Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Luther in the Antinomian Disputations

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

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

130 comments:

  1. Jason,

    Who doesn't teach the Law to their people? Who isn't preaching the Law to their people? Who is against Law (anti-nomian)? Who isn't exhorting good works? Who isn't telling their people, "Little children, love one another?"

    I ask this because my friends get accused of being antinomian. It's gotten to the point where we almost mock it as a badge of honor. It's comical because it has no basis in the actual meaning of the word and doesn't apply to actual preaching or teaching.

    I once had a guy rail online that I was an antinomian but when I asked him to show me where, the devotion he was calling antinomian denied the very thing for which he was accusing me! Another pastor was at least was honest with me, "The way you preach about Jesus, people could be sinners and be saved."

    Is it a style thing? Is it a Fort Wayne/StL thing? Can we have some actual examples? Are the good works not good enough works? Are you just simply giving us good information in case we're ever tempted to be an antinomian? (Ha!)

    Let's figure out what it is so that we can come to understanding! That way we can stop calling each other names (or laughing about the name calling) and get back to rejoicing in what we have in common.

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    1. As I said in the other post, I think it is mainly a matter of omission. I've been guilty of it. And when several lay folks - good, solid, confessional, Issues Etc listening lay folks - are completely taken aback when they read these quotes from Chemnitz, the Confessions, and Luther....well, that should give us preachers pause, no?

      The only man's preaching I know well enough to really criticize specifically is my own. Do I actually encourage my people as Luther says here? If I were to read some of these statements from the Confessions (as quoted in the previous comment thread) from the pulpit, would my people hear them as coming out of left field? Or read the LC on the 4th commandment - does my preaching ever have such specific calls for specific acts of godliness and warnings against ungodliness? I think these are the questions we preachers should ask ourselves.

      Over the past several years - especially after being assigned as an editor of Gerhard's works - I have been asking myself these questions and I have found my preaching wanting and have tried to change. If others ask the same questions and find their preaching lines up...good for them.

      +HRC

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    2. George,

      I'm not sure where this is coming from. You make it sound as though I have accused someone of doing or not doing something. I don't think I have done that. And if I have, it was unintentional. As Heath stated, the only preaching I know is my own. I've only heard you preach once, and the only thing I remember was that you wished us a Merry Christmas . . . in July. But when I read statements like these of Luther, I think, I haven't preached like this. In fact, I have probably preached more like he states we shouldn't preach than how he tells us to preach. So, again, I'm not sure where your questions are coming from. Have I dealt with you or others in the past so that every time I post something I'm secretly accusing an invisible bogeyman? If I have, forgive me.

      We at GO have been batting around and wrestling with some of the things Heath has been translating. The CID and IDE are hosting a joint conference on Luther's Antinomian Disputation, so I've been reading them. I post what I find helpful to my own preaching and pastoral practice and care. And as Heath stated above, if this appears out of sync with what I have thought, and it seems to have come out of left field for solid, confessional, Issues Etc listening lay folk, that should give us pause. And we are in this together, ironing sharpening iron. I need to get better at this type of preaching. I assume that we all do. Perhaps this is a wrong assumption.

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    3. I can assure you that there are plenty of Antinomians out there; they might not be you, or your friends, and they might not haunt these pages, but they are there.
      It might not be "Little children, love one another" they refuse to tell their people - most often it is not- but rather: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments."
      On the contrary, in their understanding obeying and upholding the commandments of God is the opposite of love - being "unloving" - whereas love should be defined by secular standards.
      In their definition "love" means never denying anybody the Sacrament, "love" means taking part in the worship of other gods, "love" means not saying that fornication is sinful - all this, or some of it, because "there is such a thing as forgiveness" - and because "I am not all about the Law as you are - I believe in the Gospel".
      They are out there. Be sure of it.

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    4. Jais,

      I think we would do well to talk to these brothers about love and the proper distinction between Law and Gospel.

      I'm not sure that the term "antinomian" is helpful to them. Perhaps some conversation might be.

      On a side note (hopefully humorous), the first words of your post made me smile like something out of the X-Files. "The Truth is out there...." HA!

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  2. George--I admire your Gospel preaching. Always have. But to answer your question which was not addressed to me, I don't know it is just a FW/STL thing anymore. I used to think it was, but I read stuff from my own colleagues and classmates that makes me wonder, "Did we read the same Confessions?"

    here's an example. In multiple conversations, where this topic has been brought up, whenever someone suggests that preachers ought to exhort people to holy living, new obedience, etc., the point is made, "Isn't the Gospel enough?" Christ is pitted against works. And, of course, if we are talking Justification, then absolutely, it is Christ, faith, the Gospel, no additions, etc. But even when talking about our Christian life of love, it is "Jesus or works." I can't speak for Jason or Heath, but I can certainly speak from experience on this.

    Luther's recently re-published Church Postils is great evidence that even Luther himself had no problem preaching faith and then works. His sermon for the first Sunday in Advent is in that order! Faith, Works, History/Meaning. So much for Law and Gospel.

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    1. I think you and I should talk, Paul, about these things the next time we see each other. I think it would be helpful to us.

      Talking! What a novel thing!

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  3. There are two schools of thought, and when I say "schools" I don't mean seminaries.

    There is traditional, historical, Orthodox, original-position Missouri Synod theology.

    Then there is post-Enlightenment, chiefly Erlangen School (and its derivatives) theology.

    These two schools approach the the topic of the Law in irreconcilable ways.

    The first sees the Law as God's good, eternal will, which we have broken, but which has been fulfilled in Christ and atoned for through His sacrificial death. The Spirit, through the Gospel/Means of Grace, is now conforming us to Christ's image, which includes willing obedience to the Law.

    The second reduces the Law to the Law's negative effects: guilt, etc. Ultimately, this aligns with consequentialism, positivism, and situation ethics.

    The first is derived from the teachings of the historic Christian Church, Luther, Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, et al., as well as Walther and Pieper.

    The second is derived from post-Enlightenment European theology, influenced as it was by changing philosophical views of the law, found also the Erlangen School, which was by its own admission promoted a subjective, reductionistic, experience-driven theology claiming allegiance to the Lutheran Confessions.

    The first is confesses scriptural inerrancy, the vicarious satisfaction of Christ, eternal law, natural law, and third use of the Law.

    The second rejects all of these. Why? According to this view, the Law is identified chiefly with human experience, not God's will.

    One finds both teachings actively promoted by various teachers with the LCMS, which is why so many are so confused. Even teachers are confused.

    However, as we see in the initial post, Luther actually agreed with Luther.

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  6. PTM,

    Have you heard one of our brothers who have ever said that the Law is bad? That it is not "good and wise?" No, you haven't. Straw Man!

    Do you know of any of our brothers who said that we need to get rid of the Law or that good works are detrimental to salvation? Nope, you don't. Straw Man.

    Do you know of any of our brothers who have said that we shouldn't encourage saints in Christ unto good works? Nope. Straw Man!

    Is antinomianism the desire by some Lutheran pastors to have the Gospel predominate their sermons and teaching? Nope. That's called Lutheranism.

    Is antinomianism the desire to free troubled consciences from the burden of the Law? Nope, also Lutheran.

    PTM, give examples. Name names. File charges. You've heard whispers, innuendo, and had some anecdotal private conversations. Evidence? None provided anywhere. The best construction that I can reach, PTM, is that you're guilty of a hasty generalization.

    Stop hiding on the internet crucifying antinomian straw men and give me a call. You guys publish the annual over at CPH. I should be easy to find (grin). Give me a ring.

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    1. Jason and I have given you two name: Braaten and Curtis! And McCain gave you another: McCain!

      This is something that we have found out in ourselves - we have found our own preaching lacking in this regard as we have compared it with the Lutheran greats.

      I was assigned plenty of Forde to read in seminary, and zero Gerhard. That's interesting...and I think it had consequences for me in my own *pastoral practice.*

      Nobody is on a witch hunt - we are all trying to become better pastors.

      And check out the comments by lay people in these threads - like Mr. Martin and Paula - I don't think we can deny that Antinomianism is out there in the Synod. Where did it come from? Nobody is claiming that it's a cabal of vicious heretics - we have met the enemy and he is us. It's a problem of omission; of not preaching the whole counsel of God. At least that's what I've diagnosed as *my* problem which I am trying to correct.

