Friday, November 19, 2010

Why we need Dr. Ichabod


Prior to coming to Wittenberg, I was in a Lutheran list-group some 5 years ago or so, and in that list-group there was a free exchange of ideas. Some orthodox conservative, some confused, some liberal, some having denominational identity crises etc. The free flow of interaction there impressed me. I came away concluding, hmmm, these people are not cultic, they are not a bunch of fundamentalist fruit cakes, Lutherans are honest and willing to follow where evidence leads them. I am happy to be named like them. That is what I thought about Lutherans.

The presence of Dr. Ichabod says that there are brave Lutherans out there who are willing to follow where ever the evidence (as per God's Word) leads them. Because if I look at Internet Lutherland, minus Ichabod, I will come away getting the impression that this is some exclusive club of pastors that feather their own nest, not perhaps in terms of money, but in terms of influence, i.e. a clique and thus a cult. The mark of a cult is that dissenters are eliminated, they are marked and avoided. Also, if blogdom is an indication, I will get the impression that Lutherans are mindless-herd-following people, they got no one who checks where the herd is going.

You might disagree with Dr. Ichabod, but it will do you good to read him, even if his style does not conform to yours. Onion skinned folk need to thicken a bit when they wonder off his blog, for he pulls no punches. In the end, your friend is the one who loves you in truth, rather than the one who loves your feelings. In fact, if you do not like him, the more you should read him. If you are from a different school, you should read him for proper scholarship demands that you read your critics, he could be giving you good service if by listening you adjusted what he found what is weak about you.

Let me suggest something, do not start with his posts, start with his sermons first. First you got to see the guy's pastoral nature, then you can read the posts. When you do, you will get a proper context of why his style is that way. This is the problem with people I know who criticize Dr. Ichabod to me. They read the posts but never bothered to read or listen to his Sunday videoed Divine Services.

Lastly, though the Synodical pastors do not like him, for people like me who come from outside the family, a refugee who has seen quite a bit, it is Ichabod who gives a good name to Lutheranism to me. For there are lots of Lutheran pastors out there receiving accolades, yet they do not behave like Luther, far from him, who was willing to stand alone. So I wonder why they call themselves Lutherans when they appear to be scared.

Just sayin...

52 comments:

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

Although I don't know Dr. Ichabod, I think I would probably like him and I appreciate what you are saying here. As a person who has also "come from outside the family", and as "a refugee who has also seen quite a bit", my experience with the Lutheran establishment has been very similar to your own. Overall, it has been very disappointing, almost a complete wash.

I began my journey with Luther in January 1992, after having been a Reformed pastor for six years with a Masters in Bible Exposition from Talbot Theological Seminary. At the time, I had been very much struggling with the doctrine of limited atonement because many of my favorite authors and teachers held to it but I could not in all honesty see it in the Word of God. If true it also had severe implications as to my understanding of Christianity because it turned the whole matter of salvation into a dark inward-looking subjective focus on my own experience and deceptive heart, rather than the glorious truth that it all stands "extra nos".

I first read Luther's Works vol. 22 on the Gospel of John 1-4. That book completely addressed my concern, especially Luther's beautiful explanation of John 1:29, "the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world". I had finally found someone (who was not an Arminian and who held to predestination) who also clearly affirmed the importance of the universal atonement of Christ and its necessary implications with the one and only true objective saving Gospel.

I continued to read Luther's Works until I had finally read every one of them. What a gold mine I had found in Luther. He stood head and shoulders over everyone and anyone I had ever read or heard before. He straightened me out on every doctrine, and I came to see that he represented historical orthodox Christianity in all of its truth and purity.

But then came the disappointment. I could not find any Lutherans who seemed to have a true regard for Luther and, more importantly, his unwavering adherence to the Word of God. I went to the LCMS, WELS, ELS, and CLC, and was disappointed by them all (to a lesser extent the ELS and the CLC). I have tried to engage on the internet, only to be constantly rebuffed for being "over the top", so to speak. In all of my wanderings I have only found one Lutheran group that matches what I have come to know, and that is that group in Australia, the ELCR.

There is much more I could write, but that is a start and I do not want to over-tax the reader. If anyone would like to know more, just post something here and I will respond, or send me an email at: rivergums@sbcglobal.net

Thanks,

Stuart Wood

LPC said...

Dear Stuart,

We do share a few things in common.

First, on the bridge I could not cross when I was in Calvinism, Limited Atonement(LA). Like you I had some religious training though from a university, I finished a degree in Religious Studies but my program was focused on the Biblical Languages - both Hebrew and Classic+Koine Greek. For your interest, I pioneered and pastored 2 congregations when I was in Charismania.

I searched and read on Calvinistic exposition on 1 John 2:1-2. They all could not satisfy justifying LA from the text, neither from the Greek nor English version. I found many more aspects in Calvinism that I could not sign my name to their confession, they were weighed but found wanting.

In 2004 I went back to the BoC I have bought for myself in 1993! With Bible in hand I plowed through my Tappert version and there I found a confession I could confess, specially Smalcald and the Apology. It took a while for me to go and worship in a Lutheran Church; the reputation of LCAus is that it is a mixed group, some left, some right. I found a confessing pastor, who tries to be faithful to his office, though in my opinion has been influenced by LC-MS. Needless to say, we have some few differences but we have mutual respect.

You say right about Synodical pastors! You see, Synodical pastors differ from and bucks Luther, but when it comes to their Synodical Fathers, they hold these as Holy Men, much holier than Luther!

They will differ and express their disagreement with Luther most loudly but they will never differ from Walther, Pieper or who ever Synodical character happens to be considered by them in high esteem.

Yes "over the top", this is what they believe Luther to be. It is ironic that Synodical Lutheran pastors are so anti-Luther but so pro their Synodical fathers.

Also they have no capacity for critical thinking, self-assessment or independent thinking. I sometimes wonder why so when in fact they have been trained in Scripture and knew it in the original.

I make no excuse, in this day and at my age, I hold no sacred cows. If I could not see it in Scripture and could not find it in the BoC, I have no interest.

By God's grace you were led to Luther's works first. I have met fellow ex-Calvinists and refugees. However, instead of familiarizing themselves with the BoC and on Luther's. what they do is jump on the writings of so called Synodical Fathers, so right they become the men in black of the synod the father belongs...and they become another sausage.

I like a phrase I heard, the best of men are at their best, just men.

Do reply using this blog should any reader here post a query.

LPC

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Lito,
I hope I'm not perceived as being one of the herd!
I've always regarded myself as a Kierkegaardian when it comes to majorities - truth seldom resides in them.

LPC said...

Pr. Mark,

You are one of the few I observe that are not and are willing to self-assess.

On my part, I do not take comfort at whatever Synod my local church might be a member of. My concern is what is happening from the pulpit where I draw food.

A pastor who does not apply the learning he got from seminary specially the exegetical discipline, will likely take comfort in his Synod and to whoever dead teacher of the past he feeds on. That would be the person's influence.

Luther took courage not from the support of his mentors or Bishops, armed by only the Word, he was another Athanasius contra mundum.



LPC

LPC said...

Just wanted to add...

We need pastors who are prophetic, not pastors who are politicians.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Dear LPC,

I agree. A pastor is a true pastor to the extent that he proclaims and remains true to the Word of God. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11), that is, be the very mouthpiece of God to his congregation. Anything outside of this or inconsistent with this is of no benefit to the true Christian.

The true Christian is a child of light and ever comes to the light of God’s Word, while the hypocrites are children of darkness and flee the light lest their deeds be exposed (John 3:20,21). It is the nature of the true Christian to desire, regard, and continue in the Word of God and to progress in it’s truth and purity. Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are Ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

The Christian cannot abide indefinitely with error. He will eventually expose it and become separated from it. Either opposition will force this separation or he will separate himself. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). “And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:5). The Apostle John writes, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).

While Christians may be found in Gospel-teaching (but otherwise false churches), they will not continue in such communities. Like migrating salmon they will make their way from the salty oceans of the world to the brackish waters of heterodoxy to the pure sweet springs of orthodoxy. This journey is against the current and very wearisome, but the true Christian knows no other course. From pool to pool, denomination to denomination, he seeks the upward course to be gathered together with the saints of God who have gone before him.

Stuart

LPC said...

Dear Stuart,

It is sad that today's modern Lutheran pastor does not take his cue from Luther. They all want to be winsome. They do not offend, they also do not risk anything.

Talking about Synods, I encountered in the Internet, an ex-Calvinisticus turned Lutheranus. He actually believes that the LC-MS is THE VISIBLE church.
Initially most of the readers of my blog came from there but I had to write where the pieces fall and then they turned off.

What is this, theology of glory?

