“Radical,” “missional” Christianity as the new legalism

“Radical,” “missional” Christianity as the new legalism May 3, 2013

The esteemed Anthony Bradley describes a “new legalism” stemming from the vogue of so-called “radical” and “missional” Christianity.  He decries the emphasis on spectacular works, emphasizing instead the role of  good works in the realm of the “ordinary.”  That is, the love of neighbor as carried out in [wait for it] VOCATION!  (See!  I told you, Anthony Sacramone!)  Dr. Bradley goes so far as to link to a talk I gave on that subject at the Evangelical Theological Society convention, which I didn’t even know was online.

Anthony Bradley, The New Legalism: Missional, Radical, Narcissistic, and Shamed, at the Acton Institute blog:

A few days ago on Facebook and Twitter I made the following observation:

Being a “radical,” “missional,” Christian is slowly becoming the “new legalism.” We need more ordinary God and people lovers (Matt 22:36-40).

This observation was the result of long conversation with a student who was wrestling with what to do with his life given all of the opportunities he had available to him. To my surprise, my comment exploded over the internet with dozens and dozens of people sharing the comment and sending me personal correspondence.

I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and youth adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not being doing something unique and special. Today’s Millennial generation is being fed the message that if they don’t do something extraordinary in this life they are wasting their gifts and potential. The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they “settle” into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thess 4:11 says, “aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.” For too many Millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about.

Here are a few thoughts on how we got here:

(1) Anti-Suburban Christianity. In the 1970s and 1980s the children and older grandchildren of the Builder generation (born 1901 between 1920) sorted themselves and headed to the suburbs to raise their children in safety, comfort, and material ease. And, taking a cue from the Baby Boomer parents (born between 1946 and 1964) to despise the contexts that provided them advantages, Millennials (born between 1977 and 1995) now have a disdain for America’s suburbs. This despising of suburban life has been inadvertently encouraged by well-intentioned religious leaders inviting people to move to neglected cities to make a difference, because, after all, the Apostle Paul did his work primarily in cities, cities are important, and cities are the final destination of the Kingdom of God. They were told that God loves cities and they should too. The unfortunate message became that you cannot live a meaningful Christian life in the suburbs.

(2) Missional Narcissism. There are many churches that are committed to being what is called missional. This term is used to describe a church community where people see themselves as missionaries in local communities. A missional church has been defined, as “a theologically-formed, Gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered, united community of believers who seek to faithfully incarnate the purposes of Christ for the glory of God,” says Scott Thomas on the Acts 29 Network. The problem is that this push for local missionaries coincided with the narcissism epidemic we are facing in America, especially with the Millennial generation. As a result, living out one’s faith became narrowly celebratory only when done in a unique and special way, a “missional” way. Getting married and having children early, getting a job, saving and investing, being a good citizen, loving one’s neighbor, and the like, no longer qualify as virtuous. One has to be involved in arts and social justice activities—even if justice is pursued without sound economics or social teaching. I actually know of a couple who were being so “missional” that they decided to not procreate for the sake of taking care of orphans.

To make matters worse, some religious leaders have added a new category to Christianity called “radical Christianity” in an effort to trade-off suburban Christianity for mission. This movement is based on a book by David Platt and is fashioned around “an idea that we were created for far more than a nice, comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. An idea that we were created to follow One who demands radical risk and promises radical reward.” Again, this was a well-intentioned attempt to address lukewarm Christians in the suburbs but because it is primarily reactionary, and does not provide a positive construction for the good life from God’s perspective, it misses “radical” ideas in Jesus’ own teachings like “love.”

The combination of anti-suburbanism with new categories like “missional” and “radical” has positioned a generation of youth and young adults to experience an intense amount of shame for simply being ordinary Christians who desire to love God and love their neighbors (Matt 22:36-40). In fact, missional, radical Christianity could easily be called “the new legalism.” A few decades ago, an entire generation of Baby Boomers walked away from traditional churches to escape the legalistic moralism of “being good” but what their Millennial children received in exchange, in an individualistic American Christian culture, was shamed-driven pressure to be awesome and extraordinary young adults expected to tangibly make a difference in the world immediately. But this cycle of reaction and counter-reaction, inaugurated by the Baby Boomers, does not seem to be producing faithful young adults. Instead, many are simply burning out.

Why is Christ’s command to love God and neighbor not enough for these leaders? Maybe Christians are simply to pursue living well and invite others to do so according to how God has ordered the universe. An emphasis on human flourishing, ours and others, becomes important because it characterizes by a holistic concern for the spiritual, moral, physical, economic, material, political, psychological, and social context necessary for human beings to live according to their design. What if youth and youth adults were simply encouraged live in pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, education, wonder, beauty, glory, creativity, and worship in a world marred by sin, as Abraham Kuyper encourages in the book Wisdom and Wonder. No shame, no pressure to be awesome, no expectations of fame but simply following the call to be men and women of virtue and inviting their friends and neighbors to do the same in every area of life.

It is unclear how Millennials will respond to the “new legalism” but it may explain the trend of young Christians leaving the church after age 15 currently at a rate of 60 percent. Being a Christian in a shame-driven “missional,” “radical” church does not sound like rest for the weary. Perhaps the best antidote to these pendulum swings and fads is simply to recover an mature understanding of vocation so that youth and youth adults understand that they can make important contributions to human flourishing in any sphere of life because there are no little people or insignificant callings in the Kingdom.

That last link, by the way, will take you to a  video of my talk at the ETS.


HT:  Zachary Simmons

"I mean, I'm probably stepping in it, but...does being a Christian have a meaning or ..."

An Evangelical Wins the Nobel Peace ..."
"“I mean, if someone claims to be a Christian, shouldn't we give them the benefit ..."

An Evangelical Wins the Nobel Peace ..."
"Well, actions speak louder than words, eh??"

“You Are Leaving Us to Be ..."
"Trump has two Trump towers in Erdogan's country, so DT is looking out for his ..."

“You Are Leaving Us to Be ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I don’t know if legalism is a term I would use on either Christian or nonChristian who tries to love their neighbor as themselves. I might apply it to people who are trying to do the spectacular to feel significant but since we all do things with mixed motives at best, it is something to be aware of.

    However, those who attempt to live a modest and quiet life could very well be suffering from a self-induced spiritual autism. These people are hyper-vigilant over their own small corner of the world while stimuli from outside that small corner can overwhelming and disruptive.

    But quite often, the kind of thoughts expressed in this article have a purpose. They are to encourage people to conform and comply with the. Don’t rock the boat or you will be trying to hard. This is what we have heard all too often before from the Church and its leaders. For the author doesn’t distinguish between those who, out of love, are engaged in a larger world from those who are submitting the new legalism. Rather, he is drawing a distinction between those who are submitting to a new legalism by being engaged with the world vs those who mind their small corner of it. This is the same old same old from the Church because, as the Left has correctly noted, the Church is another institution of indoctrination for the maintenance of the status quo. 

  • SKPeterson

    Curt @ 1 – When have we heard from the Church, “Don’t try too hard?” Don’t rock the boat, maybe, but that has usually been for doctrinal reasons. Witness the fruits of “engagement” that have engulfed the ELCA, the ECUSA, etc. in their own versions of this phenomenon.

    Now, though, unpack if you will your last line, “This is the same old same old from the Church because, as the Left has correctly noted, the Church is another institution of indoctrination for the maintenance of the status quo.” That is quite the assertion and would do with a considerable amount of clarification. In what ways is the Church an advocate of the status quo? Which status quo? What do you mean by indoctrination? That the Church has doctrine and that it passes the doctrine on? Or, that it inculcates narrowed forms of thought that preclude deviation from some deterministic status quo?

