grace isn’t going about it the best way, but she does raise a valid point, all the same.

    If you won’t answer her (I don’t blame you), would you entertain my question? Can you point to some other source — in either language — that backs up this quote?

  • George A. Marquart

    tODD @49.

    tODD, I have had an interest in Christianity in Russia for as long as I can remember. Although I do not remember too many things from August 1914 from when I read it, in Russian, in 1971, when I read this passage it was something like an electric shock. That is why I remembered it. (As an aside, I discussed this with some members of my Russian family at the time. My parents actually knew the daughter of General Samsonov, who lived on the Tolstoy Farm in Valley Cottage, NY. This being an aside, I cannot prove what I just said, because all of the participants in these conversations are dead and they left no notes for posterity. But it isn’t a matter of my having read the passage in 1971 and then writing about it for the first time today. There was some lively discussion on the subject with my family at the time.)

    I don’t know why it is so important to get an accurate citation, because I just mentioned it as an aside. But I suppose once we claim something to be true we have to come up with the exact information.

    I too searched Google, both in Russian and English and came up with nothing, although I only searched about 30 results in each language, so there were about 3000 more to go. I have sent an inquiry to a relative of mine who has a doctorate in Russian literature. Her dissertation was on “Spiritual values in the works of A. I. Solzhenitsyn.” If she cannot help me, I’ll just have to get the book out of the library and slog my way through it again. Fortunately to the best of my recollection, it was not too far into the book.

    I’ll let you know when I come up with something, but I don’t know how far into the archives this particular posting will be by then.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Grace

    George,

    I have been interested in Solzhenitsyn’s books, plays, etc. for some time. I too have found Russia, their history a very interesting subject, including their involvement during WW2.

    I don’t want this discussion to deteriorate, so that we cannot be friendly.

    God’s blessings to you George.

  • Grace

    SKPeterson and tODD,

    The dissention between us needs to end. There will always be doctrine that we disagree, but harsh words, from myself and you, is not of God, or picking fights. We need to be a testimony for our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    God bless you both, and may we find ways to be ‘kinder when we disagree.

  • tODD

    George (@50), I admit it isn’t the most significant point ever, but it is one you have made twice now on this blog. As one who was just idly following this conversation, I was struck more by my inability to find anything like that quote in August 1914. I mean, I get that translations offer the potential for variation and all that, but still.

    I found two versions of the book that could be searched on Amazon.com (first one; second one). I decided to search just for the word “Christian”, as it seemed rather key to the quote in question, and least likely to be translated in some other fashion. Both searches turned up 14 results for “Christian”, none of which really sound like your quote.

    The closest I could come — and this was on page 534, quite a ways in — was this sentence attributed to Stolypin:

    The Russian state and the Christian church are bound together by ties many centuries old. Devotion to Russia’s historical principles is the counterweight to rootless socialism.

    Of course, that says almost the opposite of “the soul of the Russian people has never been Christian.” But, again, that was the closest match in the book for any sentence containing the word “Christian”.

    So I find myself intrigued by this mystery.

  • SKPeterson

    All I am saying is that George is asserting the quote to be from August 1914 and that he remembers the quote in Russian verbatim. When I searched the phrase on Google yesterday evening, I also struck out a la Todd. I did find an odd match to a Russian commentary on Tertullian, but that’s about it.

    I agree with the sniping Grace, but I think you could go about phrasing your questions to George in a more polite way than effectively calling him an idiot. By his own admission the quote was from 40 years ago, but 40 years ago I was reading Dick and Jane at best and could probably only half remember something about a hill or a puppy.

  • fws

    Grace @ 52

    Amen!
    It is a fine and truly Christian confession of sin to include, first of all, your own self in what you said.
    You have set a fine example of Godly repentence for us all.

    St James “Confess your sins to one another , and you WILL be healed.”
    This is a promise!

    Please pray for me that I take your words to heart and confess my own shortcomings just as you have dear sister!

  • Grace

    Now, now SKP – writing

    I agree with the sniping Grace, but I think you could go about phrasing your questions to George in a more polite way than effectively calling him an idiot.”

    Using your comment – (Grace) “sniping” and then ( tODD) “idiot” – when tODD didn’t call George an “idiot” as you say. However you assert he did without the words, “effectively” –

    sniping – definition
    To make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks.

