Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Luther in the Antinomian Disputations

As we continue to live out the dictum, "as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another," on the Antinomian question, here is a gem from Luther's Twenty-First Argument from his Second Disputation Against the Antinomians in Solus Decalogus Est Aeternus: Martin Luther's Complete Antinomian Theses and Disputations.

Antinomian Thesis:
“The law terrifies those it is not supposed to. Therefore the law is not to be taught, since, when the law is taught, then those are saddened and feel the power of the law who ought to rejoice instead. Contrariwise, those hardened, to whom the law pertains, do not care.”
Luther's response:
The law is already mitigated greatly by the justification which we have because of Christ; and it thus ought not to terrify the justified. Yet meanwhile Satan himself comes along and makes it often overly harsh among the justified. This is why it happens that those are often terrified who ought not to be, by the fault of the devil.
Yet the law is nonetheless not to be removed from the temples; and it is indeed to be taught, since even the saints have sin left in their flesh which is to be purged by the law, until it is utterly driven out. For this wrestling match remains for the saints as long as they live here. Here they fight by day and night. There they finally overcome through Christ. 
Before justification the law ruled and terrified all whom it touched. But the law is not to be taught in such a way among the pious, so as to accuse and condemn, but so as to admonish to good. For I ought not to say or preach: You are not under the remission of sins. Likewise: You will be condemned; God hates you etc. For these sayings do not pertain to those who have received Christ, but address the ruthless and wild. The law then is to be attenuated for them and is to be taught them by way of exhortation: Once you were gentiles; now, however, you are sprinkled and washed by the blood of Christ (cf. Eph. 2:11, 13; 1 Cor. 6:11). Therefore now offer your bodies to obey righteousness, putting away the desires of the flesh, lest you become like this world (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; 6:13; Eph. 4:22). Be imitators of the righteousness of good works (cf. Tit. 2:14) and do not be unrighteous, condemned like Cain etc.; you have Christ. (211–213)
This is how we are to preach the law according to Luther: " . . . so as to admonish to good. . . . by way of exhortation . . . ." The law is not just for the lawless, to terrify. It is to be preached to the pious so as to admonish to good.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are you an Antinomian?

Does God promise both temporal and eternal rewards to our good works?

What! Are you kidding? I mean, if you believed that, you'd be a Gospel denying Romanist or a Fundy TV evangelist, right? Law driven! Bad!

Or, then again, if you believed that maybe you'd be the greatest Lutheran theologian ever.

This teaching is set forth in our churches plainly and distinctly from the Word of God, namely, that the expiation of sins, or the propitiation for sins, must not be attributed to the merits of our works. For these things are part of the office which belongs to Christ the Mediator alone. Thus the remission of sins, reconciliation with God, adoption, salvation, and eternal life do not depend on our merits but are granted freely for the sake of the merit and obedience of the Son of God and are accepted by faith. Afterward, however, the good works in the reconciled, since they are acceptable through faith for the sake of the Mediator, have spiritual and bodily rewards in this life and after this life; they have these rewards through the gratuitous divine promise; not that God owes this because of the perfection and worthiness of our works, but because He, out of fatherly mercy and liberality, for the sake of Christ, has promised that He would honor with rewards the obedience of His children in this life, even though it is only begun and is weak, imperfect, and unclean. These promises should arouse in the regenerate a zeal for doing good works. For from this we understand how pleasing to the heavenly Father is that obedience of His children which they begin under the leading of the Holy Spirit in this life, while they are under this corruptible burden of the flesh, that He wants to adorn it out of grace and mercy for His Son’s sake with spiritual and temporal rewards which it does not merit by its own worthiness. And in this sense also our own people do not shrink back from the word “merit,” as it was used also by the fathers. For the rewards are promised by grace and mercy; nevertheless, they are not given to the idle or to those who do evil but to those who labor in the vineyard of the Lord.And so the word “merit” is used in the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Wuerttemberg Confession, and in other writings of our men. In this way and in this sense, we set forth the statements of Scripture in our churches about the rewards of good works. 1 Tim. 4:8: “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Luke 14:14: “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Matt. 5:12: “Your reward is great in heaven.” Matt. 10:42: “He shall not lose his reward.” Gal. 6:9: “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Eph. 6:8: “Knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord.” Heb. 6:10: “God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for His sake in serving the saints.” 2 Thess. 1:6–7: “Since indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, etc.” Scripture is full of such promises of spiritual and bodily rewards.