  • To SKPeterson,
    Which status quo? The one our American society finds itself in now. The status quo where the Church, and here perhaps I should qualify further, the Conservative Church, does not challenge an economic system that relies on the exploitation of others for the success of some here nor does it challenge America’s assumed right to use its military anywhere on any target in the world while pronouncing those targets guilty of international law.

    What do we see from the Conservative Church? We see a deserved opposition to abortion, an undeserved opposition to same-sex marriage in society, but nothing that challenges the system that allows those with wealth to pay for a government that allows them to further consolidate wealth.

    As I was saying to some counter demonstrators at the May Day celebration in NYC, I am Christian Fundamentalist who is politically left. As a Christian, I don’t expect my fellow believers to protest the rule of consolidated wealth and government the way I do. But I do expect them to protest, not against an individual, but against a system that is immoral and exploitive and offer their own set of solutions. As I was talking with these counter demonstrators, we found out that we had a significant number of views in common. The common views are perceptions of some of the problems. We still differ on the solutions. But at least, without making the Gospel solely about political solutions, they should be vying for a change in the system.

  • It certainly can be a new legalism – I have experienced contexts where “sold out”, “radical”, or “missional” is a standard by which one’s spirituality is gauged. But I think a slightly better description would be to note the theological foundation that fails to distinguish between law and gospel. This was one of the things that bothered me the most about Platt’s book. He book addresses our values as Christians, but his solution is a proscribed “commitment” (including a decision card!) and sort of twelve-step program. Behavior modification can never change the heart. So, while I think we would do better to return to Scripture (“live a quiet and peaceable life” etc.) as a guide to living, I don’t think swapping out law will make for good vocation. Whether your legalism is your vocation or your fair-trade coffee house art, it won’t transform your values.

  • As far as I can tell, and I try to follow trends in Evangelicalism pretty closely, it is my impression that more and more Evangelical leaders have become more sensitive to these concerns, and, in fact, there appears now to be a bit of a backlash, often in the form of humor, out there that is poking a bit of fun at the “oh-so-earnest-I’m-just-so-awesome” mentality that this post addresses.

  • Larry

    “…slowly becoming the “new legalism.”

    Slowly becoming!?!?!?

    Where’s this guy been. It’s been legalism, especially in the Southern Baptist church, for DECADES. It has been the SB version of Rome’s monkery for a LONG time. We were in SB church after SB church, and right in the heart of SB land near Southern Seminary, even at the seminary this ALL you heard. The evangel is lost in the law message of “do evangelism” at all cost. And you cannot help but get caught up in the wave of it. We saw time after time after time in which unmarried, esp. college age, youth were told it is better to not marry and have kids because that could interfer with doing evangelism and/or missions (echoes of Rome and the Pope). A real dedicated non-pew sitting and probably true Christian would not only be doing this but desire it (never mind the teachers and “pastors” huffing and puffing it found time to be married themselves). Meanwhile, the unmarried youth were wrestling with the normal things that attend not being married yet. Hell John Piper writes and spewed this stuff left and right.

    Often its the usual double tongue approach. I.e. if asked, “Are you saying only…and marriage is bad…” they reply for plausible deniability, “No”. But then other tongue speaks about being a more dedicated, true, better, (implied) real Christian by doing this. The guilt of “if you don’t, then who will” is laid upon the laity. And what Christian of desiring heart does desire to that which is “more pleasing to the Lord”. And depending on the degree of this in the church you attend it goes to great extreme. One we attended was a Piperite SB church as opposed to a Warrenite SB church posted frequent pictures and stories of those over seas with captions of “what are you doing for the Lord” and other messages even questioning “if you are really a Christian this would be you”. Hell they even moved the grape juice and cracker ceremony they called the Lord’s Supper to Thursday (when the real dedicated showed up) and during it instead of the words of institution spoke words of dedicating one’s self to the mission field to give all.

    I’m glad this author had the guts to write this story but his observations, though very welcomed, are late. Though better late than never.

  • “Unfortunately, this profound understanding of vocation is often undermined when the church service and church programs are elevated as the primary modes of outreach. This is also the case when the organizational structure of the church is geared toward ‘making disciples who make disciples’ rather than proclaiming the Word and administering the Sacraments to the disciples so that sinners can be forgiven and freed, renewed and refreshed, discipled and dispersed back out into their vocations.

    In short, when the value of the mundane estates of everyday life are trivialized and dismissed as unimportant by the church in the name of what is claimed to be a more important missional way of life—whatever that means—a great loss is suffered and an undue burden begins to afflict the believer.

    For example, a Christian mother and her four young children go to the grocery store and meet a fellow shopper, but because she needs to tend to her children and do the grocery shopping for her family, she does not evangelize to the fellow shopper. Does this mean that she is not a missional person or worse, that she is sinning? What about the college student who is tending to his studies instead of formally evangelizing the students on campus? Does he lack a missional attitude? Is he sinning? Or is he simply living his vocation as a student?

    I am by no means saying they cannot or should not share the faith. Rather, my point is that demands to be missional can often evoke guilt or even the illegitimate abandonment of a God-given vocation. And again, to be clear, this is by no means meant to discourage witnessing to others. It is simply meant to celebrate and intentionally recognize, as [Gustav] Wingren demonstrated, that the mission of God encompasses the greater whole of life. Therefore, if we are being honest, perhaps we should consider whether or not a missional pressure to abandon one’s vocation is not actually a disservice to the church.

    Yes, there is always a balancing act. But I believe we need to be careful. Demands to be missional flow out of the Law. They have a tendency to make the Gospel into a burden. And when this happens, joy is lost, Good News is gone, and love becomes an obligation rather than a genuine manifestation of the Gospel.”
    From: “Great Commission, Great Confusion, or Great Confession” p.165-166. Wipf & Stock, 2012.

  • Dr. Christopher Cone has a great analysis of Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love, a book which really pushes this “Protestant Monasticism” idea: http://www.drcone.com/2012/04/11/can-i-be-spiritual-if-i-still-have-my-own-teeth-a-review-of-francis-chans-crazy-love/

    To be honest, at times people like Chan and Platt, noble though their intentions may be, come dangerously close to replaying the role of Pelagius in their books: they see what they perceive to be slothfulness in Christians (which btw is far too often painted with a broad brush by people like this at times) and think that the solution is to push a works-righteousness agenda (Yes, I realize that they will deny this, but their rhetoric says otherwise). Cone hits this nail pretty well on the head.

  • Chan and Platt. Sounds like Starsky and Hutch.

    Chasing after you to try and slap the cuffs on you.

    I heard Chan before. Bores me to tears. But a great many eat it up.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Curt @1 said, “However, those who attempt to live a modest and quiet life could very well be suffering from a self-induced spiritual autism. ”
    To that the Apostle Paul replies:
    “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,”
    1 Thessalonians 4:11

  • Since Bradley has been at the forefront of certain branches of radical and “missional” Christianity, I applaud his honesty here. I’d not have made the same claim, but then again, I’m not the one seeing the evidence. Reality here is that staying in the Gospel is the easiest, but most difficult, thing in the world to do. It’s easy to count visible behaviors and proceed to legalism; hard to probe the depths of our own hearts. It’s hard to sit down and look at the heart.

    But on the flip side, once you know the trap that legalism sets on all sides, it’s the easiest thing in the world to rest securely in grace.