    How much longer do you intend to carry this on?

  • Grace

    fws @ 55

    Thank you fws. :)

    I hope you are feeling much better. I prayed for you often, and continue to pray, for your needs.

  • George A. Marquart

    tODD @53 I didn’t know Amazon lets you search for words in books. Thanks for this information. I searched for “soul” in both editions and found 44 results – none the one I cited. I also did “Christian” with the same result, except for the number of occurrences.

    Now I am beginning to question my sanity. But I notices the copyright dates indicate that these translations were made some years after the original copyright issued in 1971. I am wondering whether Solzhenitsyn edited his original text because of some adverse reaction to this sentence.

    Although my memory is extremely hazy about the setting of this quote, it seems to me it involved the conversation of an engineer and someone else. These were not any of the main characters in the book.

    I will have to push my PhD relative to see if she can throw any light on this.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • fws

    Grace @ 56

    We can´t control the behavior of others.
    We simply have to die to our right to be righteously right when others do us wrong.
    St Paul describes the fruits that are the proof that we have the love that God demands of us.

    Among those are to give up the right to be angry and receive justice when we have been wronged , and instead reach for forgiveness. That is what the word “mercy” means of course.

    If you read the list in 1 cor 13, you will know , from knowing me here Grace, that I fail miserably at doing these fruits. Sadly Grace, I read this list every single morning, asking God for the grace to do love by showing its fruits just as 1 Cor 13 demands of me.

    Yet I find myself doing the same sins against that list in 1 cor 13 over and over and over and over…..

    I never seem to learn! And I am currently feeling alot of pain over all that.
    God has threatened to punish all who transgress his demand that we do these fruits of love for others.
    I continually fail. Over and over and over.
    “The human heart is dark beyond knowing”.
    I am personally experiencing what God´s Word says about my heart Grace in trying to do what 1 cor 13 demands.

    Pray for me Grace that God will not need to send punishment and suffering to me to make me wise up and learn to do his will that is to do love and mercy towards others.
    Pray that God gives me the mercy I do NOT desserve rather than the just punishment I deserve.

    Pray for me!

  • fws

    grace @ 5Thank you so much for your prayers. I covet your prayers.
    Now you know, more specifically, the desperate situation I am in, and so you know, more specifically, what help I am in need of.

    I trust and believe that God will answer your prayers as an intercessor and priestess on my behalf!
    “you are a royal priesthood”!

  • Grace

    fws @ 60

    I searched back (in my records) to see when I first began posting on this blog (I read off and on for some time first) it was fall of 2010. That is when I met most of you.

    fws, what I can say to you is this, I won’t stop praying for you, God knows your heart, which I am not privy to, even though I know some of your circumstances. I pray fws, that you relinquish your heart and soul to HIM, the finisher of our faith. Don’t hold onto anything that is questionable, it isn’t easy, I have had to reassess my life over and over again, and pray for mercy, it won’t end, until our LORD takes us out of this world. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God.

    God bless you as you look to HIM for all the answers, they cannot be found anywhere else.

  • fws

    skp @ 37

    I suggest that your Reading of the story of King Saul sacrificing , and the spiritual lesson to learn from that, is not as superficial as you suggest. I suggest that it is about this:

    http://bookofconcord.org/defense_5_love.php#para82
    Read through paragraph 95] please.

    “We Lutherans tend to take the gift of regeneration throught the Holy Spirit granted in Baptism and … leave it alone. We often do ignore the fact that now that we have become regenerate we are essentially slaves to Christ and free now to do His bidding. And what to do? The Law, as Frank so ably reminds us.”

    St Paul identifies 3 kinds of sinners. 1) those “under the Law” , ie the Jews, 2)those “outside of the Law”, ie the Gentiles, and … 3) believers. Believers are “in the Law but not under the Law”.

