Monday, September 20, 2010

Houston, I have a problem

I have a problem. The Law is not being preached.... at all.

1. The Law is not being preached as if I can do it (wrongly).
2. The Law is not being preached so as to condemnsme (rightly).

Hence, it is not even preached a.) wrongly, or b.) rightly at all.

That is a problem.

If you do not see I problem with that, I certainly do, because there is nothing for Christ to die for.

From BoC, SD V.
15]
And the Apology says: To a true and salutary repentance the preaching of the Law
alone is not sufficient, but the Gospel should be added thereto. Therefore the
two doctrines belong together, and should also be urged by the side of each
other, but in a definite order and with a proper distinction; and the
Antinomians or assailants of the Law are justly condemned, who abolish the
preaching of the Law from the Church, and wish sins to be reproved, and
repentance and sorrow to be taught, not from the Law, but from the Gospel
.


I am skeptical of Walther's thesis when he says in (p. 25) Treasury of CF W Walther, Vol. III that the Gospel should predominate in the preaching. Some pastors, because they are Walther fans, implement this to the point that the Law is subtly heard or not even heard at all, or hurriedly hushed away. But what do you expect? That is what you get as an effect of UOJ.

I disagree with Walther, for the BoC says the Law and Gospel should be urged side by side, hence equally.

21 comments:

Gregory L. Jackson said...

I am not sure if side by side can be equated with 50/50. But you are right that Walther's influence has led to an Antinomian fake Gospel predominance. There is no Law, so everything is Gospel. Everyone is absolved, forgiven. Universalism trembles on their lips (or lisp) but they cannot quite say it. One result is clear - they are indifferent about doctrine.

Old Missouri was shocked that the Seminex people adopted the everything is Gospel approach of Gospel reductionism, which is also ELCA's philosophy. Now the Shrinkers are saying the same thing in their own synod. McGavran, thou has triumphed.

LPC said...

Pr. GJ,

I may rethink my description of 'equally', for now say, equally important.

The problem is that when a pastor is sold out to Walther and then implement Walther's ideas along with Walther's atonement is justification teaching, that is where disaster occurs.

It breeds indifference and when that happens, to quote you, Christian teaching becomes a matter of creative re-writing.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Equally important is true.

Luther's sermon on John 16, "convicting people of sin because they do not believe on Jesus" should indict all the UOJ fanatics, heirs of Walther's Easter absolution sermon.

American Lutherans soak up false doctrine and do not trust the Word, which conveys Christ to us.
In copying the sermons of false teachers, these Shrinkers are proclaiming, "I do not believe God's Word has the power needed to do His work. Man must help with his own wisdom."

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Lito,
Can you be more specific? Where is the law not being preched? In the LCA? Or do you mean more widely?
Thanks! (I'm inclined to agree with you, btw, I just want to understand where you are talking about.)

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

In the LCA I have heard of good sermons, even the 3rd use of the Law greatly preached specially when I visit country towns in Aus.

On the other hand, I have observed that those I know admirers of Walther tend to do as what Walther says in running the church, hence, more Gospel tilt which in a way makes the Law muted or neutered.

The first time I encountered one or two LCA pastors hinted to me they are skeptical of Walther, that first shocked me. Now I know why they said such things. I can see their point. But that is hush hush, these were words in private.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

OK, I see. But when Walther said the Gospel should predominate, he didn't mean the Law should not be preached. Anyone who has actually read Walther's book would not fall into that error (btw, how many LCA pastors have read Walther? Not many, I suspect. His name was never mentioned when I was at sem.)

I'm inclined to believe that if the law is being soft-peddled in the LCA, it's primarily because of two things: 1) in the past there was a predominance of law preaching and not enough Gospel. This could have been because of lingering German Pietism 2) this has led to a creeping anti-nomianism in more recent generations since the
1960s, a different kind of Pietism, a "white wine Pietism", as one writer called it, which cannot imagine God ever getting angry with sinners!

Well, that's how I see it, fwiw.

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

I understand that Walther may have not meant that the Law should not be preached. Like I said they do but with the preponderance of hurriedly exiting away the Law. It is preached, but may be just as a comment. Hence not given it enough time to cook the sinner/believer.


This is the problem when one looks at Walther as his hero. He gets to interpret Walther's teaching and starts implementing his vision for church practice which can be flawed. And so the story goes, the Waltherian pastor implements Walther's theology in his parish.

So I ask, what is the problem with Luther?
What is the problem of patterning your preaching style according to Luther? This is the question I ask.

I know what people will say - Luther preached long, relates the text to his exposition and he lived at a different time so he is passe and not applicable.

LPC.

Gregory L. Jackson said...

It is sad that the work of the Holy Spirit (in the Word) is to convict the world of its sin, and this sin is explained clearly as unbelief in Christ. And yet this is taken to mean the sin of criticizing the synod, the sin of not giving enough for the budget, the sin of not working hard enough. Both Law and Gospel are muddled by not adhering to the Word of Christ in John 16.

