Freedom and Friendship

Ravi Zacharias Mormon LDS

Ravi Zacharias will again be speaking in the Mormon Tabernacle. His visit to Utah will also include a stop at BYU. I hope some of my Utah based friends can attend. Live streams of the event are included below for those who can’t be there in person.

BYU Live Stream

Friday, January 17, 2014 – 12:00pm-1:00pm (MST)

Title: What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on what it means to be human as he believes faith, family, and society cannot be fully appreciated until this question is first answered.

Mormon Tabernacle Live Stream

Saturday, January 18, 2014 – 6:30pm-8:30pm (MST)

Title: Lessons from History: Building A Nation Under God

Dr. Ravi Zacharias will speak on the centrality of the Word of God as the guide for personal conduct, true freedom, and building a nation under God.


110 thoughts on “Freedom and Friendship

  1. Kullervo, do you mean you’re not sure where he fits theologically within Christianity or not sure of his theological solidity?
    Joyce Meyer thought he was solid enough to be on her program. That’s a good sign. Also, since he happens to be on radio during my drive home, I’ve listened to him quite a bit. At first I thought he sounded like a bunch of intellectual hot air, but now I think he’s A OK.

  2. I think he’s ok…he’s a Christian…but he is not all that free if he’s talking about A “guide” for the Christian life.

    A Christian really is …free. No guide to follow. Just do no harm and live…as best as a sinner can…in the total freedom of the forgiveness of sins, for Jesus’ sake.

    He’s maybe…99% there…but that’s still not free.

  3. Joyce, ‘how-to’ Meyer.

    Law, law, law, law…and more law.

    Terrible preaching. Almost as bad as the sermon by an ELCA pastor that I read a few days ago.

    Just a lawnmower manual on how to put together the proper Christian life.

    Not an ounce of grace in it.

  4. theoldadam, you realize, don’t you, that grace isn’t just for forgiveness but is also power to overcome sin and serve others? 1 Peter 4:10 NIV: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

  5. Im not so sure. Mormons certainly do.

    But in any case there’s a difference between inadvertent pick-and-choose while trying to believe, honor and submit to the entirety of scripture on the one hand, and having a canon-within-a-canon and outright rejection of inconvenient passages on the other.

  6. Whether outright rejection of inconvenient passages is worse than mutation of inconvenient passages to fit [blank] theology is still a live question for me. But no tradition in the world exists outside those two.

    Cal, My view of Joyce Meyers has always been Osteen without the nice hair. Most of what I’ve heard of Dr. Z is about his anti evolution zeal. I wonder if he’ll be stopping by the BYU biology dept. while he’s there.

  7. “Whether outright rejection of inconvenient passages is worse than mutation of inconvenient passages to fit [blank] theology is still a live question for me. But no tradition in the world exists outside those two”

    while I am sure there are flaws in my own theology isn’t that the goal of systematic theology weigh the whole counsel of God? Rejection and distortion of scripture seems to be the same side of the same coin. Anyways a theology cannot with Paul “delight in the law of God” and sing with the Psalmist “O! how love I thy law” lacks a certain continuity with the Bible.

    On Joyce Meyers and Ravi Zacharias, I find myself paying less and less attention to para-church groups and more and more attention to people working within a Church. Even with people outside of my own confession I am gaining a certain amount of respect for those who work within an ecclesiastical structure rather than independent of any church discipline.

  8. those who work within an ecclesiastical structure rather than independent of any church discipline.

    Your point brings up lots of questions for me about how Evangelicals and other protestants think about church:

    In modern Evangelicalism, does anybody build new denominations anymore or are they seen as outmoded? If outmoded, what is their replacement: mega-church franchises? small nondenominational churches?

    Is it the norm to abandon a denomination rather than work to adapt it to new circumstances? What are the general criteria for making this decision?

  9. Gundek, I think that’s what makes me wary of Dr. Zacharias. It seems for all the world like he wants to present as some sort of “Mere Christian,” but I don’t actually think that’s a possible thing to be.

  10. Kullervo,

    I understand completely. I don’t know much about him, and really have nothing negative to say, Joyce Meyers has some unique Christological teaching and you just have to ask yourself about accountability.