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

I have heard of this "theology of glory" but have never understood what it is. Perhaps someone else can enlighten us to this. As to the LC-MS being the "VISIBLE CHURCH" I would not agree with that at all. They are at best a heterodox Lutheran group, having long ago gone wrong on the doctrine of church fellowship. From what I have read and understand they went especially bad with the "Statement of the 44" in 1945 where they redefined Romans 16:17,18, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." In 1945, they defined this verse as referring only to those who overtly denied the Gospel (rather than all false doctrine), and thus opened the flood-gates to false teachers. They have never been the same since, and all of their pastors and members are in disobedience unto the Lord's Word unto this very day. To be the true "VISIBLE CHURCH" means to hold to the Word of God in all of its truth and purity. This, the LC-MS does not do.

L. W. Spitz writes, “Purity of doctrine is, therefore, the criterion for orthodoxy. This implies the preaching, teaching, and profession of divine truth in all its purity, and the administration of the Sacraments in full accordance with their divine institution. The church which does this is an orthodox church. To the extent that any church does not do this, it is a heterodox church. This difference must never be ignored, particularly in our time when the slogan "not creeds, but deeds" is so generally adopted and religious indifference and the spirit of unionism are rampant, frequently cloaked in the guise of charity… To qualify as an orthodox church, a church must be faithful to all the doctrines of the Bible.” (The Abiding Word, Vol. 1, p. 285.)

Francis Pieper adds, “It is God’s will and command that in His Church His Word be preached and believed in purity and truth, without adulteration. In God’s Church nobody should utter his own, but only God’s Word (1 Pet. 4:11). Chaff and wheat do not belong together. All “teaching otherwise,” heterodidaskalein, is strictly forbidden. 1 Tim 1:3: ‘As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.’ It is important to point out again and again that in all Scripture there is not a single text permitting a teacher to deviate from the Word of God or granting a child of God license to fraternize with a teacher who deviates from the Word of God. God is against the prophets who proclaim their own dreams (Jer. 23:32 ff.). And all Christians without exception are commanded to avoid such (Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:3 ff.).” (Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 3, p. 422)

LPC said...

Dear Stuart.

Actually, they go further earlier than that. In Brief Statement 1932 Article 17, I highlight to you the offending unBiblical statement,

17. Holy Scripture sums up all its teachings regarding the love of God to the world of sinners, regarding the salvation wrought by Christ, and regarding faith in Christ as the only way to obtain salvation, in the article of justification. Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ, Rom. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 4:25; that therefore not for the sake of their good works, but without the works of the Law, by grace, for Christ's sake, He justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ's sake their sins are forgiven. Thus the Holy Ghost testifies through St. Paul: 'There is no difference; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,' Rom. 3:23, 24. And again: 'Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law,' Rom. 3:28."

The bolded words are wrong and is referred to as UOJ. No where does Scripture teach that by the Atonement of Jesus - God has automatically declared everyone righteous be alive, going to be alive at that event. The Whole World is NOT in Christ. Yes indeed Jesus died for everyone /person of the World. He paid for their sins, but those who reject this atonement are not declared righteous (Justified) by God. Never has been.

Justification and Atonement are not the same and co-equal. The former is grounded and is the benefit of the Atonement. UOJ is a confusing term, and confusing concept. It says that God declares someone righteous without the application of the Means of Grace at the Cross and then once again at the point the Means of Grace is applied and believed. It is a two headed monster.

This is what Dr. Ichabod, Brett Meyer and I have been contending as it is the source of Enthusiasm in the churches, - Church Growth and Seeker Sensitivity etc. Others are also now contending against this though they have not come out blantantly vocal about this. Do read lots of materials of Dr. Ichabod on UOJ. There are also lots of discussion here for you to consider for example this one and its comments to start off the controversial words...

http://extranos.blogspot.com/2010/03/grinding-my-ax.html

My church is in the LCAus Synod and fortunately has no such official statements, hence, we are able to argue and protest of any move towards this. Though of course, many pastors in it are influenced by LC-MS on the conservative side.



LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Dear LPC,

I actually have never heard of this controversy, so please bear with me as I try to give at least my initial take on this. First, I see your point, and this statement, taken in the sense in which you are taking it, does look wrong to me also. However, I don't think that Pieper means this in the way it's being taken. I say this for a number of reasons.

1) I have read everything available in the English language by Pieper and I know for a fact that he would not consider a person "justified", that is, "forensically declared righteous" in the technical sense of the term, until that person believes in the atoning work of Christ. So we have to cut him some slack as to perhaps poorly wording something and thus inadvertently leaving it open to misunderstanding.

2) You can see from what immediately follows this statement what Pieper believes about justification. He writes, "He justifies, that is, accounts as righteous, all those who believe, accept, and rely on, the fact that for Christ's sake their sins are forgiven." I think we all would accept that statement as correct.

3) The Lutheran fathers sometimes spoke of "justification" and "being declared righteous" in a looser, less technical sense than what they mean by "justification" in the sense of being “forensically declared righteous” at the point of one's faith. For instance, I am currently reading Jakob Andreae, whose six sermons provided a foundation to the Formula of Concord, and he commonly equates justification with the forgiveness of sins. In this sense, is it not true that the whole world's sins have been forgiven through Christ's suffering and death on the cross? Is it not true that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

4) You feel that Pieper misspoke because, as you say, "not the whole world was in Christ". I think Pieper would agree with you. But it is true that the whole world is justified in Christ if they would but believe it. Just as a person who refuses to open his eyes does not change the fact that the sun is shining, so the world which refuses to acknowledge Christ's glorious work on their behalf does not negate the fact that Christ died for the forgiveness of their sins.

My main point in all this is to say that if you had Francis Pieper at your side for a conversation about this, I believe that he would surely agree with you and explain what he meant. He perhaps spoke too loosely here, without realizing how that could be wrongly taken, but do we not all do the same at times? Let us in Christian charity put the best construction on what a person says and move on. From my end, there is enough real error to combat without involving ourselves in these sorts of sophistries.

Thanks again,

Stuart

Gregory L. Jackson said...

Stuart, I am afraid you are wrong. Pieper probably did more to establish absolution without faith than any other person. Walther taught it, but it was not LCMS boiler-plate until the Brief Confession of 1932, Pieper's last work. I believe UOJ is the best single explanation for the doctrinal apostasy of Missouri, WELS, and the ELS. Proof is the inability of their pastors and leaders to say one peep against Church Growth.

Stuart Wood said...

Dear Gregory,

My guess is that we're on the same side here, and I am happy to be proven wrong. In all honesty, though, I have trouble accepting that Pieper "did more to establish absolution without faith than any other person". I have never seen even the slightest tinge of that in any of his writings, and if I had, I would have dropped him like a hot potato.

Also, just so you know where I am coming from, I do not belong to the LC-MS, and have no loyalties to their luke-warm, compromising, apostate Lutheranism today. I have had plenty of run-ins with them, and I have found nothing but hard-heartedness towards the Word of God and arrogance. But that being said, I do respect some of their fine teachers and pastors of the past before they went down hill.

Now as we compare notes as to what went wrong with them, I think there is a better explanation than this issue of objective/subjective justification, which I do consider a bit of a subtlety. I think the problem began when they redefined Romans 16:17,18 on the doctrine of church fellowship in 1945. It was this error that opened the door to false teachers in their seminaries and false pastors in their churches. This also accounts for the Church Growth movement and their many other ridiculous compromises with modern-day Fuller-led Churchianity.

But as I said, I came into this from the outside, and whether the LC-MS has fallen for this or some other reason is not that crucial to me. It's somewhat of an in-house Lutheran fight which I have never had any skin in. Most of what I have now shared has come from what I have learned about this from the pastors of the ELCR, and at this point, those explanations seem more compelling to me than this issue of Pieper going bad on the doctrine of justification.

Thanks for whatever feedback and clarity that you can give.

God's Blessings,

Stuart

LPC said...

Hi Stuart,
Pieper going bad on the doctrine of justification.

For me the doctrine of justification is the most crucial of all. Luther said you can get everything in Scripture right but if you get the Gospel wrong, you are still in error.

At least you have been made aware of the controversy and you can study for yourself. Ichabod has plenty of resources from both sides of the fence on this.

I object to Pieper on exegetical grounds. Pieper was not naive, he knew if he is to be believed he had to ground his teaching from Scripture and he did misread the exegesis of Scripture at key strong passages which he believed where UOJ was taught.

When I first became Lutheran, I thought UOJ was just another way of speaking about the atonement until I discovered that they equate the atonement to be the same as justification. I walked away from this after reading more exposition on this. In my discipline (maths/logic) you are not to mix categories unless you have clear grounds of evidence that the categories are the same. UOJers to me, made a fallacious move in their methods when they equated and interpreted passages as teaching justification co-equal with the Atonement.

UOJers hate with utmost hatred Calvinists when in fact both their theological methods are the same, like a thief hating another thief, since they compete for the same loot. Calvinism assuming that Atonement and Justification are the same and seeing not all have faith pulls Atonement to the side of Justification declaring that the Atonement is subjective - hence, Limited. UOJers seeing the same thing but noting that Atonement is universal pulls Justification to the side of the Atonement declaring Justification to be universal too. JBFA properly distinguishes these two from one another.

