What’s next for liberalism and for the ELCA?

What’s next?

How about threesomes?

Why not?

“Hey, those three people really love each other and are committed to each other.”

You, “new Christian”, you tell me on what grounds that society, or the “new church” should stop this from happening.



Is love the key?

Would it be loving to deny three loving people, who aren’t hurting anyone else, the legitimacy they so yearn for?

And why shouldn’t one or all be allowed to pastor a church?

Could the “Spirit” “lead us there” , as well?





87 Responses

  1. Not THE Spirit, but definitely A spirit could lead us there… thank God the true Church cannot go hither, but only those who partake in a false church.

  2. “Is love the key?” – certainly … the Love of God redeems sinners like me and compels me to love others. That love, however is shown in different ways… sometimes embracing, sometimes in liberty, and sometimes in rebuke… but always in love.

    I am not ELCA, but I am Lutheran. Since branding occurs because of the decisions made by the largest Lutheran body in America, I cannot be indifferent to the effects of that branding.

    Rather than having a knee jerk reaction to the new policy of the ELCA, I am trying first to understand it. Love compels me. I’ve read the documents from the CWA. I’m reading thoughts and perspectives by ELCA pastors and parishioners. I’m trying to understand the perspective of those on both sides of this divisive issue… both of whom claim to be faithful to God’s Word.

    I think that faithfulness would lead us to try to understand before we pronounce judgments or overstatements. A sermon that I thought was particularly good to begin with in approaching this issue is here: http://www.lutheranzephyr.com/main/our-offensive-god.html

    This was interesting too:

    As with most issues, it’s always helpful to put skin on it… I know and love people who are gay/lesbian. I’ve known some who, because of condemnations they have felt from the church and culture, have tragically, out of despair, taken in their own lives.

    Is love the key? Of course it is…. and it is made known to us in Christ crucified.

  3. Patrick,

    Thanks for the links. I’ll check them out a bit later.

    Love is key, that is true, but I think sometimes we get a faulty idea of what love really is.

    I’m not loving my kids to let them eat ice cream all the time (that seemed to be missed by some in my last post – maybe a little too simple).

    How loving is it to let people persist in their sin and support them in their sin?

    But that is indeed what is ahppening in our (ELCA) church. Sin is being advocated and flaunted and the clear Word of Scripture is being made-over into something it was never intended to be…license to sin.

    Our often mushy, touchy-feely, oozy, generic human love is often a far cry from Jesus’ love when He says, “Go and sin mo more.”

  4. I did read those articles, Pat.

    They seem to lose or not realize the importance of God’s law to produce repentance, and to keep us in faith.

    The ‘we know better now’ thought process is quite harmful and arrogant.

    We know that there are societal reasons involved with those who steal things, but we can’t look past the fact that God commands we not do it.

    God commands we bond one to another, man and woman, in marriage and to produce children and to baptize them and raise them fear and love and obey their Lord Jesus.

    What the ELCA and their backers have done is remove that key component of God’s will and replaced it with their own willful desires, whether God likes it or not.

    The line must be drawn and held to. God has drawn that line. We all rub it out on a regular basis. But we repent and are forgiven.

    The ELCA no longer sees the lines.

    • In my previous post, I wasn’t advocating cheap grace (justification of sin)

      I was advocating actually understanding the argument for the the new ELCA policy…. Why and how does the majority opinion conclude from scripture that people in same-sex committed relationships are not sinning?

      Knowing the answer to that question and being able to intelligently articulate their position, is not “mushy, touchy-feely, oozy, generic human love”… but does give me enough credibility to speak the truth (perhaps hard truth) in love… instead of uncaring and arrogant judgments and overstated pronouncements that are sure to not be heard.

      • Pat,

        I know you are not a cheap grace advocate.

        I understand why they want what they want. They want to live as they wish and be legitimized, without answering to anyone, including God.

        We all want that to some extent. But we don’t allow each other (if we really love each other) to go there without saying, ‘what you are doing is sinful and wrong…and by the way, you are forgiven for Jesus’ sake’

        “What do you mean forgiven? Forgiven for what?”

        We are not engaged (that I know) here in this discussion with individuals struggling with this sin.

        We are talking about official doctrine of the church.

        So I think we are entitled to be frank and to make pronouncements about what is right or wrong.

        Uncaring judgments? I see the ones who advocate the breaking of God’s law as the uncaring ones, and not the ones who are trying to bring attention to this outrageous behavior on the part of the ELCA.

  5. The social statement on human sexuality – the theological premise for the ministry proposal – is based on the doctrine of justification. This is a novel and dubious departure not only from historic Lutheran exegesis but from the Christian tradition as a whole, where human sexuality has been understood on the basis of Scripture (law, which applies to God’s people) and the orders of creation which applies to everyone. This also, it seems to me, reveals the utter absence of any meaningful doctrine of sin within the progressive elements of the ELCA and their gospel of radical inclusion.

  6. The food analogy is a good one you started.

    What the ELCA is doing is like getting 3 billion people in one room and deciding what they all want for supper. Eventually what is decided on is pork and beans — the lowest common denominator. My LCMS pastor did a brief study years ago on what he called Americas Civil Religion. In America its actually popular to be religious, especially in some parts of the country… but Its normally the lowest common denominator and its highly civil and non-threatening. It really is Americas civil religion or our lowest common denominator that even our elected officials want to promote.

    The hard part for us Lutheresque people is how do we continue to fight this “civil” religion and continue to have a grace and mercy narrative in our lives to sinners.

    Anyhow, the sad part is this is what I might expect to happen with some people or friends off the street having a discussion….. but this happenend to a Church body with a rich tradition of Martin Luther.

    Brother Martin would be turning over in his grave.

  7. Ah yes “Threesomes in the church” Now there’s a scare tactic banner headline if ever I saw one. Why stop there? Why not go all out for bestiality and paedophilia too? I can just see it in the “Church Times”: Gay alsation puppy in rectory love triangle O.K. the “Daily Mail” then.

  8. This needs to be repeated. The rest of my post can be found here: http://centralityofthegospel.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/the-elca-luther-church-allows-homesoxual-clergy/

    Martin Luther once said.

    “If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. ………… rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign.” [Letter 99.13, To Philipp Melanchthon, 1 August 1521.]

    The ELCA has elected to make homosexuality an imaginary sin thereby lessening the power of Gods mercy shown to us on the cross for the forgiveness of sins in my opinion.

    • CoG,

      You are on to something here. I think the issue is lost almost immediately when the reaction is the air vacating gasp regarding homosexuality in our time. As if that is the real issue, its symptomatic of a much deeper issue. However, everybody focuses on that issue.

      I was telling my wife just today that the argument is ESPECIALLY lost when it is framed in “conservative” Vs. “liberal” categories. The issue is not that but theological, I know more conservative congregations, pastors and paraministries that do more damage and deny the Cross of Christ in their tangential issues. Because the conservative reaction is typically one of a more or less moralistic reaction, a disgust with some moral issue and then they say, “Whelp, we need to heap up more law, fire up the third use of law sermons some more, etc…”

      By way of example in our former conservative SB churches Christ and Him crucified was denied more. Third use law is a killer to law and gospel. Real sin via real law must be preached so that real grace can be seen. If you want to blind men to their real sin and thus the real Cross, then start measuring sins as this one is by quantity or nature a worse sin. Even if you only do this by implication. By implication I mean this: If I ask you is a homosexual doing homosexual sins a greater sinner than you or me doing some conservative sin we answer, “of course not”. Old Adam has long mastered the art of “the right answer”. But do we really believe that? Because the very thought of a homosexual sin if I’m confessing honestly as a conservative man, is almost the sin of sins to me. So, when I do my more conservative sins I’m less aware of the weight of those sins. Much less when I do a good thing and am proud of it. Thus, I do not see the Laws hammer rightly and my conservative sins are not thus condemned damnably in reality of my belief but only in words (because I know the right answer to the question). And thus I cannot see the real grace and Gospel rightly! Which is Luther’s point. That is the danger of the watered down Christian third use of the law. Which Luther never taught and his HD rules out that he would have, for Luther said to see that one’s works are merely dead and not deadly, separates in reality from God, is a perilous surrender of the true fear of God!

      We must call all sin sin and let the Law annihilate all of it, both evil works and good works, then let the Gospel come. In this way only are we going to see ourselves as true sinners as opposed to pretend sinners, and true Gospel instead of a pretend gospel which is no Gospel at all. Man cannot see the Gospel AT ALL as long as his works are in the way. The Law must annihilate them and the Melancthonian/Calvinistic domesticated house pet law, third use, forbids this from actually happening.

      Luther also said this, the new man does not say nor parse out “this is a sin and this is not”, he confesses all he does good and bad as evil damnable sin deserving of wrath and hell…so the Gospel can come!

      Thus, when the argument gets framed in conservative vs. liberal and this sin of homosexuality being the sin issue and not the deeper issue the devil strategy is working well. For in this all men involved, the pro-homosexual ordinations on one hand and the conservatives on the other hand see themselves as not so much or pretend sinners. That’s what happens when men begin to measure and weigh out sins.

      So you are on to something BIG!


  9. Did doorman priest really say that …. :-).

  10. Sorry: didn’t mean to print at that point.

    Where was I?

    One of the things that strikes me about the aspirations of Gay men and women, both in and out of the church is the desire to be treated the same way as their straight counterparts. This is about life-long monogamous faithful relationships and I think it is precisely because of that that there has been much sympathy in some denominations.

    Beyond that? I can’t see it.

    Yes indeed a spirit might lead some there, and clearly has in the past but really, honestly do you in your quieter less angry moments seriously see that as a workable scenario for the church?

  11. Cultural clarification:
    Daily Mail – British newspaper. Think Fox News but without the objectivity.

  12. I am calling it hear and now. its just a matter of time before an ELCA Lutheran says the prayers at the inaugaration of the President. All because the are now becoming Americas “civil” religion.

    It could take 20 or 30 years but it will be an episcopalian or an ELCA Pastor soon.

  13. centralityofthegospel wrote: “The hard part for us Lutheresque people is how do we continue to fight this “civil” religion and continue to have a grace and mercy narrative in our lives to sinners.”

    Good issue here. It’s only hard if the law is softened or compromised. The Christian message is not simply a “grace and mercy narrative”…it is a law, grace and mercy narrative. Why do we need grace and mercy, after all?
    Is it not because as creatures before a living God we have stolen our existence and abdicated our responsibilities, and continue to do so?
    In short, have we not failed to love God and our neighbors as ourselves? Of course people don’t want to hear this. I don’t want to hear it. Adam didn’t care much for it either when God confronted him in the garden. Adam was quick to blame Eve and finally God himself for what he had done. The gospel of forgiveness, grace and mercy becomes a sham if people are not held under the searing light of God’s law. Forgiveness means nothing if you don’t believe you need it. In this regard, the divide within the ELCA between those who see homosexuality as an expression of sin and those who do not is a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon.

  14. Mark.. true… hence the pork and beans came in to the ELCA ranks over the years.

    It makes for good social discussion but unforutnately the end results of port and beans is ummm…


  15. On a lighter note: How did we move from ice cream to pork and beans?


  16. Pastor Mark, I quoted you months back on my BLOG:


  17. Well, hating the sin and loving the sinner, my personal conviciton on ordaining homosexuals is that the devil won a battle here.

    Sure, possibly more gay people will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ that’s good. At the same time a lot of people might abandon good Lutheran theology. I am not a part of the ELCA but I think that Gospel preaching churches have always had the abiltiy to reach out to the homosexual community.

    We didn’t need to publicly or privately justify the sin and at the same time risk the credibilty of scripture to an already arrogant world. The devil won a battle here, that is for sure.

    I have an honest question, is the truth being suppressed in order to sympathize with a particular open body of sinners? If so, was it really worth risking the credibitly of scriptures that drive us to Christ and shows us our need of a savior. Maybe I’m just weird. I too want to understand.