  • Larry

    It’s not even a balancing act. What we and several of my good christian friends have discovered that once you leave that “giddy spirit” of church yard works and just simply DO your vocation as Scriptures says to do, PLENTY of opportunities arise to share one’s faith and you don’t have to be in “pouncing mode” or “edge of your seat…when’s he going to ask me, when’s he going to ask me”. Real life e.g. and I could easily multiply this not just as my own but others experience: (short version) Driving to job related meeting while on the way they encounter a lady at the cashier station at gas stop. She’s clad in rings and tattos here, there and yonder. The other person brings up the issue of morals and the country. My buddy then proceeds to the Gospel, the 200 proof Gospel (i.e. Christ did it all, for you, you are forgiven, his righteousness is yours, nothing left to do (I’m condensing it for time’s sake). The reaction? All the way home, a 5 hour drive, literally he kept, the other guy, kept bringing it up simply stunned, “That’s the most shocking and astounding thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.” He was literally shell shocked by that. My buddy didn’t have to “be on pins and needles for the question”, he didn’t even expect it – they were in vocation. It was not artificially constructed or was there a preliminary set up discussion. He didn’t have to do a “balancing act” or “gut check”. IN vocation, living peaceful among for his part, the event occurred, he had an answer BECAUSE he himself had been really GIVEN the Gospel and when it arose he answered.

    I cannot count the number of times this has happened with others I know, myself, my wife. It comes in and at the oddest of times. Almost always unexpected and no “balancing act” is necessary. What IS necessary is that one themselves must have been firmly given the Gospel pure and in truth so that one can be themselves aware of subtle law insertions and confident that when you say, “Jesus has forgiven you…his righteousness is yours…nothing left to do…even if you don’t “get better””, you know its true. If you have that down, your tongue won’t get tied or entrapped in “closing the deal”.

    In reality all this high flighty spirit we have today in America is really pure unbelief that the very unassuming, rather mundane Gospel Word of God can’t do anything so we have to exert ourselves some how.

    If one’s message actually IS the Gospel, the message will replicate itself quite naturally and IN vocation. You want them to hear the Gospel itself and let it work, not that they sense you or your churches desperation for more members or your desperation to “close the deal” as my buddy says.

  • Abby

    Larry @12 This is the way of the early Church. This is the matter of the heart. No contrived Church Growth Movement programs necessary. Do they not realize all this “stuff” has a “shelf-life?” — but the Gospel does not. It will spread and continue to spread by the power of the Holy Spirit until Jesus returns. A simple church with Word and Sacraments given over and over contains all the Grace that a person needs. Jesus gives, we receive. Then we give to our neighbor — from love. It really does not have to be hard or unnatural. It does not have to be “organized chaos.” And it definitely is not up to us to “close the deal.” We can’t even do that!

  • Larry


    I know, exactly. But the problem is – is that this non-sense is seen and picked at in the crass church growth movements with the likes of Rick Warren, Joel Ostean. These are EASY targets. Meanwhile the thoroughbreds of the same confessions get a pass like Piper and Mohler. I heard the later preach a fair amount, living in Louisville. While very conservative, no doubt, I never heard a Gospel message from him it all. It was all “we gotta do more evangelism…that’s the problem”. You have to really live “in, with and under” these types of doctrinal messages to know that’s the real message – anything but the Gospel. And any baptist looking to move or has moved knows it. It’s the atmosphere of the SB churches for example, including the seminary. Oh there are some within saying, “Hey something is drastically wrong here and its not the need for a “more pure church” or “getting back to the true believing baptized believers only churches”, or “more evangelism”…we’ve lost the evangel altogether. But don’t expect those few that see it to be embraced within.

    I don’t know what its like in other areas where another denomination dominates the landscape, but I do know what its like in the land of the baptist and baptist like churches and its a VAST wasteland. Oh, there are 1000’s of churches, you can average about a church a mile here around here. But the wandering laity looking for that thing they know is missing but they cannot put their hand on it. They never think to think the unthinkable because that would be devastating to realize, the Gospel is gone from these type of churches. But when they hear the Gospel, not the word “Gospel” but actually hear that which is THE Gospel (pro me) finally, they say, “That’s it! That’s what’s missing.” Then the shock and reality hits them when they put 2 and 2 together, “That’s the Gospel, oh my gosh!” I’ve seen it that obvious before and so have others I know in the ministry.

    I’ve seen people, including myself years ago, get wrapped around the axle of not really knowing how to just speak the Gospel to someone else. You run into one of the two primary gospel denying doctrines and think, “I’ve either got to get them to make a decision or how can I know if they are really elect.” So you always caveat the message and thus loosing the message.

  • Holly (aka Med Student)

    I’m reminded of the character Mrs. Jellyby from Dicken’s Bleak House. She devoted her life to saving the poor Africans in Borio-boolaga and completely neglected her own family in the process. Apparently this sort of problem existed back in the 1800’s as well.

  • Imagine there’s no orphans
    It’s easy if you try
    No poverty below us
    Above us only sky
    Imagine all the Christians
    Living for today…

    Imagine no one’s needy
    It isn’t hard to do
    No on in other nations
    Who need Jesus too
    Imagine all the Christians
    Living for themselves…

    You may say I love my neighbor
    But only when they’re not too close
    I hate to be uncomfortable
    So glad that Jesus does not impose

  • Z.S.

    The word “radical” is one of my pet-peeve words, especially when people use it to describe Christianity. It’s etymologically an organic term (radix=root), and could by rights mean “root-ish” or “from the root”–so far so good. However, it is in fact associated with an inorganic revolutionary meaning that weakens its connection to Biblical language and connects it more to the metaphors of secularism.

    What if we consistently used the Biblical metaphors of the Kingdom of God rather than adopting the metaphors of Revolution? Aren’t the mustard seed, the leaven, the pearl, the coin, the treasure in the field, and — especially — the grain of wheat so much more vivid and helpful for our present situation? How can our habits of language shape our imaginations in a Gospel-oriented way?

  • Larry D

    This seems like the next evolution for a fledgling “Evangelicalism” that also needs to prevent it’s front doors from closing as much as anywhere else within Christendom. I am saddened that the “Millenials” have not really understood what vocation is. That they do not realize they can live their lives as Christians by just being Christian and living a regular and not an awesome life. “Christianity is not about us but Christ for us (Issues Etc.)”.
    Unfortunately, this is the problem that “Evangelicalism” and Christianity in general have always had problems with and that is the “Theology of Glory” which only leads to the cliff called “Despair” as addressed by Gerhard Forde. Unfortunately, we all have problems with the Theology of Glory in one way or another and because of this insistence on Glory( which evangelicalism has always stressed whether it is the “Old McChurch” this Neo Evangelicalism (Francis Chan who told people they could go to hell if they don’t give to the poor and was featured by Mike Huckabee who should have confronted him on this, Huckabee is gutless and self aggrandizing.) these young people always will feel as if they are falling short and generally go atheist with liberal leanings or mystic, both of which are without Jesus. The false theology that these young people are leaving is due to the negation of “Salvation by Grace Alone”.

    Larry, I agree with you the once Hard Core Calvinist and Mr. Mohler have decided to make this teaching compatible with their confessional subscription, this new persuasion has been called the “New Calvinism” Piper used to be considered solid Reformed until he decide to throw in with the likes of Mark Driscoll and others.

  • Patrick,
    I feel that sometimes we are inconsistent when interpreting the Scriptures. If we want to prove that Paul’s statements describing homosexuality are to cut across all cultures, then we note the grounds for Paul’s statements. The grounds are seen in creation and nature and thus these statements are counted as pan cultural statements.