LPC said...

Pr. GJ,

The prophetic role of the pastor is circumvented when there is more Gospel and less Law. This is Walther's formula.

Walther was fighting revivalism. But the problem is that because Waltherian pastor, consumes more of Walther and does not consume the BoC or Luther, indeed in my observation plays lip service to both, he thinks that revivalism is the only problem there is.

I agree, anything that is not of faith is sin.

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Following Walther has led the LCMS back to revivalism via Fuller or what they perceive as the answer to revivalism - Romanism.

steve said...

I don't think there is a formula for this stuff 50% law, and then 50% gospel.

And I'm definitely not a third use guy since I believe that the so-called third use is already contained in the first use.

Life itself and the hardships therein can enough of the law to bring someone to the place where they can hear the gospel. Not saying that it shouldn't be part of every sermon, in some fashion. It should, I believe.

Speaking of law...I'm headed out the door to go to work.

Ciao.

LPC said...

Pr. GJ.

Great observation, indeed so called confessionals who are actually Waltherian UOJers think that the cure for revivalism is Romanism.

Luther I heard said that this type of swing is like falling on the other side of the horse. The rider in trying not to fall on the right side swings hard to the left that it causes him to fall on the left side.

LPC

LPC said...

Steve,

To a believer in Christ, the Law is good dispite the fact that the Law condemns him, he loves it though it convicts him.

We have to be careful not to give the impression to Evangelicals that Lutherans count the Law as something evil, something wicked. See Romans 7:7, 7:13. This wrong.

The Law is good though the Law tells me I am evil.

The believer in Christ loves it because it was the very means that made him run to Christ.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Luther has a powerful sermon in the Lenker set, where he portrays the sun and moon as Gospel and Law. The moon (Law) has only borrowed light from the sun (Gospel). That comes through in his explanation of the Decalogue, where the command aspect is balanced by what we do out of love.

Barth, echoing Calvin, wrote, "The gift is a demand."

LPC said...

Pr. Greg,

Calvin actually made concessions with Rome. If one studies his concept of repentance and faith, it is quite similar to Rome.

That is why there is a mixture of Law and Gospel when Barth says the gift is a demand.

For example also, in Calvinistic order of salvation, faith precedes repentance, but in that respect they have equivocated on what faith means. It is in fact assent when looked deeper since it precedes repentance. This is not the case in Lutheran understanding.

We repent towards God and believe the Gospel of Christ.

I wanted to make a study on how Calvin differed from Luther on the core ontology of repentance and faith. It is no wonder that Calvinists opens itself up to Revivalism, like the Puritans.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Gregory,
Can you flesh out "Walther leads to revivalism" a bit more? How so? [The Romanism bit I get ;0)]

LPC said...

I do not think that was what GJ said, rather he said Waltherians *think* that the cure to revivalism is romanism.

Which is obvious when you hear prominent bloggers of LC-MS talk.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Pastor Henderson, There is an appalling rush to embrace Romanism in the LCMS. The Synodical Conference was weak on the efficacy of the Word and the Means of Grace. Their semi-demi-Enthusiasm made them feel comfortable at Fuller and Willow Creek. Those who hated the Fuller WC marketing approach have converted pop music performances into smells and bells performances, a high church version of Fuller's entertainment evangelism.

LPC said...

I was a kid before Vatican II came along. So as an ex-RC kid, I heard the RC Mass in Latin, lots of times.

The smells and bells can be earth moving, like a spectator sport. So I think it is another form of entertainment evangelism. I can see that point.

I believe the traditional Lutheran liturgy is useful and good. However, unless one understands JBFA, that liturgy can be dead and in fact is used by people as a form of works. I have detected some old time Lutherans think they will be going to heaven because they participated in it. They believe they are in God's favor because they can memorize it and know the rules when to sit down, kneel, stand up etc.


On the other hand, after I taught the missus the catechism, she told me she understands liturgy now because of what the catechism taught her.

LPC

Gregory L. Jackson said...

LPC - you are right. A good example is "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing." Lutherans cannot sing it properly. Methodists can. Same words. Same tune. The liturgy is beautiful and uplifting when appreciated, but Lutherans have been depreciating it, listening to the mocking words from Fuller about traditional worship.

Liturgy and doctrine cannot be separated. Most of the blog material I see concerns the synod structure, not doctrine. The right arm motion for a blessing will not solve that problem.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Thanks for that, Pr Jackson. Yes, I'm aware of the polarisation in the LC-MS of which you speak. I was just wondering how you factored Walther in to all of this.

Lito - Yes, the liturgy can be used as a form of works righteousness if one does not understand JBFA. I have met people like this. Of course, this runs totally contra to the confessions! But then the people who do so don't ever read the confessions. We must try to correct this when we see it, for the sake of their salvastion - we are saved by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone, and not be any good works, even memorising the liturgy, as helpful as that may be otherwise.