  18. Nick,

    “…is the truth being suppressed in order to sympathize with a particular open body of sinners? If so, was it really worth risking the credibitly of scriptures that drive us to Christ and shows us our need of a savior. Maybe I’m just weird. I too want to understand.”

    I’d say so, Nick.

    I don’t think it is ever worth it, when we do away with God’s law.

    It’s there to make our lives and the lives of others around us better, and it is there to drive us to Christ by convicting us.

    You’re not weird and I think your question IS THE QUESTION.

    Thanks, Nick.

  19. “Sure, possibly more gay people will hear the gospel of Jesus Christ that’s good.”

    In those churches, they aren’t hearing THE Gospel, they’re hearing some other gospel (not that there is another, as Paul would say). Paul didn’t mind people preaching Christ with bad motives, as long as they were still preaching Christ. But he had a big problem with false teachers. Which leads me to an interesting observation… to God, it’s better that you be a greedy televangelist as long as you preach the Gospel than a really spiritual, “humble” person who has a deep conviction in, say, open theism. In other words, God would rather you be a self-obsessed version of Billy Graham than Brian McLaren.

  20. Jon,
    I think you are the one to blame for the “pork and beans” problem as I read the above. No good to shovel them in and then complain about the stench. 🙂

  21. Darius,
    You make a good point, and I wanted to bounce off of something that Pastor Mark said earlier combined with it, it makes little difference if they are preaching Christ if they are also minimizing the need for Him in the first place. This is the same problem I have with guys like Joel Osteen. They talk about Christ some, but there is never any indication of why He is so important because sin is completely minimized and the law is cast aside. Preaching Christ becomes little better than any number of “self-help” gurus if we don’t realize our own desperate situation of being dead in sin.

  22. “…is the truth being suppressed in order to sympathize with a particular open body of sinners? If so, was it really worth risking the credibitly of scriptures that drive us to Christ and shows us our need of a savior. Maybe I’m just weird. I too want to understand.”

    I’d say not Nick.

    I think there is genuinely more than one understanding of scripture on this matter and I have been banging on about Sola Scriptura and Hermeneutics on my blog. It may be painful to consider that what we have held dear could be overturned by God’s Grace but we all need to be open to that. We all need to have the humility to consider that the Holy Spirit, who will not be constrained by scripture, may be doing something dramatic in God’s grace that challenges strongly held convictions. Might I be wrong? Of course and I am open to that. I am not open to the blanket condemnation of those who are not also prepared to be open to a new reformation.

  23. The Holy Spirit won’t be constrained by Scripture, that is true, but He will not act in contradiction to Holy Scripture, either.

    Sex outside of marriage and homosexual sex is clearly stated in Scripture as a no-no.

  24. We all need to have the humility to consider that the Holy Spirit, who will not be constrained by scripture, may be doing something dramatic in God’s grace that challenges strongly held convictions.

    Do you honestly think that God will contradict Himself at some point? That is the implication of that statement. Of course the Holy Spirit is “constrained” by Scripture because He will not do something that is contrary to Scripture at all. Look at what Christ said during His earthly ministry:

    9So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19)

    And further He states, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26) If the Father and the Son send the Spirit and all of them are one, why would the Spirit contradict either of them? God isn’t schizophrenic.

  25. Over on pjtv.com I watched Dr. Helen interview 2/3’s of a polyamorous union. I forgot their names, but they’re sure to be at one of the upcoming conferences. http://www.polyamorysociety.org/

    It may be on it’s way. It seems as though anything goes once God’s Word can mean whatever you want it to. Or don’t.

  26. I did not expand on my thought that Pastor Mark called me out on a bit more.

    Christians pride themselves on the proper distinction between law and Gospel. An imputed righteoussness throught Christ and a freedom through Christ is a Lutheran strong distinction. But in this case this freedom has been abused by missing the law.

    In my opinion this hiding of homosexual sin needs to be fought by proclaiming the unversalness of sin … and this means our religious pharasaical self righteouss as well as our irreligious worldly sin.

    IF we see sin through a one sided lens cap as much of the Christian world does (only then worldly do it my own way sin) then the other side just becomes more strongly entrenched in their viewpoint.

    However, be seeing the totality of lostness and depth of mans total depravity sin does not become a one side against the other side thing. its a jesus for all sinners thing now.

    Mercy and Grace comes ONLY from understanding absolute lostness and absolute sin.

    Lets not just see the one side of sin. If we do that then satan wins.

    Lets proclaim both elder brother and younger brother sin at then same time in the same discussion so its not one side vs the other side … its Jesus for all sinners.

    You will see how I do that in my discussion on this same topic:

  27. I realize this has now been honed by me as a technique I use all the time but I think its a biblical technique that has its roots for me at least in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

    If I could have everyone read just one book it would be Tim Kellers book “The Prodigal God” where he goes into great detail on the depth of mans sin and depth of our lostness based on this parable.

  28. Romans 1:18-32

    I was going to pick and choose some of these verses but couldn’t help but keep on reading it in it’s entirety.

    I am as sympathetic as the next (saved by grace through faith alone) follower of Jesus Christ toward people struggling with their own sin. I have no stipulations with that.

    I just still don’t understand how a portion of the body of Christ can basically decide that the “homosexuality sin” has become reformed into something today that it wasn’t in the first century. Please enlighten me, what does Paul mean when he says “they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion”?

    I don’t want to come across as the self-righteous guy who is damning anyone to hell, I am not doing that. I don’t openly confess my sin to any and everyone. If I was honestly struggling with a particular sin (let’s call it alcoholism) and openly confessed it but said there is no possibility of ever stopping because it’s just who I am. Sorry it’s just how I’m wired. Well, it just so happens that it is on my heart to be an ordained pastor and daily provide spiritual needs to a body of believers.

    Do you think that my leadership would be at all tainted do to my lifestyle. Should I be granted the privilege of being the spiritual leader in a congregation because I am a likable guy who just can’t abstain from having a drink? I mean I confessed and I can function.

    Steve, this has really hit this blog in the gut. I am glad that it stirs the pot, and challenges our convictions. I guess, I still don’t have the answers that satisfy me, but I do know that I believe I will spend eternity with some homosexuals, who believe in Jesus, I just won’t be able to justify membership at a church where this action is being practiced. I feel that my ability to stand alone on the word of God has been challenged by the churches who have sided with the enemy on this one. I mean, what do I say to the non-believer who is questioning the hypocrisy of the Church on this issue?

    I know that homosexuality can’t be controlled in some people, I know that some people really struggle with it and I also know that God knows their hearts. Unfortunately sacrifices have been made throughout history to protect and defend the word of God and I think that someone struggling with this type of sin should make the sacrifice of finding another occupation and help others learn to heal / deal with the cultural challenges they face.

    I really hate having to feel and sound so absolute, I guess it’s just the way I’m wired.

    How many more sins aren’t going to be considered sin any longer in my lifetime? I’m only 26 years old!

    If any of these statement have rubbed anyone the wrong way I truly do apologize, the tone of my comments are soft and inquiring. Honestly.

    In Christ Alone

  29. Nick,

    We all have sins that we struggle with. That we struggle with them shows that we do not advocate, or flaunt them.

    What about the ones we really don’t struggle with? The sins of omission are easier to swallow because we are often not aware of the things that we ought be doing, but don’t do.

    The question is should we advocate our sins?

    Should the alcoholic pastor tell others that drinking to excess is not really a sin? He often gets drunk but he knows that it is ok with God. After all, with all the stress and pressure of modern life (that they didn’t have back in the simpler times when the Bible was written) how could anyone be blamed for drinking too much?

    Should the alcoholic pastor who is willfully unrepentant, and the church and congregation know it, be allowed to continue serving as a pastor where he may be called to speak to someone else about their unrepentant sin?

    Just a few thoughts, Nick.

  30. The question is should we advocate our sins?
    Thank you for pointing again to the crux of the matter. The problem that I have in this issue has been and always will be the arrogance of those who presume to tell God that He got this one wrong or that we have evolved past this understanding of Scripture. I struggle with sin (not a newsflash), but I am not arrogant enough to turn to God and say that it must be OK that I have sinned and seem to be stuck in a rut of sinning so it must be OK. He made me this way after all. God condemns sin and the heart of repentance is agreeing with His view of the situation against my own.

    Every time I look at 1 Corinthians 5 and the situation that Paul addresses there I can’t help but notice the two pronged problem. One is the act and two is the church’s attitude of “aren’t we so loving for letting this guy just be himself.” Tell me that this book isn’t still relevant today.

    Then there is Paul’s statement in the aforementioned Romans 1 passage, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” This is the condemnation, not only the act, but the approval against God in favor of man’s “wisdom.”

    Sorry to vent. I appreciate your willingness to call it for what it is.

  31. homosexual sex is clearly stated in Scripture as a no-no

    Have we ever asked ourselves what that’s all about?

    Not from today’s perspective but from the perspective of the people at the time?

    It’s hermeneutics.

    Do you honestly think that God will contradict Himself at some point?

    Well, I’ve heard the Biblical writers. I am not assuming that I have necessarily heard the word of God because I am not a Biblical literalist. God the celestial dictaphone doesn’t do it for me at all.

    “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26) If the Father and the Son send the Spirit and all of them are one, why would the Spirit contradict either of them? God isn’t schizophrenic.
    No, God is so Trancendent that we can only know him as much as he chooses to reveal himself and I am still asking myself why he cares so much about where a man puts his penis. Do we have the revealed will of God here or something else from man?

    I just still don’t understand how a portion of the body of Christ can basically decide that the “homosexuality sin” has become reformed into something today that it wasn’t in the first century.

    And I think this is the nub of it. What do we know about homosexuality from this period? (hermeneutics again). We know that it was linked to cultic pagan temple prostitution and so we know why the religious authorities were so keen to address it: not as a moral issue but as a religious issue. If the people of Israel were at risk of being absorbed militarily and culturally by their neighbours they needed to be alert to both dangers. These verses on homosexuality were a warning against apostsy and following false gods.

    This is not the same as Trevor and Phil who are in a lifelong faithful and loving relationship that they beleive god has blessed.

    Instead of concentrating on homosexual sin per se it might be more helpful to concentrate on all casual promiscuity regardless of sexuality. I am having a real problem recognising Trevor and Phil in the general rush to condemn. They just don’t fit the easy stereotype that allows us to rant against sin. Of course that type exists but he and she exist in the straight world too.

    By all means let’s talk about sexual behaviours but let’s stop being blinkered about the target. Trevor and Phil have done no damage in my congregation – quite the opposite in fact, they have brought others to Christ. It is hard to carry on demonising when you can put a face to the demon. You often find that the attitude you held towards “their type” is vert far from the mark

    The homosexuality of 2009 is not at all the homosexuality of the first century Nick and that is why some churches are changing their attitude.

    Now you may not like that but I think we all need to recognise that this decision didn’t come easily and not to ascribe the sort dreadful motives and insults to the ELCA that the internet is full of. The representatives of 4.8 million worshippers (or whatever) didn’t just do something mad at the drop of a hat.

    It might be more helpful if we tried to work through and understand the decision rather than go with the knee-jerk reaction to condemn because we disagree.

    Please note, good Lutherans, that Paul does not comment on homosexuality in his commentary on Romans, concentrating instead on the fruits of idolatry – thanklessness, vanity and spiritual blindness.

  32. It also occurs to me that there is not just a sense of disappointment but a sense of shock. I am wondering whether you all realise that the ELCA have not been trend-setters here. Are you aware of the quiet reformation in issues of human sexuality that has been taking place among the European Lutheran churches over the last decade or so.

    Like the ELCA they didn’t get to their position as an act of stubborn contrariness.

    There is theology at work here and if we seriously want to understand we need to engage with that theology rather than just arguing against it.