      God bless your Lord's Day,
      +HRC

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    3. I shall bookmark this and paste it the next time you rage against the antinomian straw man, PTM. My work here with you is done. :)

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    4. Pr Borghardt,
      You don't know me, but you can add mine to the list of names, too. If you want to pray for me by name therefore, I give very inexpensive pronunciation lessons.

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  7. HR,

    Antinomianism as defined by whom? You defined it as not preaching that there is a reward for good works. PTM defines it as saying the Law is bad and the Gospel is good. The word Antinomian means "against the Law" and the controversy pertains to the false teaching that good works are detrimental to salvation.

    I've actually laughed and said, "I'm an antinomian whenever I preach the Gospel and a legalist whenever I preach the Law." Such a use of those terms, though, is a change in their meaning. I'm going for humor. I don't think humor is going on here. :)

    There are bad theologians everywhere. They keep Wilken and Chris Rosebrough with topics to talk about. A few specifics don't make for a general problem. Let's see some sermon examples and places where there is actual antinomian preaching among us. Otherwise, this is preaching talk in the abstract and nothing better than self-righteously smacking around a straw man.

    No one is saying that the Law is bad. No one is saying the Law isn't to be preached. No one is saying the Law isn't good. No one is saying that the Christian can't be exhorted to good works. No one is denying Jesus' words that good works follow those in the Faith who fall asleep.

    As long as we label each other and dismiss, then we don't have to listen to one another. And, if we are going to label, let's at least use nomenclature that actually fits the meaning of the bad theology that we are trying to guard against.

    What's the real issue? Is it the struggles of preaching Law/Gospel to the baptized? Is it a simul problem? Are we concerned about Forde or Capon? Is this a reaction to the “Just give me Jesus” business that, perhaps, out of context isn’t helpful?

    Is this that we think there should be MORE law? Are we concerned about the lives of our people being worse than the pagans?

    Anything out of context isn't helpful: St. Paul can say Christ is the the telos of the Law to these who believe. Such talk, out of context, is antinomian. St. Paul is not an antinomian. Or, for our salvation, we better not think he is one! Ha!

    Or is it personal (style)? In my old age, I've realized that most of my problems are not doctrinal with my brothers but that my enthusiasm is either misunderstood or I am or have been a real horse's butt. I can repent of the latter, not the former! :)

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    1. George,

      "As long as we label each other and dismiss..."

      I've labeled myself as prone this problem (more on that later). I've labeled Gerhard Forde as an outright antinomian - denier of the 3rd use of the law. I don't think I've labeled anybody else. So let's get rid of *that* strawman and cause of angst in all this.

      Now, it is a time honored tradition in the Church to also put forth statements in the form, "If anyone says X...let him be anathema." So I think it is helpful to point out clear examples in this form. That's what I tried to do in the original post. If anyone denies that God has promised temporal and eternal rewards to our obedience to the law in this life...well, then that person would be denying Lutheran teaching about the law and its usefulness to the Christian.

      And several people rose up against the statement, claimed it wasn't what the confessions say, expressed real shock to hear it was something Lutherans said, etc....so this isn't just imaginary. And I know it isn't because when I came out of seminary there is no way I would have recognized that Chemnitz quote as Lutheran. Mea culpa.

      And I've said repeatedly that I think the main issue is one of omission. So I literally can't give you examples - unless I were to send you my first 3 or so years of sermons that simply never used the law by way of exhortation, never spoke God's promise of rewards to our good works, never preached a sermon that followed Luther's example of how the law is wielded in the Large Catechism sermons on the 10 commandments.

      I invite all our readers to consider the sermons they are preaching in light of this. This is a call to self-examination - not picking a fight with anyone.

      +HRC

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    2. H,

      So, what I've gathered from this discussion is that you, PTM, and JB have had antinomian tendencies in the past. Thank you.

      "I am Sparticus! No, I'm Sparticus!"

      Oh wait.. others too... (GRIN) Now, lack of examples and evidence are like decisions that aren't in the minutes of board meetings. They didn't happen. They are in the end purely anecdotal. Let's not make anecdotal accusations.

      What you are describing sounds like an anomian (no law). That is not antinomian (against the Law). But, even anomian is incomplete since you're concerned with an omission of the Law not no-Law at all.

      I need you to work with me to help us end this label amongst us. When you get the thought that someone has "omitted" something that makes them what you think is an anomian, you should take that up with that person privately. I'm giving you free rein to come after me too! Let's end this misunderstanding by taking the matters up privately with our brothers.

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    3. But I omitted the law from my preaching for a reason: because I thought I wasn't supposed to preach it at the end of a sermon. Because I was taught (with a lot of Forde reading at Sem) that the Gospel was enough - the people didn't need to hear the law after the Gospel. Good works would just pop up.

      It was a denial of the third use in practice - which is the only the third use that's worth a darn.

      If ever I find a brother in the ministry with whom I have a theological beef, I do indeed try to take it up with him (at Winkel, over email, etc.). But this is not an issue of that kind. I don't have an issue with some brother. I've identified something very lacking in my own preaching and I think I've found a good lineage on where it comes from: my education and training. In such a situation I think the right thing to do is invite greater theological conversation with my brothers who share the same education.

      And it's borne great fruit - Jason (different sem) and Paul (different time) have both noticed the same in themselves. This is something we need to talk about it.

      +HRC

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    5. PTM,

      I’m just not convinced that there is a reticence to engage in Christian paraenesis “among us.” I’m just not. And no one will provide actual evidence of it either, other than a couple people here claiming that it’s their own problem. That does not constitute a serious issue among us.

      What I've seen is either worst constructions, principiums, or just plain talking past each other. The next time I'm around some of the Gottesdienst guys, I'm gonna have a conversation about the Law/Gospel with them over beer. I might even buy!

      What really needs to stop is this game: “I recently read a devotion written by a pastor who told his readers…[insert paraphrase taken out of context].” Where’s the devotion? Who’s the pastor? Did you contact him and ask him to clarify what he meant and suggest that he correct the error? Could YOU have possibly misunderstood what he wrote? I mean, it’s at least theoretically possible that you could be wrong, right?

      As for the "personal" stuff. That's not the way I roll. I repeated what y'all (you guys?) said.

      I'd be happy to sit down with you and you can talk to me about it too. Cause I know that I'm on your radar for this subject (wink).

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    7. Brother George, you keep referring to "name calling" and a "straw man," but where are you seeing this? The post at hand (quoting Luther), and the previous post (quoting Chemnitz), set forth some assertions concerning the preaching and purpose of the Law, and the admonishment of Christians to do good works. Maybe I'm simply naïve or missing something, but that doesn't sound like an accusation or a provocation, but a topic for discussion. If there's no problem or disagreement, great! But the responses would suggest there are some real differences of opinion in this area. The more people protest that something malicious is afoot, the more convinced I become that we ought to hash this out in the fear of the Lord, and in the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures. As I have previously said, I have found the quotes from our Lutheran fathers to be helpful and instructive to me. As recently as five or ten years ago, I suspect that I would have objected to the things they set forth and confess; so I am called to mind of my own need to continue learning and growing -- both in my thinking and understanding, and in my preaching and teaching. These are not easy topics, far less so in actual practice; but faithfulness compels us to learn from the catechesis and confession of the Holy Scriptures.

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    9. Interestingly, Luther speaks -- in the Large Catechism, and elsewhere, as I recall -- of the Creed and the Our Father as the means be which we are able to begin keeping the Ten Commandments! There's another one of those things that I've struggled to wrap my head around, and that have challenged my own way of thinking and speaking. It seems to belong to Luther's understanding of the Ten Commandments as something more, and more comprehensive, than simply "the Law" vs. the Gospel. As I've said elsewhere in these discussions, I believe the key is found in the fact that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law, who lives in perfect faith and love, not only in our stead, but also for our benefit. The Law reveals the Life that God lives, to which we are called and brought by His grace; not to earn a righteousness of our own, but to be filled and clothed with His righteousness.

      For all of that, I'm not convinced that it is normally a good approach to end a sermon with the preaching of the Law, regardless of what sort of "use" the preacher may intend it. The Law is the Law is the Law; and while the Lord uses it in a variety of ways, including the guidance of the Christian in His good and acceptable will, the Law always accuses the sinner. Such accusation should be met with the gracious forgiveness of the Gospel, for those who will hear and receive it in faith, where and when it pleases God. I believe this to be especially appropriate in the case of the Divine Service, as it is the Gospel that leads the children of God from the font and the lectern to the Altar of the Lord. The preaching and teaching of good works should perhaps figure somewhat differently in the case of catechesis, in the daily prayer offices, and in Bible class settings. Or so it seems to me at this point in my thinking and practice.