  11. Jared,

    the ECO is being formed now of congregations leaving the PC(USA). Doug Wilson helped form the CREC in the 90’s, a unique blend of Baptists and Presbyterians.

    I think you would get a mixed review out of evangelicals about the usefulness of denominations. If you believe in a congregationalist form of church government a denomination may serve little purpose. There is something to be said about mutual accountability and cooperation.

    I don’t know if it is the norm to form another denomination or to work from within. I think that depends on the presuppositions about the forms of church government, the nature of the disagreements and how long the disagreements have been building.

    The OPC and PCA left the Northern and Southern Presbyterians denominations. In the early 70’s there was an LCMS Seminary reform resulting in a minor exodus of the liberal side but the liberals folded into the ELCA. The Southern Baptists had a turn to the conservatives in the 70’s and 80’s.

    On the other hand there have been any number of denominational unifications especially denominations originally coming from ethnic European State churches like the Dutch and German Reformed.

  12. My own church is forming connected campuses as well as forming separate, autonomous church plants.

    Calvary Chapel specifically rejects denominations but have a network of churches which basically functions as a denomination.

    The American Baptist recently had a large group of churches in the West break off into a new more conservative denomination.

    This might all seem chaotic but it’s no different than the many ways Mormon sects and schisms are and will be formed.

  13. Kullervo,

    “theoldadam subscribes to pick-and-choose-Bible theology.”

    You couldn’t be more wrong.

    Our theology is this, Christ died for and forgives sinners…the ungodly. That’s it.

    If you’re ungodly and a sinner then you (or anyone qualifies).

    Christ picks and chooses who hears that message. Our wills are bound in (to) sin…so we just are not up to it.

  14. “But in any case there’s a difference between inadvertent pick-and-choose while trying to believe, honor and submit to the entirety of scripture on the one hand, and having a canon-within-a-canon and outright rejection of inconvenient passages on the other.”

    You’ve got to do some theology.

    That Book, the Bible, didn’t drop out of Heaven with a bow tied around it. Sinners played a role in writing it and putting it together, also, you know.

    “All upright sacred books agree on one thing, that they all collectively preach and promote Christ. Likewise, the true criterion for criticizing all books is to see whether they promote Christ or not, since all scripture manifests Christ. Whatever does not teach Christ is not apostolic, even if Peter and Paul should teach it. On the other hand, whatever preaches Christ is apostolic, even if Judas, Annas, Pilate, and Herod should do it!”

    – Luther

    “If they use the Bible against Christ, then we will use Christ against the Bible.”

    also, Luther

    That is proper theology. The gospel always trumps the law. Always.

    Otherwise one might as well be a Roman Catholic or a Jew…or a Protestantized Jew as there are so many in Christianism.

  15. Christian J said, “Cal, My view of Joyce Meyers has always been Osteen without the nice hair.”

    Yes, she’s a little more in-your-face, if you will, more straightforward and real. I think that’s what people like about her, besides her humor and practicality.

  16. Using the law to make us ‘better’ is one of the hallmarks of terrible preaching.

    Meyers, Osteen, et al, are a symptom of a much wider problem of “free-will”, ascendent, Christianism.

    The law (what ‘we do’) needs to be wielded as an axe. To kill. To extinguish in us that faulty notion that we can in some measure (small as it may be) that we are able to please God with our performance.

    You can flip through the TBN channels now until doomsday and you won’t ever hear what I just wrote.

  17. theoldadam: I was raised in a traditional, non-charismatic Protestant church that emphasized grace as manifested in his justification of sinners by faith. It was a great foundation to build on. In my view, charismatics like Joyce Meyer do not deny that important foundation. Rather, they are taking us higher, to a place of living by the power of the Spirit, which has come as a result of the precious blood of Christ and our justification by faith. They’re saying, OK, we got that down. Now let’s live by grace, as God intended, and enjoy everything he bought for us (2 Cor. 3:10-15).
    You see what I’m saying?

  18. Cal,

    Is Joyce Meyer subject to Church oversight? I honestly don’t know. Its hard to see how any internal oversight can be claimed. Otherwise I am genuinely suspicious of any higher Christianity.

  19. Cal,

    I think I understand what you are saying.

    But we believe that you can’t get any more spiritual…any higher…than Jesus being a part of you, through faith. He is on your lips and in your heart. There is nothing else to achieve. You fully belong to Him….lock, stock and barrel.