    But now, when we are talking about whether we are to lead a peaceful and quiet life, some assume that this is a pan cultural admonition even though there are no grounds for it. Here are some things to consider. First, when Paul wrote the admonition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business is written in what context compared to what we are talking about here. Part of the context includes the fact that Christianity was in the process of being spread. That is unlike today where, in this country, Christianity has a dominant place in culture. Next, note that Paul states the purpose for leading such a life, it is to bring honor to the Gospel by how we live before others. Does it bring honor to the Gospel for Christians to ignore the prevalent problems of today by leading that quiet life and minding their own business? Note that the latter part is more of an admonition against busybodies than anything else and that Paul’s concern is that their lives give honor to the Gospel by not being dependent on others, not by refusing to stand with or help others. Also note that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor and that neighbor is defined in the parable of the Good Samaritan. With today’s technology and political environments, how many more neighbors do we have today than our fellow Christians had in the days of Jesus?

    There are better passages to challenge what I have written than I Thessalonians 4:11. However, consider that this verse was a part of statements that encouraged Christians to love even more than they were. So, is it loving to ignore the needs of others after we have become well aware of them? And if we show less love than non-Christians, what kind of honor are we bringing to the Gospel? Or are we causing people to curse God by our self-concern and lack of response to others (Romans 2:5-11; 17ff)? You may also consider how from Moses to John the Baptist, we see God’s prophets challenge the authorities regarding sin and that James (Chapter 5:1-6) does the same with the wealthy.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Nowhere are we commanded to burn ourselves out doing works of charity and working ourselves into a ‘radical’ frenzy. You also seem to say that minding your own business and making it your ambition to lead a quiet life, precludes or is antithetical to showing love to your neighbors and the poor. This is a false dichotomy. The whole thing smacks of what the sainted Michael Spencer called ‘wretched urgency.’ The church already builds, funds, and works more hospitals, missions, schools, orphanages and charities, homeless shelters, and feeds more poor people than any other entity on the planet. We will continue to expand these works. The devil is in a hurry, the Lord is not…

  • Patrick,
    Whether we burn ourselves out is a preference, not a command. Yet, we are told to bear our crosses.

  • Barry Bishop

    With all due respect, Dr. Veith, most would not recognize biblical Christianity if it bit them on the butt. This includes many in the churches in America. Platt & Chan advocate taking the commands of the Lord Jesus seriously in how one lives. This, in turn, seems “radical” in our current milieu but is nothing newer than NT times (or even what Bonhoeffer or Kierkegaard recognized in their day). Jesus tells the rich young ruler “he lacks one thing”, but many today would tell him he is alright as he was.

  • reg

    There is an undercurrent to your posts which bothers me. You are talking about changing the system rather than helping individual persons. That smacks of some kingdom confusion. A little too much concern for Caesar’s things, I also sense an undercurrent of focus on self rather than God. There is a bit of theology of glory it seems. There is no question we are to lead quiet lives, at peace with those around us as far as we control it, giving our neighbor a glass of water or food or clothing as he needs it. Your agenda sounds way more (too) political and I am telling you this as a theologically orthodox, but politically moderate believer. Too much “me” and too much political action described as religious action. Going to OWS rallies, arguing with counter demonstrators does not sound like particularly Christian activity. As an American citizen expressing your views fine, but don’t look at it as serving God. Two different worlds.

  • Reg,
    I don’t think it is an exclusive or choice. Rather, I think the two should be put in conjunction. It is just that us Conservative Christians have heard so much about helping the individual that we hardly hear anything about changing or even questioning the system that necessitates our helping of individuals. This is the point that King made and Bonhoeffer before him. For how holy is our individual aid when we do not challenge the system that is kind to us at the expense of others?

    In addition, aren’t we suppose to preach a gospel of repentance to all, to the poor and to the rich, to the vulnerable and to the powerful. If we do not preach to those running the system, we show the kind of preference that James warns against. The seeking of the quiet and peaceful life was stated in a context. The question is should we imitate the OT prophets in challenging unjust systems in addition to individual sinners?

  • texaspn

    Certainly, leading a quiet life does not exclude being a Christian voice in the community. I do feel that our first duty is to our own family though. We can’t neglect our spouses, children, parents and neighbors in our desire to confront the “system”. It is important to introduce others to our Lord as He gives us opportunity and to confront our leaders on systemic wrongs, but we are still called to be faithful spouses, devoted parents, helpful to our aging parents and needy neighbors. In my case that includes visiting the sick and shut ins, writing my congressman, voting, helping immigrants, etc. -also, caring for my elderly parent, disabled husband, children and grandchildren and checking on my elderly neighbors. This is also caring for “the least” as much as protesting the status quo.

  • Texaspn,
    I fully agree with your last statement and, in fact, your whole comment. I also think that personal actions to help those in need cannot substitute for preaching repentance to those with wealth and power just as preaching repentance cannot substitute for personal actions that help those in need. We do need both.

  • Pete

    Barry Bishop says, ” Jesus tells the rich young ruler “he lacks one thing”, but many today would tell him he is alright as he was.”

    This is a law/gospel issue. The rich young ruler offered his fulfillment of the law as his qualification for entry into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was pointing out that the law was actually more demanding than the young ruler understood. Unattainably demanding, in fact. Ironically, the young ruler rejected the only mechanism available for us to fulfill the law (God’s expectation of us) – namely to follow Jesus.
    This is also “simultaneous saint and sinner”. If we are in Christ, we are “alright as we are”, even though we don’t love God wholeheartedly or our neighbor as ourselves.

  • reg

    Did Jesus challenge the oppressive Roman regime? No he did not. Rather he saved, healed, fed and ministered to individuals. He didn’t take on the Roman military-industrial complex. I think you can choose social action as a matter of your secular political convictions, I just am not comfortable with imparting religious significance to that choice. Yes our Christian world view influences our political choices, but that does not make those choices holy. We are not advancing God’s Kingdom with them either from the left or the right.

  • Reg,
    Did the OT prophets challenge the leader of their day to repent? Yes. The question is, what can be implied from Jesus not challenging the civil leaders of His day to repent? And differences exist between us and Jesus at that time and between the different kinds of gov’t that also existed.

    In addition, is this really a Kingdom of God advancement issue or is it something else? If we love our neighbor as ourselves, shouldn’t we stand with those who are oppressed? And if we are to be good stewards of God’s gifts, then shouldn’t we try to make this world better? And if we are to preach the Gospel throughout the world and not show preference for the standing of people, shouldn’t we challenge everybody to repent of sin?

  • Pete,
    This isn’t entirely a law/gospel issue. We don’t offer criminals a choice between believing in Christ or going to jail. At the same time, when we demand that those with wealth and power treat all with justice and compassion, we are calling them to repent.

  • reg

    The OT prophets challenged the civil leaders in the context of a theocratic kingdom, which is not present today, so that analogy fails. My objection is not that you chose to be a social activist, my objection is that you think that choice is holy.

  • Reg,
    Why does the analogy fail? Didn’t the OT prophets also speak against and challenge other leaders? And why does theocracy make the analogy fail?

  • Pete

    Curt Day @30

    Fifteen yard penalty: Confusing the two kingdoms. First down, Pete and Reg.

  • So Pete, are you a player or a ref? One can’t be both without a conflict of interest in both calling the penalties and writing the rules.

  • reg

    Because in the NT age the two kingdoms are separate. In the OT with a theocracy they were supposed to be one. We now give to God that which is God’s and to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Social justice is not the gospel. The gospel is that if we believe, repent and confess Jesus as Lord we are saved. The gospel is that He has achieved for us that which we cannot achieve for ourselves. The Gospel is advanced via the great commission. Social justice is a temporal goal, a worthy one at that, but not the gospel. Curt I am telling you this not as a conservative-I am a democrat. I just think you are confusing categories.
    Again I just think their is a hint of self-righteousness in your “speaking the truth to power” in God’s name in this NT age.