    Here is the error: Many suggest that “outside of the Law” means that there is a group of renegade reprobates who are outside the Law in this sense: the HS is not driving and accusing and killing them by the Law. They are reprobate. God has abandoned them to their sin and idolatry. Often gay men are the group that this heinous error is applied to.
    This is why EVERY paper I have ever read that claims to “minister to homosexuals and their families” Always, Always refuses to talk TO homosexuals. They insist on talking about homosexuals as “they” or “them” who are Always outside of the room.
    Why is that? We can have buddhists, muslims, even atheists in the room and dialog with them. Homosexuals who even claim to be truly repentent christians? not so much.
    Dialog or apologetics with this group is viewed as “condoning sin”, or as “flirting with evil”.
    Pastors who do this quickly are met with hostility.

    What is wrong with this Picture?

    This error completely castrates the entire argument of the Epistle to the Romans. Cf Romans 2:1 .

    It completely perverts what St Paul defines as true repentence as distinguished from that repentence that natural man , with his natural law, free will, and human power can fully know and do.
    Natural man can do ALL repentence in thought, word and deed except, alone, one kind.

    That one kind of true repentence, that alone, requires the HS and Christ, is to trust , alone, in Two Words. It is new heart movements that alone come by Baptism. It is a broken heart. it is a circumcision of the heart.

    God does indeed demand the repentence that Natural Man can do with the natural Law written in his reason.
    This FC art V SD describes as “repentence ” in the broad sense.
    But natural man cannot do that one “spiritual ” thing that is to keep the Law of the Spirit that demands, alone, Faith , alone , in Christ alone, that fully excludes any doing. This, alone, is “repentence ” in the broad sense, and Gospel in the “narrow sense ” (again fc V).

    Sometimes this error comes in the form of calling someone “antinomian”. The error we call “antonomianism ” is that some Christians think they must take a cosmic erasor and eliminate the Law by erasing the three letters “L.A.W.” But…. St Paul says that the Law will NEVER go away! It will continue to accuse, kill and terrify our consciences. Why? The Law is written by God in the Reason of ALL men. Rom 2:15. And so the WORK of the Law (NOT the Law itself!) is written in the hearts of all men! And that work of the Law that is written in the hearts is what? The experience of death and dying. Mortification (latinate for deathing). Contrition (latinate for grinding down). The heart is besieged with accusations.

    So here is the danger of antinomianism. Since the Law does not, in reality go away, Those antinomian Christians start calling the Law “Gospel” and so they obscure and lose sight of what the Gospel is, and turn “Gospel” into “third use”, “fruits of the spirit”, “gospel encouragenments”, “the christian walk”, etc etc. antinomianism is not libertinism. Usually it is good ol ELCA style pietism actually. It is Law on stearoids. It is love and mercy confused as being that Love and Mercy that alone are the Work of Christ. It is the Work of Christ in us confused with the Work of Christ, completely and utterly outside of us. or …. it is to make the work of Christ inside of us into tangible proof of Faith.
    Good words prove Faith. They are not proof of it.

    That is why the Confessions say that this “natural law” of natural man, will produce only two kinds of sinners: the proud pharisaic ones and the epicurean despairing ones.

    It is only when Christ himself comes and unveils the Law that is veiled to Reason by the Veil of Moses that man can truly experience repentence. How does he do this? It is when Christ Crucified is preached that Christ himself comes and preaches the Law in a way that he unveils it. Only There.
    And this must only be done by preachers who are sent.
    Why? This preachment must NEVER be separated from the unconditional Two Words “For YOU”!

    Yet, for many of us, Christ Crucified is preached , the most terrifying Law, and… the Two Words are withheld! Why? “You do not manifest true repentence with your “lifestyle”! May God preserve us from this horrible error!

    Our Confessions tell us that true repentence is when the truly Virtuous feel bankrupt, because they realize that God demands not only outward obedience in thought , word and deed, but also that obedience is done, spontaneously, with our free will, from the heart… effortlessly! as first nature!
    Only then can Christ then also, teach us to hide all our Virtue inside the Virtue of Another.

    The sins we commit with our thoughts, words and deeds are not the faults of our brains , arms , legs, and mouth. Those members are only following orders. They are taking orders from our hearts that are exactly as the formula of Concord art I describes. We are sinners by our very nature and essence.

    Morality is powerless to end sin. Therefore it is powerless to produce true repentence. This is true even though God promises to punish immorality.

    Paradoxically it is, alone, Holy Baptism , that can put an end to sin forever!