A few years ago one of well known Reverend Doctor of LCAus in my state was consulted by my young pastor about what I said of UOJ. This theologian encouraged him in UOJ against my opposition. That theologian has now left LCAus and has become a Papist. UOJ is functional universalism. I say functional because though UOJers deny it, the effect is the same. Hence, Rome since Vatican II has some compatibilities with it, absurdity.

Absurdity is the opposite of rationalism and Christianity is neither of these.

There is a break way group from LCAus, the AELC which broke away because they thought LCAus will ordain women, but LCAus did not accept this and so the LCAus today will not have women pastors, at least perhaps for another some years, we know liberals never stop until they get what they want or simply leave. Anyway, I could not touch AELC because of their UOJ statements. At least with LCAus, there is no official such statements hence, it is an open fight, for now.

May the Lord guide you in your study of these matters.

LPC

LPC said...

Stuart,

I wanted to add that I have not found any rebuttal to Walther Maier's anti-UOJ exegesis of Pieper's Scripture. Up to now, I still yet to find direct statements from Maier repudiating the things he wrote in this paper which criticizes Pieper passages...

http://www.wlsessays.net/files/MaierJustification.pdf

LPC

Brett Meyer said...

Hi Stuart, I've been happily following your conversation with LPC. I like the "I'll side with Christ, let the world pass away" approach that you have. It is one that you have by the grace of God and one that will endure, grounded on the pure Word.

I see that you are new to the UOJ controversy and was in agreement with your statements until your Point #3 on Tuesday the 23rd. You state, "For instance, I am currently reading Jakob Andreae, whose six sermons provided a foundation to the Formula of Concord, and he commonly equates justification with the forgiveness of sins. In this sense, is it not true that the whole world's sins have been forgiven through Christ's suffering and death on the cross? Scripture and the Confessions agree that Justification is the forgiveness of sins. What you can't find is the UOJ statement that the whole world's sins were forgiven by Christ on the cross - paid for in full, YES, absolutely. Forgiven, no, not without the Holy Spirit working through the Means of Grace to work contrition and faith. This is how subtle the doctrine of UOJ has been creeping into the world. Thanks to Pastor Jackson, LPC and others there is a plethora of discussions covering this specific example and all other false teachings of UOJ to review.

Again, very nice having a chance to follow this discussion.

In Christ,
Brett Meyer

LPC said...

Stuart,

Actually I wish to commend Brett Meyer's writings to you which you will find here and also at Dr. Ichabod's. Both of them showed me first the inconsistencies and caused me to check the points from Scripture, it made me realize the beauty of the means of grace in that exercise. They have suffered more than I have in contending against this error.

This controversy actually happened more than a hundred years ago in American Lutheranism- You will not find the language of objective and subjective in the BoC neither its concepts. Even during C F W Walther's days there have already been those who opposed the promotion of UOJ. Walther formalized this concept and made this a part of the lingo. If there is anything objective it is the Atonement but this is not the same as Justification. Justification is founded on the Atonement and through faith in that Atonement and hence, anywhere Justification is found in Scripture its twin - faith is hanging around near by. Just look at this in Romans.

I think you and Dr. Ichabod are right in pointing the defects of the Synods, but where you differ is in pointing out where they went south.

We believe they went south at UOJ.


LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC/Brett,

Thank you both for your comments. LPC, I'll plan to read some of these sources you have cited and get back to once I have more to say. I am going to be away for a few days for the Thanksgiving holiday, so I did not want to keep you waiting.

Brett, I have always taken the word "justification" (in its strictest sense) as referring to the fact that God judicially "declares us righteous" at the moment that we believe in Christ and His atoning work in our behalf. As Luther says, a foreign righteousness, that is, the righteousness of Christ is imputed (reckoned) to our account. God now sees us "clothed" in Christ's righteousness. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor. 5:21). Or, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." (Rom. 10:3). This is what I understand by the expression "subjective justification".

As for the universal atonement of Christ and what the theologians call "objective justification", I have taken this as the fact that Christ via His suffering and death at the cross, paid for our sins, yea, even the sins of the whole world. With His own blood, He has purchased for us the forgiveness of sins and a perfect righteousness. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them" (2 Cor. 5:19). In God's sight, the doors of heaven have been flung wide open and He, on His part, has declared a full and free pardon for all men and for all sins that ever have or ever will be committed. He has declared a full acquittal to all the world in spite of their many offenses because of the work of His Son on their behalf. In this sense the world is seen as "forgiven" and "righteous" in God's sight, that is, through the lens of Christ and His atoning death.

The unbelieving, however, do not become possessors of this forgiveness and righteousness because they through their own hard hearts and willful unbelief refuse to take refuge under the lens and choose of their own perverted will to remove themselves from God's loving and reconciled smile that ever radiates through this lens.

I probably have not said anything that you do not already know, but I wanted to express it so that you would better understand where I am coming from.

One last thing, I do not believe in Christ IN ORDER TO be forgiven, but rather I believe in Christ BECAUSE I am forgiven. The whole matter stands "extra nos", outside of me. I am only believing what God Himself says is already true, and for me not to believe would be to make God a liar.

God's blessings to you all,

Stuart

LPC said...

Hello Stuart,

I highlight One last thing, I do not believe in Christ IN ORDER TO be forgiven, but rather I believe in Christ BECAUSE I am forgiven. The whole matter stands "extra nos", outside of me. I am only believing what God Himself says is already true, and for me not to believe would be to make God a liar

There is sense that this might be taken properly. I do have a question, does belief do anything to your status with God, does it carry andy change of status at all?

I am just wondering if God has already declared you righteous before you even before you believe, why will he now get angry at you if you do not believe? He has already been good to you in the first place before you believe so why would God now be angry if you don't?

Further, is a person under God's wrath before the person believes? If the answer is YES, how is that then related to the fact that God has already declared him righteous (forgiven), it is inconsistent under this scheme to say YES then. For that would mean God is delcaring him righteous prior to faith and at the same time angry with him because he has not got faith yet.

I am asking these question to provoke thought. In this then it seems now after the Cross every one starts off forgiven and only become unforgiven if they do not believe. Is that the right picture?

Rather I think every one starts off under God's wrath and then the means of grace brings us INTO christ so we are now under blessedness rather than curse.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

These are excellent questions that you have and provide a great opportunity to bring clarity to this matter. First, you ask, "does belief do anything to your status with God, does it carry any change of status at all?" My answer would be, "No". Our belief does not do anything to our status with God. Our faith is simply the means (conduit) that brings the already-reconciled God's good will and forgiveness to us. The living water in the reservoir is what it is - life and eternal refreshment purchased for our souls by the blood of Christ. But faith is the conduit by which this gracious stream comes to us and becomes our own.

You ask, "if God has already declared you righteous before you even believe, why will he now get angry at you if you do not believe?" This is not the right way to look at this. God declared you righteous in Christ before you believed, but this righteousness is not effective to you personally until you believe. Again, think of the reservoir analogy. The water exists. It was wrought by God for you and is sincerely intended for you, but without the conduit of faith you remain without it.

God has declared you forgiven and righteous "in Christ", but the problem is that you in your unbelief are not yet "in Christ" but "in Adam". When you believe you are "delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1:13), you are no longer "in Adam", but now reside "in Christ". You now are a partaker of all the benefits that Christ purchased for you by His atoning death.

Next you ask, "is a person under God's wrath before the person believes?" The answer is "Yes", because through his unbelief he has not appropriated all of the blessings (forgiveness, righteousness, life, etc,) which only reside "in Christ". He has, in fact, been "declared righteous in Christ" (as Pieper says), but he himself is not yet "in Christ" where this declaration has been made and is effective.

A good way to think of all this is the analogy of an umbrella in a storm. Christ is our umbrella. If we by faith stand under the umbrella (in Christ) and look up through the umbrella, we see the face of God with a friendly smile. However, if we, of our own depraved unbelief, reject the umbrella, and stare into the skies without Christ, we rightly see nothing but fury and wrath on the face of God (the storm). This same analogy would hold true with the Passover house. Stay in the house, you have warmth, protection, grace and life. Venture outside the house, and you have death and damnation.

Hope this all helps.

God's blessings,

Stuart

LPC said...

Stuart,

I was not expecting that you should answer right away without reading the counter arguments for UOJ.

I highlight your answers...
" My answer would be, "No".

Actually the Bible says YES, because faith is a gift of God that he himself produces thus according to 2 Cor 5:17. The believer is a new Creation. He has been born from above.


This is not the right way to look at this. God declared you righteous in Christ before you believed, but this righteousness is not effective to you personally until you believe.

Which is which? You just said faith does nothing,no? Now it appears it does something! For it makes this righteousness effective. If you do not see self contradiction here, I do and would not have answered thus as found here. This is the absurdity I am pressing all UOJ proponents about. If you do not see this as double talk, I do.

The answer is "Yes", because through his unbelief he has not appropriated all of the blessings (forgiveness, righteousness, life, etc,) which only reside "in Christ". He has, in fact, been "declared righteous in Christ" (as Pieper says), but he himself is not yet "in Christ" where this declaration has been made and is effective.