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  8. George, I can't provide a sermon as an example, but in some of my interactions on social media and blogs, I have been told this: "God couldn't care less about our good works." I have been told that "God is not pleased with the good works of Christians." Those are direct quotes. That is a denial of regeneration. God IS pleased with the works of Christians, because the works are Christ's. I get that. But there is a problem with not identifying whether or not one is talking about justification or sanctification. I know that some probably think these categories are passe, but I think they are helpful. Call it faith and love, whatever. But if we are talking about how one becomes righteous in God's sight, then there ought to be NO talk of works, but the works of Christ. However, there should be no problem talking about the works of Christians, new obedience, how pleasing it is to God the Father when they do a, b, and c., without feeling like we are now negating the Gospel.

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  9. Once upon a time it would have meant something to me that PTM said it was so, but that time is long since gone. Just keep saying it over and over again there, PTM and have fun whacking that straw man!

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  10. Paul, help the brother out that says that! Those comments are true in reference to faith vs. works but not helpful when it comes to the good works that come from a good tree. I bet, I bet, I bet that our communication is breaking down when it comes to paradoxes and law/gospel.

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  11. Dear Experts of the Law,
    Does this make me look antinomian?
    "You cannot out sin God's grace. Go ahead and give it a try. No matter how stupid you are, you will still have a Savior. Now that said, you will seriously hurt yourself testing this, but it seems some of us just can't resist the third rail, grab hold with all your might and when you are a quivering heap, Jesus will be there with grace for you, because you certainly are a sinner."

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    1. Hey Rev.,

      I don't think I would preach this paragraph. I can see the point the paragraph tries to get across: the abounding love of our Father and his inexhaustible grace.

      But here's the thing: that grace is only inexhaustible for the repentant. "Repentance and the forgiveness of sins will be preaching in my name...." This paragraph dares people to try being unrepentant for a while. Now, it might be meant as a rhetorical flourish...but I think there are probably better ways to get the point across.

      My 2 cents...

      +HRC

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    2. Rev,

      We have not said we are experts in the law. We have said just the opposite. We have said that we are learning, trying to wrap our heads around how Luther, Chemnitz, Walther, et al preached and why their preaching differs from ours, not just in style but in the content of preaching law and gospel.

      Perhaps you meant the moniker as a joke or a fun-loving rib, but we are not claiming and have not claimed the corner market on the law. We have only admitted to learning anew what our Lutheran forebears have taught and preached that we we found wanting in our own teaching and preaching.

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  12. I'm pretty sure that Jesus taught this... see Prodigal Son.

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    1. I'm pretty sure the Prodigal son returned to his Father in repentance and faith...

      +HRC

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    2. HR, are you looking for repentance? Is that what you feel the issue is? Do you feel like that that Gospel is so sweet, so free, that there's no repentance? I'm trying to understand...

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    3. Hi George,

      "The Rev." said that in the prodigal son Jesus taught "You cannot out sin God's grace. Go ahead and give it a try."

      I don't think that's what Jesus was teaching. He was not telling people to go out and try to out sin God's grace. He was telling people to repent of their sins in view of the Father's grace.

      I don't think that should be a controversial statement.

      +HRC

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    4. Please understand that I do not wish to accuse anyone on this blog of this, but I have noticed over the years that there is some confusion among some pastors about the meaning of repentance. Even Walther commented about it in “Law & Gospel”, so the problem goes back a few years, and I am not the only one to notice it. There is the Repentance which takes place at conversion, as in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you …” and there is the repentance by the regenerated Christian, which might more properly be called “contrition”, as in Luke 17:3, “Watch yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” If Repentance of the first type is preached to the Christian, than the reaction might be what looks like antinomianism.
      μετάνοια occurs 24 times in the New Testament, ἀμεταμέλητος a mere two times. It is interesting to see how many of these refer to conversion, and how many to contrition. Verb forms are more numerous, but defining precisely what they refer to can be useful. The problem I am describing takes place when a pastor uses Scriptural passages that apply to conversion and tells Christians that this is what they should do.
      Peace and Joy!
      George A. Marquart

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  13. This view of believers as saints and sinners at the same time, and as perfectly justified and imperfectly sanctified, with a fierce civil war raging within them between their old and new natures (see Romans 7), requires great care in the proper application of Law and Gospel. A number of things must be and remain quite clear: the Law is the standard and measure of good works, but it lacks the power to produce or motivate them. Only the Gospel does that. yet the Gospel does not simply liberate us from the law, as antinomianism imagines; rather, it liberates us from the condemnation and the coercion of the Law, so that according to our new nature we are now free to love and obey it. The worst feature of antinomianism is that in refusing to see the Law as applicable to Christians, it inadvertently turns the Gospel into Law, that is, into a rule and demand for good works! Such radical confusion of Law and Gospel in principle destroys both of them. It is true that the Law "always accuses". But this refers to the chief, or second, use of the Law, which cannot be separated but must be distinguished from the third use. For the new creation within us loves and treasures God's will as expressed in His Law, even while the old, rebellious flesh within us needs to be on the receiving end of the full force of the Law's condemnation. Having been saved by grace and through faith alone, we are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" (Eph. 2:10 NIV).

    Kurt Marquart, "The Third Use of the law in the Formula of Concord"

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    2. Undoubtedly one strain of Antinomism is the legacy of Seminex.
      I believe that that is where the particular preaching style comes from that consists mostly of Antinomian moralism, as if all the "Gospel" has to say were this one command of the law: "Judge not!"

      It is my impression, however, that among younger Confessional Pastors (those who graduated within the last 30 years or so), Antinomist temptations and inclinations mostly come by a different route.

      I think the discomfort many experience, and the reluctance some exercise, and the outright refusal a few express, when it comes to preaching the law as God's actual command to those who belong to Him, has its root in genuinely pastoral Gospel motivated concerns.

      We know only too well about the preaching of so-called Evangelicals, and what comes from it. And we are determined not to become like them in any way. And so, for fear of becoming like them, we subconsciously allow them to set our agenda by committing ourselves to always doing the exact opposite of what they do, or almost the exact opposite.

      We also know from the experience we have with others, and perhaps with ourselves, how easily the law comes to dominate in hearts and minds - human nature being sinful, and thus much more willing to hear the law than to allow for God being so good as He presents Himself to be in the Gospel - and how easily this happens even where and when the Gospel is predominant in preaching and teaching.

      We are intent that our parishioners should not be left in unnecessary uncertainty about their salvation because the Gospel has not been proclaimed to them in its clarity.

      And we ourselves love the Gospel; and so we do not want to have it obscured by excessive or untimely or otherwise inappropriate preaching of the law, nor do we want to be responsible for it being obscured to others.

      And so we overcompensate. We are uncomfortable with or reluctant to preaching and teaching of the law being what God actually commands and demands of His Christians. And some flat out refuse.

      And thus we steer into Scylla - trying too hard to stay out of Charybdis.

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    3. This is quite insightful, Jais, and, I believe, quite on target. It resonates with me, at any rate, and with my own internal struggles with the right preaching of the Law and the Gospel. Thank you for your helpful contributions to this discussion.

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  14. Recently an emeritus pastor claimed that some pastors, whom he identified as confessional, are antinomian in not giving enough attention in their sermons to Christian sanctification, which he described as crucifying the flesh, putting down the old man and putting on the new man (See “Antinomian Aversion to Sanctification” CTQ 67:3&4, p. 379-381). Without names or details, we can only respond to how he defines antinomianism. Crucifying the flesh and putting down the old man are never past tense, but they are the work of the Law. Putting on the new man is the work of Christ (Gospel) and is the real sanctification. We do not put on an abstract holiness or morality, but we put on Christ – His life, His works, His Sacraments, His death, His absolution, His resurrection, ascension, and session at the Father’s right hand. These things are ours by a Baptism into His death and resurrection and by faith we are sanctified. The things of Christ which are ours by faith have nothing to do with the Law’s threats. Guilt is prior to and necessary for faith and sanctification, but has no place in faith and sanctification by which Christ lives in us and we live in Him. After coming to faith by the Gospel, the Christian is revisited by the Law and his sense of guilt will increase especially in light of Christ’s holy life. The Spirit’s opus alienum increases his sense of inadequacy and makes him more miserable as he copes with a reality he cannot escape.