  33. Doorman-Priest says: “It’s hermeneutics.”

    My quest is to discover the hermeneutic that has led to this new policy in the ELCA… so far I haven’t been satisfied.

    At the end of the day I may reject the hermeneutic because of intellectual dishonesty, but I want to understand it.

    The consequences of careless hermeneutics on either extreme will result in either 1. Christians walking around with plucked out eyes or 2. nervous sheep

  34. DP,

    I just find it difficult to believe that God would affirm a practice that is not life giving.

    We are compassionate in the micro, we understand the battles, the struggles, the desires of the homosexual , but in the macro we have standards that are for the overall good of society, as well as the individual.

    Someone once said that the true test whether something is good or not is if it is good for everyone (if everyone practiced it).

    We would cease to exist if homosexuality was the norm. As it is now, other forces who have different values than we (the West) are on the move, demographically and we are declining in numbers.
    (I know you and I radically disagree on that point as well).

    Things are changing in this world, but I would argue that they are not for the better. Sure, technology is great and all (can be anyway), but the ascendency of man is the exertion of his will, will in the end (I believe) prove fruitless.

    A spirit is definitely at work, but I would remind people (and myself) that the “devil can come dressed up as an angel of light” and deceive us.

    As you said, history (and God) will have the final word on the matter.

    Whatever we have done, I pray that He will be merciful.

    Thanks, D.P.

    Gotta run. Out for most the day.


  35. I stated in an earlier entry that the social statement, which provided the basis for the change in ministry policy regarding homosexuals – was based on the doctrine of justification. This is a novel departure for a Lutheran analysis of human sexuality, which has always been understood through the Law and the orders of creation.
    On the hermenuetical front, two issues troubled me particularly. First, the use of the Bible in the social statement. The language of the statement reflects a high view of the Bible, while it’s actual use is less than satisfactory. This is common practice in the ELCA.
    Second, the writers make no effort to move from the Old Testament texts on these issues to the New Testament (Jesus’ quotation of Genesis on marriage in Mark 10 and Matthew 19, e.g.; or Paul’s discourse in Romans 1:18-32).
    The lack of attention paid to these interpretive moves is troubling because working with these and other key texts would have been crucial, it seems. I could go on but I don’t want to completely ruin my day!
    The complete texts of the social statement and the ministry resolutions are on the ELCA website.

  36. First and foremost the most alarming thing that occurred with ELCA was not the allowance of the ordaining of monogamous homosexuals, that is an issue to be certain but not THE issue. The real issue was the opening up of the communion with heterodox (heretical) churches. Lutherans ought not let other heterodox “pastors” derail the train here. E.g. Dr. John Piper being a heretical teacher himself ought not influence Lutheran thought on the matter at all, let alone his theology of glory interpretation of the tornado event. In short men such as Dr. Piper have no authority to call men back to the word of God since his heterodoxy is against the Word of God and as a heretical teacher ought not be followed in the least. As Lutheran Franz Pieper (not Piper) writes, “Therefore, it is the duty of every Christian who wants to be guided by God’s Word alone to distinguish strictly between orthodox and heterodox churches. Before he joins a church group, he must answer the question: Is this church orthodox or not? God also expressly requires that of Christians. “Beloved,” we read in I John 4:1, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits; whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And the Lord Jesus exhorts all Christians (Matt. 7:15): “Beware of false prophets.” So, those Christians who do not want to distinguish between true and false prophets, and, consequently, also not between orthodox and heterodox churches, are If you therefore ask on what basis a Christian must distinguish between heterodox and orthodox churches, the answer is: On the basis of beliefs, on the basis of doctrine. Only on that basis can a true judgment be reached; not on the basis that outwardly a Christian life appears to prevail in a congregation or that the minister gives the impression of being a pious man. That can all be sheep’s clothing which conceals the errorist, as Christ the Lord says in Matt. 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing.” Moreover, you cannot judge on the basis that a man appeals to Scripture and quotes Scripture; but Christians must examine whether the doctrine of Scripture is really also being taught. The devil, too, in the temptation of Christ, quoted Scripture.” –End Quote

    In our day and age we really don’t take that seriously at all. Thus, it is amazing that the discussion has moved to primarily the issue of homosexuality.

    Second, that being said regarding homosexuality I think Pastor Mark identifies rightly, “…which has always been understood through the Law and the orders of creation”.

    Reading Luther’s the “Estate of Marriage” is very helpful. Because today’s grasp of sexuality in America, especially in the church is very secularly stilted, not just by homosexuality but its issues concerning birth control (prevention), divorce and others. Few would recognize that BC for example really is not all that removed from the homosexual tendency and act, with few exceptions. Yet, many conservative pastors in heterodoxy and orthodoxy condone the practice and themselves ascend to the pulpit as pastors.

    Luther writes, “In the second place, after God had made man and woman he blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply” [Gen. 1:28]. From this passage we may be assured that man and woman should and must come together in order to multiply. Now this [ordinance] is just as inflexible as the first, and no more to be despised and made fun of than the other, since God gives it his blessing and does something over and above the act of creation. Hence, as it is not within my power not to be a man, so it is not my prerogative to be without a woman. Again, as it is not in your power not to be a woman, so it is not your prerogative to be without a man. For it is not a matter of free choice or decision but a natural and necessary thing, that whatever is a man must have a woman and whatever is a woman must have a man.
    For this word which God speaks, “Be fruitful and multiply,” is not a command. It is more than a command, namely, a divine ordinance [werck] which it is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore. Rather, it is just as necessary as the fact that I am a man, and more necessary than sleeping and waking, eating and drinking, and emptying the bowels and bladder. It is a nature and disposition just as innate as the organs involved in it. Therefore, just as God does not command anyone to be a man or a woman but creates them the way they have to be, so he does not command them to multiply but creates them so that they have to multiply. And wherever men try to resist this, it remains irresistible nonetheless and goes its way through fornication, adultery, and secret sins, for this is a matter of nature and not of choice.

    Thus, conservatives have their own problem here. The issue is of course missed, again I state, when it is framed in conservative versus liberal categories. The issue is theological, idolatry is the house from which all sin acts, the effects/fruits, issue be they homosexual.

    Third, when the focus is on the homosexual issue and not the idolatry both defenders of the move and detractors become most idolatrous, both without exception. The evidence of which is shown when we start itemizing and crafting the sin list, “This is sin, this is not”. Yet, again, Luther said this is not the way the new man talks, he confesses all that he is outward good or bad as damnable wrath deserving sin. Any other such “confession” is merely false repentance, false faith, pretend sin, pretend law and pretend gospel. Homosexual acts are indeed sin BUT so is the churchyard man doing missions for the church secretly in his heart saying “what a good boy I am”. As I pointed out above though if asked the old Adam has long learned the art of the “right answer” and would say, “Well yea of course I’m all together a sinner”. Yet that is merely the old Adam giving the answer he knows in nouns and verbs to be the correct one, all along his heart in hypocrisy doesn’t really believe this – which is manifest in unintended moments of honesty like when the same person points out that homosexuality is a sin as if the other is not.

    Fourth, and back around to number one; it is indeed interesting that the dynamic occurring in ELCA (and others tangentle to the issue, including the heterodox) is not unlike that in the church of Corinth. In which the effects or fruit of their base idolatry is manifesting itself in the more or less gross sinful things. Corinth was all over the maps, suing each other, sexual issues, fighting etc… Paul identifies these effects in order to get to the root of the problem. And the root of the problem was the Lord’s Supper, they were not discerning the true body and blood of Christ, because of this they acted thus. That’s why the opening of the communion with heretical churches by ELCA is the real issue at hand of which the approval of pastors to be monogamous homosexuals has arisen. Thus, to address the real issue is not to go after the approval of such pastors but the issue of the Lord’s Supper itself. In approving of “communion” with other communions they are not discerning the true body and blood of the Lord in the communion and thus their problem. This approving of a mingled communion is the idolatry from which the effects of the other issue(s) are occurring.

    Thus, if one were to listen to say to a Dr. Piper on the issue of homosexuality concerning the pulpit and fix that problem while the communion issue is left unaddressed one merely is becoming twice the son of hell, fixing the lesser moral outward sin issue and leaving the idolatry in place!


  37. We would cease to exist if homosexuality was the norm

    I agree. It’s not a very likely scenario though is it? 90% of us would have deliberately to go against our God given natures.

    At the end of the day I may reject the hermeneutic because of intellectual dishonesty, but I want to understand it.

    Without wishing to be provocative that is my position on some aspects of doctrine.

    As to the nature of the theological discussion, I wasn’t there so can not comment but I would be interested to see the documentation too.

  38. I just find it difficult to believe that God would affirm a practice that is not life giving.

    I knew there is a reason why I like coming here. Sometimes you hit things with a single sentence. I just heard a message a couple of weeks back that made a very interesting point. All the way back in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had a simple choice; they could eat of all of the trees in the garden including the Tree of Life. The one tree they couldn’t eat from was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Their choice wasn’t between good and evil per se but rather between death and life for God said eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would bring death. It turns out that He was right of course; death wasn’t immediate in a physical sense, but it is death that has taken hold since then.

    Jesus is the one who offers the choice of life or death: not right or wrong or good or evil. “Good” things can still lead to death. Many “good” people will find themselves without life when all is said and done because being good or doing good things do not bring life, only Christ does.

    The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.(John 10:10)

  39. Piper’s a heretic? Now that’s ripe. Ha. Statements like those are the problem with the Church today…

  40. Yes he is precisely that and the fact this is not recognized today is the real problem with the church today.

    Gerhard writes: “As the Church differs from secular associations which are outside the Church through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments, so it also differs from heretical communions which are in the Church through the pure preaching of the Word and the correct administration of the Sacraments.” (L. de ecclesia par. 131.)

    Luther: “The impurity of doctrine which is not God’s Word, or is without it, is such a poisonous evil thing that even if St. Peter, yes, an angel from heaven would preach it, it would still be accursed, Gal. 1:8. Therefore false teachers and Anabaptists or fake masters of the Sacraments cannot be or remain in the Church, as Psalm I says, for they not only undermine the life, which the Church must bear, especially where this goes on under cover, but also the doctrine is undermined, which must openly be bright and shine, so that the life can be regulated according to it.” (E.A. 26,37.)

    And Pieper, “Therefore a Christian can and should distinguish between orthodox and heterodox churches. He should then also act according to this knowledge. While avoiding all fellowship with the heterodox, he should adhere only to the orthodox Church. This God’s Word declares in all passages which admonish the Christian not to listen to false prophets, but to flee from them. For by belonging to heterodox congregations you listen to their preachers, the false prophets, and thus do the very opposite of that which Christ has commanded regarding false teachers. The passages already quoted, therefore, belong here: Matt.7:15: “Beware of false prophets”; and 2 John 10,11: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine” – the doctrine revealed in God’s Word, the doctrine of Christ – “Receive him not into your house, neither bid him Godspeed,” namely, as a brother in the faith. That you should not become a member of a heterodox fellowship is set forth also in Acts 20:30,31. Here the Apostle says: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” And for that time he gives the warning: “Therefore watch and remember that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears,” that is to say, abide in the true doctrine which in the last three years I have taught you with such great labor and care, and do not adhere to those who speak “perverse things.”

  41. You live in a perverse Christianity, Larry. Piper is a man of God. Just because he doesn’t adhere to your bizarre literal reading of a few verses doesn’t mean he’s a heretic. He preaches Christ and him crucified… that’s what matters, last time I checked. Perhaps your scriptures say something different?

    I don’t view you Lutherans as heretics just because you practice a communion that is almost cannibalistic in nature or believe in paedobaptism. Christians can come to an honest disagreement over those issues. It is dangerous to make a law where there is none, and it ignores the freedom that Christ brought.