That's Chemnitz, the Examen, vol 1, page 653ff. 

That's what Lutherans believe. If you don't, you are an Antinomian.


Kleinig Festschrift: You, My People, Shall Be Holy

Stephenson, John R. & Thomas M. Winger, eds. You, My People, Shall Be Holy. St. Catharines, ON Canada, Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, 2013.

Available right now at 10% off for $20.24 at Lulu -You, My People, Shall Be Holy

The Festschrift in honor of John Kleing consists of twenty-one essays, two original hymns, and a short bio from a stellar cast of Confessional Lutheran contributors. Some analysis is interesting, though I am not sure if the make-up of the list reflects more on the editors or on Kleinig. In any case,  of the twenty-three contributors thirteen are Americans, four are Canadians, four are Australians, one is a German, and one is a Finn. There are more contributors than offerings because the title hymn, written by Steven Starke, also includes a musical setting by Phillip Magness. Nine of the thirteen American contributors are affiliated with Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne. The only St. Louis faculty contributions are from Ronald Feuerhahn and Norman Nagel – neither of whom are currently teaching. The third St. Louis contributor is one of the most earnest Nagel and Feuerhahn disciples in the person of Brent Kuhlman. As to Magness’ alignment, if he has one, with the LCMS seminaries, I don’t know it. What this means then is that no current St. Louis faculty members or synodical administrators from any continent contributed. For all that, with three St. Catharines’ professors, including the editors and the emeritus Roger Humann, that seminary may have the largest percentage representation in the list, though, I suppose one could stick Winger into St. Louis and Stephenson into Ft. Wayne but they would both howl so much that I think we’d better not. As the bio indicates Dr. Kleinig taught at St. Catharines for a semester. So that might explain the bias along with the editors. The fourth Canadian is the LCC’s version of Steven Starke, Kurt Reinhardt, who also wrote a hymn and included some commentary on it, but for which no music is provided. Reinhardt is closely connected also to St. Catharines. The Australian poverty, numbering at a meager four contributors, I suppose, must be due to the production of the book in North America and may also have something to do with the fact that this is Kleinig’s second Festschrift.

I don’t recall in my collection of theological Festschrifts every seeing a list of contributors from so many places, so it seems to me remarkable. Nor do I think it is common to have original hymns alongside of essays. It could be, of course, that these things come from the editors, but even so, it certainly was a deliberate effort on their part to meet the spirit of Kleinig’s work and to pay homage to his unique contribution and influence. For my part, Leviticus was a closed book to me until I read his commentary. I am not exaggerating in saying that that commentary greatly deepened, if not quite completely changed, my perspective on Our Lord and His Temple in a way that few other things have. Based upon the tributes paid in this Festschrift, it is easy to see that I am not alone.

As to the essays themselves, they seem to be exceptional in quality. I am accustomed to buying Festschrifts for the sake of the man who is being honored and happy to discover one or two essays worth reading. This volume, however, can stand on its own simply as some of the best contemporary theology being written in English today. There isn’t an essay here that isn’t immediately accessible and useful.

Of particular note, usefulness, and timeliness are the twin essays by the sainted Kurt Marquart and David Scaer both addressing the issue of the third use of the Law. The Marquart essay is a survey and rehearsing of the doctrine in the Formula of Concord. The Scaer article provides a significant amount of new material and thinking on the topic.  He starts with a short survey of the Reformed view of the Lutheran view and then responds. The approach is unusual, but students of Scaer will most likely recognize it and feel right at home.

