Christian Growth



Here’s another gem from Gerhard Forde:

“Christian growth is forgetting about yourself.”     
  (…and your Christian growth)

                        – Gerhard Forde

* The parenthetical statement is my addition.



Personally, I don’t think there is anything more tedious and boring than talking to, or hanging out with someone who is engaged in working on their “Christian growth”.

I’d rather gouge out my eyes with a claw hammer.




photo by joeyplanting








Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, unpacked by Gerhard Forde


The narrator mispronounces his name (should be pronounced Gare-hard Fur-dee), but the book is surely a winner.


By the way, anyone, no matter their denominational affiliation (or non) can  become a ‘theologian of the cross’.




Thanks to for the review.



Turning the church into a “Christian Boot Camp”



Gerhard Forde once said that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a movement from vice to virtue…but a movement from virtue to grace.”


Pastor Mark explains that statement and expands on it:


 click > Turning the church into a ‘Christian Boot Camp’




Thank you, Pastor Mark.


And thanks also to flickr and ATOMIC Hot Links, for the photo.


“The Ten Commandments Do Not Apply to Christians”



That statement might pique somebody’s interest. 



Pastor Mark comments on portions of Gerhard Forde’s book, “Where God Meets Man”


click here >  What the law intends






Thanks, Pastor Mark.


And thanks to flickr and Connie Sue2, for the photo.










“When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

From Pastor Mark’s blog


by Pastor Mark Anderson


From time to time I flip through the television channels to watch various T.V. preachers, just to see what they’re up to. Not long ago I came across a woman who was speaking to a packed auditorium of several thousand people. I listened in for a few minutes and the message was clear; if you expect anything from God, if you want success, you had better get your life in order.

It didn’t seem to occur to the preacher that these folks had spent the last week doing just that in any number of ways, mostly with limited or no success, and that some relief might be in order. It’s hard to understand why she would simply remind them of their wounds and then put the verbal whip on them to try harder. It’s also hard to understand why people would return week after week and subject themselves to reminders, couched in omnipotent terms, of their inadequacy. Well, actually, it’s not hard to understand at all.

Preying on people’s fears, inadequacies and brokenness works. And it works precisely because we are so terribly vulnerable in this life. Once we get our wits about us in this world it becomes quite obvious that to get along we have to be good for something. We must demonstrate our value in tangible ways. Some are more or less up to the challenge, some fail miserably, and most people wobble along in fits and starts anxious for security, looking for shelter from the storm. They are suckers for bootstraps religion. Nothing else in life is free, why should God be free?

Well, based on the generally lackluster performance most of us produce in this life I can fully appreciate the question. I’ve asked it myself. And the answer, surprisingly enough, has been given by God Himself.

 “When the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

We call that the Good News. It is what I was hoping the T.V. preacher would get around to but she never did. So, here, in an unvarnished quote from that late purveyor of God’s glorious grace, Gerhard Forde, is the word of irrepressible freedom delivered to you this day; it is a word of pure gift. 

“We are justified freely, for Christ’s sake, by faith, without the exertion of our own strength, gaining of merit, or doing of works.  To the age-old question, ‘What shall I do to be saved?’ the confessional answer is shocking: ‘Nothing!  Just be still; shut up and listen for once in your life to what God the Almighty, creator and redeemer, is saying to his world and to you in the death and resurrection of his Son!  Listen and believe!’”

(Gerhard O. Forde, Justification by Faith (Philadelphia, 1983), page 22.)


Isn’t it great?  There is nothing left to do.  Christ Jesus has done it all!  Let go of your bootstraps, sit back, relax and take a deep breath of the free air.  The Son has set you free!




Gerhard Forde on “the will of man”.


“If you begin with the assumption of freedom, the preoccupation is always how to keep freedom in check, how to bind; But if you begin with the assumption of bondage, the preoccupation is always how to set out the word that frees.”

              – Gerhard Forde. 

               The Captivation of the Will. p.21



“The idea of “free-will” is blasphemous”

That’s right.

