Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 3rd Use of Grace

OK, OK, back to blog work...

It might be a wonder, we know of the 3rd use of the Law, but in my book there is the 3rd use of Grace. First a review of the uses of the Law is in order:
- 1st use: to externally discipline society
- 2nd use: to make us see our helpless state of sin
- 3rd use: to guide us as to what is pleasing to Him

The 3rd use predominates Evangelicalism so much so that it has been said to be Law-Gospel-Law. The 3rd use is overemphasized that it becomes a New Law which determines Gods attitude towards the Christian. It determines if one's life will be filled with blessings or filled with misery. You do it, then expect blessings to flow to you or you violate it and expect discipline at the corner. There is truth to this of course. This, as you know, either makes you feel you are pulling God's commands off making you Pharisaical or leads you to despair.

We really are Law makers. In fact I recall when I was finishing my degree in Religious Studies, in my OT Judaism class, I recall that the Rabbis believed that "man was created for the Torah". Contrast that with Mk 2:27, but I digress.

The question now is how does Evangelia rescue you from being a Pharisee or from being despondent. Well, to correct our Phariseism, it will say to us "now, that is not nice, don't be like that - stop being a Pharisee" -i.e. more Law. To rescue from despondency, either none is given thereby we burn out and eventually check out of Christianity, or it may say to us "God has grace, you can do it". Here is where the 3rd use of Grace comes in, but let me review first the ideas of Grace.

Taking my cue from the way Grace is mentioned in Thomas Oden's The Justification Reader, I will restate the 3 ideas of Grace in the Bible.
-1st idea: a phase in history when God overrides the Law to show mercy.
-2nd idea: God reconciling himself with humanity, we call this favor dei, God's merciful attitude towards sinners - (cf. the Cross).
-3rd idea: a gift of enabledment to perform a distinctive action by God's help.

The same way that the 3rd use of the Law predominates, the 3rd use of Grace predominates also amongst our Evangelian brethren. Let me illustrate this 3rd use of Grace from a current popular highly acclaimed Evangelical author, from Dr. John Piper's Future Grace. BTW, I appreciate his illustration of the Filipino insight of gratitude in that book, this is called "utang na loob" -i.e. the ethics of gratitude or debtor's ethics (Chapter Two).

Here is a quick quote enjoining us on the 3rd use of Grace, making Grace "gratia infusa" in p.65

In Dr. Piper's Future Grace he says:
The only life I have left to live is future life. The past is not in my hands to offer or alter. It is gone. Not even God will change the past. All expectations of God are future expectations. All the possibilities of faith and love are future possibilities. And all the power that touches me with help to live in love is future power. As precious as the bygone blessings of God may be, if he lives me only with the memory of those, and not with the promise of more, I will be undone. My hope for future goodness and future glory is future grace.

This is quite revealing, because it seems that grace is disentangled from the Cross, the lens from which we see things. It is 180 degrees opposite of the Concordian focus on the uses of the Law and the ideas of Grace. For a Concordian, it is the 2nd use of Grace that predominates, and also the 2nd use of the Law that is lifted high. Hence, for him, the grace in the past at the Cross is still the grace that he needs and clings to for his future , it functions literally in his here and now (this is strange to some), so there is no new or fresh batch of grace. Grace in this respect is neither diminished, gets stale, like bread or is increased. Grace is outside him, that is the focus, whereas in Evangelian talk, Grace is seen as something imparted inside the constitution of the Christian - intra gratia.

Grace for sure
Bluntly we have no promise of future grace as a free standing idea we can hold on to from God. If we want to know if God has "future grace" for us - we will be grasping at straws if we do not see it from the 2nd use of Grace. Yes, God by nature is gracious but where do you find it with certainty? There is no naked Grace of God towards us that is not clothed in Christ's Cross. Besides this, we will interpret our circumstances from a temporal world view and not in the light of eternity.

Which drives what?
In other words, which drives what, which idea of grace drives? I believe there is 3rd use of Law and 3rd use of Grace, but the question is which drives what? We should not disagree that we do have sanctification, we do have it absolutely! That is the nature of faith in the Gospel. We should just refuse for it to be driven by anything except by the 2nd use of Grace.


Augustinian Successor said...

This is good, this is so Lutheran!! ;-)

Way to go, Bro. Lito!

LPC said...


Thanks bro. I have been writing more on Evangelians with the hope that it might keep them from drowning themselves in the Tiber.



David Cochrane said...


Yes Piper returns fully to the medieval understanding of grace as a substance to aid one in achieving holiness. This is played out in the evangelicals idea of progressive sanctification in which all true believers are involved. One can hear many people speak about how they have improved behaviour over the past. This is the very same thing the Pharisee thanked God for. They are saying they are better than those who are like they used to be. Not a good thing.

Another thing Piper trips over is the idea that the Gospel has demands in it. It kind of has Jesus sitting in heaven impatiently strumming His fingers wondering when we are going to get more holy. What a slap in the Jesus' face that is!

Grace indeed is an attribute God has not an attribute He gives us. Imagine He looks at us as His holy children. Wow!

God's peace. †

Augustinian Successor said...

Bro. David,

Yes, yes!


Anonymous said...