In addition to the hymns, there are other essays which stand out even in the competition of such excellence. These certainly include the essay by Normal Nagel, which is a fine contribution and culminating piece of his life’s work on the Office of the Ministry and stands very nicely alongside of Tom Winger’s essay which returns again to his interest in the corruption of the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. The essay by Gottfried Martens serves as a timely and eerie warning here in North American as he attempts to stem the tide in the SELK by rehearsing the path followed to women’s ordination among European Lutherans and the current conflicts that have stemmed from it. So, also, the essay by John Stephenson is entertaining in its attempt to justify the use of the term Bishop by means of the Reformer though I did find it a bit forced and artificial. Why do we need the
Reformer’s blessing? Isn’t the New Testament the trump card? In any case, no one handles serious topics with better humor than Stephenson and I am grateful for his work here because such language is challenged among us and I was unaware of the Australian move toward it.

More could be said, and I expect more will. The essays on the third use of the Law, the Nagel essay, and Stephenson’s essay all have the potential of touching some nerves in our midst and anyone who wants to be considered a well-read Theologian will need to read them soon. Buy the book. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the Barn!

Over the meadow and through the woods . . . the Advent / Christmas issue of Gottesdienst is on its way to the doors of all subscribers.  Some may have already received theirs (this horse is a fast one). The nearby photo, of Hope Lutheran Church in Bellaire, Michigan, is featured on the cover.

Are you a subscriber?  Quick, sign on, and we'll send!

And one more thing.  Our web site has been updated, so that the new 2014 liturgical calendar is up, and a new feature completed: the archives: select article from previous issues. Have a look!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tony Jones Wants a Divorce. Me Too!

By Larry Beane

A postmodern theologian named Tony Jones, writing for Patheos, is calling for a divorce over the issue of women's ordination.

Thank you!

I'm pleased that others on the other side of this issue see the incompatibility of the two positions.  The broken Anglican Communion is a case in point.  For many years, women were "ordained" as "deacons" and "priests" but not as bishops - as Canterbury's big-tent approach sought to keep both factions under one steeple.  Of course, as the years have rolled on, the big-tent has become the big-top, with the issue of sex drifting from the sacrament of orders to the sacrament of matrimony.  The house of compromises cannot be patched together indefinitely.  It seems that the inevitable draws near, and the "consecration" or female "bishops" in the Anglican Communion will simply be an anticlimactic whimper rather than a revolutionary bang.

Closer to home, traditional Lutherans in Sweden wishing to be ordained in the "Church" of Sweden had to receive "communion" from the hand of a woman "priest" three times to root out any possible reservations about the communion's leadership's disavowal of sex differences between men and women.  When Archbishop Walter Obare (Sabre of Boldness) consecrated a Mission Province bishop, Arne Olsson, in 2005, thus enabling Swedes to have a path to traditional pastoral ordination for advocates of the ancient church's practice, the "bishops" in the "Church" of Sweden declared the Mission Province to be in a state of schism - and forbade "Church" of Sweden clergy from participating in rites with this non-geographical Swedish diocese.  It is interesting to note that the "Church" of Sweden, though theoretically Lutheran, is open to sharing communion with bodies that are not Lutheran; the Mission Province alone was singled out for status as a "schism."  And it is also interesting to note that the then-"archbishop" of the "Church" of Sweden, defender of women's "ordination," sanctioned the display of gay porn in the Cathedral of Uppsala.  The issues of whether a woman can be ordained and whether a woman can marry a woman are essentially the same issue: they are actually inquiries into the authority of the Bible.

At any rate, for the Anglican Communion, for the "Church" of Sweden, and for Tony Jones, the issue of women's "ordination" has become "the issue by which the 'church' stands or falls."

Mr. Jones is correct when he writes: "But sometimes we need to separate.  We need to say hard words to those who are not living the way Jesus laid out for us.  We need to divorce."


Those who "ordain" women and those who do not are not both Christian.  They are incompatible.  They are two different religions worshiping different deities.  In the past, those who "ordain" women insisted that they are the same as us; they pushed us to recognize them, treat them as fellow Christians, to recognize their "ministries" and accept their "sacraments."  They would sidle up to us wearing clerical blouses and demand our attention.  Even within our own church body, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, some men argue that we should refer to these women as "pastors" and treat them as fellow Christians.

Again, thank you Mr. Jones for boldly stating the truth that we are not of the same faith, we do not worship the same Christ, nor affirm the same Spirit.