  • Reg,
    Are they totally separate? I am not sure the NT supports that. But that is not my problem with your position. If we stand with the oppressed because we are to love our neighbor as ourselves or we preach repentance to those with wealth and power because we are to preach the Gospel everywhere showing no preference, and if we are to do what we can to make things better as part of our stewardship, then what does 2ks have to do with it? Is it possible to force our kingdom theology on the different areas of our lives that prevents from loving our neighbor, preaching the Gospel, and being good stewards the way God wants? Isn’t loving my neighbor a more important construct through which we can understand the Bible than Kingdom theology?

    BTW, I am not writing this as a democrat, I am writing this as a socialist.

  • Pete

    @34. Probably more of a fan – I’m rooting for Reg. He’s calling good plays, carrying the ball, not fumbling.

    You (Curt) raise a good point though, and one that I think gets raised a lot. Is Jesus’ admonition to the rich young ruler an indication that He feels that excessive wealth ought to be redistributed, or is it not so much to do with earthly riches and more about our sinfulness and Jesus’ grace. Think about it – He asked (required, really) the rich young ruler to “sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor” (Luke, NASB). All that you possess. Does Jesus require that we do that? I’ve never done that and I don’t imagine you have either. Why, then, did he require it of this particular young man? Don’t you think this was a teaching moment – contrasting a wealthy young man who was unwilling to part with his earthly riches with Himself: willing to part with heavenly riches (perfect righteousness, fellowship with the Father) and to give those heavenly riches to the poor (us, you, me, John 3:16)?
    And please understand what I am not saying here. I am not advocating exploitation of the poor by the rich, or sweat shops or scams of any kind. It’s just that it’s apples and oranges.

  • Pete,
    Remember that Jesus said to sell all you have and give to the poor to the one who sought to justify himself according to the law. And giving to the poor would be part of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. However, doesn’t Jesus require something that is somewhat similar of all us. After all, His disciples left everything they had to follow him. BTW, I am in the same boat as you.

  • Pete


    Here’s the Lutheran spin on that one. Loving our neighbor as ourself is exactly what Jesus (as God) requires of us. He doesn’t require something similar – something similar might be something less. We are to love our neighbor just as much as we love ourselves. And the problem (for us) is that we fail. We don’t. I don’t. You don’t. Mother Teresa didn’t. The law always accuses us – ultimately kills us. But the Gospel (the point of the Bible – Old and New Testaments) is focused like white hot light in Jesus who, a) kept the law perfectly and, b) took that righteousness (“wealth”, if you will) and gave it all to us, the unrighteous (the “poor”) exchanging His righteousness for our sinfulness on the cross. He repeatedly throughout His earthly ministry indicated that His mission was that of atonement. Along the way he made blind people see, he made leprous people clean, he made bleeding people stop bleeding, made a few dead people alive again – even replaced an enemy’s ear that had been lopped off. But unless the steward at the wedding in Cana was able to sell a lot of leftover, top quality wine at a profit, we don’t really see Him making any poor people rich. Au contraire, He seemed to think they were better off poor. he certainly modeled earthly poverty for Himself and His disciples. In fact, in the example we’re looking at here, He was trying to make the rich young ruler poor in the earthly sense but unimaginably rich (“follow me”) in the heavenly sense. Law/gospel. I’m tellin’ ya.

  • rebecca w

    I have been following this topic with interest for awhile now. Good conversation happens here. 🙂 I don’t know if you saw this post at CT a few months ago comparing the ordinary radicals to Keswick/Higher Life theology? Wonder what you all think about this connection? Thanks!


  • reg

    As an aside, if you truly are a socialist you have both to low a view of human sin and depravity and a problematic eschatology as to the perfectibility of the world and man before the second coming. Man is a sinner who primarily thinks of self (believer and non-believer) and the world gets worse and worse until He comes back.

  • Reg,
    I wouldn’t pigeonhole all socialists. First, most people have no clue what socialism is. Second, I think it has some advantages in curbing human sin thatn capitalism does not.

  • reg

    Rebecca W,
    One sentence in the article you reference says it all: “Platt isn’t the only one attempting to recover a more rigorous understanding of the gospel’s demands.” Not sure the Gospel “demands” anything other than our acceptance and gratitude. There are a whole range of things/good works we might do as Christians out of that gratitude as we each work out our salvation with fear and trembling and love our neighbor. But if it is a demand then forgiveness is not free and we are somehow earning it either before or after the fact. Seems like that church is into compulsion to do good works-for whose glory?

  • Grace


    I noticed that Matthew 19 had been used, and also “socialism” as a ploy to confuse the Gospel.

    16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

    17 And he said unto him, Why do you call me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments.

    18 He said unto him, Which? Jesus said, You shall do no murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness,

    19 Honor your father and your mother: and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    20 The young man said unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

    21 Jesus said unto him, If you will be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

    22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

    23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

    25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

    26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

    Matthew 19

    The KEY here, can be found in verse 20. The young man actually thought he had kept all the commandments. No one has, no one is perfect – ONLY God. When the young man answered Christ, he was not being truthful. Christ gave him another choice, that was to sell all that he had and give to the poor – the young man couldn’t do it.

    Reading further Christ makes clear verses 25 and 26 – – 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

    We cannot buy our way into heaven, that’s a fact.

    As long an individual thinks he can do something or pay the LORD for salvation he cannot be saved anymore than a camel can be slipped through the eye of a needle.

    When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple:

    58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered.

    59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,

    60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

    Matthew 27

    Interesting that Joseph Arimathaea, a very rich man was a disciple of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • reg

    Oh-oh, Grace is now on this thread. Time to bail.

  • Reg,
    We need to make a distinction between what is required to be counted as one of God’s people and what is part of the new creation that follows. Certainly perfect obedience is demanded to be one of God’s people. And since we can’t do that and God loves us, God provided for that requirement through Jesus.

    But is Christianity only about having after-life insurance? What is all of this talk about being a new creation? Does God still command us to love our neighbor as ourselves? And, if we follow the line of thought explained in Galations, don’t we, however imperfectly, follow God’s law as we are led by the Spirit? Or, is it once saved, always selfish as long as we don’t break a New Testament taboo?

    Here is the deal, for as long as we are centered on ourselves, those with power and wealth can rule over us. It is only when we act as a collective in solidarity regardless of the group we are in, can we stop the abuse of power exercised by those with authority.

  • Pete

    Reg – unnecessary roughness by you on Grace! Her comments are thus far pretty good.

  • Pete

    Curt @46

    Two words: Animal Farm.

  • descriptivegrace

    The new legalism is anyone who sets out to define the new legalism. Calling others legalists has been for a long time a form of legalism. “Think as I say, do as I say, or I’ll have you labelled a legalist and tossed out.” That’s what legalism is.

  • Pete,
    But in the language of my fellow Calvinists, Animal Farm does not have to be irresistible.

  • reg

    Good call. Penalty accepted. I had not even read the comment, just saw the multi-sized, multi-attributed, multicolored fonts.

  • Reg,
    competitors cannot call penalties, only refs can. BTW, why are we trying to set aside God’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves by calling it legalism? Does this remind one of Matthew 15:1-20?

  • Grace

    Curt @ 52

    “why are we trying to set aside God’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves by calling it legalism? Does this remind one of Matthew 15:1-20?”

    Better yet, what does it “remind” you of? – instead of asking questions, try answering some!