    We believe when you strive for higher, you are actually shooting yourself in the foot and instead of getting better…you actually become worse…because you are more self-aware. Jesus lived a life of unselfconsciousness. And that leads to freedom. The kind He dies to give us. (Gal. 5:1)

  20. Gundek, I honestly don’t know, either. As big as her ministry is, I imagine that if she isn’t connected to some denomination, there is some board of elders that oversee her in some way.

  21. the old adam: I’m glad you understood me. I’m happy that you value Jesus being a part of you and all that. How do you interpret 2 Corinthians 3:10-15?

  22. I just watched a portion of Dr. Ravi speaking live. Splendid.
    Thanks to Tim for calling our attention to it.

  23. As big as her ministry is, I imagine that if she isn’t connected to some denomination, there is some board of elders that oversee her in some way.

    What? Why would you assume that?

  24. Cal,

    I read those verses to say that the law could not do it. That what we do, or don’t do (the law) is a fading glory, a temporary measure, a stopgap until Christ came. St. Paul draws a similar comparison when he describes the law as a tutor, a custodian, until Christ came.

  25. Kullervo asked, “Why would you assume that?”

    (1) because charismatics believe in accountability
    (2) because I thought of Arnold Murray. Have you ever seen him (Shepherd’s Chapel)? I think it’s called Prayer Channel. It’s in the same cluster as TBN and DayStar on Dish network. He sits behind a desk in a comfortable chair, barking out God’s Word line by line with an American flag at his side. He appears to be out on his own, in his own league; yet I heard him say once that he answers to some kind of board of overseers.

  26. the old adam: I think you’re reading them differently. Because 1 Cor. 3:10 starts with “By the grace God has given me . . .,” I take his analogy in verses 10-15 to refer to what we do by grace, not by law. As I understand it, living by law, in Romans, usually refers to living without faith in Jesus, without the Holy Spirit’s help, and without any benefits from the sacrifice of Jesus.

    I believe the term “law” can refer to the first 5 books of the OT, to the whole OT, or to a couple of other definitions that escape my mind right now. (It’s tricky and I’m still learning.)

  27. Cal,

    If your goal is to give me less confidence in the para-church, mission accomplished.

    I am afraid that is the worst argument for accountability I have ever heard. You might as well say that God won’t let a para-church ministry go astray.

  28. I agree. If Joyce Meyers said something her pastor thought was heretical I’d put a lot of money on Joyce Meyers leaving the church before she retracted her statements.

  29. Cal,

    For us, God’s law is every demand made upon us by our existence. It’s not jus the ’10 Commandments’ (which St. Paul does refer to in @nd Corinthians, I believe, as “the ministry of death”.

    Sure…we do things…and we don’t do things…but we never tie what ‘we do’ to the gospel, in any way.

    For grace is unmerited favor. Not a boost to do the right thing as the Roman Catholics believe.

  30. Tim, it’s hard to say what would happen if Joyce Meyer said something that her pastor thought was heretical. If it really was heretical, and if she kept teaching it over and over, I believe many, if not most, of her followers would drift somewhere else. Some of her followers would probably continue to follow her and go down with her.
    If it was not heretical, and her church decided to disfellowship her, I agree with you that she’d keep on. In that case, she should keep on. Ultimately, God makes the final decision.

  31. the old adam, I’m puzzled. You don’t believe that grace—which I’m defining here as the unmerited favor of the empowerment of the Holy Spirit—changes us? If not, how do you change? By your own willpower?
    Do you believe God is calling us to change? To not lust? To not gossip? To not be impatient? Etc.?
    What tradition do you adhere to? Was it Lutheran? I forget.

  32. Cal,

    Of course it changes us.

    But that ought not be ‘OUR focus’.

    Grace is for the purpose of living outward, freely, with no self-consciousness. You the preacher is constantly harping on you to do or be this, that, or the other thing, the focus is all inward. That does not make us better…but worse.

    Adam and Eve were running around naked, no thought of themselves, but when they sinned, they all of a sudden became self-conscious.

    Galatians 5:1 says it best.

    I’m a centrist Lutheran…of the Fordeian variety. Gerhard Forde, that is.