He calls for the complete and total separation between those who affirm, and those who deny, women's "ordination."  I could not agree more.  I would not refer to this, however, as merely a schismatic break.  Schism is a break between Christians.  In the case of the Great Schism of 1054, there remains mutual recognition of sacraments and ministries between what became the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions.  Similarly, as Jones raised the issue of the Reformation, Lutherans recognize the Christianity and sacraments of their "separated brethren."

But this issue is different.

As Tony Jones is calling for the issue of women's ordination to be confessionally definitive, Ebenezer "Lutheran" is one example of a "church" he would not consider to be separated from himself by schism.  He would consider them to be "enlightened" and is not calling for anyone to "leave that church [sic]" or "leave that ministry [sic]."  Their honesty is refreshing, as they fully embrace the theology that is inherent in women's "ordination."

And again, I agree with him.  Even though Ebenezer has the name "Lutheran" on it, there is no way we Missouri Synod Lutherans could even pray with such a congregation and its members who worship a goddess and openly incorporate pagan worship.  We would consider this syncretism, and it is forbidden not only by our bylaws, but by the first commandment.

So my only objection to Tony Jones is that his "hard words" are not hard enough.  His divorce is more like a "let's be friends" breakup text after a few dates.  For he is correct that one of us is not just professing an error or a false doctrine, but that one of us is actually "anti-Christian" and "should be tolerated no longer."  We disagree as to who is whom.

In the LCMS, if any congregations or rostered lay church workers call for the "ordination" of women, they should be removed from the roster by the district president with oversight.  If a pastor teaches such doctrine, he should be defrocked.  And if a district president refuses to do his duty in this endeavor, he should be defrocked.  Tony Jones may, in this sense, be more faithful than men in our own leadership who would see "ordained" women as merely an error we can live with, if not something that they may, in fact, believe in.

We should make it very clear in any theological talks that any women purporting to be "ordained" are at best laypeople, and they are not to be recognized in any way.  Their leaders must renounce them, or they cannot be recognized as fellow Christians by our synod, its leaders, its pastors, and its laity.  They should certainly not be considered "partner churches."  Tony Jones is correct in calling for a clean break.

For this is not a matter of mere schism, but of heresy.

For if the traditional teaching of the one holy catholic and apostolic church that pastors must be male is wrong in 2013, then it was also wrong in 1517.  By Tony Jones's own opinion, those who "ordain" women in 2013 are not in fellowship with the 16th century churches of the Reformation.  It cannot be that violence and hatred against women were right and justified in the sixteenth century, but suddenly became wrong and unjust in the twenty-first century.  If we are wrong now, we were wrong then.

And if churches that refuse to "ordain" women are "anti-Christian" and guilty of "subjugation" and "misogynistic practices" and "not faithful to the Bible" as well as "doing great violence to women and men and the cause of Christ," then this separation between our church and Tony Jones's "church" extends back even further than the Reformation.  In 1054, both halves of the Great Schism equally and universally affirmed the maleness of bishops, priests, and deacons.  And this was also the practice at the time of the seven great councils, beginning at Nicea in 325.  This was also the case in the days of the Apostolic Fathers (there were no Apostolic Mothers).  This was also the case with the churches founded by the apostles themselves, who only ordained other men into the holy office.

And here is where we get to the crux of the matter: Tony Jones's big christological and trinitarian problem.

For if withholding ordination from women is wrong today, it was wrong yesterday, it was wrong the day before, last week, and last month.  It was wrong last year, last century, and last millennium.  It is a practice that must have been wrong in the days of the apostles, and it was wrong when our blessed Lord did it Himself as well.

For Jesus chose twelve men.  He could have chosen to ordain Mary Magdalene or Martha, or His blessed mother for that matter.  He had many faithful women disciples to choose from, to send out as preachers, to place into the holy office.  But he didn't.  He ordained only men.  Jesus was never afraid to break with tradition.  Jesus never flinched at casting aside ritualism that was contrary to God's will.  Jesus was never motivated by cowardice into acting unjustly.  Jesus did not allow the mores of the day to define righteousness for him and for his disciples.