But if God has already declared the Atheist righteous already in Christ before he believes and his believing does nothing but simply takes what is already there - God makes his state a lot worst than when God first declared him righteous already! Further, this then confirms again and again, that in UOJ, the means of grace is redundant and superfluous. In UOJ God has declared the atheist already righteous with out the means of grace 2000 years ago, then he gets declared again righteous when he does believe. Is that what the Bible says?

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. In Hebrew, there is the "and", meaning "and Abraham..." A sequence of events. See Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness

Can you sight from Scripture anyone who has been declared righteous before he believed? Pieper gave several exegetical proofs from Romans, but in my own investigations Maier's criticism of Pieper was spot on.


If we by faith stand under the umbrella (in Christ) and look up through the umbrella, we see the face of God with a friendly smile

I appreiciate the analogy but your analogy contradicts what you yourself just denied to faith. If faith is the one that brings us under the umbrella, then faith does changes our status but earlier you said it does not.






According to Luther - Faith IS justification! Faith in the atonement is. Justification is not faith in justification.

UOJ proponents battled these out in this blog. Romans 3:21-16 says speciallt v.24, that faith IN the ATONEMENT receives Justification, not faith in the fact that you ARE already Justified. The concept of faith in Justification IS Justification is circular and fallacious.

In anticipation, UOJ proponents claim that there could not be faith if something has not existed before. This therefore is a fallacy for with God, all things are possible. There is indeed something, a fact, the Atonement but the Atonement is not co-equal nor co-equivalent with Justification. Faith in the Atonement receives the Justification of God, but this is not a Faith in itself towards Justification that has already occured.

Faith holds on to the worthiness of the words uttered by the promiser, God. Case in point, if I tell you tomeet me in 20 days time and I will give you a $500.00, has that 20th day occured already to trust me? No, you trust me because of my character and I do not lie, though what I said has not occured yet, but you see it and hope in it by virtue of who is the one making the promise.

I did not mean to take you away from Thanksgiving, but please enjoy it first with your family. I can wait.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Dear LPC,

I know you are frustrated with my answers but they are most certainly true to the Word of God (even if they may not jive with human reason). In truth, you really do not yet perceive what I am saying there. You need to read and re-read those answers and by God's grace it will become clear to you. In summary, we can only believe what God Himself has said (Rom. 10:17). If God had not objectively in His Word declared me already forgiven, I could not believe I was forgiven. If He had not declared me righteous, I could not believe that I was righteous. To repeat, I do not believe IN ORDER to be saved, but I believe BECAUSE I am saved. This knowledge I have from the objective verifiable Word of God, which ever stands "extra nos".

Again, may God bless you in these considerations.

Stuart

LPC said...

Stuart,

I am not frustrated. I have encountered the same arguments before. I raise questions so that the questions may illustrate a point as I do not want to be blunt as I am prone to do.


There is a difference between a paradox and a contradiction. I claim that UOJ is not a paradox but a downright absurdity.

As I said, Christianity is not rationalism, not rationalistic and not absurd either! UOJ invites you and welcomes you to be absurd. I believe I have pointed that out above. The best is to go exegetical on the best Scriptures which UOJ uses to promote its teaching.I am happy to discuss these with you - since you are in the affirmative, you would have to prove that it is taught in Scripture. Pieper knew this and tried to ground his teaching from Scripture unfortunately his exegesis was flawed as it did not respect the context but I do not wish to pre-empt your understanding of this so you are most welcome as to why.

I believe Pieper was right in his criticism of Calvinism but Sasse was right too and in fact I think Sasse knew more about Calvinism than Pieper did. If Pieper knew Calvinism he would have chucked out its philosophical underpinning and theological methods.

cont...

LPC said...

cont...
If He had not declared me righteous, I could not believe that I was righteous.

But look again in what you just said here, is that the only explanation why you could believe? Who is employing rational thinking here? What is the Scripture back up for this logic?

Rather I'd say that such a statement stems from human reason itself.
To repeat, I do not believe IN ORDER to be saved, but I believe BECAUSE I am saved. This knowledge I have from the objective verifiable Word of God, which ever stands "extra nos".

It has been said that C F W Walther said this...'You are saved so that you might believe."

Stuart you just aired Walther's quip. I have documentation for this saying of Walther's.

Do you recall the ordo saludis of Calvinism? To them logically regeneration comes before faith. For the Calvinist, faith is the manifestation of a preceded regeneration. This is it. Calvinism arrived at a different route by Walther, except for Walther it is universal. UOJ is a Calvinism that makes sense.

Same method, same categories same wrong premise.

What about Lutheranism? Lutheranism is silent about such concepts, it has no ordo saludis because what it has is a story, the Gospel Story not a theologically mechanized system.

If you are already saved so that you could believe, the Means of Grace functions nothing and has no effect. It effectively implies that God declares people righteous without the use of the Means of Grace.

JBFA Lutheranism says all are under God's wrath - John 3. God gave us the gifts of the Means of Grace so that we may be brought out of his Wrath to where the shelter is, in Christ and only then are we declared righteous. There is no double talk, no prior declaration of righteousness before you believe and then, you get redundantly declared again when you believe. No such thing.

Also, JBFA has a different conception of what the Law accuses us of. The Law convicts us of sin, it condemns us, i.e. gives us the sentence of death. It is both judgement of guilt and the sentencing of us to eternal damnation, Hell. UOJ skips the Atonement, it says the Law convicts you of sin, but no worries, God has forgiven you anyway at Jesus's death. That is not how the story goes.

Rather, the Law says you are now on your way to hell, the Law exacts what we owe, it exacts relief or payment, but God has placed all your punishment on Christ and has paid for your sins. The story says when this is believed, God declares you righteous not because of faith by itself, but because it hangs on the Righteous One. Therefore faith does not look at the fact that God has declared me already righteous, the faith given by God is a faith that looks/points to Christ, the Righteous One who paid the debt we owe. This why Luther could say Faith IS Justification.

Stuart, UOJ by your exposition above confirms to me again and again that it has a different object. You repeated the arguments of Jay Webber once again, the same tune, the same refrain.

In UOJ, faith in Justification is Justification. This is different from JBFA whose object of faith is Christ, the Righteous One i.e. the Just One who paid what the Law wishes to exact from me, eternal Hell.

Consider this difference in the object of faith, I believe it is crucial and a thin line.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Hi LPC,

I noticed that I left a comma out in my second to last comment that could be misleading.

It reads "When you believe you are "delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Col. 1:13), you are no longer "in Adam", but now reside "in Christ"."

This should read, "When you believe, you are "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his (God's) dear Son" (Col. 1:13), you are no longer "in Adam", but now reside "in Christ"."

Could you please make this change if at all possible to prevent misunderstanding?

Thanks,

Stuart

LPC said...

Stuart,

The correction stands as you commented. This is not a moderated blog. I do not moderate for posterity.

Happy Thanksgiving.

LPC

Stuart Wood said...

Dear LPC,

First, I do not know most of the characters that you are mentioning, nor do I recognize the statement from Walther, so I can assure you that I didn't get my understanding from any of these guys even though they may have shared the same view. I also don't even know what UOJ or JBFA stand for (though I think I can guess the first).

My understanding comes from 33 years of studying the Word of God. I have also read all of Luther's Works, all of Chemnitz, and all of Gerhard (that I am aware of in English). I also have read and studied the Book of Concord very carefully, and do ascribe to it all as my very own confession. What I have written to you above is in full agreement with everything I have read and understood about the atonement of Christ and how that work is made effective to the poor lost sinner.

The Word of God plainly states that there is no such thing as faith if it is not derived from the Word of God. Romans 10:17 - "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God". As I said before, it is virtually impossible to believe something (in the Biblical sense of faith) unless it is derived first from the objective verifiable Word of God. If the Word of God did not already objectively declare all men forgiven (based upon the atoning work of Christ), then no man could truly believe that his sins are forgiven. We do not believe in order to make something true, but rather we believe because the Word of God has said it is true.

Finally, thanks for making that change, and I do appreciate your honest feedback throughout this discussion (even though we have this disagreement).

God's blessings (again),

Stuart

LPC said...

Staurt,

UOJ stands for Universal Objective Justification. JBFA stands for Justification By Faith Alone.

Certainly you did not learn UOJ from Luther nor from Chemnitz because these people never mentioned UOJ as a category. However, you did refer to Pieper the heir of Walther who did teach the categories of Universal Objective/Subjective Justification.

The Rev Webber from ELS discussed UOJ with me many times in this blog.

This blog has a category, please click on the category like Lutheranism and you will see many topics or post relating to this issue. Also Dr Ichabod's post has countless UOJ documentation both from the pro and anti sides. We are positioned on the anti of course.

Our theology goes into action most specially in our pastoral work, and I have seen this in the past and again today. I see it in my self and in others. Your theology will drive you in your pastoral ministry, we do live out what we believe, so I pray you study for yourself the points we are raising.