  33. That’s the same nonsense Mormons claim to defend their failure to give screen time to Jesus and the Bible.

    K, you have a talent for deriding Mormons – even when they are not the topic at hand. wow.

  34. Oh come on. I know them quite well. I have many friends who are LCMS pastors. They admit as much to me privately, that they aren’t as free as we are. But they are afraid of the freedom. They also hate that ELCA stink (they are NOT free, either)…which we do, as well. They (LCMS) are imbibed with this “3rd use” thing which keeps them in the chains of the law. And they have a Southern Baptist doctrine of the Word, which also leads to biblicism.

    They might be 99% free…but that’s not good enough. They are ALMOST there. Almost isn’t good enough, once you are totally free. Forde knew that. Luther knew it. Paul knew it. And so do many others.

    With Forde and us ‘Fordeites’ (Fordeians – whatever)…we ARE 100% free…because we believe in Christ…alone. The Word…alone. No add-ons or uses of the law to make us better. Christ has done it all for us.
    For us, Christ is ALL…or NOTHING.

  35. Those of you who don’t like to listen, don’t (even though the Bible tells us that “faith comes by hearing”)…but this is excellent on what good Lutheran (freedom focused) theology is:

    [audio src="" /]

    It’s not dry at all. A very good and interesting listen, even if you don’t agree with all that is said. You’ll end up with a better understanding of us freedom loving Lutherans, and have a better idea of why we can NEVER go back (to the religious project).

  36. The Old Adam,
    I’m glad your faith in Christ is changing you. That’s the proof that your theology is not too seriously flawed. (Incidentally, we can use this rule of thumb with Mormons. This is a website about Mormons, after all!)

    I agree that too much introspection is self defeating. As we look at, or concentrate on, Christ, our sins are revealed in his light—without any condemnation. Introspection is useless apart from his revelation.

    Have a good one.

  37. Tim, you just won the whole Internet. If I was using a keyboard and drinking anything I’m pretty sure you would owe me a new keyboard…

    But I meant, how representative of confessional Lutheran theology is theoldadam’s stuff about the law, the gospel and Christian freedom?

  38. I think he would be best to answer that question but, I don’t see that theoldadam would want in any way to be associated with confessional Lutherans. His view on the third use of the law cannot be squared with Formula of Concord.

  39. I understand theoldadam as a critic in a liberal denomination but not a confessional Lutheran. He stands next to Nadia Bolz-Weber and Gerard Forde.

    When you see that theoldadam is following Forde’s basic idea that denies the eternal nature of the law as the will of God and views the law as “merely and entirely a threat” then it becomes understandable why freedom becomes the ultimate motif or why denouncing anyone who disagrees with you as “law law law law law law…etc.” seems reasonable.

    All told being a critic in a liberal denomination has the benefit that you can denounce Nadia Bolz-Weber for using the “f” word and preaching slavery to the law, and the entire LCMS for holding to the historic Lutheran confessions and preacing slavery to the law all the while calling yourself the only true Lutheran.

    I was introduced to Forde in the book Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification,

  40. It’s fitting that theoldadam hangs around. His theology nearly fits the caricature of how Mormons often view Protestant theology– except maybe his view on baptism.

  41. We ARE confessional Lutherans!

    Luther’s friends (most of them) backpedaled away from him almost immediately after he died. The freedom scared the heck out of them.

    But Luther had it right. It’s all…or nothing.

    There are still some good centrist Lutherans out there in the line of Forde. My own pastor, Jim Nestingen, Steven Paulson (who has a terrific book out now titled, “Lutheran Theology”.)…amongst others.

    Most Lutherans are wither on the right…or the left. But there are a few of us that still hug the center…which is Christ…alone.

  42. So you agree without reservation when the he Augsburg Confession says,

    “Furthermore, it is taught on our part that it is necessary to do good works, not that we should trust to merit grace by them, but because it is the will of God. It is only by faith that forgiveness of sins is apprehended, and that, for nothing. And because through faith the Holy Ghost is received, hearts are renewed and endowed with new affections, so as to be able to bring forth good works. For Ambrose says: Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing.”