And if withholding the holy office from women is wrong in 2013, it was equally wrong in 30 AD.  And if Jesus of Nazareth was guilty of the sin of misogyny (as many accuse St. Paul of), if He started the very practice of this "great violence against women and men" that has lingered for 20 centuries, and if He acted contrary to the "Spirit" - then He is a phony.  He is no God, but a mere, sinful, sexist, hateful, chauvinistic man.

And anyone who argues thus against our Lord is outside of the Church.  Such people deny the Trinity.  And this is the inevitable conclusion we must draw concerning those who "ordain" women - even if they cry "Lord, Lord" and claim to have worked miracles.

Those who "ordain" women deny the second article of the creeds.  They are outside of the Church.  They are with the women of Ebenezer praying the diabolical goddess rosary.  They stand with the serpent who lured Eve into rebelling against the created order by inquiring, "Did God actually say?"  And I agree with Tony Jones that complementarianism is incompatible with women's ordination.

Another "Amen!"

Tony Jones cites the "Spirit" as evidence of the alleged correctness of women's "ordination."  It is fitting that he does not say "Holy Spirit."  For the Holy Spirit has spoken in Holy Scripture.  And as the Church has understood, confessed, and practiced for two millennia, there are no female "overseers" or "elders" in the New Testament, even as there were no priestesses in the Old Testament.  The Lord God has not revealed new Scriptures to us, no new revelations, and certainly has not spoken to us through a godless culture to reveal that He is doing something radically different than our Lord Jesus did.  Feelings and political correctness do not trump Scripture, no matter how unpopular.  Tony Jones is being moved by a different spirit, the same spirit that motivates "baptisms" no longer conducted in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but rather in a name deemed less "sexist."

I salute Mr. Jones's honesty in pointing out that we are of a different spirit.  Indeed, we are of a different confession, different religion, and that we do not both worship the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, nor the same sinless Son of the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, who in His righteousness and compassion ordained twelve men and sent them to baptize and preach, "teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20).

He is not with both of us.  Tony Jones is right.  We need that divorce.  For the unity has already been broken.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wilken at Oktoberfest

Pastor Todd Wilken at Oktoberfest

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Symposia Rooms at Hotel Fort Wayne (formerly the Marriott); Sabre Nominees Sought

We're moving back!
Hotel Fort Wayne will be accommodating our guestroom needs once again during the Concordia Theological Seminary's Symposia (20-24 January 2014). 
Formerly the Marriott, this hotel is under new management, but still a great place. We thought it worth a little extra for a great upgrade in hotel.  It’s at 305 East Washington Center Road.

The following arrangements have been made for Gottesdienst.

         Guests may call the hotel at 260-484-0411 or toll free at 855-322-3224 and ask
for the group rate for Gottesdienst.  


         They may go to the online booking link to see more about the hotel.

         King or Double standard guest rooms are available Sunday, January 19th -
Friday, January 24, 2014.
         Event price for standard guest rooms will be at a special rate of $89.00 and that includes their superb breakfast for up to 2 guests per room.
         The cutoff date for the event is Wednesday, January 8th. After that time can no
longer guarantee rate. Rooms will no longer be on hold so reservations will be
subject to availability and best available rate.
         The check in time is 4:00 pm and check out time is 11:00 am.

The high point of Symposium week for us Gottesdiensters is the announcement of the recipient of our prestigious Sabre of Boldness award, in the student commons after the symposia banquet, on Thursday, January 23rd.
The Sabre ceremony is in its nineteenth year.  The list of recipients includes parish pastors, district presidents, bishops, some well known and some unsung heroes of the faith, and, as of last year, a lay woman. 
Nominations are invited.  The award is given “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity on behalf of the Holy Church of Christ while engaged in the confession of His pure Gospel in the face of hostile forces and at the greatest personal risk.” Submit a nomination to Fr. Eckardt via e-mail.  State the name, address, and telephone number of the nominee and the reasons why he or she is a fitting choice for Sabre Bearer.  The degree of the adversity, steadfast resistance to pressures to compromise, heedlessness of threats, and a clear confession of faith are considered.  The slate will close on Tuesday, January 21st
Join the Gottesdienst crowd at Hotel Fort Wayne! X