    And where is it that a reprobate gay get true repentence except in only ONE place.
    Gays must use their free will to pick up their feet and show up and hear a sermon.
    Church is the ONLY place where true repentence must and can happen.

    If carnal repentence (FC V repentence in the narrow sense) that natural man can do is demanded as a prerequisite for being welcomed in church, then the same rule will eventually be applied to all of us.
    In that case, the Gospel will be lost.

  • SKPeterson

    Grace – my comment on sniping was not directed to you per se, but to all of us. Apologies if that came over the wrong way. In sum, I am agreeing with you. But, I still would appreciate it if you tried to tone it down some on some of your replies, and I will endeavor to do the same, as I am sure Todd will attempt to do as well.

    The big problem is Frank’s egregious and wholly incomplete justification for his fly-by-night interpretations of basic biblical stories. ;)

    Frank – I am not suggesting that the reading of Saul and the sacrifice is in any way superficial, but that it is in stark contrast to the example found in the AC that you cited regarding the obedience and faith of Abraham. Abraham, too, attempted to speed God along, i.e. Ishmael, but he did manage something Saul did not do – he repented. Beyond that, I have no major issues with your comments @ 62. When you get a chance hop over to Kilcrease’s blog – he has a very good little segment just posted on legalism and antinomianism that you’d probably enjoy.

  • George A. Marquart

    SKPeterson @63
    You wrote, “Abraham, too, attempted to speed God along, i.e. Ishmael, but he did manage something Saul did not do – he repented.” I know I miss a lot of stuff when I read, but where does it say that Abraham repented?

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Grace

    SKP @ 63

    “In sum, I am agreeing with you. But, I still would appreciate it if you tried to tone it down some on some of your replies, and I will endeavor to do the same, as I am sure Todd will attempt to do as well.”

    My post 52

    “SKPeterson and tODD,

    The dissention between us needs to end. There will always be doctrine that we disagree, but harsh words, from myself and you, is not of God, or picking fights. We need to be a testimony for our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.

    God bless you both, and may we find ways to be ‘kinder when we disagree.”

    It’s all about “WE” – There is no “BUT” or “tone it down” - it’s all about “WE”

    Disagreeing is just fine, we don’t agree on all doctrine – but slippery name calling is obvious, like “sniping”

    ENOUGH!

  • Grace

    I have found nothing in the Bible where Abraham repented.

    The passage below is very thought provoking:

    And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
    Genesis 22:2

    thine only son

  • tODD

    Grace, you wrote a nice comment (@52) a little while ago, but I would ask you to inspect the several comments you’ve written since then, to see if you have followed your own (good) advice to be kind when disagreeing.

    You are prone to misreading comments, and this seems to give rise to much of your rancor. For instance, your reply (@56) to SK doesn’t make sense — he wasn’t implying that I had called George an “idiot”. Read it again. (Read it in context with his later comment @63, if that helps.)

    And, if I may be honest, when it’s pointed out to you that you’ve misread a comment, you also have a tendency to lash out, accusing people of playing word games or the like. It makes it hard to have a conversation with you.

    And, though I know that you prefer it for some reason, your tendency to bold, underline, all-caps, and — I don’t know why — make things look like links (though they aren’t) does tend to make your comments appear as if they are being shouted at us. It looks kind of rude.

    I do appreciate that you included yourself (@52) in the list of people employing harsh words — I will interpret that as an apology — but, again, you appear to have gone harsh a number of times since you said that. That is the human condition, of course. We do repeatedly choose to engage in certain sins, even though we know better.

    But I forgive you, Grace.

    And I apologize for the many, many times I have been mean to you, and have not thought or shown love to you.

  • Grace

    tODD,

    You also use the blue lettering, I’ve read it on some of your posts.

    You’ve made a habit of ‘correcting what you believe are my mistakes, regarding bold, etc., but you forget tODD, many others do the same thing, even to the point of BOLDING entire lengthy paragraphs.

    tODD,

    SKP remark

    ““I agree with the sniping Grace, but I think you could go about phrasing your questions to George in a more polite way than effectively calling him an idiot.”