    Piper preaches a Gospel that points all glory to God… not sure where the problem is there. And he doesn’t preach a works-based gospel.

  42. Honestly, statements like “Piper is a heretic” is outright sin and of the devil, just as some were in sin when they claimed Jesus or Paul were demonically possessed. Such statements promote disunity within the Body.

  43. Re: Piper, whose ministry theme seems to be:
    “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him”
    One has to wonder what the definition of God is in this sentence. Is it trinitarian? It is hard to see how it can be, since the essence of the God of the Bible is self-giving as witnessed to in the cross of Christ.

  44. Darius,

    Before deciding this way or that way on the sacraments, perhaps one thing you should ask yourself is why you do not consider one’s view on them essential and we do? That’s a very basic, honest and fundamental question to ask (Sasse points this out in his book regarding the issue at Marburg).
    So to evade the warnings of God is the most dangerous position of all to be in, even for the best of men. The Word of God abides forever not of men. There is no unity in the body between heterodoxy and orthodoxy, God’s Word cannot be mingled with other words. That’s what many fail to see yet scripture is filled with this warning from OT to NT.
    The accusation that orthodoxy is schismatic is patently absurd and obviously so. In principle and by way of analogy: Suppose an orthodoxy of the congregation around the mathematical statement 6+4=10 is secretly usurped by a mathematical heterodoxy that says, 6+4=22, then establishes itself. Later it is discovered and pointed out that 6+4=10 is orthodoxy and 6+4=22 is false heterodoxy. Having been discovered the heterodoxy goes to its defense and screams, “you are disturbing our unity”, it is then obvious of the hypocrisy and how the heterodoxy was the real surreptitious disturber of the unity and not the orthodoxy that was already in unity. Likewise, it is the schismatic doctrines that have caused the schism not vice versa. The schismatic doctrines having entrenched themselves within the church and establishing a false peace upon laying down their basis turn the tables in hypocrisy say, “Now (that we have established ourselves) if men raise up and speak against us they are disturbing the unity of the church.” This is of course the same old diabolical argument the enemy has made since day one, usurp the Word of God, establish “a peace” then accuse the Word of God for disturbing the peace of the church. The enemy having firmly established himself then calls the Word of God the disturber of the unity of the church. Yet there is no church nor communion when the orthodox Word is not maintained. This is why Paul warned us to discern the body and blood of Christ. 1 Cor. 1:10, we read: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” This is why Paul put the point of communion in the clearest terms of scripture, “…discern the body and blood of Christ” and not the gathering of the people. For without this, the body and blood of Christ, there is no communion and thus no unity to confess. Piper garners no more favor than the Apostle Peter nor an angel of heaven, yet Paul rebuked Peter in the sharpest clearest way…for Peter did not deny the faith by words but mere actions of his dietary ways. Men do not fear the Word of God rightly in our day and age.
    Pieper speaks of the issue of our day concerning these things, “…It appears strange to many, that we cling so firmly to the pure doctrine; people call this obstinacy, or love for fighting on our part; but our conscience is bound in the Word of God. First, we maintain: The chief part of faithfulness to God is the simple, humble abiding in His Word. Then: Every departure from God’s Word, every error, is dangerous to the soul. There is a fearful, diabolical power in error; for every error is the devil’s work, and through fellowship with error a person puts himself under the influence of the devil. Here human reason is helpless. The papacy is an example. Although you can already by the light of reason recognize its errors, reason nevertheless does not offer any security against being mislead into it. Yes, it is evident, also sophisticated, intelligent people are ensnared and taken captive by the papacy; nor can they free themselves from its bewitching spell. Whoever is not rescued from it by God’s strong hand will nevermore get out. Let us therefore beware, lest by practicing fellowship with the heterodox we put ourselves carelessly into danger, and thus lose our salvation.”
    “…only in the orthodox Church is God given the honor which He requires; and, only in it are souls rightly cared for. Fellowship with heterodox churches militates against God’s honor, and is a constant danger for the soul.” A warning we hardly take seriously in our day and age.
    After the Apology makes the concession that also the Baptism performed by unbelieving pastors in the name of the Church is effective, it continues: “Impious teachers are to be deserted (are not to be received or heard) because they do not act any longer in the place of Christ, but are antichrists. And Christ says Matt. 7:15: Beware of false prophets. And Paul, Gal. 1:9: “If any man preach any other gospel unto you, let him be accursed. ” (Trigl. p.243-5, par. 48.)
    Smalcald Articles: “Paul commands that godless teachers should be avoided and execrated as cursed, Gal. 1,8; Titus 3,10. And 2 Cor. 6, 14 he says: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what communion hath light with darkness? To dissent from the agreement of so many nations and to be called schismatics is a grave matter. But divine authority commands all not to be allies and defenders of impiety and unjust cruelty.” (Trigl. p.517, par. 41.)

    Luther says: “Whoever knows that his pastor teaches Zwinglianism, should avoid him, and rather forego receiving the Sacrament all his life than to receive it from him, yes, rather also die and suffer all things.” (Warning against Zwinglianism. XVII, 2440.)

    So, seriously, ask yourself is why you do not consider one’s view on them, the sacraments, essential and we do? Answer that question and that question alone, regardless of the view you believe. That for now is the more fundamental question and from here I believe we may be able to make progress.



  45. It’s not “essential” because one can confess Christ, believe in Him as his Savior and Lord, and yet differ on the meaning of the sacraments. Personally, I think Lutherans who believe communion is literally the body and blood of Christ are looney tunes and have serious problems reading Scripture. However, as long as they still recognize that the only way one is saved on Judgment Day is by relying on the grace given by Jesus’ blood on the Cross and nothing can be done to earn it, I still count them brothers. Why do you want to add to that and in so doing, invent your own laws which people must live by to be saved? It sounds vaguely like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. It’s clearly anti-Biblical.

    By your bizarre reading of Scripture, the thief on the Cross had to recognize certain Lutheran tenets before being saved. Instead, it seems that all Jesus required was a recognition of His Kingship, a faith that He can save, and a repentant spirit from past sins. Hmm… you may want to digest that.

  46. It’s apparent to me that to you, Lutheran texts may have risen in authority above the actual Scriptures, considering how you constantly quote from them. That is dangerous, to say the least.

    Let’s cut to the heart of the matter… what does Piper teach that is so heretical, pray tell? And show me from Scripture, not your precious Lutheran authors, please.

  47. Regarding the “essentials,” I would refer you to this quote from the late Richard John Neuhaus, a renowned conservative thinker and writer… and a Catholic.

    “When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ… I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my won. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of “justification by faith alone,” although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth… Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received… whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways – these and all other gifts received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will…look to Christ and Christ alone.”

  48. Darius,
    Using terms like “looney” and bizarre”… provide no credible response to the many points – including Bible references – that Larry has raised. You might gain a little more traction on this blog if you responded to his interpretations of the Bible by offering your own alternatives. Your quoting of John Neuhaus is rich in irony, since you saw fit to lambast Larry for quoting Lutheran theologians.
    Given the dismissive tone your comments and some of the terms you have used, I would not be so quick to accuse others of fomenting Christian disunity.

  49. Darius,

    First a note on confessions. Confessions are simply summaries of the Christian faith, scripture commands and demands that we give an answer for the hope that we have. Due to the rise of heresies, heterodoxy, over time the confession of necessity have had to expand. For what was assumed as commonly confessed X centuries ago is not later when a “new” heresy arises. Eventually the heresy or heterodoxy demands that orthodoxy arise and simultaneously confess and rebuke such. Hence the confessions. There is no such thing AT ALL as a confessionless Christianity, in fact the very idea of such is a denial of Christ out right. A confessionless Christianity is non-sense, in fact a confessionless Christianity is not Christianity at all but is paganism calling itself Christian. Joining a confessionless Christianity is no different than joining a pagan religion or remaining utterly atheist.

    The non-essential view of the sacraments is in fact the very problem for by viewing the sacraments as non essential you in reality have risen to the level of denying Christ and Scripture which clearly in numerous places state that they are essential and that the sacraments PROFESS AND CONFESS Christ. Example Paul in 1 Cor. Says of the Lord’s supper as long as you do this you PROCLAIM the Lord’s death until He comes. To say the LS is a non-essential doctrine is to directly say that the very proclamation of the Lord’s death until He comes is not essential, not to mention going against the express direction of the Apostle inspired by the Holy Spirit, and going against the very Son of God Who commanded “this do…”. The scriptures no where take such a nonchalant view of the sacraments as you do, in fact just the opposite.

    The Scriptures are replete with references regarding the sacraments. Ephesians 4:4-6 does not speak of baptism as non-essential to the faith but identifies it very much essential to the faith and of the confession of Christ, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” If you rebaptize you are teaching against the clear teaching of Scripture. That is heretical and that Piper teaches.

    The Lord Himself says in three very clear Gospels, repeated by Paul in 1 Cor., “This is My body, this is My blood…take eat, take drink…”, Piper and others teach its is a symbol, this is clearly against the very very clear words of Christ. Paul says explicitly in 1 Cor. to discern the body and blood of Christ, not symbols. And this is VERY essential because the Apostle says to not discern this is to eat and drink wrath unto yourself, not that you may differ on the meaning of the sacraments as you please. That is pretty essential coming from God. So no you cannot as you say, “It’s not “essential” because one can confess Christ, believe in Him as his Savior and Lord, and yet differ on the meaning of the sacraments”, because the Apostle Paul has explicitly told you explicitly that YOU CANNOT differ on the meaning of the sacraments. And by the Apostle Paul we mean as inspired by the very Holy Spirit of God Himself and none other. The whole of holy writ is against you, not just the “Lutheran confessions”.

    Piper teaches double predestination, the scriptures do not.

    We could weave together the outcome of these doctrines as men like Piper preach, teach and confess and more to show the heresy; but these are sufficient to show the heresy. Heresy is heresy like it or not.

    And none of these quotes above are from direct Lutheran confessions but Scripture, yet I could very well do so since they do in fact confess these things.


  50. “The non-essential view of the sacraments is in fact the very problem for by viewing the sacraments as non essential you in reality have risen to the level of denying Christ”

    While by viewing them as essential, you have risen (or is it fallen) to the level of promoting a works righteousness. I daresay that the Bible discusses the foolishness of such a view in more than one place.

    “If you rebaptize you are teaching against the clear teaching of Scripture. “

    Yeah, I suppose that really does get a Lutheran’s goat, huh? But no, it’s not against any CLEAR teaching of Scripture (though you might be right that rebaptism isn’t necessary).

    “the Apostle Paul has explicitly told you explicitly that YOU CANNOT differ on the meaning of the sacraments.”

    Well, it’s safe to say that it is NOT explicit, no matter how much you may protest otherwise. Jesus also explicitly commanded us to gouge out our eyes if they cause us to sin, and to give away all we have to the poor. How are you doing following those? If you’re not, then it appears that you must be the heretic.

    “Piper teaches double predestination, the scriptures do not. “

    I guess you’ve never read Romans 9… or is that just another Scriptural text you choose to ignore? I guess that isn’t too surprising for a Lutheran, since Luther himself didn’t like the book of James. Someone who thinks James and Paul were contradictory needs to be read with a grain of salt, to say the least.

  51. Pastor Mark, it wasn’t my intention to debate Lutheran theology with Larry again (we did plenty of that recently). I was just summarizing my views of the more extreme Lutheran doctrines while still stating that I consider most of you as brothers (though someone who goes around slandering men of God like Piper stretches the term “brother”).

    • Darius,

      I was not slandering Dr. Piper. One must rightly understand, honestly, what the term slander means. The Lutheran confessions call such by these terms. Slander is to lie about someone, not point out the truth of someone. And these are not as you state “extreme Lutheran doctrines” but the very essence of them. If you do not believe me then get a book of Concord and read them for yourself, they are all there in black and white for all to see. Nothing is hidden. Everything I quoted to you, which you became apparently angry over was from common Lutheran confessions, and from their/our highest theologians – that’s why I quoted them. None, none of these are “extreme” Lutheran doctrines.