    Loving our neighbor doesn’t mean we give him something he didn’t work for, or has lied and cheated to take. Do you believe that allowing such behavior is right, or does “socialism” and loving ones neighbor negate lawfulness, but embrace, stealing and cheating?

  • descriptivegrace

    Legalism is whatever goodness the anti-good legalists want rid of. You know the passage where Paul lists a bunch of virtues and says “against such there is no law.” Well, sorry Paul, but now there are laws against those things!!! The aninomian legalists have made laws against everything good.

    Galatians 5:22-24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” — The antinomian legalists have virtually made it illegal to read this passage!

  • descriptivegrace

    “…temperance: against such there is no law” — temperance, of course, is old english for SELF CONTROL — the antinomian legalists have certainly made a law against self-control. Why, if you have any self control, they will label you a Pelagian. To prove yourself a good Augustinian Calvinist Evangelical real bona-fide sola-fide Evangelical Bible-believing Christian, you had better go out and commit some fornication to prove you aren’t trying to “save yourself by works” — so proclaim the antinomian legalists!

  • Grace,
    It is ironic that someone with a name like yours opposes giving something they didn’t work for. That is espeically when why such people are in need is not examined.

    Your note indicates that the only notion of socialism you have is based on antagonistic stereotypes and that you haven’t read enough, if any, socialists to note that Socialism is not a monolith.

  • Thank you for your comments. You have some very important things to say.

  • Grace

    Curt @ 56

    “Your note indicates that the only notion of socialism you have is based on antagonistic stereotypes and that you haven’t read enough, if any, socialists to note that Socialism is not a monolith.

    Don’t flatter yourself Curt. The people you are posting to on Veith’s blog are educated. Your misuse of “monolith” is telling. Your ignorance and intentional grading of another’s ability to understand what “socialism” is, tells those here, how little you might understand, what you’re trying to teach and instill on those posting on Cranach.

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
    Winston Churchill

    “The goal of socialism is communism.
    Vladimir Lenin

    Curt, as you stated in post 36: “BTW, I am not writing this as a democrat, I am writing this as a socialist.


    The definition of “socialism” is as follows:


    1. Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.
    2. The stage in Marxist-Leninist theory intermediate between capitalism and communism, in which collective ownership of the economy under the dictatorship of the proletariat has not yet been successfully achieved.

    I trust you understand the definition of “proletariat” — if you don’t, look it up!

  • Grace,
    Again, you are dealing with Socialism as a monolith relying on single definitions of certain individuals who do not reflect the thinking and sentiments of all socialists. So you are exposed to whose view of Socialism? For example, do you know what libertarian socialism is? Have you quoted anyone who has that perspective?

    What I find odd is this claim to know what socialism is and yet one of the foundational parts of socialism, extend democracy, is not even mentioned.

    You are educated in the stereotypes but not much more than that. And while we are defining things, how about the following definition for Capitalism:

    Capitalism the self delusionary belief of thinking we can live off the energy generated by greed while controlling its emissions.

    And, btw, below is blogpost I just finished that better defines the Social Gospel.


  • Grace


    Below the definition of Libertarian socialism so as not to confuse you, or others. If you cannot give your views without playing the teacher, I will take the place of professor, and give you the formal definition.

    “Libertarian socialism (sometimes called social anarchism, and sometimes left libertarianism) is a group of political philosophies that promote a non-hierarchical, non-bureaucratic, stateless society without private property in the means of production. Libertarian socialism is opposed to all coercive forms of social organization, and promotes free association in place of government and opposes the coercive social relations of capitalism, such as wage labor. The term libertarian socialism is used by some socialists to differentiate their philosophy from state socialism or by some as a synonym for Left anarchism.

    Adherents of libertarian socialism assert that a society based on freedom and equality can be achieved through abolishing authoritarian institutions that control certain means of production and subordinate the majority to an owning class or political and economic elite. Libertarian socialism also constitutes a tendency of thought that informs the identification, criticism and practical dismantling of illegitimate authority in all aspects of life.

    Accordingly, libertarian socialists believe that “the exercise of power in any institutionalized form—whether economic, political, religious, or sexual—brutalizes both the wielder of power and the one over whom it is exercised.” Libertarian socialists generally place their hopes in decentralized means of direct democracy such as libertarian municipalism, citizens’ assemblies, trade unions and workers’ councils.

    Political philosophies commonly described as libertarian socialist include most varieties of anarchism (especially anarchist communism, anarchist collectivism, anarcho-syndicalism, mutualism and social ecology) as well as autonomism, some versions of individualist anarchism, and also Libertarian Marxist philosophies such as Council Communism and Luxemburgism”

    Such is the ‘JUNK HEAP of Libertarian socialism –

    Curt @ 59 “For example, do you know what libertarian socialism is? Have you quoted anyone who has that perspective? ”

    No I haven’t, nor do I intend to.

    As for visiting your blog – Not a chance, you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know.

  • Pete

    Curt @52

    “BTW, why are we trying to set aside God’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves by calling it legalism?”

    Let’s go through this slowly – one more time. God’s commandment (in this case, “love your neighbor as yourself”) is exactly that – His commandment. His standard. What we must do. I try to. I don’t doubt for a minute that you try to also. (I’ve got my doubts about Reg after he went all snarky on Grace – but at least he repented. Shoot, he probably tries to, also.) But the point is that none of us do it (love our neighbors as ourselves, that is.) We don’t, we won’t and we can’t. In fact the reason we can’t is all the bad stuff that originates within our sinful hearts as is pointed out so well in the Matthew 15 passage that you cite. Nobody is trying to “set aside” God’s commandment to love our neighbor. Nobody can – God makes the rules. But a legalist contends that he IS loving his neighbor – a la the rich young ruler: done all this (law) since I was a kid. The Christian understands that he/she stands condemned by the law, but, by God’s grace through the atoning work of Christ, he/she actually DOES fulfill the law.
    Please don’t confuse this with saying that we shouldn’t try to love our neighbor – indeed we should try. Hard. Dr. Veith, way up at the head of this comment trail opines that sometimes the best way we’re able to do this is through the routine functions of our vocations, our callings. A mother changing her baby’s diaper. Saints and sinners. Very freeing, really. Dead to the law. Simultaneous saints and sinners.

  • Grace,
    And that is your problem, your perspective has everything to teach and nothing to learn. Your perspective is the Pharissee who thanked God that he was not a sinner like the tax collector who was also praying.

    And, btw, not all libertarian socialists believe in a stateless society. Did you know that the first concern of Socialism is not the redistribution of wealth but who makes the decisions? And in non elite-centered forms of socialism, whose proponents do not regard regimes like the Soviet Union or Red China to be socialistic at all, more people are involved in a participatory democracy so the decision making, and thus the power, is more dispersed. So while you are trashing Socialism as being worthless, you are also trashing democracy.

    But go ahead and act superior and be high and mighty. It feels good at the time.

  • Pete

    Hey Reg – I wasn’t really beating up on you there. If I knew how to do the little winky-eyed emoticon thing there I would have.

  • Grace

    Curt @ 62

    “Grace, And that is your problem, your perspective has everything to teach and nothing to learn. Your perspective is the Pharissee who thanked God that he was not a sinner like the tax collector who was also praying.”

    The minute anyone tries to use the word “Pharisee” to define another individual, they have not only lost, they don’t know the definition. LOL!

    Here is the definition for Pharisee:


    1. Pharisee A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form.
    2. A hypocritically self-righteous person.

  • Grace

    Pete @ 63

    Here is the code for 😉

    ; – – )

    Leave the – – out use the ; and ) together, no spaces.