    And I am sure you have confessional agreement with the Formula of Concord teaching the third use of the law is the true Christian Doctrine:

    “We believe, teach, and confess that, although men truly believing [in Christ] and truly converted to God have been freed and exempted from the curse and coercion of the Law, they nevertheless are not on this account without Law, but have been redeemed by the Son of God in order that they should exercise themselves in it day and night [that they should meditate upon God’s Law day and night, and constantly exercise themselves in its observance, Ps. 1:2 ], Ps. 119. For even our first parents before the Fall did not live without Law, who had the Law of God written also into their hearts, because they were created in the image of God,”

    Confessional is not an adjective for I wish I was a conservative.

  43. Of course we preach and uphold the law!

    But NOT for righteousness…or to make ourselves “better” in God’s eyes. But to kill us off…like St. Paul says, “the law (written on tablets of stone) is the ministry of death.”

    We hold to the Lutheran Confessions. But we also realize that they are not perfect. They were written at a time of great strife and upheaval. Much was at stake. They could have been written stronger…better. We realize that. And one thing is for sure…they are in no way Holy Scripture.

    We didn’t get weak kneed as have many Lutherans. Melancthon for one. Aristotelian humanism was rampant amongst the Catholics and hung on with many Lutherans who were afraid.

    We are not afraid. As Luther said to Erasmus, “Let the floodgates of iniquity open” (in answer to Erasmus fear of not holding the church to living by God’s law).

    As if they were ever closed. The “floodgates of iniquity” are like Denny’s…they NEVER CLOSE.

  44. On the other hand, I think Cal is representative of about 84% of charismatics.

    Except for the part about how Mormons are Christians.

  45. Differences in what? There are so many.

    Well, in the past I have been dismissive of Lutheranism as a live option for two reasons: first, because as a practical matter it seems very tied to German ethnicity and cultural heritage, and second, because I assumed that theoldadam’s monotonous nonsense was reasonably representative of Lutheran theology.

  46. Kullervo,

    I think Lutheran theology is much richer than is generally presented by theoldadam. In the same way Reformed theology generally has more depth than is seen in internet debates.

  47. “So you are in agreement with the Formula of Concord teaching that the third use of the law is true Christian Doctrine?”


    Scripture refutes it!

    “Christ is the end of the law for all those who have faith.”

    The pure gospel in Holy Scripture trumps the law…wherever it is found. whether it be in the Formula…or in Scripture itself.

    Luther said, “If they use the Bible against Christ, we will use Christ against the Bible.”

    Just listen to this (because he says it better than I:

    Listen to the one below the other one (#3)…give it 5 minutes.

  48. Would you agree with the Book of Concord that “our life and work must be ordered according to God’s Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled.”

  49. Paulson argues, as do others, on the basis of Elert’s analysis and study that the so-called “Third Use” was a fraud and forgery:

    “Werner Elert discovered that this was a blatant forgery, “copied almost verba- tim from an edition of Melanchthon’s Loci dating from the second period of the Loci.”4 Why would someone specifically add a third use, and while he was at it, turn the first use into a pedagogical one? The goal was to keep freedom from being abused, to keep the church from imploding, or to make sure that “the Christian” did not ignore all the exhortations found in Scripture. In other words, I take it that someone resorted to forgery in order to protect the church from antinomianism. But the fear of freedom is no way to deal with antinomians.”

    In almost 7,000 sermons, Luther never once preached on the “3rd use of the law”.

    And so much of what he did preach and teach, was in direct conflict with it.

    Not that I agree with every single word that Luther uttered. He did say, on occasion, some pretty stupid things. But we latch onto the great things that he said. And there were a lot of them.

  50. gundek,

    I agree with it apart from Christ. That is law language.

    But, for righteousness sake, Christ put an end to the law.

    We don’t make ourselves holy and acceptable by what ‘we do’. One might as well be a Roman Catholic if one is to buy into that.

    We are DECLARED holy and righteous…for Jesus’ sake. Not even for our own sakes.

  51. “…our life and work must be ordered according to God’s Word, if it is to be God-pleasing or holy.”

    That was Luther’s Large Catechism on the Third Commandment.

  52. That is law. i don’t care if St. Peter wrote it.

    Luther also wrote in his Small Catechism that we “ought love, honor, and obey God.”

    Pure law. Yes we ought. But NO ONE is up to it. So then what?

    Then we proclaim the gospel to the ungodly. To those who do not love, honor and obey God as they should. To people like you and me.