      If you spoke of a false doctrine spoken of by Joseph Smith, would that be slander? No, of course not.

      To put it another way in a more or less “neutral” view: I’m purposely speaking neutrally though the Scriptures are NEVER neutral, but for the sake of identifying the principles at hand and why it is not “slander”:

      For example:

      IF the Scriptures do teach that all are to be baptized, including infants and not based on faith but the name and word of God, and one teaches otherwise, that is by definition heresy.

      Neutral flipside:

      IF the Scriptures teach that only adults are to be baptized and by immersion only, and one sprinkles infants, that would be in fact heresy.

      Still in the hypothetical neutral mode:

      IF the LS is the true and real body and blood of Christ and one teaches otherwise that would be heresy by definition.

      Neutral flipside:

      IF the LS is only symbolic and one teaches that it is really the body and blood of Christ, that would be heresy by definition.

      Not name calling, and not slander.

      Still in neutral zone:

      In fact to hold a position, whatever that is and confess it, and to NOT say so is dishonesty both to your brothers in error and to that which you say you confess.

      To take a total “neutral position” as to the content, however, (we are not analyzing the principle here but content of confession) is to by definition confess nothing whatsoever.

      That’s the way you must look at these as a Christian, being a good Berean. You must be able to divorce your emotions from the situation and even your preferred teacher moorings, even Luther. You must get to the essence of the teaching.

      I hope that helps,


      • IF the Scriptures do teach that all are to be baptized, including infants and not based on faith but the name and word of God, and one teaches otherwise, that is by definition heresy.

        Neutral flipside:

        IF the Scriptures teach that only adults are to be baptized and by immersion only, and one sprinkles infants, that would be in fact heresy.

        If I could posit a question based on this analogy for a moment without starting a mess (hey, it’s possible).
        IF the Scriptures don’t speak one way or the other concerning a correct age of a baptismal candidate, but rather simply commands to baptize disciples, and one makes the age of the candidate a point of contention within the body of Christ, what then?

  52. Summarizing it may have been but you have not responded top the sum of my critique. To repeat, some of your word choices and the tone of your remarks are dismissive and divisive. If you cannot see that and take responsibility for it, more’s the pity.

  53. Darius & Larry,

    I don’t think name calling or labeling is particularly productive… by either of you.

    I am a Lutheran and I am a Lutheran on purpose. I love the richness of Lutheran theology and the fact that it doesn’t put God in a tidy box. Lutheranism is content to leave as mystery what many other confessions attempt to answer. Lutheranism celebrates the mystery of how God comes to us in the ordinary. Lutheran theology is centered on the Cross.

    I think that some other confessions, if taken to their logical conclusion, lead to apostasy, but thankfully many, in spite of their theology, possess true faith. That has been called felicitous inconsistency.

    On my church website I have 5 brief sermons that I preached to a group of Calvinists and Arminians on the book of Galatians… it was challenging, but I attempted there to present our case without being insulting.

    We speak of 3 means of Grace… The Word, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Of the three, the Word is primary. The thief on the cross was saved by the Word without baptism or the eucharist. It isn’t their absence, but the despising of them that is damning.

    I am thankful and humbled by what has been made clear to me… particularly salvation by grace through faith in the resurrected Christ alone and His finished work upon the cross, but I am painfully aware that what I don’t know far exceeds what I do know. I suspect that is true for both of you also. Let God be God.

    Shalom to both of you.

    • Patrick,

      Do not falsely accuse me.

      Let me be clear as I have been, I was not calling anyone a name, and have not said anything that is not explicitly stated, including the terms used in the Lutheran confessions. All of what I quoted was either directly from the Scriptures, Lutheran confessions and theologians of the Lutheran confession. I’ve been forthright and honest in all my speech and never once did I call someone a name nor did I ever intend to, but I will use accurate terms. I have not once stated something out of emotions but purposely spoken very analytically regarding the subject. I spoke strictly to the doctrine and the teachers thereof, no laymen, and identifying heresy and false teaching as such is not name calling. The Lutheran confessions explicitly and directly speak this way of all false teachings. Do not lump that in with the use of terms such as “looney” and bizarre” as if both are “name calling” and thus confuse the issue.

      This did not start out as a debate between myself and Darius, though I had to respond when faced with confessing the faith, I still maintained a non-name calling stance. The issue at hand started out identifying what the real issue at ELCA was, the ordination problem or the deeper issue of opening communion, thus the sacraments are of the highest concern here and why that was being discussed. When heterodox teachers like Dr. Piper chime in not understanding this issue due to their heterodoxy it should be identified why it is and that they cannot truly understand the Scriptural issues at hand, nor are able to rightly correct the root error that is occurring in such.

      That was the original intent of the discussion and not once did I call anyone a name, nor ever intend to do so. And just so we are clear, I’m not angry in my response to you at all, I don’t want that read into what I’ve said.


      • PS: And I’m not saying anyone is NOT a Christian, I gave up heart reading before baptism two confessions ago because I cannot rightly read my own sinful heart let alone vainly think to do so of another man or woman.

        I find heresy a truly lamentable tragedy because it harms the Gospel, not as an opportunity for legalism or law. I would much rather shake hands than not, but sometimes we are required out of necessity not to offer the right hand of fellowship.


      • Larry,

        I didn’t “accuse” you of anything… I said I don’t think name calling (which didn’t apply to you) or labeling (which does apply to you… even if it’s true) is particularly productive.

        It’s an opinion, not an accusation.

        When speaking about someone who is held in high regard by another, labeling them puts up a wall that makes your other good points unheard. It’s a matter of social grace. Yes, such vernacular may be found in the confessions which were written at another time, but that style may not be particularly effective today.

        I like your theology, but your style is a bit abrupt… where’s the love?


  54. Hello Gents,

    Excuse me for being late to the party, and for butting in.

    We all come from varried theological backgrounds, and we are all at different places in our Christian understanding.

    This is a great place to discuss those differences.

    All of us ought realize that people out there radically disagree with us.

    We make arguments and back them up as best we can. Then answer the rebuttals.

    We can’t help but step on a few toes now and then but we ought realize that we’re never going to convince anyone by insulting them.

    Better to have clarity of thought and to disagree than to try and shoehorn someone in your camp.

    The truth will make it’s own way and maybe some of our arguments will, down the road, accomplish that which we would hope.


    – Steve

    • Patrick,

      Then I sincerely owe you an apology for misunderstanding you, I mean that.

      Some items I think will help:

      That is the love, there is no disconnect of love here. I never speak “just to argue” and I CONSTANTLY state and restate from the side of the Gospel not to “just be right about a thing” or law oriented. I try to choose my words carefully and accurately. Certain terms are required in order to put the proper weight behind the issue, to not do so is to hide the issue even if one doesn’t mean to do so.

      Perhaps this is helpful, we’d all agree to this: One of the problems today is that we often, at least secular society and some church, don’t call sin sin. Not in an accusatory way but to identify the weight of what it is to a person. Instead terms like “bad choice” or “accident” and others are used. We, Christians, would say that is part of the problem, not identifying the weight of these things. And so we Christians as a whole are accused of being “unloving” concerning sin issues and saying even Christ is the only way. We ALL recognize that issue especially when we say, “Christ is the only truth, life and way”. Not one Christian has not heard that in some form or another when we state this, especially when we state or imply that other religions are not and are false and are of the devil. Are we being unloving? No, hardly, just the opposite. We cannot say for the sake of another’s soul, love, that “Jesus is A way and your religion is just not as useful”. That would be to cover up the reality that mediating language that makes it sound less than it is. Calling a thing what it is is not unloving but loving.

      By using those terms, which I have explained at length why and how I use them so there should be no confusion, I’m putting the weight the should be on the issue.

      And there’s another reason and it is deeply for love; and I mean this as much as I know how to express it in words: I know personally and of many others who have privately shared with me, those who suffer the most pains of conscience concerning these false, yes false, doctrines by such teachers that withhold Christ from them, they do read and listen in often. They are too terrorized of conscience to speak up, they are so worried they are not saved, baptized rightly, elect, reborn, etc…. So they listen and read in silence about these various teachings of other wise sound and well respected teachers like Dr. Piper and others, are they correct or are they wrong, is there a voice that will call black black and white white and stand on it without waivering, so that they might see that even the noble weight of such men does not necessitate truth. These dear and tender consciences are never troubled by the more obvious buffoons pretending to be Christian like Joel Olstean, Rick Warren or Benny Hinn. They are not even fooled by the more conservative persons just a smidge more respectable. The ones, teachers and preachers, that terrorize their souls and cause such doubt due to the doctrines they preach, teach and confess are the respected ones, like Dr. Piper. It is not that they, nor myself do not respect and hold one like him and others in high esteem, in fact it is just the opposite, that we do hold them in high esteem, unlike the buffoons, – that makes them dangerous. Implying a doctrine is on equal ground with an opposing doctrine or just a variation of the same or that “we are just talking past one another”, by ‘smoothing over the language’ is more deadly to such suffering souls than rank black and white atheism. It greys the black and white, and thus covers the good (the Gospel) that would cure the tender suffering soul’s hell that is encroaching upon them because it implies their teaching is accurate. Error and heresy should NEVER be given equal footing with the truth, FOR LOVE’S SAKE, not just winning an argument. I could care less about “winning an argument”. What pulls such souls out of the hell they are being guided into by the devil’s lies is language that says, “No, that is false period.” Have you ever wondered why Luther’s erroneously alleged hyperbole, which it is not, pulls so many suffering souls out this hell? That’s why, he speaks truthfully and accurately. In fact Sasse makes this very point during Marburg that Luther made, that it is the errorist who wishes to salve and gloss the language over in order that he might conceal his falsehood.

      Another point concerning the insidiousness of heresy or error. I don’t think any man at any given thinks he is a “heretic” in what he confesses, believes and teaches. Even as an atheist I did not think thus: “This I espouse is utter lies and heresy and false against God and I wish to deceive many with it.” No, deception is much deeper than that. When it is indeed espoused, we are so deceived by it we actually believe it and believe it to be helpful to others…even an atheist believes this, so did Zwingli, Ariaus, the Pope and many other heretics. Rank unbelievers and heretics generally are not in some dark smoky back room wringing their hands plotting to sew forth error, falsehood and heresy.

      Confessions speak the way they speak to confess not to be silent.

      One last point, I would LOVE to have a man of Dr. Piper’s passion be of the orthodox confessions, no joke. His zeal and passion are hardly matched today, you see I don’t disrespect but deeply respect him – but his error and yes heresy espoused is deadly and all the more so because of his skill, passion and talent. That’s also the tragedy of John Calvin! Such tremendous god given gift of mind and analysis, yet it soured under the heresies he simply could not get past. His greatest gift, his reasoning power, ended up being his greatest enemy and usurped the Word of God. That’s why it is tragic and lamentable. This is no battle of “my team” versus “your team”, or “I am of Paul you are of Apollos”. No a lamentable sinister tragedy that these men were lead astray. It’s like having one of your best soldiers brainwashed and now he’s shooting at you thinking you to be the enemy.

      Pat you should know that I find you one of the greatest fighters in this fight for the faith.

      I hope that is more helpful,


      PS: Just to be clear again, Darius, I am not offended by you or angry AT ALL. I desire us to speak honestly, truthfully and without passions getting in the way.

      • I’m not angry either (though I know my rhetoric could have come across that way). I am just dismayed and saddened when one of the most Biblical, God-centered men in the Church today is slandered for his understanding of Scripture.

      • Larry,

        Thank you. I appreciate your clear, articulate, thorough, discerning, historical, logical, biblical approach to issues.
        I understand that love sometimes takes the shape of a scalpel instead of a hug.
        I am pretty plain spoken and not nearly as cerebral as you… I appreciate your voice in the choir along with others who contribute to this blog.


