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27 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    The social justice article is interesting. I think what helps me put this in perspective is understanding law/gospel distinctives. But can both conservatives and liberals embrace the law/gospel distinctions doctrine?. To be honest, I haven’t really met any liberals who care at all about this.

  2. Michael says:

    Before I just rend my garments and wail, what are you saying?
    Are you claiming that politically liberal and theologically conservative people don’t or won’t recognize the law/ gospel distinction?
    Are you serious?

  3. Em says:

    No, Michael, don’t rend your garments. That would make you a Pharisee… LOL. ?
    I did that once when a sewing project wasn’ going right, but…

  4. Duane Arnold says:


    Garments in tatters….

  5. Michael says:

    Duane, let me do the rending…you have nicer clothes… 🙂

  6. Michael says:

    I’ve been studying theology for over thirty years and writing about it for almost twenty…and it’s only the last few years that this damnable imposition of American political categories into theological study has made it’s way into common use.

    I hate it and hate it with a passion.

    No one even defines the terms.
    What’s the definition of a “liberal”…or a “conservative”?

    What differences would they have over a doctrine birthed in the 16th century?

  7. Michael says:

    I’m listening to an interview from 2011 with a very drunk Charles Bowden…predicting the collapse of this country and the West into tribalism and nationalism…with mass bloodshed as the natural result.

    God sends prophets outside the church when the ones in it have become whores…

  8. Michael says:

    “I don’t give a damn about heaven if my dog can’t go there”…Bowden

  9. Jean says:

    “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Galatians 3:19‭-‬22 ESV)

    I think neither most conservatives nor most liberals understand the proper distinction between law and gospel. However, I would argue that Luther learned it from St. Paul, who wrote in the 1st century.

  10. Em says:

    Why would liberals or conservatives benefit from an understanding of law and gospel, if they werent Beluevers?

  11. JoelG says:

    Love the Bowden quote.

    I read this today:

    “There is no shame in loving (or grieving) an animal. I think that when Adam names the animals, it’s not “giraffe, monkey, donkey, etc.,” but, ultimately, “Fido, Fluffy, and so on.” We are not “anthropomorphizing” animals – rather, we are slowly raising them up towards personhood, a process I suspect will be fulfilled in the age to come.”

    Fr Stephen Freeman


  12. Michael says:


    That’s good stuff!

  13. Outside T. Fold says:

    A day late in honoring the memory and work of Dr. King. I just saw this, and thought of Xenia, and so I had to share. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Icon.

  14. Steve says:

    Michael, No. I’m not talking political at all. Why would you assume that? I’m talking theological liberals vs theological conservative regardless of political beliefs. I realize the article contrasted Wilberforce to Fosdick. The theological liberals of today really don’t get the law/gospel distinction but I’m not sure about the early liberalism liberals that the article mentions.

  15. Michael says:

    Again, define the terms.
    What is a theological liberal or a theological conservative?
    Binaries aren’t very helpful in theology…

  16. Duane Arnold says:

    It is also good to know what Fosdick actually believed (from his own words) rather than to rely on other people’s labels or categories…
    “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”

  17. Michael says:

    The social justice debate has nothing to do with the law/gospel distinction in my opinion.
    It has everything to do with the fact that the Bible from cover to cover (and especially in the words of the prophets and Jesus) demands that we walk in justice and righteousness with a heart for the poor and weak.
    The problem with politicizing those demands is simply further proof of our sin nature.

  18. Em says:

    Can the Church practice social justice without expectation that the outside world will comply with our standards?
    Does our Lord expect His Church to focus on civil government or on maturing the Church body?

    Maybe Bowden’s dog got in, but his master’s attitude kept him out? Or maybe Bowden was just a doubting Thomas? God knows and i just sit here and ponder…

  19. Steve says:

    Michael,.I agree we should define the terms starting with the author of the article who uses the terms without definition. It was an interesting article but confusing in his own use of liberal and conservative.

  20. Steve says:

    The debate of social justice might not have anything to do with law/gospel. However it is how I personally make sense of some of it.

  21. Jean says:

    “What Kind of Social Justice Warrior Are They?”