 It is not biblical, and it places the human being’s will over and above the will of the Living God.


click here> The idea of “free-will” is blasphemous


The quote is by Gerhard Forde. No doubt many others have said as much, and Pastor Mark is in their number.




Thanks, Pastor Mark.
And thanks to flickr and World Missions Clipart, for the photo.

Gerhard Forde got out of Biblicism; you can too – #13

From CrossAlone Lutheran  District


The Bible says: “Repent and believe in the gospel.”[1] Does that mean that Forde was wrong? Does that mean that salvation is mostly God’s doing and partly ours?

Forde writes:

“‘We have to do something, don’t we?’ – that is the pious sounding cry. Rather than face the question of death and life, we hope to get by with a little something! As Luther remarked, this kind of semi-Pelagianism is worse than full-blown Pelagianism.”[2]

Luther knew that one could use a text like Mark 1:15 against Christ, that is, in favor of saying salvation is 99% what Christ does and 1% what we do – repent and believe.

As Luther points out again and again, infants have faith, which is no surprise because in baptism God snatches us[3] in spite of ourselves.

[1]Mark 1:15.


[2] Gerhard Forde, Theology is for Proclamation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990) 142; emphasis added. See also Forde: “It is interesting – and significant – that Luther could see much more validity in out-right Pelagianism than he could in semi-Pelagianism of the so-called Christian humanists. At least, he said, the Pelagians believed that man could and should apply himself with his whole being to the pursuit of salvation, where the semi-Pelagians seem to think it could be gained for a pittance – exercising that little bit of ability supposedly left in man,” in Where God Meets Man, p. 51 by Forde; italics in the text; bolding added.

Luther: “These friends of ours, however, though they believe and teach the same, make dupes of us with deceptive words and a false pretense, as if they dissented from the Pelagians, though this is the last thing they do; so that if you go by their hypocrisy, they seem to be the bitterest foes of the Pelagians, while if you look at the facts and their real opinion, they themselves are Pelagians double-dyed” (LW 35:328).

[3] See Luther: “[E]ven if infants did not believe – which, however, is not the case, as we have proved – still their Baptism would be valid and no one should rebaptize them…” Large Catechism, Baptism, #55, BC 443.

In baptism the infant receives the Holy Spirit (SC, Baptism #10, BC 349), who, of course, cannot be quantified as if the infant only receives a portion of the Holy Spirit or a kick-start. Nor, again of course, does baptism depend on a “decision” made by the infant. Some also misunderstand the metaphor “gift” (e.g., Romans 3:24) to imply that what God does in baptism is a “gift” that has to be “accepted” even though the context (Romans 3:19-23) does not allow such a misunderstanding.

“[W]hat a great and excellent thing Baptism is, which snatches us from the jaws of the devil…” LC, Baptism, #83; BC 446, emphasis added.

“I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him” Small Catechism, Creed, Third Article, #6; BC 345.

See also John 6:44: “No one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” And John 6:65, 15:16, Eph 1:4







Preach the Gospel, not the text -1


gerhard_forde by theologyethics

What’s a preacher to do?   Preach the text?    Or the gospel?

Even Gerhard Forde said preaching is “doing the text” to believers.

But doesn’t that work better with some texts more than others?

For example, when the lectionary has those “take up your cross” texts which presuppose that we can and must do something to make salvation work: “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:38).

What do you do with a text like that?

What did Forde do?

In this sermon, On Death to Self, Forde preaches the gospel even though he is preaching about “dying to self,” and “taking up your cross.”



From the CrossAlone Lutheran District web site.




Thank you, CrossAlone.

Thanks to flickr and theologyethics, for the photo.







Another priceless Forde quote…



“The Word is not relevant to the ‘Old Adam’ as such…. It is something like the word, ‘I love you,’ spoken in a brothel”

                     – Gerhard Forde,  “A Short Word,” 1981


Thanks to Pastor Mark for passing these Forde quotes along to us.