    David P. Scaer, “Third Use of the Law: Resolving the Tension” in You, My People, Shall Be Holy: A Festschrift in Honour of John W. Kleinig, page 244

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    1. I love it! Notice we've got some anecdotal problems here and there which aren't "antinomianism" but really places where we can discuss law/gospel, our understanding of paradoxes, and justification/sanctification. I love love love it! Good quote!

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    2. George,

      I'm not following you here. You keep saying this or that isn't antinomian. How are you using the term?

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    3. I don't understand the hang-up with the term "antinomian," in any case, one way or the other. Who cares, finally, how the term is used? Or whether it is used at all? Or how it is defined? The real substance of concern, from the start, has been about the Law and the Gospel, and the preaching and teaching of Justification and Sanctification. It is frustrating that the bulk of the comments have fretted about terminology or attempted to discern some hidden agenda, instead of actually confronting the the challenge of the confession set forth from Chemnitz (in the previous post) and from Luther (in this post). Ire is vented against Fr. Curtis and against Fr. Braaten -- and against Fr. Beane, and even against Fr. Petersen, despite the fact that he hasn't even weighed in on this conversation -- when the real beef appears to be with Chemnitz and Luther. What gives? Why is it so hard simply to say, if one wants to say anything at all, either, "I agree," or "I disagree, and here's why," or "I hadn't thought of that befpre, but I'll need to consider it carefully now," or "I'm challenged and/or convicted by that teaching"?

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    5. Rick,

      No ire - certainly not in Advent! :)

      I understand that HRC and JB are worried about their own preaching. Good.

      For PTM, "antinomian" is an accusation he freely throws around online and has for some time and is only now saying it's his own preaching that he's worried about. He's going to take that as an ad hominem. But, a simple google search would show it to be a fact. I'm welcoming his new introspection. I hope it sticks. (grin)

      I would say the throwing around of the label "antinomian" is unhelpful - especially when we are changing its meaning so dramatically. We can agree amongst ourselves to listen to our brothers before tossing such a serious charge around.

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    6. I do wonder if we could talk about the Law as Luther does in his Galatians commentary. Would we, could we, teach our people to ignore the Law like Dr. Luther does below...

      "It is a marvelous thing and unknown to the world to teach Christians to ignore the Law and to live before God as though there were no Law whatever. For if you do not ignore the Law and thus direct your thoughts to grace as though there were no Law but as though there were nothing but grace, you cannot be saved. “For through the Law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). On the other hand, works and the performance of the Law must be demanded in the world as though there were no promise or grace. This is because of the stubborn, proud, and hardhearted, before whose eyes nothing must be set except the Law, in order that they may be terrified and humbled. For the Law was given to terrify and kill the stubborn and to exercise the old man.3 Both words must be correctly divided, according to the apostle (2 Tim. 2:25 ff.),

      This calls for a wise and faithful father who can moderate the Law in such a way that it stays within its limits. For if I were to teach men the Law in such a way that they suppose themselves to be justified by it before God, I would be going beyond the limit of the Law, confusing these two righteousnesses, the active and the passive, and would be a bad dialectician who does not properly distinguish. But when I go beyond the old man, I also go beyond the Law. For the flesh or the old man, the Law and works, are all joined together. In the same way the spirit or the new man is joined to the promise and to grace. Therefore when I see that a man is sufficiently contrite, oppressed by the Law, terrified by sin, and thirsting for comfort, then it is time for me to take the Law and active righteousness from his sight and to set forth before him, through the Gospel, the passive righteousness which excludes Moses and the Law and shows the promise of Christ, who came for the afflicted and for sinners. Here a man is raised up again and gains hope. Nor is he any longer under the Law; he is under grace, as the apostle says (Rom. 6:14): “You are not under law but under grace.” How not under law? According to the new man, to whom the Law does not apply. For the Law had its limits until Christ, as Paul says below (Gal. 3:24): “The Law, until Christ.” When He came, Moses and the Law stopped. So did circumcision, Sacrifices, and the Sabbath. So did all the prophets.

      This is our theology, by which we teach a precise distinction between these two kinds of righteousness, the active and the passive, so that morality and faith, works and grace, secular society and religion may not be confused. Both are necessary, but both must be kept within their limits. Christian righteousness applies to the new man, and the righteousness of the Law applies to the old man, who is born of flesh and blood. Upon this latter, as upon an ass, a burden must be put that will oppress him. He must not enjoy the freedom of the spirit or of grace unless he has first put on the new man by faith in Christ, but this does not happen fully in this life. Then he may enjoy the kingdom and the ineffable gift of grace. I am saying this in order that no one may suppose that we reject or prohibit good works, as the papists falsely accuse us because they understand neither what they themselves are saying nor what we are teaching. They know nothing except the righteousness of the Law; and yet they claim the right to judge a doctrine that is far above and beyond the Law, a doctrine on which the carnal man is unable to pass judgment. Therefore it is inevitable that they be offended, for they cannot see any higher than the Law. Therefore whatever is above the Law is the greatest possible offense to them.

      Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, pp. 6–8). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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    8. I haven't sense "ire" from you, Brother George, but there's been plenty of it blustered about in these recent threads. I appreciate your providing a bit more context for the way in which you've been responding. That's helpful. However, bear in mind that this conversation is it's own context; and, while we welcome Brother McCain's participation and contributions, he wasn't the one who posted.

      Luther's Galatians commentary (or lectures) is truly one of the great gems of the Church's history and life on earth. Few if any of us will ever approach Luther's ability to discern the the proper distinction of the Law and the Gospel, though it is a joy and a benefit to continue learning from him. As Brother McCain has pointed out, and as I am sure you also well know, Luther can speak with similar vigor in preaching the necessity of love and good works on the part of the Christian, in relation to his neighbor. And as clearly as Luther perceives the distinctions between the Law and the Gospel, his way of speaking is not always as consistent and precise as we might prefer or think necessary; which is why it sometimes seems as though the great man were contradicting himself, left and right. His discussion of the Law in the Large Catechism, for example, suggests quite a different way of thinking about the Law. But, then again, so do some of his other lectures on Galatians within the same "commentary"! I don't believe that he was contradicting himself, but I do think that we sometimes struggle because we long too much for neat and tidy solutions.

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    9. PTM,

      My dear friend, Dr. Stuckwisch, is right, as usual. The key here is that Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.

      With that context, PTM, do you agree that we can teach Christians to ignore the Law for the sake of their salvation?

      You can say you don't agree with the Luther quote. It's fine. It's not prescriptive. But, if Dr. Luther can speak this way in a work that he says is one of the few of his writings that should be kept, why can't we in the context of comforting troubled consciences?

      The next few paragraphs of Luther from this section...

      Then do we do nothing and work nothing in order to obtain this righteousness? I reply: Nothing at all. For this righteousness means to do nothing, to hear nothing, and to know nothing about the Law or about works but to know and believe only this: that Christ has gone to the Father and is now invisible; that He sits in heaven at the right hand of the Father, not as a Judge but as one who has been made for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption from God (1 Cor. 1:30); in short, that He is our High Priest, interceding for us and reigning over us and in us through grace. Here one notices no sin and feels no terror or remorse of conscience. Sin cannot happen in this Christian righteousness; for where there is no Law, there cannot be any transgression (Rom. 4:15). If, therefore, sin does not have a place here, there is no conscience, no terror, no sadness. Therefore John says: “No one born of God commits sin” (1 John 3:9). But if there is any conscience or fear present, this is a sign that this righteousness has been withdrawn, that grace has been lost sight of, and that Christ is hidden and out of sight. But where Christ is truly seen, there there must be full and perfect joy in the Lord and peace of heart, where the heart declares: “Although I am a sinner according to the Law, judged by the righteousness of the Law, nevertheless I do not despair. I do not die, because Christ lives who is my righteousness and my eternal and heavenly life. In that righteousness and life I have no sin, conscience, and death. I am indeed a sinner according to the present life and its righteousness, as a son of Adam where the Law accuses me, death reigns and devours me. But above this life I have another righteousness, another life, which is Christ, the Son of God, who does not know sin and death but is righteousness and eternal life. For His sake this body of mine will be raised from the dead and delivered from the slavery of the Law and sin, and will be sanctified together with the spirit.”

      Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, pp. 8–10). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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    10. Thinking of Dr. Luther, I've also been meaning to call attention to the Table of Duties, and to the way in which those duties are gathered for the Christian (not only by Luther, but by the holy Apostles he is drawing upon). I view the Table of Duties as catechesis in the way of life to which the Lord calls His children.

      Along the same lines, as I've continued to think about the Lord's promise of temporal and eternal rewards for good works (introduced with the Chemnitz quote in the previous post), I've been considering this as a kind of catechesis, also: That is to say, in attaching His promises to some things, the Lord attests that these things are good and pleasing to Him; whereas, in threatening punishments for other things, He teaches that these are bad and not pleasing to Him. If this is perceived as a Father's loving discipline of His own children, within His household and family, there is no sense of "works righteousness," nor of "salvation by works," but rather a training in the way of life to which the Christian has already been reborn through faith in the Gospel. Children learn how to live within their home and family, in relation to their siblings and others, from the way their parents respond to certain words and actions. Rewards and punishments, consequences and incentives, are not a contingency upon a parent's love, nor conditions for a place in the family, but are pedagogical means of teaching discernment and good judgment and a distinction between good and evil. Such parenting is a challenge for us fathers and mothers on earth, but the Lord knows how to train up His children in the way they should go, which is by faith and love.

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    12. PTM,

      It's directly the point. This is about the Law/Gospel..

      If our pastors when preaching comfort to troubled consciences teach their people to ignore the Law, to ignore works, this is perfectly acceptable to you, right?

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  15. For Lutherans Law is the standard of good works as suggested by the Latin phrase usus didacticus seu normaticus (teaching use or standard) for the Third Use, but does not motivate them (Cf. FC SD VI:18). One influential Reformed theologian understands the Lutheran position that the Law as regulation and condemnation serves only to keep believers as sinners in check (Second Use) and does not promote holiness. Another theologian claims that for Lutherans Christ and not the Law is the norm of righteousness and so antinomianism lurks in Lutheran theology, a not infrequent accusation from Rome. For Lutherans the Law does not stand alone, but fulfilled in and by Christ is is normative for Christian life and can be fulfilled (Third Use). As sinners, Christians like others are threatened by the law to do works that may be good according to external standards, but from faith they also do works pleasing to God. They are the works of Christ spontaneously motivated by the Spirit flowing from faith (SD VI:17). Divine wrath as a motivation for works pleasing to God is for Lutherans a confusion of the Law with the Gospel. The Law’s prohibitions and threats belong in the Second Use and not the Third, according to which Law is transformed by Christ so that it expresses God’s original intentions to the world. Christians as unbelievers can never escape the Law’s prohibitions and threats (SD VI:23-24). Simultaneously and often with the same deeds they live under the Law and the Gospel as enemies and friends of God. They live a Nestorian-like existence with two incompatible forces at war with no communication between saint and sinner: simul iustus et peccator (SD VI:7-9).* Ironically one work can flow from two motivations. Calvin sees the Christian as a composite person who is not zealous to do good works and needs the Law to prod. Conversely in Lutheran theology the sinner is caught between two realities: the same God who rejects him accepts him in Christ. He believes but is never relieved from divine accusation. Conversion is a one-time occurrence but its experience of going from unfaith to faith is repeated each day. He never moves far from Baptism but each time the old man is drowned a new man comes forth. For the Reformed conversion initiates a process of moral improvement advanced by both the Law and the Gospel and can be charted. In contrast the Lutherans hold that the Law as prohibition and condemnation provides neither a negative nor a positive motivation for the specifically Christian life. As sinner he remains subject to divine wrath (Second Use), but as a believer his works are not motivated by the Law’s threats but by faith (Third Use). Sanctification is characterized not so much as absence of moral blemish (which is impossible), but by the freedom to do good works to assist and help the neighbor. He begins again to live that life destines for him in paradise (the first “First Use”) and helps others as God in Christ did (Third Use). Good works are those God destined for him in creation and done by Christ and then by the believer. Sanctification is rooted in creation and redemption and displays both.

    * In Luther’s theology saint and sinner are distinct realities within one person. For the Reformed these personal realities are blended so that Luther’s distinction plays no role. Within the dimension of this “Eutychian” definition of human personality so that the Christian as Christian is not distinct from his sinful nature, Law can be used to prod the believer….

    David P. Scaer, “Third Use of the Law” Resolving the Tension” in “You, My People, Shall Be Holy: A Festschrift in Honour of John W. Kleinig”, pages 248-250

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  16. The responses to this and the previous post are the most telling indication of the need for this discussion.

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  19. If I am understanding Prof. Scaer accurately, the Reformed view of the Christian as a mixture, along the lines of a wet rag; you somehow squeeze it hard enough, with a Lawsome (!) strangulation, to gradually attain a state of temperance/dryness, i.e., "holiness." Voila, if you are self-strangled forcefully enough, no sin in you!

    The Lutheran view is more along the lines of a glorious dry cloth attached to and covering the wet rag, utilized by the Spirit. Declared (and recognized) to be dry, the hapless rag goes about its business, humbly serving to ameliorate and mop up the spills and boo-boos of life quite effectively, in practice (often to the wet rag's stunned surprise). Wet and dry, simultaneously, the sharp compositional distinctions which make up the Christian creature are preserved, as is the gloriously renewed and fully clean outer garment, which after all is the ticket to an eternal Banquet.

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    1. No one is doing that, PTM. Straw man.

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    2. "No one is doing that" seems to me a very bold blanket statement.
      And it would seem to me that to be so sure as to make a such statement, one would have to have knowledge beyond human capability.

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    3. Who? Sermons, post them. Link them. Writings! Provide them!

      Isn't it exhausting watching us just whack at straw men?

      So, who are these antinomians who are "out there" in the LC-MS? Are they like the men in black? Seen but not seen? Is it like a unicorn?!?

      Are there false teachers in the LC-MS? Yes, there are false teachers everywhere. Is this issue a real problem in the LC-MS? I don't see it. And no one has provided anything other than anecdotal stories to prove the contrary.

      This is very similar to, but unrelated to, the view that the Fort Wayne graduates are all liturgical nazi's. There may be some specific stories about bad apples, but such things are just ways we tear up and look down on one another.

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    1. Look at you, PTM, quoting stuff that no one here would deny! Do you know anyone who denies this? Have you taken it up with them? Are you just saying this stuff for yourself cause you struggle with these things?

      We are icky now and we shall be purified on the Last Day! We are now and not yet holy!

      Of course, we wouldn't point to ourselves and boast before God about how much better we are, would we? Jesus prepares good works for us. We walk in them. He then praises us on the Last Day about all our good works and we go, "um.. when did we?"

      Now, can you agree with me that the Christian can be taught for the sake of their troubled conscience to ignore the Law? Or is Luther wrong on that? Is Luther off track that he can talk about freedom in the Gospel too?

      To someone in their sins, we give them a good dose of Law. To someone troubled by what they've done, they get a good does of Jesus' fulfilling of the Law for them. To the Christian whose conscience is burdened, they get to hear to ignore the Law. Only free in Christ can the Christian pick up the Law and go "Wow! Let me at this! For the sake of my neighbor!"

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    3. PTM,

      I like that you are now recycling old blog posts. I'm lol-ing. That's "laughing out loud." Not proper for use here, but I wills ay it anyway. That's how I roll! I don't even read blogs much and I've seen large excerpts of these blogs by you before, PTM. Lol.

      I think I had an epiphany a minute ago! Can you have those in Advent?! The knock on the young guys coming out of Fort Wayne has been that they are too legalistically liturgical. The knock on the Nagel guys and some guys out of CUI is that they are antinomian. Oh yes, and STL is a liberal place.

      This is how we label and dismiss our brothers in the ministry. These are the worst constructions!

      All the while, there are serious issues that we need to be together on in Lutheranism. We need to answer the Emergent guys. We need to bring our contemporary brothers to real good Lutheranism. They don't even understand Lutheran worship as Gottesdienst. Our pastors aren't trained properly to adore and cherish the languages. We have actual misunderstands and conflicts concerning the role of women in the church. Entire congregations have been taught to despise the Sacrament. Our laity do not know what we believe. What we have done in youth ministry in the last thirty years has taught a generation of our youth to be evangelicals and we can't figure out why Lutheranism is hemorrhaging young people.

      Lol. But, a real problem is that some aren't telling people to do good works...