When one views salvation as a "one time" event and not a continuing condition, the focus is removed from the Cross. For example, if I have the view that Christ saved me and it's up to me to make God happy, then I will try to make God happy by what I do. If, however, I have the view that Christ saved me and continues to save me, then I continue to live under the cross. What I do for God is out of sense of gratitude for this salvation with the understanding that there is nothing I can do make God more pleased with me than He is with what Christ did on my behalf.

I believe that many "evangelical" churches don't have confession and absolution part of their worship is that it brings us back to a point where we acknowledge that we continue to be sinful people desiring of God's holy judgment but it is the Cross where we find God's mercy. We then follow it with Holy Communion where we receive the forgiveness of sins in the bread and wine. When this is a major part of worship, we cannot focus on "what are you doing for God" but "what is God doing for you".

LPC said...

The disconnect between the 3rd use of Grace and 2nd use happens when one is of the idea that theologies are disconnected.

Was it Bo Giertz who said the Cross is our theology?

Right, when one is of the idea that God needs to happen to you like in a conversion experience etc, then what happens is tucked away and put to the shelves as done, let us move on. This of course, focuses on experience rather than on God's revelation and promise.

This of course, the focusing on experience is a Puritan and Revivalistic tint on Christianity.

When Piper hears Paul greets Christians with "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ", he hears it as power, or ability, rather it should be read in relation to justification i.e. the Cross. It is a different way of hearing because the Cross is not the aid to hear the greetings, it is separated from it, so grace is now power. It is quite Roman, if you ask me.


Augustinian Successor said...

Bro. Steve,

Amen! AMEN!


Augustinian Successor said...

When Piper hears Paul greets Christians with "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the "Lord Jesus Christ", he hears it as power, or ability, rather it should be read in relation to justification i.e. the Cross. It is a different way of hearing because the Cross is not the aid to hear the greetings, it is separated from it, so grace is now power. It is quite Roman, if you ask me."

Exactly! When Piper hears that salutation, it is translated into *synergistic* terms! Subliminal or not ...

When confessional Lutherans and authentic Reformational Christians hear the salutation, they are reminded of simul iustus et peccator - the Cross which is an event past - an "accomplished fact" - comes to them in the living present through the holy Ministry of Word and the Sacraments of the Gospel of Reconciliation. Grace is an accomplished fact! Period. It is not an accomplished fact plus/and an offer to realise a potential. Grace is a done deal.

Grace is not *ontological*. Grace is ESCHATOLOGICAL - which presents an "already and not yet" tension in the *lives* of the saints. Grace as the revelation of God in Jesus Christ on the Cross looks to its *consummation* at the end of the age, history. Grace is not linear *progression*, i.e. it is NOT the ascent of grace unto the heavens. Oh no, no no ... grace is EXTRA NOS! Grace is the invasion, zooming in, the movement from the heavens towards this world, the centripetal force which crowds out this dead, decadent, dying Old Adam. Grace in its fulness overcoming the old self. Sanctification, i.e. raising of the new man is not progressive, you are justified, holy, sanctified ... it is the reverse! It is the death of the man which is being progressively taking place until *physical* death ends once for all the death of the old man! ...

Do you see the beauty of Luther's insights???

Ahh ... the beauty of Luther's Gospel. Truly, it is a RADICAL Gospel ... (as per the late Gerhard Forde).

Augustinian Successor said...

my favourite theologians ...

Hermann Otto Erich Sasse: Theologian of the Lord's Supper

Robert David Preus: Theologian of Scripture and Justification by Faith

Gerhard Olaf Forde: Systematic Theologian of Absolution

Oswald Bayer: Theologian of Baptism

Viva va Augustana!

LPC said...

Bro Jason,

grace is EXTRA NOS! Grace is the invasion, zooming in, the movement from the heavens towards this world, the centripetal force which crowds out this dead, decadent, dying Old Adam

Well said.

When I mention to people that the old brat the older you get the more it does not want to die and the more it fights, I get a strange look. It does not register.

BTW Piper says When Paul ends every letter with the words "Grace be with you", he is blessing the believers with what they need to be Christians from that moment on - future grace, clearly this is like mixing Law with Gospel and vice versa, he means gratia infusa here, whereas Paul meant the favor of God to sinners, His mercy founded on Christ, rather than ability. I sometimes doubt if Piper knows the impact of the 2nd use of Grace.


J. K. Jones said...


Good post. Piper's Future Grace book has always confused me. You may have put together the reason why.

I can't spell it right, but the Latin phrase I most like to hear Rod Rosenbladt repeat and explain is "de favor Dei proctor Christum." The favor of God on account of Christ. It is accomplished by Him for us.

Grace is an attribute of God which results in Christ's provision. One could speak of future grace as the faith that God will continue to be gracious toward us in the future because of what Christ has done for us in the past. Piper says this in his more lucid moments.

Faith trusts a Person to be in the future what He has been in the past.

Augustinian Successor said...

*Additionals* ;-)

my favourite theologians ...

Hermann Otto Erich Sasse: Theologian of the Church and the Lord's Supper

Robert David Preus: Theologian of Scripture and Justification by Faith

Gerhard Olaf Forde: Systematic Theologian of Proclamation and Absolution

Oswald Bayer: Theologian of Living by Faith and Baptism

Augustinian Successor said...