  55. Larry, it’s slander until you can back up your charges. You’ve conveniently ignored my attempts at addressing such charges.

    “For example:

    IF the Scriptures do teach that all are to be baptized, including infants and not based on faith but the name and word of God, and one teaches otherwise, that is by definition heresy.

    Neutral flipside:

    IF the Scriptures teach that only adults are to be baptized and by immersion only, and one sprinkles infants, that would be in fact heresy.”

    That’s assuming that there are only two ways to look at it. Perhaps the Scriptures aren’t very clear about who and when to baptize because IT DOESN”T MATTER as much as being baptized in general? In such a case, neither side would be heresy. Instead, “each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

  56. Darius,
    As long as you’ve raised the subject of things “ignored”, I see you have chosen to ignore having been called out for using dismissive and divisive language.

    It’s just my two cents but it may be time to slap the dust off your sandals.

  57. “I see you have chosen to ignore having been called out for using dismissive and divisive language.”

    Pastor Mark, again, LET ME REPEAT, the issue at hand is not Lutheran theology (or at least not directly). Thus, I WAS MERELY SUMMARIZING my personal opinion of Lutheran theology to get to the more important truth that I still believe that most Lutherans (and some Catholics) are Christians, misguided as they may be. So my dismissive rhetoric like “bizarre” or “looney” is just to point out that even if someone thinks the other is completely off-base, if it’s not an essential part of the Gospel but everyone is “fully convinced in his own mind”, then there should be unity, instead of divisive rhetoric like “Piper is a heretic.”

  58. Darius,

    I too, do not think too much of Piper’s theology (and many other preachers like him). I ‘m sure that he is sincere, and a very nice man and all, but I’ve heard him preach and teach and you just end up with the law for the most part.

    ‘How you ought feel, how you ought think, how serious you ought take God.’

    He gives the gospel with one hand and then takes it back with the other.

    He is a Baptist/Calvinist and I wouldn’t expect anything else. That is what he was taught.

    That said, I realize that a great many people DO think a lot of him and his theology, yourself included.

    Feel free to respond to my critique here of Dr. Piper, but I am going to let you have the last word and not return to it at this time.

    Maybe at another time we can go a bit deeper into the subject.

    Others may want to continue the discussion, and I’m not going to limit that (here) as long as a civil tone is maintained.

    Thanks, my friend!

    – Steve

  59. ‘How you ought feel, how you ought think, how serious you ought take God.’

    I guess I’ve never heard him say anything more than what is in the Scriptures, and how you ought to feel, think, or view God is rampant in the Epistles, or even Jesus’ words. That said, I have yet to hear Piper say that being feeling, thinking or taking God seriously that anyone gets more or less saved.

  60. Steve,

    Unfortunately unbelief will not allow one to see the doctrinal issue at hand. It lay in the unbelief of the sacraments as they are taught. I say that from experiential myself having come from baptist/calvinistic background. The BEST thing a Lutheran once said to me when I was dealing with this, and he meant it VERY lovingly was to identify for me within me that it really was unbelief due to reasoning that prevented me from seeing what the LS says, and that thus I of necessity would interpret the Scriptures there (and elsewhere like baptism) according to that unbelief. The unbelief itself forms the “hermenuitic” but one will think and call such unbelief “belief” and biblical. That’s the insideousness of it, it really is a resistance of the Holy Spirit yet thinking it is OF the HS. It’s not that God’s Word is not crystal clear on the issue at all, the ambiguousness of it comes from the unbelief and the unbelief will say “God has not been clear here or shows it as unessential”.

    That’s how unbelief operates, it seems it is “belief”. Once one is awakened to that, once one questions one’s self and is honest, “maybe it is unbelief on my part, I should consider this seriously”, then the Scriptures open up and are clear where they once were not or otherwise. It really is about having “ears to hear”, even though two men can read “This is My body/blood” and one NOT hear what it obviously says and another not.

    It’s almost like that scene in the Matrix when he suddenly realized the reality he thought was real was an induced delusion and that he’d been hooked up in this embryonic box all along. Just an analogy though!



  61. Larry,

    Your “unbelief” keeps you from hearing Jesus’ command to give away all you have and to cut out your eyes. My “unbelief” tells me that the Lord’s Supper was an opportunity to partake in a remembrance of what God had done (just like the Passover Supper, which the LS was based upon). Jesus said “This is my body” yet could not possibly have meant that literally since HE WAS STILL STANDING THERE. His body was indeed present, but not in the bread. I cannot believe how some would twist Scripture so bizarrely and turn Christianity into a works-based religion. That, my brother, is nearing heresy.

    I am still waiting for a response to Romans 9 or my general rebuttal of your “Piper is a heretic” claims. Saying “you wouldn’t understand because you’re spiritually blind” is a cheap way out of it, and indicates a weakness in your argument.

  62. Darius,

    I wish you would stop falsely accusing me, I was not ignoring your Romans 9, it simply got lost in the other discussions and I had not, honestly, remembered it. I was not ignoring the rebuttal.

    And the timber of how you think my “spiritually blind” statement is being used shows you are in a very angry and accusatory state of mind. You are not seeing how I am using unbelief, you don’t believe what Christ clearly says that “this is My body/blood”, that’s your confession by your own admission, you don’t believe that, that’s your statement not mine. You believe “this is NOT My body and blood…”, that’s what figurative language is. See you don’t believe by your own admission, your own confession, so you have no reason to be upset with me when I repeat what you tell me you believe. It’s like Dr. Nagel once said, “Ask them what they believe and don’t believe…they will tell you”.

    I’ll get back to you in a bit on Romans 9, this is an old issue and not that hard to address. I have to take care of some house jobs first, first things first you know. But I’m not ignoring you, have patience, it really just accidentally fell off of my radar in the bustle of today’s work for me.

    I’ve never accused you impatiently for being late in a response nor falsely set up that you are evading me in an argument – I simply assume people like myself have other things and jobs in life going on, and people honestly forget and miss things, talk can come soon enough. It was an honest oversight.


  63. First things first. Darius I’m going to assume you are really seeking an answer, which is a question you must ask yourself. “Am I really seeking an answer or am I just setting up an argument to argue.” Are you really in a learning mode or are you just wanting to get on to your next argument point. Because if you are not in a “learning frame of mind” and merely arguing, nothing I say will register. I assume you wish to learn. With that out of the way we may proceed.

    I’ve tried to figure out the best way to approach this because the issue is deeper than just “what does Romans 9 mean?”. That is the foremost question of course but how to answer that is an altogether other thing to go about. It’s the same with the sacraments too by the way. I’ve decided on a three pronged approach. First, get to the root of what it really means to adhere to the Word of God and when this is only apparently being done but not really and truly. Second, how is the Holy Spirit involved, what makes an enthusiasts – the “god withinness immediate activity that is signatory of all enthusiasm be it Adam’s, our own, the Popes and the Reformed/Baptist/Anabaptist. Third, then onto Romans 9 with some sacrament connected issues (if I have time for the sacrament part, I may not).

    I. What does it really mean to stay in the Word of God? Anyone naming the name Christian even tangentially, even cultishly would say and reply, “Of course”. But we all, all of us, me too, have to be acutely aware of the old Adam within (as a side but related issue that’s why I LOVE Steve’s web site name by the way – it is so spot on the money). There are three things that are generally used by the old Adam within us to surreptitiously fool us into thinking we follow the Word of God but really we use to usurp his Word even use His Word to do the usurping of His Word. Because the Word of God literally offends these and by offense we mean “does not answer them when they’d like to be answered!”. We should note well that in the greatest temptations of Satan, e.g. Jesus, the devil uses the Word. The devil could say and does, “See I stick to the Word of God too”. Those three things are reason, affections/emotions and experience. These are good gifts of God but through fallen man become the devil’s ally and enemy of the Word. We are so vexed by them we hardly know it, and would defend that we do not but we do and Scripture abounds with examples of this. By these men leave the Word of God as prime and singular revelation and attempt to interpret God’s Word through them, filling in the blanks, thus making the Word of God subservient to reason, affections and experience depending on the denominations pet one. Affections and experience we see used more among the more charismatic groups, experience we see among the Baptist and Calvinist a lot, but the worse enemy among the more pure Reformed and of Calvin himself was reason, the devil’s mistress. I caught a few good quotes from another blog that may be very helpful in bringing this out better:

    Francis Pieper in Christian Dogmatics (Volume 1, pg. 25ff) states, “The Reformed denominations likewise acknowledge in principle the divine authority of the divinely inspired Scriptures. The inspiration of Scripture has found valiant champions among the Reformed theologians not only in the past, but also today. But in practice Reformed theology forsakes the Scripture principle. It has become the fashion to say that the difference between the Reformed and the Lutheran Church consists in this, that the Reformed Church “more exclusively” makes Scripture the source of the Christian doctrine, while the Lutheran Church, being more deeply “rooted in the past” and of a more “conservative” nature, accepts not only Scripture, but also tradition as authoritative. But this is not in accord with the facts. The history of dogma tells this story: In those doctrines in which it differs from the Lutheran Church and for the sake of which it has established itself as a separate body within visible Christendom, the Reformed Church, as far as it follows in the footsteps of Zwingli and Calvin, sets aside the Scripture principle and operates instead with rationalistic axioms. The Reformed theologians frankly state that reason must have a voice in determining Christian doctrine.”
    And, “Separating the revelation and operation of grace from the means of grace is, in effect, a reversion to the Romish “infused grace” (gratia infusa) and therefore a defection from the Christian doctrine of justification. For when men set aside the external means of grace, they can no longer base their confidence in God on God’s gracious disposition (favor Dei propter Christum), i.e., on the forgiveness of sin for Christs sake, which the grace of God offers in the Gospel promise and which is to be believed on the basis of this objective promise and offer; they necessarily base their confidence in God on an inward transformation, illumination, and renewal, which allegedly is effected by an immediate operation. This reduces grace in the final analysis to a good quality in man. Since the Holy Ghost will not deal in such immediate operations, all those who follow Zwinli’s and Calvin’s instructions and seek an immediate illumination and renewal necessarily substitute for the genuine operation of the Spirit their own human product.—Luther said repeatedly: “Papist and ‘enthusiast’ are one.” That judgment was not an outburst of “the immoderate polemics in the 16th century,” but is based on facts.
    There’s a lot packed into those quotes some that extends over into my second and third parts of this discussion. However, at first what we must see if we are being true to saying we stick truly and are ruled truly by the Word of God is that faith sticks to the Word even in the face of, and we say, especially when the offense is against reason, affections and experience. When the devil’s mistress cries, “absurd”, faith says, “be silent and behold the Word of God”. The Scriptures are pregnant with this. As absurd as ex nihilo sounds. As absurd as was Noah constructing such a huge ark on dry land for an impending flood, reason would never believe this. As absurd as God asking Abraham to kill his son. As absurd as the woman asking Christ again for crumbs from the table when He just called her a dog. As absurd as a prostitute fresh from her work as such to the feet of the holy incarnate God of Whom sin is unapproachable! As absurd as the infinite in the finite in the incarnation seems. And so to the Lord’s Supper, as absurd and utterly not understandable as it seems that the true and real body and blood are there in the bread and wine, yet faith stays where the Word says, “This is…” and questions it no more – especially in the face of the absurd.
    This is not a faith in the absurdity for the sake of opposing reason for the sake of simply being absurd for no other reason than that! This is no, “Just believe” or Far Eastern anti-logic religion. No! This is a faith that, rather, opposes fallen human reason when the Word of God says so, when the WORD OF GOD says the absurd IS SO and subdues the devil’s mistress to the Law of Christ! In fact God’s Word mostly offends reason, affections and experiences throughout its entire writ.