      Mr. Rogers can tell us to good works. The president tells us to good works. Our teachers, even the pagan ones, teach us to good works. There's nothing unique to it. Even our brothers who are drinking the FOTF juice are pleading with their people to do good works. The guys who doing 40 Days of Purpose and who can hack-and-slash the liturgy into "parts" are all telling their people to do good works.

      This means that if this problem exists, we are magnifying at best a small issue inside the niche of confessional Lutheranism. An issue so small, that we can't even peg an actual preacher who has done it.

      Oh wait, Jais, says they are out there... like the X-Files. Lol.

      I think if we sit down and drink beer together, we'll find out that we aren't really disagreeing. And when these issues are off the table, we can talk about good and meaningful things like how to teach congregations to adore the Sacrament and how to preach the Gospel to Lutherans who have been raised Evangelicals.

      I'm optimistic about this. Beer is on me or diet coke. Doesn't matter. It's a good work to give drinks to the least of these dear ones.

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  28. So glad to see other people talking about this! Antinomianism is alive and well in Confessional Lutheran church bodies today. For those who deny its existence, here are teachings I have heard from prominent pastors that I would consider antinomian, or at least leaning in that direction:

    Justification and sanctification are in no way distinct. Sanctification is not a process.

    The pastor can never encourage his people unto good works, because to do so is to say that Christ isn't good enough.

    All of the believer's good works are filthy rags, so there isn't really anything good about them.

    The believer does not cooperate in sanctification.

    Christ is the new man, not the believer.

    Sanctification can never be evidenced in the Christian life

    It is "unLutheran" for someone to ask if something is sinful.

    The works of the Christian never please God.

    These have been said by pastors whose names you all know. The very fact that I was attacked for simply citing the Confessions on these issues by those who label themselves "Confessional Lutherans" should be evidence enough. Another example is a pastor who posted pornographic images in a facebook group and then claimed that he had every right to do this under the banner of Christian liberty. When this person was removed from this group, another pastor made fun of those who were offended as legalistic pietists.

    So yes... antinomianism is real. It's not some mythical boogeyman but is evidenced in our pulpits, as well as the actions of many of our pastors.

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  29. If we can set aside the assumptions of accusation, and not worry for the time being about the term "antinomian," it would be more profitable to have some actual response to and commentary on the quote from Dr. Luther that was posted: I mean the original quote that Fr. Braaten shared. As he indicated in a subsequent comment, "the CID and IDE are hosting a joint conference on Luther's Antinomian Disputation," and, from his reading of that work, he shared one particular thesis and response for consideration and discussion. He made no accusations. He didn't frame his post in a provocative manner. He put forth a bit of Luther for the sake of fraternal conversation, that we might clarify our theology and sharpen one another.

    Fr. Borghardt, I get that you're frustrated with Fr. McCain because of past and ongoing debates. But you were the first person to comment to Fr. Braaten's post, and you came out of the gates with a defensive response that didn't even attempt to assess or contemplate the quote from Luther. I, for one, appreciate your perspective and your insights. Your zeal for the Gospel, and your clarity in expressing its sweet freedom, are a tremendous blessing and benefit. My own children, as well as my youth, have been strengthened and encouraged in their faith and life by your preaching and teaching. So, bring some of that to bear in thinking with us about what Dr. Luther has to say and teach us. I believe that we can still learn from him, even in matters where we're already of like mind and peacefully content in our unanimity. I'm not convinced that there is no diversity or problem among us, in regards to the preaching of the Law; but whether there is or isn't, I find it valuable to consider Luther's perspective, his way of thinking about these matters, and even his way of expressing them. And I would much rather benefit from your reading of Luther, than to watch you and Fr. McCain play ping pong back and forth on Fr. Braaten's innocent post.

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    2. I meant no disrespect or reprimand of you, Pr. McCain. I appreciate your enthusiastic input, and we are grateful for your support. In speaking of "ping pong," I am only describing the way in which the thread has come across to me, and, perhaps, it has seemed that way to others, as well.

      Along with that, I'd like to suggest that, in the present context, it would be more productive to focus on the one quote from Luther that Pr. Braaten set forth as the actual post. The other materials that you've shared with us are also of interest and pertinent to the larger topic, but its a bit overwhelming. Also, I think it may be contributing to the impression that we're arguing with someone, or asserting accusations, even though that's clearly not the intent.

      So far as I can tell, neither you, or Pr. Borghardt, nor anyone else, has taken the position that the initial post is not actually a legitimate Luther quote; nor that the post at hand is the sum total of Luther's teaching on the Law and its place and purpose in preaching, teaching, and the Christian life. It's one particular slice of Luther, provided within an adequate context for the sake of discussion. I'm simply looking for some more discussion of that particular "slice," with a focus on what it says and means for us.

      Pr. Braaten summarized the quote from Luther in this way: "This is how we are to preach the law according to Luther: ' . . . so as to admonish to good. . . . by way of exhortation . . . .' The law is not just for the lawless, to terrify. It is to be preached to the pious so as to admonish to good." I would be interested in seeing responses that express either agreement or disagreement, or clarification or corrective caveats, with (a.) Pr. Braaten's summary, as compared to Luther's comments at hand; and/or with (b.) Dr. Luther's position on this point, as expressed in his response to the thesis.

      But, in fairness, it isn't my post, either, and perhaps all that has transpired is exactly what Pr. Braaten was looking for. If so, I apologize for intruding. I don't wish to stifle discussion. My fear is that we all become too easily distracted from the point at hand, and that discussion devolves into a tug-of-war stalemate, or a tennis match that goes back and forth but not forward.

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    4. Perhaps, I could have been more clear, when I first wrote the post, but I wasn't. My intent was to accuse no one. My intent was simply to point out the way in which Luther instructs the law to be preached. To be honest, this was news to me precisely because I had always done, and I think I was taught to do, just the opposite as I had mentioned in an earlier reply.

      I remember being taught to preach the law to convict and to condemn. And in preaching the law this way, the hearer will know what good works they are to be about. That is how I have preached. But now, as I read this bit from Luther, and Curtis' bit from Chemnitz, I'm confronted with the Lutheran fathers who are saying just the opposite, namely, that you preach the law to admonish the hearer to good, and because the law always accuses, it will convict him where he has done wrong, could have done better, etc. This was news to me.

      Perhaps in the original post, I could have added more of this back story, more of this struggle to wrap my head around what Luther is teaching here, and how to go about this so that, as Walther has taught us, "the Gospel predominates."

      My assumption, perhaps wrongly so, was that if I struggle with this and if I have been caught off guard by this teaching of Luther, then others would be too. And that in a forum like this, we could discuss precisely how this is done so that we are preaching the law correctly to Christians and that the Gospel predominates.

      I did not intend to accuse anyone in particular as someone whom I know or heard was not doing this. It was a general call to examine our preaching in light of this, seeing that I was convicted in light of my own preaching when I first read it. A sort of "if the shoe fits . . . " scenario.

      The point of all this is that we would sharpen one another on this task. We should not be dissuaded in thinking about what Luther describes here by an equivocation of terms or foul cries of straw men informal fallacies or any other such thing. Rather, my hope was that we could have fraternal discussion of how this plays out.

      I love to preach and teach. But it is by far the most difficult task that I do as a pastor, and I want to do better.

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    7. Rick,

      First, I blame Dr. Luther. (GRIN). Luther is a man who jumps out of a plane without parachute. What a gift! I wanna be that free! Don't you?

      So, he's dealing with a troubled conscience and he tells them to ignore the Law. Just forget about it. Your sins trouble you? Sin boldly but pray all that more! You are a free man! You need no Law. The Law have already done for you! Christ is the end of the Law for you! It's like Dr. Nagel says, "Jesus has more forgiveness than you could possibly have sins!"

      Then, if a Romanist says "This Gospel just means you can live like a pig!" Luther says, "Oh no no no! You can't sin boldly. Where there is faith, there will be fruit! Good trees bear good fruit. Where faith, there good works. Everything done in faith is a good work."

      Luther goes back and forth from Law/Gospel and as Cwirla points out fully aware of the simuls. Context is so important when dealing with him!

      Of course there are tons of words saying that we need to exhort Christians to Good Works. The Romanists hammer us on that point!

      But, we also need to realize that it is not the Law preaching that is lacking amongst us, it is the Gospel. The Evangelicals, even some within Lutheranism, turn the Gospel into one big giant exhortation.