  53. Look…let’s forget about Luther for a minute and look at Jesus when he told us that “You MUST BE perfect, as your father in Heaven is perfect.”

    What was he doing there? Attempting to spur us on to better living…stronger efforts…a more serious commitment? NO!

    He was trying to kill off that bit of self-righteousness in us all that thinks we are doing a pretty fair job of it.

  54. From your objections to the third use of the law I am not convinced you understand the doctrine, I think you are beating up a straw man.

  55. gundek,

    I fully understand the doctrine, and it is faulty from the git go.

    It is supposed to be a “guide” for the believer (not the unbeliever).

    Here’s the trouble with it. The guide is already there…in the first two uses. We know what to do. We just flat out refuse to do it.

    And when preachers, who are the ones who actually don’t understand the practicality of this errant doctrine, believe that they can use it (the law) to make Christians ‘better’…they are actually letting the fox back into the henhouse. they are letting the law attempt to do what only the gospel can do…and that is to justify and make right with God. As St. Paul said, “the law doesn’t make us better, it makes us worse.”

    So the proper uses of the law are
    1) The civil use – so we sinners can get along together as best we can
    2) To expose the sinner. To kill off any notions that we are in some way up to the task, if only a little bit.


    You are standing at the top of a 230 ft high cliff. Jesus is at the bottom feeling up to you, “JUMP!”

    And you say, “If I do that I will die!”

    And Jesus says, “Exactly. Now Jump. And I will give you life eternal after you are dead.”

    “If you would gain your life in this world, you must lose it.”

    “Christ is the end of the law…for the believer.”

    And that means any uses of the law designed to make us what we can never be.

  56. Forde was a much better Lutheran theologian than I will ever be:

    There is no way yet into a state where the Christian can use the law in a third way. Such a view rests on presumptions entirely different from those of Luther and, for that matter, Paul. It makes too many pious assumptions. It assumes, apparently, that the law can really be domesticated so it can be used by us like a friendly pet. Does the law actually work that way? It assumes that we are the users of the law. We do not use the law. The Spirit does. And we really have no control over it. Who knows when it is going to rise up and attack in all its fury? Luther knew full well, of course, that in spite of all his piety he could not bring the law to heel. Indeed, even as a Christian one needs to hear and heed the law – and the law will attack a Christian just as it attacks the non-Christian. One does not have the key to some third use.
    We do not live in an eschatological vestibule. Christians need the law in the same way non-Christians do. The idea of a third use assumes the law story simply continues after grace. Grace is just a blip, an episode, on the basic continuum of the law. Luther’s contention is that the law story is subordinate to the Jesus story. The law is for Luther, as it was for Paul, an episode in a larger, not vice versa. It is only grace that can bring the law to heel.”

    – Gerhard Forde

  57. I think built into both your presentation and Forde’s is an unstated assumption that the “truly believing [in Christ] and truly converted to God” are not changed and that the reality of the revelation of God in both law and gospel is not distinct for those “regenerate and renewed in the spirit of their mind”. I think Paul speaks about this in Romans 12:1-2.

    You also seem to be missing the point made in the Formula of Concord about the distinction between works of the law and the fruit of the spirit. The “law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” not simply rejecting the law as a taskmaster.

    Paul says that we are “being transformed into the same image” as the Lord. To claim, as Forde does, that recognizing that this transformation changes how believer understands a holy life as the fruit of the Spirit is a pious attempt to domesticate the law is a gross misrepresentation of the teaching in the Formula of Concord.

    So no, I still think you are beating a straw man.

  58. Fine, gundek.

    You continue to defend ‘the self’…and what ‘we must do’ (which is the law).

    And I will continue to defend the pure gospel. That being complete forgiveness, justification, sanctification…for those who do not deserve it in any way, shape, or form.

    Goodnight, friend.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  59. If I were a confessional Lutheran I would break out my copy of the Book of Concord and read what it says about the third use of the law.

  60. Ok…you somehow think that these people were somehow perfect. That they got everything exactly right.

    The Book of Concord was great. But not perfect.

    We prefer to take the Word of Scripture, and let the chips fall where they may.

    “Christ is the end of the law for Christians.”