    II. Second is to see how the Holy Spirit is always in the means of grace Word and Sacrament and never otherwise. Here we may see how both Baptist and Calvin by means of not really sticking to the Word of God but allowing human reason to usurp it and thus removes the Gospel from the means of grace and thus removes many precious comforts given by God to His people. This is evident in every thing they teach. First the Word of Gospel. When they say that sometimes the Spirit works in the Word but not always. E.g. when they see a man come to faith by the preaching of the Word and another man not, here they would say the Spirit operated on one man and not the other, showing forth the divorce of the Holy Spirit from the Word, operating in one and not the other. The Word thus does not take priority and manifestly is being denied by the very doctrines espoused, and thus the Word of God here does not “endure forever” as Scripture plainly teaches. How did this happen? By experience, the observation of one converting and another not, and reason. Thus, we see that here experiential things and rationality usurps, interprets and becomes the master of the Word. But yet the Word of God says the Spirit is always with the Word working through it, it matters not one wit who believes it or not. In fact in Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7 for which he was stoned we hear him say, “you are always resisting the Holy Spirit”. With a Reformed rationalistic hermeneutic in which the Spirit operates immediately rather than through the Word we wonder, “What does Stephen mean? How is the Holy Spirit resisted”? However, if we make reason bow down to the King Christ, the Word it is easy to see…they are resisting the Word, the Gospel of and in which the Spirit is. Thus they resist the Word and the Holy Spirit not in some mystical Gnostic mediate form, but the external earthy Word spoken. This is why before the account it is said that Stephen was a man “full of the Spirit”, that is to say the pure Gospel Word and thus the Spirit too. There is no divorce in the Spirit and the Word, not even when men resist and do not believe it, in fact they resist the FACT of the Spirit in the Word and not the Word without the Spirit operating (Calvin). The same applies to the sacraments as to the Word. Yet, in Calvin’s religion he says that the unbeliever does not receive anything but mere bread and wine while the believer ascends to the fiery heaven, again via experience (seeing unbelievers) and reason usurping the Word of God he hones a god of his own, an idol and the Word of God does not have true primacy nor rule. The same is seen in baptism among the Baptist. But the Apostle says that it is not as if the Word of God is ineffectual, EVEN, when men don’t believe it. The Word IS the Spirit and thus John 3:16 is literal and literally resisted in some cases, the Spirit is always in baptism, always, etc…

    III. These are crucial to understand up front because it is by these, reason (affections and experience), usurping the Word of God that Calvin (and others) leave the Word of God and onto double predestination. This is why Luther saw the Pope and other reformers as all enthusiasts leaving the Word of God, the disconnect as above explained is the same. Thus, unable to resolve the apparent paradox and refusing to stay where God says to stay, at the Word whether you understand it or not (which is what Romans 9 is answering, in fact no verse is more against Calvin than Romans 9) Calvin distills by his rationalistic hermeneutic a statement against the very Word itself. For the Word of God is crystal clear in what it says concerning election, that the election is IN CHRIST (Eph. 1), that this election IN CHRIST was before the world was, it is an election IN Christ IN love not “in wrath”. The Word is plain and explicit on this, even Romans 9, there is NO election any other way than IN Christ, in love not in wrath. Romans 9 is this very answer and entirely against Calvin’s theology because it is the old Adam asserting himself, “why have you made me this way”. To which God says I elect in grace to save not by your efforts to merit salvation. I am moved by My love to love the unlovable, not to love that which attempts to present itself as “lovable”. Esau I have not elected, that is to say old Adam the religious doer will never earn and merit heaven that is not the kind of God I am, Jacob, that is to say, pure mercy in Christ My Son is how I elect and save. Here in Romans 9 we see the greatest use of killing Law and creating Gospel when God says to the presumptuous old Adam looking for a meritorious wedge in, “if you God had only made me differently I would come to you and work my way to you”, slaying this God says, “No, in Christ without your help without the support of works is how I elect.” Performance of good and evil has NOTHING to do with it, as I evidence to you before men are born and do one or the other.

    Thus, divine election is IN CHRIST and spoken of for the purpose of grace alone and not for damnation, God does not elect into damnation at all. Eph. 1 is crystal clear about this. If the Word of God is king and truly being “stuck to” and not allowing even a foothold for human reasoning, then this is seen and the Word of God endures forever. However, if reason is allowed to pretend to usurp the Word of God, offended by it and attempting to “fill in the logical gaps” (this is the usurpation of human reason over the Word…the attempt to connect the dots), then a different religion at length is distilled falsely from the very Word of God. This is why it is unbelief and due to it the Spirit is resisted, it’s not a “weak argument” just saying, “you don’t have the Spirit”, it is the very crux of the issue concerning the Word of God being the rule truly and really for the believer’s faith.

    Pieper again addresses the very issue of the rationalistic hermeneutic of the Reformed, “The false principle, both the formal and the material, of the Calvinistic theologians is evident particularly in their answer to the question: Is the grace of God in Christ universal (gratia universalis) or particular (gratia particularis)? The Calvinistic Reformed will not permit Scripture to answer the question, though in many passages it teaches the gratia universalis (John 1:29; 3:16 ff.; 1 John 2:2; 1 Tim. 2:4–6, etc.); they find the answer in the historical “result” or the historical “experience.” Hodge: “We must assume that the result is the interpretation of the purposes of God” (Syst. Theol. II, 323).42 (Here we see experience as king not the Word of God for the Reformed – LDH) The Reformed argue: Since actually not all men are saved, we must conclude that Christ’s merit and God’s will of grace do not extend over all men; to say that God wills something (the salvation of all men) which is only partially accomplished is to make sport of God’s wisdom, power, and majesty.43 The rationalistic conclusions nullify the declarations of Scripture. (Here we see reason as king not the Word of God for the Reformed – LDH) In a very pronounced way Calvin rejects the Scripture principle in favor of speculative rationalism when he denies that Matt. 23:37, Luke 19:41 ff., Is. 65:2, and Rom. 10:21 prove that God seriously wills the salvation of all. It would be ridiculous, he contends, to take seriously the plaint and tears of Jesus and the “hands stretched forth” to the people and thus to “transfer to God what is peculiar to man.” (Inst. III, ch. 24, 17.) It will be seen that Calvin is so obsessed with his rationalistic speculations about the absolute God that he becomes the bitter enemy of all Scripture statements that teach universal grace. The inevitable result of eliminating the gratia universalis is that the Gospel is, in effect, paralyzed. The stricken sinner does not believe in the Savior of sinners if he is really convinced that Jesus is the Savior of only some of the sinners (gratia particularis). The children of God within the Calvinistic Reformed Church rejoice in the salvation gained for them by Christ only because they never believed in the gratia particularis; or if they have accepted it intellectually, they comfort themselves in the terrores conscientiae with the gratia universalis.—When Reformed theologians, contrary to their own principle, direct the despairing sinner to the gratia universalis, THEY THEMSELVES CONDEMN THEIR PARTISANSHIP FOR THE GRATIA PARTICULARIS.” (emphasis added – ldh)

    Whew! I’m out of breath. I hope this has been edifying for you and helps you answer some questions, or at a minimum given you some things to ponder honestly.

    Darius I tried to reread this for any offenses for the sake of offense in it, I didn’t find any but I cannot predict how one may read everything. So I assure you any “offense” you may appear to read is purely misunderstanding. That’s about the best way I can alleviate your fears.

    Yours truly,


  64. Disputandi pruritus ecclesiarum scabies,


  65. Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

    —Isaiah 5:20

  66. Wow… that was quite the response. I guess I should be careful what I ask for. 🙂

    No offense taken in anything…

    Since I don’t have much time right now, let me focus on Romans 9. “Romans 9 is… entirely against Calvin’s theology because it is the old Adam asserting himself, “why have you made me this way”. To which God says I elect in grace to save not by your efforts to merit salvation. I am moved by My love to love the unlovable, not to love that which attempts to present itself as “lovable”. Esau I have not elected, that is to say old Adam the religious doer will never earn and merit heaven that is not the kind of God I am, Jacob, that is to say, pure mercy in Christ My Son is how I elect and save.”

    Calvin affirmed the fact that no one merits salvation, I’m not sure why you think otherwise. Where you are amiss is in that part about Esau not being elected. It doesn’t say “I didn’t love Esau” but “Esau I HATED.” “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden… Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

    Now, clearly, God’s is telling us in no uncertain terms that He not only has mercy on whomever He chooses, He also chooses some for wretched purposes (i.e. damnation). That doesn’t mean that without that choice the people don’t still deserve hell, but that He expressly intended that some would go to hell so that He would get more glory and show Himself to be all the more glorious to those He chose to save. “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory…”

    I don’t see how anyone could not see the plain meaning of those verses. He prepared some for glory, and others for destruction… in ADVANCE.

    Sounds like double predestination to me…

  67. That’s the reason I spelled out Calvin usurping the Word of God via reason, you are using that same fallen human logic – that’s the hermenuitic and the problem. What you think is clear in the word is not clear as you speak it. Before you even attempt to interpret Romans 9 you need to long consider this and understand the order or the entirety of Romans. Because if you don’t you will not understand Romans 9 at all. Luther points this out in his commentary on Romans.

    The true glory and power of God are this and are displayed in His virtue, mercy and goodness – that is the very thing Calvin did not see any better than a Muslim or the Pope does.

    Remember the order of Romans and you will understand Romans 9. Remember as Eph. 1 clearly spells out the election is singularly in Christ, this is what Rom. 9 is saying as well. There is no election, double predestination unto damnation. The objects of his wrath are the objects of his mercy. Do you not think you were an object of His wrath? Do you not think as an object of His wrath you were prepared for destruction? Do you not think He bore with you in great patience. Do you not think you will not die as part of an object of His wrath, do you think you will live for ever? Do you think you were somehow divorced from the first Adam (Remember what I said about the order of Romans?) And I’m not picking on you alone but me and everyone. Do you really understand simul justus et peccator? Do you not really realize IN Christ He is re-creating the creation? Do you not really understand the full cosmic implications here? Do you not understand that at the Cross God reveals Himself under the form of an opposite truly a Creator? Do you not understand God’s love creates ex nihilo and loves the unlovable and that is the ENTIRE point of Romans 9. Do you not understand that the Cross and its Gospel is “Let there be light”, the Word of God going into the waters again (the deep/baptism) where the Holy Spirit already is calling into being the new creation, heavens and earth? Do you not realize Christ was not plan B? Do you not understand that Paul is answer the question, “Why did you make me this way for Who resists His will” by saying this is how He planned it from before day 1 – the election in Christ. Do you not understand this in connection with John 1 and Genesis 1, and even the entire story of Job? Do you not understand this entire passage is entirely against double predestination that predestination is clearly IN Christ as Eph. 1 explicitly states and as earlier on in Romans is stated. Remember the order of Romans! Do you not see that by way of fallen human reason in seeking the hidden God you have lost the revealed God on the Cross, and when you have lost the revealed God on the Cross you have by default lost the hidden God? Do you not see why it is quite literally at every turn by faith alone?

    Darius I was a serious Calvinist once. I deeply understood Calvinism, in fact, and I don’t mean this offensively, but your take on the sacraments reveals to me that you don’t fully understand Calvinism yourself. IF you did you would have never said what you said concerning the sacraments. I say that so you might take a mental pause here, not to offend or “win the argument”. I appreciate your kind words and time to actually try to learn…I mean that. So, take some time to ponder these things, don’t rush to respond. I think you will find by God’s mercy a richness in Christ you never saw before. Take some time.

    Yours truly,


  68. Larry, I don’t think I disagree with almost anything you said… but you can’t get that from Romans 9 (or at least, that isn’t the ENTIRE point of that chapter). The “objects of wrath” are clearly separate from the “objects of mercy.” Without Christ, we’re all objects of wrath. But God intended that He would save some and damn others rather than damn them all (which we all deserved). In so doing, He gets the glory by showing His love and divine forbearance, since He should have rightfully wiped humanity out with Noah. Instead, He saved a remnant so that He could show the awesome plan He had in store from before the foundation of the world.