      My questions on this are: Are we concerned about preaching and rightly dividing Law/Gospel? JB and HRC seem to be. That's why they say they are discussing this.

      Or do we think that our Gospel parachute needs a bit of Law? If so, inevitably we're going to sink the ship. For everyone who preaches the Law in its complete-Law-ness is a legalist and every preacher that preaches the Gospel in its complete-Gospel-ness is an antinomian. Those terms are being stretched, but you get my point.

      My concern is not to exhort my people. I tell them enough how to live and what to do. It seems that's all I do! I didn't become a pastor to be the playground monitor and cheerleader. I get to do that enough.

      We were called to preach the Gospel in its truth and purity and to administer the Sacraments. There's Law in there! It's Law toward the forgiveness of sins, not Law for sake of the Law or to change people's behaviors.

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    8. PTM,

      Nice ad hominem. It's not about me. You're forgiven. The Lord has more forgiveness than you could possibly have ad hominems!

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  30. JB,

    Every bit of Law accuses - even Law that we intend for ourselves. That's what Law does! It accuses. So, there's always going to be friendly fire when we use the Law.

    Let not your heart, or keyboard, be troubled. :)

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  31. In light of this discussion: http://www.justandsinner.com/#!Characteristics-of-Lutheran-Antinomianism/cxgw/D3718ED8-FAF5-4B30-8595-6AA2ADFF8C37

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  32. "Now we know that the law is good, if any one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine." - Don't forget the "simul" boys! The Christian in concreto is total sinner and total saint. Only in abstracto may be distinguish these.

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    1. that's "we" not "be" but you already knew that. ;)

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    2. In what way are you applying this verse to the above discussion?

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  33. According to Luther sanctification always involves faith, it’s birth and growth. Faith has its beginning in man’s knowledge that God is right in revealing sin and judging the sinner. Such faith leads to the salvation of the sinner who acknowledges his sin. God justifies the man who submits to his judgment. But in judging and justifying a man God also begins the work of bringing him into harmony with his will. This work occurs basically in an invisible manner, even as faith itself in invisible. Dissatisfied with such invisible holiness, reason and unbelief seek constantly to produce holiness of works visible to the world.

    Christian existence is characterized by a double aspect: the believer is a sinner, and the believer is righteous; in himself he is a sinner, but in Christ he is righteous. This insight of Luther reflects significantly Paul’s concept of the two aeons (Galatians 1:4). Luther may not have been familiar with the modern form of Paul’s doctrine of the two aeons, yet his often-repeated concept of “simultaneously sinful and righteous” is in substance close to this idea of Paul. In Christ the Christian is a “new” man and sinless; outside Christ he is an “old” man and under the power of sin. The continuing sinfulness of the Christian is not to be interpreted as helpless subjection to the dominion of sin. Rather it expresses the thought of Romans 7 that in man “dwells nothing good,” but that because he is a new creature in Christ he is involved in a continual conflict between the old and the new. For this reason the new life is constant warfare. In this warfare the weapons of the Christian are the Word and sacraments. Through them he has unity with Christ, and in Christ he has forgiveness of sins. This peace with Christ deprives the temper of his strongest ally, namely, the guilty conscience.

    Reason would convert the struggle for holiness into an empirical victory, with the power of sin finally and completely destroyed. But perfect holiness is not attainable in this world and this age. Here the conflict must go on. Trust in the Word and sacraments does not signify retreat from the imperfections of life into an invisible realm of faith; it does signify the rejection of deceptive human possibilities, and construction on God’s sure foundation.

    Interpreted in this manner holiness may appear as something purely passive. Yet in Luther’s understanding faith is vital and active. Luther could agree completely with James that faith without works is dead (James 2:26), without implying that works must be elicited by law or some outward requirements. Works are genuine only if they are the fruit of faith and gratitude. Only spontaneous works witness to true faith. Thus the problem of holiness or sanctification is from beginning to end a problem of true faith, not in the sense of “orthodoxy” but in the original biblical sense.

    Faith Victorious: An Introduction to Luther’s Theology, by Lennart Pinomaa, translated by Walter J. Kukkonen. pages 77-78

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  34. Our vocational activity must be directed toward all men, in other words, toward the people of “this world.” We serve them in the love of Christ, and are rewarded with the same ingratitude that he received. But this is the only form in which the love of Christ can be real, for as soon as we limit our service to those who are in some way saintlier than the rest we narrow the circle of love and shut out the effective operation of Christ’s love. Thus in the cloister it is impossible to serve all men, for here the very purpose of works is changed; they are done in order to make oneself holy, and hence become acts of worship directed toward God rather than men. But, says Luther, faith alone is to be directed toward God; a fundamental error has occurred. Luther feels constrained to say that when God wants to save a monk he compels him to occupy himself with earthly things. Furthermore, in attaining to the duties of marriage and many other temporal tasks man becomes uncertain and helpless. Thus the way is paved for faith, for one is compelled to believe and trust in God.

    In his vocation a person is active in behalf of his fellow men. Through such activity man distributes gifts of God’s love to others for their welfare. Thus vocation compels man to look to God and to take hold of his promises, and trains him in both love and faith.

    The cross and the law collaborate to crucify man; the gospel gives him power to arise and live. Works are directed toward fellow men; faith is directed toward God. With faith thus directed from earth upward, why does love, which is part and parcel of faith, direct itself horizontally to fellow men? Some have attempted to show how love is born of faith. [Gustaf] Wingren states that Luther purposely never gives such an explanation. After all, we cannot say why God became man, and died on the cross. Just as all this is inexplicable, so is the fact that faith gives birth to love. God became man; that is the nature of God’s love. And faith becomes love; that is the nature of faith. Man receives the Holy Spirit when he believes the gospel of Christ, and in the power of the Spirit he loves his fellow men without duplicity and guile, and willingly shares their burdens. Love keeps no record of its works for it thinks only about the fellow man, and when it does good its deed appears as a gift and not a work. Love looks upon service to others as a privilege, not a duty. A person possessed by such love does not direct his attention to the love itself but to his fellow man. To be preserved, such love must constantly be given new life by faith. Without Christ and the Spirit man is under the law, and under the law vocation is enforced labor completely lacking in joy. The old man in us tries to be perfect and righteous in all that he does. The new man knows only on righteousness, the forgiveness of sins. The old man is under the law, the new man is in faith.

    When the fellow man is again made central in ethics, the gospel of Jesus is revitalized. We recall what Jesus said about the separation on the Last Day. The righteous will ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty…?” They had paid no attention to their works. They could not even remember having met a fellow man in distress. They had rejoiced in others and had helped them without being aware of having done so.

    Lennart Pinomaa, “Faith Victorious”, pages 169-170

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  36. I disagree with Dr. Luther where he says Christians are free to ignore the law. Is it possible that Luther is contradicting himself? After all, this is a guy who laid down the 10 Commandments in a Small Catechism as something to be learned by all Christians. I've noticed that it is possible to proof-text Luther on both sides of almost any theological issue. My gut reaction: maybe Luther isn't such a great teacher after all.

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    2. Matt,

      It's all in the paradox! Luther brilliantly can keep two contradictory doctrines together!

      The Law condemns us for our sins. It kills. It accuses. It destroys. There's never comfort. There is only condemnation, hell, and death. It's always right. It's always true. It never goes away. Sin! Sin! Sin! Death! Death! Death!

      The Gospel is completely and totally the delivery Jesus Christ and Him crucified for you. In the Christ, there is no Law, no condemnation, and no hell. There's only the mercy and grace of God in Christ. You can't sin your way out of God's grace. You can't mess up your salvation. It rests totally on Jesus. In Christ, there's only eternal life. Forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness!

      Where the Law is being preached, there is no Gospel.

      Where the Gospel is preached, there is no Law.

      Now, the discussion here is about the preaching of the Law to the baptized (the New Man). The one who has been forgiven has been freed from the Law. The New Man doesn't need the Law. He is completely and totally fulfilled the Law in Christ. What then?

      But, the One who has been redeemed, freed, and forgiven, grabs hold of the Law and says, "You can't enslave me. I'm gonna use you to see how I can serve God! I'm gonna hear you, Law, and learn how I take care of my neighbor! Tell me, preacher, what I can do for those around me!"

      Does the Law condemn the Christian? It can't condemn the forgiven one. There is no sin to be forgiven in the saint! The baptized is totally and completely perfect in Christ.