We believe this is the source of the Synods going south.

I paraphrase Luther, we can get our ecclesiology or our eschatology right but if we get soteriology wrong we are still in the tubes.

JBFA properly appreciated does not lead to pietism nor antinomianism, rather it does lead to proper sanctification which comes after true justification happens, which is faith in Christ, the faith that Justifies.


God bless,

LPC

Brigitte said...

LP, you have painted yourself into such a corner. Just let it go. Come out.

Nobody is saying that a person is in Christ without faith. Stuart has just given you a fresh, heartfelt response, like many of the rest of us have.

It does no good to accuse everyone else of cowardice and laud yourself as bold and courageous; it does not make you right.

Jackson tells you what to put on your blog, in simple imperatives (a couple of posts down from this one.) You go to Spain, he ridicules the reigning monarch, etc. We are supposed to see how pastoral he is by reading his sermons rather than how he interacts with people. ! ?

You have been had, LP. Come out from this. Please. How many more well-meaning people are going to tell you the same thing?

LPC said...

Hi Brigitte,

Thanks for the comment and concern. I appreciate your sincere concern for my soul. I hope you appreciate my concern also for yours too, as a fellow Christian.

What you assert though is not enlightened by facts. For example you said Nobody is saying that a person is in Christ without faith

Oh yes they do. Even Stuart said this...If the Word of God did not already objectively declare all men forgiven (based upon the atoning work of Christ), then no man could truly believe that his sins are forgiven.

If Stuart's statements are true, then God has already declared all men forgiven already even before they believe. Now, if you study the saying of men adored by the Synod like Walther and Pieper, they said the same things. Shall I give you some quotes from UOJ Holy Men?

I have crossed swords with UOJ pastors here in my blog as well as in their's and none of their attempts have convinced me. It was not because I am being thick, it is just because they show to me they are weak in exegesis, very abysmal in their scholarship and high schoolish when it comes to independent critical thinking. I expected a bit more from well seminary educated pastor-theologians.


You said Jackson tells you what to put on your blog, in simple imperatives (a couple of posts down from this one.)

Did I get the time to implement what Jackson suggested in my blog? I hardly done them, though they may be good suggestions, I have not gotten around to putting them. Please have a look again and see if I have the features Dr. Jackson suggested that I should make. I hope you do not think I am a mindless sheep following hypnotically a minister. I am too old for that.

You go to Spain, he ridicules the reigning monarch, etc.

Brigitte, you live in Canada, a country under the Queen same as Aus, but if you keep on swallowing the stuff from the pastors you love in the internet, you will be like them, they got no sense of humor.

We are supposed to see how pastoral he is by reading his sermons rather than how he interacts with people. ! ?

Have you listened to one or two? Here is one testimony of someone who listened...

http://ichabodthegloryhasdeparted.blogspot.com/2010/12/roman-catholic-wrote-about-thanksgiving.html

Try following the suggestion of my post, the blog is a polemic while the sermon is not. You get to understand the guy's polemic when you listen to his sermons.

Note: I am not defending Jackson because he is perfectly capable of doing that for himself. Also I have been long in this business to know that I can not expect myself to agree with him in the future nor him with me. I cannot predict that. This is one reason why I do not have blog links and I do not expect my friends to link to my blog.

One thing I appreciate with Jackson is that he is a pastor and not a politician, not like some pastors I know. Political pastors are dangerous because when the crunch happens, they will abandon you. Political pastors love your feelings, they do not want to offend you, they do not love you in the truth. In the end, they do you no service.

What I am doing here is just lay down to you some facts.

You have been had

But I am puzzled Brigitte, I am not getting something here, what have I been had of specifically? Can you be more definite?


LPC

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear LPC,

I have been extremely hesitant to write.

It is not my desire to speak against Dr. Jackson. However, I do not find him to be pastoral, not even in his sermons. He does not actually apply the Gospel to the hearers. He simply presents facts. In His Advent 1 sermon he never even preached the Gospel. Not once was the Gospel actually applied to anyone. No word of comfort is preached to anyone. If a word of comfort is derived from this sermon, the person does so by self-application, not because it has been administered to the hearer. You appear to be one who makes self-application from what is presented. But this does not make the sermon pastoral.

However, my real reason for responding is the issue of the unobjective application of UOJ. When I first read Dr. Jackson’s statements and attacks regarding Universal Objective Justification a little over two years ago, I thought, “Ah ha! This puts the problem into proper perspective.”

However, the more that I read, the more uneasy that I felt. It was like standing on the opposite side of a fence with a barking, growling, snarling dog on the other side, who wags his tail at the same time. The best approach is to keep one’s distance.

It took some time for me to realize what made me feel uneasy. It was more than a difference in style. It was the false premise upon which the application was based. UOJ is not actually the problem. It rather is a symptom or manifestation of the problem.

If the real problem were addressed, then UOJ would not be an issue. The real problem is that passages like 2 Corinthians 5:19 ignore the means of the world’s reconciliation. The “in Christ” is either ignored or redefined. The world has been reconciled to God IN CHRIST, in His body. In His body the sins of the world have been taken up and crucified and buried. In the body of Christ, the entire world has been declared to be righteous. However, the world has not been brought into the body of Christ in which this righteousness has been declared. This is what the Lord Jesus explains in John 3.

The real problem in Lutheranism is not the doctrine of UOJ. The real problem is their false doctrine of the Church. The real problem is that in Lutheranism the holy catholic Church is neither taught nor believed nor embraced. Those in Lutheranism do not believe that the Church actually exists as either holy or catholic. They believe in a universal Church that is fragmented by partial holiness. They do not believe that the Church can be perfect. They do not believe that the means of grace are what produce that perfection and holiness. They imagine that an organization can be called church insofar as “enough of the Gospel” exists so as still to be able to save men.

This means that they no longer believe that the Gospel is necessary. This means that they no longer believe that the Gospel is the “power of God into salvation to those believing” (Romans 1:16). St. Paul does not say that the Gospel is the power of God “unto salvation to all who believe”, but that the Gospel is the power of God “into salvation to those believing.” This is why the Lord Jesus says that no one can perceive the kingdom of God unless one be generated from above, and then further explains that unless one be generated out of water and spirit he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.

The real problem is that Lutherans are unable to perceive the kingdom of God. They imagine that one can enter into the kingdom of God through means other than the pure and holy body of Christ Jesus. They do not believe that the pure and holy body of Jesus exists on earth. They believe that people can deny Christ and His words In John 12:47-48 the Lord Jesus warns that He and His words cannot be rejected without standing in judgment. Yet Lutherans imagine that a church can exist in communion with the denial of the words of Jesus and still be called Church and that within such an unholy communion that people can still be saved by whatever they determine is “enough of the Gospel.”

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

This open and obstinate denial of Jesus and His words is the problem that becomes manifested in an application of UOJ in order to try to manufacture a means of comfort and salvation outside of the holy catholic Church. Since they do not believe that the Gospel is absolutely necessary, they create for themselves a way to apply the UOJ outside of Christ and apart from Christ in His body. They separate UOJ from Christ and the Gospel.

The problem is not the teaching of Universal Objective Justification. The problem is that they separate it and try to apply it apart from its source.

Justification IS Objective. It is not of us, or subjective. It is from an objective source, the pure Gospel.

Justification IS Universal. It is for the Jew as well as the Greek, male and female, young and old. It extends throughout the entire cosmos, wherever people are gathered through Baptism into the body of Christ to receive from Him His life in His Holy Communion.

The problem is that the Lutheran churches are not the Church. They separate Baptism from Communion and teach decision theology as the means for worthiness to receive the life of Christ that is in His blood. They teach that the Church is not pure and not one, but divided through the schism of unholy doctrines and practices that are counted as dangerous but not as separating from the Communion of salvation.

The real problem is that what the Lutherans are calling UOJ is really USJ, Universal Subjective Justification. Aside from some of the trappings of the traditions of the Lutheran doctrine and practice, they are not Lutheran.

The reason that Dr. Jackson cannot see this appears to be that he is too busy trying to show how much better he is than other so-called Lutherans. But he does not confess the holy catholic Church either. He recently convinced a very sincere and gentle man to ignore his conscience and the goading of the Holy Spirit and to remain in a church body that Dr. J himself condemns as not being the Church. This is not in any way pastoral. This is not faithful to the Word. If he truly believed that the Gospel were absolutely necessary, he would have commended that person for his willingness to follow Christ rather than to tell him that he has plenty of time to decide about his church body. Why then is Dr. J not in that church body? Why does he stand apart if it is not truly necessary? The reason is that he is not truly standing apart. His umbilical cord is still attached. He seems to enjoy the false sense of power that comes with attacking family dysfunction without actually letting it go. Surely such things need to be identified for the sake of those who would hear and respond in faith. But what is the point if all of the attacks are just noise and those who would respond in faith are discouraged from following their consciences? This is merely promoting the dysfunction.

Lutherans today do not understand or believe Augustana VII, VIII, IX, XIII, and especially IV and V. This includes Dr. J.