    • Actually you can Darius and it is, that’s why I told you beware of fallen human reason and follow the order of Romans else you loose the revealed God and with Him the hidden God. That’s the problem blocking your faith’s sight. I know what that sounds like but it is the truth. I don’t know how else to state it. Again, you need to focus on the rationality getting in the way of faith. I can’t make you do that, you’ll have to discover that for yourself. Until you get that you will never understand Romans 9.

      The reason you cannot see it is the rationality usurping the Word of God on this. That’s why you “read it differently”. The problem with Calvinism is that it is not that far removed from Rome and Islam in that it mostly sees the glory of God in sovereignty and power. Yet all theologies of glory forget, God’s glory is revealed singularly when He dies for all without exception, even when they reject Him, His glory remains in this instant a witness against them – one who rejects to trust utter free grace and thus proves the old Adam is utterly dead in sin and utterly bound of will! Thus, Christianity identifies that His glory is revealed most clearly under the form of opposites in suffering and Cross, the very stumbling stone of every religion, even Calvinism, against Christ. This is why Calvin, nor Zwingli, could not see Christ condescending in the bread and the wine, the LS is NOT a tangental issue. This is why Calvinism sees in the statements “God is man” and “man is God” a figure of speech just like the LS. Yet, here God is hidden and revealed in glory. His backside! Thus, His glory is truly revealed in that He dies for the all mankind and their sins. This is something Calvinism is utterly inconsistent with when it imagines somehow against clear Scripture, in particular Romans, that Christ didn’t die for original sin, but only original sin as it is linked to the fabricated “elect” but not the original sin of the fabricated reprobate, thus bifurcating original sin from the first Adam into two camps; that original sin which is linked to the “elect saved” versus that original sin linked to the “reprobate”. Here Christ only died for part of original sin in the one Adam from which all sin came. In fact it is in Romans 9 where most calvinist bifurcate this issue and overthrow the first eight chapters of Romans. Christ thus, under Calvin, is a lesser thing than Adam. The second Adam lesser than the first Adam.

      To sum up:

      Calvin: God elects (Phase I), and this election is outside of Christ which is against Scripture, then sends Christ out to the task of saving the elect (Phase II). Thus under the religion of double predestination God elects two peoples one for salvation and one for damnation, this under Calvin, is outside of Christ and why it is heretical. To wit the Calvinist “gospel” is “I have good news for some of you (the category of elect only)”.

      Luther: God elects in Christ and there is no other election. Election is only spoken of in every single passage of Scripture of IN Christ.

      Under Calvin Christ wasted His time coming to be as man and instituting the sacraments because since (A) Christ did not die for all men, and (B) the Sacraments really do not give what they signify, no man on earth can know if or if not Christ really died for him/her in particular. Men then are thrusted back into themselves upon their works to pretend to discern “if I’m saved/elected” since (A) Christ didn’t die for all and (B) the sacraments at the end of the day don’t mean anything. They will caveat it as works done “under the power of grace” which is nothing less than a return to Rome Sweet Rome and it’s infused grace idea. Here we find that Calvin never left Rome and the difference between the two is mere smoke and mirrors, and cheap parlor tricks of logic chopping. Since both poor souls in Roman Catholicism and Calvinism will work themselves to death to prove they are saved/elect, or MUST of necessity in actually deny for themselves what they say they confess as true (Pieper’s point). Since the will of God in eternity trumps the will of God revealed in Christ and the sacraments are of know use. And thus now you see how Christ is denied ALL not some but ALL His glory under Calvin, trumped by Calvin’s gnostic flight into the hidden majesty of God in the fiery heavens above.

      In this way it is as Luther said that ALL theologies of glory look past the Cross as quickly as possible, attempt to get beyond suffering and faith because they glory in works.

      I do hope you will keep working on this, I think you will find it breath taking once it hits you. Beyond this I don’t really know what else I can offer you? I’m not opting out of a discussion, I just think you should stick here and work on it some without me offering more for fear that we might “rabbit trail” each other and the whole discussion. That can be a danger in these discussions.

      I wish you the best in your journey,


  69. Steve wrote re: John Piper:

    “He gives the gospel with one hand and then takes it back with the other.”

    This is EXACTLY it, Steve.  That is exactly my problem with him (and I have used those exact same words). On the topic of justification he seems to speak out of both sides of his mouth.

  70. BINGO! And that is when Christ is withheld as the Saviour of all the world meaning everyone of which I and you are particular individuals and belong, AND the sacraments are depleted of true efficacy.

    Back on the hamster wheel of works!

  71. Darius,

    Thanks for linking that. It’s a good starting point.

    Dr. George is accurate concerning the history of the issue but only partially paints the picture, not on purpose just some things lost that’s all. Sasse points out (as well as others have) similarly in his “This Is My Body” concerning the further reaching back into history that led up to Zwingli, Bucer and others. George is accurate when he states that the Baptist position is not singularly dependant upon Zwingli and it dates back to others like Wycliffe. But to expand that what Sasse shows (among other who have) is that Zwingli himself reaches back and is the same extension and synthesis form Wycliffe and others who no less erred on the Lord’s Supper. I cannot detail it in this post the best thing would be to get that book and read the sections on the history leading up to Marburg. That’s the history side which can draw a picture of the form of the debate.

    This is something I myself didn’t see until a short while back, I always got confused about “what matter does the mode of real presence make”. I admit that, that confounded me and I didn’t see the “big deal” for a while. Real presence is real presence, I thought, be it Calvin’s lingo or Spurgeon’s. Then I read more about the issue in Sasse and Chemitz. Even if you don’t agree with it this is going to make you go “Hmmm!”

    On the theological side the one thing that cannot be lost, and this is standard Reformed MO on the issue of the “Real Presence” (which would include the language you hear from Spurgeon on the issue) is that the debate at Marburg was never about the Real Presence. I cannot emphasize how ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL this is to see. That is to say the debate was NOT about the or a mode of Christ’s presence. You hear that a lot from the Reformed (here by “reformed” I mean all other reformed outside of Luther, including the later day Baptist). The debate was about the actual, real, true and substantial body and blood of Christ being presence and thus the whole Christ. That’s critical to see because the debate is often lost and confused when one speaks of the “real presence” in some mode, form or another. That was not the debate but the body and blood and thus the WHOLE Christ. When you see that then you will begin to see the Christological issue and why Luther saw it clearly. It gets down to the two natures of Christ, the debate on the LS is irrevocably linked to the two natures, get one wrong and the other is sure to follow – it always does. That’s the heresy and that’s what Luther saw so very clearly.

    Another thing: When Scripture speaks of us taking and receiving and thus eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ it does not mean one takes a part of each, like carnally eating a piece of a chicken from the whole (not to be crass but show the point). Rather the whole body and blood is sacramentally, not carnally, eaten/drank. Luther put it this way: The first man in front eats and drinks the whole Christ, as does the next, as does the next to the 10,000th person. That might help clean up some of your thoughts on the subject as well.

    But the critical thing to remember is the third paragraph above, the debate upon which Luther denied the right hand of fellowship to Zwingli and Bucer (Calvin’s successor) and said they were of a different spirit was that issue. It’s not just the LS but Christological, that’s why the heresy on the LS there, Wycliffe included, reaches all the way back to Arius and the Arian heresy. That’s why in the Lutheran confessions in condemning the Calvinist they say that the Calvinist say that “God is man” and “Man is God” is a figure of speech and in name only. It gets right down to the nub of the two natures in the one person of Christ. That’s why Calvinist will not say that in Christ the deity suffered or died. It’s a philosophical issue, not theological nor doctrinal issue, that causes them to see the two natures this way and likewise the LS.

    That is why Calvin said his famous axiom the infinite cannot be contained by the finite. Yet that hardly explains the incarnation.

    That should help at least put some things into perspective and neat categories for you to chew on. Like I said you may not agree with it up front, but it does have its “Hmmmm!” or “AHHHH!” factor.

    It did for me.

    I’ll be the first to admit, this is not easy given all the history and subsequent doctrines written by many 500 years before you and I. We are on the receiving end of trying to muddle our way through it.

    Yours truly,


  72. “That’s why Calvinist will not say that in Christ the deity suffered or died.”

    Well, I’m not sure about Jesus the God dying, but I haven’t ever heard any Calvinist disagree that He certainly suffered as God and not just as man… in fact, I was having this very discussion with a guy I’m disciplining last week. Christ’s physical suffering was nothing compared to the spiritual suffering He went through. Catholics do the crucifixion story a disservice when they focus so closely on the physical wounds and suffering of Jesus (though it is important). He didn’t die because of the Cross… He “gave up” His spirit and died relatively quickly for a crucified person (thus the story about Pilate being surprised that Jesus was already dead). That was to show that He willingly gave up His life and that no one took it from Him. The physical suffering was meant primarily to show humanity a tiny glimpse into what He was experiencing spiritually.

    As for Jesus the diety dying… I’m not sure I buy that. I guess it comes down to how one defines dying. I would say that He was temporarily damned (forsaken, if you will), so I guess if you want to argue that damnation is spiritual death, then maybe.

    A side question that doesn’t really relate to this topic but I just thought of this last week or so… if Jesus had not been crucified and had lived a full life, would it have been possible for His body to die of old age? Or was it perfect because He was not born of man, so to speak?

  73. “As for Jesus the diety dying… I’m not sure I buy that. ”

    I wouldn’t at this point expect you too, that’s the philosophical problem, but you are seeing the disconnect more clearly.

    I first ran into that in my former Reformed churched with a few of the teaching elders in a SS class. It was of course the crux of my own conversion from rank atheism to Christian literally in a “twinkling of an eye” (another story). I looked around and saw the panic on the laypeoples faith and you could hear the terror in their voices in the follow up questions they asked. These were well educated elders too, its a college town. Anyway, you could just see the hit that one little error had on their faith. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I was shocked, prior to that I thought Lutherans and the Reformed were alike just talking past one another, I’d been attempting to reconcile it for a while. When I heard that it began to don on me they were not and that was HUGE to my conversion. Concerning the death of the deity and the humanity, you have to ask yourself when Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me”, did He mean it really! Also, you need to consider death not in terms of physical death which is not the real death but the second death, which Luther said is the real death. Recall what Paul says about this death? The power of death is the Law and the sting of death is sin, death of the body is not the primary thing here, nor really on the radar to the second death! That might help.

    Anyway, keep digging around that idea and what I said. You’ll at least know the difference and why it’s significant and not insignificant. By doing this you are getting at what is the actual union of the two natures as it is revealed in Scripture. Ultimately, the reason others cannot image the LS to be the body and blood of Christ, the history of the various Calvinistic/Zwinglian views has to do with THAT. And hence the philosophical speculation enters in to usurp the Word of God, the institution of Christ. Of course the philosophical speculation is overthrown because the humanity of Christ shows forth explicitly things greater than normal human nature (e.g. walking on water). Which brings up an opportunity. Recall what the disciples themselves thought of Jesus at first, “it must be phantom”, since human bodies don’t do that. What did Jesus do, bid Peter to walk on the water to Him too! Then there’s of course the explicit statements that Christ in His fullness has been given authority above all things (e.g. the Great commission). You cannot look past that too quickly because we think more humanly like, “The President has authority over this or that”. But when God has authority over all things, that means ALL things created…He commands the very elements and laws of nature you see. From His humanity and deity united yet not confused!

    “A side question…etc…” I’ve pondered that myself, I suppose if honest most have. I guess the short answer is it’s a hypothetical speculation that would never be since that was never His purpose. But in the realm of sheer speculation I’d say no, since He Himself knew no sin and His body knew no decay.

    Yours truly,


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