Here's a critic of the Pied Piper from, yes, a *Reformed* perspective. Piper is a Neo-Legalist like John H. Armstrong of the Revival and Reformation Ministries. Both may have their criticisms of the New Perspective, but at the end of the day, they ALL belong to the same boat!

Augustinian Successor said...

LPC said...


Piper says this in his more lucid moments.

In that case, he manages to confuse himself when it happens though, and in the moment of confusion, he gets it right (so is that by accident then?).

This is what we may call silo theology. Not shallow but silo, the method that says justification is just one theology and it stands on its own and never is used to enlighten other theologies like sanctification or sacramentology etc.

Bro. Jason has some insight here, though Piper is a critique of NPP, yet, his view of grace is Roman, and so the Augustinian Successor is right, he is in the NPP camp in the end.


LPC said...


Now, you have convicted me, I better invest on those authors/books ...that is my new year's resolution ;-)


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito,

I sure hope, God-willing, that I would be able to get Sasse's (SAS-se) books, 'This is My Body' would be a good start. And Preus's (Proice) book in Inspiration. And Forde's (Fer-DEE) "Theology is for Proclamation" and "Justification by Faith: A Matter of Life and Death". They are all excellent and are very sympathetic to the *separated* ;-) brethren in the Reformed communion! True Catholics who know that to be Catholic is to be Protestant.

Thank God for Rod Rosenbladt, John Warwick Montgomery, etc. too.


A warning to us true confessional Lutherans, to be on guard against a species of so-called confessional Lutheranism known as high church Lutheranism, as revived by the likes of the late Arthur Carl Piepkorn (PEEPkorn) whose student Richard John Neuhaus eventually perverted to Rome. High church Lutheranism is appropriate in the quest to recover the catholic inheritance of confessional Lutheranism. But it becomes inappropriate as Sasse rightly notes in his critique Piepkorn when liturgy and confession becomes separated so that a common catholic inheritance becomes the excuse to seek common ground with Rome when the Gospel is still the dividing issue (as Preus so rightly says).

We preserve, uphold and defend catholic rites and ceremonies precisely because these convey the truths of the Gospel of justification by faith alone! We, the Church of Augsburg Confession ARE the authentic expression AND continuation of western catholicism. There are NOT two authentic streams, only ONE! That is why there was a split in the 16th century!

We enter into dialogue with Rome precisely so that we can learn more in order NOT to MISrepresent its teachings, so that when we go back to our seminaries and churches, we can BETTER criticise its false gospel! Not to seek reconciliation for there is none, else why on earth are we on THIS side and not on THAT side in the first place!

And let us get this straight, Roman Catholics are not *separated* brethren. If anyone wants to call "brethren", that is their business, but let us get this straight once and for all, they are ERRING brethren, if brethren at all!

And never forget the Book of Concord calls the papacy the kingdom of Antichrist!

And that's that ...

Augustinian Successor said...

I know that you have the Society of Holy Trinity (STS) and Society of St. Polycarp in the LCMS but do you know what? It precisely these "Romanising tendencies" which the late Dr. Jacob Aall Ottesen Preus and by extension the late Dr. Robert Preus fought to keep out. You cannot separate "Romanising tendencies" from the issue of biblical ierrancy. And Seminex was right to have been kicked out. Although it's making a comeback in the LCMS. I hope the Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus - who has my moral support for his ministry in the Luther Academy and beyond - will continue the good work of his late father who was a doughty defender of the truth of the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures and by extension, the Lutheran Confessions. If anyone wants to know what confessional Lutheranism is about, look no further.

If the catholic ceremonies and rituals serve the Gospel as understood by the Confessions, then let these be recovered in churches today. But if these do not, other than serve some pet fantasy of some self-proclaimed high church Lutheran evangelical catholic, then I say, begone high church Lutheranism! Does high church Lutheranism strengthens your faith that the Church of the Augsburg Confession belongs to the one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church, and that Rome has fallen away from THAT Church? Do it confirm your credential as a true catholic, an evangelical catholic who will not for a moment compromise the Gospel for the sake of foolish notion of reconciliation with Rome?

Instead, does it blind you to the fact that the Book of Concord (1580) was written AFTER the Council of Trent, and that now we are living in a post-Vatican 1 and Vatican 2 period? If it does, then I say that's not confessional Lutheranism ... it's fake Lutheranism, and the boys are just yapping at the chance of being affirmed as catholics by the Church of the Antichrist. And present as was his predecessor is the Antichrist.

Past Elder said...


The central challenge in our time for fidelity to the faith of Christ and his church as correctly taught in the Book of Concord will be this, that with both Vatican Councils the Church of Rome has moved on to even more dangerous ground even as it retains much of its past error, which means for us Lutherans that the BOC, where it contrasts the catholic church and faith with the Catholic church and faith, addresses a church which no longer exists and does not address the church which presently exists.

The current Church of Rome is a more deadly enemy of the faith taught in the BOC even as it appears less so. I would worry less about the SSP and more about the Vatican II virus which has infected all churches with a liturgical tradition. We could do with another Martin and another Examen. As it is, we have two forms of Contemporary Worship, one which looks to Willow Creek and Saddleback for its inspiration, and one which looks to 1960s Rome, the latter masquerading as "historic" whereas it no less than the former departs from it.