    I should not have brought you tODD, into the mix, that was a mistake. However, I did not “effectively call George and “idiot” – don’t exaggerate, it doesn’t serve you well ;)

  • SKPeterson

    Grace @ 66 – see this regarding the concept of repentance and Abraham: http://www.gospelchapel.com/Sermons/Genesis/364.htm

    Also, the sniping comment was directed to everyone, not just you.

  • fws

    Grace @66

    SKP I am pretty certain is talking ab0ut the repentence of Abraham in the total arc of the story of his life.
    Earlier God had promised Abraham that the Seed would come from him.

    So what did he do? He did as King Saul didwhen he chose to make a sacrifice before battle, even though he was not a Levite.

    Rather than exercise Faith and wait on God, Abraham anxiously made sacrifice , thinking that he could, or needed, to DO something to help God fulfill his Promise..

    His repentence was manifest when he was obedient in Faith when God told him to make a sacrifice of that son that was part of the fulfillment of that Promise.

    Since the entire OT is, entirely, a testamony that is about Christ, I think it is appropriate to reflect on all the times I anxiously have rushed to DO something, often I consider to be a pious and christian DOing to escape or flee from some afliction or suffering. And I do that trusting in present things, rather than wait, in Faith, for God to have his way and will with me. It is right in the middle of troubles that Faith is strengthened and grows. I fail, again and again to trust God when suffering or troubles of life come. What God orders in my life simply must be good. ALL things work for good to those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.

    I need to keep my gaze on Christ. Instead I keep returning the focus to what it is I am doing or not doing and that is ruinous!

    Lord have mercy.
    pray for me Grace!

    Nowhere is the word repentance used, but the substance of “metanoia” is certainly there!

  • tODD

    Grace (@68), you keep sounding defensive. Do you want to have a nice conversation, or don’t you?

    Yes, I’ve used “the blue lettering” — when I’ve made a link to a different webpage. That’s the entire point of the <a> HTML tag, to make a link. Not just to make blue letters that change when you hover over them. When you click on my “blue lettering”, it takes you to the thing I’m referring to. When you click on yours, it goes nowhere, though it looks like it should. It’s a little annoying.

    And whether or not other people do it, I am trying to communicate to you that your comments frequently come across as if you are screaming and mad. To the degree you don’t want to sound like that, you really should reconsider your frequent use of all those HTML tags and all-caps. You don’t have to believe me, but it’ll probably result in your getting in more heated debates. Nobody likes being shouted at, and it is very difficult to sound reasonable when it looks like you’re shouting.

    I did not “effectively call George and “idiot” – don’t exaggerate, it doesn’t serve you well

    Come on, Grace. It’s right up there (@43, in particular)! You condescendingly asked George, “You do know the difference between ‘gist’ and ‘verbatim’ don’t you?” And then you concluded, “Your ‘Charlie Brown’ act is sophomoric, to say the least!”

    At one point you sounded contrite and apologetic. I have yet to see you follow up on that, Grace. Now you won’t even admit to doing what it’s clear you did.

    But I forgive you for these sins, as well.

  • fws

    skp @ 63

    i will check out Kilcreases site! thanks.

  • fws

    Aw Todd. Give Grace a little grace ok dear brother?
    None of us perfectly repent.

  • Grace

    Todd, “Yes, I’ve used “the blue lettering” — when I’ve made a link to a different webpage. “

    NOOOOO, I have observed and read your posts, you do it – I hit the so called LINK, as you like to call it, and there was none. A few other commenters do it as well.

    YOU WRITE: …… “And then you concluded, “Your ‘Charlie Brown’ act is sophomoric, to say the least!”

    George used Charlie Brown at 42

    SKP used the “Lucy” routine in post 45

    I answered SKP at 48 with ” cartoons”

    :LOL:

  • tODD

    Grace (@74), if it’s really important to you to claim that I do the same thing you do with fake links — even if you’re missing my larger point that your typographical habits frequently make it seem as if you are screaming a lot — then I will hold you to the same standard as you used with George, and insist that you find evidence to back up your claim.

    Also, while I get the Charlie Brown reference, you also seem to be ignoring the word “sophomoric”, with which you labeled George. You said his “act is sophomoric, to say the least” and you also condescendingly asked if he knew the difference between “gist” and “verbatim”. And yet you protest any notion that you effectively called him an “idiot”. Why? Why won’t you just admit what is there for all to see?