      But, you and I, when we pick up the Law, because we are still sinners, it bites us. It condemns us. So, it drowns again the our old sinful nature, beats us down, and accuses us. It shows us again to be sinners!

      So, we run back to the Gospel! The Lord Jesus washes our sins again in baptismal water, in the Word, in His Body and Blood.

      These two doctrines are completely contradictory. When you speak in terms of Law, it's completely the opposite of the Gospel. When you speak in the Gospel, the Law must be ignored!

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    4. Here's Luther... (speaking for Himself)..

      As the earth itself does not produce rain and is unable to acquire it by its own strength, worship, and power but receives it only by a heavenly gift from above, so this heavenly righteousness is given to us by God without our work or merit. As much as the dry earth of itself is able to accomplish in obtaining the right and blessed rain, that much can we men accomplish by our own strength and works to obtain that divine, heavenly, and eternal righteousness. Thus we can obtain it only through the free imputation and indescribable gift of God. Therefore the highest art and wisdom of Christians is not to know the Law, to ignore works and all active righteousness, just as outside the people of God the highest wisdom is to know and study the Law, works, and active righteousness.

      It is a marvelous thing and unknown to the world to teach Christians to ignore the Law and to live before God as though there were no Law whatever. For if you do not ignore the Law and thus direct your thoughts to grace as though there were no Law but as though there were nothing but grace, you cannot be saved. “For through the Law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). On the other hand, works and the performance of the Law must be demanded in the world as though there were no promise or grace. This is because of the stubborn, proud, and hardhearted, before whose eyes nothing must be set except the Law, in order that they may be terrified and humbled. For the Law was given to terrify and kill the stubborn and to exercise the old man.3 Both words must be correctly divided, according to the apostle (2 Tim. 2:25 ff.),


      Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 26: Lectures on Galatians, 1535, Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 26, p. 6). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

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    5. Luther, not being Jesus, shouldn't have gotten a capitalized "H." lol.

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  39. Where the Law is preached, there is no Gospel - only condemnation, sin, death, and hell.

    Where the Gospel is preached, there is no Law. It's fulfilled. It's condemning word must be ignored.

    Luther can say both. No excuses or amendments or changes. Where the Law, there is condemnation and death. Where the Gospel, there is forgiveness and life.

    Both are His. Both are true. Both are good. We need both. :)

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    1. "only condemnation, sin, death, and hell."

      Not instruction, edification, exhortation?

      That statement sounds an awful lot like a denial of the third use (or at least a complete omission of it) to me, George.

      +HRC

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    2. Here is Third Use...

      But, the one who has been redeemed, freed, and forgiven, grabs hold of the Law and says, "You can't enslave me. I'm gonna use you to see how I can serve God! I'm gonna hear you, Law, and learn how I take care of my neighbor! Tell me, preacher, what I can do for those around me!"

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    4. For my own clarification:

      The Law, being God's will, is eternal (FC). Yet there is no condemnation, sin, death, and hell in the resurrection of the just. So even now, eschatologically, for the regenerate, the Law is not a curse because of Christ but their delight (Ps. 119). In that the believer still has a sinful nature the Law always accuses, but it also delights him according to the inner man (Rom. 7.22) and can encourage him. In that sense the Law does not only or merely accuse.

      Right?

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  40. So should the Christian ignore the law, or meditate upon the law in light of his salvation in Christ Jesus? I do not see how one can do both. I readily confess that I'm not sophisticated enough to grasp the paradox, but I don't see where the Christian is ever free to ignore the Word of God. My inclination is not to blame Pr. Borghardt for quoting it but to blame Luther for writing it.

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  41. Matt,

    Here's how:

    The Law comes at you and accuses you of sin and you flee to Christ. You let Christ's forgiveness shout over the Law's condemnation. You ignore the Law's telling you are going to hell and you cling to Jesus forgiving you of your sins. Christ is the end of the Law for you.

    When the Gospel has done it's forgiving work on you, then you look at the Law and say, "Ok, now you can't touch me Law, I'm in Christ. Christ is my righteousness. What you can do for me is teach me how I can serve others."

    Get it?

    Ignoring the Law has to do with being saved by Jesus alone and not by works of the Law. The other has to do with serving your neighbor in the state of forgiveness.

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    1. George, I really encourage you to reread your post above where you used the exclusive particle and said what the Law "only" does. What you said there just does not fit the pattern of sound words. Would you not agree? Aren't those words a denial of the 3rd Use?

      And Pastor Hayes' comments are also good and very to the point.

      Can you see now how rhetoric of the kind you employed above sure does sound like a denial of the third use?

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    2. George, in what sense does Paul mean "end" of the law in Rom. 10:4? For Orthodox Lutherans, the telos is fulfillment, as it is in the Greek. In contrast, for Gerhard Forde telos is termination. This interpretation runs roughshod over the Formual's identification of the Law as God's eternal will. Christ didn't terminate, destroy, or dispense with, God's eternal will, which is and shall always be part of His very nature.

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  42. So what we're saying here is: The Christian should ignore the accusations of the Evil One as he twists God's law in order to make us despair of our salvation. All the more reason the Christian should meditate on the law as revealed in the Scriptures in order to distinguish what God really says from what the Devil is telling us that God's law says.

    Does that resolve the tension?

    I'm finding this discussion most edifying. The passions aroused are evidence that every one here takes these matters very seriously as every real theologian should.

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  43. If you know exactly what to do..if you have been given the prescription…the answer…then to don't need faith. You have reverted to the law.

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  44. Josh, yours is a beautiful, biblical, confession of the Law, although I'm not familiar with the word "encourage" being used of it.

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    1. I see that. That was my shorthand for, "the Law can/should be preached to the new man to encourage/exhort/instruct him to do good works" (third use).

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  45. Taking Pr. Stuckwisch's advice to focus on the Luther quote provided by Pr. Braaten, here, I think, is something interesting.

    First, Luther provides what to guard against in preaching among the pious, by saying: "For I ought not to say or preach: You are not under the remission of sins. Likewise: You will be condemned; God hates you etc. For these sayings do not pertain to those who have received Christ, but address the ruthless and wild."

    Then, Luther speaks this way regarding preaching to those who have received Christ, saying: The law then is to be attenuated for them and is to be taught them by way of exhortation: Once you were gentiles; now, however, you are sprinkled and washed by the blood of Christ (cf. Eph. 2:11, 13; 1 Cor. 6:11). Therefore now offer your bodies to obey righteousness, putting away the desires of the flesh, lest you become like this world (cf. Rom. 12:1-2; 6:13; Eph. 4:22). Be imitators of the righteousness of good works (cf. Tit. 2:14) and do not be unrighteous, condemned like Cain etc.; you have Christ.

    I hadn't thought of this before, but isn't this how Luther teaches the explanations to the 10 Commandments? First, he says what to guard against, that is, what not to do. "We should fear and love God so that we do not..."

    Then, in the second half of the explanation, he teaches what we are to do. That seems to be the pattern of the Luther quote from above (how not to preach...followed by how to preach).

    Also, when Luther says that the law is to be attenuated for them by way of exhortation, the word attenuate means "to soften or lessen the force." In other words, taking the entire Luther quote, he is saying that we should guard against the extreme ( You are not under the remission of sins. Likewise: You will be condemned; God hates you etc.). Rather, the law is attenuated (less force) by way of exhortation: You were this, but now you are this, therefore do this. That is the pattern in the quote, and it seems to match pretty well with the pattern Luther takes in the explanation of the commandments (don't do this...do this). So then, the law is not to be done away with among the pious, but it does take on a different look when preached among the pious.

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  46. Hey all,

    Just catching this show now. Hopefully will get time to catch up sometime soon.

    In case it has not been mentioned yet, Pastor Holger Sonntag, who helped translate the Antinomian theses, wrote a short paper about the third use of the law which you can read from my blog here:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/silent-no-more-luther-lays-down-the-law-on-how-to-preach-the-law-200-proof-version/

    My blog post provides the condensed edition.

    Pastor Surberg has also done helpful work here as well, building off what Pastor Sonntag has shown. I sum up his key insights here: http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/nail-in-the-coffin-surburg-decimates-new-perspective-on-sanctification/

    Jordan Cooper - look forward to hearing your podcasts.

    +Nathan

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  47. I neglected to note that Pastor Sonntag's paper on the 3rd use is specifically on the 3rd use of the law in the Antinomian theses.

    +Nathan

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