  • Pete,
    And yet, we can all try harder to love our neighbor and that means addressing some loyalties that cause us to not care for those who are different.

    BTW, love your neighbor is the basis for the social gospel. Bonhoeffer saw that for him to try to obey this commandment, he had to stand up for the Jews against the Nazis. He learned this while at Union Seminary. During those days, he attended a Black church where personal salvation was blended with the Social Gospel because of the suffering of the members of the congregation. What he saw in how Blacks were treated here was related to how Jews were treated by the Nazis.

    Bonhoeffer came up with 3 issuess Christians must address when they see injustice. First, they can challenge the state with regards to their oppression of others. Second, they can stand with the victims. Third, they can try and sabotage the system. This was a part of loving your neighbor to Bonhoeffer. And when we think of Jesus, instead of standing up for the relatively innocent against oppression, which is what Bonhoeffer did, He stood up for the absolutely guilty against justice.

    We can’t imitate how Jesus stood up for us but we can try to show the same redeeming love by trying to help the oppressed while trying to win over the oppressor.

  • Pete

    Thanks, Grace!

  • Grace

    Nov 20, 2011

    “An Intro to Modern Anarchism: Isn’t Libertarian Socialism a Contradiction?” Discussion at Occupy Boston’s Free School University on October 9, 2011


  • Pete


    “And yet, we can all try harder to love our neighbor.”

    You betcha!

  • Grace,
    Being able to copy and paste is not the same and knowing and understanding. At least you should give your sources credit.
    So is you really know what you are talking about, explain why libertarian socialism is a contradiction in terms.

  • Grace


    Start answering questions, until then you’ll just have to deal with no answers. You’re not good at playing teacher!

  • Grace,
    Copying and pasting without giving credit would be called plagarism in school as well as real life. List the questions you want answered along with your explanation for why you think libertarian socialism is a contradiction in terms.

  • Grace

    Curt @ 72

    Definitions come from the Dictionary, is that too difficult for you to understand? – that is exactly where I posted from –

  • Grace,
    If you want to be insulting, it is a free country. The point is this, copying and pasting does not show you know and understand. And yet, without knowledge and understanding, you are willing to make harsh judgments.

    So again, why would libertarian socialism be a contradiction in terms?

  • Grace


      POST @ 68 “An Intro to Modern Anarchism:  ‏ Isn’t Libertarian Socialism a Contradiction?”

       ‏ — Posts 70 – 72 – 74 – should check out the VIDEO and ask those made the VIDEO your question. I didn’t make the VIDEO nor did I write the HEADLINE!


  • rey

    “It is unclear how Millennials will respond to the “new legalism” but it may explain the trend of young Christians leaving the church after age 15 currently at a rate of 60 percent.”

    I have a simpler explanation: its called the pill. I don’t mean all of the “Millennials” are leaving TO have sex; some are leaving because everyone else in the church is and therefore the one function the church really used to serve well — helping a person find a godly mate who assumedly isn’t a whore and won’t cheat on them — it consistently fails to do in modern society. That’s really the only real, tangible function it ever served; without that, it is entirely worthless. The offer of a fictional salvation from a fictional condemnation to a fictional hell will not keep people around.

  • Grace,
    I was asking you because you first claimed that people here were educated and knew what socialism is and because you copied and pasted definitions to prove your point. And so when it seems to me that you are ready for a more serious discussion, I will respond.

  • rey,
    As much as you seem to want to provoke here, my guess is that people are leaving the Church for some similar reasons that they are changing to newer kinds of churches, it could be because some are tired of their church being another institution of indoctrination for the maintenance of the status quo. It could also be because, in some of the more Reformed denominations, there is an emphasis on doctrine at the expense of being personal.

  • SKPeterson

    Curt @ 78 – that may be, but there also seems to be a shift of many youth back to the Church when and where it adheres more closely with the traditional liturgy and doctrinal consistency. They actually seem to want to be a part of an institution that does what it says and actually believes it.

  • larry

    How one counts the stats depends on how one stands on doctrine. Since most of the churches being left are really false churches anyway, i.e. confessed, preached and taught heterodoxies, most really are not “leaving the church”. It’s similar to some who have “rejected Jesus” who really have only rejected a “jesus” who is mostly a moral jesus to follow or “admission is free so pay at the door jesus”. Hence Christ’s warning of don’t listen if they say, “here is the christ there is the christ…don’t believe them”. Thus, most leave not the church nor really Christ but a false church and false christ. E.g. a person who has left a believers baptism church really has not left the church but a false church. But that’s what they, in ignorance, understand as “church”. So they leave it. They’ve never heard preached, taught or confessed otherwise. They’ve never really heard Christ “pro me” in Word and Sacrament and they’ve been told enough “that’s Roman Catholicism” they are scared of anything sounding like it. So they just leave altogether.

    However, if you ask many young and old who no longer attend afore said false churches if they are a Christian they will say, “yes, I am baptized”. And there it is. Their condition is not good, its never good to be without the Word at length, but they confess the real Word there, “I am baptized” and to that they cling. That’s huge but missed point because we love to rub the backs of the finer false teachers and false teachings in sacramentarian churches. But in reality what have such done that left? They leave that which is really the false church and its doctrine (that’s the cause of their leaving), but they cling to the real and true pure Word (their baptism). They just don’t have enough grasp of the fact that the two, baptism and the false churches doctrine (e.g. believers baptism) are mortal enemies, the former of Christ the later of Satan. But rather have been taught they are both of God and Christ. So they leave sensing a problem and they can’t seem to keep up with the attending works required which goes along with such false doctrines, but held to the fact they are baptized.

    Now if there were any good happy inconsistency that a Lutheran might consider this would definitely be it that such leaving a false church would at least cling to and confess “I am baptized”. I.e. the Holy Spirit within them is confessing that even though their minds have not put two and two together so that they’d seek out where Word and Sacrament are preached truly and according to Christ’s institution.

    It is indeed odd that the places you will NEVER hear so that assurance is had confessed, “I am baptized” is among the active confessing, preaching, and teaching sectarian churches. But you DO hear that confessed among the orthodox confessing churches AND those who do not know of such churches or doctrines existing but have left the false churches and cling, yet still, to their baptisms.

    They have done in some sense, perhaps intuitively, what Christ said, “Do not listen to them” and “leave them”. They just are unaware that any formal doctrine and church that does confess, preach and teach the Word and Sacrament rightly actually exists. It’s just like if suddenly in this land all the Lutheran churches got run out of the country and all that was left was the plethora of sacramentarian churches. We could attend them either for they are false and deadly, and thus we would not “be attending church either” and add to those stats, as the stats see “the church” of those that use to attend church and left. The stats make no distinction in true versus false doctrine when gathered.

  • larry

    We could attend them either for they are false and deadly, and thus we would not “be attending church either” and add to those stats, as the stats see “the church” of those that use to attend church and left.

    Should be:

    We could not attend them either for they are false and deadly, and thus we would not “be attending church either” and add to those stats, as the stats see “the church” of those that use to attend church and left.

  • Grace


    In the passage below, the eunuch requests to be baptized, but Philip asks the eunuch – “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” – that is the key, Philip wanted to know that the eunuch actually believed. Faith first then baptism.

    34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
    35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
    37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
    38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
    39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
    Acts 8

  • Grace

    The FIRST Commandment “love the Lord they God with all they heart” is often trumped by the second “love they neighbour as thyself” – that is the one those who lean towards sin rest their case, the first to love the LORD is rarely mentioned. It isn’t neighbor first, it is the LORD God first!