    Why, for that matter, did you write your post (@52), which you seem to have forgotten or repudiated in every comment since?

  • SKPeterson

    George @ 64 – There is no specific verse that says Abraham repented, though he is chided by God on several occasions and it is a subtext of the transition of Abram to Abraham. From commentaries I’ve read, Abraham lived a life of faith and repentance, which is the background to the why when the Jews are admonished by John as a brood of vipers – they claim Abraham as their pater familias, but they do not follow his example of faith and repentance. This gets echoed in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; the life of faith is a life of repentance, of turning from our attempts to sway God and earn His favor, to one of accepting His gift of grace.

    To the point, of Abraham and Saul though – did God not make promises to both? Did both not try to help God along, or to impose their own will upon God’s plan? Yet, one was counted as righteous despite his sins, while the other was condemned for essentially the same sins. What was the difference? Faith. Even though Abraham’s faith in the promises of God was shown to be weak, even null, when he took Hagar to his bed. As weak and as null as the faith of Saul when he decided not to wait on Samuel. What then could account for this difference in outcomes? Abraham returned to his faith, i.e. a metanoia, or repentance, while Saul abandoned his and was given over to the torments that afflicted him for the rest of his life.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Eish, you all sound like my kids sometimes!

    Stop it or I’ll turn this car right around!!

    :) :)

  • SKPeterson

    Sorry for a double post – but my original has been hung up and is “in moderation”.

    George @ 64 – There is no specific verse that says Abraham repented, though he is chided by God on several occasions and it is a subtext of the transition of Abram to Abraham. From commentaries I’ve read, Abraham lived a life of faith and repentance, which is the background to the why when the Jews are admonished by John as a brood of vipers – they claim Abraham as their pater familias, but they do not follow his example of faith and repentance. This gets echoed in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; the life of faith is a life of repentance, of turning from our attempts to sway God and earn His favor, to one of accepting His gift of grace.
    To the point, of Abraham and Saul though – did God not make promises to both? Did both not try to help God along, or to impose their own will upon God’s plan? Yet, one was counted as righteous despite his sins, while the other was condemned for essentially the same sins. What was the difference? Faith. Even though Abraham’s faith in the promises of God was shown to be weak, even null, when he took Hagar to his bed. As weak and as null as the faith of Saul when he decided not to wait on Samuel. What then could account for this difference in outcomes? Abraham returned to his faith, i.e. a metanoia, or repentance, while Saul abandoned his and was given over to the torments that afflicted him for the rest of his life.

  • George A. Marquart

    SKPeterson @76

    1 Samuel 15: 24 Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. 25 Now therefore, I pray, pardon my sin, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord.”

    1 Samuel 15: 30 Then Saul said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” 31 So Samuel turned back after Saul; and Saul worshiped the
    Lord.

    Saul did not repent? But he was rejected in spite of his repentance. Nowhere in Scripture will you find any indication that Abraham repented? How could he? As St. Paul argues in Romans and Galatians, no Law had been given. Romans 4:15, “For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.”

    Does that mean Abraham did not sin? Quite obviously he did, and thereby displeased God. But God had made a covenant with Abraham – a one sided covenant. Therefore Abraham could not break that covenant, because when God confirmed the covenant, he put Abraham to sleep, and only God went through the covenant ceremony (Genesis 15:12-21). This covenant is in effect today, because God does not break His word. It is an everlasting covenant, Genesis 17:7. To say that it was “fulfilled” in Christ in the sense that it is no longer valid is not true. If anything, Christ confirmed this covenant, Luke 16:17, “17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

    Christians often think of the Jews before Christ as being just like us in their beliefs and understanding of salvation. This is a mistake. Our Lord said, Luke 16: 16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. “

    But whether in the OT or the NT, faith is not something one works to acquire; in all cases faith is a gift from God. Abraham received his as a gift without repentance, because God is merciful to anyone whom He chooses. The Law and the Prophets and Gospel of the Kingdom of God are not the same, although each testifies to the other. Romans 3:19, “Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law …” and v. 21, “But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets …”

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Abby

    George @79 — I love that post!

  • George A. Marquart

    Abby @80
    Thank you. It is very kind of you.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart


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