Dr. J has a brilliant mind and has a wealth of knowledge. It would be truly wonderful to see him use these to preach the pure Gospel rather than merely preaching about the pure Gospel. In this way he really is no different than those he attacks with such venom and vitriol. If he ever realizes this, his preaching will be powerful beyond description. The same is true for the other Lutherans.

Preaching about the pure Gospel is not preaching the Gospel.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Yikes!

"The real problem is that passages like 2 Corinthians 5:19 ignore the means of the world’s reconciliation."

This was supposed to read:

"...in passages like 2 Cor. 5:19 they ignore ..."

LPC said...

Dear PAS,

Thanks for commenting.

I take it then that your thesis is that what is wrong in the Lutheran Church is that it does not have the right ecclessiology, and it is not the problem of UOJ.

UOJ is a just a 100+ old formulation famous in American Lutheranism. Over here, my synod which is the largest Lutheran synod in Aus, has no specific nor formal nor official formulation of UOJ. So it is not believed accross the board here, except with Lutheran pastors here who look up to the USA to define their Lutheranism.

You said that the problem is the missapplication of UOJ. But that is where it fails. It is because UOJ is not formulated according to Scripture that the confusion is built in it. For example in LC-MS 1932 Brief Statement...Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ

It is not the application that is wrong, it is the formulation because it is a myth contra the over all teaching of Scripture.

Also, have you read Walther Maier II's paper on his counter exegesis of the major UOJ passages as taught by Francis Pieper? If not I suggest you do.

Justification is where the Church stands or fall, if Justification is wrong, one's ecclessiology is wrong too. So Jackson comes way deeper than a problem in ecclessiology.

Re:Jackson advicing someone to stay in the person's church body. It just shows that Jackson is not a schismatic.

I think your thesis of a pure church rans counter against Jesus and Luther who believed that the church has both sheep and goat, both hypocrites and believers. What do you say to that?


Let me correct, anti-UOJ did not begin with Jackson as if he was the originator of this. Anti-UOJ has been arround during Walther's time and were opposed to Walther.

LPC

Not Alone +++ PAS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not Alone +++ PAS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear LPC,

As I said earlier, I have been extremely hesitant to write. These things are difficult to address with the restraints of this medium.

Also, it is not my desire to speak against Dr. Jackson. However, things are being said that should be countered.

I thank you for your kindly response and acceptance of my posting. I will attempt to address your challenges.

You said: “I take it then that your thesis is that what is wrong in the Lutheran Church is that it does not have the right ecclessiology, and it is not the problem of UOJ.”

Within Lutheranism and amongst the so-called Lutherans and so-called Lutheran churches, their use of the term UOJ, as they define it, is a serious problem. As an alumnus of this system, I was taught this false definition and misuse. However, it is not the cause of the demise as Dr. Jackson insists. It is a contributing factor. A person with the diarrhea of dysentery suffers dehydration and other factors until it is cured or death occurs, yet the cause of this illness is the infectious organism or inflammatory substance in the intestines. Treatment of the diarrhea may subdue the effects of the inflammatory agent, but as long as the agent remains, so does the disease. The diarrhea cannot be cured without addressing the cause.

UOJ as it is taught amongst those in Lutheranism is a false definition and false application that flows from a false understanding of the Church and the minimizing of the total corruption of original sin. The problem amongst those who promote Universal Objective Justification as in the example that you quote from the LC-MS Brief Statement, “Scripture teaches that God has already declared the whole world to be righteous in Christ,” is that they ignore the IN CHRIST and apply it to the world apart from being in Christ IN HIS CHURCH. The reason for this is that they do not understand that to be in Christ is to be in His true Church. The reason that they do not understand this is because they have changed the definition of CHURCH to include the goats, that is, those who tolerate false doctrine and practice. This is something that Jesus and Luther most certainly never do.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Regarding Luther and the Church, the following is from his explanation of the third article of the Creed in his Large Catechism, pg. 417 of the Tappert edition:

† † †
Likewise the word communio, which is appended, should not be translated “communion” but “community.” It is nothing but a comment or interpretation by which someone wished to explain what the Christian church is. But some among us, who understand neither Latin nor German, have rendered this “communion of saints,” although no German would use or understand such an expression. To speak idiomatically, we ought to say “a community of saints,” that is, a community composed only of saints, or, still more clearly, “a holy community.” This I say in order that the expression may be understood; it has become so established in usage that it cannot well be uprooted, and it would be next to heresy to alter a word.
This is the sum and substance of this phrase: I believe that there is on earth a little holy flock or community of pure saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding. It possesses a variety of gifts, yet is united in love without sect or schism. Of this community I also am a part and member, a participant and co-partner in all the blessings it possesses. I was brought to it by the Holy Spirit and incorporated into it through the fact that I have heard and still hear God’s Word, which is the first step in entering it. Before we had advanced this far, we were entirely of the devil, knowing nothing of God and of Christ. Until the last day the Holy Spirit remains with the holy community or Christian people. Through it he gathers us, using it to teach and preach the Word. By it he creates and increases sanctification, causing it daily to grow and become strong in the faith and in the fruits of the Spirit.

† † †

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Your application of the maxim regarding the Church standing and falling upon the article of Justification falls short as much as do the UOJ proponents. While it is true that the Church falls if the article of Justification is embraced wrongly, this article does not stand alone. The proper flow is quite wonderfully ordered in the Augsburg Confession. It begins with God, then Original Sin, then the Son of God, then Justification, then The Office of the Ministry/Church, and so on.

The right understanding of Justification cannot be held apart from a right understanding of God, Sin, Son of God. Moreover, Justification cannot be taught rightly except through the pure administration of the Gospel and Sacraments within the pure ministry of the Church. The true faith by which men are saved and brought into the kingdom of God cannot stand with corruption of any of the articles of the faith.

You say:

“I think your thesis of a pure church rans counter against Jesus and Luther who believed that the church has both sheep and goat, both hypocrites and believers. What do you say to that?”

This is a typical example of how Lutherans have redefined the Church. I quote Luther above as saying:

“I believe that there is on earth a little holy flock or community of pure saints under one head, Christ. It is called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding.”

AC VIII says:

“Properly speaking, the church is the assembly of saints and true believers. However, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled with believers, it is allowable to use the sacraments even when they are administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses seat,” etc. (Matt. 23:2). Both the sacraments and the Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ even if they are administered by evil men.”

Sadly, Lutherans have ignored the first statement and reduced this to the tolerance of evil men leading the Church. When someone dares to say that this is no longer the Church, for this is the very definition of schism that the Scriptures state and condemn and warn us to flee, that poor soul is labeled a schismatic! The Scriptures declare those who insist upon their own opinions in place of the ONE doctrine of the Church to be the schismatics. Morever the Scriptures command that such a person be counted as not a member of Christ’s Church after two warnings. (Titus 3:10) The Scriptures also decry churches that continue in communion with such as synagogues of Satan.

Today’s so-called Lutherans denounce those who demand that only the Pure Church be called Church as schismatics. The Scriptures call such “Lutherans” the schismatics because they promote divisions in the Church.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

How can the right understanding of Justification by Grace through Faith be embraced and taught if those who teach it are called schismatics, while those who teach contrarily are called Church? This is not what the Scriptures teach.

UOJ is not the problem. UOJ is a symptom of the problem. The problem is that Lutherans continue to be unequally yoked and imagine that such a communion is the Church wherein Christ can be simultaneously embraced and denied. If Lutherans would turn from this false notion, UOJ would no longer be a problem.

It is true that hypocrites will gather with true believers, pretending to believe when they really do not. But those hypocrites are NOT the Church. Moreover, the hypocrites mentioned in AC VIII are those who do not openly teach and practice contrary to the pure doctrine and practice of the true Church. The reason that they continue with the believers is that their mask of pretense covers what resides in their hearts. Otherwise they would be known as unbelievers and would be excommunicated. AC VIII is written for the sake of timid souls who would fear ineffectiveness of otherwise rightly administered means of grace by those who pretend so well that they cannot be distinguished from true believers. It most certainly does not include the goats as being part of the Church, only that some goats look like sheep so that we cannot distinguish them from the sheep.

Those who encourage or tolerate remaining in church bodies that openly tolerate or even promote the mingling of false doctrine and practices do not understand what it means to be the Church and therefore are not of the Church. If they were of the Church, they would gather with the Church rather than with the known hypocrites, even it they could only find two or three true Christians to call Church, even as Jesus declares, and they would teach and urge all true Christians so to do.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

The confusion within the matter of UOJ is further complicated by the idolatrous notion that “not judging the hearts of others” means that we can declare contrary to the clear teaching of the Scriptures that those who openly confess falsely cannot be judged as outside of God’s grace. For the Scriptures plainly say:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10)

Yet among the Lutherans it is commonly taught that one can confess and worship falsely and be saved.