    “For Wilberforce I believe it truly was gospel implications which fueled change.”

    I like the term “gospel implications.” I provoked me to ask myself: How does this actually work in any particular context with any particular social justice issue?

    In Matthew, the Pharisees asked Jesus: “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” According to the law, a man was permitted to divorce his wife very easily by giving her a certificate of divorce and sending her away.

    Was this a social injustice? Jesus apparently thought so. He said it was permitted because of His people’s unbelief, but was not God’s plan or will “in the beginning.” What I understand Jesus to be teaching is that the implication of the Gospel, that Christians are freed from slavery to sin and regenerated into new creatures, we are invited to embrace God’s original institution of marriage, in which “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

    I don’t know what the exact rationale of Wilberforce was, but from my reading of Matthew, the implication of the Gospel is that a Christian would not affirm slavery just because it was permitted in the Old Testament, but would view the question through God’s eyes “in the beginning.” In the beginning, God made them in His image, male and female He made them. To His image bearers he gave the blessing: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    God’s blessing, as well as His creation of mankind in His image, is fundamentally incompatible with human slavery and the slave trade. The Gospel implication is that Christians would see that slavery is not compatible with God’s original creation and blessing of mankind.

    As born from above, i.e., the implication of the Gospel, Christians should live already under the reign of Christ. So, what might His will be regarding, for example, immigrants?

    “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

    “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

    It is sin in the world that is responsible for injustice, but the Christian is to advocate for justice, because it is an implication of the Gospel. When God renews heaven and earth, there will be no more injustice. The vocation of the Christian is not to bring the new heaven and new earth, but to witness to it already, both in terms of proclamation, and also in terms of how we live among the nations of the world.

    Christ’s criticism of the church in Laodicea was complacency/assimilation, engaging in the oppressive and unjust economic and political institutions of the empire: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.”

    Laodicea appears to have been engaging in the institutions of the Empire, which allowed them to prosper financially, unlike some of the other churches. In their eyes, and the eyes of the world, they appeared “rich.” But in Christ’s eyes, those who participate in social injustice are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

    Christ offers a different kind of gold and a white garment, which is eternal wealth. So, outside the walls of our churches, and in our engagement with the world, Christ’s letters to the 7 churches in Revelation appear to indicate that how we live matters to God and in the presence of Christ.

    In conclusion, I don’t see how Christians can turn a blind eye to social injustice or profit from it. I’m not saying the answers are simple or that we cannot have good faith disagreements on how to achieve justice, but at a high level, Christians should be able to spot patent injustice and call it out.

  22. Michael says:

    Well done, Jean.

  23. Em says:

    Glad to see the 7churches of Revelation discussed – i have no doubt they are recorded as examples for the benefit of The Church down through time
    Do we speak out when we see injustice? Yes. Are we tasked with reforming the world? No. We are here to be salt and light and it follows that if our lives are not growing more Christ like over time, perhaps we should not be telling the world how to behave? Perhaps we should limit our observations to confessions? Dunno, though, do i? ?

  24. Michael says:

    I want to return to Mike Leake’s article on the social Gospel…driven by Gospel implications.

    My passion for border issues came from an encounter with Christ in Juarez…that demanded I view migrants and Mexicans as people Christ loves and expects us to care for.

    It’s not primarily a political issue, it’s a Gospel issue…a kingdom issue.

    It also has political implications, but those concerns have to be viewed through a Gospel lens, not a national one.

    I think there are more issues that we’ve mis categorized as well…

  25. Michael says:

    I would also note that the 50 highly paid leaders is a family affair …it’s good to be a Sekulow…

  26. Steve says:

    I suspect the abortion issue is similar to the border issue when we talk about gospel implications. It’s primarily a kingdom issue and not a political one but there may be political implications.

  27. Michael says:


    The problem with embracing them as political issues comes when politicians use your passion to stay in power.
    The Republicans have used abortion as leverage just as the Democrats have used immigration…and done nothing to solve either problem.
    If they solve the problem, then they lose leverage.
    Both issues have clear Gospel implications but both have been skewed by political manipulation.

    Christians should be consistently pro-life regardless of age or nationality.

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