A situation more dire, drastic and dangerous than 1580.

Past Elder said...

Side note -- what's your take, A.S., on the action of that California diocese re the ECUSA?

LPC said...


There certainly is a crop of so called confessing Lutherans that are really crypto-Romanists. Dr. Greg Jackson once said that he would rather these and the crypto-Pentecostals leave so that they can leave the confessors of BoC alone. see here

You know, the anti-Christ is not someone who openly denies Christ, no rather, it is someone who claims to be for Christ but in the rear is chopping Christ off from the hearts of people. Dr. Jackson says that these crypto-Romanists are hiding under the banner "confessing Lutheran", so looks like one day what has happened in the Reformed world is happening to us now, who are the Truly Lutheran (TLs vs TRs).

I heard Sasse's critique of Piepkorn and I think I came across one article in the internet critiquing the Liturgical movement. I have been in extreme sides of the fences being an ex-RC and a former Pentecostal. I think those in the Liturgical Movement are falling on the other side of the horse.

P.E.'s thought on the Vatican II more dangerous than 1580 makes me think that there is a point in saying that the BoC was written in historical context and perhaps new words need to be spoken to address this.

Oh BTW there are blended Lutherans too, those that blend Lutheranism with Orthodoxy (Big O) and vice versa

So Dr. Jackson has a point.


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Past Elder,

I haven't been keeping up with Anglican/Episcopalian Communion news lately ... these days I seem to be more concerned with Lutheran news.

Having said this, I would be extremely concerned about the SSP and STS. You have men who are in breach of their ordination vows to maintain the confessional integrity of their tradition. We all know that being in such organisation inevitably weakens one's resolve and commitment to be uncompromising with the truth. Now, that does not mean emphatically that one has to *sound* like Pastor Jackson whom I support in many ways too, NOT AT ALL< but it means that Piepkorn was dead wrong in his attitude towards Rome. He didn't go far enough, he fell short of the confessional requirement of a Concordist. He claimed to be devotee of the Lutheran Symbols. But the Lutheran Symbols emphatically condemns Rome as the kingdom of the Antichrist. This cannot be accepted at all.

There's no way that the Church of Walther, Pieper, etc. is going to tolerate such attitude on the part of its clergy. NO WAY. Of course, there are already men in the LCMS who are follow Piepkorn and to even beyond him. Nonetheless, even if there are 6000 clergy who are ardent so-called high church Lutherans, that does NOT mean that they are represent or a representative of the true and genuine position of the LCMS.

How on earth is the LCMS going to maintain its credibility if on the one hand, some of its clergymen are literally dumb when it comes to perversion to Rome and Constantinople and so on but on the other hand it issues official statements rejecting the ecumenical agreements like the JDDJ and so on?

Do you really think the late Kurt Marquart would so "enlightened" view of Eastern Orthodoxy? Or tone down his views on Fenton's perversion? No way ... Men like Preus, Marquart are men who love the Truth. That is why they are confessional Lutherans.

Fact of the matter is that it stands to reason you cannot stop perversions to Rome or Constantinople as long as your take on the gospel and the church damn fuzzy. Piepkorn is part of the problem, not the solution.

J. K. Jones said...


I was not trying to defend or attack Piper earlier. I honestly do not understand exactly what you all are getting at.

Faith is not a one-time act. Faith continues into the future.

We continue to trust in the Trustworthy One. God demonstrated His trustworthiness in the cross. The cross was a one-time and for all payment of sin’s penalty on our behalf.

It was also a demonstration of God’s initiative and power and willingness to act on our behalf.

J. K.

Augustinian Successor said...

JK, did you or did you not read Dr. Robbin's critique of Piper, which I recommended earlier? You should, then you'll see why Piper's teachings cannot be commended at all.

Now, what is faith? Is faith obedience as in active obedience? Heck no ... faith is passive. The life of faith before GOD is passive. The life of faith before the world is active. Piper mixes the two. That is fatal.

Augustinian Successor said...

And JI Packer is a false Anglican ... ;-)

Past Elder said...

Another question A.S. -- what is the Church of England (Continuing) as mentioned in your profile? Is this a reference to a parituclar church body, or an ecclesiology? Most of my exposure to the Anglican Communion comes from the ECUSA and the stories that hit the news from its internal struggles, so I am unaware of details of the Anglican Communion outside the US except insofar as they relate to the ECUSA situation and for such articles by Church of England hierarchy as get published from time to time in The Guardian.

LPC said...


I was just trying to point that it is normal to be confused with Piper as I think the good doctor is probably confused himself on some topics. One of Piper's hero is Jonathan Edwards and from orthodox Lutheran standpoint, smacks of revivalism, puritanism or pietism always is a cause of concern. The critique I think arguably demonstrates this.


I am not LCMS and to be fair with them, as far as I know movements within that denom are not officially endorsed like SSP and STS. I think this is a minority who sounds like the majority because the minority is always the one who has to make extra noises to get attention.