    Too many of Luther’s friends lost their nerve. We don’t have to have that sort of fear left over from Catholicim’s affinity with ‘ascent’…and ‘free-will’.

    I think at this point we will have to agree to disagree, gundek.

    Thanks again for a lively discussion.

  61. No I don’t think the people who wrote Book of Concord were perfect. I’m not a Lutheran, I think the document is riddled with error. My entire point is not to convince you of the third use of the law, where i think the Lutheran doctrine suffers from a lack of covenantal grounding. My point is the adjective confessional has a meaning and rejecting the doctrines taught in a confession wholesale is not confessional.

    Look, being confessional generally means you believe that your confessional document represent the teaching of scripture, so the argument we prefer the Word of Scripture doesn’t really make you confessional. So you can toss around “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness” as if this meaning of this passage were self evident and the the translation of the Greek word for “end” doesn’t require explanation all you want, but it does not change the fact that you have cut yourself free from the historic confessional documents of Lutheranism.

    I’m not saying you have to be confessional to be a Lutheran, or a Christian. Heaven knows the ELCA is no more confessional than the PC(USA), but this doesn’t mean these people are not Lutherans or Presbyterian or Christians. Good for them if they don’t want confessionally binding ecclesiology.

    I am not an expert on Lutheran confessions, but if I were claiming to be a confessional Lutheran I would want to be clear on what they teach. It has been pointed out by any number of Lutherans that Dr. Forde was teaching doctrines that were not supported by the Book of Concord, this doesn’t mean that Dr. Forde could not have been correct and the Book of Concord incorrect. What it does mean is that Dr. Forde was not confessional because he disagreed with the confession. If I were in your shoes understanding what the Book of Concord teaches about the third use of the law would be important, even if only to point out where it is in error.

    So far the bulk of your argument is that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness”. It may surprise you to find out that the basic premise of the Book of Concord is also “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness”, and Dr. Forde’s polemic against the third use of the law never really engages the confessional documents of Lutheranism.

  62. There’s NO perfect or pure doctrine. They are products of the historical process, also.

    But there is a pure gospel.

    We proclaim and defend that, for the freedom that Christ so dearly wants us to have. (Gal.5:1)

  63. All gundek seems to be saying is that if you disagree with your confession, you are (by definition) not confessional. Not sure what there is to even argue about that.

  64. gundek is wrong.

    We agree with the scope of the Confessions even if we do not hold to every jot and tittle.

    We also believe that there isn’t much in the Book of James for Christians to latch onto. It’s basically all law. Does that mean that we are not Christians?

    I am a long time Lutheran who studies the issues regularly. We believe that the nervous Lutherans, the ones who are quite free, are still Lutherans. They just are not free. But so many of those same folks run around telling everyone else if they really are Lutherans…and in some cases they have no problem telling people that they really aren’t Christian.

  65. I never said you were not a Lutheran, I just said conditional confessionalism isn’t confessionalism.

    I’ve been wrong before and thought something similar (with the exception of the Book of James that I have always appreciated) about confessional subscription when I was in the Mainline.

  66. Thanks, gundek.

    We feel we have every right to be called “confessional” because we hold to those core beliefs. For us, who are free, adherence to every jot and tittle in a less than perfect document is not required.

  67. It’s not an issue of whether “adherence to every jot and tittle in a less than perfect document” is required by God. It’s an issue of whether it’s required in order to be defined as “confessional.”

    If you don’t subscribe to the whole document, you’re not confessional, full stop. If you don’t think God requires subscription to the whole document, then I’m not sure why you care whether you’re called confessional or not.

  68. It would be like saying that the Bible says that “the Holy Spirit was given to the church in “The Upper Room”…but it also says that it was given” at Pentecost”. Therefore we cannot say that we believe the Bible to be the Word of God.

    (which Missouri Synod Lutherans erroneously believe, as well)

  69. gundek,

    I thought you realized that LCMS believe that every jot and tittle of the Bible floated down from Heaven on a parachute.

    They believe that those of us who don’t hold to that Southern Baptist doctrine of the Word, are really Lutherans, and some believe that we aren’t even Christians.

  70. I know that Southern Baptists do not recognise any authority to impose a confession of faith upon a church or body of churches, so I am not sure what the Southern Baptist doctrine of the Word could possibly be.