This is a false definition of Church. This is a false definition of the faith and of worship. This is idolatry, making a savior of one’s own faith, rather than of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus which leads us to confess Jesus is Lord from the righteousness of Jesus that the Holy Spirit imparts to us in our hearts through the faith that He generates within us.

And this is why UOJ is taught. It is a facade or veneer that hides the false definitions of Church and faith and worship. If Lutherans still believed with Luther that the Church is on earth a little holy flock or community of pure saints under one head, Christ, called together by the Holy Spirit in one faith, mind, and understanding, if this were their definition of Church, then UOJ would not even be considered an issue. If Lutherans believed that the Church is defined as the place where false doctrine and those who confess it are condemned so that they may be turned to confess unto salvation by the pure administration of the Gospel and Sacraments, UOJ would not even be considered as it is currently taught and used. It is a smoke screen and a diversion from the false understanding of Church. It is an excuse used to avoid the truth that the Church is truly only a tiny little flock of true believers, a remnant torn by God from the broadly spread cloak of humanity.

LPC said...

PAS,

Thanks for these. Your position seems clear enough. However, I want to be sure you are not equivocating.

Do you believe UOJ as taught by the quote I give you is Biblical?

If the statement was "Scripture teaches that those who are in Christ are counted righteous", I would agree, but that is not what the LC-MS statement states.

How can God has already declared the whole world righteous when in fact the whole world is not in Christ?!

You said ...Yet among the Lutherans it is commonly taught that one can confess and worship falsely and be saved.

Yes because they believe in UOJ which is semi-universalism. If you are saved already before faith then faith did nothing to you.

On the Church.

Luther distinguished between the visible church and the invisible church and rightly I agree the True Church are only the people who truly believe in Christ - ie. JBFA.

However, since we do not know for sure who truly believes, the task is to convert the visible to always be part of the invisible church.

To your thesis, I would modify, rather if JBFA is truly taught rather than the false imagined myth of UOJ, then the goats either get converted to being sheep or they are kept in their state of being goats for the means of grace does this - it is saves those who repent and believe and damns those who reject what is being offered.

UOJ is basically semi-universalism and this promotes the propagation of false believers. If we also teach then that only those who believe in Christ alone are saved, then it is the means also to purify the visible church.

I guess my problem is that you do not see any distinction as a category of a visible church which Luther made.

I agree though that the sharpening of faith should be emphasized. It is UOJ itself that denigrates faith and hence, how can the Church be purified if the very means to make her pure lampoons that means? For JBFA defines who is in and who is not in Christ!

Correct me if I am wrong, my interpretation of your position is to extract out from the visible church - the invisible one.


LPC

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear LPC,

Before moving forward, I need to speak to your statement where you say:

“However, I want to be sure you are not equivocating.”

I checked two dictionaries multiple times to be sure that I was hearing you rightly. I had to check to be sure that you were actually saying that you suspect that I am presenting conniving lies. That was a bit hard to swallow.

I had to remember that the Scriptures consign all men to being liars. I had to remember that the very nature of theological debate is one of challenging one another to consider carefully whether or not lies are being told in the form of mistakes.

I also remembered that the very concept of UOJ is one that has been used wrongly and even deceptively. You are certainly right in saying that UOJ is not a new concept and that opposition to UOJ is not new. However, both are much older than you are acknowledging.

Having heard your accusation against me, I want to thank you for your challenge. You are wrong in your suspicion, but you nevertheless have pressed me to dig even more deeply into the words of Scripture, which is always a good thing.

I read more closely Maier’s Summary. I find that he makes both good points and bad assumptions, or omissions. One of the things that I noticed is that while he quotes the Scriptures and the Confessions, he does not truly listen to what he quotes. In particular, he seems to ignore the fact that both the Scriptures and the Confessions speak of God’s wrath still being experienced by the saints. In other words, he seems to forget the reality of the juxtaposition of simul iustus et peccator.

Another of the flaws in the reasoning of those who misuse and misapply UOJ from both sides of the argument is the failure to understand and acknowledge the fact that God speaks from eternity. This has led to misunderstanding in other articles of doctrine as well, e.g. predestination and the begottenness of the Son.

God speaks from eternity to His time-bound and time oriented creatures. There is only one man who is able to understand from the perspective of eternity, that is the man Christ Jesus. All the rest of us must hear God speak through His Son, in time. Thus, as soon as we apply our own time oriented reasoning, we distort the declarations of God. This is why, as Maier points out, that people are inclined to invent a double justification and presume a separation between what is called Objective and Subjective. They fail to see that the two are one declaration proclaimed from eternity, from what we perceive as being before time began, but in reality includes all time. For God declares Himself to be. He is and He was and He ever shall be. He does not change. His declarations are from everlasting to everlasting.

And what does He say?

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

God says to all the world:

In Christ, who has taken all sin into Himself to such an extent that He Himself who knew no sin was made to be sin, I do not impute to your sin to you. In Christ I declare you all to be free from sin and entirely righteous to come into My holiness, in which no sin can come. I have provided for you the means by which I place this declaration upon you and receive you as My sons to live everlastingly in this declaration of My Righteousness. Come and receive the New Life that is yours in Christ Jesus, My Son. Come! Nothing is required of you. In Christ I have redeemed you all and have reconciled you all to Myself once again. Come and receive that which I have declared in Christ to be yours! Come and receive the absolution that I have declared to be yours! Trust Me! Believe Me. It IS yours!

However, if you blaspheme My Holy Spirit and refuse His testimony so that you die apart from the Life that I have given you in the giving of My only-begotten Son for the purpose of saving the world and restoring faith to the world, clinging instead to the way of death that you have inherited from Adam, stubbornly holding to the rotting and stinking works and life that you produce for yourselves, you will indeed receive the final judgment that you yourselves have chosen and pronounced upon yourselves. If you die rejecting My gracious declaration in Christ, you shall surely receive the judgment that you have chosen in place of the Judgment that I have spoken through My Son! Therefore, come and hear it forevermore: In Christ Jesus I declare you to be righteous and holy, even as I am.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Regarding the visible and invisible Church confusion, while I appreciate the worthy attempts that Augustine and Luther and others have made, they actually state the matter backwards. It is not the true Church that is invisible, but the pretend Church that we cannot perceive.

The false church is easily identified as antichrist in accord with its false doctrine and practice, and the saints are admonished to mark and avoid and even to flee it. The True Church likewise is very visible, marked by God with His pure administration of the Gospel and the Sacraments. No where do the Scriptures ever speak otherwise. The Scriptures only speak of instances where the Church was forced to go underground, so that men like Elijah imagined themselves to be entirely alone.

The true pretenders, however, we cannot perceive. They are hidden from our sight as they gather with the true Visible Church on earth. They confess alongside the true saints word for word the True faith. They partake of the Sacraments alongside the true saints, acknowledging the efficacious nature of what God has ordained. From all that we can observe, they are true saints. Often, as the Lord Jesus declares, even they are unable to tell that they are not true believers. The Lord Jesus says that at the Last Day even they will be surprised to learn that they were really workers of iniquity. So it is the perfect hypocrite church that is invisible to everyone except to the Lord.

But the true Church is very visible. It is easy for the world to persecute. They stand apart, marked by God with easily distinguishable signs, signs that are entirely opposite of anything that human reason will imagine or acknowledge, except through divine intervention by the Holy Spirit.

LPC said...

PAS,

I am flooded by your comments. The best way to proceed is let us take assertions and then match or prove the assertions compatible with Scripture.

So let us take it one bite at a time.

I confess, I am not happy as to the way you use the word "Church" in your discussion. You need to define this and define it such a way that it clarifies mistaken notion about it which is what your main thesis is about.

Second, you said this In particular, he seems to ignore the fact that both the Scriptures and the Confessions speak of God’s wrath still being experienced by the saints. In other words, he seems to forget the reality of the juxtaposition of simul iustus et peccator.

I pose to you that you are the one mistaking the notion of what simul iustus et peccator means.

I deny that a believer is both under God's wrath and under God's blessing.

Romans 6. The believer by being simultaneous saint and sinner, nevertheless is not under God's wrath because he is under God's grace, under Christ.

To admit as you do that the believer is both under God's wrath and favor is to admit absurdity.

All of us are sinners but there are two kinds - the sinner who does not trust Christ for his sins, and the sinner who DOES trust Christ for his sins. Everyone is either one of these.

I think right there we have something to clarify. Perhaps we should deal with this first before we even go to the notion of what Church is.

Sorry, I am not implying you purposely lied, when I was checking no equivocation. Equivocation is using the same term in two contrary senses. A person may be unaware to be in error like before St Paul was converted, but he was not a malefactor. So I am not accusing you of anything. Far from that.

I see you as also challenging me and I see you as an honest and sincere person wanting an exchange.

LPC

LPC said...

PAS,

You said In Christ, who has taken all sin into Himself to such an extent that He Himself who knew no sin was made to be sin, I do not impute to your sin to you. In Christ I declare you all to be free from sin and entirely righteous to come into My holiness, in which no sin can come.