BTW Sasse and Marquart have Australian connections, I think both had issues and tripidations with the Liturgical Movement. When I compare with what I have experienced with LCAust and what I hear about LCMS, the former would be considered somewhat low compared to the latter. The latter has now pastors calling themselves 'fathers'. I guess part of maturity in the denom is allowing debate to happen without quashing heavy handedly those who differ.

There is no Synod that has got it in order, it is also simul iustus et pecator, so in practice, I look for what I am getting at my local church,i.e. what is happening at the grass roots this is more important.


Past Elder said...

I am LCMS. Why? Because in the words of a Lutheran blogger, who now that he is ordained may not wish to be cited, it is the worst synod in the world, except for all the others. This is to be taken in the context of synods within the US.

The SSP is not a part of the Synod's structure. It is a voluntary fellowship. I am not a member of that fellowship, but I will say, in contrast to some of what happens in some of the Synod's structure, I can identify nothing in the SSP that is inconsistent with the AC in particular or our confessions in general.

To be clear: I believe the office of the papacy to bear the marks of Anti-Christ; I consider the Roman Church to be nothing more than the state religion of the Western Roman Empire and the Orthodox Church the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire both outlasting the Empire which spawned them; I consider the term Whore of Babylon as applicable now as ever, and actually more applicable now than ever, with many churches with Western Reformation roots falling in line with Rome after its last council and, borrowing Rome's phrase to describe their relationship with these "ecclesial unions", constituting brothelial unions in imperfect though real communion with the Whore and therefore part of it.

I also hold that LCMS is not the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church confessed in the Creed; that no denomination is; that LCMS is not the whole evangelical Lutheran church to which I publically confessed adherence; that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church is a spiritual entity to be found where it may be found within whatever humanly drawn ecclesiastical juridictions; that there is nothing to be feared from communication across these lines and that such communication is not about the jurisdictional validity or lack thereof of these lines but a reaching out to other parts of the catholic church divided by them and not constituted by them.

As a recovering academic, I will abstain from a discussion of what Piper, Piepkorn et al. have said or what others have said they said. It would compromise introducing myself at Academics Anonymous meetings:

My name is Terry, and I'm an academic.
Hi, Terry.
By the grace of God I haven't had an academic position since 1984.

To be clear, this last is in fun, a little dancing in the spirit of Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading. There is no such thing as Academics Anonymous.

Augustinian Successor said...


The Church of England (Continuing) is the true and authentic continuation in doctrine, worship and discipline of the Church of England as a member of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church reformed at the 16th century Protestant Reformation. The Continuing Church was organised in hte aftermath of the synodical controversy of the ordination of women into the priesthood. We are only six congregations, plus a handful of overseas congregations and scattered members.

Now listen, clergymen of the STS and SSP are in breach of their ordination vow. The Book of Concord condemns the papacy as the kingdom of the Antichrist. Both of these fanciful bodies seek reconciliation with the Antichrist. You do NOT seek reconciliation with the Antichrist! PERIOD.

We engage in, enter into dialogue with the Romanists. We learn from them, give praise where praise is due, etc. Why? I tell you why? Because we apply the TWO KINGDOM distinction. The Church of Rome is a Church. But it is a false church. As a recognised church body, she outwardly conforms to the righteousness of the Law. The Law and Gospel distinction compels us NOT to slander nor libel the Church of Rome in her teachings and practices. If you read some of posts in my blog, you will notice I try to do precisely just that overagainst the modern-day Puritan fundamentalists. So, we exchange a and explain views with our Roman counterparts.

Now, the issue is not the LCMS apostatising. That would be to confuse the LCMS with the Reformed Episcopal Church and its *bishops*. The issue is the petty clergymen, that number of recalcitrant men who have nothing better to do but to use their fellowship to also declare their intention to engage in rank ecumenism. THAT's the issue. They do NOt represent confessional Lutheranism. Confessional Lutheranism recognises that the only thing hindering reunion if at all, or reconciliation is the doctrine of the standing and falling article of the Church, which forms the basis and boundary of the all the doctrines of the Church! The real issue is not papacy, indulgences, Sacrifice of the Mass but as Luther puts it in the Bondage of the Will, the issue of free will and by extension, its form in justification by faith alone.

As evangelical catholics who highly esteem the Mass, our prayers in communion with the Church Trimuphant above is this: To pray that the erring brethren would return to the apostolic Faith. Pure and simple. We pray for the conversion of Rome! We do not seek reconciliation with Rome. We seek their conversion.

And let us not hide behind some vague and indecisive mantra of academic objectivity, when Piepkorn was dead wrong in his attitude towards the Church of Rome and some of his students have done what they thought was the only logical thing to do, that is pervert to Rome. Luther would have said that such an attitude of so-called academic objectivity and neutrality makes the Holy Spirit a sceptic. He said that to Erasmus.

Do you love the LCMS? Then combat the tendentious recalcitrants in your ranks. For the LCMS is precisely the LCMS of Walther and Preus, not Piepkorn and his ilk.

And for your information, one of the clergymen identified with the Continuing Church is the Rt. Rev. Dr. Roger T. Beckwith, a biblical scholar and theologian and liturgiologist of the first rank and former of Warden Of Latimer House. He has engaged in conversations with Rome and Orthodoxy before. BUT NEVER HAS DR. BECKWITH EVER RECOMMENDED WORKING TOWARDS RECONCILIATION WITH ROME.