    “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” is used OFTEN by those who promote SOCIALISM, it’s a ploy to spread the wealth (Obama) rather than follow the law, work and pay ones own way. Those who want a free ride in this country want carte blanche, with complete freedom to act as one wishes or thinks best, which includes SOCIALISM with libertarianism thrown in. This concept serves to dismantle law and order. Moral laws have already been destroyed in this country, due to heathen practice.

    Socialism doesn’t include God, it is interested in SELF. Matthew 19 is also used by socialists to promote their Marxist beliefs, it’s all a cover, which promotes chaos which is nothing less than complete disorder.

  • SKPeterson,
    I guess we will have to wait and see how the long term goes. But I wouldn’t say that the traditional churches are doing what they say. They leave out a considerable amount especially when it comes to social responsibility.

  • larry

    What I’ve noted over the years is that every verse, without exception, the false satanic doctrine of believers baptism uses to support its cause are without exception the strongest verses against their false cause. We could go to the obvious verses where Peter states baptism saves you or Paul was told to arise and wash away his sins or some such. But all the verses on baptism, even the “w” ones in which the “w” word is used instead of the “b” word for baptism speak of the salvation of baptism. Fundamentally all they really do is re interpret many passages under the logic of law and works and call it (falsely) faith – for one can call a religious idea of works “faith” all false religions indeed due, hence the religions such as other religions that are pure law and works religions says theirs is a “faith”. No difference here with the works religion of believers baptism at all.

    Of course what the satanic false doctrine of believers baptism does when it seeks to deny infants baptism is of course not faith at all, but rather fallen human reason. For they answer as to why an infant cannot be baptized that he/she cannot understand and hence believe. Then by their very own defense of their doctrine show forth that “faith” needs the light of reason in order to be baptized – which is of course original sin.

    For example the Ethiopian Eunuch. If one is operating under the “logic of law and lacking or wanting”, then one is always seeking “how do I qualify”. The qualifications are always something works, a “faith”, a “repentance”, etc…these they turn into works by other names and laws to be obeyed. Hence, God is “looking for faith” as the coin to pay him off and “get baptism”. Salvation is not so much forgiveness of sin, but ones appeasing God with the coinage of faith, reason, repentance or just plain crass works. They thus preach a false god who must be paid off.

    But under the logic of the resurrection and Gospel, the new kingdom there is nothing but overflowing abundance and forgiveness of sin. The Eunuch had been reading the OT and specifically in Isaiah were it speaks of the One to come, that is the Christ, Who would Himself be sprinkling (i.e. baptizing) the nations (who the Ethiopian Eunuch belongs to). The surprise by the Eunuch reading this that this One would come Who would Himself be sprinkling (clearly the Eunuch associates as baptism) the nations (himself heretofore left out of the OT covenant community of Israel). Phillip preaches Jesus to Him in that very passage, “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus”, the same passage from which the Eunuch had just read, “so He will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.” Which follows upon in the next chapter (53, though they did not have chapter headings then and the Eunuch was simply reading that portion of Isaiah> which continues the thought from the proceeding with the clear language, ” Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” and then continues to describe nothing but the suffer Christ. I.e. the One Who Himself will sprinkle (baptize) many nations (to which this Eunuch belongs – the whole book of Acts is about salvation going out to the nations now). These ideas where in the Eunuchs mind that he clearly had been reading and he wanted to know Who this was. Phillip then says it was Jesus. It is to THIS that the Eunuch says anxiously and surprisingly awaiting because he realizes this is for him (pro me) and that God is going to baptize Him and with that very baptism wash away and forgive his sins for real (Acts 2), be given in the baptism the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and given the name of God (Mathew 28) for real entirely independent of anything he does, says or believes. This he now believes and says in a great cheeriness of heart, Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”.

    The Eunuch and Phillip are not in the logic of the law or insufficiency such as a doctrine of such, like believers baptism dreams, but now having preached Christ and His overflowing abundance of forgiveness of sins despite sin and unbelief in the logic and realm of the RESSURRECTION. And in that logic he realizes just how abundant this is and how it is GIVEN to him without anything, faith or otherwise, through these waters of baptism or that the Christ when He comes will Himself sprinkle the nations and cleanse them with HIS suffering. And so like a starving man to a table that is spread before him and he realizes it is now given to him he staggers and says, “Behold a table full of food and an extravagant feast just given to me for nothing, what prevents me (other than myself if I just pass it by). Hence the Eunuch says, Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”. Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my receiving forgiveness from the very hand of God?”. Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being sprinkled, me a nation person?”. Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my receiving the name of God?”. Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my receiving the Holy Spirit?”. Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my receiving the GIFT of God?”.

    In the logic of the Resurrection, then, it is no wonder that Christ the Lord of His church and Lord of Baptism says that then that infants are the examples of those whose is the very Kingdom of God and that adults if they do not be this way will not even see it, let alone receive it in baptism as do the infants.

    Thus the difference in unbelief reading a passage in the logic of insufficiency and law always looking for the “how one qualifies” part they can read into it then back out of it again, versus the logic of the Resurrection and over abundance of the kingdom of the forgiveness of sin and righteousness of Christ that says, Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”.

    Two different religions entirely.

  • larry

    As the sagacious Hermann Sasse wisely observes so very apropos to this discussion concerning the new legalism of radical missions: “We have been too much influenced by a certain type of sectarian Christianity which for a long time flourished in America. The sect cannot wait; it must have everything at once, for it has no future. The church can wait, for it does have a future. We Lutherans should think of that.”

    This is the logic of the resurrection, the church. The opposite of the logic of wanting and law, i.e. the logic of the sects.

  • Grace

    larry @ 85

    “What I’ve noted over the years is that every verse, without exception, the false satanic doctrine of believers baptism uses to support its cause are without exception the strongest verses against their false cause.”

    Etc, etc., etc .. on and on.

    The passage in Acts 8, verses 34-39 is a bur in the saddle of many.

    Calling someone’s Baptism “satanic” is a dangerous pronouncement, and a lie!

  • reg

    You have surprisingly little circumspection and humility in your comments. You use the word “satanic” very lightly-inappropriately so. But yes we understand you and you alone know the true God and billions of believers in other denominations are simply worshiping a false God. If only they were not deceived and had your wisdom and understanding- you will surely have the last laugh in the next world. I am sure God is really proud of you! Well done good and faithful servant!
    Of course your harsh comments both in tone and substance violate countless admonitions in the Bible, but who is keeping track of that in light of your obvious holiness.
    Beware though, you seem to be coming awfully close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit and calling that which comes from God as coming from the enemy. I am sure even if you do you will get a pass, since you were baptized and are so worthy.

  • Grace

    No reg,

    No one can deny the HOLY Spirit which indwells every single Believer. Larry is more than off base, no one gets a “free pass” for calling another’s Baptism “satanic”

    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

  • reg

    You have a really hard time recognizing sarcasm don’;t you?

  • Grace


    I don’t play games God the Father, God the Son, or God the HOLY Spirit – there is no so called “sarcasm” – the TRINITY isn’t a joke. My Baptism, and that of countless others are not “satanic” –

    It’s to your shame that you’ve taken this path, and any others who trundle after you!

  • Grace,
    When you are talking to reg and others, remember that in the parable of the two men praying, the Pharisee could only see faults in others, not himself.

  • Grace,
    Again, you missed what socialism is about because you only know how to copy and paste. Certainly, no economic system is without fault, but each one has its own tradeoffs. And it seems that you feel threatened by “socialism” because it might as you to share with those who are different and whose stories you do not know.

  • Grace

    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

    31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

    32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
    Matthew 12

    Take heed!