These are your paraphrases of which I wonder where you get the Scripture from. No disrespect, these are your words and not an evidence from Scripture. So paraphrases etc and other rendition are not relevant. Give me exegesis from Scripture. Like I said, also, God declares anyone in Christ to be righteous, this does not apply to the whole world because the whole world in toto does not believe in Christ. John 3:16.

Additionally some fallacies in the last comment you made... here it goes - your self contradiction is evident here

a.) The false church is easily identified as antichrist in accord with its false doctrine and practice, and the saints are admonished to mark and avoid and even to flee it

The you say
b.)The true pretenders, however, we cannot perceive.

We cannot move forward because you allow yourself to contradict ... yourself.

So you are not making sense here.

More now to the point... are you in this True Church? Is your congregation in this True Church/ Is Jackson not in this True Church? Am I not in this True Church?

Lest you think I am thin skinned, I am not. I have been called a heretic by lots of RCs and Lutherans, you won't be the first one to call me that so, I can stand name calling, believe me and I take no offense.

LPC

Levi Powers said...

I thought I might add that I find Pastor Jackson's sermon today for the Third Sunday in Advent to be very pastoral. There was both law and gospel. I was reminded of my sin and still could take comfort in the gospel promises. The many quotes that show up on the blog related to the sermon are not actually said during the video. But, I find them to be useful and edifying too.

LPC said...

Levi,

Thanks for the input.
It is a sad show that those who prejudge Pr. Greg have never thoroughly examined the aspects of his ministry specially on the sermon side of things.

LPC

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

LPC,

I’ve had to set this aside for a time, and this will be my last response.

You say:

“I confess, I am not happy as to the way you use the word "Church" in your discussion. You need to define this and define it such a way that it clarifies mistaken notion about it which is what your main thesis is about.”

I gave a full and direct quote from Luther’s Large Catechism and another from the Augsburg Confession regarding the definition of the Church. The rest of my comments are in accord with both of these. No where do the Lutheran Confessions speak contrarily to these. In fact, the invisible church concept is not mentioned in the Book of Concord.

Your arguments are actually akin to those of Francis Pieper. Interestingly, he mocks those who speak of both “a visible and invisible side” to the Church, saying that they are both modern and confuse the marks of the Church. Even more interestingly, he does not give any quotations from the Lutheran Confessions. His quotes from the Scriptures he entirely misuses, actually changing the meaning of what they say.


You also say:
+++
Second, you said this, In particular, he seems to ignore the fact that both the Scriptures and the Confessions speak of God’s wrath still being experienced by the saints. In other words, he seems to forget the reality of the juxtaposition of simul iustus et peccator.

I pose to you that you are the one mistaking the notion of what simul iustus et peccator means.

I deny that a believer is both under God's wrath and under God's blessing.
+++

You actually ignored what I said and changed it to something that I DID NOT SAY. I did not say that a believer is UNDER God’s wrath. I said that God’s wrath is still EXPERIENCED by the saints. I said that both the Scriptures and the Confessions say this. I can quote a number of places in the Confessions that very plainly say this and I started looking them up to quote for you. But since you have completely ignored my other quotes from the Confessions and gave absolutely no reply to them, what is the point?

You are right to say that when you deliberately ignore what I say that we cannot go forward. When you change my words to fit your desire to attack something other than what I say, we also cannot go forward. So I’ll just back away and leave you alone.

LPC said...

PAS,

Quote the BoC to me? Where are the articles and paragraphs? Rather I quote back to you that though the BoC does not use the terms visible and invisible - by the way you also used this term (read again your comments to me) which you want to deny me, which is not in the BOC yet In AP Articles VII and VIII 12, it is implied. You do special pleading here which is rather unfair.

So I do not know now the gist of your arguments.

You also have ignored my clarification as to how to I know if I am in the "true church" (your term) as whether or not I am in it or not. I invited you to tell me if I am or if I am not and I welcome any assessments that you may have.


Finally you said I said that God’s wrath is still EXPERIENCED by the saints.

NO the saints do not experience God's wrath. I deny and challenge what you said. I pose to you that it is not an accurate teaching of Scripture. The believing sinner is under God's grace nor does the believing sinner experiences God's wrath.


God's discipline is not the same as God's wrath! God disciplines his children in fact he is not like we parents who discipline our children out of anger. God's wrath is anger, and yet he has no anger to the believing sinner who trust in Jesus despite his sins. Discipline and wrath are not the same.

LPC

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

LPC,

Perhaps someday it will be possible for you and me to have a real conversation. However, currently your heart is so hard towards me with the prejudice that you have toward me, that you cannot even see the direct quotes from the BOC. You are so convinced in your heart and mind that I have nothing to offer on this subject, that you prejudge my statements without even attempting to hear what I say. Your mind is so closed to me that even regarding the quote that includes the page number from the Tappert Edition of the BOC, you deny that even this quote was made by me.

Dr. Jackson does the same thing to people. Unless a person comes to him as the supreme authority who cannot err, unless he is acknowledged as the professor given by God to men for their correct teaching in all things, he will not hear what the person says.

Your closed mindedness has caused you to lie, to deny what is before your eyes in black and white.

I point you to this in the hope that perhaps you may someday actually learn to hear what someone actually says, rather than ignoring it on account of prejudice. Even if the other person is wrong in his conclusions, it remains a lie to say that what he said was not said.

Dr. Jackson is entirely unable to hear when he is in violation of the Eighth Commandment. Perhaps this is not so for you. Just because you or your hero believes that someone else is wrong does not grant license to giving false witness. Jackson gives false witness galore. If anyone calls him on it, he slanders/libels the person and multiplies his false witness a hundred fold. He even takes other people’s copyrighted pictures, changes them without telling anyone, and falsely presents them as representative of the person or group. The fact that the others may be liars and thieves does not make that OK. But he defends his sins and multiplies them rather than turning from them and receiving forgiveness.

For your sake I pray that your heart is not as hard as his. I pray that you have not made such an idol of him that you cannot see where imitating him in this is sinful and damning. You are imitating him in this, and not just with your mistreatment of me.

If you wish to have any further conversation with me, you will need to contact me directly. I will not respond further on your blog.

LPC said...

PAS,

I stand corrected. You did quote the BoC to me. The reason why I missed your point is because you managed to flood me with comments.Nevertheless I should have read all of them and so I am corrected. My apologies. However, when I re-read them, I fail to find the relevance of some of the discussions. In fact I have tried to move you forward to concrete realities, like my question if I was in the true church or not. Did you ever answer them inspite of my welcoming your frank assessment? No, no un-categorical statements forthcoming from you. So where do we go if we are going to be thin skin at every turn? Nowhere.


A few points before we agree to disagree. I am quite insulted at your calling Jackson as my hero. I have no heroes. Heroes are for those who are childish and have no energy to think for themselves. I am in my mid 50s and I have seen quite a lot of goings on in Christianity. I do not wish to be disillusioned by holy men, and certainly Walther nor Pieper won't be in my list though the may have said good things at some issues, I still wont quote them.

You said Your closed mindedness has caused you to lie, to deny what is before your eyes in black and white.

Where exactly have I lied? If it was failing to credit you for some BoC quotes, I stand corrected.

But if I misrepresented you in any other way, I do not think so, for I quoted to you back to you, your own words. For example you said this You actually ignored what I said and changed it to something that I DID NOT SAY. I did not say that a believer is UNDER God’s wrath. I said that God’s wrath is still EXPERIENCED by the saints. I said that both the Scriptures and the Confessions say this. I can quote a number of places in the Confessions that very plainly say this and I started looking them up to quote for you. But since you have completely ignored my other quotes from the Confessions and gave absolutely no reply to them, what is the point?

One reason it will be hard to converse with you is because you do not spot equivocation when you meet it. You said that you did not say the believer is under God's wrath and that you said instead that the saints still experience God's wrath! So there is a difference between being under God's wrath and experiencing God's wrath? What is the difference?

If a saint is EXPERIENCING God's wrath is he not UNDER God's wrath? For if he is NOT UNDER God's wrath, why, pray tell me, please, does he STILL EXPERIENCES God's wrath (emphasis mine)?

To the contrary, I jab at both meanings of the two. I deny that the saint still experiences God's wrath (even in the technical sense) neither is he under God's wrath. Rather what he experiences is discipline not anger. Incidentally I would like to see Scripture that says the saint experiences God's wrath.

You exhibit the same attitude of UOJers who have come to exchange with me and in that when I ask for Scriptural evidences, they cry foul and consign my soul to the same fate as that of Jacksons, to the damned.

I am still at a loss as to how I treated you badly. Am I mistreating you when I ask for some Scriptural support for your assertions when it comes to our differences?

Your thesis is that the doctrine of the church is where the Lutheran bodies went wrong and not at UOJ. For me it is UOJ that is the culprit and that the Lutheran bodies then need Reformation as before. If you posit the fact that JBFA is not truly taught and that faith is lampooned, for it is faith that makes one in the true Church then there is more sense and clarification on your doctrine of the Church

LPC