LPC said...


As to whether P.E. should get into a crusade I would leave that to Bro Terry's time, conviction and competence.

I did go back to the site's, I do note (a lop sided statement for my taste) of seeking reconciliation with Western Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. I wonder though why no mention of seeking "reconciliation" with the Evangelicals and Anglicans. If it wants to be faithful to the Lutheran unity of believers, I am wondering no mention of the Reformed etc.

At any rate, that is a question I do not wish for P.E. to answer, since he is not SSP. I will direct that to them in due course.


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito et al,

To let you know, I am now officially a member of the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore (as well as a member of the Church of England (Continuing)). I'm proud to be associated with the LCMS even though it is NOT confessional, and I'll do my small part in contributing to the life and witness of the Church (congregational and "denominational").

Yes, Bro. Lito, I did not mean to say that when I used the word combat to be abrasive, confrontational, in upholding true confessional Lutheranism etc. The problem is NOT the LCMS. And I don't mean to adopt the language of Pastor Gregory Jackson. I emphatically meant that we should not ignore or downplay the seriousness of so-called high church Lutheranism. Because surely it is possible (of ocurse it is!) to be a high church Lutheran whilst tenaciously cling to the truth of justification by faith alone. The difference between a high church Lutheran hangs precisely in the standing and falling article of the Church. Not in the vestments, ceremonies, etc.


Of course, I for one am proud that the LCMS has produced many renowned scholars, including the late Piepkorn. But some of the things he said and taught has had deleterious effects upon the Church. A little leaven leaveneth the lump. So, let us be on our guard in brotherly love yes, but never in compromising the confessional integrity of the LCMS.

Past Elder said...

Thanks A.S. I am not aware of either denomination. I did not find the Lutheran body on the list of either the ILC, of which LCMS is a member, or the CELC, to which my former synod (WELS) belongs.

My opinion is, there is more to be concerned about in LCMS from the aping of the worship and methods of the "evangelicals", in order to ape the numbers of the megachurches, and from the adaptation of Vatican II worship for Lutheran use. This latter, since it is offered under the banner "historic" and often in response to the "evangelical" types, constitutes in my mind the most clear and present danger.

As a side note, down the street from where I live a small congregation of traditional Episcopalians hung out for a couple of years, but I see they have sold the property -- I hope because they needed a larger facility, not because they went under. While I cannot hold to the Anglican faith, I admire those in that context who hold to the real deal rather than the Anglican version of the common heterodoxy afflicting all church bodies.

Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Past Elder,

If I'm not mistaken LC-Malaysia and Singapore) is a member of the LWF. LCMS has officials links with the ELCA. She ordains women into the priesthood which I oppose. The congregation to which I belong, Good Shepherd, is perhaps the most liturgical and conservative as you can get in that denomination (I don't like using the denomination but unfortunately it accurately describe the attitude of the LCMS towards itself). I for one do not see the LC-Missouri Synod as a "denomination" as belonging to the one holy catholic Church.

Unlike many congregations, Good Shepherd practices weekly communion and much more frequently than the other congregations! One congregation which has a *mainly* young adult membership of composition only does it once a month. So, for the most of the weekly Divine Service, the minister over there is bereft of his vestments or at least robes.

The Sacrament of the Altar is my life. I need the true Body and Blood of Our Lord, which was broken and shed for the remissions of sins. I need to chant, "Lamb of God, Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on me". I need to hear the absolution. The problem *here* in the LCMS is not Romanising tendencies, but Church Growth tendencies, to attract the young generation - Generation X. The Church is not BELIEVED to part of the one holy Catholic Church but seen as an institution engaging human resource development! The bishop though a good evangelist knows nothing about being Lutheran in the true sense that is.

Actually, what we have here is a generic evangelicalism with the Lutheran label on it. People are ignorant of the Book of Concord. But that is the fault of the clergy who are not interested in confessional Lutheranism. My pastor though is willing to listen, he is knowledgeable and is liturgical-minded.

I need to chant during the Divine Service. Unlike other congregations, the Divine Service in Good Shepherd is precisely Gottesdienst (God's Service) where we are the recipients of His gracious gifts. I love the Liturgy of Holy Communion. And the oral Word is preached, as biblical as it can get under the present circumstances.

Thank the Good Lord for leading me to Good Shepherd even though compared many congregations, we are actually quite small in terms of the communicant. In fact, I'm one of the only three or four young adults in the congregation. Can't be compared to other ocngregations where there is a healthy and vibrant *number* of young adults. But I know Good Shepherd where I am to be. The Liturgy and Sacrament is my life. I look forward to taking part in the Liturgy and partaking of the Sacrament every Lord's day.

I believe I'm the only confessional Lutheran in the denomination or even in the entire country! I'm not sure about Singapore. And the fact I'm not even a cradle Lutheran, or baptised or confirmed as a Lutheran. But by the grace of God alone, I have to LOVE the truths of confessional Lutheranism, and will seek to contribute in a small and fledgling way to the life and witness of the Church.

Past Elder said...