    I know that the LCMS Statement of Scriptural and Confessional Principles says “Scripture is given by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and that God is therefore the true Author of every word of Scripture.” If that is what you object to as every jot and tittle of the Bible floated down from Heaven on a parachute, I am not convinced you are engaging with LCMS doctrine and are probably smaking at another straw man.

    I know that there is a level of acrimony in between some people in different Lutheran Communions and that this has caused the Lord’s Table to be closed between Lutherans. This makes for great dinner conversation with ELCA, LCMS, and the odd Presbyterian in my family.

  71. This comment by Cal made my day –

    “Joyce Meyer thought he was solid enough to be on her program. That’s a good sign.” It is so opposite my assessment of her as a televangelist.

  72. Thanks, gundek, for reminding me that LCMS churches will not allow us to commune with them.

    But our communion railings are open to them, in spite of their errant doctrines.

    Southern Baptists and LCMS Lutherans believe that God cannot work through a book unless every single jot, tittle, word, is without error.

    We, on the hand, believe that God uses (as He says) “earthen vessels” to accomplish His perfect will.

    The finite contains the infinite. Just like our Lord Jesus Himself.

    Southern Baptists and LCMS Lutherans (amongst others) have a much smaller God who HAS to have a book with every text perfect and inerrant. Christians before the 1800’s never believed that. And some of us still don’t.

  73. I’m not convinced that you are actually engaging the theology behind the 2,000 year historic practice of closed communion. And I am pretty sure you are presenting a gross distortion of both Southern Baptists’ and the LCMS doctrine of Scripture.

    While I appreciate polemics in an argument a claim that belief in inerrancy results in a small God is inane. What I am coming to suspect is your real issue is that anyone would have the temerity not to agree with every single jot, tittle of what theoldadam believes.

  74. Kullervo,

    Wrong. We are. We don’t buy into anything that smacks of humanism, or legalism in the Lutheran Confessions. We hold to the document in the same way that we hold to the Bible as being the Word of God.

    We don’t have to say it’s a perfect document, or book, to be in agreement with it.

    What is so hard to understand about that, I’ll never know.

  75. gundek,

    It has nothing to do with agreeing with me, or not. I’m explaining why we believe what we believe. WE aren’t the ones claiming sole ownership of Lutheranism. They ARE. They are the ones who exclude us. They are the ones who have fallen into both biblicism and legalism. They are the ones who will only let the Baptized receive communion once they’ve passed a litmus test…not us.

    The Southern Baptists and LCMS Lutherans do NOT believe that the finite contains the infinite.

    They believe it about our Lord Himself, but they refuse to believe that God can also work in the same way with the book.

    You just are NOT hearing much of what say, and we are starting to chase our tails now.

    So let’s agree to disagree.

  76. I’m sorry, to be honest I didn’t think you were attempting to present a coherent reason for why you believe. Polemics aside, I come from the perspective that in presenting a theological disagreement you should endeavor to accurately present the opposing view.

    I don’t think it is all that surprising that a Southern Baptist would not believe that the “finite contains the infinite” but I am at a loss to understand what a theological phrase used to prove out the Lutheran view of the Sacramental presence of Christ, (present in, with, and under in an illocal, supernatural, yet real way) has to do with a “Southern Baptist” doctrine of Scripture.

    On the other hand it is exactly because the LCMS believes the unique Lutheran view of the Sacramental presence of Christ, finite contains the infinite, that following Martin Luther, they insist on closed communion. I simply don’t see how you can honestly say the LCMS doesn’t believe the finite contains the infinite.

    Knowing enough about Confessional Lutheran theology (both quia and quatenus) I really haven’t read anything that make me think you have engaged with competing views. All in all it has been your incomplete explanation of LCMS doctrine that makes me wonder if you are actually engaging with what the LCMS confess or if something else is motivating your position.

  77. theoldadam, there’s nothing hard to understand about your position. You agree with the parts of tbe Lutheran confessions that you believe are true, and reject the rest.

    …which means you’re not confessional.

  78. Thanks for the article, Tim. I am thrilled at the continued progress of Mormon/Evangelical “detente” and the improving prospects for “standing together” on the many important issues our groups agree on. I appreciate your coverage and especially the links to Dr Zacharias’ presentations.

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