The LCMS has official links with the ELCA? Great Scott, the LWF, whose site confirms the Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore, also counts among its members the ELCA!! While we have communication with the ELCA and co-operation in service work, we do not belong to the LWF, on confessional grounds, and have made clear that while we maintain a desire for communication and co-operation unity is not possible on doctrinal grounds. I am aware of the struggle of many faithful, pastors and congregations in the ELCA to hold to the faith of the confessions, though my opinion is the course is set and eventually they will have to leave. The LWF signed the Joint Declaration; we did not, and will not, and a statement why not is on our site.

Our relations with the ELCA and the LWF are much like those with Rome -- we on the one hand know division in the Church is neither the intention of Christ nor the Reformation, yet on the other know that we cannot enter into unity with bodies that do not hold the same faith.

I have little to no contact with the ELCA apart from what I read in the papers or the Internet, and a Sunday morning service televised on a local access cable channel which I watch sometimes to remind myself that traditional externals can be employed in a heterodox message as much as Church Growth ones.

My last contact was almost a comedy noir. It was near the end of my dad's last illness. It was in a Catholic hospital and he was RC, and a woman in a "Roman" collar appeared with the look of one about to commiserate. Clearly not an RC priest, I asked her which church she was with, and she replied we're all Christians and do not lean on denominational affiliation, but I pressed the issue and she said "ELCA". Interesting that this Catholic hospital, which in my Catholic youth had two full time priest chaplains whose Masses I regularly served, now sends female ELCA clergy to the rooms of RC patients. I did not see Catholic clergy at any time, though a local WELS pastor (my synod at the time) with hospital duties showed up for me at my request.

LPC said...


. I emphatically meant that we should not ignore or downplay the seriousness of so-called high church Lutheranism. Because surely it is possible (of ocurse it is!) to be a high church Lutheran whilst tenaciously cling to the truth of justification by faith alone. The difference between a high church Lutheran hangs precisely in the standing and falling article of the Church. Not in the vestments

Absolutely! And we should have plenty of time to blog about this soon.


David Cochrane said...


Piper is talking about future grace not future faith. Yes our faith does grow and we stand in need of it daily. Faith grows as we breath in the word of God and exhale good works for our neighbour. These will indeed increase in the believer who attends to bible reading, proper preaching, reflection on baptism for forgiveness of sin and receiving Jesus' body and blood for forgiveness of sin and strength for life.

Grace on the other hand is the attribute posessed by God in which He sees us as already holy in Jesus. We are 100% holy in God's sight due to the active obedience of Jesus' perfect life. We are 100% guilt free due to Jesus' passive obedience on the cross. As long as we do not reject this gracious gift it is ours in the present and future.

God's peace. †

LPC said...

Understood. In fact Piper likes us to have faith in future grace. Yet, there is nothing wrong with the past grace - i.e. the Cross , that grace and faith in that grace is the only thing worth having faith on and it will carry us to the present and the future.

If I do not look at that my heart will be anxious.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong in past grace? Past grace is all there is!

Piper is confusing the definition of the word "promise" to be a future thing. A promise is in the past. Abraham looked to past grace when he considered his needs:

Rom 4:18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be."
Rom 4:19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Rom 4:20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God,


DOES Piper encourage us to STAND on the PAST?


LPC said...


That is an insight that I have not considered, I believe you are correct, Grace is really PROMISE.

It does not seem to me that he wants us to stand on the PAST. In Future Grace, I recall, the promises he used are not focused on that favor Dei, but a looking forward to an infused grace. I do not have the book with me right now to refer to check.


jim cronfel said...


I have been thinking about Luther's verse:

"The just shall live by faith".

So, we shouldn't ask "who shall live by faith" to find out who will be just. But "who is just" to find out who shall live by faith.

Piper makes faith the condition of future grace when (justification by) grace is the condition of future faith. Those justified by grace shall live by faith.

Dr. Piper is still concerned with obediance when Luther was only concerned with justification. WE need to get our minds off of the world and off of ourselves ALWAYS. We need to leave our obediance a matter for the Holy Spirit to determine. We need to trust the Holy Spirit's leading as promised in the Bible.

As we move from Romans 7 to Romans 8 we want to ask "where is this leading" or "now I must follow". When Romans 7 makes it clear that there is no following and in Romans 8 the leading is invisible.

Sanctification is a matter of invivible trust.

We do need to pursue the Holy Spirit but not by sight! We need to cling to Romans 8:1 and not depart from it.

If we are NOW under NO CONDEMNATION why do we need to add to it? We are only adding condemnation to NO CONDEMNATION!

Everything is about remembering the past:

2 Peter 1:9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

But Piper adds filthyness to the past:

Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.



1 Corinthians 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,







LPC said...


Nicely done, mate.

I know the Rev. Dr. Piper is sincere and desperately trying to help people fall in love with God with his insights. Now he is a philosophical person and his Edwardian fan status makes him a bit mystical. Now some found comfort in his writings and I did for a while until I got back to the Cross. I have more than 4 books of his if I recall. However, I guess he does not center on the Cross as a way to interpret other revelation of Scripture.


Augustinian Successor said...


Augustinian Successor said...

Bro. Lito,

Thank you for your email. One thing which the likes and ilk of Mr. Hollywood does not understand is that Rome is by virtue of Trent *alone* *irefformable*. This cannot be emphasised over enough. She does not change. Her motto is semper eadem. She cannot change because she is unwilling to change. Bondage of the will.

I mean Bro. Lito, can you imagine a so-called Lutheran minister making a gaff in saying that the bread and wine changes into the Body and Blood of Our Saviour??? As if that saying that makes one a Catholic ... gimme a break, saying that does not makes one a catholic anymore than pining for the Latin Mass does. One thing for sure though ... Mr. Hollywood is no Lutheran!

Unfortunately when we read 2 Thess. 2, the only way to "liberate" Rome from its bondage is by being destroyed by the Word. She is deepens her bondage by denying the bondage of the will and resorting and appealing to residual free-will in the context of the priority of grace as a self-defense in synergy, in cooperation, with the grace of God. Rome is not "free" but is in bondage to the Law. The Law can never fulfilled. The Law only accuses (lex semper accusat). The Law is a stumbling-block to Rome.

So, practically, on this side of the eschatological divide, liberation by the effective Word of the Gospel comes precisely to set free people form the yoke of the Roman obedience. That is to say by fleeing Rome. Get out of Rome. As an institution, she is fit for the fire. Only foolish people would want to go back to Rome. It's a mirage at the end of the day.

There is a development, but not towards utopia, unity, etc. but development of sin, the organic development of sin in antithesis with the progressive *realisation* of the kingdom of God - the seed of the Woman versus the seed of the Serpent.

The letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive

Where there is the Spirit, there is freedom.

Rome represents bondage of the Law; Lutheranism represents the freedom of the Gospel.

As for me and my brethren, we say Christ is the end of the Law to all who believe.

LPC said...


Well one does wonder! You see I am simple logician. If God says come out from her my people and be separate, why would you like go in.? This is exactly opposite. Unless of course, you can do anything since you are saved ie you may not antinomian in morality, but you decided to be one in spirituality.

There is definitely weasel talk and frankly IMHO the way the picking and choosing to me of Luther and the way he answered my questions is too sophistic to my taste and that is a hint.

I imagine something like this is plausible. First confess you are a confessing Lutheran and not Protestant, then take those aspects of the old but not enjoined by the BoC like the Apocrypha etc, some ancient practice, then start turning BoC in its head, do historic revisionism so to speak, then come around and say you are truly being Lutheran by becoming EO or RC, did not Pelikan do that? Did he not say his EO move was the fulfillment of his Lutheranism?

Time alone will tell...


Augustinian Successor said...

Dear Bro. Lito,

There lots of wolves out there but it's not difficult to discern and detect them. It's not possible to deceive the elect. By their fruits we shall know the wolves in sheeps' clothing. If reconciliation with Rome is done at the expense of glossing over sola fide, then despite all the talk about being confessionally Lutheran, we know that at the end of the day, it's hogwash because of the fact that it's insincere.

No authentic confessional Lutheran minister worth his salt will advocate reunion at the price of ignoring sola fide. The late Sasse was friendly towards Rome, no less than Piepkorn. But he NEVER advocated reunion with Rome. Never. The late Forde sat on ecumenical committee dialoguing with Roman theologians, but he NEVER advocated reunion with Rome where sola fide will be shackled. The late Preus wrote against the Roman view of justification.

Romish ministers claiming to be Lutheran are playing a dangerous game here. They think they can do a Newman ... they think they're like the Anglo-Catholics in the old Church of England ... well, I have news for them ... Coockadoo doo ...!!!

St. Peter vehemently protested his love for Jesus but in the end he denied Our Lord three times.

In the case of these so-called ministers, it's a worse scenario. Everyone wants to be a Newman these days ... what's so attractive about that??? The theology of glory, I suspect!

They don't believe in the theology of the Cross! The Church which is despised by the world ... as an institution she is alien to the world ...

Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver ... so-called ministers are ever so willing to be turncoats for less than that ...

O foolish Missourians ... for who hath bewitched you ...

LPC said...



I think what has happened in the Reformed world is happening here too.

Raise high the label "confessional" and that becomes your pass word, like they do in secret societies. One day it will be redefined in so many ways and it will cease to really have meaning.

Try wearing an expensive signature shirt - a Gucci or Yves in a party and you will surely gain attention and you get people to listen to you.

Same is true in conservative circles. It becomes and can become a hype word.


Augustinian Successor said...

Touche, Bro. Lito.

jim cronfel said...

We have only one message:

"It is finished"

but it is a full time job to repeat it because so many people want to add to it and thrust it into the future and make it incomplete and ongoing.

mbereans said...

jp refers to redemptive time's future grace. That's why he compares gratitude with faith in relation to God and His goodness.
I think the key word here is gratis - free of charge - now if you're obligated because you're an "utang na loob" debtor's ethics practicing person to repay something free of charge you're in effect nullifying grace. You then fail not only to experience grace, you become a "grace killer" yourself.

LPC said...


I have no clue what redemptive future grace of JP means.

From the standpoint of Scripture, the ultimate Grace is Jesus for you - at the Cross. That is certain grace. You are guaranteed that Grace. As to other forms of grace as we may perceive, there is no certainty in those.